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 Post subject: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:55 am 
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Location: On a flatboat, heading to Natchez, with no shirt and no coat (aka NYC)
Hanne is (hopefully) on her flight back to Belgium as I write this... we had such a fun and busy week that I/we barely checked in here and on Facebook, but Hanne wanted me to write down a bunch of the places we went so she wouldn't forget, so I thought I would just make it into a bit of a retrospective meetup thread... for those of you who enjoy TWFFers by proxy.

Day 1

Hanne arrived in the afternoon, and after a few hijinks trying to find each other in Penn Station (it turns out there is more than one "track 1" which is confusing when you are arranging a meeting) we said a brief hello, and I parked her somewhere close to my office so she could get lunch and coffee while I finished up my work for the day (it was my deadline week so I had some work I couldn't miss). I managed to duck out a bit early, picked her up and we headed back to my place. Luckily the pouring rain we'd been having cleared up just before she arrived, so it was an easy trip.

I'd researched possible plans for every night of the visit (different concerts to choose from, bars, etc.) and Hanne said she felt up to going out, so we ended up visiting a bartender buddy of mine at a bar called Marshall Stack on Rivington St. in the Lower East Side. (You can tell from the name it has a bit of a music theme - it's a cool place.) After that we went to see the Rosetta Trio at Bar Lunatico out in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn. It is one of my favorite venues, but the band was probably the least interesting one we saw all week, so we left a bit early and came home so Hanne could end her 24+ hour day.

Day 2
I had to work a full day on Wednesday, so Hanne was off on her own. She would have to fill you in on the details but she told me she went to the Ellis Island museum, saw the Statue of Liberty, walked around the Financial District, did some shoe shopping in the Lower East Side, and stopped by the Natural History Museum (highlight: the lovely topiary dinosaurs holding Christmas wreaths in front of the museum). She met me at my office when I was getting off work and we went out for drinks and dinner. This was kind of an off day for us - we went to an Italian restaurant that screwed up her dinner, then I took us to the wrong venue for a concert. On the plus side, she got to see the cool venue where I thought the concert was, for a minute, before we found out it was closed but no one had locked the doors. (There was a show at Nublu 151, a brand new venue that I haven't been to, which I thought was at Studio 151. They are at the same address and owned by the same people and neither one has a sign outside...) We did successfully go to a bar, Alphabet Beer Co., which was very nice and had good beer/cider and comfy couches to sit on.

We decided that instead of going to the show we'd been aiming for at 151, we would see the decidedly unusual late set at the Stone that night - consisting of some of my favorite local musicians (Brian Marsella, Jon Madof, Shanir Blumenkranz...), playing backing music for an Orthodox Jewish rapper from Brooklyn called Eprhyme. I wasn't a huge fan of the rapper (no surprise since I'm not really a fan of rap/hip-hop generally) but the music was really good and overall I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

Day 3
Once again I had to work, so Hanne was off on her own. She did a ton of walking that day - she did the High Line, then walked all the way across Manhattan through Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side, then across the Brooklyn Bridge, and through Brooklyn for a bit. I left work a few minutes early and met her for an early dinner at a pizza restaurant called Sottocasa (A+, recommended!) and a drink afterwards at a bar called the Hollow Nickel. Both of those places are on Atlantic Avenue, right by the venue we were going to that night - Roulette. I'd bought tickets in advance for this one since it featured an Erik Friedlander trio that I really like, Black Phebe - featuring Erik F., Satoko Takeishi on percussion and Shoko Nagai on piano and accordion.

There was also an opening set (David First) that turned out to be a dud - some of it was OK but the second piece was aggressively irritating/annoying to the point where you couldn't really forgive them for it during the rest of the set. (And that's coming from me, queen of weirdo avant garde free jazz random noise music concerts.) Luckily, the Black Phebe set was really great and we both enjoyed it very much. It's a very unusual mix of instruments (how many jazz trios feature an accordion and a cello?) but all three of them are so good at what they do, it's just plain fun to watch them work.

Day 4
I got to take the rest of Hanne's visit off work (yay!) so - actually, she still went off and did touristy stuff without me, because I needed to catch up on sleep badly and I have to really limit how much time I'm on my feet due to medical issues. So she went off and did her own thing for the first part of the day - she got some serious NYC bagels at Absolute Bagels in the UWS (not far from where I live), then spent a few hours at MoMA and went to the Top of the Rock to see the views from the top of Rockefeller Center. (I spent the day relaxing, napping, and taking a long hot shower.)

