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REASONS TO BE GRATEFUL: NOTES FROM A WEEKEND IN THE BOROUGH OF KINGS


Elizabeth Padilla will not be forgotten. Her bicycle (I’d like to believe it was her bicycle) has been spray painted white, like an angel, and chained to a parking sign at the corner where she died. A placard has been attached to the sign in her memory.

Her unnecessary death is nothing to be grateful for. But the memorials from family, friends and neighbours is a reason to be grateful for our sense of community. And outrage.

The food and drinks at Bonnie’s Grill…: hearty French Fries, big fat veggie burger, and chipotle polenta washed down with a hand-drawn pint…

… with London Calling on the sound system…

…And a round of drinks on the boss

The biker’s convention outside Lillie’s bar in Red Hook.
(Unfortunately, they told me theirs was a private party, whereas my friends had called me to meet there and celebrate someone’s work promotion. But I wasn’t going to argue with the very big biker on the door busy collecting ‘donations’ for the veterans, and so, confused – and having stupidly left my cell phone at home – I got back on my own bike of the non-engine kind. And got home to find out that my friends were inside all along.)

LeNell’s on a Saturday afternoon. German Pinot Noir in the cooler for sharing with the customers. A pleasant alternative to having pints with bikers.

The colour of the sky Saturday afternoon while I cycled round Red Hook making the most of my venture over there. Fortunately I had the camera.

The fact that there are still some parts of Brooklyn remaining to be built up, let alone gentrified. (See above.)

Cattyshack, the new dyke bar and club: sandwiched between two auto stores on 4th Ave at the foot of Park Slope, it should put a new spin on the term ‘cruising.’ (See below.)

Jack Rabid‘s drumming in his band Last Burning Embers Saturday night at Southpaw

His magazine, The Big Takeover, 25 years and counting. Latest issue is almost 300 pages; no wonder it’s only published twice a year.

Doug Gillard‘s cover of ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ at Southpaw Saturday night

The reggae music at Southpaw’s monthly party The Rub Saturday night (which followed the rock gig).

The police sergeant from the Bed-Stuy precinct, wearing an England football shirt at Southpaw. He plays in a mod band.

Friends trusting you to TCB

Friends helping out at the stoop sale

The mini-DJ convention on the stoop.

The Californian kid on his first day in Brooklyn, fascinated by the very concept of the stoop sale…

…Then buying a drum and bass mix CD and finding the DJ on the cover sitting on my stoop. (And no, it was not me!)

The old, white-haired guy looking for music by Mum, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. Proof that age is no measurement of taste.

The guy who bought a copy of my new Clash book from me, came back to buy another, then came back a third time because he forgot to pay me the second time.

The editor-publisher of British garage-grime magazine (his terms) Rewind, stopping by the stoop sale with his Park Slope girlfriend. Too young to know most of the DJs behind most of the 12" singles on sale.

The neighbor who was so grateful when I found the High Contrast mix of The Streets‘ ‘Has It Come To This’ from my DJ CD bag for him to rip, he installed the new Mac OS, Tiger, on my laptop.

For free.

The Tiger widgets. All the world on your computer ‘dashboard.’ The widgets that Tiger comes with – dictionary, calendar, flight tracker, calculator – are cool enough. The ones people are making for free download are even better,

The BBC Radio widget. From a cool-looking desktop transmitter radio, I can load up Radio 1 with a single click, without even having to go on the Net. Another click will take me to Radio 2. Another to Radio 3. Another to Radio 4. And one more back round again.

The fact that I can now hear Radio 1 more clearly on my laptop computer – even in my basement – in New York City, 3000 miles from Broadcasting House, than I ever could when it was confined to Medium Wave during my London-based childhood.

The fact that when I clicked on the Radio 1 widget Monday morning, the first thing I heard was Interpol, a New York band. It’s an even smaller world, isn’t it?

The NY Times runs a special "section" on Booming Brooklyn – and I’m too busy enjoying the weekend in the Borough to buy it.

Finally finding the case for Fatboy Slim‘s Live On Brighton Beach.

Unearthing records I didn’t remember that I had.

Coming across rare old house and techno 12" singles in the basement.

Finally digitizing the few songs from Soundtrack CDs that are worth owning – which means that in future I’ll be better placed to find them.

The perverse choice of cover songs undertaken in the name of soundtrack exclusives. Some examples:
Fight The Power – Barenaked Ladies (Coneheads)
Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile) – Duran Duran (Threesome)
It’s Not Unusual – Belly (With Honors)
Wait For The Blackout- Goo Goo Dolls (Tommy Boy)
Wild World – Beth Orton (How To Deal)
Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly) – Soho (Scream)

Campbell‘s hand-drawn Father’s Day card – a ‘Wine Mine’ robot complete with wine-dispensing pet dog.

What more could a dad ask for on Father’s Day?

Noel: Always smiling. Still ‘New.’ But only a few days left on his six-month warranty.

The number of free magazines in and about New York City: not just the Village Voice and the New York Press, nor just The Onion and L Magazine, but also Bklyn, Stay Free, The Brooklynite, Park Slope Reader, The Brooklyn Rail. Even Time Out went out for 99c last week as promotion for its Cheap issue.

Free vinyl in the mail.

The wit and wisdom of pitchforkmedia. They conclude a news story about Depeche Mode‘s 2006 world tour – dates already announced for April of next year – with this zinger:
"Preorders are already open for those last few shows, raising the possibility that now if you end up with an extra Depeche Mode ticket, you still have time to conceive and bear a child that could accompany you using that ticket instead of having to give it to one of your friends."

The wit and wisdom of Heather Armstrong‘s dooce.com, who participated in Vancouver’s Vidfest this past weekend by showing, I think, footage of herself giving birth. "Our lovely British friend, Ross, had me OUT DONE, with a capital D O N E. He showed a reel wherein he had produced an interactive video of a woman masturbating, and you could participate by rubbing your mouse, like a cock, against the monitor."

Goodnight Jim Bob: On The Road With Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine by Jim Bob (Cherry Red books). The funniest book I’ve read about life in a rock’n’roll band, period.

The Apocalypse thread at the iJamming! Pub: makes Friends Reunited redundant.

Playing ‘Home Of The Brave’ by Apocalypse to Barry Mann, who wrote it. ("It’s so London," he commented.)

Step On(e off) this Friday.

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