Thursday, October 15, 2009

This is Eet.

When I bought my ticket for Regina Spektor at the Radio City Music Hall I thought it was just some venue in NYC, but I'd been slowly realising that it is in fact a tourist attraction in its own right. It truly took my breath away to just walk into the foyer, but the auditorium is even more stunningly beautiful.

The scale of it really does not come across in photos.

My seat was almost right at the back but I made friends with John and Isabella who were sitting in the last row (Pavement fans! We talked about Christmas and SNL). They were moved forward because they were in the way of a camera, and I managed to sneak up to row TT, a pretty good seat! Except for the couple next to me who kept snogging, but I forgive them, it was very romantic.

Regina's parents walked past me and talked to some manager guy for a bit, they look quite a bit like her and seemed very excited. Last nights concert was definitely *the* Regina Spektor homecoming concert - she has really made it now, all her friends and family were there, and she looked so happy.

What can I say about the concert except that it was magical in every way? The set list has been posted elsewhere, but it went like this:

The Calculation
Folding Chair
Ode to Divorce
Laughing With
One More Time with Feeling
Two Birds
Blue Lips
On the Radio
The Call
Dance Anthem of the 80s
Silly Eye Color Generalizations
Bobbing for Apples
That Time
Après Moi
Poor Little Rich Boy
Ink Stains
Human of the Year
Man of a Thousand Faces

Hotel Song
Love, You're a Whore

The set was simple with only two giant disco balls that bathed the auditorium in stars during the encore, and some nice lighting for songs like Laughing With:

For "the little country song" at the end, I ran down the aisle and danced my little socks off.

Headed straight to the party afterwards where it turned out that there was an open bar! I felt a bit like a lemon on my own at first but that was soon rectified by free White Russians and dancing (they played Connection by Elastica, just as I thought things couldn't get any better!). I vaguely remember giving someone one of my unusual horse postcards, so if they end up here: Hello! I got talking to a Psychiatrist from Long Island with personal space issues, and a guy called Howard who was apparently part of Reginas entourage (which I totally didn't get, I kept asking him how he managed to get into the backstage party and what his Brümstix screen name was), and it was a little while until I realised that Regina had in fact arrived. Her dad helped me find my earring and I think I told her mum that she had done a good job with Regina (oh dear). Everyone was crowding around her so I decided to wait my turn and be polite, which was apparently the wrong strategy. As she was heading outside, she complimented me on my dress and said she had a moustache necklace too, I took a picture of her with some guy with his camera, and then she was suddenly outside and security wouldn't let me through. I was so shocked I started to cry, which I know is pathetic but then I had had quite a lot to drink by then, and went down the route of begging ("I came all the way from England, please please please"), and finally got this photo.

Mission accomplished. Now, time for a hangover breakfast.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I guess a bit of a comedown was to be expected after I'd been running around New York grinning like a Cheshire Cat for three days.
Today was a bit grey and cold and I walked into town to see the Columbus Day parade. I didn't realise Columbus was Italian, but apparently he was, and the Italians in New York seem to have taken over this holiday. The parade was a bit lame unless you're really into high school marching bands or old people dressed up as Roman poets, so I escaped the cold by going into the MoMA - I bought a combination ticket for 6 attractions when I went up the Empire State Building the other day, so I thought I might as well do as many of them as possible. But it was the same problem you always get when visiting big, famous art museums - each painting deserves at least 5 minutes of your undivided attention and requires quite a bit of background knowledge, and after looking at one room you're pretty much full up of art. I was in a bit of a daze after only the first floor. The only thing I really remember was a drawing by Marc Brandenburg, who was also in the drawing exhibition we had in Bristol.
I decided to try and refuel by trying the expensive Cafe Bar at the MoMA and ended up paying the best part of $20 for three halves of boiled eggs with a bit of caviar on. This didn't really help to reenergise me for more art so I went back to the Jane to chill out for a bit.

Fortunately, I'd picked up a copy of Time Out and decided to go to the Upright Citizens Brigade (a comedy club) in the evening, which turned out to be a great choice. For $5, I got to see Garfunkel and Oates, two girls from LA who do very good funny songs, AND a bunch of stand up comedians for free afterwards, including Brendon Burns! I also befriended a very nerdy guy in the queue (or "line" - I am working on my American) who had brought his Holocaust homework to the club with him. So overall, today was not a total washout!

Open doors

Sunday was Open Doors New York with lots of free stuff to do. Obviously it was impossible to do everything from the 10-page programme in one day, but I did catch a talk about public art on the High Line (a garden project on an abandoned elevated train track), a guided tour about the architectural history of Bleeker St in Greenwich Village, and a surprising dance performance on a museum boat.

I found a Vintage shop on Bleeker Street where I bought a blue 50s coat that goes perfectly with my blue sailor dress, but I'm not sure if it makes me look like a cleaning lady so I'm going to have to sleep on whether or not to take it back.

I also sampled some frozen yoghurt (very tasty, although I don't really believe the health claims) and discovered Christopher Street (of the gay pride march), where there are shops with puppies in the windows. My favourite bit was when a large man wearing a leather jacket with the American Flag on the back was talking loudly on his mobile saying "I'm in this gay place, you gotta get me out of here. They are going to keep whistling at me, come and get me NOW!". He was seriously distressed.

The evening was spent productively - watching the new episode of Mad Men while trying not to fall asleep quite yet!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Was I just in the same room as Drew Barrymore and Regina Spektor?

