October 9th, 2010

Now Is The Time For All Good Men To Come To The Aid Of Their Party

So last week I went to the most amazing party in Midtown Manhattan.

Oil Spill Mermaids Art Installation by Cynthia Von Buhler -- Clickenzee to Embiggen

Cynthia Von Buhler (the mermaid in the tub there) author of Who Will Bell The Cats? was celebrating her birthday, my birthday, Walter Sickert's birthday, Neil & Amanda's engagement and the fact that when you're an adult you can dress like a mermaid and spend the whole night in your bath tub if you want.

It really was the most splendid party. The whole thing was a big secret from the start and was planned with all the fanfare of Bilbo Baggins 111th (but on the hush hush down low). I wasn't sure if the whole thing wasn't hyperbole -- how could a party possibly be as exciting as this one was advertised? But it was. Festively dressed people on the street looking lost refused to tell one another what they were looking for -- lest they be interlopers, newspaper men or lost stock brokers. With the aid of a GPS and some magic glasses, I found the address -- there were guards at the desk of an invisible building asking me for the secret password, then an elevator that went up into the world of possible futures -- doors opened and splashed me out into a gigantic penthouse apartment just a block from the Empire State Building -- like Dorothy pushing open the door of her house, flung into Oz. In this Oz, Sxip Shirey was standing talking to Adam Mattas and he introduced me around.

"This place is enormous," I said.

"Wait till you see the downstairs," said Adam.

"There's a downstairs too?!"

"Yes," replied Sxip, "but it's not as cool as the roof deck."

"Roof deck?"

"There's a carousel up there."

I went up on the roof deck and looked at the Empire State Building, hovering there like a cloud. Walter Sickert was standing up there and I talked to him for a bit. The carousel had a dancing monkey on it and a hidden snake that would occasionally pop out of a hole. I went back down stairs to investigate the cotton candy machine and veggie dog stand when I stumbled across Kat Howard sitting with John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig & The Angry Inch & Shortbus) who was giving a back massage to Amanda Palmer, who was holding hands with Neil Gaiman while novelist Lev Grossman author of The Magicians looked on.

It was that kind of party.

Clickenzee to Embiggen

Neil took me back up to the roof deck and introduced me to Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) author of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I spotted Molly Crabapple and introduced myself. (Then I dragged her into the bathroom and took that photo of her with the mermaids and Cynthia at the top.) She was splendidly awesome. I made vague Tweets, waiting to see if someone else would let loose the secret, but no one did -- the party was still Top Secret.

"Is the party still Top Secret?" I asked Kambriel, looking down at my phone, which was beginning to overflow with curiosity after I'd tweeted that I met Molly Crabapple and photographed her with mermaids.

"It's still Top Secret," Kambriel said.

Lots of friends were playing music, I Photographed the Tiny Instrument Review in the tiniest room I could find, and I saw Sxip and Adam play.

Some time around 11:00 Cynthia was wheeled out of the bathroom on a gigantic bed (still a mermaid) and pushed up to the stage -- Jason Webley jumped up on her bed and played the accordion. Walter Sickert and the Army of Toys played with tumblers and contortionist violinists. It was like my CD player had come alive.

There was plotting and eating, rat feeding and tarot card reading. Amanda snapped this photo of me & Neil & Holly G.

In fact, there was much plotting of future Things Of Great Portent and I realized just how much stuff gets accomplished at parties like this. People bump into one another and say "Oh hey! I love your work, we should do something together" and ... boom. Off it goes and six months later, there's a little baby something or other.

Sometime around midnight I waved goodbye to everyone, just as Amanda Palmer was taking the stage and jumped on the Megabus back home to Philadelphia where the wonderful trillian_stars was waiting having returned victorious from an awesome performance of The Iliad. We went to sleep and the next day, an entire future of awesome stretched before us.

Happy birthday Cynthia.

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