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Riffs: Be Grateful You’re Dead

RIFFS: Be Grateful You’re Dead

The Grateful Dead have lost a lot of weight. Pigpen is almost svelte, and Bill the Drummer doesn’t look so good. Musically they’ve added so much weight that their old album (new one due in July) now sounds like your speakers have turned to sieves. You first heard it in December those two night at the the Village Theatre. What is the the same is the purity. No tricks, just music, hard, lyric, joyous — pure and together, dense and warm as a dark summer country night. There’s the Dead, and then there’s everybody else.

That spiraling new riff that comes through almost everything they play now — including the old stuff, pushed hard by Bill and the New Drummer, winds above you, around you, swoops you into a driving, pulsing, always always musical solid state of energy — enough to (incredibly) lift at least one New York audience to its feet dancing last week. Sunday in the park. They nearly caused a civic disturbance by stopping when the permit said they had to (disturbance cooled by Bill Graham). It was beautiful. The audience — a little wiped out from hours of Butterfield Blues, Airplane, crush, and waiting — milled and sat. The Dead played: it was New York, but it was a free concert, in a park on a sunny Sunday. The Airplane, back in the bandshell listening, grooved. The Dead started cooking. Suddenly teeny bopper was up down front, all lime green and longhair and motion. The row of photographers in front of her were up. Then the audience, not in rows, but en masse, was up, dancing, screaming, frenzied. A firecracker went off onstage. Bubblegum flew. A drumhead popped and drumsticks flew. The band grooved on. Everyone onstage was dancing. Suddenly it was over. There WAS something like it once before. Newport, Duke Ellington, Jonah Jones wailing in the wings on rolled-up newspaper, 27 choruses by Sal Salvadore. The audience was wild. The Newport cops requested and got an end to that. There was no riot then. But that was Newport, and New York audiences don’t come lightly to their feet. There was no riot this time either, of course — there was football in the meadow and a promise of three nights at the Electric Circus.

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The night before, in a set without a break that lasted over two hours, they played one epic number that lasted over one hour. The Dead were at Stony Brook, but the audience was nowhere at all, perhaps partly because the lightshow, which was good, very good in its own right, but inexperienced, was off on some trip that intruded on the music instead of backing it.

Tuesday the Dead opened (at a stiff $4.50 a head) at the Circus, which has good acoustics and is a generally relaxed place to listen. Their first tune is always a shambles — “You’ll have to wait till we figure out who we are and what we’re doing here,” says Jerry Garcia. When they find out, Garcia climbs all over your head with those beautiful riffs shot out of outer space; Bob Weir is there, always there, building, building; Phil Lesh, those long sets; Pigpen, riding everything. There’s the Dead, and then there’s everybody else.

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Wednesday, after one set that was nearly perfect, they busted eardrums with a full-volume “Viola Le” — retaliation on a non-dancing audience, not their best sound or act. It’s a drag that they’re dragged by non-dancing. New York’s not quite ready, but if they stayed here it would happen sooner. It’s still hard to move and hear simultaneously, but at least they raised one audience last week,

Thursday they played a touching “He Was a Friend of Mine,” then I understand some Kew Gardens mama invaded the stage and broke up the last set. Lesh booted her where appropriate, drumsticks flew again (aimed this time), Weir got beaned by a flying cymbal, the drummers stalked off. I wouldn’t know. Suffering a back strained by nearly a week of sitting backless and standing for the Dead, I was kacked out in the dark rear of the Circus. Where do THEY get the energy?


Jimi Hendrix’s Stadium Stomp

Riffs: Stadium Stomp
August 29, 1968

“WHERE the fuck are the SIGNS?” Howard is furious. Two signs lead you off the Long Is­land Expressway (too appropriate initials) “To Stadium.” Presum­ing the stadium to be Shea, presumably the lead-off will take you near the Singer Bowl, too. It takes you into an unmarked Moses maze of intersecting cir­cles and crossroads. If you’ve been there before you can pro­bably make it, if not maybe a VW longhaired vanload will perceive your sweaty plight, jammed six in a Mustang, late already, unable even to see the Bowl: “This way,” they shout. Follow, park hip a half mile’s walk to the light haze in the sky, hanging presumably over the Bowl. It’s probably better than the bumper-to-bumper road that pro­bably led to what had been a freaked-out parking lot; certainly better than 18 subway stops from Times Square or uncertain LIRR trains to Shea, game nights only; certainly less expensive than a Friday night LIE taxi ride. New sandals today; I’m limping already.

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We finally get close enough to hear the Soft Machine hard bass throb; then clear around the Bowl to the right entrance; in­side, clear back across the Bowl to where we are told our seats are. Mercifully, there’s Gerald, who gets us settled. It’s very bright; huge banks of lights blast down on the field, others blast into the bleachers. Funny, the Soft Machine sounds exactly the way it did outside — all bass throb, nothing else. The huge speakers suspended over the bandstand project too high to reach us, the big ground-level ones don’t reach our back-of-the-bus “field box” seats. If we had binoculars and were seven feet tall we could see. The seats would have been $7.50 each if we weren’t press. Imagine the seats two or three times as far from stage and sound, up in the corners of the bleachers. There are damn few good seats in proportion.

Gotta pee anyway. The guides or guards or whatever they are are in distinctive costume: white shirts — very white-on-white, just like the audience, although the latter is dressed Alexander’s mod. The way you can spot the guards is that they’re men who are noticeably uptight. The sec­tions are totally unmarked, the seats nearly unmarked, nobody knows where the hell to go, and they’re responsible. Back teeth floating, finally get the information that the only johns are back across the stadium where we came in. “Oh God” “Yeah, I know what you mean.” Notice that the sound is better than at our seats just about every place between our seats and the john. Return. For the first and last time in history the Chambers Brothers sound exactly like the Soft Machine, except that where before an occasional piercing or­gan shriek came back to us, now we get an occasional rimdiddle. You know exactly where the beat is, though. Everybody’s clapping on or near it. Much milling around. House is sold out, 18,000 tickets at $3.50-7.50; untold numbers more have bribed the guards at $2-5 each; 4000 have vaulted the fences. End of set.

