A Karaoke Adventure

I'm not going to have a voice when I wake up, but it was so worth it.

After studying business in Japan, my old high school buddy developed a taste for Karaoke, and in the early part of this decade while he was living in Manhattan, frequently hosted the most insane parties. There were dancing girls, vodka everywhere, and at one point puppets. He filmed a lot of it and in an age before YouTube, aired the “episodes” on a public access channel.

As sometimes happens in life, we lost touch for a while. The last time we hung out was about two years ago, and I recently found him online and contacted him. When he invited me to “kick it 2001 style” and come to a Karaoke party on Friday night, I realized it had been even longer since I'd made a fool of myself with a microphone and enjoyed it.

Back in the Fall, one of my friends at work tipped me off to a great free van service our company offers. Since the trains run more frequently near my job than they do by my house, a night in the city is simplified by this service. I leave my car at work, get a free ride in on the van, and take the train back to my car later on. I met up with my friend and met his girlfriend, and caught up on the last few years over some pizza before meeting everyone else at the Karaoke place.

Since I'd eventually have to drive, I opted not to drink too much. My friend's girlfriend made an amazing combination of apple juice, vodka, and papaya juice. I had a glass or two and didn't notice any effect on me. I'm sure the fact that I was standing on a couch belting out Danzig's mother fifteen minutes later had nothing to do with it.

I guess we eventually had 10 people in the room, and a good blend of veterans as well as newcomers. Some of the first timers were wary, but I got them all on their feet during the heavy portion of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and by Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer every soul in that room was on his or her feet singing in one big circle. Another high point of the evening was my friend demonstrating his mastery of Snow's Informer, which he's honed over the past decade. There weren't many low points, although I found Journey's Wheel in the Sky and Styx's Renegade to be ambitious choices. I've never had a problem singing either one in my car, but those choruses are a lot higher than I realized.

The selection of songs was awe-inspiring and I can’t possibly list everything we sang or rapped. After four hours, I wasn't ready to leave but other people were tired, and a room does get expensive over time. Outside in the main bar area, the place was packed, so it was good that we started as early as we did to got the room. On the way to a hot dog place, I nearly got sidetracked by a comic book store with a half-price sign that seemed to be open after midnight. We're doing one more tag sale at my uncle's this weekend though and after placing an ad for it online and getting an inquiry about comic books, I decided to try and sell some of my doubles and beat-up copies. I still can't part with my core collection, and I definitely shouldn't add to it. I caught up with the group.

There was a sign in the hot dog place cautioning customers that prices were subject to change based on our attitude. I was careful not to irk the girls behind the counter, but later on with a snarkiness worthy of Questionable Content baristas, we watched the manager rip in to a customer for not realizing that the bathroom was hidden behind a sliding panel that looked like ordinary wood siding next to an old phone booth, and she had to buzz him in to the concealed chamber from behind the counter. It was all very surreal.

Back to the Future Part III was playing on a nearby television. One of the girls thought it was some Western, but then recognized an actor she referred to as ”Doc Hollywood” because she “could never remember that guy’s name.” Now that made me feel old. At least last week I got carded at the Vaeda show. Does the fact that being asked for I.D. flatters me make me old?

On the way to the train station I had an interesting conversation with a cab driver who wanted to know the exact geography of Long Island and roughly where I was taking the train to. He suggested that an hour train ride could be accomplished perhaps in 45 minutes by a taxi, but I told him I wasn't sure. Finally he mused, “the train is probably much cheaper, yes?” I looked at the meter, which in a few blocks already cost more than my train ticket would, and replied, “definitely.”

After making my train and catching a connecting one, I was ready for a nap. I overheard the conductor tell a guy in the seat behind me that he had gotten on the wrong train. She told him which station to get off at, to transfer back to the junction and pick up the correct train. Across the aisle, a girl spoke up that she was in the same predicament. Despite the fact that the next stop was a railroad service facility and not the station the conductor told either of them to get off at, both of them disembarked. As we pulled away, they were on the platform looking bewildered. I'd like to think of it as a romantic How I Met Your Mother scenario. I could just imagine the guy talking to his children several years from now, telling them the story of how he met their mother back when they were both morons on public transportation...

Back to my car at last, a little before 3 AM, I made the greatest possible discovery. I had left a bottle of water in my car, which acted like a freezer in this cold weather. It was an amazing thing to have for my throat on my ride home. And now, my adventures chronicled while still fresh in my mind, I shall pass out for several hours before I go work at a tag sale. I'm surprised I'm this awake, but I always feel juiced after doing fun stuff.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat amazed by the perceived discrepancies I see in Asian countries. In some ways they seem so much more evolved than we are, but in other ways they seem to favor such simplistic entertainment like karaoke and wacky game shows. It just doesn't add up to me.:)

1/20/2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

PLEASE don't take this personally, it isn't intended that way ... this is just the typically-Darrell comment that I always make about Karaoke.

I don't get it.

Singing is a talent. Like painting or sculpting or playing the tuba. (It's not a tuba, right? I can't remember what it is exactly.)

I don't understand the appeal of Karaoke. We wouldn't get together to watch people who aren't predisposed toward the talent trying to paint landscapes or play the tuba or write a poem or write a symphony. Yet we are happy to watch people who can't sing trying to sing. What's that all about?

Again, not a knock on you and I'm sure you had a great time. I just don't understand the whole Karaoke thing.

1/20/2007 12:35 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

PLEASE don't take this personally D, but I'm sure some people don't get the appeal of making a bassett hound chase a laser pointer. ;)

Seriously though, not everybody thinks the same things are fun, and that's cool, but I don't think you need to be talented to do something you enjoy, unless of course you're also doing it professionally. Little kids blowing those toy plastic trumpets on the sidelines of parades don't have to grow up to be real trumpet players; emulatation is an end in itself.

I think most people who do karaoke are doing it as a goof, for the same reason they'd sing in the shower or while driving their car; they like singing along with their favorite artists and emulating it, even if they're not professional. Most aren't the sort of deluded wannabe's that might audition for American Idol.

There's also different ways to do Karaoke. I would never do it in a bar full of complete strangers, or hang out in an audience watching some stranger on a stage sing. But a small group of friends laughing and being silly in their own room is a lot more fun, and I would say don't knock it until you've tried it. I never understood it either until I had a microphone in my hand. It's boring to watch someone else sing(unless by some rarity you have a someone who really can sing), but it's a lot of fun to sing and sing with a group.

Oh, and you're right, it's not a tuba.

1/20/2007 7:44 PM  
Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

It didn't happen unless we see video.

1/20/2007 10:17 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

But a small group of friends laughing and being silly in their own room is a lot more fun,

Alright, that I can understand. My only frame of reference for Karaoke is the movie Duets, which I thought was awful. I guess it tainted my opinion.

PLEASE don't take this personally D, but I'm sure some people don't get the appeal of making a bassett hound chase a laser pointer.

Oh, now you're just being silly. ;)

1/21/2007 7:30 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

I have yet to see Duets, but if that was your sole frame of reference, then I wholly understand your position. :)

Karaoke is always fun to do(in any condition) but it isn't always fun to watch(sober).

Jerry, I'd post a video but then you'd see what I really look like, and you creep me out too much for me to ever risk that. Thank the 'net for secret identities... ;)

1/21/2007 9:52 PM  

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