Monday, March 21, 2011

Juicy Big Apple (US Trip Part 1)

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0, hurrah!
Watching: last episode of 'Being Human'
Hair Day: quiffy
What I can see from my window no. 10: fluffy cloudscape and plane wings

Following the PRSF/Bird’s Eye View Film Festival’s Big Feminist Push at their South Bank WOW launch (where I chatted to the likes of Gaggle’s new drummer, Sam Lee of Magpie’s Nest, Claire from CHROMA, the Consortium 5 girls and Claudia Molitor, and was interviewed by a BBC blogger), it was a high-tail to the US for juice’s Big American Adventure!

First stop: New York, where we performed at a lovely wee gallery in Brooklyn, Zora Arts Space. Our perfect partners for this mini-gig were Toby Twining Music, a new sextet led by the NY-based mostly-experimental-vocal composer. Toby has put this crew together as part of his new album project, Eurydice; juice sandwiched them with some a cappella faves, and the group joyfully throat-growled, hocketed, yodelled and harmonic-whistled their way through the five-piece vocal and ‘cello cuts. Well worth checking out here!

With true US-pedigree hospitality, Toby put the three of us up at his house-sit palace in New Jersey, even though he barely knew us. So we resided happily in the ‘burbs, feeling like three trilling Snow Whites as we were surrounded by a plethora of exotic avian Americana: white-crowned and song sparrows, tufted titmouses (titmice?!), common grackles shiny as paua shells, brown-headed cowbirds, and the classic abstract expressionist red cardinals, which Sarah later immortalised in earring form. Plus a chipmunk, groundhog and a vewwy fwendly wabbit.

We had two days to Do New York after the gig. Here are the highlights:

1) The Primeburger diner just off 5th Avenue, built in 1938 and preserved almost entirely in midcentury modern style, and waiters almost as historic. Wooden-swivel desks, bronze lights, pumpkin pie and two old gents who introduced themselves as ‘Noo Yawk born, Noo Yawk bred’ as they chatted us up. Probably the coolest place EVER.
2)MOMA, an even classier (yes!) Tate Modern, which had our dream special exhibition, ‘Music 3.0’, looking at how the New York music scene in the 80’s and early 90’s had influenced art. Cue revisiting the videos and album art from lots of old faves such as Eric B and Rakim, Run DMC, the Beasties etc, but less familiar stuff like John Zorn, a terrifyingly blood-letting Diamanda Galas video which would make the cast of Twilight eat their own faces off in fear, and a hilariously expletive-filled feminist track by Karen Finley, which I can’t repeat here. No, really. It involves orifices. And horses. And waffles.
3) Food, and lots of it. Magnolia Bakery cupcakes (very SJP in Sex and the City); City Bakery hot chocolate and marshmallows as big as bricks (or as Sarah put it dreamily, ‘a cloud in a cup’); borscht and verynykey at East Village Ukrainian fave Vaselkas; a corner-shack pretzel whilst walking the High-Line, a art-lined walkway recently converted from an old cross-rail; and a peanut butter cookie eaten whilst being bitch-slapped by the Atlantic wind on the Staten Island Ferry as we all shamelessly snapped the original Green Goddess.

4) Talking with Toby about politics, beatboxing as meaningful music, arts funding as we took in the steam from the sidewalks, the yellow cabs, the neck-crick, the Art Deco ubiquity, the modernity, the iron-wrought fire escapes, the greyness, the little dogs in designer coats and the stop-start-run pedestrian crossings… The city as romance!

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