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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE SPRING CLEANING HITLIST
Cassette tapes from yester-year

ERASURE Live in New York

THE SPRING HITLIST
Albums, singles, a movie, a book, food and more...

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW
Mick Jones on Joe Strummer

SO MUCH WINE, SO LITTLE TIME
18 Wines from four dinners

WILLIAMSBURG W***KERS
The FischerSpooner Album Release Party

FEATURED WINE:
PONT NEUF 2003
Vin De Pays du Gard, France

BRIGHTON ROCKS BROOKLYN
The Go! Team at Southpaw

THE MARCH HITLIST:
15 ALBUMS

NOTES FROM A POSH NIGHT OUT:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Dinner

FEATURED WINE:
Bremerton 'Selkirk' Shiraz 2000 Langhorne Creek, Australia

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
TIM BOOTH

FEATURED WINE REGION:
BANDOL

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
Chemical Brothers, Lemon Jelly, Slits, Erasure, T.H. White, M83, Tim Booth and more

FEATURED WINE:
JEAN LALLEMENT CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV

THE JANUARY HITLIST:
They Almost Got Away: The Best Of The Rest of 2004:

The IJAMMING! Interview:
Matt Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces on Pete Townshend

MINUTES OF A 'MIRACLE':
The Birth of our baby Noel

2004: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
1) The Best Album & Singles
2) Most Disappointing Albums
3) Best Wines of 2004

THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR:
TED LEO in concert

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
Album reviews of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, Nick Cave, The Scumfrog, Freq Nasty, DFA, Grip Weeds, High Dials

THE IJAMMING! INTERVIEW:
Wayne Kramer on Pete Townshend

JOHN PEEL: A Tribute

The biggest night out that you'll ever have in." Jockey Slut
"Hedonism will have you gripped from start to finish, guaranteed." International DJ


Tony Fletcher's debut novel HEDONISM is out now. For more information and to read excerpts, click here.


HEDONISM is available mail order in the USA from Barnes&Noble.com. It's available mail order in the UK from amazon.co.uk or musicroom.com.

DEAR BOY The British edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com and amazon co.uk. More info here.

REMARKS REMADE The first ever R.E.M. biography fully updated with ten new chapters covering Reveal and beyond. Available at UK bookstores, amazon.co.uk and musicroom. Available at select stores in the States and through BN.com.

MOON The American edition of the Keith Moon biography is available in paperback at book stores, amazon.com, bn.com and amazon co.uk. More info here

iJAMMING! is a music and lifestyle web site hosted by
author, journalist and dee jay Tony Fletcher.
Click on the buttons above to access the different areas of the site.
For the latest additions, see What's New
To find a specific item, use the search engine
Tony's current musings follow below.
Previous musings are archived here.

NEW RELEASES... NEW WEB PAGES...

Going Up In The World: Apocalypse 1982-83 available through amazon.co.uk, Cherry Red, amazon.com and at all good record stores.

APOCALYPSE WEB PAGES now online
Sample the songs, watch the video, listen to the sleevenotes, view the scrapbook.
Plus: 'Don't Stop 1983' MP3. Go!

The Clash: The Complete Guide To Their Music available online through amazon.co.uk, and at all good UK bookstores.

CLASH PAGES now online
Read excerpts from the book. Plus: Mick Jones interview. Go!

SUNDAY MAY 15

GO TO BROOKLYN, PUNK

"Success does not guarantee survival in this city. The factors that enable a music club to become a going concern - cheap rents, low prices, a poor but avid customer base - are certain to change when the neighborhood becomes popular, the venue makes money or the lease is up."

From an Op-Ed piece I have in the City section of The New York Times today. As ever, the headline's not mine, though I couldn't help smiling at it. See you at the Fabulous 5th Avenue Street Fair.


FRIDAY MAY 13

HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO YOUR READING...

...Jeffrey Yamaguchi has discovered the secret. Get your co-workers to your reading by writing reading a story about them. This scenario, played out last night at Barbes in the Slope for the last of Ned Vizzini's Reading Series, was a stroke of marketing savvy – but the story itself was funny enough to merit an audience of its own. I loved the anecdote in which he gets his girlfriend into a truly horny situation and then, rather than complementing her for being "so f***ing sexy," can't help slip into Big Mouth Strikes Again mode and instead blurt out:

"How much do you think I pay hookers for this?"