“BIG BROTHER and the Holding Company I don’t know,” in girlish Brooklynese behind us. Oh God. I want to hear, I want to hear; only possible solution is taken: up into the bleacher section to a fairly close diagonal bird’s-eye view of the stage, stand against rail with a lot of other seat-leavers, oh my ach­ing back, are the cops going to scramble us from here? No. They’re all down around the stage, ready by sheer numbers to instigate a riot. Somebody’s ex­pecting something. There was one, or nearly, the last time. The sound here is much better, but the system’s basically bad — fuzzy. The sight-line is infinitely better but the carousal bandstand (on a larger square stage) is bad. Rock-in-the-round stinks. You miss exactly half the action. When the band “faces” the two set­tings opposite, you see only the back of a high bank of amplifica­tion equipment.

jimi hendrix wipes nose with confederate flage

“Did you SEE what just hap­pened?” laughs Janis, off-balance at the first turn of the bandstand. She’s swilling it down up there from a pint bottle. I wonder idly if the bottle contains weak tea, a stage set. These days, even the best have a shuck, right? I won­der how much it matters to her that they’re getting a bad finan­cial deal because the deal was made a long time ago. It’s an off night for her. Every seat is filled, yet it’s like she’s wailing to an empty house. She never gets with it, and it’s a mediocre set. Something missing — the fire. De­spite a perfectly respectable re­sponse, it’s not her night, not her house.

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THAT THE HOUSE is Jimi Hendrix’s is clear the minute he comes in sight, with that funny, private, oddly modest bearing he has when he’s not playing. Audi­ence is up and shouting. He wipes his nose with a Confederate flag. The monster lights are finally dimmed. The lazy-susan is back-side to us for the first two num­bers. Our turn, we get a slow blues, groovy, then another turn and “Purple Haze.” I didn’t know till tonight he was “discovered” at the Cafe Wha?, which justifies just about everything that has gone down on MacDougal Street. He’s getting better than $500 a minute for this show, one hour, and that’s not an inflated price. He’s worth it. But he shouldn’t be playing this date. Rock out­doors is a gas, but stadium con­certs should be left to groups like the Rascals or the Four Seasons, not anyone who has original musical ideas. The free Central Park Mall concert last spring was the best, and the Schaefer thing in Central Park is okay — at least it’s proscenium and it’s cheap, even if seating isn’t the best. But Yan­kee Stadium, Forest Hills, Singer Bowl — they don’t have anything to do with music. The lack of intimacy induces a spectacle, not music. Stadiums are for sports.

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We get another good look at the back of the equipment as they do “Foxey Lady.” Then they revolve back to us. A kid who’s been sitting quietly on the steps of the stage (what are those kids doing there anyway?) unexpec­tedly dashes onto the carousel. The house lights blast back on. In a flash two equipment men get him back to the steps. Mike Jeffery, Hendrix’s manager, who hasn’t been visible all night, and Jerry Stickles, his road manager, who has been, in his usual be­leaguered pose, are instantly at the foot of the steps. The music never stops. The kid lies down. Stickles wants him off-stage altogether. Kid protests angrily. There have been dozens of cops around the stage all night, none on it even now, thankfully. Cop pulls kid off, a little force there. I’m looking back at the carousel to see how the musicians are far­ing, thinking Howard is probably flipping if he is still back where we all were originally, missing this. So I miss what happens next. Horrified, the girl next to me says, “My God, all those cops on that one kid!” Awful things are happening at another corner of the stage, in the audience. It’s the same kid, and I see a cop, among what look like three dozen solid, forcing the kid to the ground by using a nightstick some way on his shoulders. Then some guy has one of those long 2×8 or 2×10 crossbars of a police barricade up in the air. It’s an exquisite instant, the point of balance before the point of no re­turn. I’ve never been in a riot. Shaken, I am suddenly aware of a weak, watery physical sensa­tion that tells me a story of cowardice. I wouldn’t be any good. I’m not going to Chicago anyway… nothing in Chicago that a monkey woman can do. As suddenly as it started it’s all over, a phalanx of uniforms hustling out the musicians’ entrance, the kid apparently in the middle, the barricade apparently back in place.

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THE BEAT GOES ON. Jimi, Noel, Mitch. The boys. I met Mitch and Noel once, in a Miami Beach hotel room 10 storeys above a swimming pool where a square dance was about to com­mence: Mitch, gassed, rushing out to the balcony with his super­-8, Noel wandering around in leop­ard-print jersey skivvies, relaxed as he had been three minutes be­fore when Mitch was stomping around, refusing to play the night’s gig because they were being hassled about working papers: “You can bet if we were Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr nobody would expect us to go stand in line…” Mike Gold­stein cooled that. The occasion was a slapstick rock festival that someday, someday yet I may write about. It had its moments, none of them news and none of them musical. I like Mitch and Noel, and I think they’re fine musicians. And Jimi… I met him too, later, I so tongue-tied he finally commented on it, trying to ease my discomfort, only aggravating it. I try to avoid meeting the musicians I admire most. They scare me. Some business. Hassles back-stage, hassles on-stage. The beat goes on.

So the question now is whether Jimi will go ahead with his freak­out climax. Earlier he had eaten his guitar. Yeah, he finishes it off, a sort of subdued version, charging his equipment guitar­-neck first, carefully deflecting so as not to really bust the speakers or his ax, then squatting obscene across the ax, merry-go-round-round-round-round-round. For what? He’s a genius — what’s he need that corn for? You don’t really think he plays with tongue and teeth, do you? After all, you’ve seen him hold his guitar at arm’s length and play one-­handed with his fingers on the neck. Well, it sells a lot of seats to people who could care less about the music (they ate it up on Friday), and if there’s plenty of music going down besides there’s really nothing wrong with selling seats if you weren’t born so affluent you can disdain what money can buy if Mummy can’t. Anyway, it’s a put-on and I think he probably has fun doing it and sharing the fun — if you’re experi­enced. Of course, it doesn’t have anything to do with the music, because Jimi Hendrix is a genius.

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IN ANOTHER CONTEXT, Mike Zwerin, talking with Earle Brown, discusses in his column this week the limitations of a form so free “you can’t make a mistake.” I think maybe those forms are themselves mistakes. Hendrix works in a form that, as avant-garde music goes these days, is pretty tame and inflexible. Yet to some extent he has made his own form, to the extent that his amalgam of blues, rock, some jazz, the improvisation, the things he does with his guitar that produce a pure electronic sheet, results in a unique sound. The best of his myriad imitators sound fifth rate. Altogether the form is hardly so unlimited as that referred to by Zwerin and Brown, yet in a broad sense their conversation does apply. It’s difficult if not impossible for me to imagine Hendrix making a mistake, just as difficult to imag­ine a performance of his not be­ing absorbing. The issue, as al­ways, is it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, which doesn’t necessarily mean a hard beat. It’s a matter of being to­gether, whatever music you’re making. Satie might be said to rock, Mozart doesn’t, but they both sure swing, and so does Sun Ra. But the Soft Machine, which is more into experimentation than any group I know that is in any way classified as rock, didn’t the one time I heard them (not Fri­day). Maybe it was a bad night. Friday, when the lights weren’t dimmed when they began their set, most of the audience thought their first number was a period of tuning up (according to my — as Richard Goldstein says — usu­ally unreliable source). They sound that way to me all the time. But Hendrix is unerring, his authority absolute. He had an off-night of his own Friday, but his off-nights are better than the best moments of most contem­porary musicians. If he did make a mistake it would probably be the most exciting musical mistake of our time.

