I karaoked for the first time in a while on Tuesday.
And it was good.
It almost didn’t happen, in its own roundabout way.
Rob-beardo who had initiated the want to go back to our hallowed Planet Rose of summers past, was not even the one to let me know.
It was that dastardly Andrew Parrish who inconsiderately foiled what was doubtless Rob’s plan to surprise me with a night of karaoke and beards.
“Who told you?” Rob asked demandingly. “Goddamit, now it has to happen.”
But like I said, it almost didn’t. Rob and Katie Rotondi saw “Passione” at the Film Forum and were so depressed by the musical quality in that film, they thought to abandon the whole endeavor entirely.
Plus, well, um, they weren’t sure who was going to come.
“I just don’t know if it’s worth it.” Rob said through the sweat-soaked rubber of my phone. “I just feel like it won’t be any breaks if we’re just sitting there doing song after song.”
“Three people is enough.” I replied. “You’ll get some breaks. Drink some beers.”
“I guess so, babe.” Rob said. “Where are you?”
“About, um, 20 blocks away.”
Why was because I had employed several of my strategies for getting through pockets of empty time on a free-day:
1. I had gone on a quest, this time to a library to read Mick Napier’s book “Improvise” which I heard was a good one for those studying the craft. It was interesting though I felt the usual amount of daunted by how many years I’d have to do this if I wanted to be “good” at it.
2. I went t the Apple Store to dick around and continue a previous quest, which was to jailbreak one of the iPad 2s that was on display there using jailbreakme.com. Unfortunately, I was thwarted by AT&T’s delightfully crappy 3G service.
3. I dropped by the Time Warner center to pick up a cookie, be annoyed they were out of a different cookie and bother friends who work there (My friend Sam Song is a baker there but he’s unfindable in some hidden kitchen).
4. I decided to walk to the place I had an hour-and-a-half to be at. It’s something passed down from my dad, an avid walker, who recently had to be dissuaded utilizing the combined jew-guilting forces of me and my mother from walking to Red Hook from my parent’s place in the Far West Village to pick up a rental car (a distance of 5.2 miles).
It was poor idea on my part, this time, that last one, because it was hot out and sweaty. I soaked through my shirt, my back especially. I got dehydrated. I spent too much time playing Words With Friends on my phone.
The only can say for myself is that at least I felt I was doing something, because all of that sunlight was charging my phone through my cool backpack that whole time.
The allure of cool things.
Eventually we all made it there, Rob convinced over time, Katie getting over her anti-Karaoke bias.
My attempts at rehearsing Rob Thomas’s “Lonely No More” which I thought appropriate given my love of Rick Astley, were not so successful though my rendition of “What I Like About You” was pretty spot on if I do say so myself, though Rob critiqued it for “just generally being one of [his] least favorite songs”.
As I’m wont to do when my friends dither, I chose songs for them, letting Rob do a sadly half-hearted version of “Uptown Girl” and watching Katie pretty much nail 4 Non-Blondes, though she complained because she was an alto, though she pretty much nailed all the tonal shifts and I told her so.
We went on the three of us, transitioning through the hard-core early crowd who had been there to watch Law+Order SVU (the pre-karaoke entertainment) to an empty bar with just us three doing songs, to a bar full of our friends as my relentless texting and twittering paid off and our friends came in with their own friends, like branching into some sort of beautiful karaoke tree.
As I drank Bud Light, after Bud Light, after Bud Light and went from songs I knew, to songs I was just drunk enough to sing.
Blake LaRue even showed up, cast on-foot to belt a few 2000s-era raps from his couched perch, to everyone’s delight.
It was a time.
If I had a complaint about the evening, it was that the bartender (who had a good voice/song selection himself) was new and didn’t buy me back any drinks or beers, like they usually do there after a while.
I guess I felt pretty high on my horse as the person whom everyone knew in that karaoke bar of friends.
