A couple of weeks back, I wrote what I’d consider to be a somewhat half-baked piece about never wanting to leave Manhattan, despite being a married father of two. This was for a website called Fatherly. I consider it half-baked in that I didn’t really expound on a few salient points, and pretty much came off — to my mind, at least — as simply being a blustery, pugnacious snob (although some might argue that that’s a reasonably accurate description). Should you care, you can read that piece here. My apologies, in advance, to the Westchester residents among you.
On Fatherly’s Facebook page, I was somewhat predictably lambasted by a handful of readers (and that’s being generous, … the story didn’t exactly ignite a maelstrom of clicks) who basically said my article was a worthless waste of time penned by an insufferable hipster. Fair enough. Like I said, I ultimately didn’t extrapolate enough, which just left me sounding like a cliched cartoon character.
In any case, at the beginning of the story, I wax rhapsodic about my nights out on the tiles in the early 90's, frequenting storied dive bars and rock clubs like Downtown Beirut, the Lismar Lounge, CBGB and the Limelight. While that’s all accurate, I was struck this morning by a piece in Salon penned by a fellow denizen of those rightly revered locales. His piece, however, is written with a great deal more restraint, poise and maturity. That guy is one Tony Fletcher.
I first met Tony Fletcher through an independent music magazine I was toiling for called The New York Review of Records (I’ve mentioned it here several times). A British ex-pat and prolific writer, Tony contributed a few pieces to the 'zine, and was always a fun, informative and affable guy. He also deejayed at a few places like The Limelight, The Grand and a couple of other clubs. Back then, I took full advantage of Tony’s bottomless generosity, and managed to gain entry to many an establishment via his good will.
Tony ended up immersing himself in his writing, and has gone on to publish several books, including a number of authoritative rock bios, as well as a strenuously researched history of the music of New York City which I wrote about here on the sadly largely dormant New York That Nobody Sings.
Anyway, a decade ago, Tony gave up his perch in Brooklyn — where he’d been living well prior to said borough’s meteoric rise in profile and hepcat cache — and packed up his family to move to Phoenicia, in what the late Spalding Gray so colorfully called “the crotch of the Catskills.” I’m proud to say I’ve been to Phoenicia (our best friends/next-door neighbors have a house nearby), and I cannot blame Tony for being fond, protective and wittily pedantic about its finer points in retort to an odious article in Time Out which dubiously proclaimed it a sort of new Brooklyn.
Read Tony’s piece by clicking right here. Maybe some day, when I grow up and stop being such a naive idiot, I’ll follow his lead. In the interim, I’m still staying put here in Manhattan.
And since it's still online, here's Spalding Gray's "The Terrors of Pleasure," documenting his move to a hamlet in the Catskills (also near Phoenicia) wherein he planned to pen the "Great American Novel." It remains my favorite monologue by the great man...