Saturday, August 20, 2005

Walkin' on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

Remind me to avoid NYC in August if I can help it! We had a compelling reason for an August visit last year--Little Steven's Fest on Randall's Island--but unless a future event of that magnitude should be scheduled during this most sweltering and tourist-ridden of months, we'll be timing our visits for more temperate off-season periods. My usual power walks were largely out of the question due to the energy-sapping extreme heat, but we did manage one big record-and-book-shopping jaunt encompassing the vicinity of Other Music and Rockit Scientist. During this outing I inspected the Anderson Theater's entrance site at 66 Second Avenue--now occupied by a branch of Cartridge World--and was pleased to ascertain that the building's lobby portion and facade are extant from the original, with a couple of floors added to the roof. Also checked out the Emigrant Savings Bank branch housed in the former lobby of the Fillmore East to see if the place is indeed decorated with Fillmore photos. To my surprise and delight, the photo/memorabilia collages on display honor not only the fabled Fillmore, but also the Loew's Commodore, Village Theater, and Saint eras of the building. Yeah, I know, pictures offer small compensation for what was demolished--but I still found this little exhibit to be a lovely gesture on Emigrant's part. Speaking of pictures, though, while on another hike I checked out Bleecker Bob's window, and found no photo of the Blues Magoos at the Night Owl displayed therein (as had been reported on Peter Sando's site)--but no biggie, I was happy with their vintage life-sized Ramones cut-out.

The main reason for our unfortunate hottest-week-of-the-year timing was so I could see DEVO at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Never saw 'em before, and they don't seem to want to put T.O. on their tour itinerary, so we bit the bullet and shelled out $55 a piece (plus Ticketmaster fees) for the privilege despite my moral opposition towards outrageous ticket prices. The band was freakin' phenomenal, but the show was over much too quickly. Drummer Josh Freese (also with the Vandals and other acts), perhaps the most rhythmically precise percussionist I've ever heard, injured his hand about 45 minutes into the set--I didn't witness the actual accident but presumably he sliced it against a cymbal. Emergency first aid was administered and he managed to play a few songs in one-armed Def Leppard guy mode, but clearly couldn't continue to the end. Yeesh--you'd think the spud boys would have all the rhythm parts pre-programmed for just such an emergency. Thus we didn't get our money's worth--upsetting, but not exactly a situation you could feel pissed about given the circumstances. There was an afterparty at the FUSE Gallery/Lit Lounge in conjunction with a Mark Mothersbaugh art exhibit, at which a mostly female DEVO cover band called DEVA was to perform, but somehow we were too disheartened to venture there. Other hi-lites:
  • Beating the heat at a Union Square 14 afternoon matinee of The Aristrocrats.
  • Hanging out with my dear friend Cristina at Life Cafe and the Lakeside Lounge, and later drinking more beer at the Raven during their "Mod Mod World" '60s night.
  • Venturing to Coney Island for one last Nathan's lobster roll and Wonder Wheel ride before the area's slated devolution into some kinda antiseptic mall-like attraction.
  • Watching Peter Sellers clips, a Tom Snyder Tomorrow show tribute, and the A&E Brill Building doc at the Museum of TV (which brought back fond memories of the 2001 premiere of said doc at the Museum--Shadow Morton and Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las were in attendance!).
  • Chowing down at Pongsri, one of the best Thai places in the city.
  • Cheering on pals Fuzzco and Moparlary at the Subway Surfers' Maxwell's debut.
  • Eating massive meals with my Pops and brother at some of our old regular haunts--the Moonstruck Diner on 23rd, venerable El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel, and Umberto's of New Hyde Park.
  • And reviving our walk-weary souls with cool tunes and frozen drinks at Otto's Shrunken Head.

Due to massive electrical storms our Sunday night flight home was cancelled, but this later led to another highlight. While stumbling through the baggage claim area at Pearson the next morning, I walked right by Elvis Costello. He and wife Diana Krall, who I later learned had come to town to play at some special tribute to Oscar Peterson, were heading toward the baggage service counter as I was trying to find the LaGuardia carousel. I'm too much of a shy goof to ask for an autograph--and besides, maybe he was livid over a lost suitcase or something--but I had fun furtively staring at him and we did exchange "meaningful" eye contact. They say you better listen to the vice of reason...but they don't give you any chice 'cause they think that it's treason...

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