I Graduated From University Today.
Nevertheless, the weeks leading up to it have been fantastic. I’ve tried to soak up as much of NYC as possible this semester and the last few weeks have included some particularly great experiences.
The opportunity to portray James Agee in a reading of the Agee/Evans project, a new play based on Agee’s novel Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, directed by Obie Award winner Rachel Chavkin.
Cock…No but really you should see it
Trips to museum(s)
Sunrise walks along the Brooklyn Bridge…did you go see cock?
A woman’s attempt to lead me in glossalalia
Boat Ride around the city
(A kind of savory octopus filled zeppole covered in seaweed and fish skin flakes…mad tasty…but seriously you should see Cock)
But one event in particular stood out in this week leading up to graduation which I’d like to share with you now.
my friend Brandon Pfeltz invited me to a Glen Hansard concert.
Hansard is an Irish songwriter famous for his work with his band The Frames, the folk duo The Swell Season, and the movie Once.
Brandon is a huge Hansard fan. He’s seen him 9 times and had recently gotten free tickets to a very small private set that Hansard was performing for about 40 people at the Living Room in the Lower East Side.
I, on the other hand, had never listened to Mr. Hansard’s music and Brandon felt that this would be a prime opportunity for me to become initiated into the musical world of the Irish busker.
He was right.
Personally, “folk music” has always been somewhat of a dirty word to me. Although I often love folk music…local (often working class) music that is isolated from the commercialism or elitism of mainstream music…the genre of “folk music” has always conjured in my mind the American variant of watered down blues and country music which has been Anglicized and intellectualized beyond recognition of it’s emotional and physical roots. No Soul.
So with Hansard sometimes being labeled as “folky” I was unsure of how I would respond.
Well, I have to say…
Loads of Soul.
Seated 5 feet away from Glen Hansard, I experienced one of the most beautiful, energetic, and intimate performances I’ve ever been to.
The room was electric (as they say…who are they?…I don’t know) , but not in a sharp way, more like a low buzz. Surrounded by his close friends (and possibly some family members), Brandon and I later realized we were some of the few members of the audience who were not friends or family of Hansard.
The Last Song
As the set was wrapping up, I felt very content. Pleased that Brandon had invited me to such a performance. Hansard asked us to join him in singing “The Auld Triangle”…the last song.
He then informed us that a buddy of his was going to sing with him.
That buddy, was Bono.
Now in living in New York, I’ve often tried my best not to express excessive excitement over celebrity sightings which occur every so often.
However, I must admit that I was pretty excited to be 5 feet away from Bono as he sang in a room not much bigger than my living room at home. (I quivered a bit…you ever quiver?)
Glen Hansard and Paul Hewson aka Bono
Afterwards I had the pleasure of thanking Glen Hansard for his set and asked if he would mind if I gave him my CD. He was very generous with his time and I think would have allowed for a longer conversation had I prepared anything beyond my simple…”uh…thanks.”
All in all, twas quite the way to end the semester.
And for those of you who are unsatisfied by written word and photographs, thankfully they were filming the performance that evening so I can share the performance itself with you. Enjoy.
Do you know what this is?
It’s a cock of hay…(but seriously, go see Cock.)
Last weekend, March 10th 2012 to be exact, I embarked on a journey which I had anticipated for a long while (or at least for a few months or so).
I realized that since my freshman year of college I had not explored the city nearly as much as I could have. To make up for wasted time I decided that it would be highly satisfactory to
venture from the southern tip of Manhattan to 125th Street in Harlem on a single day.
To do so alone was possible, but not desirable. To make such a journey on my own was robbing myself of the spontaneity another individual can bring to an adventure (not to mention robbing them of a highly enjoyable excursion).
That individual was Ian Cherry.
I was to leave very soon for a far away land called Orlando. So with a fellow adventurer chosen the date was set for the day before my departure.
The Starting Point: 106 Fulton Street
The Destination: The Apollo Theater on 125th Street
Thusly (< not a word by the way) on a sunny Saturday morning, 36 degrees Fareinheight, we set out for what was to be about a 10 mile walk.
We began along the West Side. We had previously walked from Chinatown through the East side to Union Square (that time I walked barefoot) so we decided it would be nice to change it up a bit.
We had a lovely but fairly uneventful walk when we arrived at Houston Street and began our eastward journey to our first stop.
Now many of you probably know Katz’s from various films across the years. Some of you may frequent from time to time or maybe even…frequently. Founded in 1888, it claims to be the best Deli in New York. But I have a confession to make.
I was skeptical.
