Saturday, 29 November 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Chowing down on the Big Apple

New Yawk! The home town of Peter Venkman, Jay-Z and backdrop to a million movie moments was the target of our latest jaunt across the high seas. This first journey to the Big Apple was powered by a work bonus and the flogging of belongings at car boots with the final aim of taking in three days of sights and watching my sibling run the city's marathon.

It began, as many classic holiday adventures do, with a red eye inducing taxi and a trip to Wetherspoons. As we were travelling in one of Branston's swanky aeronautical vehicles, we had free bloody mary's and Kate Bush on the stereo for the whole journey. A bout of heavy boozing was interspersed by trying to get revenge on the girl sitting in front of us who insisted on putting her eat as far back as possible. 'Who does that?' Her punishment was getting bits of salad strategically dropped into her hair. Seven hours later we arrived in Newark slightly drunk and classically confused as we attempted to work out how to get from one side of the city to Bushwick in Brooklyn on the other. Big up the seventy dollars and the generosity of one old dude who led us through the subway system. Without you we'd still be there.

We were staying at the New York Loft Hostel, a place where the website's photos manage to do an incredible job of concealing just how tiny and dark the rooms are. But no matter, we only needed them to kip in as most of our time was spent skulking the streets like real life, grown up tourists. Bushwick, it turns out, was the London east end equivalent of Hackney Wick, all factories being turned into gourmet restaurants and big apartments. Amidst the businesses and factories still doing their hard clanking, were plenty of organic cafes and 'funky' boozers. Classic gentrified fingers getting stuck into urban pie. Our first evening out, coincidently also Halloween, was spent chasing the local booze scene rather than dressing up in outlandish and scary attire. The most frightening thing that happened other than encountering loads of bell ends dressed in silly hats was eating a pair of pig cheeks. Yum yum.

Our Saturday was a day of hoofing around Manhattan after taking the L train onto the island and slugging it out in the driving, biblical rain. It was pure vibes though as at every block or turn you walk into another iconic landmark that knocks yer bloody socks off pal. The buildings and ting certainly get your gob heading towards the floor as, if there's ever a place that makes you feel small, it's here. You're physically dwarfed by all these huge, shimmering skyscrapers and massive fuck off towers. We saw a whole range of shit to get your knickers in a twist including the Grand Central Station, the New York Public Library, Flat Iron Building and the Empire State Building before ending up in Central Park for a pint and a Jewish deli for a dock off butty. These sarnies are overflowing with cheap meat, Jabba the Hutt like in their dimensions and impossible to bite into in one go. Perfect.

After a brief nap, we were out again, this time in Williamsburg. The Alligator Lounge was our home for much of the evening due to the cheapness of their ale, British electronic soundtrack and free pizza. We did go somewhere else but then came back to the lounge for what was our final (and possibly 12th or 13th) pint as it was by far the cheapest and least cuntiest place of the lot. Bit like the Marquis in Dalston. Why did we stay up for so long? Blame it on the jet lag motherfuckers.

Sunday was marathon day and like every time my sibling runs summat and receives a promise to go and be watched, we slept in and got there late. But, after a corn dog, a walk, a sandwich and some frantic phone calls, we connected and went for some terrible scran in a shitty eaterie called Route 66. Artichokes and cheese is one weird ass dish one should try and avoid at all costs, particularly as the shit they cook it in sticks to your gizzards like cement. But big up to the water man. He must have served us a gallon of that nice cold shit. Big up to the sis for getting round those 26.2 mile in a deep cold after getting up at 5am to reach the start. Scary, yet inspiring shit. The evening was spent n the delightful environs of Greenwich Village, checking out gay bars including The Stonewall Inn (old and beary) and the cabaret drenched Duplex (younger, less beary) before we went to Cafe Wah. This was an underground basement with a live house band doing everything from Adele to Stevie Wonder. It was so dark I spilt wax all down my pins. Standard.

Monday was our final day on road, for one last great big round of sight taking in - Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island ferry, Ground Zero, Wall Street, scran in Tribeca and the High Line (a railway line turned rural path) all got taken down before some more pints and an early night in preparation for our another red eye return flight. There was much mooching, much dranking and much looking at shit and going 'wooooooo'..  Safe holiday vibes up inside the place... and props to the team. Big Apple we'll be seeing you again one day, hopefully once it gets a bit warmer...

Head over here for a full Flickr set of photos of NYC buildings and the occasional meal...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Coque au vin

Shit has been going down round here as we gear up big stylez for holibobs. Outlandish culinary adventures, new turntables, going round markets looking for cheap shit, pension plans and running (again. zzzz) have all bee upside the mix...

