Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mother’s Pride: Bank holiday performance, music, comedy and greenroom goodbyes

Next weekend in Manchester is a real biggun and you need to start planning NOW. Here’s something to get you started …

Friday 27th May at the greenroom: Mother’s Ruin

In Time Out’s annual London guide each year, the biog of a London persona is selected to grace the opening pages and thereby indicate the cultural landscape of the capital. Last year that honour went to a young queer performance artist. His name is Scottee. And somebody didn’t love him enough. The bastard offspring of Penny Arcade and Divine David will be in residence at a ‘Pop Up Greasy Spoon’ all afternoon at the greenroom where you can come face to face with this force of queer nature. Make your booking for tea and possible sympathy on 0161 615 0500.


That same evening is given to a celebration of the ‘Cake Tin Foundation’ (give it a second …) in the form of a variety show hosted by the effervescent Timberlina. Highlight for me will be The Smiths: The Musical, performed with puppets and Casios. I shit you not, behold:

That same night I am hotfooting across town to play the opening slot at Clique, more of which soon …

Saturday 28th May: Mother Cares at Contact Theatre

Mrs Barbara Nice

A pristine line-up graces a FREE daytime experience at the Contact Theatre, beginning at 3pm. ‘Creative sessions exploring themes of belonging and home.’ David Hoyle and Barbara Nice are amongst the participants, reason enough to swing by.

David Hoyle

The evening event is ticketed and features performances of two self-authored plays concerning coming out, one by aforementioned Scottee, the other by The Fabulous Russella. After you’ve all traded your coming out tales, stick around to celebrate with a special club night, a knees-up soundclash between Bollox (represented by yours truly) and the Sapphic Traffic posse from Leeds.


Sunday 29th May: Listen With Mother at the greenroom

Wind down in acoustic bliss from 3 pm till late with a roster of musicians including the magnificent Owen Duff and new local talent The Speils. Daytime is free, evening is ticketed.

Owen Duff

Remember, Manchester is losing the wonderful greenroom to the tragic Arts Council cuts. Come along at the weekend for your last chance to witness what this terrific small venue always did best. Why not treat yourself to a weekend pass, pinball between here and Eurocultured, drink, think, dance, remember and be merry.

Porn Stars and Crystal Castles: New York, March 2011, Day Three

Like the opening of a first novel, I wake still wearing my clothes and contact lenses. The latter have to be peeled from my dry corneas like kiwi skins. We are hangover-hungry so decide to walk the sweltering few blocks to East Houston to eat at Katzs Deli. When we arrive it is bedlam, too hyper and complex for two bleary-eyed (vegetarian) Europeans to attempt so we slope a few doors along to the trusted Ray’s Famous for pizza and soda and fries that we can’t finish. All health and restraint has left us at this point I should point out. I would gain a stone every week if I remained in that city. Granola won’t cut it after ten pints of the black stuff.

Partially restored, we amble along Houston Street where, at fifty paces, I spot (yet another) beautiful muscled and bearded specimen. I’m certain I recognise him so I make Dee slow down to inspect. He’s divine. Then I remember with a little shame where I recognise him from. He is a porn star, Arpad Miklos. I confess to Dee. Rather than being shocked, she asks if I would like to have my picture taken with him. I would not. At the next corner, a group of concerned Lower East Siders gather around the prone body of a homeless man who is zonked out on the pavement in the midday shade. The ambulance pulls up to the kerb as we pass by, the siren trepanning holes into our skulls.

We opt for a lazy Village mooch the rest of the day. My water bottle spills into my bag so Bleeker Street is treated to the spectacle of me drying twenty dollar bills on a tabletop in the sun, inviting a mugging. Dee and I have one of our wonderful world-to-rights conversations, which come rarely in life and usually on holiday, but which are a major reason we’ve come to New York together if we’re honest.

At Washington Square, Dee spots actor Mark Pellegrino from Capote, Lost, Being Human, CSI etc. It’s a celeb-fest today. We dine on crisps and Reeces Pieces back at the apartment then I have to shape up for the Crystal Castles gig at Terminal 5. Down in the subway I have a peculiarly touching moment with an elderly homeless lady who needs a ticket but has no money and can’t work the machine. I buy her ticket for her and she is grateful and polite. She isn’t loony or inadequate, she is old and seems terribly sad. I do not want to know what her story is. I realise how immune I’ve become to seeing people living rough, to my eyes it’s more prevalent in Manchester than in New York, though neither seem as serious as London. This is the price paid for the shiny cities I love so much, people at the bottom of the heap scraping by, or not, living off surplus if they’re lucky. What does one do? Listen to pop music, look the other way, drink something …

It is the week of the super moon and there she looms, heavy and huge over the statue at Columbus Circle, the atmosphere black and white and profound in glowing circles. ‘The moon has nothing to be sad about, staring from her hood of bone …’

The queue for Crystal Castles is predictably young and hip and wasted. I have no ID so am given a special wristband which means ‘Do not serve alcohol to this man.’ ‘But I’m 33,’ I appeal. ‘Prove it,’ says the doorman. I give up, aggrieved, but inside it seems to matter not a jot whether I have a wristband or not so I make a start on the medicinal spirits and mixers.

