Two Reasons You Have to Go To Webster Hall Tonight

The 8th Annual Paper Nightlife Awards will be held tonight at Webster Hall and everybody is going. These are the Oscars of nightlife, and so watching what the nominees and guests are wearing is everything. The categories are divided into two parts that People’s Choice and Paper Magazine have chosen. The People’s Choice part was infamous for ballot-stuffing, but they seem to have made it harder to just keep clicking that button for yourself or your favorite employer. The public gets to vote on: 
– BEST NYC PROMOTER
– BEST CLUB SONG
– BEST NIGHT TO GO OUT
– BEST MEGA DJ(S) WITH ONE NAME
– BEST MEGA CLUB IN THE USA
– BEST NY PARTY MUSEUM
I’d like to give an award to the person who came up with those categories.

The Paper chosen winners will come from a heavily skewed "new" list because that’s the way they want to roll. The categories here are:
– BEST PARTY
– BEST BAR/LOUNGE
– BEST HOTEL WITH A NIGHTLIFE SCENE
– BEST ARTY PARTY SPOT, BEST DJ
– BEST PART-TIME DJ
– BEST RESTAURANT WITH A NIGHTLIFE SCENE
– BEST CLUB
– BEST BEER GARDEN
– BEST NIGHTLIFE SOCIAL MEDIA STAR
– BEST NIGHTLIFE PERSONALITY

I don’t believe in "the best" in nightlife. Besides, if there was a best it would probably be over and on to the next by the time you are done reading this. The best of anything in nightlife – and don’t let anyone tell you differently – is what you like. To many, Lit Lounge is nirvana, and to others it’s a pigsty, a hole in the wall that smells bad and plays music nobody has ever heard of. But those are the same reasons why it’s nirvana to so many. These days, a joint could be the greatest show on Earth one night and a nightmare on any other. Clubs are no longer all things to all people as they have become very specific.

DJs, on the other hand, tend to trend, and it is common to hear the same tracks as you bop from one joint to another. Paper’s DJ category does seem to reward those less likely to play predictably. In that category, my favorite DJ not named Paul Sevigny or Jonathan Toubin is nominated. That’s Elle Dee. I love the "BEST PART-TIME DJ" category as it recognizes the "everybody is a DJ” era that I have become so involved in. Paper has been around for a long time, and some of the players who made it great are still around and as credible as anyone to give these awards. One of those venerable Paper players is the sparkling Mickey Boardman, who is celebrating his birthday today and tonight.

While I am out and about and at Webster Hall, I will certainly stop by Riot Avenue, my Thursday DJ partner Sam Valentine’s weekly Wednesday event there. Sam will be joined by Avi Miller. Among the hosts is the absolutely fantastic Bless Fantastic.

This Friday there’s a party across the pond that I wish I could attend. Old friend, DJ, producer, composer, innovator Larry Thom better known as Larry Tee will celebrate his birthday at Larry Tee’s Super Electric Party Machine at East Bloc, 217 City Road, London, England. I don’t even like to travel uptown so I send best wishes to one of the best.

Lit Lounge’s Co-Owner Erik Foss on Tomorrow’s 10th Anniversary Bash and Maintaining Success

The 10th anniversary bash tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lit Lounge is a sold out, invitation-only affair that will gather the strange brew that have faithfully worshipped at the house Erik Foss and David Schwartz have built and maintained. When it was built, our scene was in Manhattan. There were a couple of joints in Williamsburg where creative types were developing an art scene that soon developed into a lifestyle. High Manhattan rent escapees constituted most of the crowd. Then, folks like me got on the bandwagon because it’s simply better out there for people like me. Suddenly, it became almost lame to live in Manhattan.

Ten years ago, Manhattan ruled the world and the downtown scene was expanding into the L.E.S. as the East Village was being quickly gentrified out of relevance. In a short time, the so-called bridge and tunnel crowd swept into these areas as developers pushed the hipsters out. The hipsters took to the "L" train and Williamsburg became hipster heaven. Now, it too is being occupied by the "cooler" crews of the working dead. Soon, more and more suits and baby carriages will push things further into Greenpoint and Bushwick and beyond. I live off the second stop, knowing too well that soon I too will migrate to the 3rd or 4th. High-rises and condos and such require steady jobs, loans, and such and the artistic, creative set often live hand-to-mouth and lack the credit rating or references to buy.
 
Through all the cross migrations, Lit has survived. It has been threatened with extinction, it has had its ups and downs, but it has remained a place of sanctuary, a place of dependable cool, throughout. I still list it among my favorite places to be. I never know what’s going on there when I’m going there; it doesn’t matter. I know I will get a smile from a busy David and I know I will find Foss in that nook where the bar melts into the DJ booth, or holding court in the back behind the glass door of the Fuse Gallery. Foss is always a reason to be cheerful. He is so many things, too many things to describe here. Foremost for me, he is a true and dear friend. I will DJ amid a hoard of great DJs at the anniversary. There will be a feeling not unlike going home for the holidays. I asked Foss a few questions… the spelling has been corrected to protect the cognizant.
 
