Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long Weekend Round-Up: NYC, Canadian Thanksgiving & Fletcher Tattoos

Photos pending

Friday: Got up bright and early to catch the train to NYC to spend Canadian Thanksgiving with my Fletcher brethren, Rock, Slim and Linda. Packed entirely too much stuff to occupy myself on what ended up being another 12 and a half hour ride through purgatory (actually, Upstate New York) and ended up mostly listening to Broken Social Scene, knitting and reading The Atrocity Exhibition.

Got to Penn Station at 10 PM where I met up with Phil and Tina and jumped on the train to their place in Astoria. Got to meet their doggy, Trixie, drank wine and ate greasy food at Mike's, then passed out on the couch.

Saturday: After a suitably late start, Phil and I headed out to the East Village to price tattoo places on St. Marks Place. Met up with his friend Amber in the park and ate stupidly delicious hummus with sauteed mushrooms at a restaurant called, appropriately enough, Hummus Place. Hung out for a bit and then called my old UBC drinking buddy Andy to arrange a meeting place in Williamsburg.

Met up with Andy and got some cheap and delicious tacos and frozen margaritas, then headed out to Greenpoint to catch his buddy's show. I felt super bad because I ended up nodding off during the set, but it turned out my brief siesta was much needed because the evening ended up turning into quite the adventure.

After leaving the Red Star bar we went back to Manhattan for someone's birthday at the eleventh street bar. Unbeknownst to us it was actually a costume party, although only about half the bar seemed to be participating. Costume highlights include the woman dressed as Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, complete with a stuffed rabbit in a pot, a guy dressed as Alex my droog from Clockwork Orange and no less than 3 Sarah Palins.

After several cocktails we moved on to someone's loft in the area, but while everyone else was at the convenience store buying more beer I opted for an extra large bottle of mineral water. Partied on the roof to a DJ spinning tunes and managed to sticker one of the Sarah Palins with an Obama/Biden sticker. At about 4 AM I was ready to pack 'er in, but Andy talked me into sticking around to enjoy potato latkes and perogies at some 24 hour dinner in the neighborhood.

Got back to Phil & Tina's at around 6 AM and promptly passed out on the couch.

Sunday: After waking briefly to grab some breakfast with P & T, I passed out again until 3 PM when Bess called to organize meeting up that evening. Ended up choosing to attend an evening of indie/experimental music at the Issue Project Room at the Spiegeltent on Pier 17, which was an eclectic mix to be sure. First up was a noise-rock band from Boston called Neptune who make all of their instruments out of scrap metal and other various things. Next was Tony Conrad, who worked with the Dream Syndicate and krautrock bank Faust, who basically played a modified violin with reverb for about 45 straight minutes. After that was 5 piece blues band.

Being that we were both starving, we ventured up to the lower East side to grab cheap and delicious Chinese food at the Congee Village, where I also enjoyed my first ever apple martini (I know). After catching up over congee and yummy tofu and veggies we both conceded defeat and went our separate ways to sleep.

Back in Astoria I opted to give Louie a call since his plane from Vancouver should have landed by then. Chatted briefly as he was in a cab back to his apartment and once he was settled he came by Phil and Tina's to hang out. Ended up at Mike's again and stayed up until about 1 AM talking.

Monday: Slept a decent amount for the first time my whole trip, then set about helping Phil with his preparations for Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner that evening. I was in charge of desert, so whipped up an old fashioned Quebecois sugar pie & a yummy & spicy sweet potato pie. Other yummy things we prepped included samosa stuffed twice baked potatoes, and a stuffed pumpkin.

At about 2:30 PM Louie came by and he and I made our way to St. Marks Place to arrange for our group tattoos. Luckily they were able to accommodate all four of us and the quote was slightly less than we had originally been told. While we were waiting for the artist to get ready, Louie went up to The Onion offices to grab a copy of the issue with the Sukiyaki Western Django review with my pull quote in it while I waited for Phil. Snuck into Search and Destroy to grab a thank you gift for MC for making sure my cat didn't starve.

Around 4:30 PM Tina showed up and the artist did up sketches of our tattoos. Mine was a little bigger than the others because I opted to get a banner under the house. They were very sweet at the tattoo shop, letting us all take a million photos like the bunch of nerds we are. Phil and Louie left after getting their tattoos to finish the preparations for dinner, so us girls had to tough it out on our own.

Once we were all down we headed back up to Astoria and went straight to Louie's place because we were starving. As soon as we got to the door I was accosted by Louie's friend Heidi, who I hadn't seen in years. Once inside, I proceeded to drink much wine and mingle. Before dinner I helped Louie and his friend Carson from Sarnia put together a YouTube playlist of Canadian Heritage Minutes and Hinterland Who's Whos.

After dinner I chatted outside with a French girl who commented on my Quebecois accent, probably the best compliment I've gotten since I moved out here. I didn't really think about my accent until she mentioned it, but as I was speaking to her I suddenly really noticed the difference between my lazy, low, Canadian French and her more lyric, refined, continental French.

Back inside, things had degenerated into a Rock Band Party, as do most parties I go to these days. Once that started to wind down and people started to go home, Louie got out his Uke for the traditional post dinner Ukulele concert, which went very well, right up until the guy from upstairs came down to ask us to keep it down.