Yamaguchi hosts several web sites of which workingfortheman.com has "but one rule: you check it out while you're on the clock. This site is meant to be read on company time."
What about the millions of us who refuse to work for the man? Presumably we should be working on our own sites. Right then.


HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE...

...Shout at each other? Seems to work for Josh Saitz, who went one better than Yamaguchi, quoting from the expletive-ridden insults his wife throws his way over the course of their evidently contented life together. (Their baby was in the room, too, proving that they find time for intimacy, too.) You can read some of Juli's Maxi Rants here. Saitz is an old-school New Yorker, the kind who finds time in his life to publish a proper print-and-ink fanzine. Better yet, rather than waste all those fallen trees on interviews with wanna-be rock stars, he uses Negative Capability to write about the inanities and uncertainties of his own life. Most of it is nonetheless archived online. I stumbled on this "mash-up" account that creatively recreates a job interview at Penthouse. Brilliant.


HOW TO DRIVE READERS FROM YOUR READING

Headliner John Falk – that's assuming that readings have headliners –decided to preface a reading from his acclaimed memoir Hello to All That: A Memoir of War, Zoloft, and Peace by recounting his entire life story. Twenty minutes later, he'd just about reached his college years; a copy of his book – in which he attempts to cure depression by taking a job as war correspondent job in Bosnia - remained firmly closed in front of him. Come on, some of us have dinner on the table. At least I did.


Quote of the Day: "Everyone's a Communist at 19."
Tracy Ullman on last night's Jon Stewart show admiring her teenager's chutzpah, campaigning for Labour in their Mayfair neighborhood. "Can you be a Communist while carrying a Marc Jacobs bag?" she quipped.


HOW TO MAKE UP FOR NOT ATTENDING A GIG

Had hoped to catch The Dead 60s and Kid Casanova at North Six but that venue's in Williamsburg and by now, there's probably a contract out on me up there for all the righteous shit I've given the hipsters these last few years. No, truth be told, a) Williamsburg hipsters have no idea a world exists beyond the L line, and b) I just couldn't handle the late night gig. I did the middle-aged thing, stayed in and wrote e-mails while listening to CDs by the two bands in question. Kid Casanova's an up-and-coming NYC band I befriended at Shout! a couple of years ago, and I'll catch them live at some point, I'm sure. Dead 60s are an endearing Liverpudlian cross between The Clash and Gang of Four which, not surprisingly, means they sound very much like Radio 4.

This leads me into next week's logistical nightmare: shows by - get ready now – Kasabian, Gang Of Four, Radio 4, Dead 60s, Doves, Mercury Rev, Hot Hot Heat, Nine Inch Nails, The Ordinary Boys, and Thievery Corporation, all in the space of the five days that comprise most peoples' working week. (There's also a band called The Bravery but, given the competition, I think we can pass on them.) I'm going to take in as much as my body and hearing can manage; in the face of so much music, I'll keep the organized iJamming! night until a less busy week.


HOW TO KEEP YOUR KID AWAY FROM CARTOON NETWORK

News from the home front: Posie and Campbell showed up yesterday afternoon with a fish. Apparently, they've always wanted one and decided the best way to get me to agree was to present it as a fait a complis: they know, after all, I'm not going to do anything to hurt it. It's called Aurora; it appears to have several tails – or else it needs a hair cut - and while it's short on the wow factor, at least it doesn't wake us up in the middle of the night screaming for food. Unlike our cat. The cat that was born in the wild, which eats mice for breakfast and, when the mood takes it, hunts, catches, scalps and eats squirrels... (I've seen him do it.) And my wife and son bring home a fish for company? At least we won't need to watch Tom & Jerry reruns for a while.

In the name of thorough research, I just got round to asking Posie what kind of fish it is. apparently, it's a Fighting Fish. Ohyeah? Let's see what the cat has to say about that.

More news from the home front: Noel slept nine hours last night, and all but the last of those coincided with our own sleep pattern. He then celebrated this achievement by rolling over for the first time. He's got a test next week to see if the infection that drove him to the hospital in February is internal or was just bacterial. In all other regards he's been the perfect baby. If he'd only stop smiling so much, I'd get more work done.


