Monday, 30 March 2009

She's so fine ...

I can’t blog every gig I go to otherwise I’d have no life at all but I have to make special mention of V V Brown at the Ruby Lounge. My god that girl has got it going on *snaps fingers*

After the meandering Jameses Blunt vs Morrison vs Oldplay stylings of Go Gary (me no likey I’m afraid) V V Brown is a jukebox explosion of verve and sass and voice. She emerges resplendent in 50s Hawaii-print pant suit, miniature veiled hat and ubiquitous sausage-roll fringe, but no clothes horse she, she pogos, percussions, sweats, screams, hammers on a miniature drum kit and calls her ex-boyfriend an arsehole with a beautiful smile on her face.

The songs are the smartest of smart pop. ‘Crying Blood’, which we know and love, opens the show with a crazy Jerry Lee Lewis vibe but thereafter the excellent band pull styles from doo-wop to ska to diva balladeering, pitching V V somewhere between Shirley Bassey, Ronnie Spector and The Selecter. Gorgeous.

‘Leave’, the most recent single, is absolute pop gold but ‘Bottles’ is my personal favourite, she seems genuinely made-up that anyone else knows the words. The whole audience are smiling for most of the gig, people never smile at gigs. Absolutely fresh, sexy and charming, and just wait till you hear the new single …

Friday, 27 March 2009

“This is a Bronx-bound 6 train. Next stop: 23rd Street … ”

Practically frothing with excitement about the New York trip now. Less than 4 weeks to go! Digging round my ever-growing ‘MISC’ folder on the PC I came across the diary of my last visit in 2003. I get goosebumps reading it. Figaro now gone, The Cock probably too. Don’t remember the ‘dealer’. You can see my will to write fizzled out towards the end. The city must have taken me over. But here it is in its original form. We had a time …

Flew past Greenland and over Canada. Saw Manhattan from the plane for the very first time as we circled to land. Very turbulent flight and bumpy landing. After Immigration, grey-haired policewoman looked at my passport and said “Hello Gregory. Welcome to America.” Taxied in from Newark, New Jersey with Manhattan skyline to our right. Came through the Lincoln Tunnel and saw the New Yorker building and later the Flatiron. Booked into Grand Union on 34 E 33rd Street between Madison and Park. You can see Empire State from the loo. Walked all the way up 5th Avenue to Carnegie Hall to collect tickets for Friday night then ambled through the southern end of Central Park around the skating rink. Stopped at TGI for a Guinness on Fifth then ate baby eggplant in garlic at Hunan, Seinfeld’s favourite Chinese restaurant also on Fifth. Went to bed early, absolutely exhausted.

Up early for coffee and food at the Brooklyn Bagel Company then straight up the Empire State Building round the corner on 5th. Cold, sunny and very windy day so outside observation deck was closed but views absolutely amazing in all directions. Went shopping in Diesel and Bloomingdales, bought Adidas baseball shoes for twenty quid. Egg salad sandwich on brioche with potato straws, asparagus and Leffe in French-style bistro next door to Bloomingdales. Went to Macy’s, already in Christmas mania mode. Plaque in store dedicated to dozens of Macy’s employees killed in World War II and another to employees with 50 years of service to the store; most recent one retired in 1996!

Great views of the Chrysler building as it went dark. Home, shower, power nap, change, and race back to Carnegie Hall (through Times Square, fully blazing) for Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle. Wealthy middle-aged New Yorkers outside with hand-written signs reading ‘Spare tickets needed’. Sir Simon forgot his score when he came on stage and then had to tell someone their hearing-aid was whistling. Funny. Orchestra played Sibelius and Schubert. Standing ovations all round. Serious minks and socialites in the foyer.

Went to cool midtown bar called Fusion, full of local gayboys who seemed to know each other, nice atmosphere, Stella and G&Ts. Don’t forget to tip the barman. Made friends “standing in line for the bathroom.” Quote: “I love your accent . . . oh queue! . . . oh bloody!” Got drunk very quickly on huge measures. Went to all-American sports bar on way home through Midtown. No smoking in any bars so pavements full of smokers. Walked past Madison Square Gardens and Chelsea Hotel by chance on the way home. Plaques outside the Chelsea for loads of its famous residents, but none for Sid ‘n’ Nancy or Quentin. Sleep.

