Category Archives: Dance

Blues Chicken

With every last i dotted in the proofread Savage Girl galleys, I raced to my reward, a sultry New York City where everyone, it seemed, was perambulating, doing something exciting and interesting. Gil and I would go among them, we would do something exciting and interesting, too.

Eat chicken, for one.

Questlove, the drummer and frontman for the band the Roots, has got so deep into the fried poultry business that he had some kind of a late night throwdown with Momofuko head honcho and chicken man David Chang on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Now the musician has opened a counter joint in New York’s Chelsea Market called Hybird that serves exclusively drumsticks, fried dumplings, biscuits and cupcakes. All the essentials for a balanced diet.

hybird

We got to the labyrinthine food concourse in midafternoon, ahead of the crowds, snaking through a corridor lined with dozens of teas, our stomachs rumbling.

tea

The enormous Chelsea Market complex is located on the premises where the Oreo was developed and perfected, lending an air of sanctity to our excursion.

Chelsea Market features a lot of exciting things. Chilled, hefty lobsters.

lobsters

Falling water.

chelsea waterfall

Food venues. Outrageously good smells swirled around us.

bounty

What it didn’t have before is this particular chicken.

chix box

What is the seasoning, I asked Sammy, the guy double dipping chicken parts in a creamy paste behind the counter, when I managed to unstuff my mouth with chicken.

sammy

It’s a secret, Sammy said. A lady from Philadelphia comes in and mixes it up for us. She brings all the spices but she doesn’t tell us what they are.

I love a secret, especially when it tastes as good as this. The biscuit too was perfectly crumbly, smeared with honey butter, and we piled on further with crunchy dumplings that oozed out their sweet-savory crab filling when bitten.

Stencilled footsteps seemed to indicate where you should stand at Hybird, and naturally Gil was outside the lines.

feet

I saved the cupcake, whose flavor was described as “Sexual Chocolate,” for the car, a sexier environment than Chelsea Commons.

A bookstore.

books

Nary a copy of The Orphanmaster in sight. It happens. I fell back on my motto, handily available on a postcard.

it's always worth it

You never know who you will meet on a summer afternoon ramble around New York. In this case a young woman wearing a pair of the new Google glasses.

google glasses

Wilma told me she’d just picked them up upstairs, in the Google offices, having won them in a contest. She said she was recording a video of me as we spoke.

Sated, Gil and I continued to the World Financial Center, in Battery Park City, directly across the Hudson from Jersey City. We were looking forward to a triple bill of bluesy rockers, or rockin’ blues players, depending on your perspective, on a public terrace that sits in the shadow of the Freedom Tower.

freedom day

The sun shone so bright and hot that half the waiting crowd put up their rain umbrellas, a spectrum of colored and patterned domes across the concrete. New Yorkers are always more slovenly than they are expected to be, and serious exhibitionists. Women flaunted the briefest sundresses up to their backsides and sweat-slicked men ran shirtless through the crowd. In the harbor a stroll away, sailboats and yachts docked, and motor boats cruised in to check out the action.

harbor

Alejandro Escovedo hit the stage with his sweet blasts of melody, punk rock in its roots. His song Sensitive Boys could make you cry, or was that the sun glare in your eyes. He brought on David Hidalgo to do a searing You Are Like a Hurricane. Alejandro called it the Canadian national anthem.

We met up with friends and family at the venue. My touselled buddy Sandra the artist-environmentalist noticed that the masts of the little boats were themselves rocking, pushed by the wind, in line with the beat of the tunes.

touseled Sandra

Los Lonely Boys, the Chicano rock band out of San Angelo, Texas, were tight. A trio of brothers, they call their music Texican Rock ‘n’ Roll. How can three guys make so much noise? marveled Gil.

Los Lonely Boys

The lead singer and guitarist Henry shouted above the applause, We appreciate it! We know you can be anywhere else!

And it was true of course, on this summer night, with this breeze and the salmon streaks of sunset glowing, in this fantastic city. We could be doing anything but we chose to be here because Heaven, their hit debut single from a decade ago, was so exciting.

How far is heaven? Los Lonely Boys sang. You know it’s right here, right now, shouted Henry, in New York City!

Los Lobos followed, another American Chicano group, this one from California, with considerable chops that they took no time in putting out on the stage. They’d been around since the ‘80s, after all. The sun set, the klieg lights glowed, people wrapped their arms around each other and danced.

By the time we gathered our things, the skinny minx beside me who’d been flipping her skirt in time to the beat was sweetly reunited with her man.

couple

Love and music in sun-stunned, summertime New York City. A treat as scrumptious as fried chicken.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Culture, Dance, Jean Zimmerman, Music, Nature, Publishing, Savage Girl, Writers, Writing

Bluebirds Dancing in the Rain

I always wondered about the Danish Home. I’d passed the faded sign on Cedar Lane a hundred times, and never followed it down.

danishhome sign

I always pictured Keebler elves performing pirouhettes atop a barrel in the woods.

keebler_elves

Saturday I had a chance to check it out, because the troupe of Morris Dancers known as the Bouwerie Boys were set to perform at the site. It was, of course, a home for seniors. Nonresidents were welcome.

A light drizzle from the still-cool sky only enhanced the lush perfection of the setting. May flowers.

irises

A venerable orchard.

orchard

An imposing building of dark stone. A castle.

stable

Maud and I learned about the Danish Home. Founded in Brooklyn in 1906 for those of Scandinavian descent, it moved in 1954 to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Eighteen or so seniors inhabit the former stable–the castle–built by financier JM Kaplan earlier in the century as part of a 40-acre estate. It felt like a different country.

back of bldg

A harbinger of good fortune greeted us when we stepped across the wet grass behind the building while waiting for the dancers to arrive. Atop a cockeyed birdhouse tethered to a hydrant sat a bluebird.

bluebird house

Well–with a flash of sapphire and a touch of rust it fluttered away, not allowing a picture. Thank goodness it didn’t fly up my nose. We learned from Eric Anderson, who runs the place, that bluebirds and barn swallows squabble over the dozen birdhouses on the property, each camp currently claiming half.

Morris dancing also is supposed to bring prosperity, fertility and good luck after the long winter. Each village of the Cotswolds, in England, where the tradition originates, has its own style and costume, and all the moves are passed down from father to son.

man with dog

No elves, but something elfin about these husky grown men and their skips and hops, their bells and ribbons and flashes of “whites.”

dancers

The Bouwerie Boys dance all over the New York area (you can find their schedule on Facebook) and a little drizzle seemed to bother them not a whit.

single dancer

Nor did it trouble the elderly ladies in attendance, though umbrellas were in short supply. One kept up a steady gab throughout the performance. “I want to know what this is all about!” she said at one point and, later, with authority, “Goes back to Shakespeare’s day.” Which was not, in point of fact, correct. The year 1452 was the earliest recorded show of Morris dancing, so by Shakespeare’s day the steps were ancient.

fiddle player

The fiddle player in his “reel” life is the violist for the Manhattan String Quartet. By the end of the performance he’d popped a string.

Then the dancers sang a jolly tune: I like to hear those small birds singing early in the morning – hurrah for the life of a country boy.

Finally, shots of a clear liquid were passed among the dancers. Well earned, after valiant leaps in the light, ancient rain.

9 Comments

Filed under Dance, History, Jean Zimmerman, Music