After that we met up outside the IFC theater in Greenwich Village, walked through some picturesque streets, and ended up having inexpensive happy hour drinks and snacks at the Malt House. We stayed there until it was time to get in line for the concert pick of the evening: Martha Wainwright at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street. It was a standing concert, but I wrote to them in advance and thanks to my membership and my medical issues I was able to get them to reserve a couple of seats for us in the small seated section which was mostly reserved for friends and family of the band. We sat right by the Wainwright family tables, but Rufus didn't show up. ;)

The opening band that night was pretty lame (she/they went by "Bernice") but Martha W's set was very good and she (of course) closed out with a beautiful Leonard Cohen cover for an encore.

On the way home from the concert we went into a vegan bakery ("Sweets by Chloe") to pick up some treats for Hanne, and also stopped at Whole Foods to pick up more treats (and some staples) - NYC is apparently some kind of heaven for vegan foodies! Who knew.

Day 5
I once again was a lazy bum early in the day (also: the not-able-to-walk-much thing) so Hanne took advantage of the gloriously pleasant weather (60s and sunny blue skies) to take a long walk through Central Park. The leaves were maybe slightly past "peak foliage" as they call it in New England, but still gorgeous and colorful with bright reds, oranges, and yellows everywhere.

We decided that Hanne's "Belgian Birthday" started at 6PM NYC time due to the time zones, and started celebrating early at RPM Bar (sister bar to Marshall Stack, also vaguely music-themed). Same bartender buddy as we'd seen a few days earlier, since he bartends at both places. He made us some lovely cocktails and got the entire bar to sing Happy Birthday to her at 6PM. (Note: if anyone ever does this to Hanne again, she will probably commit murder, so don't do it. :mrgreen: )

After we finished up our birthday cocktails (my bartender buddy made us some extra-fancy Dark & Stormys with aged rum, and Hanne's was on the house), we ended up grabbing some falafel sandwiches for dinner and then got in line to see Zion80 at the Stone. We got there at the exact right time, which is to say: second in line. That means you didn't get there too early and wait in line needlessly, but still get to sit front row center. ;) Two more of my friends (Mark, a Zorn buddy, and Jo, a Raindog buddy I met on the PEHDTSCKJMBA tour) also joined us. That was a very fun (and slightly strange) show. They were premiering a lot of new John Zorn pieces, so I was pretty excited about that.

After the concert we decided (in part because I haven't seen Jo in four years, in part because YAY BIRTHDAY!) to go out for more drinks. We walked outside and were dismayed to discover that the previously 65-degrees-and-sunny day had turned into 40-degrees-and-pouring-rain. We did not have umbrellas, or hats, or heavy coats, or anything. Ack. We aimed for a really close-by bar, only to discover it was closed (double ack!). Then Mark suggested another place around the corner on 3rd Street, called Corlears, and we ended up there. Hanne and Mark tried their special "jam session" cocktails (because apparently every bar we go to is music-themed?) and I tried a new-to-me cider. We stayed for a couple of rounds, conversation mostly devolving into drunken despair about the state of the world/country/presidency/etc. I think we must have toasted Hanne's American Birthday at midnight, but alcohol has fogged my memory.

We never did figure out exactly what was going on with the tiny single-toilet bathrooms in the bar - we were sitting right by them and people kept going into them in twos, threes, and fours. They didn't appear to be doing anything illicit like sex or drugs. I used one of the bathrooms before we left (previously occupied by four men for a suspiciously long time), expecting the worst, and it was possibly the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen in Manhattan, including private homes. We decided maybe those four guys were cleaning it and that's why they were in there so long.

It took us a while to find taxis home because the weather was so abysmal, but we eventually did and it felt really good to get home and into some dry pajamas.