A 10-year anniversary is unheard of in the club biz. That’s like 20 in dog years or like 150 in human. How did you manage? What will the next decade bring to Lit? Are you going for 20?
Yeah, for sure. We just signed the new lease so we kinda have no choice.
 
How did you fuse Lit and the Fuse Gallery into a working brand? How do you draw the line so that they maintain their own identities?
Well, it’s all about a slow, consistent build. We are painfully consistent. We have always kept the art out of the bar and the bar out of the gallery. We treat both as separate entities; the gallery is open to the public four days out of the week, wed-sat, 3pm-8pm. It’s been like this since day one. We have a new and different show every month in Fuse Gallery. We have shown over 100,000 artists in the gallery since we have opened. The bar is open seven days a week and has never been closed once since the day we opened. The bar is open from 5pm-4am, seven days a week,  365 days a year. This is how we have successfully stayed open and maintained our mojo. People from every walk of life can always come here and experience what New York is supposed to be: fun, gritty, and artistic. The bar was created to fund our vision as the one gallery in New York where artists young in their career could come and have a platform to start at. It’s truly an art project, all in all. This is unique and sincere.
 
Tell me about your partner David Schwartz’s role.
David is the dude who one day came to me and said, "let’s open a gallery together, we’ll be partners and you curate and I’ll help run the business," So that’s what happened with the addition of a bar attached. It’s been me and David working together since he owned his gallery Subculture in downtown NYC in the ’90s. I was an artist who showed there and he saw my hustle and promotional skills, so he approached me to help open Fuse/Lit. If David didn’t ask me to help him, I would have never opened a business, or at least I hadn’t planned to. David is the big boss at Lit and Fuse. We’re pretty much equal partners but with different roles. We’re both artists and had to create a legitimate alternative space in Manhattan that we could give the work we believe in serious attention. So, we did and now we do.
 
It took a long time though. Without David Schwartz and Max Brennan, there’s no Lit/Fuse. Every artist, musician, DJ, and staff member that has ever come through Lit/Fuse has David and Max to thank just as much as me. Also, let’s not forget the other partners that have given their energy to make this project all possible. Mikel McGrane who ran the gallery when we first opened, along with Rich Rethorn. Rich Rethorn taught me how to oil paint and Michael Winch, who was my old boss at Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge.
 
I learned how to run a bar from working for Mike Winch. I have a lot of people to thank and by no means could have come this far without any of these people. We all may not see eye to eye but I have to give recognition were it’s due. I will be partners with David Schwartz the rest of my life I’m sure. He’s one of the most honest humans I’ve ever worked with.
 
Tell me about the entertainment line-up for the anniversary.
Haha, it’s obnoxious! It’s a very small example of the people that made us who we are. Twenty-five DJs is like 1 percent of the people that have DJed at Lit – creative people playing and spinning jams. Supertouch is the headlining band for the evening. The reason I asked Mark Ryan (singer of Supertouch) to play is because of a couple reasons: I wanted to keep the anniversary all family and very personal. When I was still living at my mom’s trailer in Chandler, Arizona I was a record collector and was heavily into NYC punk/hard core/ metal from the ’70s to the ’90s.  I bought the first Supertouch record "The Earth Is Flat" and fell in love with it when it came out in 1991. I moved to NYC in 1996 and soon befriended Mark Ryan.
 
In 2002, Lit opened and Mark hosted a Sunday night of jams that was as prolific as Supertouch was when they came around in the ’80s. He had been one of my closest friends since then and had always been one of my favorite bands/people. It’s again sincere and back to my roots. As far as the DJs go, well, there’s like 25 and they’ve all put their time in one way or another. The booking was very off the top of my head and is kinda how I have always done things…from my heart and honestly. Some of my favorite artists are DJs.
 
Lizzy Yoder (Artist/vocalist of Fisher Spooner), Josh Wildman (Photographer/skater), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs founder), Leo Fitzpatrick (painter/photographer/skater), Brian Degraw (Gang Gang Dance Founder/ artist/skater ), Gordon Hull (Surface to Air founder/artist), Markus Boroughs (Rockers NYC founder/artist) Nate Turbow (Artist/Nick of Tim creator), Nate Lowman (probably the most accomplished artist I know/ and a bro).
 
Everyone involved is a homie and wonderfully creative and talented. Last but not least is my dear friend Justine Delaney .Justine is the first DJ to play a record on our system and DJed the first night we opened. Justine is also the same woman that got Peaches, LCD Sound System, Interpole, Felix the House Cat, and many many more talents to DJ on her five-year Friday night residency. Justine really was a driving force that put Lit on the map.
 
