Vinyl makes my heart pump faster and faster until I can hear each click separately and distinctly from the one before.
It’s the only TV show that has ever given me a panic attack, so perfectly does it depict a time and lifestyle in New York that makes me quiver with emotions that are not exactly nostalgia, not exactly incredible memories, not exactly fear, not exactly so many things.
The hair, the clothes, the furniture, the goddamn tape machine….
I had a friends with benefits kinda thing going with a major rock star——the nerdiest member of fairly nerdy (if you knew them) but sexiest group. I had actually met the other members of the group during my one week as a waitress.
I was the worst waitress in the history of waitresses. I worked, if you could call it that, the lobster shift at a retched greasy–diner would, in the middle of Harvard Square. My customers were truck drivers and musicians, some uber-successful.
I smiled as I spilled the coffee. Nobody minded. My tips were the change from the dollar. As coffee was 25 cents and almost nobody bought any food. It wasn’t a go after a night out kind of diner; more like go after a night of practicing, or before or after work. They began ordering around 5AM when I began plotting my exit. But as I said I only lasted a week.
The musician I knew, had an apartment a few blocks from my duplex in a triple decker. I lived with eight people from all over the world. No we weren’t a commune–to answer the oft asked question.
My sister and her best friend from home were moving into a bottom apartment on the other side of the triplex. I was helping them move and must have gone outside for a cigarette and some air.
A gorgeous young woman, half Turk and half East Indian, was standing outside the house. We began talking and by night I had moved into the duplex she shared with her sister, a gay Cuban Harvard Ed student, a Polish Princess who grew up in South America, and some more people.
I moved my stuff from Sea Cliff, Long Island where I had lived so many places that year I almost couldn’t give you my address. Then I transferred from NYU to Boston University which was to turn out to be one of the best things I have ever done but move into that duplex.
Life’s funny that way. You’re 22, already separated, angry at almost all of your friends—justifiably so, hating the top ranked program you transferred to, and just generally wanting everything to be different when you go visit your sister at one of her three waitress jobs and her boss hires you on the spot.
This leads to making a new best friend who you move in with, sleeping with a rock star, working at a top end Boston store after you’re fired; your best clients are transexuals and high class ho’s—two groups you’ve always had a soft spot for. Plus they’re the only people who can afford your store which is trying but not quickly enough to become a store for the masses. Your Christmas bonus is a silver lurex gown you wear out clubbing.
The rock star is on tour often. His living room has no furniture—zilch. His bathroom is small with a full size poster of The New York Dolls on the inside door. This will turn out to be ironically funny much later.
The bedroom has a waterbed, state of the art TV (it’s 1973; how state of the art can it be?) and bureau with a professional, state of the art tape machine.
He plays you the new album his group is making. You think it’s gross, and anti women. It will turn out to be a seminal album, and just a few years later when you’re not so prissy you will love it.
Two years later, in 1975 I moved back to New York. No longer angry at my friends, I took the first job a friend found me at an airbrushed tee company. We did the Liza, Elizabeth, Marilyn, and more tees and sweatshirts.
They were pricey but I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one.
Because the pay was decent I was quickly able to get an apartment. (This will be its own chapter.) Instead of moving the Upper West Side, I moved to the apartment on East 63rd Street off Fifth that my father picked.
The apartment was rent stabilized and charming though worn. I was the youngest tenant, for the first three years. Though the youngest my parties were far from the wildest. And by today’s standards I would have been considered to be decedent.
At the tee shirt company, 40 blocks downtown, my job was assistant to the president. Normally this would be the worst fit job for me as it would contain admin elements but the true admin work was a joke. My job was much more important to the company.
My boss was both a heroin addict, and sexaholic. I never figured out how he could be both successfully but really didn’t want to waste my time thinking about this. (He doesn’t remind of anyone in particular on Vinyl but he and the other owner who lived on Long Island were around the same ages as Bobby Cannavale, and Ray Romano’s characters, and way grosser.
I stayed at the job because I didn’t think a good company would hire me. I know how wrong I was but….
When most of my job was spent making up stories about why he couldn’t come to the phone. “Sorry he’s at a lunch meeting….No I don’t think you really want to meet him at a fourteen seat omelette restaurant off Madison….I know he should be in the Village; Village restaurants are the best.”
My boss was really in his office where non–muffled cries were becoming louder and louder. I was in the art department where I would answer the phone so as not to hear the moans, and to keep the art director from drinking before Two PM. As he generally wanted to begin at Nine AM, this was an achievement.
One day on my walk home I walked into the new Moynihan for Senator office on the street level on Sixth Avenue in the 40’s. If I thought I knew the 1970’s I hadn’t seen anything yet.