Day 6
Hanne's Actual Birthday!
We had maybe pre-partied a little too much as I think we were both a bit hungover that day. We had lunch/brunch at a restaurant near my apartment that Hanne was dying to try (the Seasoned Vegan, apparently renowned even across the ocean for their vegan cuisine) and while I was feeling a bit ill and only picked at a salad, Hanne tried a bunch of things, including a vegan version of the local Harlem specialty, the "chopped cheese," and was in food heaven. We took it a bit easy that afternoon due to me feeling pretty crummy, but after lighting a birthday candle in a cupcake for Hanne (technically it was a Chanukah candle because that's all I had!) we headed downtown again. We walked to Washington Square Park because Hanne hadn't seen it in her previous visits to Greenwich Village, and then went to the 55 Bar to see Ray Anderson's Pocket Brass Band.

I didn't know what to expect because I really only knew one band member (Steven Bernstein, legendary slide trumpet player who has played in Sex Mob and the Lounge Lizards, among many other bands) and had just heard a song or two on Facebook before deciding we should check them out. It ended up being a really fun show and unexpectedly included our weirdest music moment of the entire week. (I don't think anyone expected that we would beat the Orthodox Jewish rapper rhyming about Moses, but the thing about live music is that there is always the possibility of a surprise!)

At some point towards the end of the first set, the drummer (Tommy Campbell, I think his name was) pulled out a couple of silly-looking pink rubber pigs, put them on his drum and started 'playing' them as part of a drum solo. They turned out to be squeaky toys like you might get for a dog or maybe a child to play with. He then added a duck, another pig, and eventually a rubber chicken to the mix and played an extended, surprisingly virtuoso solo on these rubber toys. He had obviously practiced a great deal and knew exactly how to get different sounds by squeezing/releasing at different speeds, hitting them in certain places, etc. It ended with a slow death groan from the rubber chicken. Hanne and I couldn't stop grinning/laughing the whole time, exchanging "Can you believe this!?" looks. After the piece ended she leaned over to me and said something like "OK, now I really have seen EVERYTHING."

During the intermission the drummer came up to our table, stuck out his hand for a handshake and told us that we had 'totally carried that pig solo' because we were right in the front row and he could see how much we were enjoying it, so he just kept it going and going. :D If that is not winning at life, I just don't know what is...

After the show was over we went for a slightly-fancier-than-usual dinner at Otto right by Washington Square Park, and had a nice, relaxing late dinner and cocktails.

Day 7
I saved up my stamina all week for this one day where we actually went and did stuff together all day. We went to the HBO Store to buy souvenirs/gifts for a bunch of Hanne's friends - there had been specific requests, but none of the items were in stock so she ended up buying an entire litter of direwolf puppy plushies from Game of Thrones, which she proceeded to carry around for the next nine hours. (I'm not sure that this was not her favorite part of the trip. :mrgreen: ) We walked through the Christmas market in Bryant Park, we checked out the one-and-only Grand Central Terminal, then headed downtown to Union Square. (Well time is always money....) At Union Square we stopped at both Forbidden Planet and the Strand bookstore to do a little more souvenir shopping, and tracked down a place called Beyond Sushi that Hanne had wanted to try for lunch.

After that we took the L train across the river to Williamsburg, and walked around a bit enjoying looking at all the cute-slash-hipster shops and restaurants, graffiti, murals, etc. We walked over to the river to check out the view of Manhattan, and since it was so cold and windy we decided to go to a coffee shop and chill out for a bit (we ended up at a stereotypically-Williamsburg but quite nice place called Sweetleaf Coffee, where I had some kind of unexpectedly-delicious strawberry tea concoction and Hanne had a maple-flavored coffee drink). After we rested for a while (and had a brief photo shoot with Hanne and the direwolf pups posing in a hidden corner of the coffee shop where no one could see us) we went back down to the river to watch the sun set over Manhattan.

We took a brief look through Rough Trade (maybe the biggest record store in NYC these days) and then headed down to Park Slope for a quick dinner at a diner and an early concert at Barbes - a band called Brain Cloud (which special guest guitarist Roy Williams sitting in). We got there extra early because they don't always have many seats put out, and I couldn't handle a standing gig. We had time for a round of cocktails before the show - the seasonal drink special was the "Get Behind the Mule" which we clearly had to order. (They must have known we were coming.) The concert was a lot of fun - they are a western swing band with a big sense of humor and a lot of excellent musicians. The bandleader, Dennis Lichtman, is a multi-instrumentalist (mandolin, fiddle, clarinet) who also plays in the Ghost Train Orchestra, which I know I've talked about quite a bit on TWFF.