Statistic of the Day:

Turn Out among registered voters in The British Election, May 2005: 61.3%. (Source: BBC.)

Turn Out among Eligible Voters in the USA Election, November 2004: 60% (Source: United States Election Project.)

Add in all those Americans who were frustrated in their attempt to vote - nothing to be proud of, we know - and factor in just how easy it is to vote in the UK, and we can put to rest all those comments about American apathy. At least in comparison to their British cousins.


HOW TO SPEND A PARK SLOPE WEEKEND

Saturday, at The Gate, 5th Ave and 3rd Street, 2pm, join Dan Freeman as he celebrates the half way point in his year long, 1000 bar journey. I'll be coming from the Queens Half-Marathon so if you see someone collapsed in the corner from one beer, that'll be me. Sunday, whatever the weather, come join the Fabulous Fifth Avenue Street Fair. The Avenue's at a peak; it will likely get yet busier in future years, but it may never get better.


THURSDAY MAY 12

SPOT THE YEAR

Got an e-mail from Spizz the other day. Yes, that Spizz, he of 'Where's Captain Kirk?' infamy. Not surprisingly, he's on board the post-punk revival wagon and playing the 100 Club on May 29. I like the poster...

...Though the Glastonbury In London business escapes me.

Spizz has several entertaining accomplishments to his track record, such as that he changed the name of his band every year. His website boasts, rightly enough, that the Spizz Energi single 'Where's Captain Kirk?' was on top of the first ever THE FIRST OFFICIAL UK INDIE CHART of 19th Jan 1980. What he's too modest to mention is that the success of that single largely influenced the very formation of that chart (by Iain McNay of Cherry Red Records, the same label that just put out the Apocalypse CD). 'Where's Captain Kirk?' was selling in phenomenal numbers at the time; back in the days when I used to spend my after-school afternoons pretty much just hanging out at Rough Trade, that label's original publicist Scott Piering (RIP) would deliver regular updates on why RT thought the single was being purposefully excluded from the national single chart. If I remember quickly - and if Spizz is reading, maybe he can offer an honest answer - 'Where's Captain Kirk?' accrued over 50,000 7" sales across a six-month period. These days, a concerted effort to concentrate those 50,000 sales across a few weeks would get you well into the Top 10.

What else was on that first UK Indie Chart? Spizz's site prints the list, as does the book Indie Hits 1980-1989, compiled by Barry Lazell for Cherry Red Books. Here's the Top 10:

1 WHERE'S CAPTAIN KIRK? - SPIZZENERGI
2 DAYTRIP TO BANGOR - FIDDLERS DRAM
3 MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS - DELTA FIVE
4 WHITE MICE - MODETTES
5 CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES - DEAD KENNEDYS
6 TRANSMISSION - JOY DIVISION
7 EARCOM THREE (EP) - VARIOUS
8 WE ARE ALL PROSTITUTES - THE POP GROUP
9 KAMIKAZE - BOYS
10 SILENT COMMAND - CABERET VOLTAIRE

I probably owned every one of those at the time - except the Fiddlers Dram crossover of course. And most of them have stood the test of time. The same can not be said about some of the next ten, though they display some of the humor that was running rampant in a scene where anybody could - and pretty much everybody did - release their own record.

11 TAAGA (EP) - DANGEROUS GIRLS
12 BILL GRUNDY (EP) - TV PERSONALITIES
13 HE'S FRANK - MONOCHROME SET
14 SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET - TOYAH
15 YOU'VE NEVER HEARD... - FRESHMEN
16 I'M IN LOVE WITH MARGARET THATCHER - NOT SENSIBLES
17 FOUR A-SIDES - SCRITTI POLITTI
18 YOU CAN BE YOU - HONEY BANE
19 SID DID IT - NAZIES AGAINST FACISM
20 PEEL SESSIONS - SCRITTI POLITTI

For those keeping count, a mammoth 8 of these 20 - 40% of the singles - were on Rough Trade, 2 were on Fast, the rest were equally divided between different bedroom/indie labels. And people wonder why there's so much nostalgia for this era. Any memories come flooding back that any of you wish to share?


