Part III: Rasputina
I have been going to see Rasputina for roughly over a decade now. They've been a musical entity as significant to my development as Nine Inch Nails. There's just something about Melora Creagor's band of corseted eccentrics that always resonated with me, and that resonance has some magnificent staying power. Here I am, ten years later, still listening and admiring Rasputina’s creativity and craft.
I got to Le Poisson Rouge a lot earlier than I anticipated. It was a lucky arrival however, because it made me roughly the 5th person waiting in line! This meant that I would get an ideal spot, something that I haven't had for a Rasputina show in quite some time. I haven't been to Le Poisson Rouge since Patrick Wolf played there in May of 2009. A lot of the the place has changed. Now a spacious little concert hall, it felt more like Irving Plaza did back in its prime days! I sat perched on the ledge of the stage for roughly an hour and a half, alone in my eager anticipation. I struck up a conversation with two lovely young women from Montreal (YES, Canada) and quickly discovered that this was their FIRST Rasputina show! Looking at them decked out in their corsets made me rather nostalgic, to say the least. Here I was, in my 10th year seeing Rasputina live... and still there are people who are only seeing them for the first time! This first timer theme was extended also to my good pal Jordan Cooper- who only recently got into them himself. I was REALLY curious to know what HE thought of their LIVE performance, considering he's a musician himself. With all this fresh blood around me, it made me feel excited like it was my own first show all over again!
The opening act was a strange little solo artist by the name of Larkin Grimm. Decked out in birdlike plumage, her mouth open wide and wailing, I felt entranced by her performance. She was LOUD, gifted, eccentric, and very much a nice supplement to the show about to commence. Her music jumped around in genre a LOT, but all was solid and creative. I would definitely go and see her again, and encourage you all to do the same!
A short spell after Larkin left the stage, my dear little trio of musicians known as Rasputina came on stage. There was Melora Creagor, Daniel DeJesus, and yet ANOTHER new face of a drummer (whose name I do not know, sorry). They started with a strong classic- "Thimble Island"! I could go on FOREVER about how much stage presence this group has, how complicated and INCREDIBLE the music is, how gracious they are when they perform... but I will keep this short and sweet.
Rasputina is one of the best groups to see live no matter what the venue. I have seen them in the basement of a pub, I have seen them at Goth Clubs, bigger venues, smaller ones, and on and on- no matter what the sound is pure, the cello consumes every pore in my body and I am always left standing there, riveted. I can't NOT mouth out the words to every song, whether just learned last week, or ingrained into my psyche since I'm 14 years old. I have nothing but the utmost appreciation for their creativity, talent, and unmatched CRAFT.
Their gift of music was lovingly bestowed upon us for a long and glorious set. I just wish SOME people who came would've SHUT UP! During their more quiet, somber numbers, it got increasingly harder to hear them! Melora even made note of this and bitched 'em out a little bit, but sadly, to no avail. It didn't ruin MY good time, but I felt bad for the new comers! I promised them a fantastic show, and although Rasputina delivered, I was a little disappointed in the crowd! I vowed to make it up to the sweet girls from Montreal! I wanted them to walk away knowing that there ARE New Yorkers who care!
My chance came after the closing of their encore. Being advantageously at the front row and center of the stage, I launched myself up and onto the stage, lurched forward and made a grab for Melora's set list. At that very same instant, someone from the right side had done the same. Both of our fingers had a grip on it. In a second of hesitation I felt the little piece of paper slip from my grip- then, I hoarsely whispered "NO!" and grabbed the list! As I brought myself back to the floor, I could hear the young man's entourage let out little wailing "ohhhs" and I didn't care. I turned around and saw the girls smiling enviously at my good luck. The smiles quickly shifted to their own great fortune as I presented it to them and said, "A souvenir from your first Rasputina show!" They shouted and gave me their nice smiles as thanks. It made me feel good to do it. If I had met someone all those years ago and they did something like that for me... man, it would've made my night. I believe in good karma I guess.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Part II: Dinosaur BBQ
After being inspired by all the medieval glory of the cloisters, we went for a MAJOR change of pace... an early bird dinner at Harlem's ever growing in popularity Dinosaur BBQ.
I pigged out on Creole Spiced deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, chicken wings, spicy shrimp boil, Cajun corn, decadent roasted whipped sweet potato with a spicy nut topping, and Memphis style BBQ pulled pork sandwich. What's "Memphis Style"? That just means a nice serving of coleslaw slapped generously on top! Top that off with a frosty cold pitcher of Arrogant Bastard Ale and you've got one ultra satisfied Madame K!
There were a few high points of the meal experience for me. The Creole spiced devilled eggs... How do I put this delicately... They made me want to PUNCH THE CHEF IN THE FACE and then take him home and have his babies. Devilled Eggs are not usually something I go BUCK WILD for, until I ate this bad boy. I didn't know the center of a devilled egg could be whipped into creamy submission whilst trying to fight back with a tangy little zip of Creole spice! It was a regular S&M scene in my mouth the whole time I munched away at this simple unassuming little egg! Do yourself a favor, put your devilled egg prejudices aside and try one of these things out. Tell me if you don’t end up digging the idea of a devilled egg a little more post consumption.
