And something else after the jump...
It's been 3 days of great music and schlepping around, but not a whole lot of Internet access. Here's a brief travelogue:
Thursday: Caught the train into the city (a lovely new double-decker version) and met up with my friend in Brooklyn. We got to the Warsaw (concert hall/Polish social club) just in time to sample some of their delectable pierogies and Polish beer whose name I can't pronounce. We were there to see the Gutter Twins, a super group of sorts formed by the lead singers of the Afghan Whigs (the ever-sexy Greg Dulli) & the Screaming Trees (Mark Lanegan). I've seen them a couple of times and was underwhelmed (though to be fair, I was over-beered for one of those). Tonight was the best show I've seen by them. But at the same time, I can't wait for this project to be over and Dulli start doing his own thing, whether that's solo, with the Twilight Singers, or (Please, Jebus) an Afghan Whigs reunion. It's just not a good mix. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Also, we had a carnival of douchebags in a 3 foot radius surrounding us at all times. Not the same douchebags, but rather a never-ending stream of them in all annoying shapes and sizes. Usually NYC crowds are loathe to appear that they are enjoying themselves. This was not Thursday's problem. We had people who wouldn't shut up, people who stood an inch in front of us (with 3 feet of space in front of them), 6'5" really drunk guy who wanted to swing dance with his equally drunk girlfriend in a larger radius than what was afforded him by the crowd, corduroy jacket-wearing high-fivers, and a blond who we wondered about how drunk she was vs. how drunk she was acting. The verdict was that she was really drunk.
Friday: I was on my own, as my host had to be lame and work. So I made plans to meet up with another friend for lunch and just explore the city. I met her down in the Village and afterwards decided to start exploring the city. That entailed walking past a bunch of leather, fetish, and discipline daddy stores into a 4-block stretch where every other store was selling purses of some kind. I know women need purses like I need pepper jack, but this was ridiculous. I mean, where are my pepper jack stores? To minimize my revulsion, I ducked into Barrow's Pub and killed a few hours with an excellent jukebox sound system, and talked to a local who was just MRIed (even though she was too big for the machine) and who had interviewed Hendrix (very nice), Little Richard (only got 5 minutes with him), & Sly Stone(vicious jerk).
After dinner with my Brooklyn peeps, it was off to Terminal 5 and a sold-out show with a dream lineup of the Drive-By Truckers & The Hold Steady (a.k.a. The Rock & Roll Means Well Tour). The bands are co-headlining and take turns in the roles of opening and closing. Tonight the Truckers opened and The Hold Steady closed, which seemed appropriate because the crowd was heavily in favor of The Hold Steady. I enjoyed the show, but was not blown away, partially due to being a bit tired and partially because it was wall-to-wall New Yorkers. The encore bit was fun as Patterson Hood & John Neff joihned THS to close with a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Burning For You", and THS' traditional closer "Killer Parties".
But the real fun came after the show. I met up with Tony Leonardo, Ultimate book author, at a Harlem jazz club. Correction, a jazz club north of Harlem. Well, at least I was dressed to impress at a smoky jazz club. Girl Talk t-shirt, shorts, & sandals. But the night was a memorable one as we interacted with locals, got some not cheap/not weak drinks, and grooved till 4 in the morning. An hour later, I was back in Brooklyn.
Brunch in Brooklyn, and a train back to Trenton. I had all of 30 minutes to remove several layers of NYC funk before heading back out to a light dinner with K-Chop and several of her friends. And by "light dinner", I mean a Thanksgiving Dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes at Jones. And a 22 oz. Pilzilla. Highly recommended.
The show was, to put it mildly, incredible. Rather than being by myself and packed into a sardine can like in NYC, this time there was room to breathe and I had an entourage. Or maybe I was in the entourage of someone else. TPT wordsmith Goose, frequent commenters Hendge & KChop, and a couple of her friends. THS opened and the crowd was fired up from the word go. Especially fired up were a group of heterosexually-deficient young lads in front of us. Either they're part of a sleeper cell-esque operation to eventually mount a Broadway musical based on hit Hold Steady songs (which means THS would have to eventually have some hits) OR they are really, really gay for each other.
Post-THS, a small portion of the crowd did leave, but that only served to loosen the crowd up a bit and make it easier for piss & beer runs. And then the Truckers put on a rollicking set that was by far the best I've seen from them since Jason Isbell left. I have a whole 'nother post in me that will explore some of my feelings about where the band stands after last night's show. Adding a touch of brass to the proceedings was a 3-piece horn section that, I think, is the same one that played at a THS Asbury Park (Stone Pony) show a year or so ago. The story I hazily remember Craig Finn telling was that they were these high schooler guys who contacted the band about having worked up some arrangements to THS songs. So naturally, the band invited them to play with them. These *had* to be the same guys. How many 3-piece young male horn sections could there be who live in the area? However many, it's not enough. They played on 1 or 2 THS songs, and several of the Truckers' including "World of Hurt" & "Marry Me".
We capped the night off with some food at Good Dog. But the culinary highlight of the weekend might have been brunch at Carman's Country Kitchen, a South Philly landmark. Small and cozy (3 tables and a counter) means you NEED to call ahead the same day to reserve a table. Carman is a character, a thrice-married fan of plastic surgery and has cooked in resturants run by mobsters. Every week she goes by the Italian Market (about 2 blocks away) and comes up with a small menu that combines all kinds of flavors and ingredients. Her kitchen is open to the dining room and you can/should interact with her.
Now onto my picks for Week 10 in the league where they play.... FOR PAY!
Week 9 Records:
Cline -- 7-7 (-$140) (LOTW=W -- BDCS=L)
Goose -- 9-5 (+$260)
Cline -- 57-41-1 (.582) +$610 (LOTW=4-2 -- BDCS=2-4)
Goose -- 54-44-1 (.551) +$10
Denver at CLEVELAND(-1)
TENNESSEE (-2) at Chicago
JACKSONVILLE (-5.5) at Detroit
SEATTLE at Miami (-8.5)
Green Bay (-1) at MINNESOTA
BALTIMORE (-3) at Houston
St. Louis at NY JETS (-4.5)
NEW ORLEANS at Atlanta (PICK)
Buffalo (-3.5) at NEW ENGLAND
CAROLINA (-7) at Oakland
INDIANAPOLIS at Pittsburgh (-1.5)
Kansas City at SAN DIEGO (-8)
N.Y. Giants at PHILLY (PICK)
San Francisco at ARIZONA (-6.5)