Also, in my drunkenness, I took some pride in my pseudo-celebrity. Very dangerous (though I have never even come close to “do you know who I am” territory).
But I got through my songs, including Gaga’s “Bad Romance” because it’s a gravelly song with parts for the whole bar to sing and doing man/woman swaps in Karaoke can be one of the more effective and impressive techniques. I even did a finisher that I stumbled through of “Dancing in the Dark” by the Boss and mumbled along to “You’re So Vain” which I had picked for Katie and came up several hours later and which she was embarrassed into doing when someone complimented her on her song choice.
I stumbled home, Smart Water in hand, catharsis achieved, not even sad for my drunkenness.
I was proud that I didn’t get Taco Bell on that long walk back.
I only got KFC.
I was also part of this hip new (old) thing recently called “The Mp3 Experiment”.
My friend Keith Haskel, of the coolness and the professionalism and (even) the hot lady action (come on man, you don’t have to have that too, that just sucks) helps run the event and films it, as part of “Improv Everywhere” the organization he’s a part of that helps do things like no-pants subway rides as social/art experiments. It’s pretty much as cool as you can get in the street-art-performance world nowadays and Haskel’s at the epicenter.
The concept of this event was relatively simple. Show up at a specific location (Pier 25 near TriBeCa) at a specific time (8:30). Bring some items (in this case, a mask, a flashlight, a glowing object, a glowstick) wait until precisely 8:30 and then press play on mp3 on your device. And then, just see what happens.
What happened this time was a massive mingling of people, a sort of combination, dance, meet-greet, walk, sillyness, high-five parade and massive aerial light show.
Within the confines of the structure of “two tribes having first contact” we took pictured of each other looking silly, slow danced, tried making weird clapping noises and generally smiled a lot.
It’s difficult to describe except to say before it I was worried about writing a sketch and afterwards I just did.
I went to bed happy having accomplished what I needed having not imbibed any mind-altering substances.
I saw Haskel a few times, from the crowd, filming with his Canon T2i only for a moment as he ran to catch up with the migrating crowds.
At the finale we all were instructed to take a picture ourselves and mine you see before you.
I ran into Keith on the way out talking to a pretty lady.
“This is my friend Nick,” He introduced me, gesturing. “Star of stage and screen.”
“And this is my friend Keith.” I replied looking at her. “He runs this thing and makes funny stuff and cuts funny stuff and has chiseled abs.”
“Alright, thanks Nick.” Keith said desperately waving me off.
“Chiseled abs.” I repeated.
And left the park, over toward the West Side Highway.
After my previous post, in which I tried to incite some sort of response to the food-truck craziness in NYC, it felt good to have a conversation about it with a real live person.
That talk came when I finally got my druthers up to visit the Mexicue Store over on 7th Avenue, in a district I found out bizarrely from my OKCupid app that is called “The Tenderloin” (bizarrely both from the name and the fact that I was using OKCupid’s disturbing new Grindr-like function).
The owner I had a long talk precipitated by my blatant declarations within the store about the nature of food trucks that caused him to approach me, where we discussed many things that were mostly espoused in the last post.
The point was, he recommended the Mac and Cheese.
Which I can tell you is both delicious and not offered in the traditional Mexicue truck.
It’s called “Green Chili” mac and cheese and I’m not sure if that’s accurate, but it’s yummy.
Full of subtle, subdued spiciness and my favorite man-add-on, green onions, it balances a nice tight-rope walk between creaminess and subdued flavor, enough to compliment the BB(or Mexi-)Q it’s supposed to be serving.
It comes in a little cup, sealed tight and hot and nice.
Some of the other items are still being tweaked, they’ve only been open for a week.
But this one.
This one should stay.
MEXICUE: THE STORE
Green Chili Mac and Cheese- $5
7th Ave bet. 29 and 30th Sts.
1 to 28th St NR to 28th St ACE to 34th St- Penn Station. BDFMQ to 34th- St- Herald Square