Friday, April 11, 2008

Had a mate in town this week. He was staying with friends in the part of town now known as the East Village, so our various excursions, as well as this post were, and are, focussed on this enclave. Up until the late 1980s, part of this area- Alphabet City- was one of the most dangerous spots in NY. It was largely Puerto Rican, and poor, and whiteys were not advised to venture there alone. Nowadays your biggest worry is having an eye taken out by an expensive haircut, or being smothered in ironic T-shirts. On the surface it's all very artistic and alternative, and is indeed a great place to spend an evening, but stay too long and you might start taking yourself very seriously. Anyways, over the course of two nights, we managed to cover the Irish faux-dive bar, the trendy American bar, the Israeli Jazz bar, the genuine-dive rock bar, and the Horseshoe. At the rock bar the assembled were regaled with the opinions and stories of my mate's American cousin. Gosh, the young fellow swore like a burning sailor in a swearing contest. And the descriptors he used when opining on Presidential hopefuls Obama and Clinton I suspect are rarely heard outside the more mountainous regions of old Alabammy.
Fortunately he then extinguished his cross long enough to give me a fairly graphic description of home butchery. It was about this time I jumped to my feet and screamed "Look! The Crocodile Dundee Bar!!" 
 The Horseshoe bar is an oldish neighbourhood bar and yes, was featured in the aforementioned piece of celluloid mastery. Reason enough to go elsewhere, you'd think, but it was so close. And we were all rather thirsty. Besides I've always wanted to recreate that classic scene in which Paul Hogan grabs a transvestite by the bollocks. Sadly there was none to be found. Transvestites, that is. No shortage of bollocks. We got stuck into the beers- good selection- the girls went to have themselves immortalized in the on-site photo booth, and I got cornered by a glass artist. (Nick: "That job must blow". Crickets. Justified crickets.)
 By about 2AM things were starting to get sloppy, and I'd run out of funds, so it was Hooroo and off.
 Now these blogs take me forever to finish- I am one of the world's great procrastinators- and as a result, this one has musical highlights vying for attention. NY tenor legend George Garzone stopped by the Coal Face the other night. He seems to be famous more for the length to which students will go to study with him than his musical output. 'Course I could be wrong about that- I am quite bitter. He sat in for a tune with Harry- sounded kind of ordinary and Harry- either deliberately or accidentally- quite publicly forgot his name. Now Harry's not generally the type to play mind-games so this seemed quite genuine, and even though I've never met Garzone, and he's certainly never done me wrong, the incident did make me chuckle. Like I said- bitter.
 Another highpoint came the other night, and quite unexpectedly. Mate AC is in town- dropped by the Coal Face on Sunday night and mentioned that he was off to a traditional Irish jam-session. Now normally I'll go to great lengths to avoid any music that features both bagpipes and harps, and Sunday is  my night to fill up at the Manor, but for some reason I jumped in- and right glad I was. Cosy little Irish joint in the East Village (back for more), best Guinness I've ever had, and a very pleasant and educational musical experience to wash it all down. Yes- pipes, harps, fiddles, flutes- it should have been a slow, aural glassing. But performed with such pleasure and sincerity it was hard not to get sucked in. Might try to investigate further.  
 Ok, that's it for this one. Gig at Smalls tomorrow night should provide plenty of material for the next one. Righto then.  

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