Saturday, January 20, 2007

cultural lubrication

I broke my new years resolution and had two glasses of wine last night. Not entirely by consent.

I’d trekked over to Chelsea after doing a gallery stroll in Williamsburg. The local galleries actually produce a monthly map and listings of the openings each night – so arty punters in search of free piss and eyeball stimulation – or just warmth amidst the pretty cool young things - can guide themselves along the circuit.

I was actually very strong and resisted the free beer, and free pastis on offer. OK it didn’t take that much self control actually. And the art was pretty orright too.

First up was a ballpoint show at Cinders gallery. Biro drawings are tres cool part of the edgy ‘anal grunge’ aesthetic that characterizes modern ‘youf’ art. You know the thing? Everyday materials – as a generous nod tho the waste aesthetic post-arte-povera thing combined with exquisite attention to detail and that self conscious focus on pop-culture trivia, or just trivia, that denotes authentic late-industrial-consumer-society angst?

Cinder’s last show was a big printmakers combo – and the back room sells jewellery, objects, zines, t-shirts and VINYL – yeah – RECORDS – by local hipsters, all for nice present level prices. I’d bought a resin cast cumquat slice enamelled onto a ring for a friend – and the owner said they were planning a t-shirt show in Melbourne of screenprints on teatowels at the 3rd Drawer gallery.

Back to Friday – the gallery was packed. The walls were wallpapered with 3 or four deep A4 sheets of mostly bond paper – all covered with mainly blue biro drawings –though there was one corner of black biro drawings. Tiling is a great way to hang serial style shows – where there are lots of works that share a formal criteria – (like size, or support medium) and evokes the post-modern trash-ironic-aesthetic that seeks to rise above the preciousness of art as reified singular object of genius – and embrace seriality and repeatability as fun facts of life. Prices ranged from $2.95 to $1,000.00 which was cute too. Most were in the $50-$100 range. I grasped all of the above at the threshold of the gallery, by peeking above the heads of the throng which filled the centre of the room, while swiping a catalogue at the doorway.

The next bit was a bit harder – doing the New York sauna slow stripping shuffle. (actually I’m becoming quite adept at this) – which involves peeling off layers of clothing – allowing enough time for snowflakes to evaporate but not condense on spectacles as steam, while in a really crowded room /subway/queue of people doing the same thing. One of the things I really like about winter is the constant doona like gentle pressure between bodies. Danes have word ford it: “hooglie” – which reminds me of “huggily”. Peoples bodies are so wrapped up in winter woollies that we forget our boundaries – and huddle and press and gently and sway together, all without eye contact. It’s kind of intimate, and cute, and kind of weird at the same time. I guess guys must have a similar thing at beats. Anyway I was doing this in a room, edging along the walls, back to the centre, peering at biro drawings in a not quite steamy bespectacled kind of way, while ferreting around for a tissue to wipe my runny nose. Behind me I felt the padded pressings and shufflings of the black clad hipsters of Williamsburg and I felt like I’d walked into some cool pub on Brunswick Street. (or maybe surry hills in the 1990’s – Sydney is too sunny and plastic to really be ‘cool’). Almost everyone was 10 years younger than me, with bad skin and bad hair (mainly facial on the men), but a certain je ne sais quoi that made me feel self conscious. Oh, yeah, I know. They were wearing duffle coats, high tops, those trendy Tibetan/Inca style beanies and all had white skin, black hair and mostly black clothing. I also have white skin and mostly black hair but also had on a stripy beanie, flouro orange polar, blue jeans with an appliquéd flower on the sides, green/white sneakers, and I was lugging a big puffy full length parka. (one of the key markers of social capital in winter cites is the confidance to wander round looking half fed- and underdressed – overdressing tends to connote homelessness – and overeating denotes white trash poverty – coolness invokes a detachment from the senses – such as the fear of cold or hunger).

I really stuck out because, I wasn’t carrying a can of budweiser, and I was looking at the art. Which was kind of cool. There were some really amazing detailed drawings, some exquisite stencil style blade cut and biro drawings, and a lot of fairly banal illustration, some fairly bland adolescent ‘protest-angst’ art, (complete with bad poetry) and lots of mad magazine teenage boy cartoony art. Which ain’t my cup of expresso. I considered forking out $10 for a drawing of exqisitely rendered diarrhoea on a garbage can – but then couldn’t be bothered fighting my way back through the crowds to do the purchase. So I rugged up and braved the snowflakes once more.