Thank you everyone who has been involved, we couldn’t have done this without you.
 
Lets talk about Foss, the artist, as opposed to the club operator… how are you doing?
Well, I got sober 4 1/2 years ago to take advantage of New York City and start my art career. I have had four solo shows: two in San fransisco, one in Europe, and one in New York City. I have been in two museum shows and about to be in my third in March (The American Academy of Arts and Letters) and possibly in a museum show in the beginning of next year at The Smithsonian in D.C. I co-curated my first museum show in 2010 at the National Museum of Mexico (Draw). Because of this show, I  published our first book through D.A.P. on the show. The book was distributed to around 75 museum bookstores world wide.
 
To tell you the truth, if I died tomorrow I’d have no regrets and have surpassed all my goals by lightyears. I feel blessed when I step back and really trip out on all the shit that’s happened. I always remind myself that we are all just specks in this great universe and without all the people involved in my life I’d be/have nothing. My family, partners, friends, co-workers, lovers, haters/enemy’s, etc. People like you, Steve; I’m being interviewed by someone who, if you hadn’t done what you did, my business may not exist. You are a true NYC icon. I’m honored to be in your presence always. All in all, I’m lucky to be alive. I’m thankful every day I open my eyes. It could all end at any time. I will continue on and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am honored to continue serving NYC. Bless, foSs.

Private Mark Kamins Memorial Happening Tonight

Tonight, about 50 of Mark Kamins’ friends will gather at Ed Steinberg’s apartment to remember the legendary DJ/producer and all-around great guy Mark Kamins who passed earlier this week. It’s always a shock when someone you know goes away before a reasonable time. Mortality is a call in the middle of the night…too soon, too soon. Immortality is a record or track played again and again. It’s a legacy that inspires. It’s a thread in the fabric of our culture. Mark did all that he could with the time he was allotted. His ticker might have been weak and malfunctioning, but his heart was strong and pure.

He left us with a lot… so much… but passed because he didn’t have the means to mend his broken heart. Now we are left heartbroken…missing our friend, our mentor, our beacon. Mark could have had more if he didn’t seek the purity. If he had sold out more, worked with less eclectic performers, played more mainstream stuff. He was an artist who died in Mexico far away from so many friends, but teaching the next generation his craft, his art. His passing has left us with an empty feeling .His life filled us with joy and amazement.

He, of course, was most famous for "discovering Madonna" and producing everybody’s favorite track “Everybody.” The other day I wrote a little something about Mark and the Hollywood Reporter referred to my post, so I’ll refer to a quote they attribute to Madonna. The material girl said:

"I’m very sorry to hear about Mark’s death. I haven’t seen him for years, but if it weren’t for him, I might not have had a singing career. He was the first DJ to play my demos before I had a record deal. He believed in me before anyone else did. I owe him a lot. May he Rest in Peace."

As I mentioned last week, Lit Lounge will be celebrating its 11th year as the go-to place for those of us seeking reliable mayhem. I was asked to DJ, but alas I will be out of town at a wedding, suffering the 80-degree weather in Puerto Rico. You lucky ones will get to attend and enjoy the great crowd and DJs Leo Fitzpatrick, Joshua Wildman, JR, Prince Terrence, Illyse Singer, Nate Turbow, JD Gluckstein, Haruka Salt, Austin Peters, and Nick Darmstaedter. That’s this Friday and as usual: expect the unusual and unexpected.

Last night, while I was eating with colleagues at Aurora, I ran into artist Maripol – who documented Madonna’s rise and designed her jewelry – had been crying for days. She will be with us tonight as we wipe the tears from each other’s faces and tell stories of a life well lived. There will be a public gathering soon. DJ friends will play at some club where people will appreciate what Mark contributed to our way. I’ll let you know.

My Favorite Ed Koch Story

The passing of former mayor Ed Koch has me sad. I adored the man. Sometimes he was a little right of me and sometimes a little left, but he was – as Frank Sinatra and even Sid Vicious said – a man who did it "My Way." I mean, of course, their way. Mayor Koch was around. You could catch him squeezing peaches at Balducci’s or maybe the Jefferson Market. One day at Balducci’s, we ended up standing near Ed Koch himself. A fabulous friend of mine and I decided that if our significant others didn’t get it together, we would marry each other right there by the cheeses. "How would we do that?" she asked, and I replied "We’d get the mayor to do it." I shouted over to Mayor Koch, "Hey, Mayor Koch, will you marry us here a year from now?" and he replied, "I’ll do it," and the usual stuffy foodies applauded. He was big man, but never bigger than human. He had a street-level connection to those on the street level. He was one of us while our current guy is certainly one of them. I’m going to raise a glass tonight to Mayor Ed Koch, and thank him very much. You did great.

