307 West 26th Street. The UCB Theatre sits dark and forgotten next to the brightly lit mega (their word not mine) Gristedes grocery store–it's as if it had been picked up by a tornado, somewhere from the East Village maybe, and then re-plunked here, on this unexpected block. It doesn't fit in. But it doesn't stick out either.
Walking down the stairs I wonder if I'm going back in time, or rather down in time. In a way I am–I've arrived at the UCB Theatre to see a live taping of the radio show Seven Second Delay which airs at 6pm on 91.1 WFMU. Actually I've come to see AND hear. It isn't often we get to see the voices behind the radio speaker, so when my friend Laura, the producer of the show, invited me, I jumped. I quickly found her walking around, looking busy and important but carrying a beer. She evokes the show Portlandia, by way of Brooklyn.
There are only a few people scattered about, seated amongst the narrow rows of aging red velvet chairs. I pick a seat three rows back and get settled in for the show. It takes me a few moments to get comfortable, the springs in the seat circling their way up to my backside, ensuring I don't fall asleep (as I am known to do anytime the lights go out). Laura had warned me to be on time for the start of the show, and, as promised, it did, with fan fair from the squirrelly-haired keyboardist running his fingers up and down the keys to get the audience in the mood.
The mood adequately set, Ken and Andy, the two hosts, walked out to our applause and began the show with an announcement that they were having a contest to see who could hold their bladder longer, or maybe who could drink more water, or just who could avoid leaving the stage first. They'd each had one liter of water before the show and downed one more in the first ten minutes. There was talk of urethra's and ways to hold your bladder, Andy threw out his idea of cheating which was to just put "a little dab of crazy glue" to keep it in. Andy was the one sitting behind the desk, so he also pointed out that he could basically pee at any time and we wouldn't know it. Ken doubted he could keep it so silent. The bet was for $40.
The guest list was short (three) and comprised of two bloggers and a Brooklyn-based band called Hospitality. Julieanne Smolinski, the first blogger was amusing. She bantered and joked with the two fifty plus radio hosts with ease. Her 15-minutes of fame currently surrounds her recent coup in getting Will Shortz, the puzzle master for The New York Times to kinda, sorta admit that one of his clues was maybe wrong-ish. His incorrect clue was: Wack, (in Hip Hop) and the answer was: Illin'. Julieanne begged to differ. She also handed out his email address, which is wshortz at aol.com. I love meeting "older" people with aol.com email addresses, it's almost as if I can hear the modem dialing.
The next blogger almost put me to sleep, so let's skip him. The hosts then did some speed interviewing of audience members which proved fascinating and funny. And then the band came on, the singer, the only girl, was shy and jittery. They were adorable and I liked their music–a little raspy, a little unfinished. Their album comes out on January 31st on Merge records and on February 3rd they have a CD release party at Glasslands. I hope I can make it.