Last time our New Zealand pub member Mick 'The Lovegod' entered an iJamming! quiz, he won a signed book. I can't promise the same this time, but I appreciate that he took a stab at answering the Clash questions we cribbed from Tuesday's Mastermind. Anyone care to have a go at the two he can't get? And Mick, I hate to say it, but your willingness to spend long hours figuring out all these answers plays into the cliche of there being nothing to do in New Zealand but.... drink good wine? Put our mind at ease, will you?


Finally, getting right up to the present day, it's hard to pick up the New York Press without someone on staff complaining about the smoking ban. (Which is so weakly enforced that anyone who stays out beyond 11pm can usually find a bar to smoke in anyway.) The paper at least had the decency to print a couple of responses to last week's whine. Though I don't want to come off quite as rude as the latter reader, I essentially share their feelings:

"Re: Again With The Frog In the Pan (5/4): Can you retards get over the smoking ban? Smoking is disgusting. It makes your hair and clothes smell. It makes your teeth and fingers turn yellow and kills hundreds of thousands of people a year. Furthermore, secondhand smoke is just as unhealthy. People have adapted to the ban and everyone is happy.
Maybe you smokers are unaware how uncomfortable and sickened you made non-smokers feel, who happen to be the majority of New Yorkers, by the way. We haven't lost any fucking freedom; the only thing we've lost is that disgusting cigarette smoke smell that permeated our bar-hopping clothes."
Greg Faber, Manhattan

"Re: Again With The Frog In the Pan (5/4): I'm fed up with you guys referring to the NYC smoking ban as a taking away of freedom. Are you dupes of the tobacco industry, or what? What about people like me? I stopped smoking in 1965 when I was 14. I've worked as a drummer in many bar bands and had to put up with inconsiderate smokers for years. Whether working with a band or enjoying a night on the town, I used to come home with my hair and clothes reeking of the smell of cigarette smoke. But no more! The smoking ban has made going to bars more pleasurable. The NYC smoking ban isn't about taking away anyone's freedom, but creating additional freedom: Freedom from the unwanted smoke of tobacco addicts when I want to eat a meal or get drunk. So shut your pie-hole and quit complaining about losing the freedom to smoke."
Paul Maringelli, Sunnyside, NY


WEDNESDAY MAY 11

NEW YORK NIGHTS

The Place: Outside the projects on Randall Avenue in the Soundview section of the South Bronx.
The Time: 10pm last night

I'm just about to pull my car out from an interview location when another car pulls alongside, then backs up. I figure he wants my parking spot, but being a scrupulous driver, I decide to finish my phone call before pulling out. Good move. The car pulls up alongside us: there's three white guys in it. The driver beckons my passenger to pull his window down. It's always possible he's going to ask for directions, but one look at his crew and they don't seem lost. I hang up my call.

Other Driver: "What you doing here?"
My passenger: "Visiting a friend."
Other driver: "Visiting a friend?"
My passenger: "Yeah."
Me: "Yeah."
Other Driver: "Yeah? What for?"
My passenger: "For an interview." Pointing at me: "My friend's a journalist."
Other Driver: "Oh yeah?" To me: "A journalist, eh?"
Me: "Yeah." Beat. "I assume you're cops."
Other driver: "No." Beat. "We're journalists." Beat. "And we've got the fucking guns and the shields to prove it."

Great exchange. I should use that in a novel. I was always was a bit of a smart alec. Especially at school. Still: it got the pretence over with quickly enough. I realize now that the cop had been waiting for me to pull out while I was still on the phone so he had due reason to book us and presumably search us. (He tries telling me I was talking while driving, but I insist I hung up before moving the car...) In the end, he could hardly accuse us of anything other than that being white people in the South Bronx. Which, excuse us for refusing to succumb to stereotypical racial fears, is not a crime. Funny thing is, we thought we looked like cops, so you never know: they might have thought we were doing some undercover on their turf. Cops get terriorial like that. After a few more pointed words, we were allowed to drive off. We then had to follow his crew down the street while he harassed and pulled over three young (black) kids on bicycles. It's times like this you want to dig out your NWA tapes, if you know what I mean.

I did come home with something that felt like contraband, though: a lo-fi recording of a Bronx hip-hop jam starring Grandwizard Thodore, Mean Gene and Cordio from back in 1977 – two full years before 'Rapper's Delight' was recorded. So it was well worth the harassment.


