The Gerald and Mr. Flappy Story, Part 2

Mr. Flappy had always been terrible at gift-giving, so he decided to consult Gerald on what to give a lady so that she’ll go out with you.
“Well,” Gerald began, lighting a match on the gulag wall, then puffing thoughtfully on a corncob pipe, “women are basically self-absorbed, so if you make them feel like a princess, they’re yours forever.”
But what does a lady pigeon need to feel like a princess?
“I’d say diamonds and lots of ‘em, but you won’t be able to afford that,” Gerald sighed.
Mr. Flappy pointed in the direction of a local shop that sold costume jewelry, made with rhinestones.
“Nah, don’t bother,” Gerald said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Dames don’t want rhinestones. Don’t ask me why, they think they’re tacky. I say who can tell the difference.”
Gerald was, of course, speaking in Russian, but occasionally he lapsed into Polish as a consequence of his upbringing. Mr. Flappy had grown up in Hungary, as a matter of fact, but was brought to Moscow for his schooling. He was fluent in several languages, including Polish, which he learned from his childhood nursemaid, a rotund and matronly pigeon with a tendency to sing ruddy-sounding folk songs while folding things.
Gerald let loose a long string of Polish curses at this moment, having burnt his hand with the forgotten match. He then remembered Mr. Flappy’s predicament and scribbled an order down. As he tucked the order into Mr. Flappy’s wee messenger bag, he reassured him, “don’t worry, I’m not sending you out on an errand at this hour – if you take this order down to the store, they’ll give you the perfect present for your lady friend.”

To be continued…

The Story, Part 1
The Story, Part 3

The Gerald and Mr. Flappy Story, Part 1

Once, there was a man who ate nothing but tuna sandwiches washed down with vodka. He hated tuna. He just ate it because it’s all they fed him at the gulag.
One day a little bird flew into his cell, and he fed it bits of tuna sandwich until it was tame. Luckily, it was a pigeon, so when it grew up, it was eager to deliver messages. He attached orders for the pigeon (Mr. Flappy) to take to the local delicatessen. The delicatessen asked the pigeon to establish a line of store credit, which he did, signing with an ‘X.’
The prisoner, Gerald, enjoyed a fine variety of foods – roast beef, chicken salad, herring, bagels, pickled vegetables, etc.. He started getting fat and lazy, refusing to join the daily prison volleyball game.
Mr. Flappy, who was quickly nearing middle age, began to crave the comforts of a family. He’d watch happy pigeon couples flying off to have lunch, or sometimes brunch, and his little heart would swell with envy.

One day, the deli refused to take any more orders until Mr. Flappy paid up. Gerald decided to win the money through crooked card games with the guards. They all played crooked, so it was hard for anyone to win. But Gerald managed to make enough to pay off the deli guy, with a little money left over. Gerald gave Mr. Flappy the money and told him to get himself something nice.
Mr. Flappy had had his eye on a lady pigeon named Lucille ever since he’d spotted her across a crowded pigeon bar. She was drinking a dirty martini, which was Mr. Flappy’s favorite drink as well.
Well, ever since then, Lucille had been secretly pining away for Mr. F as well. She’d been fluffing her feathers and applying Cover Pigeon brand makeup (rouge and beakstick) specially every day, in hopes that she’d run into him.

To be continued….

The Story, Part 2
The Story, Part 3

The Flaming Lips

This was my first time at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and what an elegant, palatial venue it was. My friend and I quickly secured a spot near the front, and I spent the minutes before the show engaged in various forms of gawking. Behind me the balconies jutted out artistically, and on the arched ceiling there shone a fabulous mural! Really amazing, especially when contrasted with the beer-soaked, smoky sweat-hole that most concert venues usually prove to be. Not that I mind this atmosphere, but to be here staring up at a huge and purty painting really made me feel classy. A ballroom indeed. And then there were the pretty ladies dressed as aliens, and boy were they drunk. The setup is such that there isn’t really a backstage to speak of, just a sectioned off area that you aren’t allowed to go in but can see pretty clearly. My excitement grew as I saw aliens, Santas, and superheroes adjusting their costumes and assuring that their giant flashlights were functioning properly. A helpful techie guy was double, and triple checking the ever-important confetti cannons, and I thought to myself that this guy really had him a fine job. Except of course for the responsibility of cutting up all that damned tissue paper into tiny entertaining strips, and let me tell you, there were simply millions of those mothers.