My 5,000 Facebook friends have begun to wish me Happy Birthdays. Tomorrow is the big day. This year, I am going to do it my way. I’ll probably do Lit Lounge and then St. Jerome’s. I am very thankful for Facebook. I don’t know what I would do without it; it keeps me close to friends in Germany and Japan and Finland and California and other far away, exotic lands like Astoria, Queens, and Jersey. I don’t have time to stay in the lives of the wonderful folks who have enriched mine, but Facebook allows me to say "hey!" and "how’s the kids?" and "you look great" and "congratulations!" to those I still love. If I don’t see you and you wish me a happy, then let me just say now, "thank you very much." I’ll leave you with my favorite Groucho quote. "You are only as young as the woman you feel."

Admiring Nick Jonas at Yesterday’s Nightclub Disrupt Panel, Lit’s 10th Anniversary Next Wednesday

When I used to spend my time in woodsy places like Yellowstone or Yosemite, I learned that when confronted by a large toothy, clawed animal, the last thing you do is try to run away, as that animal can surely out-run you; the running triggers a hunter/prey response and they instinctively attack. This is my excuse –  the only one I have –  for being very Steve Lewis at the Nightclub Disrupt Panel at the Dominion Theatre yesterday. The other panelists Michael Gogel, Steven Rojas, and Mick Boogie triggered my predator instincts when they started using terms like VIP to describe a bozo with a black card. Mick Boogie, to a lesser degree – he was just being charming. My canines came out and, well, the rest will soon be posted online and I’ll let you see it then. Moderator Vikas Sapra said I was fine but he smiles too much to be trusted with this sort of question.

One of the things I was putting out there is that computers are a two-dimensional view of people, often with only the information offered by those people or spending patterns or financial history. This rarely gets to the heart of things and lacks…heart. To the geek world, people are reduced to a much more two-dimensional profile than the one-on-one relationship a potential patron has with a good door person or with an owner or promoter. Their jobs are all about knowing their clientele. No, people: a doorman is not just looking for a pretty face, although that never hurts. A VIP is often a person willing to spend money, but that is not the criteria for any place worth this ink.

Another point I put out there was a VIP at Lavo is not necessarily a VIP at W.i.P. or Lit and vice versa. I feel the internet is only as good as the people feeding it and the people feeding it don’t necessarily understand the dynamics or requirements of each venue. Anyway, a lot was said – probably too much by me – and I’ll post it when I get it.

The previous panel of this Social Media Week gathering consisted of Nick Jonas and a moderator. I listened to him, completely enamored. He is charismatic, bright, handsome, and articulate. He is currently on Broadway. He eeks of stardom. Outside for air during the break, a handful of geeky fans waited with cameras. He posed with them all… experience telling him that running would only trigger a predator/prey response. He made them feel special and won me over.

Last night at Hotel Chantelle, I DJed the opening for one of my favorites: Kelle Calco. When we switched over, I told him I had played "Parachute Woman" by the Rolling Stones as I remember his set being very Stones heavy and didn’t want to subject the crowd to the same song twice. This wasn’t an issue; Kelle has changed. His set went everywhere from electro to hip-hop to rock. He offered up some very commercial pop and made it all work. I was impressed and surprised. I asked him about it and he said he now embraces all types of music and totally gets into it. He told me about all the places he DJs and hosts. He is a busy dude.

I hear that White Noise has only a few Fridays left, which means Sam Valentine’s rock fest will end. Sam says he wont throw a real rock party again till he finds a place with stripper poles. Rock is retreating. Nur Khan lamented the Hiro Ballroom reinvention a couple of days ago and the need for a new rock spot. His The Electric Room is setting the standard for rock purity. Lit remains a bastion of rock chops. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary Wednesday with a list of DJs including Justine D, Leo Fitzpatrick, and me. We’ll each get about a half-hour to showcase our rock and roll Hootchie Koo. The Kelle thing threw me off. Maybe he is right: he public wants a mixed format and so maybe that’s what they get. For me, I’ll stick to my roots. Those other genres of music just trigger my yawn response.

Life After the Hurricane & the Marathon Conspiracy

We were better than most in our 4th floor loft atop a hill in Williamsburg. Our new apartment didn’t have cable yet or heat for that matter as those companies were busy elsewhere. We had bins filled with water, flashlights, food, everything we needed to weather the storm. Many of our friends were less fortunate. We took in a couple of strays, fed them, and thus beat the boredom of the silent night. On Tuesday night we went on a safari to Manhattan. The car loaded up with stir crazy women heading into a dark unknown place reminded me of the opening scene of a monster movie. I could hear a voice from the audience saying “don’t go there, you idiot!” but onward we sped. When we got to the center of the Williamsburg Bridge, the light went out and we plunged into the surreal. A candle in a window here, a flashlight off to the side told us the zombies hadn’t eaten everyone. The cops were serious, their flashing lights creating surreal shadows and illuminating thevoids. There were hundreds of thousands in those dark monoliths but there was little sign of them.