Never mind. Their limousine is probably back in Manhattan by the time the subway finally leaves, 18 stops to Times Square, if you live on the East Side it’s 16 to Grand Central, a few more to get downtown.


Dirty Blonde: Happy Hours in Unhappy Times

There’s a little Peruvian bar and restaurant off the L’s Montrose stop that you’re not likely to wander into during a friendly tour of the neighborhood, but once you’ve found Mojito Loco, you’re not likely to wander out too quickly, either. The waitress takes your order in stop-and-start fits of giggles, her braces gleaming as she brings more mojo sauce with a big smile. The bartender pops by to see if your drink is actually too strong, and while it couldn’t be, it seems like a really sweet question to ask. The space is pretty and clean, with wooden-slat walls and rose-colored paint. The best part, however, is this: They’ve imposed a recession-friendly, all-day-everyday happy hour.

I swear, they nearly pay you to drink. Dollar PBRs are available most nights of the week, and whiskey (or tequila) enthusiasts can pony up an additional two bucks for a well shot. The $5 margaritas are small, but strong, served in squat little mason jars, while the namesake cocktails are $7 and about three times the size. Brunch comes with as many margs, screwdrivers, Bloody Marys, or mimosas as you can drink. Friday nights offer free sangria till it’s gone. You can even soak up all that cheap booze with inexpensive grub: Sundays through Thursdays, buy one dinner entrée and get another half off.

Yes, we’re all fucking broke. And while finding a good happy hour in New York isn’t terribly hard when you know where to look, keeping a rein on your wallet while seeking out a certain ambience can be more difficult. In other words, who cares if the drinks are cheap when the bar sucks?

Megan, an ad director at Martha Stewart Living, refuses to stop drinking good wine just because it costs considerably more than, oh, Natty Light. “There are a few places that do free wine tastings every Saturday, and they get crowded with lots of young people,” she says. “Makes for a free, boozy Saturday afternoon. Union Square Wines typically does a free tasting every Saturday at 2 p.m.—usually a theme of some sort, and then they let you apply a discount to any purchases. A five-minute walk away, Astor Wines & Spirits does one every Saturday at 3.”

Matthew, an art insurer who lives in Long Island City, takes advantage of early-bird specials. “Yes, I like to be the dork who gets to the bar when the party first starts,” he says. “For example, there’s a great Thursday-night party that just started like two weeks ago or so at Aspen [22nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues] called ‘Jack.’ They usually have an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m. And Friday nights at the Chelsea Hotel for ‘Star Lounge’ has an open bar from 10 to 11 as well. However, after that, the drinks are pricey at both places.” He goes on to celebrate the East Village’s Boiler Room and Eastern Bloc, Snaxx in the basement of the Westside Tavern, Vlada in Hell’s Kitchen, and a new party called “Mooseknuckle” at the Hose on Avenue A. (“Smoking and nudity,” he faux-warns, then cackles.) “Where not to go,” he adds, “is Merkato 55. I was there for a SCOPE [Art Fair] party last week, and the drinks were like $15 apiece. Fuck that.”

For the nutritionally ignorant (those who will choose beer over food every time there’s a measly $10 that’s supposed to last until next Friday), know this: You don’t have to sacrifice. The Alligator chain of Williamsburg bars (Alligator, Crocodile, Lost & Found, etc.) are known for their beloved free pizzas with any drink purchase, of course, but consider also the free hot dogs at Shark Bar on Wednesdays—they’re cooked in a weekly beer selection. Upper East Siders have the advantage of Vero, where a glass of wine comes with a free panini on Mondays. Park Slope’s Bar Reis serves up $3 quesadillas alongside $3 beers from 5 to 8:30 p.m. all week—and there are actually attractive singles hanging around, a rarity on Fifth Avenue. One of my favorite spots in Greenpoint, 68, now has $5 burgers on Tuesdays and half-price bottles of wine on Mondays and Wednesdays; more half-price bottles can be found at Soho’s Country Café on Monday nights.

Two-for-one specials are pretty common, but some are more fun than others: It’s the going rate on Mondays at the Delancey, where you can also get a free shot of tequila at midnight with proof of unemployment. “Two for Tuesdaze” at Matchless get thick fast (the offerings there include Guinness and Blueberry Blue Point), as does the scene at Doc Holliday’s, featuring a three-hour open-beer bar for $7. (I’d rather die, but maybe you’re less discerning?) Happy hour in the East Village for me usually only means Tile Bar, where nearly every drink is a paltry $3, but domestic bottles are the same price a few blocks over and a couple steps down at Scratcher.

And for the best drink special of all—that is, when strangers purchase them for you—I suggest hitting up the Gibson, a slick, dark bar on Bedford. Last weekend, my roommate and I had excellent luck in that regard. Six hours of excellent luck. Can’t get better returns than that.


Dirty Blonde: Vincent Galvin Jr., 1983-2008

On December 23, the Lower East Side lost one of its most recognizable habitués with the unexpected death of Vincent Galvin Jr. He was 25. A budding talent living in that particular New York cross-section of music and film, Galvin had recently produced videos for Amazing Baby, Alternate Routes, and Jim Jones, and also co-produced Motherfucker: A Movie, David Casey’s 2007 documentary about the beloved Manhattan party hosted by Michael T., Johnny T., Justine D., and Georgie Seville. Charismatic and poised for success, the Pace grad had big plans for his future, plans cut short on the night of December 22 when he slipped on some ice while out with friends in the neighborhood, hit his head, and died of a concussion the next day.

“Vince is the second New Yorker attached to the film that has passed away since filming,” Casey wrote to me in an e-mail. He’d hired Galvin as production manager on the film, but in time promoted him to co-producer. “He took the film to a new level, creating with me a love letter to the New York we know and knew. He was its biggest advocate on the street, and the word-of-mouth he created helped us exponentially.” Following the CMJ debacle in 2007 (festival directors decided to pull the movie shortly before its debut), though, that film has yet to see a New York screening, and while it’s too old for the roster at the Tribeca Film Fest, Casey has a standing offer for a screening at Tribeca Cinemas if he can secure a sponsor. So now more than ever, Motherfucker really deserves to be seen by a local audience, by the people who were there and who appreciate the party for what it was: an inclusive celebration of New York misfits. And one thing is made clear by the sheer number of friends Galvin had: He understood inclusiveness.