Greenwich Village. Cold but beautiful sunshine. Caught the subway downtown and walked to Washington Square. The Arch under wraps but park still very lovely. Stopped at Le Figaro Café on corner of Bleeker and Macdougal (Beat hangout, especially Kerouac) for mushroom omelettes and loads of coffee. Wrote postcards. Walked round the Village and saw Village Cigar store, Christopher St, Gay St and the Stonewall, stopped for more coffee at Pennyfeathers.

Walked across to the East Village, saw CBGBs on the Bowery then across to Alphabet City. Stopped for a drink on Avenue A in a bar playing Oasis! Saw someone wearing my coat! Walked down St Marks place as it got dark. Fantastic, down-at-heel and genuinely boho vibe, but definite creeping gentrification. Loads of Hispanic punks and skater kids, first genuine sub-cult weirdos we saw. Beautiful.

Home, power nap, shower, out for drinks in Chelsea. First bar Barracuda had cruisy room in the front with lots of men by themselves, back room was groups at tables chatting. Huge age and ethnic range of men, with a smattering of straight women. Hardcore porn playing on TV sets around the room. Geordie forgot to tip the waiter (table and bar service in most places) and he never came back! Moved on a couple of blocks to G Bar. Modern and stylish, central circular bar with major ripped shirtless barmen. Crowd slightly more dressy and fewer girls. The bar across the road had a dwarf bouncer. Beer, G&T, Southern Comfort - Andrew fantastically drunk. Fierce black queens and some very drunk men. Group of Brazilian boys, including beautiful Ricardo who I spoke to outside while having a cigarette. Ricardo was a photographer who’d come from Brazil and had been in Manhattan 4 years. He lived in Midtown and didn’t go out to Chelsea all that often, scene was a bit homogenised, muscley and clean. Much preferred the more mixed and sleazy bars in the East Village (where we‘re headed Monday). Lovely guy, flirted outrageously. Stayed at G till the bitter end then wobbled all the way home, on foot I think. Brilliant.

Metropolitan Museum, Guggenheim (didn‘t go in), Reservoir, Queensboro Bridge, UN building, Empire Diner on 42nd St for something with blue cheese.

Liberty and Ellis Islands, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Bridge, Bread in Soho, Marie’s Crisis, Monster, The Cock, met English Andy, dealer, got taxi to middle of nowhere.

Upper West Side, Dakota Buidling, Central Park, Tiffanys.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Texts are the new novels (Part 1 in an occasional series ...)

I’ve had it with facebook. Eight hundred pictures of me red-faced and drunk, a format change every few months that makes it look ever more like the wretched Twitter, I can’t find any events I’m meant to go to … no no no. I’m back to texting and emailing in a big way.

Being a terrible horder of most things I hate to get rid of messages but I’ve discovered fantastic software that allows you to download all your texts and save them as Excel or Word files. Reading them back in this disjointed and decontextualised form is confusing and frequently hilarious. I can no longer attach a story to most of them and it makes them all the more intriguing. ‘What kind of odd life is that?’, I wonder. ‘What strange people’. Below are some of the ones I like the most. One day far in the future cultural anthropologists will look back at such documents and say, ‘Umm … what?’ Apologies if you recognise your life in here somewhere …

Eating cheese in bed. Yes or no?

Been invited to birmingham by beautiful french cellist.

How can we make katy perry die? I don't know what she's for. Did you get called a dirty stopout? You are one.

Cruising the guys in the pound shop.

Tell him to turn up drunk.

Club flyer for student venue: 'Please respect the club and yourself by drinking responsibly. All drinks one pound.'

England would be rubbish without gay men doing all this.

Seeing or typing the words ‘ped egg’ is making me boke.

Get a job!

I feel underdressed in Preston station.

Dressing gown, crisps, sex and the city, no boyfriend. I'm perfectly happy.

Rob him!

Don't remember getting in. think i snogged some bloke in front of his boyfriend. Oops.

Watching old corrie fights on youtube. Suggest you do the same.

I can't deal. I want my hair like that NOW.

I spent my last red cent on a v v brown ticket.

I left the cheese out overnight and now it's orange polystyrene. Fail.

I'm a leopard and a social piranha.

About to eat a jaffa cake with dairylea on it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you sometimes forget some people are straight? I do.

I'm cringeing and watching with my back to the screen.

I'm crying and dancing at the same time.

I'm in temple doing the jukebox. Can't BELIEVE you're not here.

I'm playing it right now, complete tune, grace jones meets black box.

I've bought thirty pints of milk and taken the rest of the week off work.

Ick re your hideous daughter. ABORT!

Teen sex quiz in MEN. Filled in accordingly. Question 2: Can you have a laugh together without anything sexual being involved? Answer: No.