Wednesday night was Halloween and we went to Manhattan again. More was lit up but not that much. We went to the Tribeca Grand in search of a couple of friends who worked there. The bar at Tribeca was lit with candles but had no humans so we headed to the Soho Grand, where a party was happening. We embraced our pal Dean Winters who plays Mayhem in those insurance commercials and avoided making a bad joke about his role in all this. Matt Green was holding court over a fast crowd that was slowed down just a little by the crisis. The hotel’s generators kept one soda gun going and a few lights. The trademark under-illuminated stairs were dark. We had a blast as everyone was happy to have something, although we were all aware of so many who had nothing. Our smartphones told us about Lit Lounge, Erik Foss’s joint, which I love more than any other. Eric, of course, got Lit, lit and we all gathered into our clown car and navigated the polite streets. With no traffic lights, everyone gave everyone right of way. It was grand.

Lit had a party. They wrangled up a generator and had the DJ booth going and a few soft lights. Nick Gazin of Vice was DJing, spotted by Ben Rayner and Dj Mell (Cerebral Ballzy).The brilliant artist Chris (Spam) Martin and Foss threw this shindig. It was a super hip and beautiful crowd, happy to be anywhere, and ecstatic to find themselves at such a fantastic gathering. Foss got boxes of pizza from God knows where and fed the masses. When he offered one dude a slice, he replied, "No thanks, I’m good, I live uptown .We headed into the dark for little trips and met no monsters but helpful friendly people everywhere. Intrepid bodega owners watched their shops and sold warm beers and snacks. We popped into strange bars illuminated by melting wax and were greeted with cheers for just showing up. It was mad fun.” Back at Lit, I told Erik that this is why I say his is the best joint in town. My DJ gigs at Hotel Chantelle and Griffin were cancelled as the plans of millions took a break. Old friends Facebooked and called from all over the world to make sure I and mine were OK.

The Marathon debate raged on Facebook and I used that medium to scratch my writing itch. I ripped Bloomberg for his audacity and wondered if he canceled so very late in order to ensure the runners came and their money boosted our economy. I got a Sandy tattoo when my artist managed to fly back from New Orleans. My pal Matt De Matt who owns Gaslight and some other joints hooked my refugee tattoing pals up down in Louisiana where he is totally connected. It was and is a time for friends to help friends. As the city sputtered back to light, the clubs threw "stir crazy" parties and Sandy parties. Nothing too clever, sad to say. This week promises to be more "normal," but problems for nightlife still remain. The subways are not quite right and gas is so rare that few can venture in from suburbia. The loss of Halloween revenues is staggering. Clubs and staff won’t recover quickly, but the busy season of nightlife has begun, and in a week or two, cash should be flowing. The local bars and coffee shops are collecting necessities for our neighbors in places that still are under the thumb of destruction. Do what you can to help.

Tonight I should be hopping around town as the election that never came has actually arrived. Tomorrow will be a day off for most, a day to take a deep breath and get ready to return to the routine. Voting and watching the results will dominate Tuesday. I, of course, endorse Obama. I think the other guy represents the Dark Ages, and I am fearful of a return to the religious and greed-fueled policies of Bush. I urge all my readers to contact friends in swing states and get them out there voting and motivating.

Saying Good Night to 2011

 

2011 rushes into history taking some notable strangers, a few friends, and some cherished concepts with it. I can’t complain about the way it treated me because it seemed to have treated a whole world of people worse. The world seems harder and more dangerous and less forgiving than in years past. Every minor conflict that we were worried about seems to have been worth the worry. The news is rarely good news and we seem to be accepting mediocrity as a nation. A recent trip to Virginia took me past town after town of similar malls and cookie cutter architecture. My New Year’s resolution is simply to still give a damn.

Nightlife has become more of a means to escape for most. There are still wonderfully creative and ambitious people pushing the envelope — celebrating creativity, but a solid decade of reality TV has unfortunately exposed us to our reality. "Boob tube" used to describe the instrument, when now it clearly describes those who find escape or answers or life watching it. I will be out and about tomorrow night popping in here and there, seeing the sights, kissing cheeks and telling bad jokes. I will DJ the last desperate hour of 2011 and a few moments of the virginal 2012 at Goldbar before heading into the streets where I always find comfort.