“Vince was an absolute fixture in the Lower East Side, where he lived for several years,” says record producer Sarah Lewitinn. “We could go into almost any restaurant, bar, shop, bodega . . . you name it, and Vince was either greeted by name or had ‘dated’ a waitress.” Lewitinn met Vince in November 2005 through a mutual friend, shortly after she’d started dating someone new—and watched him quickly woo her distrustful boyfriend. “This person didn’t really like Vince for whatever reason, and didn’t really like us hanging out together . . . but in true Vince fashion, the two of them became completely inseparable best friends about a year later. He had a way.”

A few weeks ago, Galvin’s brother, Patrick, hosted a fundraiser at 151 to raise $2,500 for the Adopt-a-Bench program, which benefits NYC parks and green spaces. “Please join us this Wednesday to raise a Guinness for Vinny, tell a story or two, and remember the Pope of Rivington Street,” the invite suggested. The goal was met, and this spring, the park will install a plaque in Galvin’s name in the park between Christie and Forsyth, in a walkway that connects both sides of Rivington—his “most famous strut,” according to Casey. “Vinny’s birthday’s in May,” Patrick explains. “So we want to have that plaque up by then.”

But Galvin’s friends and family have another memorial in mind, one that’s been a little more difficult to get off the ground. While in town for the funeral, Casey posed the idea of a Lower East Side mural as a testament to the neighborhood that Galvin knew and loved best. “We used to walk the streets of the city, looking for famous throw-ups and tags from old NYC graf legends,” Casey wrote about his idea to memorialize Galvin. “We would go to Pell Street, just to see Flying Dragon markers in the concrete and walls. We’d revisit continually old buildings around Five Points and Chinatown. We always talked of projects centered around Forgotten NY, Rev, the Freedom Tunnel, or the mythic murals in the Second Avenue tunnels. The guy knew the true legends in the city and, in my opinion, is now one of them.”

Another friend of Galvin’s, writer and former MTV correspondent Gideon Yago, suggested hiring the Tats Cru, the celebrated Bronx-based group of former graffiti artists gone legit. Now, they just have to find the space—and it’s not been easy. Tats Cru requires written permission and proof that the property owner approves the mural, and ideally they’re looking for a wall that’s important to other artists as well, to avoid damage or destruction. Reluctant business owners aren’t the only deterrent, though; there’s also the matter of available expanse. “It’s so hard to find any space for murals anywhere in the LES,” Lewittin says. “There just isn’t any. . . . It’s as simple as that.”

Patrick says that as soon as he takes his CPA exam next weekend, he’s taking some time off to visit his brother’s former haunts and talk to business owners himself. “People say ‘Everything happens for a reason’ or ‘Wrong place at the wrong time,’ and it’s all bullshit,” Patrick says. “But all we can do is keep him alive in as many ways as possible. This is just one of them.”


Dirty Blonde: An Anatomy of the Nightlife Media’s Obsession with Chloe 81

When Lower East Side hideaway Chloe 81 opened last fall, it quickly won a coterie of fashionable fans via its Wednesday-night party, the Ivy. The press followed suit, admiring the vintage tiling, the low ceiling, the candlelight—the intimacy in general. But then a funny thing happened. In a quest to say anything interesting about an apparently likable bar with apparently likable owners, members of the media began tripping all over themselves to issue grander superlatives than the last, resulting in a hot-spot dogpile of cringe-worthy proportions—and an incredibly tight door. Follow along!

Sept. 16, 2008: Urban Daddy officially cranks up the hype machine: “Your latest underground drinking den isn’t visible from street level. Just find your way down some ratty steps and into a shiny, white-tiled cocktail station with red booths, downtown hipsters, and stiff drinks.” Let the games begin.

Oct. 3: New York‘s nightlife expert, Daniel Maurer, deciding it high time to anoint a new Beatrice Inn, declares Chloe 81 the successor (we nightlife writers sure love the “This is the new that” construction): “She might be a little smaller than the Beatrice (we didn’t bust out the measuring tape), but that hasn’t prevented dancing,” he writes. “The drinks are made using fresh juices and such—from what we tasted, they could use a little tweaking, but then you’re not coming here for the perfect Manhattan. It’s more about the thrill of the unmarked door.” Discovering there’s a chance they can’t make it past the door, everyone suddenly decides they must make it past the door.

Oct. 22: BlackBook repeats the comparison, thereby cementing its reality. “Next contender for the title of the new Beatrice is blissfully not in the West Village,” writes Bryce Longton, informing followers that Wednesdays at Chloe are “shutting it down.”

Nov. 14: Paper chimes in: “The Lower East Side isn’t wanting for unmarked bars, and the neighborhood’s recent addition, Chloe 81, joins a growing collection of sleek hideaways best spotted by doormen giving cryptic sidewalk interrogations to those hoping to get in. It’s the utter opposite of fun to some, and worth every potentially ego-bruising second to others.” So, terrifying for all! Healthy.

Nov. 17: Chloe scores its first long-ish feature from Anthem magazine, one that echoes the dichotomy suggested by Maurer six weeks earlier. “To the smug pleasure of her patrons and to the dismay of those who meet Todd or Angelo with a ‘Sorry, private party,’ Beatrice has continued to reign somewhat effortlessly since her inception,” writes Christina Mannatt. “Most would agree that the time has come for Miss Beatrice to face a worthy opponent, and, dear readers, that moment may be upon us.” The post goes on to describe the door policies as “more taut than Janice Dickinson’s visage,” calling Chloe 81 “the Eastside’s Biggie to the Westside’s Tupac in an epic battle of the hips.”

Dec. 2: New York mag uses the Anthem story as an opportunity to remind everyone that, Hel-lo, we said it first-ahhhh. (“In October we predicted Chloe would be the new Beatrice—and we weren’t just saying that because they kind of look the same and have girl names. Per a feature in Anthem, it looks like she’s all grown up now.”) Other members of the press are invited to take their toys and go home.

