Thursday, January 10th, 2008
fell in love with Brighton because of the beach and the winding streets and the old pier, which is burnt out and ruined, and the new one, which hosts a big New Jersey-style carnival with lights and people walking with ice cream cones and rides racing and whirling and clacking along their tracks.
The beach there is cobbles and it’s a steep beach. When the surf rolls up it you hear the big round stones clicking, grinding, and moving forward, and when it rolls back out you hear its retreat just as loud.
Before our show we walked past an old onion-domed palace a prince built for decadent parties, went down a busy little street market, and wound up in a junk store that stretched half the block and was filled with tortoise shell buttons in mason jars and shoe boxes of discarded family photos and purple beads and accordions and flapper dresses. (I bought myself an ancient photo of two elderly bathers sitting in a tepid-looking sea that looked more Atlantic than English Channel.)
At night the city was crazy and full of noise and people out on the town. After we played, I stood outside the club (the Hope) talking with some local kids and holding a paper-towel to the gouge above my eye that the drum-riser sliced when I jumped off it.
The Brighton kids were friendly, but a little too flashy (LA?) and definitely ready for the kind of parties I was trying to steer clear of.
I ducked away, climbed on our bus, and we headed back to an empty house to record all night.
In the morning while everyone slept I got up early and paced around the house, too restless to sleep in.
After a walk through the neighborhood looking for food, I took off for the beach and found it warm and sunny with a nice balmy breeze coming from the west. All tour we’d been shivering and rained on, but Brighton was warm with a good clean blue sky and a big yellow beachball of sun.
I stood against the railing on the boardwalk and watched the waves come in by the pier. Further down the beach, as it curved around into the hook of the bay, sat a set of factory towers pumping out steam, which held in the breeze and then billowed back inland in huge gushing plumes.
It was then that I was hypnotized and snatched up from my life and put into the photo I bought in the junk store. I was there in that little world of old timey swimsuits, bathing caps, light blue water, and gentle choppy surf. I felt totally removed from my life and from the journey of traveling around playing music for people. I forgot everything for that quick second and lived this new life that wasn’t mine. It felt good and right and solid. I was centered on solid ground and I was in my place.
Five minutes later the clouds came in and the breeze shifted until it was coming straight off the Channel and it was a cold one, a big grey freezing wind. Everything went back to the way it was, back to fall 2007, back to tour-life, and I headed off to meet up with the band.
That was Brighton. My favorite place in England.BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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