DJ Destructo (please...) warms up the crowd with some not-bad dirty electro and I spot the first gurns of the evening from punters who are wearing the same social pariah wristband as me. They are young, fit and out of their boxes by 9.30 pm. There are plenty of glowsticks around too, just in case you were afraid young New Yorkers had suddenly gotten as hip as their European counterparts. They haven’t. But oh to be young and moneyed and in Manhattan … Teengirl Fantasy (who I thought were Dutch but are actually Brooklyn party boys) are supporting and they put me right in the mood for a dance. I don’t even know what genre their music is, it’s profoundly ambient but the beat says DANCE. It’s ‘electronic’ basically, okay? They sound like this …

A man walks onto the stage. ‘I don’t know if you guys heard, but a couple of months ago Alice broke her ankle [crowd boos] The doctor told her she would have to cancel this tour [crowd boos some more] but Alice told him, FUUUUCCCCCKKKKK YOOOOOOUUUUUU ….’ Then it goes OFF like this …(force yourself to sit through it, but turn the volume down…)

How do you even review a Crystal Castles gig? You can’t be indifferent. The music gets you or it doesn’t. In fact, it will piss you off if you don’t like it. I love them, Dee tried but couldn’t, that’s why she’s at home reading Gangs Of New York tonight. Music aside, they are fuck-off cool in that they’re a band that happened completely by accident. Alice is an unhinged up-for-it rock n roller who happens to be in an electro outfit. The boy makes all the noise but really, who cares about him, just get on with it. The gig is big and white and electric and loud like the moon. I swap texts with my boys who are partying in Berlin and it kind of feels like we’re all together across waters and dancing and mental repetitive beats.

The cab takes me home along the west side of the island so I get to see all the Hudson piers deserted at night. Falafel and ears ringing is how all the best nights end.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Check out my new blog image ...

It's all so New York neon and Flashdance-tastic! I love it.

Big thank you to the talented Dimitris who designed this for me and whose blog can be found right HERE.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

New York, March 2011: Day Two

We wake to sunshine on St Patrick’s Day. I head out early to make coffee happen and outside the deli three New York dudes are discussing politics. The phrase, ‘Dude, that’s a fuckin’ oligarchy!’ is followed by a contentious silence.

Outside the apartment, two of the visibly hungover friendly neighbourhood Hell’s Angels buff up their bikes. As I shut the door behind me I overhear a friendly exchange begin: ‘You got a problem? Hey buddy! You got a problem?’ followed by a sheepish, ‘Ahhh. No..?’ Love this neighbourhood.

Caffeined up, we hit the streets armed with novelty Irish hats. Mine is a green baseball cap with shamrock, Dee opts for a more demure green top hat with sequins and a badge that lights up. These hats actually help us blend in, the whole of New York is green and Oirish today. We can’t get over the groups of Hispanic and Korean and Black kids all over the city wearing ‘KISS ME I’M IRISH’ Tshirts, it’s a real tonic.

The parade is the 250th to be held on the streets of Manhattan so it’s a bigger deal than ever. 2 million spectators and 200,000 participants. Like the rookies we are we head to Central Park to watch from there and of course it’s rammed. But, by the luck of the (actually) Irish, we somehow find a great spot at the opposite corner to the park. When the people around us hear our accents (well, Dee’s accent) they insist on placing her at the front of the barrier, best seat in the house. ‘Is this the biggest Patrick’s Day parade you guys have seen?’ they ask us. ‘Err, it’s the only one we’ve ever seen.’ They can’t believe it. I feel a little ashamed.

There’s only so many bagpipes a man can stand so we retire to the park which has the most amazing party atmosphere; flags, families, drunk teenagers, more comedy hats, ice-skating, music … oh, I got a bit sad writing that. Bury my heart in Central Park please. Can you believe they sell organic vegetarian hotdogs from a stand there? They’re gorgeous, proper fried onions and neon American mustard. We devour a couple and people watch.

Around the corner in a Korean bar we have the first Guinness of the day and then some time between then and the sun going down and the Empire State lighting up green we have a few drinks and the city is ours and we get to The Pogues gig at Terminal 5 where the atmosphere is electric and completely lashed. Shane MCGowan is white as a sheet and sort of bloated but my god he’s alive and singing. Queens must be a desert tonight. The band yell out the boroughs in turn, in the manner of ‘Anybody here from …?’ and Queens gets an almighty ROAR. Not a mention of England or Ireland. It’s a bloody good sweaty old knees up. The highlight is ‘Dirty Old Town’, a song written about Salford, made famous by Irishmen and sung to and by a room full of New Yorkers. I have an unashamed blub. The world is small, and I honest to God like it that way.

As if we can go home now, we OWN this town. We eventually hail a cab and head to Greenwich Village. As soon as we are poured out onto Grove Street I spot the sign for Marie’s Crisis.

Industrial gin and tonics and we are soon sat around the piano belting out, oh who can remember, Cole Porter and Disney soundtracks and Barbra Streisand probably. It’s heaven underground. We make friends with the amazing Harold and Brian. I smoke. I can’t remember getting home but I will never forget how good I felt.