Nightlife’s club, bars, lounges, and restaurants bring me to exotic locations all the time. It’s made me a believer in Brooklyn, where I am completely on the edge of my seat waiting for Brooklyn Star to open—which it will, reportedly this Wednesday. It’s located just up the way, at the corner of Lorimer and Conselyea. I have been told by my well-seasoned crew things like “you don’t understand,” and “OMG, we’re never leaving the hood.” They provided informative answers when I asked what all the buzz is about. Amid all the lip smacking, drooling, “OMGs,” and “you don’t understands,” I made out words like “corn” and “southern food.” I’ll find out for myself on Wednesday, and tell you all about it (and I’ll try not to drool).
Saturday night I traversed to Astoria, where a birthday shin-dig was being held at the Astor Room in the basement of the ancient Kaufman Astoria Studio. The newly opened restaurant was once the commissary of the Paramount movie machine at the still-active studio. Clientele included W.C. Fields, Rudolf Valentino, the Marx Brothers, and a thousand other black-and-white et ceteras. Today Nurse Jackie and Sesame Street shoots there. Men in Black III will start soon. The place is located under an unassuming black awning, with a staircase that takes you down to the restaurant, and possibly back in time.
Over the stairs was a photo of a silent era actress I had never heard of, Betty Branson. The shot was from a movie I didn’t know called A Kiss For Cinderella. I was awestruck by her smile and beauty, and used my Droid to find out about her. She was the first Peter Pan in 1924, then starred in Ben Hur in ’26, and then Cinderella. She was a huge star. Douglass Fairbanks wrote of a huge crush he had on her. She starred for many years, making the transition to talkies, and then faded from our affections. She worked, but mostly in obscurity, until she passed in 1971. I hadn’t gone 5 steps into the place and I was totally absorbed. A restored Beaver Bar, a reference to Astoria namesake and fur mogul John Jacob Astor, was where my large and loud party had gathered. Mr. Astor’s great grandson John Jacob Astor IV built the Waldorf Astoria, and was the richest of the rich who went down with the Titanic.
The Astor Room was like a Stuyvesant High history class with Mr. Gleason—but with cocktails. My crew was ecstatic over the concoctions that mixologiests Lynette Marrero and Jim Kearns (ex Rye House) were making. They were ordering things like Mary Pickfords, and Astor Martinis, and drooling and giggling and exchanging sips. I looked around the room with unforgiving eyes and wished they had done something to the ceiling, which was a Home Depot-level dropped variety. I saw it again later that night at the Good Times Diner. Some walls were just blank, screaming for the same retro wallpaper that scored throughout. It was real close, but not the cigar a W.C. Fields might have been chomping on as he ate. He must of ate sometimes? The food for 21 people came out orderly. Chef Richard Pims visited us regularly and we spent time with him after diner. Nice guy, great cook. Throwback courses included Oysters Rockefeller, but nothing was thrown back. Everything was eaten and everything was good. I should have ordered the baked Alaska instead of stealing it from other plates. My own smoked 7-layer cake was scrumptious as well.
Astoria is developing rapidly. Just down the block is the hugely popular Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, and the slamming 5 Napkin Burger and Bar. I almost built a joint for Richie Romero and his cohorts right there. It is empty again, all high ceilings and opportunity.
I went to Snap to meet up with Amanda. They start a bingo night there tonight at 9:30pm. This time of year, without Monday Night Football, Mondays at a sports bars become problematic. Bingo will cure that. I, of course, will be at my usual table earlier at Bowery Poetry for Linda Simpson and Murray Hill’s bingo. So the plan is, I will hit bingo at both places, and then it’s home for warm milk, a cookie, and Tivo shows of Jerry Springer’s Baggage. I might need to think this over.
A shout out to White Noise and their Friday night jam with Sam Valentine Djing. It was a blast, despite the protestations of Sam and Luke. Both apologized about how weak it was that night. My bingo/cookies and milk/Springer eyes saw it differently. I don’t know what a good night feels like here, but this joint was wonderful. The only thing I was aware of was there was an abundance of really hot rock and roll hootchie coos that made me feel like I was in Max’s in ’80, and far fewer great guys. I pointed that out to Luke who smiled knowing that’s not a long term problem.