Ray Manzarek remembered with an epic recount of a New York adventure
”Light My Fire” is the last song of their regular set, but they rehearsed three other songs that they’ll have ready for possible encores. By that point, they were humming along, well-oiled and capable of anything. “Spanish Caravan” made me crazy because of how great Robbie’s work on it was, and the last two songs seemed like just the right emotional note to end on. I’ll leave those for you to experience as surprises when and if you see them.
(This ran as a separate piece not long afterwards, also on Ain't It Cool)
When does a day begin? Because technically, my trip started Wednesday night, Sept. 25, in Los Angeles. I left the ground after 10:00 at night and didn’t land in New York until just before 9:00 the next morning.
The plane trip was uncomfortable, to say the very least. I was the only person onboard unable to sleep, evidently, and I learned several things during those long, cramped hours.
(1) “Spirit” is Delta’s special code word for “really, really fucking tiny.”
(2) My knees do not, in fact, bend backwards.
(3) The dickhead seated in front of me did not care. Not one little bit.
I touched down, caught a shuttle from La Guardia, and spent the next two hours creeping into the city. I ended up dropped on the corner of 38th and 8th at just after 10:00 in the morning, dazed, unprepared for the light rain that was falling, hungry, and more than a little cranky. I managed to walk past the entrance to the hotel about four times. It was better disguised than the train platform to Hogwarts, and it was only once I deduced that the door to the dry cleaners might also lead somewhere else that I found the front desk of the Manhattan Hotel.
There was a key waiting for me, and I made me way up to the third floor, where I collapsed through the door. Thursday afternoon was just about sleep. Surreal, disrupted sleep thanks to a phone that kept ringing and some impatient guy from the front desk who kept actually letting himself into the room just to tell me that I had phone messages and a drummer rehearsing, playing the same damn drum riff again and again in the next building over. If five hours spent hovering on the verge of consciousness can be called sleep, then, yeah, I guess I slept.
So finally I struggled to a state that closely resembled being awake, and just in time, too. Tim Sullivan came bounding into the room we were sharing, ready to figure out what we would be doing for the next few days.
Speaking of the room... did you see THE BLUES BROTHERS? You remember Elwood’s room, where it was basically four walls and a bed? Well, that was pretty much the same layout for us. Tim kept telling me that he was fine with the floor, proving to me again that Tim is brave beyond words. He also told me to be at the Society Hall at 7:00 so I would have time to talk to Ray before his piano concert with George Winston that night. It was about 4:00 when he told me that, and before we could really talk about anything else, he was out the door and on his way to the sound check.
No problem, I thought. I have something else to do first anyway, I thought. I’ll just run do this, then cut over to the concert, and it’ll all be easy and simple and uncomplicated, I thought.
I can already hear you laughing.
As I mentioned, it was raining. Remember, I live in Los Angeles, a city where water falling from the sky is akin to some sort of biblical plague. I didn’t bring the right jacket or the right shoes for the rain, but I didn’t care. I was determined to just roll with it. By the time I showered and got out onto the street, it was 4:30 or so, and I had a destination in mind. I struck out on foot, pausing to buy a small umbrella from one of the 4,200 little camera/electronics stores on the same block as the hotel. I walked a few blocks to 40th Street, then cut up towards 3rd.
I figured I’d just catch a quick ride over and arrive a little early so I could dry off before I sat down to talk to Ray about the concert and his film and the Doors shows I saw recently in LA
Forty five f**king minutes, pardon my french. It took me forty-five minutes to catch a cab.
And don’t get me wrong. This isn’t my first time in New York. I basically lived out there in the summer of ’95, working out of the Tribeca Film Center with Harry Lime on a movie that eventually fell apart in the most magnificent manner. I’ve hailed plenty of cabs in my time.
It was like something out of an absurdist comedy. Not only could I not get a single cab to stop, no matter where I went, but I also managed to get splashed by passing traffic, not once, not twice, but three separate and spectacular times.
I finally managed to leap in front of a helpless old lady who had managed to flag down the solitary empty cab in the entire city, knocking her violently to the ground with a forearm to the throat, and I told the driver to haul ass over to Central Park and 64th. He glared at me and drove a jaunty five miles per hour the entire way.