Dec. 5: Hoo-doggie, here comes the fun. Emboldened by the snowballing press, lovers of the after-dark start getting possessive, as we’re wont to do. “Having a barber shop opening in a bar with A-list attendees boggles the mind. But this is New York, and I was playing favorites last night,” writes BlackBook blogger Holly GoNightly. “The venue in question, Chloe 81, happens to be my beloved watering hole, and one of the DJs, Steven Rojas, is also choice. So we decided to drink to better hair.” See what she did there? Admitted that the premise of the party was a little bit silly, but who cares, because she loves it that much? That’s something else we do. In another six months, everyone will start lovingly talking about the bar in the past tense. As in, “Oh, God, remember how fun Chloe was?”

Dec. 26: The New York Times ambles aboard, which inevitably triggers backlash from everyone else. “Lit by the soft glow of flickering tea lights, the lounge was filled with Manhattan’s more high-end hipsters—the kind who go for an American-Apparel-by-way-of-Bergdorf look,” writes Liza Ghorbani. What, no Allen Salkin?

Jan. 4, 2009: Aha! Backlash! By a Yelp commenter, obviously. “I am not afraid to say this place doesn’t even deserve a 1 star from me if i have that option. I understand the whole thing of being discrete and exclusive. I would not put up with the attitude of this place. especially there are millions of other MUCH COOLER place you can go in the city.” [Multiple sic’s, of course.] She is not even afraid to say it, guys.

Jan. 7: Per the New York Press: “After two failed visits to this quiet Lower East Side block—the bar is closed on Mondays and I ran into a private party on my second try—I finally finagled my way past the doorman and through the velvet drapes to make my underground escape into Chloe 81’s classy, tiled interior,” writes Jake Englander. Aw. Clearly, he didn’t read the Anthem feature.

Jan. 9: Curiously absent Guest of a Guest weighs in, employing the blog’s endearingly casual fashion: “Hipsters in tight jeans? Check. Plaid shirts and neck chains? Check. Sweater vests and Cartigans (sic)? Check, Check, Check.”

Jan. 22: BlackBook offers up a post titled “The Chloe Code: Cracking the Door at LES Hotspot Chloe 81.” It contains no real information regarding how to actually get past the door, but does manage to interview many beautiful people who go there, explicitly advising that you sleep with the DJ and implicitly suggesting that if you aren’t already getting in, you ain’t never gonna. Writer Foster Kamer admits that hype has reached fever pitch. Let’s hope he’s right?


Dirty Blonde: Where to Drink in 2009

My book club met this month at Gramercy’s Bar Jamón, and my enormous distaste for Revolutionary Road‘s Frank Wheeler got lost in my musings about whether or not I might see Whitney Port, star of The City, who has set up shop in one of the neighborhood’s rentals—even after the show’s ostensible villain, Olivia Palermo, warned her not to take the first apartment she visited. This should be too embarrassing to admit, but I feel little pinpricks in my chest when they show the names of the New York restaurants and bars (the Smith, Stanton Social, Brass Monkey) providing a backdrop for MTV’s manufactured drama, which are accompanied by my squeals of “Of course that’s where they are! God!” (Although what’s with the repeated mistake of putting a space between “Meat” and “Packing” anytime Whitney sets foot on the cobblestoned streets surrounding the Diane von Fürstenberg offices? None of the editors have corrected it.) Worse still, I find myself annoyed that The Real World: Brooklyn isn’t nearly so helpful—in the first episode, I couldn’t recognize the club that actually allowed producers to film there, despite repeated viewings. Between these two and Gossip Girl, I guess no one in New York actually needs to go out anymore to feel as if they’re up to date—good news, since you probably can’t afford to anyway.

Then again, that drivel drives one to drink, and for that, there are a few new things to look forward to in 2009. Former Motherfucker Johnny T now helms Sundays at Bowery Electric for a night dubbed Art Fag; photographer Ryan McGinley—a full-fledged art star—guest-hosted last weekend’s kickoff. Amanda Stern’s popular Happy Ending music-and-lit series is being rewritten these days over at Joe’s Pub, where Richard Price, author of 2008 hit Lush Life, dropped by last week to inaugurate. (Not sure if it will still be twice-monthly, though, since the schedule on Stern’s blog only lists events every first Wednesday.) And while beloved East Village dive (a loosely used term I like less and less), the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, has not yet spawned a sequel (and is on a mysteriously indefinite holiday/hiatus), new bars fashioned as spinoffs of old bars continue to pop up in Brooklyn, including the Williamsburg outpost of D.B.A. and a new Alligator Lounge in Greenpoint.

The latter just opened last week, in the old Lost & Found location on the corner of Franklin and Greenpoint avenues, and is already an immense improvement over the circus-themed sensory assault that was its former incarnation. The bilevel space is much cleaner aesthetically (though perhaps not hygienically—those bathrooms sure haven’t changed), and with a good playlist it could become a new favorite: same cheap happy hour, same free pizza, and a clientele that includes bands on break from the recording studio next door. Proprietor Michael Kearney (who also owns the original Alligator Lounge, as well as the Crocodile Lounge, the Charleston, Hugs, and the Abbey) was there to drop off dinner for daughter/bartender Jessica, and we chatted with him and his English-born wife for some time. As they were leaving, he protectively encouraged us to have fun but not get too drunk, advice my own dad would be happy someone was giving me. Wish I’d listened.

The Brooklyn D.B.A., located on a quiet stretch of 7th Street between Wythe and Berry, looks a lot like the Manhattan original, but really doesn’t feel much like it—nary a pair of khakis in sight. And if a little impersonal, it will be nice for groups, with its high ceilings, ample seating, and back garden for the warmer months. Heads up, though: The drink menu is impressive and in place above the bar, but the current offerings (maybe 16 functioning beers on tap) are a little more scant. My first two orders of spiked cider and Aventinus were both met with headshakes. I also stopped by the Richardson that night for the first time—the bar opened in August, but I hadn’t made it there until now, despite a number of e-mails from readers who thought I might like it. As documented, I love the cocktail lounge trend, but don’t care at all for the attitude that can accompany it, and the Richardson has pretty wallpaper and friendly bartenders. And they’re actually called bartenders! How refreshing. I opted for the Scottish Dew, a scotch-and-muddled-cucumber concoction, and it was good and strong—and less than $10. That little stretch of Graham needed another bar, and once the slickness gets rubbed off, the Richardson should do well.

One last thing: I received an e-mail last week from the Upright Citizens Brigade asking for the support of any East Village residents—the comedy troupe hopes to open an additional club in the Pioneer Theater space (at Avenue A and 3rd Street, next to Two Boots) and needs the approval of the increasingly powerful Community Board 3 to start the process. Anyone who lives east of Fourth Avenue and south of 14th Street can—and should—sign an online petition to help out: UCB would be a fantastic addition to the neighborhood, especially if they can get a beer-and-wine license. The PBR served in the Chelsea location is frightfully cheap, and those Asssscat improv shows are truly one of the best ways to avoid the horrible, terrible, awful, booze-fueled Sunday night blues. See for more information.


