In early February this year, Jolie and I did an overnight visit to Manhattan. We had tickets for a show by the band The Residents on Saturday night and booked a nice hotel room in Midtown so as to stretch out our time there. Everything was all set. And then Mother Nature intervened.

weekend storm map

This was the view from inside our house on the Friday of the big storm.

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As a result of this heavy blizzard of snow, we were, initially, up in the air of what would happen. Would we be able to get to the city? Would the show be cancelled?

Thankfully, after shutting down overnight, the Metro North got all the tracks cleared of snow and debris, and the Residents, after having to cancel a show the night before in Northampton, MA, posted on Facebook, on Saturday afternoon, that they were in the city getting ready to play. Whew, relief! So, after clearing out our driveway, and making sure our vehicles were not stuck there, we were all set.

After a pleasant and relaxed ride, and a short walk through Times Square, we were at the hotel, the Shoreham, which all in all, was very nice. As a bonus, they offered a glass of champagne upon checking in. I gladly accepted! I toasted to the fact that we had made it down there without a hitch.

Here's to the weekend!

Here’s to the weekend!

So, after a bit of relaxing in the room, we made our way back out, to grab a quick bite (some hearty Irish pub grub), and then to the show.

slush

Z Deli

a toast

Jolie at dinner

ordering fish and chips

Finally, we arrived at the club, Stage 48, which was way over in Hells Kitchen, on the far west side, and made our way in. We were happy to be out of the cold and able to wait for the show to start. We simply made our way onto the floor and waited.

before the show

We were also pretty impressed with the look/style/vibe of this very modern club. Here is another image, from the club’s website.

bar area - Stage 48

bar area – Stage 48

Now, about the show that we were about to see? Well, we’ve both been Residents’ fans for some time. Jolie and I certainly like a lot of different forms of music, including by bands of a more experimental nature. And the Residents are certainly quite original and experimental. Originating in Louisiana and shrouded in the mystery of decades of anonymity, they gravitated toward the San Francisco, where they, along with a few other like-minded performers, created the (now, sadly defunct) record label, Ralph Records. Many years ago, I purchased a copy of this record.

Ralph Records compilation record

Ralph Records compilation record

Here’s a small sample of the Ralph Records’ aesthetic

This – along with a few other records that over time either made their way into my record collection or that I somehow got exposed to – helped to open my musical tastes toward experimental/electronic/free-form music. Jolie and I are happy to be fans of just about all of the performers on Frank Johnson’s Favorites. And of the Residents in particular.

residents_eskimo

An example of the Residents in action – their rendering of Elvis

And another – from a few years back

The show was thus a lot of fun. There were three Residents on stage, and as is always the case with them, they performed with their identities concealed. Their instruments  consisted of an electric guitar, some keyboards/sound files (they once upon a time used tapes, but now made use of an Apple laptop and vocals. Their music , and their performance of it, was trippy, odd, catchy, unsettling, thought provoking and often riotously funny – all at the same time. Here are a few images from the show; before the Residents took the stage, the only thing there to prepare us for the Dadaist experience to come was the set – some musician stands and a large Christmas themed inflatable prop of Santa and a snowman.

Residents stage set

Residents on stage one

Residents on stage two

Residents on stage three

Residents on stage four

crowd at the Residents

Residents guitarist

Randy Resident

Residents laptop

And at the show’s closing, the Residents paid tribute to their best known, and most iconic image of the eyeball by hoisting an inflatable eyeball tree. Great way to end things!

Tree

tree

After the show, we more or less abandoned our plans to catch a cab back to the hotel, as it wasn’t so bad out. Nevertheless, we were glad to be in the warm, comfortable confines of the hotel.

One last comment about avant-garde music. Many years ago, when I was probably still in high school, and visiting with my sister and the man who would eventually be her husband, my future brother-in-law, who’s got great taste in music, introduced me to this classic, for which I will always be grateful.

The next day started, as it so often does, with a favorite hotel ritual – a coffee and newspaper. The hotel offered both a Sunday NY Times and a complimentary cappuccino or espresso. I had the cappuccino, and it was really good.

paper and coffee

For breakfast – we decided on an NYC landmark, the legendary Carnegie Deli

Carnegie Deli napkin    Carnegie Deli exterior

Nothing like a hearty breakfast of a sturgeon omelet with home fries or a cheese blintz to make you feel really full pretty much for the rest of the day.

Carnegie Deli omelet

Blintzes

The Carnegie Deli is famous for many reasons, and as such, it has a long history of attracting celebrity customers; as we looked up, Jolie noticed that she was sitting right next to the Gene Siskel autographed photo.

Gene Siskel

I had  Larry Hagman and Kiss right near me.

Larry Hagman and Kiss (2)

Anyway, I love the Carnegie Deli and the traditions that it represents. I am a fan of working class, Jewish-American culture, particularly as it existed in earlier decades in NYC’s working class neighborhoods. I was thus saddened when Jolie brought to my attention this article. But, my hat is off to the Carnegie Deli and the legacy of its founding fathers.

The Founding Fathers

Carnegie food items

Following this yummy breakfast, we made our way back to the hotel, rounded up our things and checked out. Luckily, we were able to keep our bags at the concierge desk. We were then free to wander. And there was one place in particular that we wanted to go, following the snowstorm and that was nearby Central Park, which we figured would be glowing beautifully following the snow. That prediction proved to be correct. And, given that it was a Sunday and it was above the freezing mark, the sight of people enjoying the park in winter was for both of us pretty evocative of childhood memories of wintertime play.

Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park Central Park

Tom and Jolie in snowy Central Park

After a few pleasant hours strolling the park, the rest of the day basically consisted of crossing over to the east side of Manhattan and then making our way down to Lexington and 53rd, to a fine little place called Melt Shop. We were very happy to give their grilled cheese sandwiches and side of “shop tots” a good try. Everything was quite delicious!

P1710088 Melt sandwich Jolie at Melt Melt window

Tots

The day in Manhattan was clearly coming to a close.

fancy building exterior

snowy Park Ave

Lexington Ave

Blue Manhattan

street steam

Manhattan canyon - black and white

food stands

cab blue

But, not before on last taste treat – a cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes, a place that we spotted earlier in the day. The verdict? Not bad, but not great. But a pleasant enough way to end the visit.

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