New deck - right heavy

Toilet issues

The bible

David Cameron at home

BBQ - outside - in October - stick that in your gob Michael Fish

Scrutton Street - aka Chug avenue

'ello hun

Only 32 years until retirement - half way there

The secret detective

Fuck off mate

Santino Rice
The Winchester - now flats. Standard

Sweaty (podgy) betty

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Amsterdam Dance Event

Amsterdam is well known as a city of canals, bifters and red lights but for the last few years, it's increasingly gaining a reputation to rival Berlin as a go-to place for a jolly old rave up. Oh yes and one of the main feathers in its cap of bleep, beeps and drops is the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). ADE has been running amok in the city for almost 20 years but it’s since the unstoppable rise of the EDM juggernaut that it’s really become a fixture for the good, the bad and the ugly members of the electronic biz.

I was fortunate enough to attend the four day conference last week. It was all down to a certain staff member leaving earlier this year and being in the right place to take up his ticket. This dude was a director who’d booked himself into a lavish five star gaff for the event, and, as the booking couldn’t be given up, it was down to me to take on the room. Cue chandeliers, a flash mini bar and decorations only the tastelessly rich or utterly blind can love. It meant that right from the off (and before we really got stuck into the cushington), there was a dream-like vibe around the conference and our trip.

On landing in the ‘dam, we disappointingly didn’t go straight to the nearest coffee joint. Instead it was head first into the thick of the conference to get our teeth into the challenges and opportunities facing dance music. Oh yes debate was flying around thick and fast. But while talk is cheap, the amount of dosh swirling around the dance music industry was abundantly clear, just from the freebies (including fancy headphones and bags) bestowed upon delegates.

The general vibe of ADE is very European, all puffer jackets, hard house, shades, fags and bad jeans.  Everyone is in a rush. And everyone is in a bit of a mood. It’s probably the grinding come down that comes as being an integral dance music player (or at least thinking you are) and being spotted in daylight. In some ways, this event is strictly for the vampire crew, with the conference itself not really getting into gear until after midday. The talk were themselves were of a high quality with one of the best bits being Dave 'The Baron Clarke interviewing Hollywood maestro Hans Zimmer and geeking out over synths. But their discussion, with both of them admitting a lust for Delia Derbyshire, was indicative of the conference - it was a total sausage fest. While the days were spent in the conference, listening to industry big wigs talk and admiring the fashions, the evenings were significantly more fun. Or at least more dazed. And hungry.

Wednesday we partook of a little basement joint called Best Friends. In here were plenty of red-eyed Dutch dudes all doing their best to win medals as the Netherlands biggest toker. We joined in for a bit before going to a boozer and marveling at the quality of the Heineken while occasionally bursting into hysterics or eating crisps. Standard behaviour.

On Thursday we ventured a bit further afield, finding ourselves suitably relaxed in a jazz bar listening to some dude in specs lose himself in his sax. The bassist looked how we felt, all eyes shut, reverie turned on. After that we staggered off via New York Pizza to tap up the Ninja Tunes label showcase. When we landed, Martyn was going B2B with hype woman Inga Copeland in what felt like a smokey cave. The vibe was dance music which you couldn’t really dance to. In fact the music was more like a gloopy pillow being stuffed over the face than anything you could shake your legs. So although it made for a diverting aural spectacle for the hour or so we were there, it could have done something less weird, and more anthemic to get our brain around. Thank god for New York Pizza being open late to satisfy the insane munch home.

Friday was a slightly more sedate affair as the flight back was big time early doors. But it meant more time spent blazing and less drinking. It was a look fo’ sure and saw us getting all weepy and hysterical in Dolphins before having to go seek out some crisps. The verdict? Well ADE is well worth a punt, even though we didn’t get sucked into quite as much raving as probably the rest of the crowd. We managed to miss some ace looking nights but didn't have a bottomless reserve of euros to call on. Plus If all you’re missing out on is checking out the latest EDM superstar, then the clubs are worth, to a certain extent, worth avoiding. So props to the event and big up to the gaudy room. It was tacky and over opulent with an unexplainable table in the middle of the room but it still made for a decent place to hole up and drink cans. It also had a huge fish spoon on the wall for no discernible reason other than why not. Why not indeed...

EDM approved ADE rucksack. Keep your drops in here

The delegates delegating

Hula Hoops - poor flavour choice

Thursday breakfast - first meal in over 24 hours

Dave Clarke vs Hans Zimmer - nice boots Dave

Amsterdam essentials

Chipsy King

Admiring Chipsy King's chips

New York Pizza - so good we went more than three times

Martyn going in at Ninja Tune

The back of Mark Jones from Wall of Sound at a panel on publishing - I interviewed him once and he rang up to tell me to fuck off afterwards... 

ADE in full effect

An actual, real, sit down meal

Deliberating what to nosh next, next to the bin #bincrew
At war