Day three: Wednesday March 9th:
I had heard a local in Alewife on Monday night say that there would be record temperatures for March this week, but I didn’t know what that meant and put it down to drunken bar talk. Today I would find out that not all drunken bar talk is fallacy.
Tonight I had tickets booked to see Brian Fallon (formerly of The Gaslight Anthem) play Irving Plaza, so I planned a simple light day in anticipation of a heavy night and following yesterday’s busy day. I started with a great coffee and pastry at Birch Coffee on E29th before setting out to explore the Flatiron District, following the route suggested on Trip Advisor by another poster (again, apologies, I forgot the name!) The architecture between 27th & around 18th on Fifth and Sixth Ave is just magnificent. Last year I came here just for the Flatiron Building, but there is so much more of interest to see throughout this neighbourhood. The cast iron buildings are special. I continued through Madison Square Park – which was absolutely teeming with people because, as anyone who was in the city this particular week will know, the drunk guy in Alewife was right and the city was baking in spring sun – and over onto Park and down to Gramercy Park. I’m so glad that I knew to look out for the Chrysler Building through the gates of the private park here – I loved photographing that building from all angles.
I continued down to Union Square, where again the knowledge I had acquired from my first visit paid off and I was able to see some sites I had missed last year, such as the Metronome clock and some of the statues around the square. It is here that I witnessed probably the most incredible and bizarre thing during my time in New York. To the naked eye what I saw was a bunch of colourfully/oddly dressed men and women screaming and chanting and writhing on the pavement, singing and dancing and everything in between. It was equally interesting as it was utterly bizarre. A plea for information on Facebook led to an event named “Looping For Democracy” and it eventually became clear that they were trying to encourage people to register to vote. And here was I thinking that the searing heat had gotten to them.
Along the way I enjoyed one of my favourite lunches in New York at City Bakery. Their cakes and cookies looked very appetising too, and if they were anywhere near as good as the food on offer then I’m sure they were wonderful.
My hunt for good wings took me to the Old Town Bar prior to the concert at Irving Plaza. Very good, sticky Buffalo Wings, although behind Alewife in that particular pecking order. This was a busy wee place with a very old-fashioned traditional feel. The service could have been a little faster, but you do feel like you are genuinely drinking in the footsteps of history in this place. A little across the street sideBAR was useful for Irving Plaza but it wasn’t particularly my scene.
Irving Plaza as a venue reminded me a little of the Barrowlands in Glasgow, one of my favourite gig venues. The stairway up to the main hall, the layout of the bar, the tight intimate atmosphere. Seeing Brian Fallon play here, in what was pretty close to a hometown show for the New Jersey native with a good portion of the crowd seemingly having made the trip across the river, was a tremendously fun experience. The sold out audience was super into the performance and the new songs from his forthcoming album were almost instantly old favourites.
Best tip today: It’s a good idea to have at least one day where you can be loose with your plans. While I had an outline of what I wanted to see on this day I wasn’t bound by times and schedules like yesterday or future days. It’s nice to be able to take things leisurely and explore anything interesting which may come up – like that Looping For Democracy thing.