After the concert we went for a late-night stroll through Times Square - not because it's somewhere I recommend going, but because it's the place you "have to" go when you go to NYC, and it was right on the way home. We had a quick snack at a falafel shop on 9th Avenue before finally heading home for the night.

Day 8
Hanne had to leave :cry: We went out for a relaxed lunch, she packed up all her bags (and direwolf puppies, which turn out to take up a lot of room in a suitcase), and then she had to go. Aw. But it was a great visit and really cheered me up, I was in a really terrible state of mind the previous week and it was amazing timing for such a friendly distraction.

(I have a few pics by both me and Hanne, but she posted most of hers on Instagram and I don't have the link... maybe she will share them later.)


Attachments:
File comment: Hanne and her litter of direwolf puppies.
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File comment: Sunset reflecting on Manhattan, as seen from Williamsburg.
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File comment: Pig percussion.
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rubberpigs.jpg [ 46.33 KiB | Viewed 370 times ]

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bawlerbrawler wrote:
If one day Sarah will say to you "There is this awesome band playing in your town, or in some other town, check it out." :megaphone: JUST DO IT.
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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:58 am 
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Location: On a flatboat, heading to Natchez, with no shirt and no coat (aka NYC)
Mo' pics.


Attachments:
File comment: Drinking cocktails at RPM Bar. Photo by Matthew P., bartender extraordinaire.
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File comment: The band Brain Cloud, as seen at Barbes. "Get Behind the Mule" cocktails not pictured...
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BrainCloud.jpg [ 59.01 KiB | Viewed 369 times ]
File comment: Birthday cupcake for Hanne!
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birthdaycupcake.jpg [ 57.59 KiB | Viewed 369 times ]

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bawlerbrawler wrote:
If one day Sarah will say to you "There is this awesome band playing in your town, or in some other town, check it out." :megaphone: JUST DO IT.
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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:59 am 
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Location: On a flatboat, heading to Natchez, with no shirt and no coat (aka NYC)
These are some of Hanne's pics.


Attachments:
File comment: Statue of Liberty with some seagulls.
statueofliberty.jpg
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File comment: The High Line Park.
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File comment: Central Park on a beautiful autumn day, part 2.
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centralparkyellow.jpg [ 254.43 KiB | Viewed 369 times ]
File comment: Central Park on a beautiful autumn day, part 1.
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If one day Sarah will say to you "There is this awesome band playing in your town, or in some other town, check it out." :megaphone: JUST DO IT.
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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:17 am 
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Thanks for sharing the adventure with us. You sound like the perfect host, not only do you take your guest to concerts every night, you even make the forum post about the whole week afterwards.

I hope you realize the risk you are running by a post like this. The risk being that this really makes me want to come visit. Who knows, maybe the whole forum will show up for some of the Sarah Service.

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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 9:54 am 
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Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

What a great time, what a full bucket of memories.

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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 1:57 pm 
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Minefield wrote:
I hope you realize the risk you are running by a post like this. The risk being that this really makes me want to come visit. Who knows, maybe the whole forum will show up for some of the Sarah Service.


I ask my guests not to write reviews on Tripadvisor or Yelp so that my livingroom and concert tour service remains a "hidden gem" :P

You're always welcome to visit, Ranja.

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If one day Sarah will say to you "There is this awesome band playing in your town, or in some other town, check it out." :megaphone: JUST DO IT.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:00 pm 
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SarahV wrote:
Minefield wrote:
I hope you realize the risk you are running by a post like this. The risk being that this really makes me want to come visit. Who knows, maybe the whole forum will show up for some of the Sarah Service.


I ask my guests not to write reviews on Tripadvisor or Yelp so that my livingroom and concert tour service remains a "hidden gem" :P

You're always welcome to visit, Ranja.

Thank you very much, Sarah. I'll try to keep the above in mind for whenever I do come. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:00 pm 
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I enjoyed reading that! :D Thanks for sharing all your adventures with us. I'm glad the two of you had so much time together... and of course I'm just a teensy bit envious.

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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2016 8:06 pm 
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Sounds like a great week! It makes me a little nostalgic for the great Chicago meet up.

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 Post subject: Re: Hanne's NYC visit: a retrospective
PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2016 4:26 pm 
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Great summary, Sarah! :clap:

what a wonderful time, thanks for sharing the experience

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