This was my third time seeing these guys, the first time being Coachella 2004, and the second earlier this year during the same tour I was catching this evening. I have an interesting history with The Flaming Lips because while they’ve proved to be excellent live—playing the big hits we all want to hear and going off the meter for stage theatrics—I’ve also been left with a tinge of disappointment both times. Coachella was one of those deals where you think you might go crazy because there are so many awesome bands you’d slap your mamma to see, but you’re also in Death Valley squashed between thousands of other sweaty bastards and you think you might die. Seriously, Laura almost died. So there we were drunk on Jagermeister chugged in the parking lot, with the sun beating down at 100 degrees plus, packed in oh-so-tightly and eagerly awaiting the band. This is the very show where they debuted that wonderful giant clear balloon into which singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne inserts himself and then takes a wacky moonwalk over the squealing audience. I was proud to witness this wonderful spectacle, and boy was that balloon nifty, but they also consumed most of their short set by inflating the damn thing, leaving time for only a measly four or five songs. My dirt with the next show was also a result of it being much too short. That, and the fact that it was at Webster Hall, and two seconds after the band had left the stage, it was covered in terrible strippers with filthy bills flowing out of their g-strings. So disorienting.

But boy did The Lips redeem themselves this time. Talk about confetti! Sure they brought out the giant balloon again and dazzled the crowd by walking upon it, sure there were drunken aliens and Santas dancing about and knocking over equipment, sure they played all the classics, but let me tell you, there was enough confetti shot at us that night to feed an army that subsists entirely on…confetti. There was a shitload of confetti. I found some later in my purse, it was all up in my shoes, and some even suggestively made its way down my shirt—and it hadn’t even bought me dinner. I stuffed handfuls of the stuff into my pockets so that I could shower Laura with a little piece of the experience when I got home.

In the midst of this joy they had so kindly splattered onto their fans, the band did a real nice thing and took the time and effort to stop the show and say a little something to inspire the masses. Wayne Coyne dealt a tear-jerker by recounting the story of a woman who had found hope through the band after her son had died of cancer. He spoke about how the world may indeed have its problems, but what really matters is that human beings are cable of caring and love, and isn’t it great that such things can be exhibited in group form when people come together and unite through a common cause or musical preference. This made me warm and fuzzy, because it really does piss me off when bands are jerks to their audience, and make you feel like a piece of feces for simply enjoying their music and attending their live performance. The Flaming Lips said to me that not only did they love me for being a fan of their work, but also for giving life to the liberal cause (which they correctly assumed I was a part of) and representing hope and goodness in this world. It was really a lovely moment. Oh, and at one point, Wayne called this couple onto the stage, and we all got to witness some guy asking his lady friend to marry him. Awwwww.

So yes, I had me a good time, and found that this most fantastic of bands had finally earned itself a suitable place in my concert-attendance memory.

What We Did the Past Two Weekends

When we found out our pal John, a soon-to-be-lawyer who lives in Washington, D.C., was coming into New York for the weekend, we decided to set aside our ever-important social obligations in order to entertain the pants off him 24/7.  We’ve known John since forever, and he conveniently shares with us one of our most favorite pastimes, nay, only pastime…drinking.  In fact, if there was ever a man who likes his drinking, this is him.  Plus, he reminds one of those delightful brothers of TV sitcom fame, Niles and Frasier, in that he likes a good port, and is partial to Antiques Roadshow.

We met him for dinner at Pennyfeathers, a West Village restaurant we love to go to, because they always remember/love us, and they serve lots and lots of steak.  The delightful meal was followed by a delightful bout of binge drinking, first at Salon in the West Village, where we found ourselves part of someone’s birthday party who we didn’t know, and were rather disappointed to find out that it wasn’t an open bar.  We drowned our sorrows, however, in nine-dollar cocktails, while dancing to somebody’s unfortunately mixed bat mitzvah-esque playlist that, I swear to god, they played directly off their laptop.  Liz was heard to exclaim, “I could be a DJ!”  Liz was also shocked when one of our new friends, who was otherwise quite awesome, was hesitant to leave due to the fact that the song “Sexxyback” was playing.  Worst song ever.  We then moved on to the fashionable Meat Packing district, where, despite how devastatingly cool we looked, we were turned away from the Hog Pit because they were too packed with teenyboppers pretending to like butt rock.  They suggested we wait at the wine bar next door, which caused a glimmer to form in John’s eye.  A glimmer that said one thing, “Port Wine.”  We were more than happy to relocate to this location, and rounded out the evening sipping sickeningly sweet dessert wine in their cushy seats, to the soothing sounds of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  A strange ambience indeed, but a fine album nonetheless.