Dirty Blonde: Here’s to Not Injuring Yourself This Christmas

In the days before I moved to New York, I attended a holiday party where I ate nothing, drank everything, then fell and cracked the back of my head on a concrete patio. I stayed down there for a while, thinking mostly about how much that fucking hurt, but also about how this beloved season of celebration can land you (me) in rehab. So I’m a little wary of the December weeks of over-consumption. If I skipped your party, it isn’t because I didn’t think it sounded fun.

That said, on Tuesday night I saw the Walkmen at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, another of New York mag’s “Secret Society” shindigs. I’d never been to a show there before and had heard wonderful things, about which I now reply, “Huh?” The atmosphere there is utterly blah, and that enormous and obnoxious Boost Mobile banner isn’t even completely to blame. (If I must choose one of New York’s high-school-gym-like venues, I’ll take the Warsaw.) Not blah, though: the Walkmen. Those boys! Honestly! I’m not sure I’ve seen a better performance this year. When Hamilton Leithauser throws his head back, opens his throat, and wails for what seems like minutes on end, how can you not catch your breath?

The Dodos opened the show, announcing that it was the last night of their marathon tour. When this news received a strangely quiet reaction, singer Meric Long shyly added, “We’re here to have a good time, is what we mean.” Then came the Walkmen. What struck me is that the band’s performance actually felt festive—and not just because they played “White Christmas” during the encore. There were all those fat, wet snowflakes outside, to which anyone who waited in line to get in can attest. Inside, onstage, those shiny-penny guys—any of whom I’m pretty sure my parents would welcome for the holidays, in their unmarried incarnations, of course—looked like there was nowhere else they’d rather be; the audience returned their smiles, as did the spot-on horn section backing up the band. When Leithauser rocked back on his heels, eyes closed, and sang, “I know that it’s true/It’s gonna be a good year,” you had to agree, even if it meant ignoring the sadder parts of the song. It was joyful, truly.

And while that was my favorite night of the last couple weeks, there are certainly a few others worth mentioning. The Ralph Lauren store in Soho hosted a book signing for photographer Mark Seliger’s new collection of pics taken during his 10 years (1992–2002) at Rolling Stone, including shots of the White Stripes, Nirvana, Willie Nelson, and, uh, Nelly; Yerba Buena’s CuCu Diamantes sang. (Seliger currently has an exclusive contract with GQ and Vanity Fair, but mentioned that “maybe” he “might” one day work for the music mag again.) The pretty-people crowd there was mostly divided into two bunches: those waiting to chat with Seliger, and those itching instead to shake hands with whippet-thin dandy Tom Wolfe on co-hosting duties. (He wrote the book’s foreword—a vast improvement over I Am Charlotte Simmons, which I returned to my local library with 50 pages unread after slogging through the first 700 or so.) I was in the third category, the one awestruck by handsome David Lauren’s amazing tucked-in sweater.

Additionally, music blogger Jinners’s birthday party at Enid’s allowed for many frozen Harrisons, collective gaping at the incredible paper-snowflake cat in the front window, and a short walk home. (She’s the manager for the soon-to-be-defunct Dirty on Purpose, who play their final show on New Year’s Eve, breaking another little piece of my heart.) The Matador holiday celebration, held the next night, ended in karaoke. And a close friend blew an unexpected Christmas bonus on a small dinner party at Dressler that left me full for three days, God bless her. Best news: I didn’t fall once.

You’ve probably already made your New Year’s Eve plans, so I won’t go into that, except to mention a reminder that the storied Knitting Factory hosts its farewell show in the current Leonard Street location with a lineup plucked straight from the forest: Deerhoof, Deer Tick, and Superfaun (as well as Akron/Family and Dirty Projectors). But here’s another little something to look forward to in 2009: The weekend train service of the Atlantic City Express Service (ACES)—a direct drink-on-the-way ride between Penn Station and Atlantic City, with a short stop in Newark—officially launches on February 6. Expect all sorts of fun, starting with ACES’ randy website, which promises, “I’ll give you a ride you’ll never forget,” alongside all the get-lucky puns you can imagine.

ACES—what a great name!—has eight multilevel rail cars with fancy-pants leather seating, a private lounge, and both first- and coach-class travel options (first-class is on the upper deck, obviously); shuttle service is provided upon arrival to either Caesars, Harrah’s, or the Borgata. If you’ve never been down to the boardwalk, I’d advise you not to believe the Las Vegas comparisons: Atlantic City isn’t even one-tenth as glitzy as Sin City. Even the new casinos smell of stale smoke and have stained carpets, and scoring a seat at a $5 blackjack table isn’t as easy as it should be. But here’s the most important part to remember: Gambling is fun. Irresponsible in this economy, sure, but still, God, so much fun. Introductory ticket prices will start at $50 for a one-way coach seat and $75 for the upgrade. For schedules and purchase info, check I may or may not already have it bookmarked.


Dirty Blonde: Introducing the NY Eye & Ear Festival

For some, musician Carlos Giffoni’s No Fun Fest (the live noise-rock marathon celebrating its fifth year this spring) instills awe and admiration—both for the scene and for Giffoni’s tireless dedication to it. For those who shrug at noise rock, of course, it elicits still more shrugs. But for Todd Brooks, the artist and curator behind Brooklyn’s Pendu Organization, it inspired an idea four years in the making that finally will see the light of day this weekend: the NY Eye & Ear Festival.

The two-day record fair and all-ages music fete, dedicated entirely to New York’s homegrown labels and bands, might just be the first of its kind. “There’s never been a New York–centric festival before,” says Brooks. “It seems like something that someone would have thought of: Let’s get together a bunch of New York labels and bands, at least a No Wave festival in the ’80s or something. But it’s never been done.” He spent some time the last few years booking shows and waiting to stumble on the right space; a few months ago, he finally did at Vanishing Point, a 4,700-square-foot industrial loft that recently opened in Bushwick. He pitched the idea to the venue’s curators. They bit. And he hopes that’s where he’ll stay, since there’s a larger aim at work here: to host Eye & Ear every six months, in the winter and again in the summer. Brooks hopes that, eventually, labels will prepare new albums, bands will celebrate record releases, and attendees will flock from far-flung locales for an in-person introduction to music they can’t just download or read about online.

