(just had this nyc episode glitch twice. UK wifi is a tricky thing for a band dude.)
(Ballad of Manhattan. Night 1.)
I am currently typing this episode of Ocularis-Gastronum (heh…) from some kind of shuttle bus thing - we are traveling from Birmingham to London. Shoulder, back, and knee injuries (reminders of a reckless past) flaring from just being assaulted with the most punk-rock show we’ve done since we started touring.
The show last night was an idea passed around by our U.K. Roadrunner/Warner buds: intimate; very selected few hundred kids; sweaty show. Unrehearsed for weeks - having been on a massive worldwide press trip - we sound-checked for a bit; and surprisingly had an incredible show. I know small shows are what music fans always love, and suffice it to say: that was a small, disgusting, punk-rock metal-show. More info to come from that day on the B-ham episode.
Flashback to Japan.
Everything was perfect in Japan. A hotel in an area we could sightsee as much as possible, everything running perfectly on time, Koji helping us out to rock the press properly; enter NYC: 4 hour flight delay.
Luggage delay. Seat issues. Hotel check in issues. Located in an area that whenever mentioned to Manhattanites: they chuckle with a “WHERE???” I’ll keep it quick… There was this total jack-ass business man type hassling the one hotel worker at the desk of the random hotel we were booked in - you know the type: bluetooth headset on one ear, illuminating his greasy businessman-visage; cell phone in left hand; right hand banging on the hotel desk since his room isn’t ready. I watched the hotel attendant take it from the guy at first - pretty soon Mr. Wallstreet was raising his voice, barking in that sort of patronizing-teacher-yelling-at-the-kid-in-class - while jabbering on about how the hotel attendant needed to take care of this by calling his office (business-man’s office) to sort out the payment issue.
The day had already been a test for me… I stood there, visualizing myself grabbing the guy by bluetooth and repeatedly bashing his head into the check-in computer; maybe telling him to “fuck off”; perhaps a quick blindside smack with my Les Paul case… I’m telling you: this guy was one of the biggest wankers I’ve ever had the privilege of checking in with in my life - total disrespect for the long line of other people obviously just showing up from massively long flights (I speak here of the now crowding Asians behind me and Corey, apparently arriving from some trans-continental voyage), berating the hotel employee for all the issues in life, pretty much.
I got my key, went to the room - wrong room. Smoked out, smoking room. Went back down… the guy was still crying. So I then (try to channel my inner-yogi and not my inner metal-band-buy) and say: “Listen, guys - I couldn’t help but overhearing your issues… let me pay for this guy’s room (I say, pointing to Slick) and the company I work for, can just pay me back.” The hotel attendant smiles and thanks me… and my best-pal? “We got this figured out!” utters out his oily, red-faced, red-eyed disregard-for-all-other-human-beings-aside-from-himself head.
The hotel attendant skips over the guy for a minute… gets me a better room… I unpack, undress - about to finally wash the grease of a 24 hour plus travel to NYC - then the phone rings. “Sir. You need to get out of your room. RIGHT NOW.” “…what?” I reply.
He tells me that the computer isn’t right and that I need to get out of my room immediately. (I’ll skip over the details and speed this up here) Basically: Asshole was supposed to be the in the better room that the hotel guy hooked me up with for being helpful, and they plopped him into my smoke-trap - naturally, this wasn’t ok with him - so there was a new issue.
It all got solved (this was a 1.5 hour check in process… with awaiting label, mgmt, and booking friends partying their faces off in celebration to meet me and Corey) and we headed down a crowded street in a cab and hit Milady’s.
We met up with Justin and Darren (management), Josh and a co-worker pal of his (booking agents), Harlan (label), Jessica (J’s wife), and a few other real good buds. I quickly filled em in on the delayed night, and Josh smiled his quiet smile, and spoke of a cure.
“It’s called a Philly Pickelback,” Josh says, “you do a shot of wild turkey, then a shot of pickle-juice… it’s a Philly thing.” A few of the frightening sounding (but I assure you - delicious) odd shots… and relief washes over me “in an awesome wave (-P. Batemen)."
We drink some Bass on draught; my friends share to us how Milady’s is one of the last strongholds in the neighborhood-beat-up-bar-hang-vibe… Justin points to a corner table, sharing, "Springsteen still comes and hangs here… people don’t know about this place unless you live here.” It was pretty friggon rad to see that some gems of NYC aren’t punk-rock-clubs-of-legendary-turned-t-shirt-novelty-apparel-stores still.
Raoul’s was our dinner spot. Jessica is a major food-fanatic like myself, and anything she digs - I know is good. The French-style decor, chalkboard in French, French-accented-Moroccan-waitress (with a tattooed black ear!) - it all gave me a hint that good things were to come.
Vent d'est domaine de cabrol cabardes wine; house-made bread and butter (so crusty in their Parisian-style deliciousness); steak tartare (raw beef with (!!!) a raw quail egg gently laid on top - too good); foie gras chaud (oyster mushrooms, perfectly seared foie, some sort of demi-glace-ish sauce on top - one of my favorites of the night); pate maison.
I wanted to go old-school French classic for my main: Steak au poivre, pommes frites. On first bite… I said to my friends at the table, “So I just took up cooking, and I love it to death - me and Ash cook together now! But - I need. Need. To make this dish completely by myself (pointing to the perfectly peppercorn-encrusted seared outside, fleshy-beautiful red-on-the-inside).”
The cognac, heavy cream, and peppercorn flavors in the sauce were thick and iconic; the frites were crunchy, salty - magical. Most of us at the table had ordered the same dish… by this point, we were all mopping up every last ounce of the sauce off our plates with anything we could find… steak, clearly absent by then.
Delamain Cognac, profiteroles, and creme brulee were the closing act - all perfect. Bliss ran thick in our bloodstreams on that walk back to Milady’s.
A few more Bass draughts (the only draft beer they have - hahaha), some Jaeger, some more Pickelbacks… bed time.