Roll With Friends at Brooklyn Bowl

Think bowling’s old fashioned? Then grab the guys and experience New York’s ultra-modern take on tenpin, with alleys that double as nightclubs and rooms inspired by Manhattan icons. Brooklyn Bowl is set in a converted ironworks, with plenty of room for your whole crew to cheer, drink beer, and do the stay-out-of-the-gutter dance.

After feeling the thrill of victory–or the agony of defeat–step into the adjacent concert venue, where everyone from M.I.A. to Snoop to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will have your mates bouncing to the beat. The Blue Ribbon crew serves food that’s a major step up from standard alley fare, so elbow each other aside for ribs and oyster po’ boys. Just remember to eat with your non-bowling hand, as that blackened catfish can make the ball slip off your fingers and onto your toes. Guys’ night out has come of age.

This article brought to you by MasterCard. 

[Photo: John Walker]

Choose Interesting Music With Grolsch on Thursday Night

Are you familiar with Grolsch beer? If you’re an American of a certain age you probably are. Back in the bad old days when American beer really was a joke, Grolsch, a Dutch brewery founded in 1615, was one of the few upscale imports to be found in stores on this side of the pond, alongside Heineken, Lowenbrau, and not very many others. You could always spy the Grolsch from a distance because the bottles had these cool old-fashioned flip-top caps. Well, Grolsch is still around, it still tastes good, and some of their bottles still have flip-top caps, so they’re trying to make inroads in the U.S. market with a series of funky events. Thursday night (March 21), they’re kicking off a yearlong program called the #ChooseInteresting Concert Series (presented with TurnStyle Music Group) which is dedicated to "bringing up-and-coming indie rock music acts to intimate downtown New York City venues." Supporting indie rock isn’t on quite the same level as saving the whales, but then again, the whales didn’t help me get through my awkward teenage years, so I say rock on, Grolsch.

Thursday’s event will be held at Drom on Avenue A in the East Village starting at 7pm, and it’s looking to be a serious party.  The evening will feature live music by Alberta Cross, The Candles, Marlowe Grey, and Massively Epic, and it goes without saying that Grolsch will be flowing in copious (but responsible) amounts. The cool thing about the whole series is that it’s designed to be cheap. Just ten bucks gets you in the door if you use this internet thing I keep hearing about to book it, and it’ll run you $15 if you just show up at the door like little Mr./Ms. Impulsive. For more info and to sign up to win some kind of VIP package, visit chooseinterestingmusic.com

If you miss Thursday’s show, don’t trip out, man. Just make plans for the next gig, which will be held at Brooklyn Bowl on May 22, featuring the tunes of the Stepkids and King Holiday. See you there. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Nightlife Guide; Listings for Drom and Brooklyn Bowl; More by Victor Ozols]

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Mystery Parties, Jonathan Toubin at Brooklyn Bowl, and Freely Be

Am I supposed to tell you bright people what to do? I’m not even sure I even know you. I mean what’s a poor boy to do but to write for BlackBook magazine? I sometimes feel like I’m swimming upstream, but I truly feel that my glass is 1/4 full rather than 3/4 empty and I’m optimistic that nightlife as I love it and define it is all around us. I sometimes feel like Yoda instructing you to use the force, find the love. Look in the corners, side streets, and alleys. Find the beat off the beaten path. Breath the air and find that nightlife you always knew was there, still there, will always be there. Yeah I had one of those no sleep till Brooklyn nights and what’s left of my mind is still reeling from the residuals of yet another improbable adventure I probably shouldn’t and wouldn’t have if I couldn’t have, but there I was and I did it. One day I may tell you about. It’s amazing that I’m moving at all so I might as well just move forward. What am I talking about??? I’m talking about talented people doing wonderful things.