I had started to nod off on the couch when Louie suggested we make a conference call to his parents to tell them about our tattoos, which was funny and lovely. Finally, at around 2 AM, Phil, Tina and I stumbled back to their apartment so I could crash on their couch one last time before scrambling to catch my train home.

Tuesday: Got up at 6 AM and scrambled out the door with my little suitcase in tow and set about getting the supplies I'd need to survive the trip home: food, water, etc. Got on the subway and suddenly realized I didn't have my cellphone. Got off the subway, went back to Phil and Tina's, woke them up, searched the couch cushions and then realized that the damn thing had been in my purse the whole time. Went back out on the street to hail a cab. Forty minutes and $40 later, turned up at Penn Station in time to realize that I'd missed the boarding call for my train by half an hour. After briefly waiting in the Amtrak customer service line, decided to play it safe and asked an elderly police officer where the nearest Greyhound station was. Walked the six blocks to the Greyhound station and bought a ticket for the next bus, which conveniently was leaving in two hours. Put myself directly in the line-up for the bus, since I would be damned if I missed that too, and accepted my bus going fate.

As it turns out, the bus was quite pleasant, and despite leaving two hours after the train, actually got me back to Montreal at the same time the train would have, if not sooner. I even enjoyed our rest stop in Albany. Fuck the train.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Weekend Round-Up: Shows, Shows & Soup!

Friday: Being that I was starting to get a little homesick because I realized I wouldn't be going home for Xmas, I made a date with myself to go see The Evaporators at the Mint Records showcase at Bar St-Laurent 2. Conveniently the bar is a ten minute walk from my house so I spent the evening tidying up and then trundled down just in time to catch Wax Mannequin, a one man prog-rock band, which is exactly as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds.

Next up was The Buttless Chaps, I'd been hearing about for ages but had never been to see. About half-way through their set I noticed someone in the corner who looked strangely familiar. I'd expected to run into some Vancouver ex-pats so I made a point of introducing myself. Turns out she used to work at my local comic book store on Main Street and had been living in Montreal for two years. Just before the second to last act we zipped up to St-Viateur for fresh hot bagels (nom, nom, nom), then nipped back in to finish the show, then exchanged numbers so we could go to movie together some time. Yeah! New friends in town!

Got back just in time to catch one of my new favourite bands (at least they are now, after seeing them live), The Pack A.D. Two women: one on guitar, one on drums, playing amazing striped down blues. Great energy, great sound. Totally check them out if you get the chance if you like that sort of thing.

As per usual I bounced around like an idiot to The Evaporators and I made a point of telling Nardwuar how happy I was that he was in Montreal as I was starting to get a little homesick.

Saturday: Got up hopelessly late and spent most of the day not doing very much. At about 1 PM I went on my weekly bagel run to St-Viateur bagels and stopped off briefly on the way home at the Puces POP craft fair. I had finally tried out Bagel Beaubien last week, which while closer, does not offer flax seed bagels and were kind of lackluster, comparatively. Also, I like people watching in Mile End.

Around 3 PM I finally worked up the will to run the rest of my many errands. First I headed up to Marche Jean-Talon, but got caught up talking to a co-worker and didn't notice that the market was actually closing until it was too late, so I didn't manage to actually buy anything. After that I headed down to IGA to do a quick grocery and almost left without paying. Finally, I went and cast my vote since I'd be on a train most of the 14th and wouldn't be back in Montreal until well after the polls had closed. At least I didn't screw up one task, sigh.

Heated up some leftovers and made my way out to the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore for a vernissage by Jack Dylan (he did a bunch of posters for POP Montreal this year, including an awesome Obey style series of portraits of the four major Canadian political leaders), but there was nobody there so I decided to start walking down to the Just for Laughs cabaret to meet Chris and Lee for the Black Kids show.

Being that I was super early I killed some time drinking a vanilla tea later on St-Laurent and did my best to kill time window shopping/people watching. Ended up being even earlier than I'd counted on by virtue of the fact that the opening act was no longer on the bill.

Didn't realize how hung over I actually was until I started drinking my beer and the fact that my back was killing me didn't help the fact that I felt very, very old as I looked around. I guess that's what happens when I go to see new bands in venues other than dive bars... Didn't really get into the first act, the Virgins, who, as I mentioned to Ali when she arrived, I liked better when they were called TheKillerstrokeferdinands. Opted to leave my perch for the Black Kids, and did have a good time bouncing to the lively, joyful sounds, despite being tired and decrepit.

After the show I went for a beer with Chris, Lee and Ali, despite being rather exhausted, then walked home up St-Laurent.

Sunday: Got up around 9 AM and set about being productive. Went up to Marche Jean Talon and bought a ridiculous amount of vegetables, including some weird broccoli like thing that looked like an angry coral that Chris had dared me to buy the night before. As no one had called me back about going to Puces POP I decided to focus on my culinary plans and set about making 2 kinds of soup and a giant batch of chili. My freezer is now fully stocked for at least two weeks worth of delicious and nutritious lunches (not to mention thrifty!)

Then, to close off my POP Montreal weekend, MC and I went to the Cartune Xprez show, a cartoon-music-performance from the minds of Hooliganship. Difficult to describe, but definitely entertaining. Also, the last part was in 3D, which was super fun. I opted to keep my glasses in anticipation of my Mike Relm DVD, courtesy of the best sister ever since he played in Vancouver but won't be coming to Mtl.