I checked my map and scurried around the corner to a place called “front room” – in a warehouse behind big metal doors up some stairs. This was a big white box of delights – miniatures and reproductions and a more heterogeneous crowd – that looked – like the other crowd – the artists and their friends – but these artists seemed to have spent more time away from their teenage bedrooms. The place was so packed – that I was forced to negotiate the space warily – peering at video installations, into light boxes, onto shelves. There was some bronze pistachio nuts, FUCK snow globes and a book of beautiful superimposed photographs by Robert Flynt – that were creepy and beautiful and so I got one for my friend who collects found photographs and stitches them up into little sculptures. There were more PLM’s (people like me) at this space so I could have happily stayed but – my friend wanted to push on. So out we went…..

And trudged for 2 blocks up the same street to Parkers Box. This was redolent of the Good Hope Gallery on a good night with more ‘serious’ artists, and buyers (with decent winter coats). It was a very clean white cube, with clean white works, and clean white people. And blissfully free of the stench of Storrier. (you know, I can’t BELIEVE how Australia is sooo small that even potentially interesting galleries are forced to take moribund turkeys seriously because the art buyers are so few and far between and so turkeyfied themselves that the only way to keep a profit is to sell big buck turkey art –and showing anything interesting is regarded as an act of fucking charity).

I’ll stop whingeing now – because the group show, called ‘the troubled waters of permeability’ had some really lovely works to make me smile for quite a while – especially animated sculpture video stuff – as in electronically interfaced kinetic sculptures…. Eergh. In English this means that one bit had a rotating sphere of wires linked to a whole heap of little daisies on wires on the wall that scintillated and shimmered, with various nice alternances, and then there was a really intense forest video placed in this great moving assemblage of old printer bits. I’m not sure what it meant but it looked good (great art review eh?). There was an amazing big funnel object by Soyeon Cho, suspended from the ceiling, that had the lyrical grandeur of similar objects made by Petra Coyne. It was made from an plastic forks and other every day things – and had the witty transformation of the everyday into exquisite fanciful otherness that Koji Rui did in Primavera this year.

At the steel school of sculptural formalism where I did my training – they wer e pretty down on assemblage art – because (apparently) it never allowed the objects to transcend their object-ness and become ‘pure’ material that can then evoke ‘pure’ form – and those hokey rustic wood and metal things that you see in bad Sculpture shows certainly prove that point. But occasionally, the plastic soul of banal objects can take flight and become both object and form, and matter, and as our eyes and minds stumble between all three possibilities, nice things happen. The Mayhem Theory Of Aesthetics‰ holds fast to the power of interstices, of gaps and crevices, of incomplete junctures and wrinkled seams as the repositories of the great stuff in life (which reminds me; I’ve run out of dental floss).

So I was enamoured of Soyeon’s funnel – as a permeable shell of meanings and troubledness, and nice imaginative possibilities, even though dusting it would prove a total shit. One of the nicest things I saw though was a great digital/kinetic installation by a duo called “electric shadow”. The gallery curtained of a corner to create a nice little booth. A shallow rectangular pool of bubbling water was in the centre, on the floor, with some abstracted elegant blue-green lines projected over the rippling surface – which then reflected up onto the wall. There was an enticingly expanding, shrinking animated circle projection on a pad at one end of the pool – which was incredibly tempting – to stick a foot in, o on. Which after a few bevvy’s punters gingerly did. The projection was mounted on a pressure pad – and standing on it –set off another projection across the pool – a weird diaphanous smokey shadow form streaming across the rippling water – in a way reminiscent of viola’s ‘ascentions’ (which is perfectly housed at MOMA right now). Ghostly presence, rippling water, light, air, and fine fine algorithms. Digital art done well can evoke the stuff of the self so well – sense, experiment, fate, form. This was nice.

