“Today is the first day…” The phrase is so tired and hackneyed that I can’t bring myself to regurgitate the ending. It carries echoes of lost causes. You’ll hear this fortune cookie wisdom oft imparted by folks with nothing left to say as they settle back into their armchairs and dream of wistful yesterdays and endless lost tomorrows. It is weightless and meaningless without the will to make it so.
So why do the words seem so damned relevant?
The Inciting Incident
A week or two before writing this post, I had a run-in with the cops. It wasn’t the kind of run-in you typically prescribe to a story involving the Buffalo Police Department. In fact, the officer that showed up (Alvarez, if I remember correctly) was much more respectful and professional than in encounters I’ve witnessed and had with the BPD in the past. There are some serious hostility and anxiety issues in the BPD, but they were in no way the antagonist of this story.
No, I had the cops called on me at my own home by one of the contractors and representatives of Thruway Builders of Orchard Park. He was a classy gentleman. He set up in my driveway to do some work on the neighbor’s house. He was working three feet from my studio. I was editing an interview at the time. Nothing important. Just my job.
I knew we were friends immediately because he called me “asshole” when I went into my driveway to ask how long it would take. He was a learned man, well versed in his rights to work on my property without legally obtaining my permission. He alerted me to his wisdom when I asked him to leave my property, and he called the police.
As I said, the police sided with me. I explained to Officer Alvarez that I only wanted the courtesy of asking my permission. He concurred that it was a small courtesy to ask. He asked if the contractor could complete his work if he let him know that he required my permission.
Of course. That’s all I wanted in the first place.
A Change of Pace
Regardless of the outcome, something is unnerving about having the cops called on you at your own home. It’s especially fucked when they are called by someone who is trespassing on your property. You feel unwelcome in your own space. You feel unsafe in your own home.
That’s no small fete. I’m six-five and two-hundred-fifty pounds. I served in the military. I live in inner-city Buffalo. I’m not easily intimidated. It wasn’t even the contractor that intimidated me. It was the act. The idea that anyone, at any time in this place called Buffalo, can walk up and completely disregard your space whenever they see fit.
It lit a fire under my ass. I had to get out. We had to get out. It was well beyond strike three. Between having a man literally run me off the road and get away with it and having the city illegally sell my house to itself, this was the final, final straw.
Time to Roll
When Monique and I joined the military back in 1994, we both wanted to travel. Since then, we’ve done an extensive amount of travel. Many of our friends live in other countries and other states, where we have met or met up with them along the way. We’ve traveled to all but a handful of the U.S. states.
We’ve been to Belgium, Ireland, France, Spain, Scotland, England, and of course, Kentucky. We’ve seen spider farms and ghost hills, churches and cemeteries, art in the streets, and music in the subways. We’ve been to art museums and concert halls and recorded in studios across the country.
We’ve ordered a beer in broken and muddled Catalan.
And we want more. So we’ve decided to take our show a little more permanently on the road. More on that to come, but we are looking into remote work so we can travel from place to place, take in cultures, drink craft beer, eat local foods, capture the local sounds and share stories from the road.
So You’ve Decided To Be a Bum
We’ll be Matt and Monique, Vincent. No more. No Less.
We’ve got some big changes coming. In terms of UberDuo, travel, and how and where we work.
The TL;DR of it? Ha! This article could be its own book. But I suppose we must draw neat little conclusions, if only by way of a forward. Change is in the air, folks. Between the ‘Rona and the resulting isolation, we’ve all had to sit quietly and rediscover ourselves. And I think many of us have found we lost a lot of who we meant to be along the way.
It took a contractor reminding me of his rights for me to realize, once and for all, that we were not welcome here. That I didn’t belong here. Because some folks never truly belong anywhere. And that’s okay, too.