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April 26, 2000

I don't know why I torture myself. I decided that a good time to start THE RIGHT STUFF was waiting for takeoff on the Sea-Tac tarmac, that book's opening pages a concatenation of jet plane crashes to the refrain burnt beyond recognition. Many miles above the blithely turning earth, I worried about rear stabilizers and stabilized myself with a couple of stiff ones poured from $4.25 plastic whisky pint purchased wisely ahead of time in Seattle. Redeye Continental Flight 120 to Newark beat the odds and I arrived 6:00 a.m. EST having not slept but feeling vaguely energized by New York's noise and filth and the glandular elation of having survived another flight. I felt like a total hick when I hit the streets--"Look at all the people!" They struck me as unhappy, many scowls, not too many smiles, and I thought (perhaps prematurely), "New York is dead!" When I got to Michael's my buzz went unanswered so I had no place to lay my weary head. I sat in Cooper Diner where the just-arrived Australian waitress requested a website for her paintings and I was lucky enough to catch Tanya on her way to work. She gave me the key to her apartment. After getting trapped in the elevator for a few uneasy minutes, I walked the 5 flights (happy to have packed only a single backpack for 2-week east coast swing) to her cozy pad and slept deliciously until evening when I connected with Michael, Molly, and Carlos for PATH ride to Maxwell's for LIBERTY SCIENCE debut performance. They finished their set with the Pet Shop Boys' "I Wouldn't Normally Do this Kind of Thing" and then headliner SUPERCHUNK capped a set of their own anthemic oldies with "Born to Run." Michael hawked the T-shirts LuAnn had made that afternoon and I finished the last of the whisky, literally under the table, entertaining strangers by playing a 4-hole bamboo flute with my nose.