In New York city we had the chance to stay with our super cool friend, Lauren. We have known Lauren for several years though mutual friends and love of psychobilly and so it was great to spend some quality time together!
We arrived late on a Saturday afternoon and after a seemingly endless journey through expensive tolls ($41 in total), we made it in Manhattan’s East Village. What a nightmare to drive around these parts… Luckily Jade handled it calmly. Took us about an hour to find a parking spot around our friend’s appartement. Oh wait a minute, what does that sign say? Alternate side parking? So we have to move it before Monday 9am? This is like a game of chess!
Anyways, the first night we obviously went to Jeremy’s favourite bar: Otto’s Shrunken Head. We had a great time and we saw the Coffin Daggers live, surf music with an organ and a garagey sound. Check them out, they’re awesome. Frank the mythomaniac was obviously working on the door, entertaining while smoking. We spent the next few days wandering around in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Greenwich and East Village, preparing our costumes for Halloween and do a bit of shopping. We had a stop at Generation Records, one of the last standing good record shops in Manhattan.
Jeremy worked in New York for a week last year, so we met with his ex work mates (now friends) and had drinks and food in Chinatown at Nom Wah Tea Parlour, open since 1920. We tried chicken feet. Gross.
We also visited the MoMa, Museum of Modern Art. This is a wonderful place, very big (6 floors), a lot of great art, famous paintings and a couple of cool temporary exhibitions.
The first exhibit was about architecture in Yugoslavia during the communist reign, it was called ‘Toward a concrete utopia’. It was amazing to see how creative and different from the Soviet union Yugoslavia was (politically and culturally). Hell, some of these buildings seem to be out of a science fiction film.
The second exhibit was a retrospective of Charles White. He was an African American artist that did black & white drawings and oil paintings of African American people, before and during the Civil Rights Movement. This artist used his incredible talent and classical training to create beautiful artwork which is politically engaging. He worked to highlight and evidence the lives and achievements of African American people, both historically and during his time.
On one afternoon when Lauren had the day off work, we went where she learns how to sail: South Street Seaport. This is a historic area, one of the oldest parts of New York and there are a couple of old commercial boats to visit. It is a fascinating experience and the museum seems a labour of love. These old ships have been faithfully restored to former glory and it is largely done by dedicated volunteers. Interesting stuff, it for sure was a lot harder to travel from Europe at the turn of the 20th century.
The night before Halloween, we had the chance to get tickets for what turned out to be our favourite entertainment of the entire trip. It was a screening of Nosferatu, the 1922 horror classic. Aired in the awesome and atmospheric setting of St John the Divine cathedral and the real draw is that the entire soundtrack is played live by the church organ! It is the fifth largest cathedral in the world, an impressive monument built almost 130 years ago. As soon as we got in, we could see the work that had been done for the occasion. Red lights and decorations gave the place a seriously spooky ambience. We entered to find a suited skeleton playing the cello! When the film started, the magnificent organ kicked off by stunning us with the Toccata. We had goose bumps. The film itself seems more funny than scary nowadays, but the powerful organ with the halls natural reverb was just the perfect background to it.
When the film ended, a macabre procession took place in the central alley. About 50 monsters (that seemed to be just out from hell) creeped and leaped down from the ‘mouth of hell’ at the choir, between the rows of the astonished audience. The costumes were well done, without being tacky, and some were pretty scary.. They interacted with the public and everyone was stoked. It really was an amazing experience.
Afterwards, we ended at the Double Down Saloon for some drinks and had some shots of ‘Ass Juice’. Sweet.
During all these days, one thing that we had to keep in mind was the car. Alternate side parking means that you have to move your car a few times a week to make space for the street cleaning trucks. On the last day, we tried to find a parking spot for half an hour with no luck, so we went back where we were parked in the first place (just in front of Lauren’s building). Turns out that everyone was actually waiting in their car until the street cleaners come around. Then everybody parked temporarily on the other side and move again back in their spot when the truck was gone. Then they patiently waited until the end time of the restriction, just in case the cops would come around. This is basically the routine most people followed in that neighbourhood, and thanks to them for sharing the trick with us. Despite it all, every time we went through this ordeal, we were struck by the neighbourliness and friendliness of New Yorkers. Let me tell you, when the car was finally parked, we were happy…
For our last night, we dressed up and went to Otto’s Shrunken Head one last time for the Halloween party. It was fun, all our friends were there and we had a wonderful time. We really liked how New Yorkers take Halloween so seriously!
Our favourite bars were Otto’s Shrunken Head, the Double Down Saloon, Manitoba’s and the Beauty Bar.
We love NYC and thanks a million to Lauren for being a fantastic host!