After this I had a slow trudge tot he subway and a long wait at 6th avenue for a train to the Chelsea Bar where my friend was playing. By the time I arrived, my face was almost too numb to form words. She said she’d put my name on the door, but negotiating my way through two floors of a pumping Chelsea Gay bar on a friday night was not easy. Not to mention dealing with the attitude of the staff manning the caberet theatre where she was playing. “Have you got a reservation?” “Yeah, I’m with the Bass Player”. “Well, there’s no seats left” “I can stand” “You can’t stand” “Oh” “Ok, I think there’s a seat here, at this table, (to the seated clients) can you make room for this lady?” “yeah sure” “Ok, you can sit here” “great thanks” “now, you must have a drink, what do you want?” “err.. have you got a drinks list?” “Ok, come in here (so I struggle into the bar area) this is our drinks list (shows me to a wall of vodka). “err… can I have a glass of wine, please?” so they brought me two glasses of wine. (What!) but I was in no mood to protest. I was at a table of really lovely Manhattan Queens being regaled by an incredible performer - who put the soul back into country and coaxed a double bass solo off a Tammy Wynette tune from my Jazz muso friend. What a genius! Strutting, talking, singing, sobbing to blues, country and Tango. I texted Kath Ellis and told her to get her arse over here. New York is the place where Carlos Gardel meets Hank Williams with just enough Streisand…. I thought about some great lecture on CAMP that I heard at an art-history conference last month and felt very glad to be alive. At the end of the night, I handed over my plastic, and me, my friend and her tree (pet name for double bass) squeezed past the disco beats and muscle marys in the other two rooms and headed back to Brooklyn.

Last night in bed I actually kept on my pyjamas and my doona – and could hear the central heating hissing –so I knew it must have been cold. This morning I groggily woke up to a world of whiteness outside –and watched it melt while eating my fruit porridge. Now, I’m aiming to get to a ‘burlesque sketch club’ a few blocks away. I’m meant to shower first I guess, but I want to stay in my pyjamas and keep tapping away. I hope the burlesque show isn’t full of scary frat boys with scary ‘arty’ attitude. – and I can sit and do some fun little drawings of the people and the room, and hopefully see some nice stuff.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

bananas, Bagels, books

have I made you all really sick with my incessant ravings about how bloody great it is here?

New yorkians are obsessed with raving about how much cooler things were in the olden days (the eighties or the nineties or somehting) - but even now things are pretty damn cool now.Actually there not very cool - kind of mild - like the weather. right now i'm got hissing central heating and my room is like a sauna. i'm trying to pretend that it's good for my cold.

i'm staying in williamsburg - whihc used to be a rough area 5 years ago - but is now officially 'hip'. Half the shops around where i'm styaing are boarded up, the others are kind of paint peelingly garish - and there's lots of Latinos - who wrinkle their nose at my dodgy attempts at spanish.

tho i had one success - trying to buy a recharge card for my phone - I didn't know the local word in either english or spanish - so asked in spanish - and things worked out fine. so far i've discovered in NYC that if you don't use the PRECISE terminology for a thing - then you get ignored - like in the back of a psycho cab the other day - yelling"Stop1 STOP!!!" - till finally the guy asked, "oh, you mean pullover?" (I thought that was a jumper).....

and the shops this end of town blare "Supa Queso" tacky music and sell really scarily cheap polyester clothes for $5US that make scragg's eyes water.....

A few blocks round the corner - things are a bit different. People's skin colour lightens, their hair colour and clothes darken. the streets look like a transplant of the nicer bits of Brunswick Street. Blocks and blocks of coolcafes, coolgalereis, cool shops all selling the international youfstreetcred wear that Scrag's house of Fashion and Refred's seel in newtown - and that i didn't really see much of in Paris. I've been feeling a bit outre in my beanie and full length parka so i lashed out on a red leather tranch coat and a trilby. i now look like a technicolour Kermit the frog in reporter mode. (told you this place is like sesame street)

the thing that amuses and delights me is how cheap - i mean reasonably priced the art is. there's are lots of nice prints, jewelry, drawings paitnings - all under $500 - wiht prints and objects under $50. AND IT'S NICE, interesting refreshing stuff - like the better fare at Gaffa......

(this is in marked contrast to Hawaii - where the local hilo poetry art gallery - had hideous bad screen prints for minimum of $75...... I mean I know hawaii is famous for kitsch - but surely it can be made into a selling point - like the cover of that great Martin Denny CD - rahter than blanded out to tourist pastel.)

I got some nice jewelry and prints as xmas prezzies for friends byt i'm saving my pennies for BABELAND. there's a hitachi wonderwand with my name on it waiting for me in soho.

Meanwhile - i think i've stumbled apon the Bagel store that Alan Cholodenko RAVED about. I wasn't a fan of bagels till i went to this place. OMIGOD. it's on the corner of Bdford and Metropolitan avenues in williamsburg - and the bagels are about 60c each and bloody amazing.

