15 June 2006

The Daily Doings

The other pop punk accountant is in town, that being Sebby Zatopek, who arrived yesterday from London (you'll recall from the other day that our local pop punk accountant is New York's own Bill Moon). Since it was his first visit ever to the USA, I went out to the airport to meet him and guide him through the vagaries and vicissitudes of the Airtrain and the subway system, which managed to get us to Brooklyn with a minimum of bother. Oh, apart from when the Airtrain inexplicably circled the airport twice before deciding to drop us off at the subway station, but I suppose that's what you have to contend with when you ride driverless trains controlled by God knows who or what.

From Brooklyn we decided (maybe more like I decided and Sebby aquiesced without complaint because he's so, well, English) to walk to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge. Wearing matching hats of the sort most commonly seen on Australian beach bums and old men on golf courses (Sebby because of his delicate alabaster complexion, me because of the chemically induced blotch on my forehead that supposedly could turn into full-fledged skin cancer if exposed to sunlight), we traversed the East River (really a tidal strait, as I've been pedantically reminding everyone, and will continue to do so until someone tells me under pain of violence to shut up) and headed up through the Lower East Side, past one of my old squats on E. 2nd between B and C. They're finally, after it being a vacant lot for about 20 years, building some pricey new condos there. It's happening all over the neighborhood, but it still startles me when I think back to the time when they couldn't pay people to live on that block.

From there we had to go to CBGB so Sebby could pay his respects to the punk rock shrine. Some band with an enormous tour bus was loading in, but we got no further than the lobby. At least Sebby got a glimpse of the fabled grounds. Personally, I've never been too impressed with the place, but then I was never at a show when it was in its heyday 30 years ago. My first CB's show was actually not until 1986, by which time the magic had pretty much gone out of it (I know, depending on your generation, it might have just been beginning, but I am not of that generation). I've also been there once in the 90s and once (the other day) in the 00s, and I'm still very whatever about it. You won't see me marching in the funeral procession if/when they finally shut it down.

Then it was down to St. Mark's and A for Sebby's first slice of New York pizza, a stroll in Tompkins Square Park where about 200 tap-dancing Christian teenagers in green t-shirts from Dallas, Texas were putting on some kind of presentation. I marveled again, explaining to Sebby that at one time such a troupe appearing in Tompkins Square would probably be met with a hail of flying objects and/or a mob of muggers and looters to make off with their musical instruments and the buses they rode in on. But times do change; the park was placid as can be, and the avid little Christians got a polite reception while a little red-headed two or three year-old joined in, mimicking their dances with surprising dexterity (I have a feeling that word may apply more to feats of the hands rather than the feet, but it will have to do).

Across town to the West Village, where we watched the basketballers at W 4th St. while waiting for Mr. Jonnie Whoa Oh to make his way downtown from his prestigious office on the Upper West Side, and then while waiting for Chris A to arrive from Astoria, took a stroll down W 11th to the Hudson River so we could give Sebby an unobstructed view of New Jersey. With which, as you can imagine, he was utterly thrilled. Once Chris A finally turned up, we set out to do some serious walking, back over to Union Square, up Broadway and 5th Avenue to Times Square, where I saw something I myself was unaware existed, the animatronic roaring dinosaur in the flagship Toys'R'Us. Who knew? I've been through Times Square a few times in recent years, but never long enough to look into any of the shops. Also saw a video game that resembled soccer except for periodic explosions ripping through the field. Don't know what that was about.

That was about it for me last night, and I headed back to Brooklyn while the others retreated to Astoria. Today the Germans ruined what could have otherwise been a perfectly fine afternoon by scoring a goal in stoppage time to defeat Poland, which mainly bothered me because they'd been bragging, "In 1939 it took three weeks to defeat Poland, but today it will only take 90 minutes." 91 minutes, it turned out to be, but what a delight it would have been to see them choke on whatever the German is for braggadocio. Then it was off to the city again for tonight's punk rock show at the Knitting Factory: Grover Kent (from NJ), Johnie 3 (from somewhere - Youngstown, it turns out - in Ohio, New York's own Unlovables, and all the way from Rotterdam, the sensational Apers.

As it turned out, I missed the first two bands because yours truly, Mr. Know-it-all, got lost. Okay, I got started late too, but when I got out at Canal Street I went uptown instead of down. Not because I thought the Knitting Factory was uptown, but because (and it's not the first time this has happened, I'll even more shamefacedly admit) from Canal Street you can't see either the uptown or downtown skyscrapers to orient yourself. Never mind, I had an interesting self-guided tour of Little Italy and Chinatown out of the deal, and witnessed a fancy dance club for what looked largely like middle-aged Chinese people dancing frenetically to "Mony Mony" by Tommy James and the Shondells. It's possible, they say, to find just about anything merely by walking the streets of New York City, but who has that much time? Apparently quite a few people, judging from the number of people doing just that.

Anyway, I got to see the Unlovables, featuring the nonstop perkiness of lead singer Hallie, followed by the music-cum-standup comedy of Kevin Aper and Krew. They've got a new guitarist called Kelvin (if they ever get tired of the Apers for a name, they could be the K&K Musik Faktory) who seems to have added a little extra something to the band, because they were on some of the best form I've heard yet. Sadly the crowd was a little thin, consisting mainly of about half the usual New York clique, with the rest of them apparently at home packing for points south, where pretty much all of us will be migrating in the next day or two. In fact I should be packing my own bag (or sleeping) instead of typing this drivel, but on the off chance that some of you might want to know what's going on, there it is. Next stop, Baltimore.

No comments: