We took a whole bunch down to this LES music spot to see Tragedy, a heavy metal Beegees tribute band (yes you read that right), lots of spandex. I seem to remember it was cheap, like $14 dollars including four support bands (they were all fun-weird too).
My sis and I picked up some unique finds on an icy cold Sunday over at the Brooklyn Flea. She bought a red retro, circular suitcase, me a huge enamel pie tin ($10). Other wares included vintage clothes, rugs, furniture, and of course… pickles.
I’d been told good things about the resident covers band at Cafe Wha? by my friend, Sloane, who readily admitted a huge crush on the guitarist. And it was great, too. Waitress service at a table within spitting distance of the tiny stage was a bonus.
Tasty, good value Cuban food with the main problem being getting a seat or even a space to stand in – it’s so insanely popular. Ridiculously cool people, lots of models or artists with beards, tats and hats, so M really stood out whenever he met me for a mohito after work. Going solo for a beer one hot day, I remember hanging out with a wannabee scriptwriter who was totally coked up and going on about his latest film exploiting Heath Ledger’s recent death, nice. NB. Menu pick – fish tacos.
Tonight, a party in a classic loft apartment full of original art and interesting people (read – a guy with a hat and a couple whowore matching clothes). Mac & cheese, meat loaf and plentiful supplies of cake. Jazz trio and two young pianists vying for our ear.
In NYC, up until now we have only been to other Europeans’ apartments with other Europeans as guests. The reliable ex-pat circulars of leaving parties and housewarmings. In this instance, our real estate agency wanted to say “Thanks” with a party and get it in before the Thanksgiving rush (well, rush for some – we’re still waiting for an invite for turkey dinner, hint, hint).
I was expecting a bar somewhere with a rolling presentation of apartments to rent, and brochures all laid out. Then, even when entering the 5th floor Tribeca apartment, I thought, oh hang on, this must be an apartment they are trying to rent out, the market is quiet and so they’re hosting a party there – cool idea. But no. The owner (of both the apartment and the real estate agency) had invited us into her own home. A senior-looking little lady, she was stylish with an open face but with a hint of frailty. Her son’s artwork hung on her walls and someone called Brian had made all the food.
M returned form the kitchen, astonished at the eccentric salad-spoon manoeuvres of a pushy tall skinny guy behind him with a big mop of hair. Next minute the same guy is tinkling away at the grand piano, in some kind of a personal contest with a gothic girl. She was way better. It could have been a scene from a Woody Allen movie if it weren’t for the lack of angst and intellectual rambling.
So, anyway, now I feel like a New Yorker. Or someone who knows New Yorkers, at least. Ok, then, someone who buys stuff off New Yorkers and spends enough money to be invited to their house.
When I was a young girl or maybe even a teenager, one of my favourite things was to take my school atlas and, using only the pages showing North America, transcribe all the place names into a separate little book with a freshly sharpened pencil, crossing them off as they were recorded. I loved the sound and the look of the placenames on the page and for some reason they seemed the most exotic and characteristic of all of the nations included within the atlas, despite the fact that I had probably not even made it to France at that stage. Walking by the local bookstore this morning brought that name-affection back to me with a notice for the evening’s book-reading, ‘Names on the Land – A historical account of place naming in the United States’.
I was absolutely satisfied. A variety of readers (some better than others) treated a good-sized audience to snippets of the book and opened up about bits of their land-connections and musings on nomenclature. And normal people asked straight-forward questions without any pretentiousness. For the country itself, I learned that some of the alternate names offered instead of the United States of America were: Freedonia, Alleghania and Columbia. The writer, George R Stewart, scorns the one that was settled for in the end. Needless to say, I bought the book and read three chapters in one night which, by the way, is really good for me.
‘No one knows when man came, or who gave the first names. Perhaps the streams still ran high from the melting ice-cap, and strange beasts roamed the forest. And since names – corrupted, transferred, re-made – outlive men and nations and languages, it may even be that we still speak daily some name which first meant “Saber-tooth Cave” or “Where-we-killed-the-ground-sloth”.