New York: HSH

Many years since I was here,
on the street I was passin’ my time away
to the left and to the right,
buildings towering to the sky
it’s outta sight
in the dead of night

Here I am, and in this city, with a fistful of dollars
And baby, you’d better believe it

I’m back, back in the new york groove
I’m back, back in the new york groove
I’m back, back in the new york groove
Back in the new york groove, in the new york groove

In the back of my cadillac
A wicked lady, sittin’ by my side, sayin where are we?
Stop at third and forty-three, exit to the night
It’s gonna be ecstasy, this place was meant for me

Feels so good tonight, who cares about tomorrow
So baby, you’d better believe

I’m back, back in the new york groove…

–Ace Frehely

Intermezzo

How’s this for a trifecta:

Thursday night: dinner in Rome
Friday night: dinner in Paris
Saturday night: dinner in New York

I have finally lived up to my Jet-Set moniker.

Stonewalled again, or Erin go brouhaha

This year’s award for embarrassing public behavior at the St. Paddy’s day parade goes to none other than parade chairman, John Dunleavy. I’m not sure how many green pints he had downed before offering this explanation of why an Irish lesbian & gay organization is always denied permission to march in the parade:

“If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis into their parade? If African-Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?”

And moreover, “If we let the [Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization] in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?”

There are two ways of analyzing the first statement. Perhaps he really means to compare gays and lesbians to nazis and the KKK. But I think not, and that his point is rather to make an analogy between two groups with opposing goals, like letting a pro-arsonist group march in the fireman’s parade. Unfortunately for Dunleavy, both interpretations are evidence of a troubled, confused mind. Assuming Dunleavy is not a huge fan of prostitutes, his second statement just seems to imply that he thinks gays and lesbians are, well like prostitutes, I guess. Which is funny considering how many politicians make a point of being seen marching every year. I wonder, did mayor Bloomberg have no misgivings about marching this year, given Dunleavey’s comments.

The L-train word

Hopped on the L train last night and wound up at Pete’s Candy Store. We’re still trying to figure out the whole Williamsburg thing–like where everything is and why you have to go to the back of the room to order a sandwich, or get funny looks if you ask if the red cab is any good. No matter, it’s for the youngins anyway, and they seem to enjoy it all right.

We were there to check out Alessandro & Bando, packed into the Candy Store’s tiny, railway-car-like back room. Guitarist and composer Alessandro Ricciarelli was joined by guitarist and bassist Jerome Harris and percussionist (and fellow Berklee alumn) Satoshi Takeishi for an acoustic set. The Bando played a few traditional numbers alongside some of Ricciarelli’s own tunes, which I liked. Ricciarelli was born in Milan, grew up in Munich, studied jazz at Berklee, is a music therapist by trade, and also, I’m told, is a very good writer. He has a very understated vocal style, and ended the set with a very convincing Jobim impersonation. A nice set. And tho Bourbon Princess, the next act, looked & sounded interesting enough, we didn’t dally.

New York: West 27th? And Where?

We were somewhere around 10th Avenue on the edge of Chelsea when the Super Tuscan began to take hold. But let me take a step back. Every once in a while on my travels, a thought along the lines of, “after all, there are decent restaurants in other cities” enters my mind. But then I go to a place like Naima, and I am back to thinking of NYC, “Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Yes, it’s all that–and a packet of crisps. On that crosstown trip, the cabbie kept asking, “27th and where?” But after dinner, the guy taking us back to chez Mark informed us that Bungalow 8, which is next door, is “the most fabulous club in New York.” Which is perhaps why a cabbie was trawling W27th between 10th & 11th. Doesn’t matter, because I am not Prince Black Card, nor was meant to be. Also, somehow, there is now a ‘Scores’ on that block. But we’ll just ignore that. And we’ll be back…

Things that go boom… chuppa-chup-chup-chup in the night

Early this morning, I had a dream that I was piloting a helicopter. I’ve never actually piloted a real helicopter, although I’ve played with a simulator a bit. Frankly, I think I would be a bit nervous if I ever had to take over the controls–I’d feel more comfortable if I had to, say, land a passenger jet in real life. There’s something so un-aesthetic about helicopters. In the dream, I had passengers with me, but I can’t remember now who they were. I do remember one detail, which may be significant (in case any psychoanalysts are reading, please reply with your diagnoses). I had some trouble figuring out the controls, but quickly realized that to go down, I had to push up on the stick. Up is down; down is up. A metaphor for the times we live in?

Once the four of us (two humans, two cats) finally began to wake up, I realized why I was thinking about helicopters: one was hovering over our apartment, for hours and hours. Not exactly a unique situation in Manhattan. One hears all sorts of strange sounds, some benign, some disquieting. One Sunday morning last year, I’m certain that a I heard a fighter jet do three or four loops of the island and then zoom off. Yikes! And early one morning, we were wakened to what we were sure was the sound of a nearby building collapsing. We never did figure that one out.

Normally, a hovering helicopter is the harbinger of a nearby bigwig. I thought perhaps the Bush twins were having some late-night dim sum at Mr Chow. But it turns out that some reveler had decided to celebrate the British elections by setting off a couple of home-made grenades in front of the building housing the British consulate around 3:30 this morning. About 8 blocks from here. We didn’t hear the pops, probably because someone was doing one of those long horn-honks. 3:30 am is prime time for long horn-honks around here.

Not much damage done, just some shattered windows and a disfigured planter. One thing I find bizarre is that no one has mentioned that this building is very close to the Citicorp building, which if you recall became a target two days after the end of the DNC convention last year (it had been strangely fortuitous timing for the Republicans). Well, we will assume that this little event was the work of a lone kook and continue on with our Cinco de Mayo celebrations…

Update: wire stories keep mentioning that this building is near the UN. Well, it’s not really. By that measure, all of east midtown would be near the UN. The stories also mention a Dutch UN worker found “loitering” in the area. I believe that this era ended at least two decades ago, but 53rd & 3rd, immortalized in the Ramones song of the same name, was in the 70’s the main hustler pickup corner in the city.

Another sad day for NYC

Bobby Short died this morning. Just two weeks ago I wrote a short list of things I needed to do right away; seeing Bobby Short play his gig at the Carlyle was number 1 on the list. Number 2 was to see Les Paul do his show at the Iridium; we’re hoping to do that tonight.

Last call at the Oak Bar

From the “paging-George-Kaplan department.”

My first trip to the Oak Bar was way back in the twentieth century, during a trip to New York, before I lived here. It was an evening of contrasts: stuffy old expensive midtown, followed by hip, cheap downtown. The three of us had two rounds of cocktails and the tab came to 50 bucks. After that, we headed down to the West Village and had a nice dinner for three with a bottle of wine for the same amount. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about New York, you can find the extremes and all points in between.