Salut from Paris, and good morning to you.
Found an Irish pub in the final hour of November with a musician who counted down to December by beatboxing and sleigh belling into what he later informed me is Boss’s hottest new loop pedal called the RC-600.
My Christmas music repository (and this very newsletter, dear readers who make it worth writing) got a shoutout on Mace Griffin’s Independent Study, the last music blog left at the end of the internet.
The scaffolding encasing Notre Dame lights up (and then goes black) overnight on a schedule I cannot determine, and they are painting the Eiffel Tower gold for the Olympics.
When it was first assembled it was bright red, parts painted in the factory. It’s funny how these decades-lasting decisions which the next generation will fight to preserve are made in near-impulsive instants, and usually for a reasons we Highly Engaged People don’t much care for (Olympics, COVID, construction, marketing), and often scoff toward, or flatly oppose.
The Statue of Liberty used to be penny-colored, the Liberty Bell used to be a ill-sounding broken chime, and 5th Avenue used to be a creek (which now flows underneath).
I think the gold sounds nice change but I haven’t yet seen it up close yet on a sunny day, so may report back if I hate it.
Last night I tried to buy an 2024 Olympics enamel pin in the shape of a pigeon but the Paris 2024 Official Atelier accepts only the official and exclusive credit card of the Olympic Games: Visa, and—I am just now realizing—I have only Masterscard.
Yesterday also, I migrated Airbnbs and my new roommate is a penny-colored one-footed pigeon named Google. She has one foot, and likes to land on tummies (not fingers).
free, The Boathouse, Prospect Park, NYC
I have been a fan of the Gregory Brothers since I dunno, 2008 maybe? They were once more or less an acapella group, until the youngest brother Michael discovered autotune software and turned them into Obama-era YouTube gold: Auto Tune The News¹, the Bed Intruder Song, the theme to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, most recently Corn Kid, and a bunch of good skits and great songs you’ve never heard of.
Since I moved to NYC in 2012, attending their annual friends-and-family-and-whoever Christmas show has become a tradition, and they do a radio play version of Gift of the Magi which evolves each year and, genuinely, is one of very few things which can repeatedly make me cry. I hadn’t heard any news of it this year, and I think I now know why.
Andrew’s wife Casey died just over two weeks ago. Tomorrow, at the Prospect Park boathouse, you can mourn and celebrate and buy medical debt and then anonymously forgive it, and (until they kick you out for this part) burn the paperwork in a bonfire. “Please wear something that expresses your deep sorry at our loss, as well as something that expresses the joy you feel.”
The worst part of traveling is always the things back home I cannot attend, and this one is especially devastating to miss.
If you do go, please say hello for me, and ask if they received the package I sent to Hope St., because I think I misaddressed it. It relays things I would have said and given had I been there tomorrow. If they did not, please ask if a Gregory would be willing to get in touch so I can get it to them, and then leave them be.
free, way out east, Brooklyn, NYC
Nobody manufactures selzter bottles anymore, but luckily they were made (mostly in Poland, apparently) to last, with half-inch glass walls and something like 300psi-rated permanent gaskets, which is insanely way more than a car tire. You might have read one of the twenty NPR articles about Walter the Seltzer Man, but he wasn’t actually the last (these guys are), and anyway this is where Walter got his bottles filled.
If you are in NYC and want to sign up for monthly seltzer delivery, mention my name to Alex and I think we both get a free month. There’s like a 3 month waitlist, so get on it.²
free, Houston & LaGuardia, Greenwich Village, NYC
My pal and co-leader of the Millenial/Boomer Drinking Club Lynn is an abstract painter, and is hosting an open studio Sunday.
Her studio is her apartment, which is the kind of massive entire-floor place you could score in 197⁂, then split with your legendary wife Ellen (do not tell Ellen I said this) and sleep together on Tuesdays and Fridays, and close the doors to live in separate sides the rest of the week.
100 W Houston St., Apt. 3F. Just buzz and tell Lynn that Jacob sent you, all are invited. If this is your first open studio: it’s chill. Artists are desperate to meet normal people, and there’s no pressure to buy anything. Ask dumb questions, drink wine, just hang, leave whenever.
pay what feels right, Lincoln Center, UWS, NYC
The Caretaker was of the earlier examples of millennial media’s fetishistic obsession with Generation Z’s taste in music, but I’ll admit this is how I discovered him. The Caretaker has a haunting wonderful album called Everywhere At The End of Time. It is one song he didn’t even write, for 6 hours. This is because it is a tape loop that degrades over time as it plays, until its sound is fuzzy nothingness.
It is about dying of dementia.
On my Christmas list: an EaTEoT vinyl
omg, I just realized: if he is selling vinyls at the show, buy one. They are impossible to find and I will fully reimburse you.
I’ll be back just in time for this, reply if I might see you. Or at least if you read Hell Gate and want to see me, I can drop some hints.
$10 cash, Herb Lubalin Archive, East Village, NYC
Paul Shaw once spent a few years trying to figure out if Mexican scribes lifted or just twisted their nibs at the end of downstrokes, to flatten out the bottom. He’s a legend of letters, and has a secret Letterforms Study Group which I’m not sure I’m allowed to invite you to. We’re meeting for the last time for a while Thursday, at Herb Lubalin’s archive.
You bring $10 cash, Paul pulls over 80 archival materials, and we spend over an hour on the first one and rush through maybe three more before we get kicked out by the librarian.
There’s a waitlist but also no-shows, so just reply, bring a $10 bill, and you’ll be my surprise +1.
Lynn’s Place (see above). Generate is the name for our Millenial/Boomer Drinking & Club (as we have expanded to all generations. Live music by Noah Wilson, live visuals by Sidney San Martín. No organization conversation, just a holiday party. Great chance if you’ve been afraid of Generate.
$idk, Cambridge Masonic Lodge, Porter Square, Cambridge
Finally going to Club Drosselmeyer. I think this year we reset to 1940. If you’re around Boston, say hi or figure out how to get in.
I may write more on these closer to the performances and I have in the past (what serendipity the two things I compared are returning!), but just please trust you should reserve tickets, plan travel if you can, and I am so happy there is at least one more chance for you to witness these.
free, Space at Irondale, Downtown Brooklyn, NYC
$20–25, Collapsible Hole, West Village, NYC
Middle Collegiate is the coolest church in NYC that I do not go to. Once there was a (false) fire alarm during a hymn so the congregation just evacuated while singing and continued on the sidewalk. They had a coworking space on weekdays. They have one of the better homemade Pride floats each year. Their annual street fair is practically a bacchanal.
It burned down in early December 2020, while I slept 700 feet to the west.
They put up signs to help graffiti artists and the homeless find new places to tag and sleep.
Last week we held a funeral for the façade, as the demolition contractors began removing the highest bricks. And we began planning the next building. Design is in progress, and you can still say what it should be.
¹ I just discovered this fan website and archive, which feels straight out of 1998 and which I wish I had made. Reminds me of eternally-relaunching-soon jarchives.com. If the object of your love has no online repository, it doesn’t mean you’re alone; it means you should make it.
² I would link here to an amazing outtake from (I think) It’s A Wonderful Life where (I think) Jimmy fills a glass with seltzer from one of these bottles, but it just skids the glass walls like a slide and splashes his opposite (don’t know her name, bad at actors, don’t care) smack in the face, but my internet here is way too slow right now here at Le Chateau D’eau café/jazz temple/bar. Probably making up that it was from IAWL anyway. I can find it later, so hit me up if you find this as cacklingly funny as I do.