My first stop will be Stash, my wonderful creation on 14th and 8th. It is now ready for prime time players, and I will gather with a few friends and owner Matthew Isaacs for a toast to what was and what could be. It’s intimate, colorful confines will do the trick. I will miss GaGa at Times Square for the ball drop and probably Debby Harry at The Boom Boom Room (yes I still call it that). Nur Khan’s soiree at Casa Le Femme might catch me passing through for a second as I believe that the celebrators there will be gorgeous and fabulous. These terms are often mutually exclusive. That is a concept sometimes misunderstood in nightlife. W.I.P. seems to be a place to be with legendary producer Scram Jones Djing. If I am still awake I will head to Pacha for the tomorrow it always delivers. Pacha always is fantastic on New Years Eve. Webster Hall as well. If size actually matters (and I do thank God everyday that it does), these two joints are answers to your what-to-do? questions.

If you still don’t know where to go to find your place in the universe maybe it is best not to do it. The desperation of New Year’s Eve is sometimes a downer. Get some sleep and gather with friends for breakfast. If you must hit the streets realize that most places have been rented out until 2am with four-, five- and six-hour open bars as part of the package. By 2am there will be millions of not-so-hot messes walking and driving. Subways are reliable, packed and therefore safe at all hours. I tell everyone to hire a car and driver from your local car service for your peak hours. They charge 40 to 50 bucks but will wait for you anywhere and whisk you around and take you home safely. Split this with a few friends and it’s very affordable. Taxis will not be an answer. Places like Lit and White Noise, which are essentially mom and pop operations — saloons run by saloon keepers with panache — will often be the best place to enjoy the ride. They will be affordable and usually controllable. Anything goes in the big clubs, and if you don’t believe me ask any experienced security worker or company operator. They dread NYE.

Be careful, have fun and most of all don’t try to pack a whole years worth of partying into a single evening. Carry hand warmers and power bars and a small bottle of water. Stash some extra cash and only use it for an emergency. I worry about you.

At Lit Lounge: The Hottest Person to Ever Say Hi to Me & The Melvins

It started innocently enough; a Sunday night stroll through the hood and a look-what-we-found by the trash and the decision to give this sassy little painting to our friend Adam at his new tattoo shop Magic Cobra Tattoo Society (775 Driggs Ave., off South 3rd). The next thing you know I’m getting yet another pin-up tattoo. No worries, I’ll only have it for the rest of my life… and besides, I love it more than the dinner I was craving at Pies-n-Thighs. Adam Korothy did the honors on me while his partner-in-crime Kati Vaughn did my partner-in-crime Amanda’s tattoo. While I was there and half naked, we added a little to the "boxing babe" on the back of my arm who preaches my downfall with "I LIKE ‘EM SASSY.” Adam retraced the large damsel in distress on my bicep who proclaims…lest I forget … "DON’T BET ON DAMES.” We were looking forward to the Inked Magazine “Sex D.R.U.G.S. & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL” issue party Monday at Lit Lounge, my favorite hole-in-the-wall, and figured the new ink would set the right tone.

Monday night we gathered our regulars and BINGO’ed at Bowery Poetry Club as usual and, of course, the usual and unusual Linda Simpson and the returning Murray Hill kept us laughing and praying and begging for ultra-important things like  N31 or O67. B Bar barkeep and his lovely Katie won big, representing our tables large. After the last chance at Bingo glory was over, we kissed our friends goodbye and popped into the jammed Lit. We headed to the attached FUSE Gallery space which was the VIP holding pen.

There, it was decided that LIT/Fuse honcho Erik Foss, and A.R.E Weapons drummer Eric Rabin and I were going to get bro tattoos from Jes of Smoking Tattoos (18 St Marks Place). We three musketeers got cobwebs from the fabulous Jes. Mine says Lit. The cobwebs represent the many great years that the old club has given us and carries the hopes of many more.

Back at the Inked event, the Jagermeister and slamming DJs kept the usually incoherent rockers positively stoopified. Former Inked cover girl and quite possibly the hottest person who ever said "hello" to me, Alesandra Nicole, who I was told was a model / Internet celebrity kept me mesmerized and fearful of my life. 

Steve Lewis tattoo Amanda and I had our usual "that’s the kind of girl you should be dating" chat and I swore allegiance and pointed to our still-healing matching tattoos. I spied or was told these fab folk were there, Joshua Wildman (artist/photographer), Gen of Genatorturers, tattoo model Raquel Reed, chef Chris Santos, Steven Tyler’s daughter Mia, and artist Nikki Sneakers. We got to chat up the wonderful Zosia Mamet who we just love, love love in Girls.

Lit is banging all week with Natacha Sanchez and Just C presenting Worlds Collide 4 tonight with performances from Gswagga, AHGEDA, and Streight Angular and DJs El Rojo, OG Chino, and Sonido Confirmacion.

On Friday night Brent Barber and his Bicycle Film Festival has their 12-year opening anniversary party at Lit starting at 9pm. It figures to go real late.

The whole thing will culminate with a huge bang Saturday night when Melvins and Hammerhead play LIT in a very small intimate engagement Erik Foss told me is his "dream come true! Only next to Elliot Smith playing his last NY show here, nothing this monumental has happened at Lit before.” Save maybe the night I walked in with Ron Jeremy and a bunch of gals left with my number one.

