It was a truly wonerful, extraordinarily jam-packed New York City weekend for this adventurer / writer / biker / dancer / partier / eater / drinker / no pants wearer. Enough to warrant its own breakdown blog post. Here we go. Follow the boucning Matt Levy . . .
Friday: Work, N-Y Historical Society exhibit, 2 hrs down time, Bklyn > Queens Bike Ride, Secret Art Show, Queens > Bklyn Bike Back, Dance Party, Sleep.
A solid day in the office. Many friends and accomplices inquire as to what gets done in the "Office" when we're not putting together tours or tour packages. Well, a bunch of things, sometimes all at once, and hectically, which is generally what happens when you put more than one Levy in one room working on more than one project all at the same time. Friday's task list consisted of an email blitz to possible clients with whom I'll be schmoozing and boozing at a tourism conference in Virginia Beach during the first week of February. Another project was spent putting together a Press Kit for guidebooks to list our services to the average tourist. The Levys' Unique New York! was recently featured in Time Out's Guidebook to NYC 2008 (and not just a listing, but a 3/4s page interview with Gideon, reprinted from last spring's TONY issue,) which is stellar news as it gets out foot in the door for all the other guidebooks . After compiling press clipping and heading to our local graphic designer for part one of making them look professional and engaging, I tromped my way uptown to the New-York Historical Society for their free Friday night shindig titled "Let Them Eat Cake.".
The N-YHS, which is NY's oldest museum (founded 1804) is jumping on the free-Friday night bandwagon, but their catch is snacks and drinks for sale that compliment the current exhibit, which is "French Founding Father: Lafayette Returns to Washington's America." and is up through August. The foodstuffs for sale that night included pissaladiere (a French flatbread-type pizza), madeleine, fruit tarts and coffee, all from Bakery Soutine, on West 70th street. I pitched a cultural / food review of the exhibit to the Onion, and they bit down hard. This is what had me spending a solid two hours at the Lafayette exhibit Friday night, scribbling copious notes. The man was a rock star. Born into wealth, married into power, in 1777, at the age of 20, he set sail for America to help with the revolution. He quickly became Washington's right hand man and surrogate son, spent a quarter of a million dollars of his own money (in 1777, mind you) to clothe and arm his troops. By the Battle of Yorktown, the last stand for the British Troops, nearly half the ground forces were French. For the rest of the Lafayette story, check out the exhibit, and better yet, read my article - it hits the street on XXX.
Following the exhibit, I headed back to Bushwick for some down & dinner time. Exhausted, but semi-recharged by the presence of out-of-town friends whom I hadnt seen in years (plus whiskey), at 11pm I jumped on the bike and zoomed off to Long Island City, with trusty friend Marin, to check out a totally top-secret Flux Factory art exhibit in an abandoned warehouse. By invitation only and in small groups of 10 we were lead down an alley and behind a chainlink fence into a raw industrial space for a gorgeous and necessarily short walkthrough of a wild 1-night only installation. More, unfortunately, cant be said, as the producers of the artshow told us, under strict penalties, that no specific detail could be mentioned about the event, under threat of recrimination. This wrapped up around 1, and should have been the end of the night, if it weren't for a Black Label related dance party at a new nameless artloft space on Morgan Avenue in the no-mans lands east of East Williamsburg but north of Bushwick and South of Greenpoint. You know the stretch - facing the projects and chock-fulla lumber yards. Somehow, someone got hold of an raw space over there and turned it into an artloft. Ridiculous, drunken, late night flinging around and stomping down. Made it into bed, wild but wiped out around 4am.
Saturday: TCB, No Pants Subway Ride, No Pants Burger and Beer, City Reliquary Birthday Party Hosting, Bklyn > Bklyn Bike Ride, Crazier Dance Party, Bklyn > Bklyn Bike Back, Sleep.