Away from the trendy ubercool zone of black clad beige - a little stroll towards East Williamsburg feels like a realy freaky timewarp back into unnamed Eruopean city circa 1930. the local Hassidic Jews have stopped time preholocaust - with shops and women clad Just like the olden days - in identical bobbed wigs, black shoes, beige stockings (and all with very well turned out ankles), black jackets, cloche hats and black prams. i'm used to seeing orhtodox hassidic men in ear tails, hats 7 cloaks in bondi - but the mathcing shops and womenfolk are really weird. Up the street towards bushwick or flushing - there are crack dealers on ever corner - and there's a funny part of the bus route where both tribes overlap.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year, New york

I get a bit suspicious about how I start each New Year. dunno why.

Last year I started the new year with a small intimate dinner party wiht Abel's family in frogland. i'd foregone a larger dinner party with Australian friends - and kinda had regrets, but not too many. Dunno what that was a portent of... give up friends for Love and get kicked in the teeth?

The previous year was being drunk around a campfiire wiht a big group of amazing artists/activists/hippies - including one of my new flatmates!

this year I was under the bursting fireworks in a park in Brooklyn with some amazing close friends. i was stone cold sober for the first time in 20 years as was half the assembled friends - and i had no regrets. I decided that if i've resolved to give up alcohol in 200 - then a hangover was not a good way to start.

After fireworks we went to a neighbourhood party (from the Park Slope blog) and saw the times square hullaballo on a small TV in the corner. I made polite conversation wiht local lesbians asking if there was any non frat-boy local burlesque and culminated in some weird group conversation at 3am, ABOUT PEOPLE's TOXIC COLONS. It reminded me of a NYE in Lawson 4 years ago(?) spent with a close couple of my former wife/life and also why I LOVE THIS CITY! - Nooyorkians are totally nuts -but completely candid about it. My estimable friend Doctor Jay was trying to convince everyone of the scientific merits of Faecal transplants -but they weren't all gullible enough.....

the next day I struggles wiht a migraine induced dylsexia to poorly negotiate the tangle of beige coloured lettered lines on my subway map to try to get from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side. Normally should be easy peasey - but the B-train was donw -and the A-train was going too far uptown (I STILL havne't caught it yet!) so I jumped on a Q train - and then thought I saw an M-train but it was an N train - and I think I was after the F-train anyway.

I was an hour late for my rendezvous in the rain with Stacy and Shannon. they waited. And we strolled down to tenth street and into St. Marks. I got chatting with one of the volunteers on the door who said she was some Professor who'd started up the camera Obsucra journal - and I was regretting knowing fuck-all about cinema studies - apart from Mulvey/doane/ etc.

anway - the poetry reading was refreshingly unlike anything i'd seen in Sydney (except maybe some of the nicer stuff at the writers festival - and actually Jess & Miles would go down a treat at the poetry project).

tho i reckon my canberra kultur-terrorist friends would still be a bit pukey at the earnest lefty niceness of it all (see Hazy bits blog)

Me? I don't care - New york still feels like a real living set of Sesame Street - and I love every milimetre of it. I love the niceness, the smiles, the friendly conversation, the dykes, the music, the accents, the air, the graf-art, the free hard copies of THE ONION and the village voice each week (note for self: they don't review places in Little Italy....)

Back to poetry - I had my possy of 3 female friends and a bag of fruit and we grabbed a nice place on the carpetted stairs and prepard to sit it out. I scribbled nice lines and did quick skethces of the way epople stood to recits. and realised that they speak form the hips, from the crotch and mostly swayed from the hips while speaking. Potry is embodied. This was a good sign. and Phillip glass's piano piece was monumental and patti Smith is a fucking GOD -and I SAW HER and heard her voice 20 metres from my ears - and she was singing about the Bombing of Lebanese Cana with the same resonance as on 'horses' (30 years ago) that used to fuel my early furiosu painting (10 years ago) and I loved and love her even more........ and Penny Arcade is a fucking trooper and did a great cute small piece and chatted to me about what chocolate cookies to get -and I met a nice girl called Kate......