Lit remains a reason to be cheerful. It is an old-school saloon-type joint that hits hard when it hits. The Melvins will be an incredible show and I will be there. 

 

Wake up to Good Night Mr. Lewis in your inbox. Find out first-thing about the latest parties, brawls, launches, and dominatrix appearances.

Rocking Out With The Dirty Pearls

The great rocker/poet Neil Young once offered "Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die.” And he’s right. Rock hasn’t died after 50 years of rolling around and mayhem and scandal and death and reinvention. It still sells out stadiums with this year’s Rolling Stones and Aerosmith tours leading the way. There might be dozens of rock acts that can sell out a stadium, yet in the most financially successful nightclubs in town, rock is a not the go-to genre. House in the form of electronic dance music, and hip-hop often housed in open format or mash-up DJ sets, are far more common. Pop is king with Rihanna and Adele et. all getting requested more often than a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous. The DJs invariably comply.

A good friend who knows way more than I do about this sort of stuff says there are only two, maybe three, hip-hop artists that can sell out a stadium. Electronic dance music (EDM) has its superstars like Tiesto and Avicii and others who can sell out small European countries, but can just-now attract tens of thousands in the US of A to warm weather festivals and such. EDM is growing exponentially and is heard in all the ginormous Vegas clubs and big-buck NYC joints.

Rock – which is heard everywhere in movies, commercials, and hip boutiques, and fashion events – has few clubs that embrace it because the bottle- buying public is thought to reject it. The DJs say that rock is in their mixes, but it’s offered with a new beat a new remix that doesn’t scratch my itch. It is recognizable beneath the bells and whistles but often just as a sample played by someone who really doesn’t understand it. My rock is sleazier, harder, and meaningful. I find it at Electric Room, The Bowery Electric, Hotel Chantelle, and Lit Lounge whenever I can. Rock scenes sometimes seethe just under the surface of a city. Then all of a sudden there is a sound or a movement, and there’s suddenly a dozen or more great bands getting all sorts of attention. It has happened in Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Athens, Georgia, and in NYC a dozen times.

There is a scene bubbling up now and The Dirty Pearls are poising to break out. They have songs that sound like hits and work tirelessly to break out. Photographer Lela Edgar, who I tasked to shoot this image, spent a day rockin’ and rollin’ with them.  I caught up with Tommy London and Marty E of The Dirty Pearls.

The Dirty Pearls are making a mark. How do you get from where you are now …call it point A to point C, as in “C the money?”
Tommy London: When we started out, we hit the streets passing out flyers, CDs, and preaching the gospel of The Dirty Pearls. Of course we utilized the social networks like everyone else, but we felt that one-on-one meeting with people out and about was most important. The shows got bigger and bigger, from Arlene’s Grocery to Bowery Ballroom to Gramercy to Irving Plaza! It’s been an amazing climb. We then went for the ripple effect, playing everywhere we could outside the perimeter of NYC. Philly, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, etc…all making our mark with our show and songs. We even took a few trips to the West Coast to show them some NYC rock ‘n’ roll. I knew the buzz was getting really strong when national acts started asking us to open for them in and outside of NYC. Artists such as KISS, Jet, Filter, Bret Michaels, Third Eye Blind, New York Dolls, Andrew WK, and many others have requested The ‘Pearls to open the show!

But now our focus is to take this even bigger! We have been concentrating on playing a lot more regular shows outside of NYC, making high-profile venues, like The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a new regular home base for The ‘Pearls. We’ve received a lot of great press on our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not" from a ton of major music magazine/blog sites, as well as airplay on local, satellite, and internet radio. Most recently we received an email from a radio station in Italy that has us on regular rotation and asked us to do giveaways since the fans kept calling in and requesting The Dirty Pearls. Last year, the now-defunct WRXP 101.9 here in NYC had us in rotation. They even broadcasted our live concert from Webster Hall during primetime radio hours. DMC (of Run-DMC) came and jammed "Walk This Way" with us on stage. We were the first unsigned band EVER in history to get a commercial-free half-hour to broadcast a live concert on the radio. It was truly a magical night.

And of course all these things lead to point C or as you put it "Point C The Money.” Most recently we’ve had our music featured in various television programs and on the new "Tap Tap" video game for the iPhone/Droid that is due to come out this October. We’ve also received a lot of major interest in our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” that we recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Kahne.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that leads and what heights it will take us to next.

What should people who don’t know you listen to first, and where is your sound going?
TL: You can hear a few of our songs on our website. But for first listen, I’d say check out "New York City Is A Drug". It represents everything we stand for, feel, and our #1 inspiration for music/lifestyle: New York City.