The outstanding talents of Eric L. Schmalenberger and Amy Van Doran are inviting their seriously fun crowd of talented and special friends to another night of enlightenment. This Friday’s Secret Society for Lovers of Beautiful and Lofty Things is described by those in the know as … "possibly be the greatest event that has happened to anyone ever." They ain’t lying but alas, I cannot help you attend. It’s by invite only, which means you must seek out Eric or Amy and ply them with gifts or drinks or fabulousness prior to the next one of these. Then why am I telling you about it if you can’t get in? Because it’s important for you to know that nightlife is soaring to new heights in secret spots and nooks and crannies and that you must stop accepting the common as an answer to your not-so-wet dreams. The bottom of the invite rants "We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us, We accept you one of us". That’s a big Gabba, Gabba Hey moment. Demand better nightlife and someone might provide it. It’s tomorrow night night so you still have time to network yourself in if you haven’t strayed too far from the light.

So that event may be a bit out of reach but I’ll tell you about another. This one you can go to no sweat…except for the sweat from all the dancing you will be doing. My favorite DJ (not named Paul Sevigny) is coming to the fabulous Brooklyn Bowl tomorrow night and I’m just going to Tivo everything, plan on eating there, and dress for success. It’s New York Night Train!: Soul Clap & Dance Off with DJ Jonathan Toubin (pictured). Some publicist sent me this and it describes it so well that I’m just going to copy and paste it for you. Yeah I know how to do that now. 

"Soul Clap & Dance Off with DJ Jonathan Toubin: New York Night Train’s Soul Clap and Dance-Off is North America’s most popular soul party – by far playing to more people in more places and generating more capital than any of its contemporaries. The concept is simple-all night dancing to the wild soul 45s of subterranean superstar DJ Mr. Jonathan Toubin and, in the middle, a $100 dance contest judged by a community panel. Recession-friendly mass entertainment with a universally cheap door price, the dance party/spectacle not only sells beyond capacity at home, but has brought its excitement to domestic markets all the way from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and internationally from Tel Aviv to Mexico City-including monthly residencies in New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Oakland, and PDX. The Dance-Off portion features judges from every edge of music and culture from classic subcultural icons like Mike Watt and Jello Biafra, to rock stars Andrew Van Wyngarden (MGMT) and Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), to interesting cultural figures like Karla LaVey (Satanic Priestess) and Matt Gonzalez (Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate) to your favorite neighborhood heroes. Catch The Soul Clap!"

I usually catch Jonathan at Home, Sweet Home on Fridays and am excited he’s coming to the hood. If you don’t trust me then why are you reading me. It’s tomorrow night 11:30 pm Brooklyn Bowl. This is going to be wonderful.

My friend Jessi Marquez is working with a Christian charity called Mercy 29 which seems to go where most men, and women, have not gone before. They help local orphans and widows and families in villages in Mozambique, Africa and Andhra Pradesh, India. They build schools and homes and yes, churches. They generally try to make life better for those who have virtually nothing. Now I’m always wary of these missionary type charities but Jessi is alright by me. I see the word Christianity thrown around a lot by haters who use the term for what I perceive to be very un-Christian-like agendas. Feeding and helping those in need is a great place for Christianity as opposed to my bedroom, womb or government. Thus I’m here to tell you about an event tomorrow night . The Freely Be Launch Party sponsored by Ultimat Vodka, Patron and Budweiser 55 Select. It’s 9pm at Midtown Loft & Terrace, 267 5th Avenue, 11th floor. They are raising funds and awareness for Mercy29.

It’s Not So “Hard To Be Close” With Here We Go Magic

Since A Different Ship came out on Secretly Canadian in May, Brooklyn’s own Here We Go Magic have toured with Andrew Bird, shared a stage with Florence & the Machine, lapped an impressive array of European and Australian stages, run the festival gauntlet, and shrunk in size over the span of a single season. As they gear up for tonight’s Brooklyn Bowl show that’ll kick off their latest run of tour dates, drummer Peter Hale takes a breather in between practices to wax poetic on new beginnings, collaborative efforts, and the contents of the Here We Go Magic on-the-road survival kit.  

Here We Go Magic has gone through plenty of changes—lineups and otherwise—since you came out with your self-titled debut in 2009. What are the most dramatic changes you’ve noticed between the Here We Go Magic of then and now?
There’s so much that’s different about it. We’re always different at any moment in our growth, and we’re always going to be that way. I think all of us, spearheaded by [lead singer Luke Temple], generally, want to keep going back to the drawing board, so every effort is going to reflect that. The main difference is that we worked with a producer for the first time, and the way that we were able to do that was by touring a lot. We were playing a lot of shows that Nigel Godrich came to see. We wound up becoming friends with him through that, and he ended up producing the record. Very literally, spending a lot of time on the road and playing festivals was what exposed us to him, and because he produced the record, A Different Ship feels different and is differently inspired record than the last one.