Stopped in on the way home to the So Much To Answer For night at 12" Bar. I was about the only person there – white or black - so I took up DJ Matt's - I mean, Ian and Liam's - invite to play some records. (I see Matt's posted on his site already that I was "guest DJ." Sneaky. I even bought my own beer!) Matt has about every record that's ever come out of Manchester and beyond. New New Order on vinyl, new Tim Booth on vinyl, Joy Division Peel sessions, Stone Roses remixes, all the 808 State, A Guy Called Gerald stuff I don't know, all the A Certain Ratio albums, Doves mixes I've never seen, even Northside on vinyl… a great shame there weren't sufficient people there to appreciate it. If you're a New Yorker, try and visit 12" Bar some time. It's on Essex Street, right round the corner from Luna and Mercury Lounges. And Tuesday nights are guaranteed good music.


Bless my mother's cotton socks. A devoted reader of this site, she took yesterday's Mastermind comment as a personal challenge and sent me an e-mail last night with as many of the Clash questions and answers as she could make out from a slowly-rewound video of the show. Some samples:

Who was their temporary fifth/new member? (Around 1978-79?)
Joe strummer joined in '76 from which band?
What song was used in a Jeans advert in '91 that topped the chart?
In which French town was there a riot during a festival in 1977?
In which town was Joe Strummer arrested for fighting with audience member?
Which Melody Maker writer managed them in 1978?
Who produced their debut album?
What was the B-side to the 1978 single 'Tommy Gun'?

Any takers?


TUESDAY MAY 10

TUESDAY NEWSDAY

On tonight's Mastermind - BBC 2, 10pm - John Humphrys asks questions on The Libretti of WS Gilbert, History of Spirits and Liqueurs, Ancient Egypt 1570-1070 BC, and The Clash.

Complete this line:"If Adolf Hitler flew in today..."

Yes, The Clash. Dare I suggest that if you keep a copy of my new book on hand - excerpts here - you might find your way to some of the answers. (Also, that if I teamed up with my mother, who knows a fair bit about the first three subjects, we could do pretty well ourselves. I'd love to know what questions Humphrys does ask about The Clash: let me know.) Mick Jones interview here. Thanks to Don Whistance of theclash.org.uk for the heads-up.


I won't be betting against the likelihood of a Hull City-Crystal Palace match next season. In other words, Palace look to have blown it: let in an equalizer during injury time in a relegation crunch match and, hate to say it, you deserve to go down. (Though, quite obviously, I HOPE they stay up.)

But I trust all us footie fans will come together and congratulate Wigan Athletic for promotion to the Premiership.

"Wigan, who entered the Football League only 27 years ago, who had to beat Gillingham in 1994 to avoid slipping to 92nd place and who left the old Fourth Division only in 1997, [have] reached the top flight."

Fairy tales still happen. However, if Premiership exclusivity is anything to go by, we can expect to see Wigan back in that lower division mysteriously called the Championship in twelve months time.


"The best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton,"

is how Peter Kay (who?) describes Stuart Maconie's memoir Cider With Roadies. If I was Stuart, I'd be livid about having that quote on the front cover: Cider With Roadies is as much a tribute to Maconie's home town as it is about escaping his working class roots for a comfortbale chattering classes career at the NME and Radio 6 and now as a best-selling author. Besides, Wigan's the home to northern soul, The Verve, a couple of rugby goliaths and now a Premiership football team. And I bet you it's never had a Tory MP. What's to be ashamed of?

Ok, so none of you have got to Simon Reynolds' weighty post-punk tome. Anyone breezed through this? Let us know in The Pub

Still, that's publishers for you - always taking the piss out of the north. And to be fair, it's the kind of quote tailor-made for a book like this, for Maconie's memoir is endearing in all the ways that make the British who they are. You know what I mean: there's a very Nick Hornby-like, self-effacing, harmlessly endearing, yet at times quite painfully precious wit to the whole thing. Not enough sex and drugs, too many polite reminiscences about rock'n'roll. (And what do you know, there's even a comparison to Hornby on the back cover. Now there's a surprise, he writes with a sarcasm that comes from being properly British. )

But Maconie's a talented writer, make no mistake. (Funnily enough, I only recent read his very good James biography, Folklore, while preparing to interview Tim Booth.) He's a few years older than me, which means he experienced northern soul and prog rock not only first hand but almost simultaneously, and he was already at college in Liverpool during the Eric's days back when we were mere 4th formers catching The Undertones at The Marquee. But though we have our differences, there is still plenty in common. Like this:

"As anyone who's ever tried to form a teenage band will know, drummers are gold-dust. Tone-deaf, troglodytic gold-dust maybe, but gold-dust."

