Home > Red Spiral Notebook > [January, 1995] Writing Exercise: It’s Been a Long Time

[January, 1995] Writing Exercise: It’s Been a Long Time

[I started including more and more writing exercises in my journal as my junior year creative writing class continued to develop my passion for crafting poetry and prose. Some All of my work had an element of autobiography, including the writing exercise below. Our teacher gave us the first four lines and told us to use them as the jumping off point for our piece.]



Writing activity
It’s been a long time.

Yes, a long time.
Is this it?
I guess it is.

We stood in front of the Waverly inhaling the smell of exhaust from passing vehicles and incense from a table loaded with the stuff a few feet away from us. A rollerblader with turquoise hair speeded by. The store nearby that sold t-shirts, patches, lighters, buttons, handcuffs, and a vast array of bongs was still in business. And this was one of the more ordinary blocks of Greenwich Village.

“When was the last time we were here?” I asked Billie, again admiring the lizard she had tattooed on her temple.

“It’s been…I don’t know, a while.”

We were headed for Bleeker Bob’s, to pay our respects. It was the first record store we ever visited in the village, and even though we never buy anything there anymore, we always go in, spend a long time flipping through the 7”’s and 12”’s then go on our way. I also go in hopes of one day meeting Joey Ramone, who is rumored to frequent the place. Unfortunately, we keep missing each other.

Downstairs - Generation Records (even though this is a pretty recent photo, it looks exactly the way I remember it.)

A man who could pass for Henry Rollins’ younger brother, same hair and facial structure, though slightly less bulkier build was working the counter. He wore a long army jacket over a Marylin Manson T-shirt.

“Do you have anything by the Virgin Prunes?” Billie asked him.

“Try Gothic, V.”

“I did, nothing there. It isn’t easy finding stuff by them.” She signed then tilted her head to the side. “Is this Nick Cave?” Billie always had to know what was playing.

“Don’t know,” he rummaged around for the CD case and held it up for her “I guess it is.”

We left the Red record place and after a few similar places Billie found her Virgin Prunes CD.

Riveting stuff, I know.

A few notes:

1. Before i became the IFC Center, the Waverly Theater stood at Sixth Avenue and West Third. I don’t know if I ever actually saw a movie there when it was The Waverly, but I did love it as a meeting place. It was right outside the West 4th Street subway stop, which made it convenient, and there was just something highly appealing about saying, “Let’s meet outside The Waverly.” It was also the perfect spot to begin a record store outing.

2.  Despite the fact that most music these days is downloaded and that major chains like Tower Records have gone out of business, both Generation Records and Bleecker Bob’s are still around today. I know there will be a day when both are gone, and I hope I’m not around to see it.

3. Pretty much the only fictional things about that writing exercise were the names, the tattoo, and how easily Billie (based on Claudia but with my music taste) found that Virgin Prunes CD—it took me years of searching through countless CDs in record stores in at least three different states before I found one of their albums. 

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