'I took a lethal overdose of drink and drugs' 'oh no what have you had?' 'five blisters of paracetomol and a cup of tea'

that adidas advert with beckham estelle ting tings missy elliot has given me cancer

You would do a poo-wee all one word at my shamaze outfit

Put the rest in the bin and spray fairy liquid on it. Nobody wants to fuck fatty.

I hate being let down. It really bothers me. Its because i'm notes on a scandal and construct entire weekend around returning a library book.

So Much sex and aggro in town today i love it. Just been butchered by budget hairdresser. Not a word when we meet. Can't wait to get it under the tap.

The next train at platform 2 is the 18.49 north western service to blackpool north calling at Shitsford, crapton and misery-on-sea.

I've put that i'm a bisexual chinese lady with black twins who speaks farsi and writes kinyarwanda. That'll show em.

The support band are making my pants vibrate.

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Bronx is up and the Battery's down ...

As I look around my immediate vicinity the following items are within eyeshot: a postcard of Marilyn Monroe standing in front of a sign for Grand Central Station, a CD of New York Noise: Dance Music From The New York Underground 1978-1982, an accompanying book of amazing photographs from the same era, two Time Out New York City guidebooks (one bought for my 18th birthday, one bought two days ago), Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, my Sex And The City DVD boxset, J. P. Donleavy’s A Fairy Tale Of New York, a large wall print of the inside of Grand Central itself (the one where all the men are in hats and the sun is pouring through the windows), a photograph of the very tip of Manhattan taken in the 1930s where tiny five-storey buildings sit just a couple of hundred metres from the water's edge, Sex And The City: Kiss And Tell, the complete guidebook to the TV series (I know, gay), a framed movie poster for Next Stop, Greenwich Village, James St James’ Disco Bloodbath

My flat is in a pretty New York state of mind to say the least. But enough of trying to bring New York to me, enough of Manhattanchester, I’m off there for real. Not forever, alas, just six glorious days and five action-packed nights on the edge of the East Village in the last week of April. We’ll be staying at Hotel 17 where Woody Allen filmed part of Manhattan Murder Mystery. Madonna stayed there too, though it must have been a while ago given it has one a half stars and a shared bathroom.

Anyway, to celebrate this exciting trip here are some of my favourite New York City celluloid outings which I will be indulging in before I head off myself ...

Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961)
Glamour on the cheap, except actually it’s Givenchy, as Hepburn gives her greatest performance (no, it is), dragging Capote’s story kicking and screaming to the screen alongside a hip sexy young Hannibal from the A-Team and Roald Dahl’s wife.

The Panic In Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, 1971)
Al Pacino plays a junkie attempting to hold onto the most basic of human obligations whilst surrounded by smack and trapped in a New York that’s falling apart as fast as his friends are.

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)
Not only one of my favourite New York films but one of my favourite films of all time. Pacino again, this time orchestrating a botched bank raid to pay for his boyfriend’s sex change, thus exposing their relationship to the world. He becomes the hero of the piece, Stockholm Syndrome abounds, and even the new Gay Lib turn up to support him. Features one of the finest supporting roles of all time by Chris Sarandon and it’s a true story to boot.

"Why don't you kiss me? I like to be kissed while I'm getting fucked ..." Pacino becoming a folk hero. ‘Attica!’ refers to the Attica prison riots of 1971 which exposed police and correctional facility brutality like never before.

On The Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1949)
Marvel at Gene Kelly’s perfect rear (and Sinatra’s fake padded one) as three randy sailors dry-hump their way around Manhattan in 24 hours. The other guy is just there to stop the two stars looking a bit fruity which is why nobody remembers who he is. Best bits are the 'New York, New York’ signature tune, the nightclub montage and Sinatra attempting to conceal a patently Hoboken accent whilst convincing us it’s his first time in the Big Apple. Wonderful stuff.

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
The frustratingly ego-centric central love story with it’s scarily prescient age-gap romance isn’t nearly as important as the opening, explosive, near-orgasmic visual tribute to Manhattan. The cast thereafter, Allen included, turn in great, gritty performances that put this black and white opus near the top of his CV.

Summer of Sam (Spike Lee, 1999)
Punk rock, disco, record temperatures, electricity blackouts and a serial killer against a gritty Italian neighbourhood in the Bronx. Amongst Lee's best films in my opinion with some of the most exciting use of film music I've ever seen. The 'Baba O'Riley' sequence gives Scorses's 'Layla' montage from Goodfellas a run for its money.