Quaint ramblings and occasional reflections of a journeying Aussie musician...

10 October 2006

New York - Bad Sneakers (and a pina colada, my friend?)

Thursday 21st September

Today was kind of filling in the blanks of the island, the parts I hadn't seen, of which there weren't many by this stage. After another massive oil grease and salt laden bagel (by this stage in the week I had taken to eating twice a day), I wandered the three or so blocks up to Carnegie Hall - okay, great, but nearby I happened to walk past a plaque (yes I'm one of those people that actually reads that stuff) indicating classic example of studio architecture from the 20s or 30s or something - buildings specifically designed with high ceilings and large ground level windows for artists to work in, with their accommodation upstairs.
There it was again, that cultural interest - more people, more money, more history, and consequently more of a desire and appreciation for paintings, sculpture, live music et al.
Not far from there in the part of the city just south of Central Park was Radio City Music Hall and, behind it, the rest of the Rockerfeller Center. This was real New World stuff, complete with Rockerfeller's own grand statement on humanity and such...
A section I hadn't been anywhere near yet was east Midtown, and with good reason - once again, not much for the wearily wandering tourist, but it eventually melted back into the Village, throughout which I wandered gleefully. Making my way back up Seventh Avenue, I decided to dial it down a bit. After five and a half days of walking non-stop daytime and clubbing nighttime, my feet were killing me and the rest of my body needed some rest, so I picked an artsy corner cafe not far from the Vanguard, pulled up a hot chocolate, reefed out part of the mass of live music street press I'd collected over the week, and nestled in amongst the locals.
Too much to see, to do, too many gigs to go with a couple of days to spare, but checking the dates, I already knew where I was going tonight. Hanging with Sean and Echo the other night, they took me down into Times Square to Sophia's, a solo gig Sean used to do, and on the chalkboard I found the name of someone I had wanted to meet, someone I'd been in contact with prior to coming.
Hostel, dinner, then to Sophia's. A small circular bar, there was about six or seven people there and he was one of them. Not wishing to disturb (...same old nerves coming back...) I took a house red and sat alone on the other side, probably standing out for all to see. In over ten years of doing this kind of thing, going to gigs, meeting guys, shaking hands, there's still that hesitation at the straight-up self-introduction...really quite ridiculous....but then Barney saved me by coming over and introduced himself.
We'd been in touch and he kind of knew I'd be there, and as I had expected, he was a thoroughly nice guy. I have so much respect for these guys, so much admiration and appreciation, that sometimes it's like too much respect, and I end up being unable to talk to them like a normal human being, not being able to think my words through properly, becoming paranoid over saying something wrong and then saying it, with their look of an eye or a turn of face entirely misread...I might be continuing with conversation, all the while going through some sort of momentary internal meltdown, and I look over his shoulder and I see me sitting at the bar, looking back at myself shouting, "You're doing it again, SNAP OUT OF IT!"....but no, I know plenty of people like Barney, with their relentless goodwill toward all and endless enthusiasm about the music, and none of it mattered. He let me sit in with the bass player, agreed on a lesson time and fee (sort of), and I bid him adieu, reeling from oversensitivity and self-absorption and too many house reds, into the miles of flashing neon and TV screens to be sucked into the metro again, again, off into the blackness of the night...
I ended up at the bottom of the Village at Zinc, a tiny Latin bar, didn't know who was playing, ramped up the eve from there - incredible six piece descarga outfit. It seemed throw-together, hand signals, improvised coros and piles of photocopies abounded, but the best throw-together small Latin band I've seen yet, ever. Wailing post-bop tenor player with all the Latin history....harmonically outside intense keys player....cranking percussion....the swirling carnival of Salsa and Jazz....
Back to Fat Cat, the hang, drunken email checking....and a familiar face appears from nowhere. It's MJ, a bassplayer I've come across occasionally back in London! MJ's a pretty driven guy but still cool enough to come say hello, and he showed me the side room (somehow I'd missed it the last two visits) where we slumped in a couch watching a dodgy jam, just as bad as the worst ones I've seen across the world, and he tore it apart, and then vanished!...


Anonymous said...

just love your images - such as "the swirling carnival of Salsa and Jazz" - content's not bad either.

also appreciate the Steely Dan references.

the Old Man

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says...its your mum....love the pictures xxxx

Anonymous said...

I stepped upon the platform
the man gave me the news,
he said "You must be joking, son,
where did you get those shoes?"

Anonymous said...

Well I've seen them on the TV,
the movie show,
they say they're time for changing,
but I just don't know,
these things are gone forever,
over a long time ago
Oh, yeah

Anonymous said...

You might well use Pretzel Logic, but ..

Lost in the Barrio I walk like an Injun
So Carlo won't suspect something's wrong here
I dance in place
And paint my face
And act like I belong here

the old man