Are there any standout moments or songs on A Different Ship that you’re particularly proud of?
Every time I have a new favorite. I think that first side start to finish has a really great arc to it. That run of “Hard to be Close,” “Make Up Your Mind,” “Alone But Moving,” and “Over the Ocean;” those are just bangers for my buck and they reflect where I come from. “Make Up Your Mind” has that dense guitar stuff over a straight-ahead rhythm that coalesces in a way that we hadn’t tried before. “Over the Ocean,” then, provides a complete departure from that stuff; I think that’s my favorite song on the whole record, actually. It’s really mellow and down-tempo, almost a little funky in a weird way, and I think that’s an apex of musicianship for us on some level. That one’s a real winner for me.

You’re about to head off on an epic, international jaunt. Your touring schedule looks exhausting. How do you keep it together on the road?
I think having breaks is important. I don’t think anyone can go more than a month straight without taking at least a week off apart and to rest. When you’re on the road, you just try to conserve your energy physically and emotionally for the show you’re playing every night. I think when we’re good about keeping in mind that that’s why we’re out on the road in the first place, to play these shows, our morale stays a little better and we deal with each other better. As long as you have that bright side at the end of the day when you play a show and you know that it’s all going to be okay when you get onstage, then you’ll be fine, because that’s the regenerative thing. Playing a show can be exhausting, but it can be regenerative.

What are you looking forward to the most about this particular tour? Any cities you’re hitting for the first time?
Yeah! It’s funny; the majority of the U.S. cities are ones we haven’t played, or have only played once. The routing is really interesting. There are three shows in Florida, which is really unheard of. You never hear of small-budget rock music playing Florida, you know? (Laughs) It’s sort of a coup. There are a lot of dates in the South, and I think as far as Europe is concerned, we actually wound up having to cancel several dates this August. I’m looking forward to making up some of those and getting back to where we left off.

Why did you have to cut those European dates?
We shrank in size by one member, so we had to deal with that schedule a little differently. We didn’t want to scrap together a replacement and then go bounding through the rest of the summer. We decided to come back and rework the show so that we could put our best foot forward in the fall.

What’s the most memorable moment from your last year of touring?
To be honest, the last four months has been the most jam-packed stretch we’ve ever done. That’s surreal. This run was pretty boring as far as that’s concerned, because it was nonstop for four months—normally there’s some sort of adventure, but there wasn’t time to get into trouble or whatever. I wish I had a juicier anecdote! (Laughs) In a lot of ways it was the best tour we’ve ever done, because it was the most well attended tour we’ve ever done in the States. We sold out places for the first time, and we had a lot of people come out who had been there before and hadn’t seen us live. In general, it was a better feeling than in the past. It really wore us out at the same time. It wasn’t the height of adventure that we can sometimes be inspired to have.

What would be in your tour survival kit?
Twice as many shirts as pants, twice as many underwear as shirts, and Wellies.

Wellies?!
Rubber boots for English festivals. They’re essential.

Way to pull a Kate Moss, man.
They look ridiculous, but anybody who wears them is much happier.

New York Opening: Wythe Hotel

A new book by Jack Hitt tipped me off to an anecdote from 1778, wherein Ben Franklin visits the palace of Louis XVI to ask for support for the Revolutionary Army. He shows up at the gates wearing not the powdered wig and frilly sleeves customary to Versailles, but a coonskin cap and a brown fringe jacket a la Daniel Boone. Ben was hammin’ it up for the Frenchies, playing the colonial fool. When we talk of restoring our country to what the founders intended, we should look to Franklin, forefather of irony, original snarker. Now ask, what could be more in line with the history of American cheek, circa 2012, than a posh hotel in a gutted Williamsburg factory? One with XL twin bunk beds, each outfitted with mini TVs. 

