5. A night on the Lower East Side
We’ve already covered how to get there, where to eat, what off-Broadway play not to watch, the perils of tipping and Tilda Swinton in a box so far. Comprehensive. But what of your nights on the tiles, Ms W? I hear none of you ask. Despite that resounding silence, here’s the low down on a night in the Lower East Side.
I’m assuming I’ve already made it crystal clear that I’m not the type who’d spend my evenings sipping cocktails at the Four Seasons, so please don’t expect glamour. Even if I was a Euromillions winner, I think I’d still complain about the price of a Cosmopolitan and the fact they don’t do Scampi Fries or pork scratchings there. I’d be very much out of place somewhere like that. To help you understand exactly where I stand, I’m too good for Wetherspoons, but punching slightly above my weight at an All Bar One. When I was younger, I stole a pepper pot from the latter in an attempt to recoup some of the cash I’d spent on what I believed was an extremely overpriced bottle of wine there. I say younger – it was a fortnight ago. So still technically correct, but rather more unacceptable. I’d like to tell you I took it back the following week, but that would be a lie.
No, the dive bars of NYC, with their bohemian clientele and undiscovered musical talent are more up my street. If I was in a street 20 years ago, that is. But hey, there are a few years left in this old dog yet. I can still hang with the hipsters. Well, I can still watch them from a dark corner, seething with jealousy at their youth and good looks. I think my other half was secretly hoping to see The Strokes play an impromptu gig, or get to jam with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That, of course, wasn’t to be. I’m not particularly familiar with the term ‘dive bar’ to be honest. I can only assume that it translates as ‘a bit of a shithole’. Which is fine. And not to be considered an insult.
But before I had chance to experience live music I was dragged along to Two Bits (https://foursquare.com/v/twobits-retro-arcade/4fecad7d011c223bce1ad061), in the Lower East Village on the pretence that it was where Carrie and Big enjoyed a date in Series Two. Please note that I refuse to use the word ‘season’. Because I am not American. Or a cunt. My other half, who has told me that I swear too much in this blog (so that last sentence was for him), tried to annoy me during our vacation (see what I said there?) by repeatedly using words like faucet, sidewalk, real estate, sneakers and elevator. Oh, and by farting incessantly in our hotel room which was already so baking hot that I had to sleep with a cold flannel on my face. There was many a morning I woke up in a sweaty rage, seething and greeting him with the romantic ‘You dirty, horrible, bastard’. Although used to it at home, I had hoped that as we were staying at the hotel voted the sexiest in the USA, (www.nighthotelny.com) he might have tried to reign it in a bit. To be fair, there was one night when I did a bit of wee on the bathroom floor, because I was drunk and didn’t make it to the seat on time, so I’m hardly oozing wanton sensuality. But still. He tells me it’s a medical condition, because he doesn’t have the ability to burp. I remain sceptical and will forever pity the maid responsible for tending to our room each morning. Don’t get me wrong, I did clean up my puddle, but the air was thick in there after a night of his wind machine. I wouldn’t have left us a chocolate treat each day.
But back to Two Bits. As well as being an habitual farter, my bloke is quite the gamer, so this was somewhere he had to visit. It’s basically an arcade from the 1980s, featuring such classics as Pacman, Street Fighter 2 and Galaxian that also serves booze. I’m fairly proficient at these kind of games after spending many a day down the seafront at Cleethorpes as a child. It’s the modern ones I can’t handle. When I attempt to play something like Gears of War, I basically end up stuck in a corner pointing my Hammerburst at the top of a wall, going absolutely nowhere but insane with frustration.
Upon entering Two Bits, I got the distinct impression my other half was semi-erect. I let it go that it had clearly never featured in an episode of Sex And The City. He was happy and I’d been to Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village earlier in the day. To be honest, I’ve had better and cheaper cupcakes from charity bake sales at work. Because I don’t pay for them. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the games were only 25 cents to play too. Yes, they were on the hardest fucking setting imaginable, so I didn’t even get to Tuesday on Paperboy, but hey, it was cheap.
After getting rid of all our spare change, and drinking a couple of pints of Brooklyn Lager, which was on special offer at $5 a pint (so about £3.50 – not so special) at Hi-Fi (thehifibar.com), we headed over to Mercury Lounge (www.mercuryloungenyc.com) for a spot of live music.
It was already 11.30pm on a Wednesday, but the night was still young. We paid $12 entry fee (upsetting) but I almost let out a squeal of delight when I had my hand stamped. That hadn’t happened to me for around 15 years. After collecting our pints of Coors in plastic glasses, we quickly headed through to the stage area, catching the end of a set by Brooklyn trio Roy Orbit, which was very enjoyable, despite their refusal to play ‘She’s So Lovely’ by Scouting for Girls, no matter how many times I shouted for it. Don’t be silly, of course I didn’t do that. It was ‘Elvis Ain’t Dead’ I was screaming for. Next on the bill was something a bit different. Dubstep. For someone who has never listened to dubstep and had to be advised that Skrillex is a person and not a group, I was absolutely loving it. And I had taken no drugs to my knowledge. So much so, that I ignored the 35p plus usual network charge text rate and sent a note to my friend Sian, who I knew would be amused. She once told me she was really into grime and I asked her to name a grime artist she liked and she could only offer me Dizzy Rascal as an answer, for which I still rip the piss out of her to this day. Despite being quite happy there, we left after two tracks and headed for Pianos (www.pianosnyc.com), another place my other half had on his list of bars to visit. I half hoped for something akin to Birmingham’s Duelling Pianos, where two blokes sit belting out tunes on, you’ve guessed it, pianos. I’ve only been there once on a festive night out from work. I had to be asked to step away from the stage by one of the bouncers as I was hassling the pianists to either play A Million Miles by Vanessa Carlton or the Beadle’s About theme tune. And, even though it was Christmas, my pleas went ignored. Arseholes.
It was in Pianos, which is well worth a visit earlier in the day for $5 frozen margaritas during happy hour, that I realised I was well and truly clattered. It was only my second night in NYC and the day had already featured the Staten Island ferry, Wall Street, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Avenue, Chelsea and the bone marrow butter episode. We decided to call it a night and popped into Artichoke Pizza (www.artichokepizza.com)on our walk back to the subway. The walk took us over an hour, because we didn’t have a fucking clue where we were going. At $4.50 for a fat 90 degree slice, it was sublime.
“This is the best slice of pie I’ve ever tasted,” my gamer exclaimed.
“Don’t call it pie, you utter knob head,” I replied.