As a rule, I order pulled pork whenever I go to a BBQ joint. It’s a bizarre fixation of mine. It’s something that has even permeated my subconscious— when I awoke from anesthesia and the doctor asked me how I felt My response was “How do I feel? I feel like a pulled pork sandwich- can you get me one?!”. So, without any hesitation, I ordered a Memphis Style Pulled Pork sandwich platter. Juicy, rich, and smoky, this pulled pork was just what my starved body was asking for. I threw on some extra spicy BBQ sauce- but only a little was needed. Every bite elevated me an inch closer to BBQ heaven. The coleslaw was tangy with a nice crunch, and it wasn’t too sweet either. It was the perfect catalyst to the boldness of the pulled pork. Throwing back a swig of the Arrogant Bastard Ale was the perfect finishing touch.
Every New Yorker should get their asses up there and try Dinosaur BBQ out.
Part I: The Cloisters
I woke up in a fog. I was in my man Dave's bedroom in Queens. I looked over to see his adorable and awesome cat, Tristan, sleeping curled up in the folds of the blanket where Dave's legs were, he was sleeping like a bear in hibernation. I momentarily reveled in the cuteness, the echoes of the wedding we went to the night before still ringing in my ears. It was then that I looked over at the clock, that my eyes went wide and I barked "OH NO!".
We had made plans with my fellow Social Club Team Leader, Queen Emil, to spend the day at the cloisters way uptown in Manhattan. We were supposed to be in Penn Station by 10:30. It was now 10:17, in QUEENS. I was panic stricken, immediately a whirlwind of text messages were sent. Frantically running about gave way to a long subway ride. At least there were bagels.
At high noon, Dave and I were at 190th Street. I felt as if I had been transported to another universe. All around me was foliage, and beautiful architecture. I could see a bridge, and what was presumably the Hudson River past the beautiful garden plants, benches, and stone. It took us a little redirection from several passers by, but we ended up in the entrance to the cloisters, taking in all the beauty.
There were several things that struck me about the cloisters. The first thing being how well it "fit" in uptown Manhattan. I thought for sure that it was going to look out of place and awkwardly slammed in between two less attractive buildings. On the contrary, it was right at home. Sitting atop lush rolling hills, the cloisters stood alone- imperial and regal. Surrounded by a quaint little park elevated high above the city streets below it looked and felt like a miniaturized version of Edinburgh Castle. It was absolutely beautiful and charming all in the same instant.
I'd been wanting to go to the cloisters for YEARS. I knew it was home to two of my beloved works of art- the Merode Altarpiece and the tapestry known as the Unicorn in Captivity. Much like the exterior, the interior of the place is magical. It's like Hogwarts, scaled down with beautiful works of medieval art placed throughout. I swear the gargoyles come alive at night!
My breath was stolen. The sheer medieval opulence of the place riveted me beyond words. I wished I was born there, I wished I was raised there, I wish I was wed there, and I don't think I'd much mind it if I died there either! Every room was special. Every little hunk of marble resonated with its pious origins. Each room upon entrance gave way to me giving a little gasp of joy. I was in total reverence of the place... And that is a word not lightly used here. You can't deny its spiritual ties that are unequivocally attached to almost every aspect of art in the cloisters.
On top of its religious undertones, the artwork here is an interesting window into the way of life in the medieval ages. The ideals of beauty, the slowly creeping concepts of perspective, depth, and realism that would come into fruition in the Renaissance, and the repressive sadness of the era reverberate in loud clamorous pangs in every work of art.
None effected me more than the Unicorn Tapestries of the Cloisters. In chronological order, the tapestries depict a hunting party first entering the layer of the unicorn, their descent to attack it, the beautiful beast defending itself, and its ultimate demise and presentation to the lord and lady of the land. The "rebirth" of the unicorn is represented by "The Unicorn in Captivity". This has been one of my favorite images in art history since I was a little girl, dreaming of Unicorns, mermaids, and fairies. I never really got a chance to understand what I was looking at, until it was before my eyes. Covered in wounds, the Unicorn is in repose, defeated. I'd be a liar if I denied that I was moved to tears. I found myself horrified by the cruelty of man, and his wild, strange, and beautiful imagination. We dream up such fantastic ideas, and then fantasize about killing them and making them a trophy. My mind ran away with itself in this humble little room. By the time I left I was convinced that unicorns DID exist, but they were brought to extinction due to over-hunting.
As I write this, I find myself reflecting upon metaphors for the unicorn. It can represent the elusive male or female heart- and our futile attempts to catch it, keep it, kill it, or try to set it free. The Unicorn is a representation of magic, of purity, or further still and maybe the most out there idea is that it's the unicorn is metaphor for Jesus. Whatever your interpretation, I will continue to love this romantic mythical beast. I hate to think of its extinction, or even worse, I hate to think of its passing into the realm of absurdity.
I can’t wait to go back to The Cloisters in the Autumn.