Saturday found us at the homey (and appropriately named) Italian restaurant, John’s, in the East Village.  The ambience is very old world….boy do they have a lot of candles.  What the restaurant lacks in “That’s Amore” playing on the overhead, it more than makes up for in the years of dripping wax that have built up into an otherwordly super-candle, i.e. a mountain of freakish wax.  Our waiter, with an unfortunate cross between a faux-hawk and a mullet, which we’ll call “He’s Fired,”  had that laid-back, anything goes attitude…so much so that he forgot about us for forty-five minutes, until another waiter saved us.  This isn’t to say that we were disappointed in our dining experience; it was an extremely busy Friday night, after all.  And the food was wonderful as ever, and made up for the wait in its deliciousness.  The truffle ravioli (a special) was a standout, as was the cheesecake, which came highly recommended from the replacement waiter.

We moved on to Fontana in the Lower East Side, one of those painfully hip places where you see all those people who used to be too cool to hang out with you, and realize this is where they’ve been.  The drinks were a bit overpriced, but then again, it’s the Lower East Side.

Sunday was one of those late summer days when it’s a shame to stay inside.  Therefore, we decided to get drunk on our porch.  Now, by porch, we mean the five square feet of concrete in front of our house, that also houses the garbage and recycling cans.  Regardless, we lugged some chairs outside and settled in for an afternoon of reading the paper and, in Liz’s case, knitting.  Our shift to outdoor drinking elicited delight from our neighbors on the block, who hate when ‘gentrifying’ types of our generation are hermitic and unfriendly.  Our porch sittin’ ended up reaping several benefits, from our landlord regailing us with wacky tales of growing up in Brooklyn, to those darn kids lighting off their firecrackers.  Liz was driven to shake her fist and yell at them not to shoot their eyes out.  We also met our upstairs neighbor for the first time, and it turns out she likes musicals and drinking!  Lucie, a fifth-grade teacher in a Chelsea private school, is a welcome addition to our building, with her delightful anecdotes of growing up in New York, and affinity for performing Boyz II Men songs a capella on streetcorners.  Things are looking up for this apartment building.

The next Friday night was a concert-goin’ extravaganza.  That’s right, we were going to see Built To Spill (Liz’s sixth time, Laura’s third).  Now, this is really more Liz’s thing, so for the full review, see the Music section, but let it be known that a good time was had by all.  That is, once the opening band, Camper Van Beethoven, got off the stage.  “Take the Skinheads Bowling” indeed.  Laura was heard to remark, “Shoot me now.  Please god just shoot me now.”

Then (sniff) we parted ways so that Liz could spend the weekend with her dear father who was visiting from Arizona. As Laura certainly didn’t do anything worth nothing without Liz around except sit in her room weeping like a child, the rest of this description will focus on the adventures of Liz.

My Dad took a hotel room in Manhattan so as not to have to sleep on the hardwood floor in Brooklyn, in an apartment where little to no extra sheets or padding is available. So I packed up my necessary accoutrements and set out for a merry weekend staying in the big city, er, Manhattan.

We started the day off with a light breakfast in Bryant Park, right where all the chic and trendy midtowners can usually be found dining on a sunny weekday, along with a few bums and greased up fat guys tanning on the lawn. This however, was a Saturday and the guy at the nearby deli seemed fairly confused when he saw that he had customers. The park was lovely, albeit a tad muddy, and a fine place to showcase the city’s most fashionable dinning spot. We then headed to none other than the Metropolitan Opera to catch a matinee of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. My oh my, what a fancy establishment. It didn’t take a pair of comically tiny, pearl-lined binoculars to see that this “Met” puts on an excellent production. Fresh off this culture high, we headed to the Marriott Marquee’s The View, the rotating bar at the very top of this Times Square hotel that offers more than just an excellent way to see the city and its surroundings from up high…they serve booze. A quick cocktail and we were off to the delicious Keens Steakhouse. It’s an extremely classy joint. We were led upstairs to the old-timey pipe lined dining room and were soon greeted by the tastiest steaks I ever did consume. I ate me a load of vittles, and it was good.

Sunday was a lovely and sunny day, which came as somewhat of a shock because hey, what luck. We dined at the Cornelia Street Café for brunch in the West Village and then strolled west to the promenade that adorns this side of the island and took in the sun and view of fabulous New Jersey. There was many an adorable dog to see and sunbather to gawk at. Much was the same as we headed over to DUMBO and the wonderful Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of my most favorite places ever. I think that this was the sort of day where people realize that they might not soon again have such a nice afternoon to enjoy, because many a character was out at play. We sat contentedly and viewed not one but three wedding parties, multiple children attempting to fly kites, and even a photo shoot. I suggested to the model that she eat some bread. Yes, many a summer activity was taking place on this most pleasant of afternoons. It was just so damn pleasant. Next we went for a stroll in Park Slope so Dad could see the ol’ neighborhood, and ended our day with pool and a few brews at Bar Minnow, and an excellent dinner at Sotto Voce. We both had a great time, and my dad is awesome.