That's why Apocalypse put up with Chris Boyle's inexhaustible supply of excuses for missing rehearsals, recording sessions and tours with The Jam… because he was a drummer, a great one at that, and therefore double good gold-dust. It's perfectly appropriate, then, that we can no longer find him. Expect a new Apocalypse MP3 at the web site any day now.


Maconie's first concert experience beats most of ours hands down - it was The Beatles, at the Wigan ABC, October 1964. (Chris C saw them a year earlier, though it was not his first gig.) Hard to believe, but The Beatles' nearest rivals, The Rolling Stones, will have announced their 200th stadium tour of America by the time you read this. I actually got a press invite to the media launch this morning, up at the Lincoln Center, but decided, with the kind of blase cynicism that comes from spending WAY too long in this game, that I could not be bothered. Besides, what year is this anyway?


Having sequed effortlessly from Wigan to New York - three cups of coffee will do wonders for the typing fingers - you may remember that I wrote yesterday about Dumbo. After which, I checked my press releases and saw that Tracy Bonham's new single is entitled 'Dumbo Sun.' It's about when "we had nothing better to do than goof off and have fun during a frustrating time in all of our careers," says Bonham, who lived in New York's noisiest neighborhood "between deals." She adds that the song's refrain - "we got off" - illustrates "surrendering to life and its roller coaster terrain." She's right: sometimes you just have to let the ride take you where it wants to.


Not that Park Slope is short of gay and lesbian bars, but this one should be of interest. Meow Mix founder Brooke Webster is opening Cattyshack on 4th Ave, between President and Carroll, on the weekend of May 21. The venue is notable for its size and scope:

"a 2-story club with 2 bars, 2 DJ booths and an outdoor smoking deck (and BBQ pit), designed for drinking, dancing, shooting pool or just hanging out, Cattyshack is lesbian-owned, women-run, queer friendly - and welcoming to ALL."

But it's particularly notable for its location, on a six-lane strip of tyre shops, electrical supply stores, gas stations and run-down housing that is almost completely bereft of entertainment but for the Brooklyn Lyceum. Fourth Ave was recently rezoned to allow for all manner of new, tall apartment buildings; it will be interesting to see how Cattyshack fares as the neighborhood changes around it.


This Thursday night, Ned Vizzini's Reading Series at Barbés in the Slope reaches its conclusion. The four of you who showed up last May might recall that I participated in one of the first nights, alongside Ned himself and Amy Sohn. Pictures here. Ned has moved onto bigger and better things - like becoming a famous young author - so you can hardly blame him for closing down a free reading event. He ends the year-long series with these authors:

JOHN FALK is the author of Hello to All That, a memoir of bouts of depression, the war in Bosnia, and finally coming to a peaceful place in his life.

JOSH SAITZ is the editor and publisher of a zine called Negative Capability. The zine has won many awards, including 1st place in the Writer's Digest Zine Awards and the Royal Fest.

JEFFREY YAMAGUCHI writes and publishes websites 52projects.com, Bookmouth.com (all about books), workingfortheman.com (how fun it is), and whatsyourproject.com (?). His book 52 Projects will be published in November 2005.

Barbes is on 9th Street just off 6th Ave. The evening starts at 7pm. It's entirely free.


DJ Amanda plays some funky Latin house beats outside ModaCafe/Somethin' Else

Patio brings its Lounge onto the street for what is, after all, a street party.

And of course - of course, he says, knowing full well most of iJamming!'s readers live a continent away! - this Sunday sees the Fabulous 5th Avenue Street Fair here in the Slope. Last year's event was probably the very best street fair I've ever been to in 17 years of New York living. It will be hard to beat this time around – not least because Moda Cafe, where Chris Acosta sneakily secured a dance permit beyond the fair's usual closing time, has shut up shop. Hopefully, one of the other many new bars and restaurants will pick up the baton and find a way to, figuratively speaking of course, raise the roof. See more pictures and read the reports from last year here, and book your subway journey now.


