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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Perambulating All Around The Apple
Or capitalizing on a rare extra day in the greatest city on the third rock from the sun

Okay, so as reported in the prior post, I treated myself to an early birthday present by flying to New York for my fantasy hubby's annual winter concert because his solo gigs are my kryptonite. And Southwest with their ginormous sales to Newark airport is my enabler.

DING!, you weak Muthaf*cker.

Anywho, all Southwest flights to Newark go through Baltimore. I opted for the earliest flight available which meant landing in BWI at 7:30am. BWI is one of my favorite airports. It has a great variety of foods like fresh made sushi, rocking chairs along the windows to while away the hours between flights and ... a bar at base of our gate.

No shit. The first thing that greets me after deplaning is a well stocked bar, open and serving at 7:30 in the freaking morning!! What, are you kidding me?! Yes, please! What. Juice is a legitimate breakfast drink. Don't be judgy.

I had the barkeep take a photo of our little breakfast club.

bloody marys and mimosas at 7:30am
these are my peeps
Obviously, Southwest knows their target audience. I particularly enjoy the blur factor in this photo. Seems fitting.

After checking in at the Four Points Sheraton in Soho, I found myself with an entire afternoon to kill. Soho is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Manhattan. The volume of restaurants and attractions is overwhelming, but thanks to the Yelp! app (thank you again, my dearest iPhone), I found a little eatery close by serving up delectable barbecued brisket.

downright lilliputian
A lot of restaurants are lacking space in town, but Rabbit was downright TINY. Super narrow with only four tables, the food and atmosphere more than made up for tight squeeze. The menu was pretty entertaining, too.

can't speak for the coffee, but the food is great

After stuffing my maw, I walked the 25 or so blocks to the Chelsea Market. Yeah, I bitch and moan about walking the THREE blocks from the Special K to Macy's, but I don't even think twice about trekking 25+ blocks in the Apple.

Geo and I went through the Market back in December. The building is filled with restaurants, bakeries, and specialty stores. I bought way too many cards and baked goods.

vibrant interior of chelsea market
One of the things I adore about New York, is every trip is different. I never know what I'll come across while on foot. The walk down 8th (Hudson) to the hotel provided these sights. (and other fun stuff from this trip. i'm condensing here, people.)

a theme restaurant where the gargoyles insult you

stay off the moors!!

still bummed this went condo

winner of the ugliest garments award
this was on madison ave...MADISON FUCKING AVE
we didn't look for a price tag because you
just know that shit is crazy expensive
i'm a sucker for big stuff on buildings

i love you so hard, new york nerds

Wait, what?!? JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE SHOP RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM MY HOTEL??!? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS???! Seriously. I've been staying at this Soho hotel for three years now. How did this escape me? P.S.: the dark chocolate with lemon is drool worthy. Mmmmm... The next day's trip proffered this big ass cookie for FREE! Score!

That bad boy is sitting on the table at another great little find, The Hudson Diner. The BEST crispy bacon I have ever eaten. EVER! These guys need to teach all cooks their trick because their salty side dish is goddamn perfection. Not that I have an opinion or anything.

Moving on...

For as many times as I've feed my Rhett obsession traveling to Winery shows, I have never had an extra day after the show to just hang out and enjoy the city. I usually fly in one day only to fly out at some unholy early hour the next morning. Since this concert was Wednesday night and I didn't have to be at work until Saturday, I had an entire 24 hours to do whatever, with whomever, and that whomever was my sister, Laura.

I treasure my time spent with Laura. She's lived away from home since I was 12, but she and I have always been tight. I would stay with her in Connecticut for weeks at a time in the summer when I was a teenager. (God bless her little round head) We're very similar, she and I--same sense of humor, same political bent, same love of the f-bomb--only she's way smarter than me and she's one of the kindest, most generous individuals I've ever known. She's one of my favorite people on Earth. I'm blessed to share the same gene pool as her. (She also way better at English grammar than I.)

Anywho, we met at Penn Station and proceeded to walk 22,000 steps (what?!) all over a sun-kissed Manhattan. We walked the 40+ blocks up Madison to a Caldar exhibit, stopping here and there, drinking in the diverse architecture and talking the entire time. Don't even ask me about what. It's a female phenomena. Talking non-stop, covering a multitude of subjects none of which can be conjured up later to share with the husbands.

central park
i have never traversed through this magnificent
green space the same way twice

sisters on the castle lookout
We went through Central Park and lunched on a pre fixe meal at Ed's Chowder House across from Lincoln Center found, once again, via the Yelp! app. OHMIGODJESUS was it crazy good. Three courses and a bottle of wine. Delicious! Once again, thank you remarkable machinery forever poised in the palm of my hand.

Before we knew it, it was after 4, and time for Laura to catch the train home. I can't even tell you how long it's been since she and I spent a day in the city alone together. I had a blast. Hopefully it won't be the last time we waste a day in the city.

But wait, the day wasn't over yet. There was an entire evening ahead!

Can I get a Woot! Woot!

First up... Happy Hour. Even though I've spent numerous phone calls drinking wine simultaneously with my friend, Marcy, we've never had the opportunity to spend an actual happy hour together. We met at a cozy, nameless wine bar nestled between a liquor store and Starbucks on Madison between 95th and 96th. The narrow establishment only sat about 15 total around the bar and stools that lined the short wall. It was great to catch up over a couple of glasses of mellow red (Conundrum) coupled with a perfectly matched cheese plate and tomato bruschetta while listening to Gigi, the gorgeous wine tender's awesome Pandora station. I believe it was Mumford and Sons.

