Ray Manzarek remembered with an epic recount of a New York adventure
Turns out, though, that the drummer I heard earlier in the day was just the tip of the iceberg. We were evidently right next to a full-blown rehearsal studio, one that was mysteriously not soundproofed, meaning I was treated to the sound of a band playing the entire Strokes album live. Not once, either. Not twice. Over and over and over and over. For all I know, it was the actual Strokes, making sure they know all their own songs.
Whoever it was, they played until almost four in the morning, and I was finally able to drift into a sort of giddy, exhausted near-sleep that was disrupted mildly when Tim walked into the room, and that came to a sudden and ugly end at around 6:00, when Tim woke me up so that we could figure out how to handle the entire HOWARD STERN issue.
I had the office number that I had used earlier in the week when I talked to Gary Dell’abate’s assistant. For some reason, though, no one answered. The main K-ROCK switchboard kept sending me to the same number, and again, no one answered. They were there, and we knew it. All you had to do was switch on the radio to know for sure. So we decided to just pack up and head over to the studio and see what was going to happen. Originally, I had talked to the show about being on to discuss the SUPERMAN script with Howard, a well-known comic book fan. I was going to spring Ray on him as a surprise, since I know he’s also quite fond of The Doors.
Never got the chance. I made it as far as the lobby for the show, where I was greeted by Ronnie The Limo Driver, who asked me for my name and my reason for being there. Everything looked like it was going to be good until Aria Giovanni showed up with a stack of her all-anal porn DVDs. I listen to Stern every morning, so as soon as I saw her, I knew the score. Comic books... porn... no contest. Ronnie came to escort her in and ask me to leave, and that was that. Yeah, I ended up on the show by phone the following Monday, but Howard never even learned that Ray Manzarek was ready to drop by at a moment’s notice just to say hello, and I felt terrible about it at the time.
Back in the room, there was no chance of getting back to sleep, so I worked a little and then went out to lunch with some friends I made at Ebertfest this year, a filmmaker and his wife, a recently published author. Cool folks. Good meal. Long conversation. I took the subway and managed not to get lost or confused. At least, not until I got back to the hotel and tried my key. The door to the room didn’t open. I tried it again. Still nothing. I was standing there, confounded, trying the key again and again because, as tired as I was, it just wasn’t making sense to me.
The guy who I vaguely remembered from the day before, the one who kept walking into the room while I was sleeping, finally came walking up to me and started yelling at me in something that almost resembled English. Something about “an hour” and “reserved,” and then he kept pointing at the stairs.
So fine. Back downstairs I go. I wait for some other guests to finish checking in and then asked at the front desk why my card key wasn’t working. “What room were you in?” the woman at the desk asked. 309, I told her. She immediately realized who I was. “You suitcase! Here! We have for you!” Sure enough, all of my belongings were packed up and stored in a side room, along with a note from Tim. “We’ve been kicked out. Find me at Brett’s hotel. 236 W. 59th. Room 2419.” Okay. Easier said than done. Thanks to the state of heightened security that seems to permeate all facets of our daily lives now, you can no longer go upstairs in most hotels without having a card key of your very own. Doesn’t matter what explanations you have or how normal or rational you are. And it certainly doesn’t help if you’ve just dragged your luggage ten blocks in humidity so thick that you’ve begun to make your own gravy.
I took a few phone calls, but I finally got Tim downstairs to the lobby. He told me a story about how our room had somehow been rented out on an hourly basis, and as Tim had been run out of the hotel, there was literally a sweaty businessman waiting in the hallway with a hooker, eager to get into the room. As I tried to cope with my severe case of the heebie jeebies, Tim was able to wave his card key and fend off hotel security long enough for us to head upstairs, where I basically had time to shower and change and get all my luggage together to make sure I was ready to leave town almost immediately after the screenings. One more adventure in New York traffic convinced me to stop bitching just because of a little extra congestion around the Highland and Franklin intersection, and it didn’t help that Tim and I had the wrong address for the Clearview Cinemas where the night’s event would be taking place. By the time we got things sorted out and got to the right venue, it was time for things to get started.