MONDAY MAY 9

BROOKLYN BEATS

It was an all-Brooklyn weekend. Friday night occasional Step On guest DJ Nick Cain and myself met up at The Royale for, I hate to admit, my first time since we scrapped the party. There's nothing stepped in to take its place in our absence and what with the owner pouring us some free beers and Nick and myself, new dads each, finally getting beyond the worst of the sleepless nights, one thing led to another and we left The Royale with the vague promise of a Step One Off. Watch this space.

Saturday we set off to Dumbo for the BklynDesigns exhibition, which commandeered both St. Ann's Warehouse – where I caught Joe Strummer live for the last time, back in 2002 – and the nearby Brooklyn Designs Gallery, and brought hundreds of people down to the flourishing neighborhood. It was, in many ways, a perfect slice of the New York paradox: all these highly talented Brooklyn interior designers and furniture makers presenting their wares to a rainbow coalition of potential shoppers, only the very wealthiest of whom could possibly hope to actually buy or commission anything. I mean, who has $1000 to spend on a kitchen chair, let alone $5000 for a hand-made coffee table, with rents and mortgages – and jobs – being as they are?

Furniture at the BklynDesigns exhibition...

...Though it's storage solutions that most people search for.


Instead of getting out the credit card, I spent much of the afternoon hanging with another dad friend, letting our sons run wild in the playground at the Empire Fulton Ferry Park (that's where U2 played last year – the park, not the playground), making the most of the sun's late afternoon appearance and trying to converse in-between the rattle of traffic off the two bridges and the truly deafening roar of the subway trains over the Manhattan Bridge. Dumbo is thriving, but man is it a loud place to live.

Following a long-overdue visit to Blanc et Rouge – Dumbo's plush-looking but reasonably-priced wine store on Washington, where I picked up a bottle of Crozes Hermitage for just $12 – we headed over to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and its First Saturday shindig.

This monthly free party is an ongoing success story, the perfect example of how to make museum-going fun for all the family. And this past Saturday night's event was bound to be a particularly big hit, given how many ways it tied in with the musuem's highly popular Basquiat exhibition. By the time we got there, all seats were taken for the screening of the movie Downtown 1981, approximately 300 people were queueing for the 32 tickets for Fab Five Freddie's personal discussion on Basquiat and the music of the early 1980s downtown scene, and even the Japanese scroll painting for kids had run out of room. We made instead for the Hall of the Americas, where Daniel Bernard Roumain (like Basquiat, a Haitian-American), played "a mix of classical, jazz, and hip-hop, inspired by paintings in Basquiat," while kids and adults alike were invited to draw graffiti, not on the walls of the museum of course, but on large sheets of paper specially provided for the occasion.

Roumain is extraordinarily talented, veering from a screeching violin interpretation of Hendrix's 'Star-Spangled Banner' rendition to a medley of classical compositions, some full-on jazz and some vibrant beats courtesy of his jam-band drummer and keyboard player. But he pushed (or was told to push) the Basquiat influence beyond reason, introducing every number with some spurious connection, such as "I think Jean-Michel was a little drummer boy" and then leading us into a free-form rendition of, yes, the old Christmas carol. Not to knock him, though: if he can truly find and define his own sound, Roumain could be a crossover name.

Daniel Bernard Roumain: a name to watch

Turning a Museum into a Dancefloor: the BMA's Beaux-Arts Court at 9:15pm, Saturday night

There was a similar Basquiat tie-in with the late-night party in the Beaux-Arts Court on the 3rd Floor, where Fab Five Freddy hosted as DJ B. Dub spun a set of "Basquiat's favorite new wave, hip-hop and pop" to a crowd that absolutely defined New York's melting pot make-up. Best of all, the place was packed with kids – and I don't mean the kids that congregate in the clubs, but the kids that congregate in the playgrounds. After having the run of the place for an hour of swing music, their moms and dads gradually commandeered the floor as the music moved into the 80s groove of their own childhoods. We could only stick around for a few minutes, as our own kids were in the meltdown zone, and at that point, the music was overly predictable: 'My Jamaican Guy,' 'The Message,' 'Payback,' 'Heartbeat.' Still, there was another ninety minutes to go, and I trust B. Dub was able to take it into a slightly deeper zone. Any which way, as far as providing free cultural entertainment goes, the Brooklyn Museum of Art continues to be the hippest establishment in New York City.