It weren't all genius and glory tho. There was some freaky old bloke who rabbitted on about Loving the rain for 15 minutes, flapping his arms and crowing, and some even freakier older bloke who recited a nice(?) ditty about being fucked to and by soem music and then he blithered about his own rather monstrous sexual politics which was OK coz he was 82 and uses a zimmer frame so isn't gonna do a lot of harm..... and there was an INSANE couple! The guy on sax looked like Salman rushdie dressed in a brown polo shrt and brown slacks and was hinking discordantly on a big golden saxaphone. The woman had black firzzy hair, a big black coat, and bright red shiny shoes and an orange scarf –and SHE was raving about manitees in great and pompous detail and it was so loony they must have had to practice 100 times or take some laughter suppressing drugs so they didn’t double over every third line. And then there were a troop of budding thespians doing a great ‘bucket-hugger’ piece which firmy cemented my belief that NEW YORK IS MUPPETLAND and another reason why it is so great – and thank god texta queen was here for 6 months.

At about midnight - stacy and I both agreed our brains were fried so we walked up to 14th street and headed home on the L-Train. What a great way to start the year!

I spent the second day of the year on my TOME. God. I love it sometimes and hate it at others. I think I love it. I’m tyring to believe that If I just can work on the thing that it will get written and I will get to come back here and live here forever…… and go to Colombia and get to check out Gayatri Chakravoorty Spivak in a terry towelling headband just like Shannon’s friend at Colombia does…… OK this sounds trivial, I know. But Sydney brilliance and innovation and creativity and ideas are always fleeting and beleagured and swamped by the masses of stupid neurotic competitive BANALITY that is Sydney. Each time I think about Australia I cringe. Eahc time I think about supposedly critical left wing academics tyring to be engaged and populist and sympathetic to the death of Steve fucking Irwin – I want to scream for a hundred years and burn my passport and give up my language and never again eat vegemite. What’s next? Queen Mary of Denmark?

In New york I could nestle quietly into a large forgiving soup of unashamedly bookish earnestness. I could imagine being called elitist for within to wallow in my own little corner of bespectacled earnest chattering class endeavour. And I fucking hate that label so much I feel like projectile vomitting at random. ‘elitist’ is one of those nasty little double speak labels that John Howard, Rupert Murdoch, and members of the ALP like to throw at people who disagree with them. It’s a form of silencing discourse, engagement, criticism. There’s a big difference between being elitist and selective. I give a shit more about the death of Sean Bell than James Brown. (sean bell was an black nooyorka who got shot FIFTY times by gun toting (crack crazed?) cops for no real reason). And even tho James Brown’s death was a big symbolic moment for Harlem, for new york, for soul, for whatever – when the NYPD are planning to make all gatherings of more than 30 people illegal (unless they’ve applied for a permit) – I kinda reckon that sometimes it’s time to call a spade a fucking shovel. Little people matter. Little hard anonymous struggles matter. And however flakey, preachy, bespectacled and poorly perfumed the masses of earnest unwashed activists/academics/ranters/poets etc. are – its better than being a cashed up apologist for the consumerised corporatised society of disinformation and distraction….

Ahem. I drank zapatista coffee this morning and look what it’s done to me!

Yesterday was a delightful day of quite superficial consumerist meanderings. I had a rendezvous at the Aussie bite Tuck shop with Stacy, Shannon and Shannon’s friend at Colombia, and managed to get there relatively quickly. We ate ‘gormette’ pies and bitched/nostalgiaed about places among gum trees, punctuated by shannon’s lament at her immanent return… (to a lectureship btw). I like Shannon coz her ancestors came from the same town I grew up in and she understands and shares the stupid acculturated melancholy of recovering catholic skip-ness. When I whinge at my mum’s response to my blitherings about new york; “well, dear, remember that these are the best days of your life, and there are other people far less fortunate than you are” (followed by a long litany of whatever obscure corner of tragedy she can dig up from local gossip or the SMH or ABC) –shannon understands, coz her mum had exactly the same response to her ringing up sobbing and confused in Albania or Romania or somewhere else full on and strange. She seems to share my need to look for full on strangeness – for culture, and aliveness to escape the deadening fug of complacency – that disguises an infinite unspoken melancholy and deceit. (melancholy from acculturated exiled ancestors; deceit for continuing stain of SKIP incoherence and hostility towards kooris.) Meanwhile in New York, the tuck shop’s coffee machine broke so we had more meaningless meanderings looking for expresso on first avenue –before Stacy led us to the street of the tenement museum – where I spotted a GREAT FROG DINER. Whereapon I had the best coffee I’ve had since those last grains of Campos superior got steamed into my expresso concoction – and the others had 2 or 3… It was great. There are places in Paris that come close – but I still reckon frog-city central is a place best dreamed of in exile - this was kind may ‘68/squatter/uber-kool effect. Tres noice.

