Sunday, July 12, 2009

Well, as the blog title suggests, it is rare and special indeed to find someone who understands what the hell you're talking about when you mention T-Bone Walker, Leadbelly, Howlin' Wolf, and then in the same sentence drop names like Doug Sahm, Steve Earle and the Dukes, Roky Erickson and the Aliens, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, John Cippolina and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and then on to Mahalia Jackson, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Lux Interior, Kid 'Congo' Powers, Chris Duarte, Panther Burns, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club...
It was one of those conversations...the ones that go off fast and furious in four different directions, right?
Well, Jack Lamplough is that man, and this evening he and Emer took me to the Highline Ballroom to see an incredible band called Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women. The Guilty Women need to be seen to be believed. Christy McWilson on vocals, Laurie Lewis and Amy Farris on fiddle, Sarah Brown on bass, Lisa Pankratz (from Dripping Springs, Texas!), and Cindy Cashdollar on slide guitar. Cindy is remarkable, playing not only lap slide, but also a shoulder-slung dobro. Let me tell you, these girls were unreal! Dave played hits such as Abilene, King of California, Marie Marie (an ode to his first girlfriend which has the line 'two weeks of back pay and a car full of gas'), and a song that not only referenced T-Bone Walker, but spoke of 'everyone's mom's gone, my dad's gone, my brother's gone', and then went on to incorporate the unforgettable riff from Van Morrison and Them's classic 'Baby, Please Don't Go'. The encore was a homage to the 'philosophy of Doris Day' with an ass-kicking version of 'Que Sera, Sera'. Unbelievable!
Well, that concluded a day that began with a three or four hour walk down through Tribeca, Greenwich Village, the Chelsea Market, Lower Manhattan and Lord knows where else. We saw De Niro's restaurant at Tribeca, also Harrison's, and then we ate food to die for at The Red Cat . Oh, and I cannot forget the small matter of stopping at the famous White Horse Tavern to drink a glass of 'Anchor Steam', legendary hang-out for Mailer, the Beat Generation radicals, and where Dylan Thomas downed nineteen straight whiskies, and then staggered back to the Chelsea Hotel, announced to the bellhop that he had 'drank nineteen straight whiskies...and that must be a record for sure', and promptly collapsed. Rushed to hospital, they didn't manage to revive him and he died that night.
This is a world where the turning of every corner presents you with a new moment from history. Pier A, surrounded with barriers that bear the words of Helen Keller, Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many others, all of them speaking of their love and passion for New York. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Battery City...and on it goes. It seems endless, and hopefully it is.
And tomorrow? Tomorrow we film for the website, and we will see Harlem perhaps, even Tompkins Square Park where the final scene of 'A Quiet Vendetta' unfolds. I feel like I am walking through so many scenes from so many books, and I am constantly reminded why New York always appeared to me as the perfect setting for any novel, regardless of genre. This is a truly remarkable city - eight million people, and each of them have a story.
I was going to post again when I got back to the UK, but sometimes you have things happen that you have to talk about right away.
Until something else happens that I just have to write about, I trust all is well with you, and I send my best wishes, as always.

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