The new Wythe Hotel’s “Band Rooms” come in 4 and 6 person arrangements. The option is pragmatic: you don’t want to share a bed with someone, just the cost of a room; square footage in desirable neighborhoods is pricey, bunk beds are efficient; and if you’re young and vivacious, you should be out at Brooklyn Bowl or the Brooklyn Brewery, not sleeping. The Wythe does, of course, offer plenty of luxe options for those with bad backs and thick wallets. They didn’t invent the bunk thing, either—they’re keeping in line with the Ace Hotel/Bowery House/Pod/Nu Hotel tradition of waxing nostalgic for the less-is-more, rustic-cabin-meets-freshman-dorm aesthetic. 

The appeal of bunks mat extend well beyond the rational. Novelty is fun. It flatters the imagination. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little pastiche, especially if it keeps you away from the sterility of a Hilton Garden Inn. If anyone wants to scoff at a band of bearded fellows in ironic getups walking into the lobby of this Williamsburg palace, at least recognize that these hipsters are, historically, in pretty good company.

Get Excited for DJ Jonathan Toubin to Play With Jack White by Listening to Him

It’s been almost five months since New York-based soul DJ Jonathan Toubin, who works under the name DJ New York Night Train, was involved in a devastating accident in a Portland, Oregon hotel room. If the outpouring of support for Toubin, which came in the form of fundraisers from Los Angeles to New Orleans and beyond featuring a who’s who of New York DJs and talent from the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, wasn’t impressive enough, the man himself is already up and about and ready to get back behind the turntables.

Not only will Toubin be spinning tonight at Jack White’s sold-out show at Manhattan venue Webster Hall, but Sunday he’ll be celebrating alongside friends like Ian Svenonius and local buzz band K-Holes with a party at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl. Other upcoming dated include a May 12  and a June 9 set at Glasslands, a July 7 set at Lincoln Center for the Midsummer Night Swing, July 21 and August 18 sets at Glasslands and a September appearance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Asbury Park, NJ.

Back in December, Toubin was sleeping in a ground-floor Portland hotel room when a taxicab drove through the room’s wall, trapping him and causing serious injuries. And while friends and fans should be thrilled to see him back at work, it seems like something Toubin himself knew he would be doing again. As his mother recounted to the Times, the day of the accident his doctors heard him make one request: “I’ve got to have my records.” 

Toubin’s best known for his high-energy, soul-infused sets. To get an idea of the sort of music the beloved DJ plays, check out a series of his playlists below. 

Band on the Rise: Brooklyn’s Steel Phantoms

Every band begins somewhere, and for Steel Phantoms, like so many bands before them, those beginnings took shape in the network of venues that form the bedrock of Brooklyn’s music scene. Founded in 2009 by childhood friends from Pittsburgh Aaron Harris (former drummer for Islands) and Yosef Munro, the band cycled through guitarists before discovering the virtuoso talents of Jesse Newkirk IV. Today marks the release of the Forer EP, a tight collection of heady, delicately composed toe-tappers.

(Download it for free here.) We recently caught up with Aaron and Yos to ask them about being a band in Brooklyn (a good thing!), when we can expect a full-length (next year!), and just what exactly is a Forer (read on for that one).

How did the three of you start playing together, and where did you all meet? YM: Aaron and I have been playing music together for 12 years. We grew up together in Pittsburgh, went to the same college, and moved to New York at the same time to start Steel Phantoms. Our first show as a band was in August 2009. AH: Our first guitarist was our friend Chris, who used to be in AIDS Wolf and killed it on the guitar. He recorded some demos with us, but it didn’t end up working out. He moved to Amsterdam, and then we found Jesse through one of my coworkers. Jesse is a guitar god.

What are the best and worst things about being a Brooklyn-based band? AH: The environment here fosters creativity. The sheer volume of bands forces you to stay on your toes and that’s a good thing. YM: There are occasional frustrations, like venues dicking you over and people in the industry flaking on you, but really as long as we’re keeping at it, it’s all sunshine.