Jittery and bubbly – we left the others and Stacy and I headed for AMAZING EXPERIENCES IN BROOKLYN. I’d received an email from Dr. Crawford about the olfactory emporium that is and decided that I couldn’t wait. I was looking for special ‘gorgeous’ gifts for a special person or two –but couldn’t help being drawn to the special mix called ‘faggot’. And wondered if I’ve just become an incurable faghag. Actually it’s called faggot – coz of special combo of burning woods. Hmmm – it’s smoky, earthy and deep – and inspired the salesgentlemen to insist I smell their special Haitian vetervert…. Which If you could bottle the delight of a fine night at manacle on the best MDMA in the universe – musky, leathery, sweaty, hairy, dark, masculine, spicy…..

Before I descend into unpalatable depths of hosebeastiness…. (I sigh and sigh again – completely perplexed) I should also mention that my other favourites included Wet English Pavement – and Ink. ‘CB’ – manages to combine small essences of certain mundane things (like rubber cement) and then fuse them with the right complementary carrier scents and mid tones…. – so each scent is a little olfactory haiku evoking aspects of the title. Naturally I wished they could have done scents based on Abel’s nipples, Zoo’s Breast milk, smoked mussels, Guinness, goat & French camembert but I guess some things are best experienced rather than evoked. I forgot to mention that the boutique is staffed by 2 very camp men and one very large dog which walked solemnly towards my crotch and buried his nose between my legs. Wise mutt. It was the one scent completely absent. Ripe woman on a full moon.

New york has been a pleasant distraction from the pleasures of the loins. I’m trying to hold off my visit to babe’s in toyland – coz I know that once I get my hands on a Hitachi wonderwand – I’ll spend 2 weeks in the spare room not going anywhere…. I have eye watering cravings at odd hours and give odd intense and probably excessively desperate stares to the legions of nice sapphists which inhabit the locale – but I’m enjoying sexual solitude, the hairs on my legs, the lack of mirror glimpsing self monitoring….. I’m enjoying singleness more than I ever have…. Tho I’m not sure if I’m single or not. Anyway I digress.

Post perfume – stacy & I wandered up north 11th into some uberkool clothing boutique – where she splurged on clothes and I got a decent pair of leather boots for $20 and tried on 6 pairs of jeans that didn’t quite fit. (my theory is that buying a pair of jeans is less about outlay of cash than outlay of time and effort in trying on at least 25 different styles and shapes and sized in order to find the right pair) Jeans house legs, the arse, and the sex organs – so the importance of covering and shaping all of the above in an acceptable manner cannot be underestimated. Femmes really have it easier on this one – skirts are much easier. I’m tyring to work out if I should get a hat, shoulder bag and jacket – just to moderate my polyester grunge aesthetic of long parka, backpack and beanie – but I’ll see what the universe turns up. I was tempted by long leather coats in black, ruby and teal (for $40) – but none were quite PERFECT.

Anyway – after our shopping we headed for a final extravagance of the evening – a nice Frenhc restaurant where Debbie was playing with 2 blokes called the mad jazz hatters. I had fillet mignon coz of white truffles and stacy chose onion soup and some nice roast veggie thing. We sat near the band and sketched and were brought a complimentary crepe by the staff – and I realised – strangely, stupidly and incredulously – that New york is just like the nicer parts of Sydney. Seeing live music – is like being with close near friends – and intimate and personal encounter – not like the capital C of culture spectacles – but something close and ordinary – but extraordinary too. The bank leader from the mad jazz hatters – loves popular songs – like great 1940’s Dennis Potter style tunes – to Irish/American protest laments – to the odd gipsy thing and lashings of Grappelli and so the music was special, affecting, intimate. I could have been at buzz Bar with Kathelissism – or in rural buttfucksville singing bad country/irish songs with my extended family – but culture as a form of localised intimate experience – feeling the vibrations of the instruments, meeting the eyes of the musicians, sensing notes and words as the raised hairs on my arms…. This is incredibly special, incredibly precious – and yes, it also is a part of ordinary life in the big apple.

I really wish my stupid brother hadn’t died and could be here now. I wish like hell I could be seeing him play live – whether busking or jamming with other musicians, or doing ordinary gigs for cash – but being glad there are enough of them to keep a city full of muzos fed and housed. On my second day here, I heard a flugelhorn in a basement and tears sprung to my eyes – but mostly I’m not melancholy but incredibly delighted to be here amongst this. I've extended my ticket till the first of March.