“I hope none of us is dangerous,” I said as three of us entered Peter Yanowitz’s apartment building after someone buzzed us in.
You’re not supposed to let strangers walk into a building with you in New York City, but, well, this isn’t the 1970s. New York’s a kinder, gentler place than it once was.
“That would be awesome if we were,” said a guy who looked like an urban, downtown Jared Leto — his head wrapped in a scarf that also swaddled his neck, shark teeth dangling from hoops in his ears — as we entered the elevator.
The young blonde woman who had entered with us kept quiet.
So I told the story (abbreviated as elevator rides don’t take long) of the time I almost mugged someone.
I was leaving a movie theater in swanky Brooklyn Heights and was asked by a guy from Portland, Oregon, if I could tell him the way back to Manhattan. I told him I was heading to the subway myself and could walk him and his girlfriend there.
He asked: “You’re not going to rob us, are you?”
I think he was 99 percent joking, but, I mean, the guy was a solid head taller than I was and I was dressed in the standard-issue wool-cashmere-blend dress overcoat worn by most men who work in Midtown.
I said: “Do I look like I’m going to rob you?”
He agreed that I didn’t, but it occurred to me later that it might have been fun to say: “As I matter of fact I am! Give me your wallet, bitch!” and then kind of shove him.
I mean, I would have mailed it back to him, probably with an extre 20 bucks thrown in for his trouble, but it would have given us both an experience to remember.
Mr. Jared Leto Lookalike (My So-Called Life Jared Leto, not strange, modern-day goth Jared Leto or Fight Club, maimed-with-a-broken-eye-socket Jared Leto) agreed that that would have been a good idea as we exited the elevator on the top floor. To our surprise, we walked to the same door. It turned out we were both visiting Peter Yanowitz and his girlfriend, Lisa Davies.
You might remember that I reconnected with Peter, who went on the same trip to Israel as I with our high school youth goup in 1984, just a few weeks ago. If you remember that, you probably remember that Peter is now the bassist for Morningwood and that Lisa’s a model and nursing student.
The guy I met in the elevator is Kenyon Phillips, the man behind an electronica band called Unisex Salon, who said he met Peter by jumping on stage and behaving lewdly at Morningwood concerts. [July 5, 2007 update: I have since become more familiar with Kenyon's music; it’s really not electronica but more ’80s-style new-wave pop with synthesizers, in a good way].
Peter ordered pizza from Joe’s, on Carmine and Bleecker, and poured 2005 Corbières "premier pas" Domaine des Deux Anes 2005, which Lisa says they buy for $9 a bottle. We sat on Peter’s balcony while Kenyon and the happy couple caught up and I peppered them with questions, as I do. Then we were joined by Lisa’s friend, designer Patrik Rzepski, who marvled that he and Lisa had known each other for four years now.
I motioned to Peter, who was inside with Kenyon playing new Morningwood tracks, and said we’d met in 1983 (we went to a Jewish camp in the Poconos together that year).
I told Peter that my favorite Morningwood song was a very dirty and inappropriate tune called Babysitter, in which a young woman in charge of looking after a kid suggests activities that, well, she shouldn’t.
Peter said the song was autobiographical and recounted tales of growing up as a young Jewish boy in Salt Lake City, left in the overenthusiastic and roaming hands of teenage Mormon girls.
I later jumped up and went inside when Kenyon started playing some music from his web site. For speakers, Peter was using an old boom box that he’d bought on the street, and I thought it sounded great, which made Kenyon smile.
Here are my dining companions (from left): Kenyon, Lisa, Patrik and Peter, in front of a newly installed door to Peter’s balcony.