What can we expect from the Forer EP? AH: It’s our first project as a trio, and the music is a lot more confident than our first EP, the ideas are a lot clearer and more cohesive. We went through a lot of bass players over the past twelve months, and none of them really worked out, even though they were all super talented. I think that’s because we just always gelled better as a trio. YM: Yeah, and our tendencies as writers have always been more conducive to a sparser texture. I think of the first EP—where we sort of added Rhodes onto everything, and doubled the guitar parts just because—more as a collection of the first songs we wrote together as a new band, than as an actual EP. I still like it and we still play a couple of those songs, but the new EP is very different, and much more sonically cohesive.

Why did you name your EP after the psychologist Bertram Forer? YM: We’ve been wanting to use that name for a while. Aaron is all about horoscopes, and I was trying to convince him that they’re nothing but pseudoscience. In my search to prove myself right, I learned that Bertram Forer came up with the principle that people are willing to believe positive things about themselves but not negative ones. AH: And we thought it would be perfect for this EP, because my songs at least, tend to be about a lack of confidence or addressing my fears, and so it was interesting to read about this professor who addressed the psychosomatic aspect of what makes one confident or afraid. I still read my monthly horoscope, though.

Who or what were some of the biggest influences that went into constructing your sound? YM: We love XTC and Elvis Costello and the DBs, The Bangles and Richard Hell, and I think there’s influence from all that. We really like Pat Jordache, a great band out of Montreal, and have taken some pointers from their sound. I like the 80s and taking from new wave and no wave, while bringing a more current pop sound, as well as our own flair to it.

When can we expect a Steel Phantoms full-length? AH: That’s what we’re working towards. I think for right now we’re going to push this EP as much as possible, hopefully gain some new fans, and by this time next year have a full-length. Yos and I are constantly writing, so it’s not for lack of material that we don’t have an LP yet. What would be the ideal level of success for you guys as a band? AH: Ultimately, I think we want what every band wants: to be able to make a living playing our music to thousands of adoring fans. In the short-term though, I think I would feel successful if the result of releasing this EP was that we became a lot more well known locally.

Do you look at this band, or music in general, as a career? Or is it something you do when you’re young while you don’t have any real responsibilities? AH: This is totally a career for us. I’ve been studying and playing music my entire life. I’ve never thought of it as a hobby or something that I’d do temporarily before “growing up.” One of the best things about Steel Phantoms is that we’re three guys who couldn’t be happy doing anything else besides performing and playing music.

Aaron, you used to be a member of Islands. Has that helped you get your foot in the door, at all? AH: Definitely. When we first started playing shows, we had to throw out the Islands name in order for any venue or promoter to give us the time of day, especially since at the time we weren’t really friends with any other Brooklyn bands, because we were new to the city, so it wasn’t like we could just hop on our friends’ shows. I also think a lot of music bloggers who normally wouldn’t even open an email from a random band, took a chance on us because of the Islands name. It’s not something that we have to do much anymore because we’re a bit more established now, and I want SP to stand on its own two feet, but I’m thankful that I could use the Islands connection in the beginning.

What is a Steel Phantoms live show like? AH: We set up in the front of the stage, all in a row and just fucking go for it. Our songs can be pretty different stylistically from one to the next, so I like to think that we try to play every song with the same level of energy and intensity which brings a sort of continuity to our see. Of course the fact that we dress up as Neo Goth Rabbis makes us an interesting band to see live, but we’re still working on our stage banter. YM: How’s this one: “My mom wanted to come to this show, until she found out my band was playing!” Zing! AH: Nice.

What are some of your favorite venues to play? YM: We really like a good house party if they have a half-decent sound system. It’s more about the people and the energy than anything else, but we’ve had fun playing Brooklyn Bowl, Secret Project Robot, St. Vitus, Union Pool, Glasslands, MHoW, and Union Hall. All places that care about putting on a good show and are respectful towards the performers.

Have you embraced technology it all when making music, or do you prefer to make music the old school way? YM: I don’t like a laptop in a rock band, personally, unless it really, really works. I think there’s something to be said for being able to play an instrument well and writing collaboratively. But I love drum machines and synths, I love what MNDR does, and I know it’s on the other side of the coin, but I love what Girl Talk does. I love rehearsing with real instruments, and being able to communicate an idea clearly to the guys and just try it out, and then be like, Oh, actually what if that was a D-minor instead of major, and then it kind of happens, and we design synth patches and come up with drum patterns together. I think with digital music, there’s always a risk of getting lazy by copying and pasting, and that’s definitely not always bad, but it becomes easy to not think creatively. You aren’t forced to consider every moment of the song as it’s being written. Very meticulous writers still do, but with digital music, the focus is inherently on a broader scale in terms of structure. Sorry if that makes no sense at all.