Thank god, a nice late wakeup and tcb: breakfast, emails, clean-up, chitchat with the roomies. Around 3 its time to head into the city for the No Pants Subway Ride 2008, also to meetup with Dave from San Fransisco for the first time in a year or more. The No Pants 2K8 is organized by Improv Everywhere & has been going on for 8 years now; its exactly what it sounds like. A whole lot of people (300? 400?) all board various subway lines and take off their pants, acting like nothing is wrong. The schematics are complicated, mostly dealing with exiting the first train one boards, dropping trou on the platform, reboarding the next train which already has pantsless people on board, so on so forth. The end result is a totally ridiculous in-joke on the pantsless peoples and a what the hell is going on on the part of the regular commuters. The inherrent problem with this dynamic is that when you have a subway car with 100 passengers, and 85 of them arent wearing pants, the joke is reversed on the pantsless participants. It becomes a joke on a joke - an Oh, I get it. All these people arent wearing any pants and theyre acting normal. Thats (not-so) funny. It's all about the percentage breakdown of spectators to those involved in the spectacle. If the % veers too far towards the latter, then the joke isn't on the audience, its on the performer. All in all, a fun spectacle, but with its critical function ineffective, simply due to the sheer popularity and attendance of the event. Following the No Pants Subway Ride, a group of friends (with word about our destination spreading quickly) and I marched our way over to an excellent new Burger Joint called Stand on 12th and University. Good hearty tasty burgers, delicious micro-brewed beers, and 40 diners, all without pants. It was deleriously wonderful. And absolutely normal. Without pants.
Following the No Pants Beer and Burger extravaganza, I had to haul ass - with Dave from San Fransisco - over to the City Reliquary Museum and Civic Organization, in Williamsburg to setup for a birthday party. I'm the Events Coordinator and on the Executive Directors Board, and we had rented out our space to a friend of the CR, who was hosting her birthday party in our museum. For those of you unaware, the City Reliquary is a community museum that celebrates the forgotten history and collected ephemera of NYC. Its a collection of collections of awesome New York City stuff - like vintage Seltzer bottles, and a complete collection of subway tokens, and the "2nd Ave" sign from the original 2nd Avenue Deli. The birthday party was no big deal, twenty people, young professionals, drinking wine and beer, eating hot dogs and tater tots, and exclaiming mirthfully over our idiosyncratic exhibits of NYer's Geology, the History of Burlesque inside an old storage locker, and the current exhibit, a History of Rosendale Cement. That wound down about 12:30am, but with cleaning and lockup, we were back on bikes by 1am.
This should have been the end of tonight, but come now people, this is NYC! So there was yet another dance party to attend. Another Black Label related psychotic, presposterous blearly-eyed weak-kneed party spectacular, this one existed in an old speakeasy from the 70s under a hardware store under a walkup apartment building in Bed-Stuy. With about 80 people crammed into a rawspace the size of a walk-in cooler, the tunes were absolutely slammin', the bodies were young, lithe and pounding into one another, too much smoke in the air (which is what happens when one is attending an illegal, underground speakeasy dance party in NYC - people are thrilled they can still smoke while dancing and do so, egregiously), but finally, once in a too-long while, one discovers a dance party where everyone is dancing! The likes of those are few and far between, and I made good my promise of living to dance. Hours later, I biked my exhausted ass home, and crashed, again, around 4.
Sunday: CR shift, Relax Time, Lecture on Sanitation Department, Korean BBQ, Home, Done.
Not too late in bed, as I was in charge of opening up the CR for the 12noon - 3pm gift shop shift. It was a mildly-busy day, about 30 visitors and some good sales, but on the whole, enjoyed the quiet and peace and sewed a lovely little bird onto my favorite sweater. After the CR, I metup again with the same wonderful friend from far away and we chilled in some strange girls' apartment. 6pm was a lecture of the history of the NYC Department of Sanitation (which has alread been blogged - see below) and following that was a feast at a Korean Bar B Que joint on 35th street with old and new friends alike. Stuffed, exhausted, drizzly rain, talked-out and simply tired of moving, Dave from San Fransisco and I jumped the subway back to Bushwick where we spent the evening catching up on lives respectively, and laughing until the crazy early hours of 2am. It was the most unconcsious crash Ive had in quite some time.
And thats how one spends a busy NYC weekend.
9 months ago