Bringing the Change to Williamsburg

It was a wondrous day. The first day I really had the ability to walk the dog proper and smell the roses, which are stinking up the whole hood. As regular readers know, I got me some food poisoning at my regular Chinatown haunt last Monday and only came up for air Friday. With new vigor and without six pounds of me, Amanda and I strolled with Lulu towards the newish hotel King & Grove in Williamsburg. It surely is becoming the talk of the town, said I realizing that never before had I felt like I wasn’t living in New York anymore. Brooklyn/Manhattan really has become a tale of two cities, and the differences are becoming more and more profound as every nook and cranny of my hipster heaven is developed into stardust. Sure, there are Duane Reades and other chain store massacres popping up, but they are merely flea collars—annoying necessities to keep the dog moving. I still go into Manhattan every day but I am starting to rethink that.

I’m new to Brooklyn, having only been living and playing here for a couple of years. My crew are 10-years deep and they know others deeper. They pooh- pooh us "Johnny Come Latelys" and talk of the real art scene that’s becoming harder to find. Amanda points out all the strollers and kids rolling around. Her cutesie theory is they are a result of all those good parties and spring picnics in McCarren Park of yore. It’s only going to get worse now that the HBO hit Girls is screaming lust and lattes to the world. In the last few years, the invasion of frat boys and their sorority sisters has irked the deep hipsters, but they haven’t seen anything yet. With construction trying to keep up and rents still a bit better than Manhattan, Williamsburg is changing—lets say evolving—to meet its destiny. This isn’t anything profound or new, just a rant on a Monday morning from a sick old fool who can’t wait to see what happens next week on Girls (and don’t get me started on Game of Thrones).

This Saturday I went to see the Dirty Pearls at the Gramercy Theatre. It’s the second show I’ve caught there. I caught Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg a while back. It is that small rock theater some have been pining for. It has a big enough/small enough feel to it, great sightlines and sound, seating for those of us who need to do that, and a couple of adequate bars. With Hiro in the history books and Don Hill’s a nostalgic memory, this is the right spot for Nur Khan and his ilk to put on the right show for the right crowd. On the Dirty Pearls bill were Hussle Club, who are very much a part of the mayhem that I am part of Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle. "Hussle-ers" Carol Shark and Prince Terrence are two of the four DJs in the Basement along with Michael Cavadias and Miss Guy. Breedlove and Starkiller were also on the big bill. The Dirty Pearls are a buzz band poised to break out big in the metal rock universe. This show was completely sold-out, unlike most of the crowd.

I walked over Beauty Bar to say hey to Michael Tee who has been their Saturday night regular for three years. The place was pumping with a nice crowd, which had been pumping Tequilla and Mexican beer in themselves since…early, maybe years. I forgot it was Cinco de Mayo, which has potential to be as annoying as St. Patrick’s Day. I made for the curb and walked into the Hole Gallery’s pop up restaurant Hole Foods at 231 2nd Avenue at 14th Street.

"Artist Joe Grillo has completely transformed the restaurant into a multifaceted, experiential artwork. Executive chef Robert Rubba will be serving fancy comfort Italian in his customized Dearraindrop chef suit. For three months only!"

I arrived too late for dinner but in time to talk the talk with Paper mainstay Carlo McCormick and some familiar downtown players. The old meatball restaurant that existed just a minute ago was awash with color and colorful folk. Am I wrong, but knocking off the extremely successful Meatball Shop chain without understanding what made that work is…wrong and maybe plain dumb. Saturday was the first time I walked in to the place and I walk by  four times a week. I don’t really know the story of this location and this seemingly defunct or on its way to defuncting restaurant, but I do know the story with the Meatball Shop. Mike is my boy and he’s doing it right. I’m putting down pen…er closing the computer and hop, skip, and jumping over to Bedford Avenue for lunch.

Blitzkrieg Bop: Marky Ramone Plays Gramercy Theatre

Hey Ho! Lets Go! These words were a call to arms when the Ramones ruled my universe, and this city’s heart. There was a time when guitar solos led into drum solos and a thousand lead singers with big hair sang songs about love and knights and such, and the lyrics were flowing and even understandable. Along came the Ramones, their 1, 2, 3, 4 scream being the only way you could tell that they were on to the next chapter. It was one long bang, with a frenzy only punk, hardcore, and maybe war could achieve.

Marky Ramone was the beat, the blast, the steady. His unrelenting attack on the skins with his sticks legitimized the frenzy. Now they’re all gone except for Marky. Yeah, I know about Tommy and CJ and the et ceteras, and I can’t put them down, but for me the core four were Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Marky. I had the honor of knowing and hanging with all of them before I was Steve Lewis. It was from the Ramones, and especially their lighting director and artist, Arturo Vega, that I learned the show biz skills I would apply when I had to entertain the masses.

Tonight, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg will hit the Gramercy Theatre on East 23rd and it will be as close as it gets to the real deal. I caught this act at the Hudson Hotel back when it was first brewing, and I cannot wait to see it now that everyone is comfortable with their roles and classic cuts; I’m sure it’s not easy playing ghosts. It’s difficult to skate that fine line between imitation and respect. I am particularly interested in hearing the new stuff, including “If and When,” which is getting a buzz. Marky is a great guy and it makes me happy that we remain friends after so many years, trials, tribulations, and changes. Change is inevitable, but in our new world, classic is appreciated more than ever. Tonight’s act will take you to a place that still lives in the heart and soul of so many of us.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I got myself a bug and didn’t give it enough respect until it knocked me down and out. I have lots to talk to you about, but it will have to wait. I’m going to take this giant beige pill and some red sticky liquid that they gave me and sleep the afternoon away.They told me it would “cure me,” but I’m not sure they understand how sick this lad really is. I’ll talk to you later. Need strength for tonight’s gig