Sunday, 22 May 2011

Porn Stars and Crystal Castles: New York, March 2011, Day Three

Like the opening of a first novel, I wake still wearing my clothes and contact lenses. The latter have to be peeled from my dry corneas like kiwi skins. We are hangover-hungry so decide to walk the sweltering few blocks to East Houston to eat at Katzs Deli. When we arrive it is bedlam, too hyper and complex for two bleary-eyed (vegetarian) Europeans to attempt so we slope a few doors along to the trusted Ray’s Famous for pizza and soda and fries that we can’t finish. All health and restraint has left us at this point I should point out. I would gain a stone every week if I remained in that city. Granola won’t cut it after ten pints of the black stuff.



Partially restored, we amble along Houston Street where, at fifty paces, I spot (yet another) beautiful muscled and bearded specimen. I’m certain I recognise him so I make Dee slow down to inspect. He’s divine. Then I remember with a little shame where I recognise him from. He is a porn star, Arpad Miklos. I confess to Dee. Rather than being shocked, she asks if I would like to have my picture taken with him. I would not. At the next corner, a group of concerned Lower East Siders gather around the prone body of a homeless man who is zonked out on the pavement in the midday shade. The ambulance pulls up to the kerb as we pass by, the siren trepanning holes into our skulls.



We opt for a lazy Village mooch the rest of the day. My water bottle spills into my bag so Bleeker Street is treated to the spectacle of me drying twenty dollar bills on a tabletop in the sun, inviting a mugging. Dee and I have one of our wonderful world-to-rights conversations, which come rarely in life and usually on holiday, but which are a major reason we’ve come to New York together if we’re honest.


At Washington Square, Dee spots actor Mark Pellegrino from Capote, Lost, Being Human, CSI etc. It’s a celeb-fest today. We dine on crisps and Reeces Pieces back at the apartment then I have to shape up for the Crystal Castles gig at Terminal 5. Down in the subway I have a peculiarly touching moment with an elderly homeless lady who needs a ticket but has no money and can’t work the machine. I buy her ticket for her and she is grateful and polite. She isn’t loony or inadequate, she is old and seems terribly sad. I do not want to know what her story is. I realise how immune I’ve become to seeing people living rough, to my eyes it’s more prevalent in Manchester than in New York, though neither seem as serious as London. This is the price paid for the shiny cities I love so much, people at the bottom of the heap scraping by, or not, living off surplus if they’re lucky. What does one do? Listen to pop music, look the other way, drink something …


It is the week of the super moon and there she looms, heavy and huge over the statue at Columbus Circle, the atmosphere black and white and profound in glowing circles. ‘The moon has nothing to be sad about, staring from her hood of bone …’


The queue for Crystal Castles is predictably young and hip and wasted. I have no ID so am given a special wristband which means ‘Do not serve alcohol to this man.’ ‘But I’m 33,’ I appeal. ‘Prove it,’ says the doorman. I give up, aggrieved, but inside it seems to matter not a jot whether I have a wristband or not so I make a start on the medicinal spirits and mixers.


DJ Destructo (please...) warms up the crowd with some not-bad dirty electro and I spot the first gurns of the evening from punters who are wearing the same social pariah wristband as me. They are young, fit and out of their boxes by 9.30 pm. There are plenty of glowsticks around too, just in case you were afraid young New Yorkers had suddenly gotten as hip as their European counterparts. They haven’t. But oh to be young and moneyed and in Manhattan … Teengirl Fantasy (who I thought were Dutch but are actually Brooklyn party boys) are supporting and they put me right in the mood for a dance. I don’t even know what genre their music is, it’s profoundly ambient but the beat says DANCE. It’s ‘electronic’ basically, okay? They sound like this …


A man walks onto the stage. ‘I don’t know if you guys heard, but a couple of months ago Alice broke her ankle [crowd boos] The doctor told her she would have to cancel this tour [crowd boos some more] but Alice told him, FUUUUCCCCCKKKKK YOOOOOOUUUUUU ….’ Then it goes OFF like this …(force yourself to sit through it, but turn the volume down…)

video

How do you even review a Crystal Castles gig? You can’t be indifferent. The music gets you or it doesn’t. In fact, it will piss you off if you don’t like it. I love them, Dee tried but couldn’t, that’s why she’s at home reading Gangs Of New York tonight. Music aside, they are fuck-off cool in that they’re a band that happened completely by accident. Alice is an unhinged up-for-it rock n roller who happens to be in an electro outfit. The boy makes all the noise but really, who cares about him, just get on with it. The gig is big and white and electric and loud like the moon. I swap texts with my boys who are partying in Berlin and it kind of feels like we’re all together across waters and dancing and mental repetitive beats.


The cab takes me home along the west side of the island so I get to see all the Hudson piers deserted at night. Falafel and ears ringing is how all the best nights end.

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