The inaugural Eye & Ear’s list is exhaustive: at least 39 record labels, and some 36 bands, including Sightings, Excepter, and Muggabears. (The fair’s title is inspired by both a 1964 Michael Snow experimental film titled New York Eye and Ear Control—soundtrack by Albert Ayler—and the NY Eye & Ear Infirmary signs seen daily by riders of the L train.) Of the lesser-known labels that should be getting more attention, Brooks advocates Abandon Ship, AnarchyMoon, Heat Retention, and Obsolete Units. Of the bands, he touts Hunters, Realax, and headliners Xeno and Oaklander. “I feel like they’re maybe known to a pretty specific crowd, but they’re beyond amazing, just mind-blowing,” says Brooks. “Which is why, you know, they’re headlining.”

And while Brooks has attached the term “DIY” to Eye & Ear, don’t expect a roster solely made up of the (often-great) bands that readers of Showpaper will automatically recognize (although the always-great Showpaper itself is also heavily involved; in fact, proceeds from the festival will benefit the free bi-weekly). Brooks’s big idea is to bring all of New York’s split music scenes together: noise, post-punk, indie, etc. “The way that promotions work, it often happens that people just get turned on to genre-specific music,” he says. “But I want to provide a snapshot of the whole city. Not its parts.” To ratchet up just a little more advance credibility, Eye & Ear also boasts participation by Arthur Magazine and Cinders Gallery; Fingered Media will document the festival for a 2009 DVD compilation.

The term “DIY” itself is losing a little of its value, in my opinion—as nearly all labels eventually do. Brooks agrees to some point. “I mean, sure, any kid can put out a CD and attach the term ‘DIY’ to it,” he says. “And with the label being thrown around so much lately, I think it’s possible that it’s lost some of its grip. But it’s more specific than that. There’s an element of quality that makes something DIY, a fully developed package. And for me, I’ve always thought of it as for people who are artistically minded—they’re almost doing arts and crafts with music attached. They’re putting in the time, the effort, and the quality so that their music doesn’t get lost in the detritus.”

(Speaking of arts and crafts, the poster for Eye & Ear—please seek it out, if you haven’t done so already—was created by my new favorite, Tingle Fingers, whose recent work is pretty incredible, particularly the art for Less Artists, More Condos. They did one for a weekend of shows at LAMC by High Places, Aa, and Cutter, in which a tall building mutates into a hand bent around to slash its own wrist, while all the people below carry umbrellas—a tidal wave of literal anthropomorphism. And there’s another for the Nat Baldwin show this Friday night—the space is sharing opening musical guests with the festival, as LAMC’s Ariel Panero is also involved with Showpaper—with a silhouette of a boy who felled a unicorn. I hated the unicorn trend, and I still like the poster. But then, I love Nat Baldwin.)

Anyway, details: Doors open Friday at 2 p.m. at Vanishing Point (240 Meserole), and bands begin at 7 p.m. (As Panero explained it to me, there will be three stages set up for a round-robin atmosphere, so that while one band is playing, two others can be quietly setting up. Less waiting! Good news.) On Saturday, the live music starts at 2 p.m., and both nights end with dance parties from 1:30 to 4 a.m. (Chinatown DJs and Steve Lowenthal on Friday, Jane Tesco and Pieter Wierd on Saturday). The labels will be there all day both days; door prices are $8 for Friday, $10 for Saturday, or $15 for both. See for more information.


Dirty Blonde: Jon Bakhshi’s Eco-Friendly Greenhouse; A Pitchfork 500 Party

Greenhouse, Jon Bakhshi’s long-awaited, eco-friendly Soho nightclub, finally opened its doors this month—by way of a half-dozen welcome parties over the course of a week. I skipped the early ones (where people complained of not being let in until midnight, a result of last-minute drilling and mopping at 11 p.m.; the invite said “10 p.m.”) and instead went last Tuesday to see friends-of-friends the Kiss-Off open for Bloody Social, the Jamie Burke–fronted scenester collective. The place is green, all right: Careful networks of leaves, moss, and vines grid the walls, and little baby bushes are trapped in glass-cube tables. There are recycled-glass bars, a bamboo-wood dance floor, and furniture covered with recycled material; LED lights replace standard bulbs, and the toilets are programmed to use less water. I could go on.

With a typical New York club gobbling energy via sound systems, air conditioners, and disco lights (then shitting out the shards of the bottle industry), I applaud these particular efforts of Jon B.—he who personally escorted the high heels and bare chests of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd into the meatpacking district. Consider further the water consumption by the thousands of clubgoers who don’t just use the bathroom for a quick snort, and it’s clear there’s major room for improvement in reducing the carbon footprint of this city’s nightlife. As far as club gimmicks go, it’s a good one. LEED certification is no small feat.

But don’t expect to walk in and, like, breathe cleaner air or anything. You’re still in a high-priced bar. Promoters will still hold court at tables, and long-legged 18-year-olds will still accept the $15 organic-vodka-and-natural-club-soda you’re there to buy them. Multiple VIP sections on both levels; a raised performance stage accompanied, of course, by a backstage section: You know the drill. If anything, it’s almost more stifling than a non-“green” space, courtesy of a ceiling dripping with some 5,000 dagger-like crystals, arranged to evoke a rolling landscape. A rolling glass landscape. Yikes.

Anyway, Jon B. promises hip-hop and rock downstairs, mash-ups and house a floor up, and well-known DJs on Friday nights; party fave Kenny Kenny is promoting a new Sunday-night bash with Susanne Bartsch. And don’t shoot the messenger here, but some people are lauding the arrival of a “new” neighborhood, with restaurateur David Bouley’s 10,000-square-foot project across the street, Trump Soho opening a block to the south, and rumors of a Justin Timberlake joint.

Also included in the new plans: Michael Dorf’s City Winery. Dorf—who cashed in his bar mitzvah and graduation gifts to found the Knitting Factory in 1986, then sold his equity position and resigned from the board in 2002—unveiled his fully operational winery to members of the press last Wednesday night. The space, which includes two wine bars, a cheese bar, a restaurant, and a performance venue, is slated to open to the public in January. Or, more accurately, on New Year’s Eve, when Joan Osborne headlines. Also scheduled: Rufus Wainwright, Philip Glass, Suzanne Vega, and Mike Doughty. There are also “pairings” every week, wherein music from a pair of artists—Calexico and Keren Ann should be pretty good—is matched with wines. They call it a “blend.” Cute. (Heads-up: You can’t just buy tickets to these events. Dorf has implemented a program called “VinoFile,” with a $50 annual fee that can be put toward the performance costs, which range from $25 to $200. There are a number of other elements to membership; see for information. Oh, also, you don’t need tickets to go to Sunday brunch, when Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys will play.)

