The mindset in New York is changing rapidly; we are venturing into a strange time of transition. In the minds of many, the economic downturn this winter evaporated with the new sunlight of these warm spring days. Yet I hear a little voice in my head saying, “not so fast, not so fast.” High-end folks with high-paying jobs are making the same loot they did last year but are reluctant to shell out big bucks for summer rentals and big vacations because their savings and investments have lost so much value. Las May 12, the Dow was at 12,867. Yesterday it closed at 8,469. The upswing in the last couple months certainly has been as refreshing as those warm spring winds, but the reality of loss is keeping the checkbooks semi-closed. Reports of the worst Hamptons and Jersey Shore real estate markets are everywhere, with an unheard-of short-season market developing. People have been renting for a month instead of a season. Yet, in the last two weeks things have improved, and there are signs that maybe it will be OK after all.
In the face of this, clubs are opening at a time of year previously considered impossible. The Gates, Griffin, and (any day now) Avenue’s opening all fly in the face of the “if it isn’t open by tax day wait until September” mentality. The outdoor spaces are getting spit-polished as there’s a great sense that the summer season in Manhattan will be banging. In years past, I could walk my dogs in peace on a Sunday morning. This year, I am anticipating dodging around revelers in herds as they endure “the walk of shame.” Sunglasses sales will surely surge. More roof parties than ever before will be entertaining stay-at-home partiers. I had a conversation with the operator of a very underground semi-legal place about air conditioning and such, and he’s figuring to be in business with a non-migrating crowd and an influx of tourists basking in the shine of our weakened dollar. Summer in the city, long considered a problematic time for owners, may be unexpectedly profitable.
My day started with an interview with a cool cat named Tom Folsom who wrote a book called The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld. We did it in my neighborhood of Nolita, finding some irony in having a chat on the stoop next to John Gotti’s old haunt, the Ravenite Social Club on Mulberry Street. The profound possibility of change — in fact, the inevitability of it — marked the day. The nouveau club operators of the model/bottle generation are adjusting fast to the new rules. This summer will be unlike the last one. I took my dark-eyed date to Mr. Jones for dinner, where we talked to owner Lesly Bernard about market realities and summer fun and changes. A successful operator is always reevaluating what is working, and accepting and dealing with what isn’t. The food service and vibe at Mr. Jones is fantastic, yet he is always looking to what’s next.
We then headed to Santos’ Party House, where a Holistic record release party was happening. Holistic is my friend Izzy’s band, but the opening act, Cringe didn’t make me cringe until the lead singer belted out the lyrics, “hey you good looking female.” He’s the hubby of Food Network star Rachael Ray, and about ten people told me that’s a big deal. I asked Dave Delzio who invited me to this soiree and how he could mix a classic rock band like Cringe with the Holistic’s hip hop sound, and he actually looked at me when he answered, “Isn’t Aurora hot?” He was referring to the very good-looking female to his right. “Well, yes,” I pressed on, “but what brings you to make the bold move to book a rock band to open for a hip hop band?” He gave me the skinny: “Izzy works at John Varvatos, and Rachael Ray is a customer there.” The packed house of hipsters, promoter types, man about town/manager J.R.. Walden, and scores of good-looking females will ensure that this one-off happenstance becomes the trend.
My own good-looking female and I made a mad dash for the door, stopping for a second to hear the dapper Jaizen explain the advantages of Buddhism for lead singers. He spoke of how much it helped Tina Turner and many others, and as we scooted away I swear I could hear him say, “Thank you, I’ll be here all week.” As I raised my arm for the cab, I put my dark-eyed gal into the yellow and quietly walked back into the hood. I stopped by the door of GoldBar to chat up Daisy, who used to work with me. I had missed her birthday, and I needed to say “hey” and tell her she was a good-looking female. The conversation was about change to the important things you think about a couple days after a big birthday. I adored her and enjoyed the warm night. The other GoldBar door honcho Jon Lennon walked by, and we talked for a long bit about good-looking females, the Tom Folsom book, Crazy Joe, old school values, and my case and the State of the Union. He was on his way to Umberto’s Clam House right across the way, where he would soon dine on linguini and white clam sauce (always a winner). Crazy Joe Gallo was murdered inside Umberto’s, but not this one, the one down the block; Umberto’s moved, but the gravy stayed the same. He got it on his birthday, April 7, 1972, while eating with his family late at night. The Dow Jones had closed at 9,162 that day. As I walked the few blocks to my apartment, I heard that little voice saying, “not so fast, not so fast.” I’ll be here all week.