Do you guys aim to make your music catchy? Do you think that’s important? YM: We like catchy music, when it’s good. It’s definitely important. People’s brains latch on to patterns for a reason. We definitely aim for a bit of repetition when it’s called for. And when one of us comes up with a great hook, it’s cause for celebration.

Do you ever get overwhelmed, being a band in such a band-saturated place like Brooklyn? How do you rise above? YM: You find a network of support after being here a certain amount of time, I think. Good musicians who are on the right track, who have their “fingers on the pulse,” or whatever, of the scene here. Bands who like each other who play shows together, tour, and shoot the shit. We’ve been able to play great shows with incredible bands like ARMS, Violent Bullshit, Wild Yaks, Shark?, EULA and Spacecamp, and a bunch more, and it’s all from hanging out and meeting good people and camaraderie between bands.

Fourth of July Hangover, BES Beach & Bocce Club

Thank god it’s Tuesday! I’m going to plead the fifth about most of what I did over the fourth, but I can say that everything hurts. This was a four-day weekend for me and I’m only designed for two. I stayed in NYC to get some work done but did go to a few events. Alas, I also missed some that I wanted to attend. Top on my list of things I wished I’d done was the Patrick Duffy launch of the BES Beach & Bocce Club on the rooftop of the Chelsea Art Museum.

In an e-mail where he honored me with a “founding member” designation, Patrick offered the club’s mission statement:

The B.E.S. Beach and Bocce Club on the rooftop of the esteemed Chelsea Art Museum, in association with the Jean Miotte foundation and Albert Trummer of Theatre Bar. The club is a daytime and evening experience wherein art lovers will participate in creative programming, live performance, health and wellness, philanthropic efforts, art happenings and visionary collaborations with like-minded individuals in a relaxed atmosphere for the artistic world and those who love them. The club will also feature the first open-air donation-based Bocce court in NYC. Additionally, the rooftop will feature rotating installations from globally recognized artists. All proceeds benefit the Chelsea Art Museum.

It seemed like the perfect place to watch the fireworks and sip cocktails but I wasn’t in charge this weekend, and other less fabulous plans evolved. If I was there I would have wondered aloud to Patrick about the confusion and litigation over the name B.E.S.. Patrick’s old haunt B.E.S. still wears that moniker and it’s just downstairs and across 22nd Street. Now, I don’t know too much about trademark laws, but I do know that confusion like that is a no-no. Patrick claims he owns the name while the management team of the still operating “old” B.E.S. claim the same. There seems to be little doubt that one day when everyone was getting along Patrick registered the name. Whether he had the right to do it under his name and exclude his partners is up to the discretion of learned judges. Up until this weekend it was all theoretical — now that there are two joints operating with virtually the same name and bad blood between parties. Something’s got to give. Stay tuned. Over the weekend, the days were spent eating at my favorite Williamsburg restaurants with friends who were not familiar with the Brooklyn renaissance. I invariably show newbies Brooklyn Bowl as a starting point, before I drag them down into the trenches. It’s a place they can understand and gush over. I attended a soiree there last Tuesday hosted by Sailor Jerry. My pal Dana Dynamite was gushing over a fleet of Airstreams that Sailor jerry, her client, was parking at cool affairs all over the country. I went to see it. It is fabulous and I want one for my summer vacation. Think Chevy Chase without a chance of the hot babe in the convertible showing up. I am planning to take the posse on a cross country late August to see America. I used to do this trip every few years but haven’t in awhile. I think America and I have changed…probably. Sometimes I have trouble recognizing myself in the mirror and I’m wondering if I’ll recognize the motherland.

