Sunday, 7 June 2009

Day Five in New York: “We’re gonna prove to you there are no faggots and no lesbians in heaven” (Black Muslims, Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn)

The Brooklyn Bridge.

The day more or less begins with iced tea on Fulton Street watching hotties coming out of Abercrombie & Fitch. People are obsessed with A&F in New York, the clothes are absolute toilet though, does nobody see? We approach the vast unshaded expanse of the Brooklyn Bridge in full anticipation of the heatstroke to come. But it really is so exciting to cross the bridge, even going in the ‘wrong’ direction as we are. Today we are ‘doing borough', spending the day in Brooklyn. (This will effectively be our third borough because I’m counting the Staten Island ferry).

Brooklyn through and through.

At the far end of the bridge the sign reads ‘Welcome to Brooklyn. How Sweet It Is!’ Brooklyn is where the real famous and brilliant New Yorkers are from: Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall, Mel Brooks, Harvey Fierstein, George Gershwin, Rita Hayworth, Harry Houdini, Danny Kaye, Carole King, Barry Manilow, Arthur Miller, Joan Rivers, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Neil Simon, Paul Sorvino, Barbra Streisand, Mae West, Walt Whitman, Shelley Winters …

How sweet indeed.

The famed ice cream factory which I promised to take Joff to is closed on Mondays, gah, so we troll inland and pass the lovely Muslim gentlemen quoted above. We never did find out why we’re hell-bound but if it’s any hotter than this I’d be surprised. Beer as soon as possible in an Irish Bar and then to beautiful Fort Greene Park where I do some writing and Joff snoozes and a beautiful girl nearby sings and plays her guitar. We walk around the Park Slope neighbourhood, which is about the eighth neighbourhood in which I can imagine living. Stop for drinks at the beautiful Union Hall bar and then the Excelsior.

My little fixer-upper on Park Slope?

From Park Slope we head to Williamsburg, home to the Hassidics and the hipsters and which, despite popular opinion, hasn’t yet disappeared up its own arse as far as I can tell. This makes nine neighbourhoods where I wish to live. Rents aren’t too crippling in W’burg yet either, according to flyers you can share a house here for $700 dollars a month, that can’t last forever surely, it’s only one subway stop from Manhattan. It would be quicker to pop back to the island than wait the hour it takes for my (albeit gorgeous) sandwich to arrive in the Vietnamese diner on Bedford Avenue but since the three best looking men in Brooklyn, possibly the world, are in here tonight we’d quite happily sit around and eat serviettes.

Williamsburg Bridge at dusk.

Dream line-ups at the Music Hall.

Next it’s up the road to the Williamsburg Music Hall to see Mogwai play and during their set, for the first time this week, I literally forget where I am. Profound and stellar and sad and wonderful they are. Great ramshackle venue, devoted crowd, the sound is excellent and best of all it’s being filmed which means I’ll be able to buy a live DVD as a memento. I’m not going to turn this bit into a music blog, suffice to say live is the best place to appreciate what Mogwai really are. They’ve been on my radar for years but I only really fell in love with Come On Die Young about five years ago (although no tracks from there tonight), plus ‘A Cheery Wave From Stranded Youngsters’ (from Young Team) ranks as one of the greatest instrumentals, well, ever. Read a gig review here.

Mogwai, "international band from Glasgow". Postrock is all about the laughs.

And play the setlist for yourself here, in headphones, under blue light. If you really can’t get into Mogwai, start with ‘Friend of the Night’, pay attention to the gorgeous Nymanesque piano and take it from there. Magic.

Forgetting where I am.

Drunk on generous Stateside vodka coke measures, hot and sticky in the Williamsburg night, what bliss is this. More beers outside the Metropolitan with the gay borough boys and later a cab ride back to the island. This is our last night in New York. I begin to feel happysad already, some amorphous mass of postrock hums through my head as I try to stay awake over the Williamsburg Bridge.

The bridge boys.

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