FYI, time moves way too quickly when you're having fun. Two hours sped by in a blink of an eye, and Marcy and I parted ways flush from good wine and even better conversation.

Last stop of the evening was midtown Margaritas and Mexican with our nephew Zach and Kelly. I'm not going to lie to ya, things were getting a little fuzzy after all the wine and now tequila. The food helped stave off some of the slurring. A wee bit anyway. Okay, none. I was a mess, but my delightful companions didn't seem to mind.

You know what, it's so awesome having grown up nieces and nephews to hang out with. They were lovely kids and now they're wonderful adults who are a blast to be around. Zach directs for music festivals and the HuffPo online news, so it's great fun to swap horror stories of our mutual maddening business.

The three plus hours whizzed by like a shot. At 11:30, I poured myself into a cab and headed south to my ridiculously comfortable hotel bed, happy to have lived another day surrounded by humans I adore.

In Which I Bet You Can't Guess Who My First Concert Of 2013 Was

Okay, so I can't resist a Rhett Miller solo date at New York's City Winery.

It's a fact. So sue me.

It's especially difficult to pass up when Southwest thoughtfully puts their flights to Newark on sale for less than half price.


My all-things-Rhett/Old 97's traveling companion, Steph had just returned to work after maternity leave and couldn't make the midweek journey this time around. Boo. I always miss her, especially in the Big Apple. Believe it or not, I actually contemplated canceling the trip altogether.


I know, right? Geo didn't believe it either. Clearly, some aberrant fever cast a pox on me. At the last minute, my nephew's girlfriend, Kelly accepted my invitation. I've been talking about the lovely blue-eyed one ad naseum for years to her. I think I finally wore her down. Ha!

Kelly and I made it to the venue in time to catch the opening act, and Irish band called the Dunwells. The five lads literally landed in the US with barely enough time to make it to the Winery gig, let alone check in at the hotel. Even though they were disheveled and sleep deprived from their transatlantic journey, they put on a fun, high-energy show.

yes.the drummer is playing a box

They all came out to the merch table afterwards. Very sweet young guys with a lot of talent and, hello... irresistible accents. You had me at, 'Allo.

It's a great joy for me to introduce Rhett's music to a newcomer. Being familiar with his recorded works is one thing, but seeing him perform live for the first time is an entirely different beast. I get a renewed appreciation for his talent watching him perform through a newbie's eyes. I get a kick seeing a first-timer's jaw drop and eyes widen when Rhett starts ripping through his setlist, thrashing around, singing and strumming with such passion. You can sense them drinking the Kool Aid of the converted. I recognize that look. That was me years ago.
Kelly was familiar with a couple of his songs, but had no idea what to expect. By the third song, Broadway, she leaned over, eyes wide, to mouth, "I love his words!" and then "He has so much energy." It makes me so happy to share my exuberance for his work with others who come to appreciate him, too.

(a rare performance of Adelaide)

Mr. Miller was on, as usual. He never disappoints. NEVER. The evening's setlist was killer. He played a number of rarities, Adelaide, Busted Afternoon, Cryin' Drunk, New Kid and Jon Landford's Over the Cliff in honor of the ridiculous fiscal cliff BS all over the news. Hell, we were even treated to the Heisman line in Won't Be Home. Clearly, he is at home here.

(A great tale pertaining to the naming of his band Old 97's)

He was giving his all, bopping up and down, doing his signature half-Townsend windmills,  furiously thrashing his head up and down, anointing the first several rows with droplets of  sweat. Seriously. how does he not concuss himself?!? One of my favorite parts of the solo shows is his playful banter with the audience while he's tuning or peddling through a song. I love the stories and insights into the background of his songs, not to mention the glimpses into his charming personality.

(Rhett's referring to Springsteen's Born in the USA prior to singing Perfume)

(The Conscientious Haberdasher hawking his wares - Picture This)

After the ovation died down for the long, satisfying 29-song setlist, a group of us regulars stuck around to bask in the glow of the magnificence that had played out before us. Kelly's sentiments echoed our own long-standing beliefs. He's an extremely clever writer, expert at turns of phrase and an amazing performer possessing dynamic showmanship.

Yep. I think we got us a new fan here. Welcome to the fold, friend.

Lost Without You
Broadway (oh that killer high C!)
This Summer Lie
Lonely Holiday
New Kid
Need to Know Where I Stand
Barrier Reef
Adelaide (a very pleasant surprise)
Murder or Heart Attack (AKA, the Kitty Cat song)
Out of Love
Over the Cliff
Busted Afternoon (another rare treat)
Caroline (she may have been in the audience)
Perfume (it WAS a beautiful day outside)
Won't Be Home No More (avec Heisman)
Fireflies (delightful schitzo role play)
Let the Whiskey Take the Reins (sigh)
Picture This (awww...)
Cryin' Drunk
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome 
Big Brown Eyes (YEAH!!)
Wreck of the Old 97
Our Love

Wish the Worst
Queen Bitch
California Stars
Time Bomb
the end of the party :(

Of course, there are more videos from this event and others on my Youtube channel here.