Brooklyn Bowl was slammed. Most had come to see Mariachi El Bronx, which as far as I can figure, is an “in” joke that actually has chops. The L.A.-based hardcore punk/hard rock band The Bronx has found success as a mariachi act and have even put out an album. I was bowling and eating chicken while watching and I have to say it was fabulous for me for about 10 minutes. I usually get my mariachi fix on the subway. I didn’t know if I should give them a dollar. The crowd loved it and a good time was had by all. I was obsessed with the bowling and Dana and all the Sailor Jerry stuff and I’m sure I didn’t appreciate how magnifico they were. The next day I wished I had watched more of it as my bowling arm was in awful shape.

Don’t call me today. I think the Tuesday after three-day weekends should be a day of few phone calls and little work. I’m taking a 5-hour energy drink and heading west to NYC.

DJ Uncle Mike’s New York City

Smells like teen spirit! Actually it smelled like a million cigarettes. My travels and travails took me to Circa Tabac, where my pal, DJ Uncle Mike, was offering Smoking Lounge Sundays. Circa Tabac is one of a handful of NYC places where smoking is permitted — and therefore celebrated. Located on Watts Street by that umbilical cord that attaches Manhattan to the hinterlands (otherwise known as the Holland Tunnel), it is the cutest little spot. Sitting there, listening to Mike’s varied tunes, it felt like the old days—before regulations took the edge and threw it over to Brooklyn and other exotic lands.

It was a time when, upon returning home after a night on the town, it was required to have a quick rinse to get the gray residue of a thousand cigarettes out of your hair before passing out.

Many people say that losing the freedom to smoke took the edge out of nightlife. There are, of course, places where determined or irreverent scenesters still light up, but the city did go ape shit over enforcement of this rule. Smoking has basically gone into club extinction, or at least the endangered list, much like the cashier booth or the Drag Queen dancing on the bar. Circa Tabac does have smoke filters and in the warmer months they open big windows, but the place is infused with the familiar smell. The place packs out on most nights, and Mike and others are trying to boost the off nights. It felt good to hear the music, sipping a drink under low lights while whiffs worked their way to the ceiling. Smoking has it’s drawbacks, but it does make a place seem sexier.

Uncle Mike is a familiar figure to Bungalow 8 veterans. He lit up that joint for 4 years, playing everything that ever mattered. Huey Morgan of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals nicknamed the bearded Michael Schnapp, who was at the time working as an A&R guy at EMI records. Mike told me he had a scout who brought him “a ton of shit and nothing worked. Everything sounded the same to me, everything was the same thing. There was a tape left and I asked my scout what was that and he said nothing, just some guys I work with over at Limelight. I said let’s hear it. It was different: strange, good, magical. I liked everything. It was weird hearing something so new that I liked so much. So I took them to meet the boss, and he asks them if they want to make a record. They agree, and he tells me to make sure they don’t starve.” Fun Lovin’ Criminals went on to success, although mostly in England. Huey and Fast (Brian Leiser) were no longer employees at the Limelight, rather celebrities in their own right, but there was never a change in demeanor. They remained true to their school, friends, and the streets they spoke of in their music.

Then Michael—Uncle Mike—became a full time DJ in ’95. “I’m like one of the guys who went the other way. Most DJs leave to become producers, or music company guys. I went from A&R to DJing. He showed me his setup: a laptop with a Serato computer program, his Rane Mixer, and the special case that he carries them in. He smoked while he mixed and told me the people at Circa Tabac are real nice. On Saturdays, he does the early set from 4PM to 9PM over at Brooklyn Bowl. “Anything can happen, from a Pink Floyd cover band to original artists. A couple weeks ago they had this performer, April Smith, doing original rock. Keep your ears open about her. She can really sing.” After the Brooklyn gig he eats and heads to White Noise, where he spins from 11 until close. He tears it up. Next Sunday he’s pushing the First Annual Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show at Brooklyn Bowl from noon to 6pm. Admission is free. He says it will be “like a combination of 48th street—you know, where Sam Ash and Mannys are located—hipster Williamsburg, and high-end, out of state guitar collectors. There will be rare guitars that go for 10K, plus to everyday beat up rockers stuff. Like a cool guitar strap that Keith Richards would love.” The after party at Circa Tabac will be a smash. A week later he’ll celebrate his birthday at the spot. He is ageless, celebrating a number somewhere between Justin Beiber and me. DjUncleMike.com will tell you more.