I mean $15 bucks for a sandwich is a tall order. Or at least it better be a tall order if you’re paying $15 bucks for it.
Nevertheless we trekked East across the island in search of a pastrami sandwich worthy of 15 green bills. And you know what?
We found it.
First off, when you walk into Katz’s, it’s like walking onto the floor of the Stock Market Exchange.
Or at least how I picture the Stock Market Exchange
if it involved life or death stakes when purchasing large quantities of cured meats.
You take a ticket a throw yourself into the throng that pushed its way into something resembling a line waiting to be served by the extremely efficient, extremely New York, deli-men. After getting over a brief moment of terror.
Only a moment.
I composed myself and ordered a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard. No one else was ordering cheese so I abstained fearing a public flogging.
NO CHEESE FOR YOU SAY THE KOSHER POLICE!
As soon as you order they give you a sampling of your order which first clued me in on a single fact.
Katz’s Pastrami is the most fantastic pastrami I’ve ever had in my life.
No cheese was necessary. It was moist, flavorful, and filling enough that Ian and I were quite satisfied sharing a single sandwich between the two of us.
On our way out we had a conversation with a gentleman of 70 years from Long Island who has been coming here every year since his father brought him as a child.
Filled with pastrami and historical affirmation we ventured uptown. But not too much farther. It was at this time that Ian suggested a sampling of the wares at
Mcsorley’s Old Ale House.
Founded either in the Mid or Late 19th century (sources conflict), it was one of the last “Men Only” pubs
Oh those Little Rascals…so cute and…oh wait…umm…hey guys…we need to have a talk.
It serves the same two beverages it has always served. Light ale and Dark ale.
I had a rough time choosing.
So we each ordered a dark and a light and enjoyed the atmosphere which can be described appropriately as Ye Olde New York. Thirst quenched and minds sharp we wandered uptown. But yet again, not much further uptown.
Abraco coffee shop
was our next stop right off of St. Mark’s. Abraco is very small
Seriously, Rhode Island would beat the crap out of it in a war. (The joke works better when discussing countries)
but it has the best coffee in NYC in my opinion.
So we ordered two Macchiato’s and an olive cookie (and two cigarillos which our throats later regretted…don’t smoke kids)
and were once again on our way uptown for our final stop for lunch…
Momofuku’s Milk Bar.
Now for those of you who just went into Clockwork Orange convulsions…sorry but I haven’t seen it so I got nothing for you.
But the ice cream featuring corn flakes was delectable. Ian and I had a nice talk with a woman and her dog. All 3 of us being dog owners
or one of us being dog owners and the other 2 (Ian and I) being the children of dog owners but in actuality masquerading as dog owners
we bonded. Over dogs. Ok enough of this shocking news.
Ian and I then made the decision to actually do some serious walking. And serious walking we did.
We made our way West to the Chelsea Highline to walk the former subway track-turned public park and discussed a wide variety of subjects from:
things that made me smile
We took the West Side highway and began to feel our weak first world bodies sweat. But we kept on.
till we finally reached Morningside Heights as the sun began to set.
Following a short trip through the Columbia Campus and feeling like we made a terrible mistake in not attending a school which has such a beautiful campus…
we felt our near victory as the sun set over the streets of Harlem.
texting our near victory to my mother and girlfriend (not the same person don’t worry)
We stopped in at Africa Kine for some Senegalese Dinner (excellent stuff if you ever get a chance to go).
And with full stomachs and sore feet we reached our destination…
Filled with pride, food, and a newfound appreciation for New York City our next course of action was clear.
Take the subway home.
I keep telling myself that I’m going to continue to blog weekly. But alas once I get busy with something(s) I forgo such fantasies. In any case, I suppose it’s about that time of the month to fill you in on what’s been going on.
The reading of The Gambler went better than I expected. I was very proud of the actors who had so little time to work with the text. I had a good crowd and got a good response. I plan to rework some of the dialogue over the next few months and plan on directing it sometime in the fall.
Spring break was very pleasant as well as very fruitful. While many celebrated the life of St. Patrick with libations and corn beef, I recorded the soundtrack to local director Brittany Neff’s next film (not to worry, I made up for my lack of merry making this Sunday with more than enough Irish inspired engorging).
From what I can tell, the film promises to be one of Ms. Neff’s best and I’m very excited for it’s completion.
During one of my two resting days in spring break I was able to show one of my friends around the City and it made me realize how much I love living here. Dollar dumplings, Central Park, Harlem architecture, and bourbon in an underground jazz joint in one city is hard to rag on.
Also, for those of you who couldn’t make it to the gig on Saturday…here are some of the highlights…