Quote of the Day: "Any run-of-the-mill adolescent football player can do more with his hands than the world's best soccer player can manage with his boots, no matter how nimble his toes."
A letter to the NY Times (actually about why Americans don't play cricket).


Sunday, as any American couldn't help but know, was Mother's Day here, and Campbell and I did Posie a favor by leaving her alone and heading off to Kids N' Action down in Borough Park. An indoor kids playground in the heart of Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community (i.e., don't bother showing up on Saturdays), complete with 3-story jungle gym, rain rides, go-karts, skeeball and more modern arcade games too, it's a birthday party fave and absolutely one of the loudest places to be found in one of the loudest cities in the world. I had my I-Pod going at full volume and could still not hear the music for all the announcements and the sounds of kids screaming. Somehow, amidst this madness, baby Noel slept for three hours solid and when he woke up, was all smiles, giggling his way through the ride home and making no demands for instant gratification (i.e. mommy's boobie). This is one mellow baby, and we love him for it.

Back home, we treated Posie to dinner at Surreal Café at the top of our road, where the food manages to be both healthy and satisfying at the same time. The place has had some teething troubles in terms of delivering what's actually ordered, but last night they got just about everything right. The home-made pizza with wild mushroom and goat cheese was fantastic, as was the apple and walnut salad that preceeded it. And a well-priced bottle of Dog Hill Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003 went down the hatch in rapid time, a much-needed finale to a thoroughly enjoyable, totally exhausting and absolutely ear-piercing 48 hours.

(More Fletch family pics here, purely for those who know us and don't get to see us)

Family portrait: the cat gets in on the act.

Baby Noel: life's so bunny.


2005 MUSINGS:

May 2-8: The Spring (Cleaning) Hitlist, Cure vs. Smiths, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Real Estate Bust, Save CBGB: Eat More Chocolate
April 25-May 1: Erasure live, LeNell's Wine store, Happy Endings, Peter Hook
April 18-24: Rockin' & Shockin', M83/Ulrich Schnauss live, NJ Marathon, Ribolla Gialla wine
April 11-17: The Spring Hitlist, Springtime In Brooklyn, Restaurant Reviews, Supermom!
April 4-10: Twenty wine reviews, FischerSpooner, KEXP, Loveless, Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 28-April 3: Loathsome! Daft! Human! Overload! Rockin' & Shockin'
Mar 21-27: The Go! Team live, Ian Brown dead, Pont Neuf wine, Hall Of Fame rules, Cocotte restaurant, Marilyn Monroe/Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibitions
Mar 14-20: The March Hitlist, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Dinner report,
Mar 7-13
: Bouillabaisse 126 restaurant review; Going Up In The World; Dandy Mama; Tim Booth
Feb 21-Mar 6: Live reviews: Ian Brown, Schizo Fun Addict, Soft Explosions, The Stands. Wine review: Langhorne Creek Selkirk Shiraz.
Feb 14-20: Ten Words Of Wisdom, Weblinks, Stone Roses demos, Lyceum revisited, Bandol wine review
Feb 7-13: Fanzines, Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll, Chord & Tabs, The Plug Awards, Tear Down The Discos, Jean Lallement Champagne review
Jan 31-Feb 6: Erasure/Tim Booth/M83/T.H. White album reviews. WebFriends Day. The Jam vs. The Smiths vs. The USA, Iraq elections
Jan 24-30: Chemical Brothers/Lemon Jelly/Slits album reviews. Ted Leo/Benzos live reviews. Gang of Four/Specials/Happy Mondays/Farm/Bureau reunions. Tempranillo wine reviews.
Jan 17-23: The January Hitlist: Those That Almost Got Away, Revolutions, Remixes, Remisses, Justin Timberlake, Fiery Furnaces, Jimmy Edgar live
Jan 10-16: Tsunami observations/relief efforts/fund-raisers, Best Wines of 2004, British vs. American charts, Alba Chambourcin wine review
Jan 3-9: The Best Of 2004 - Albums and Singles; Biggest Disappointments of 2004; Minutes of A Miracle: Our Son Noel; New York Club Nights

2004 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2003 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE
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iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2005