Marty E: I’d say to look no further than our album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” which you can get via our website…if you want a good sample of what you’ll get from that, check out our video for "Who’s Coming Back To Who" on YouTube.

As for where our sound is going, I’d say that we always strive for bigger hooks, bigger melodies, and bigger beats, while still keeping everything rocking and rolling.

Tell me about the NYC rock scene. Where do people find it…any secret spots?
ME: Well, if it’s a secret, why should we tell?

TL: We actually did this interview in a secret location! Shhhh!

ME: Seriously, there are very few places for rock ‘n’ rollers to hang out. We always go to St. Jerome’s, Three of Cups, Motor City Bar, Welcome to the Johnson’s, Manitoba’s, The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and of course the big rock party on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle.

TL: I always say you don’t find the NYC rock scene…it finds you! But all the places Marty mentioned are the places to go to really connect with the right people you can vibe with. The rock scene in NYC is alive and well, more than ever actually. All the bands have come together and have their own sound/style but yet still blend together. It’s really a strong tight-knit community and we are really proud to be a part of it.  But when I say community I don’t just mean musicians; I mean just rock music lovers in general who love to talk, sing, dance, and party to good rock ‘n’ roll.

On stage you are rock stars… I saw you guys at the Gramercy…sold out, adoring fans. Is it 24/7 365, and when you make it will you change?
TL: Yeah, I have to admit we have the best fans. They come to the shows dressed in their Dirty Pearls swag and singing along to every song. It’s such an amazing feeling. Honestly, it’s the fans who make us feel/look like a rock star when we are up on stage. It’s such an amazing high when you give the energy and receive it right back from them. It’s the reason why we do it. As for us changing, I can’t see that ever happening. Our heads are in the clouds but our feet are always on the ground.

ME: I give rock ‘n’ roll 100 percent all the time… whether that makes me a "rock star,” I’m not sure, but I always hope to shine one way or another. I hope that I never change, unless it involves getting better.

You are a top NYC band…who else is likely to break out?
TL: There are so many bands on this scene who have the potential of breaking out. I don’t want to name any names because if I leave one out by mistake I’ll look like an asshole! But I truly believe that as soon as one band breaks through, the rest will funnel through as well. I think the whole scene kind of believes in that philosophy too. There’s a lot of support and love in the NYC rock scene. Friendly competition too, but that’s healthy and keeps you on your toes to always play your "A" game.

ME: What’s great about NYC rock ‘n’ roll is that everyone is doing their own thing and growing in their own ways. The whole point is perseverance and consistency. I’m proud of everything our band and our friends’ bands have accomplished.

How do you market yourselves?
ME: We pounded the pavement from day one, when we handed out fliers on the street, and it really worked. Lately, it’s been more about social networks, I think. Twitter has to be the best marketing tool I’ve ever seen yet. We’re always looking for new ways. Half the battle is getting the word out!

TL: Yeah, we would hit everywhere and just talk with people, give them info on the band and any gig we were playing. We put our stickers anywhere they would stick, and hang posters all around too. When we first started we felt that everyone relied on the internet to just plug, which we did too. But no one was really giving out flyers anymore because it was just easier to post online. We wanted people to go home and wake up the next day with a DP flyer in their pocket or on their dresser. That’s how we originally built the band. Marty and I would go out and pick spots in the scene and spots outside the scene to hit and preach about The ‘Pearls. It worked!

Unlike many bands, you guys have some really great songwriting. Tell me about the process.
TL: Thanks so much for the compliment. I always feel a band is only as good as their songs. I always said to the band, we aren’t the stars of the show…the songs are! As for the process, one of our guitar players (Tommy Mokas & Sunny Climbs) and I will get together, build a strong chorus, work melodies, hooks, and structure.

ME: Then we all roll it and pole it and kick the shit out of it and mark it with a D-P!

TL:‘Nuff Said!

Your new album, "Whether You Like It Or Not" was produced by Grammy Award- winning Producer David Kahne. How did that come about and tell us about the experience.
TL: Our manager had worked with David in the past and sent him our music. He heard the songs and loved them! He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in him producing our album and we were like uhhh…..YEA! I mean David has produced everyone from Sublime to The Strokes to Paul McCartney and more! It was an honor and privilege to work with him and be part of the roster of talent he has worked with. He really brought our songs to life, as well as made us better musicians and songwriters.

ME: Absolutely. Not only did David make us improve ourselves as musicians, but he also made us look at songs and music very differently, especially in terms of arrangements, hooks, melodies, and the way each component of the band contributes to the big machine. It is a very meticulous process, to say the least. I came out of the recording process a much more knowledgeable, well-rounded, and believe it or not, humbled musician.

What’s next for The Dirty Pearls?
ME: The Dirty Pearls are going to save rock n roll and take over the world! So keep checking our website for updates on shows and the latest news on The ‘Pearls!