New York, New York – so good, as Gerard Kenny once sung, they named it twice. And so, here I am in the middle of this bustling metropolis, a month after I stepped off a plane at JFK to start a new life here. Well, actually, I’m not in the centre of the city, but in my room in a Brooklyn apartment (Fort Greene, to be precise), where the skyscrapers are replaced by brownstone townhouses and the streets are slightly more gentle, slightly more relaxed, slightly less chaotic.
Chaotic, though, is a great way to describe my time in New York so far. It’s an insane city, where there’s always something to do, someone to look at, somewhere to go – whatever the time of night. But unlike the times I’ve been here before, I’m taking it easy. Because this time, I don’t have to pack everything into a couple of weeks. I have as long as I want to immerse myself in the city and all it has to offer.
Taking the plunge
Of course, with the amount of music on offer here, it’s been hard to not plunge headfirst into it. Within days of arriving, one of my favourite bands, The Gaslight Anthem, were playing at Webster Hall. They’ve just signed to Mercury Records and look to be on the verge of big, big things, so it was a pretty intimate space for them – certainly one of the smallest venues I’ve seen them in, but then I was pretty near the front. I also got dragged by my housemates – sorry, roommates – to see Braid at the Bowery Ballroom the following week. They’re a band I’ve tried to like for more than a decade but never quite felt the click, but that night I got it. It may have been because I was incredibly drunk, but it still counts.
Tomorrow, I’m heading into Manhattan – I’ll probably walk, because there’s nothing quite like walking over the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan and the sun’s shining and you’re venturing toward this incredible skyline and you grin wide because it strikes you that this is your city now – to interview Titus Andronicus. I’m listening to their new album now in preparation. Their last, 2010’s The Monitor, was one of my favourites from that year, and I’m excited to sit down with them just across the water from that oft-overlooked state of New Jersey, which, like Bruce Springsteen, Gaslight, the Bouncing Souls, Frank Sinatra and, erm, Bon Jovi, is where they’re from.
Speaking of New Jersey, I went urban exploring in an abandoned townhouse there a couple of weeks back. It was next door to where I was having drinks and a barbecue with some friends, and after enough of the former, myself and one other climbed the fence and walked in through the open (well, missing) back door. It was incredible – holes in the floor, ceilings caving in – but I didn’t have a camera or any battery left in my phone. Next time I go back, I’ll try to get some pictures. That’s a promise!
The man of the hour Having spent six and a half years living in London, but dreaming of New York, Mischa Pearlman has finally made the jump across the Atlantic. Now, you can find him drifting between the venues and late night bars of Manhattan and Brooklyn and grinning manically while gazing at the skyline. He writes about music for various magazines and, just to complete the cliché, is writing a novel. E-mail him, if you like: [email protected]