I got up at 4:30 this morning which was pretty easy thanks to my jetlag, and got a cab to Rockefeller plaza. The queue for Saturday Night Live standby tickets was already substantial, but it was only a few hours until 7 am so I decided to hang around. I eventually got ticket number 65 for the dress rehearsal, I figured it was more likely I'd get into that - and that I'd still be awake at that time!

After that little adventure, I made the best of being up and uptown stupidly early and went up the Empire State building. The view was absolutely stunning. Looking at the financial district from up there was just unreal. All of New York is just living up to my expectations to an unexpected extent.
The rest of the day was taken up with an extensive bike tour of the best bits of Brooklyn. I took plenty of photos but saw way too much to even remember half of it. A certainly memorable part was cycling through the Hassidic Jewish quarter. It was both the sabbath and a special jewish holiday, and it was absolutely surreal to see street after street after street with the only people around dressed in identical, entirely anachronistic outfits.

After a slightly nervewracking ride back into Manhattan, I was totally wiped out. Got about 20 minutes rest back at the hotel and then made my way back to the NBC studios. I didn't have much hope to get in, really, but after about half an hour of nailbiting wait, I was literally the last person to be let in to the studio. My seat was a terrible one right at the back, but shortly before Reginas first song, one of the ushers came and moved me to fill a seat in the centre of the front row on the balcony, directly next to Bobby Moynihan parents. Her first song was "Eet", and she later returned (in a fantastic vintage polka dotted skirt suit) to play "the Calculation", as well. I was happy. H.A.P.P.Y.

I was all set to go and have a big Saturday night in New York City afterwards, but was just too exhausted - and every bar I saw that looked fun had queues and guestlists. I accidentally wandered through Times Square (which is bewildering at the best of times) and have now made it back to the hotel in time to watch the final version of the SNL show on the TV while drinking a beer. I have to say, this show is really not very good. I've been trying to get into it, and Seth Meyers of Weekend Update is great, but almost all of the sketches are just badly written, lame and unfunny.

After all the excitement of today, I still feel like I've failed for not having a big night out as well, but I'll just have to live with that. Bed now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hell yeah.

I am in New York. To be precise, I have been here for about, ooh, 4 hours at the most. I am finding myself trying to think of ways that I can come and live here. The weather is glorious and everything is beautiful. The first thing someone said to me was "great outfit", then I bought a massive pretzel from a street stall, then accidentally found the High Line Garden on my way to the hotel, an abandoned elevated train track which has been turned into a park with art and sunloungers.
The hotel, on the other hand, is gorgeous, I have a room with a stunning Hudson River view (may be a bit noisy at night, the road is pretty busy, but I think I may just pass out anyway), there is an actual liftboy with an actual little red pillbox hat. The New York Wine and Food festival is going on in my (seemingly very posh) neighbourhood, although my excitement about that has waned a bit since I found out that you are only entitled to all the "free" samples if you buy a ticket for $150. I saw a photoshoot happening around the corner, they were filming Law and Order a few Streets up, lots of people walk around looking trendy with guitar cases, and I even saw a girl change out of monstrously tall designer heels to get on her one-speed bicycle.
I've been wandering around a bit, I reckon I can stay awake long enough to see "Cabaret Superstars Lady Rizo & the Assettes" perform, then it'll be about 3 am for my body clock and probably time for bed. In the meantime I found a shoeshop with the corny name Shoegasm which had my favourite kind of shoe (red, medium heel, mary jane) in the sale - and when it turned out that they were actually called "Regina" (!!!) it was clear I had to buy them.
Did I mention I have a ticket for something called "Regina Spektor Red Carpet event" on wednesday after the gig? Can things get any better?
I just realised that although I forgot my camera cable my handy little laptop has an xd card slot, so I'll be uploading photos as I go along.

Here's me with John Lennon (apparently it's his birthday today!) and Einstein.
. More photos on my Flickr

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dull Lull

I haven't been feeling overly creative lately so I haven't produced much apart from a few scrawly self portraits. I did make a start on an Aeolian shawl but I'm not very excited about it. I like the challenge of knitting lace, and the yarn is so soft, but lacy shawls are just really not me.

I've been scouting around for a new hobby but am not really willing to commit much time and effort to anything so I haven't got very far - although I was rather fascinated by a Flamenco lesson I went to on friday. Incidentally, I really hate the word hobby. It instantly devalues things people are truly passionate about, just because they don't get paid for them. I would never describe knitting or drawing or sewing as my hobby.

In any case, I should probably be devoting most of my time for the next five days preparing for my imminent trip to New York! I've been wanting to go for so long and always waited in case I could turn it into a romantic holiday or a fun trip with a friend, but news of this gig were finally enough of an incentive for me to go on my own. I don't really think I count as a properly fanatic Regina Spektor fan, but then I have gone to Paris to see her play before, tried to go see her in Hamburg, and am now flying all the way across the Atlantic for a gig! Also, I may try to get a standby ticket for Saturday Night Live with Regina and Drew Barrymore on the 9th, but according to the internets that involves queuing on New York streets for about 10 hours overnight. Maybe I'm not that fanatic... or am I? Apart from Regina stalking (joke! joke!) my plans for NY involve looking at lots of art, hearing some more music, eating huge pancake breakfasts, maybe some clothes shopping if I can afford it, visiting the original stitch'n'bitch group and a couple of yarn shops, and hopefully lots of drawing, which is good because it's free (and it means you get chatted up by arty people)!
Now, I think I shall give in and buy a guide book after all.