Also featured at the winery: wine! Half of the 200 private barrels blended on-site have been filled; head winemaker David Lecomte is saving the rest for spring. Servers (“stewards”) will help customers navigate the list and choose from the selection of small dishes and Murray’s Cheese options. You’ll need the assistance: There are more than 500 bottles, as well as 50 vintages sold by the glass.

For those who can’t wait for 2009, Jean-Luc Le Dû will host $90-$100 tastings of Bordeaux, champagne, and Burgundy (“The Power of Seduction”) the first three Tuesdays in December. Said can’t-waits presumably are members of the core audience that Dorf has targeted: “urban wine enthusiasts who desire the experience of making their own wine, but who are not going to leave their comfortable Manhattan lifestyle to decamp to a vineyard.” How do I become one of them?


A friend asked last week if I planned on attending the book-release party for Pitchfork 500 at the Gutter, the bowling alley on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border. When I said I hadn’t received my engraved invitation yet, he said it actually came via singing telegram: “But they sing it to the tune of some really obscure late-’60s garage band, and then ridicule you for not recognizing it.”

Oh, Pitchfork. Such a lovable, easy joke. But Wednesday night’s event should be fun. The paperback (conveniently released close to the holidays) chronologically explores the music site’s favorite songs from 1977 to 2006, constructing “an alternate history of the past three decades of popular music—one that extends beyond the typical Baby Boomer–approved canon of the Clash, Prince, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Radiohead, and OutKast.” Edited by founder Ryan Schreiber and editor-in-chief Scott Plagenhoef, Pitchfork 500 basically serves as a 500-song ultimate playlist, offering wordy, witty essays and sidebars on indie rock, hip-hop, metal, electronic, pop, and underground.

The party starts at 9 p.m., and, yeah, people will actually be bowling. Don’t want to? Then drink at the bar while DJs spin selections from the book. No cover.


Dirty Blonde: President Obama Rises; Mr. Black Returns

I heard several differing accounts regarding Tuesday night’s electoral victory celebration on Bedford Avenue—arguments that the police involvement was both “out of control” and, on the other hand, “so totally fabricated.” My roommate popped out of the subway as our new president was giving his acceptance speech and said there was an absolute hush over the neighborhood but, minutes later, the streets were filled with joyful, drunk kids chanting “O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma,” flashing the cameras, and singing “Give Peace a Chance.” Mildly embarrassing, but all the more earnest when you see the footage shortly thereafter of cops making arrests and shoving revelers for getting too close. Deserved or not, it’s still kind of disturbing to watch.

I was in the East Village, at the Library, and there were lots of people celebrating in the streets, but I don’t remember seeing even one police car. On the Upper West Side—or the “Upper Left Side,” as a friend who lives there calls it—fire trucks circled the blocks with celebratory lights blazing. And Harlem had streets blocked with at least twice as many people as there were in Brooklyn, and was without incident. So what gives, Williamsburg?

In other news from Tuesday, 25th District State Senate candidate Daniel Squadron was elected with 86.4 percent of the vote, pissing off after-dark personalities who had dubbed him “anti-nightlife.” (Steve Lewis went so far as to call him “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and “an extremely anti-club, anti-licensing, bad, bad man”; Down by the Hipster, though, say they know and like him.) Squadron, who previously owned What Bar on the Upper West Side, intends to fight the “oversaturation of nightlife” in his Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods, strengthening the community board’s power—they’ll be able to further enforce the law preventing bars from operating within 500 feet of a school or church—and creating a new inter-agency SLA Community Enforcement Team. He also wants to increase policing in high-density areas and undergo a comprehensive review of license density within the five boroughs.

“As someone who owned a restaurant and bar a few years ago, I know from personal experience how valuable community engagement can be,” Squadron writes on his campaign website. “We worked closely with the community and had a nearly spotless record. Unfortunately, since there was not a formal process, the problem spot across the street with nearly nightly problems did not forge nearly such a productive relationship.” Did I mention this kid’s only 28? And has already owned a bar and been elected to the State Senate? I feel like a loser.

As of last weekend, the third incarnation of dance den Mr. Black is in full swing. Armed with a full cabaret license and a partnership with Club Rebel NYC, the latest version fancies itself a full-on nightclub, and Justin Bond, JD Samson, and the regular Black crew were all on hand to celebrate in the new garment district space on West 30th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

As you’ll recall, the original, cult fave Mr. Black opened in January 2006, but was shuttered abruptly in August 2007. It reopened full-time in a new space earlier this year, but now it’s moved again, even further uptown, and will be open three nights a week, with plans to grow. “We are here for those who want to dance, have fun, or get it on,” proclaimed proprietor Stuart Black in an e-mail missive declaring the club’s new intentions, playing up the impressive new stage for early and late performances. “Our cutting-edge soundtrack is the very heart of the club—think cross genres, cross genders and everything in between. . . . We are proud to present nightlife in all its diversity, fostering new talent and pushing the envelope, all with a sense of humor.” Here’s hoping Part Three sticks—and that Daniel Squadron keeps away. (Can he maybe also stay away from Park Slope’s new Cabana Bar? They have two-person bonfire bowls!)

I saw Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married last week. Other than how I continue to be amazed at how much more I like Anne Hathaway post-breakup, the film’s most surprising element is its roster of top-notch artists and musicians—cameos I didn’t know about going in. (Actually, I knew nearly nothing going in—I definitely didn’t know it was about a fuck-up younger sister going home for her older sister’s wedding in which she’s the maid of honor. Guess whose older sister is getting married next month? Guess who’s the maid of honor?) TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, who plays the groom (and serenades his bride with Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend”—kind of romantic); artist and filmmaker Jimmy Joe Roche, frequent collaborator of Dan Deacon; and hip-hop legend Fab Five Freddy were all present on-screen. But my favorite was Robyn Hitchcock’s one-two punch of “America” (from 1995’s Gravy Deco) and “Up to Our Nex,” an original song he wrote for the movie.

It made me even more excited for the upcoming live re-cut of Hitchcock’s 1984 masterpiece, I Often Dream of Trains, on November 22 at the Symphony Space, a multi-disciplinary performing-arts venue on the Upper West Side that seats a little more than 750. Of the decision to perform the album now, the ex–Soft Boys singer says this: “The record mutates into a concept performance rather like a sofa can become a mattress.” I have no idea what he means, but I look forward to finding out.