I didn’t have a chance to consult with Bonnie on this.. So there may be some inaccuracies.
From the couch I can hear Ramya mulling about all morning. Each time, I just roll over and go back to sleep. I notice that Bonnie is trying to sleep in as well. She’s bouncing from the bed to the love seat and back, trying to avoid the clamber created by Ramya’s morning routine and phone calls. Finally, ten o’clock rolls around and we both reluctantly get up. Today is Saturday and tonight is the Buck 65 concert. Our plan is to go on a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery. I have no problem deciding which of my one pair of shorts to wear. The 3 pairs of jeans that I brought are likely going to sit in my suitcase the whole trip!
After lazying about for an hour or so, we have to head out so Bonnie can go to the bank before they close. First order of business is coffee! There’s a very conveniently located Starbucks less than a block away. We walk to Starbucks and then a couple blocks to her bank. After that, we descend into the subway station and head for Brooklyn. We arrive at the brewery and purchase a couple of beer tokens. I notice that the guy at the counter is munching gingerly on some strange looking chips. They’re guacamole flavored tortilla chips.. Hmmm. At the bar, I order a beer with my token and a bag of those mysterious chips. Surprisingly, the chips are pretty good. It’s probably well past 2pm and we’re both pretty hungry. The picnic tables we were waiting at were littered with carryout menus from local pizza joints. A nearby table’s delivery has just arrived. We weigh the pros and cons of the various pizza joints and decide on a true victor. The plan is to go there after the tour and satiate our growing hunger.
The tour begins and we are lead into the next room of the warehouse where there are various giant containers. The overly energetic girl gives us the rundown on the company history. She tells us about the founders, about the brewing process and about the variety of brews. It’s fairly interesting, but Bonnie is disappointed because the “tour” pretty much entirely takes place in a single room. I think perhaps our hunger made us into a rather fickle audience.
By now dying of starvation, we leave the brewery in search of the pizza joint. Being the big music dorks that we are, there’s no way we could resist the tiny record store as we passed by. We stepped in just to take a “quick look.” After we both scour through every single used cd they have in the store, we decide on a couple of purchases each and are back on our way. By this time, the beers at the brewery have made it into our bladders and the urge to urinate is actually surpassing the desire to eat.
We poke our heads into various restaurants that don’t appear to have bathrooms. Finally we duck into a bar and feel obligated to validate our bathroom use with a beer each. Despite the heavy foot traffic outside the front door, this place is a ghost town. The only other patron leaves shortly after we belly up. The bartender is friendly and the music they are playing is decent. The men’s room is pretty atrocious, but does have plenty of soap and paper towels. What more can you ask for? Bonnie and I are quite pleased with this place. There’s a photo of the bar on the wall from what appears to be the 1920’s. After taking our respective trips to the restrooms, the bartender asks us if we want the free pizza that our beer purchase entitles us to. We’re still set on the pizza joint that emerged victorious during our comparison at the brewery, so we decline.
After a little bit of deliberation it seems that something terrible might happen to us if we turn down free pizza. After all, we are both working on rapidly diminishing budgets and we’re starving! We reconsider the bartenders offer and anxiously await our frizza!! About 15 minutes later, she brings out two 8 inch pizzas baked just for us, still the bar’s ONLY patrons.
The free pizza is the nail in the coffin. Charleston Bar & Grill is our favorite place in Brooklyn. We decide that it should definitely become a tradition henceforth. Finally, we pry our fingers from the edge of the bar and head out the door. Full of cheer and no longer hungry, we descend into the subway station. Curiously, this one lacks the stifling heat shared by most other stations. There is a strange bearded fellow strumming merrily on his guitar and humming lyrics that neither of us could quite make out. There is no rotting flesh, body odor or feces aromas assaulting our noses. Much like Charleston Bar and Grill, there is something magical about this place. Our train pulls up and we hop on, both of us still gaping in awe.
Halfway home, we have to switch trains. It’s obvious that the magic of Brooklyn has been left behind us. We’re now waiting in a very crowded subway station. This crowded hellhole is equipped with the aforementioned stifling heat, it is devoid of music and worst of all it is bursting at the seams with the powerful smell of feces! The scent literally drains the color from our faces. It’s atrocious! The seconds tick away like hours as we pray that every arriving train is ours! Eureka! The number 3 arrives and we board as quickly as possible. There’s nowhere to sit on this crowded ass train, but it’s still quite a welcome escape from the giant toilet we were just trapped in.
We finally arrive on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and make our way to Ramya’s Apartment. We lounge about for a while telling her stories about the fairytale we had experienced in Brooklyn. Bonnie and I convince Ramya to join us at the Buck 65 concert. She purchases tickets for herself as well as Al, her boyfriend and Danielle, neither of which have arrived yet.
The plan is to go to another vegetarian restaurant located in Chinatown, which is near the Knitting Factory, which is where the concert is. Al arrives and Bonnie and Ramya continue getting ready. I’m on the verge of passing out again on the couch. I decide to get my arse up and be social. Al is a 32 year old, black computer guy with a great sense of humor. It’s nice to have another guy around in this ocean of girlies. I have already been subjected to numerous episodes of 90210 (both the old and new version) and now I have somebody to talk with about poker and computers!
Danielle arrives and we’re just about ready to embark. Danielle is about our age, blonde, sharp-tongued and apparently likes latin dudes. With so many witty people in one place at one time, you can imagine that the insults are flying and it looks like this is going to be quite a fun evening.
We take the subway to Chinatown and step into the tiny Chinese vegetarian restaurant. They seat us and we order appetizers. I try some kind of bean soup, which was not bad. There are some kind of seaweed rolls, which were pretty decent and a tortilla topped with some kind of veggies and sauce that was rather delicious. I ordered something, the name of which I have completely forgotten. I think it started with an “s”. It was pretty good and very filling. I tried a piece of Ramya’s food, which was General Tso’s Soy Protein. Surprisingly, it was very very good!
After dinner, we all head to the Knitting Factory for the rap show! Ramya and Danielle are having some major problems walking in their uncomfortable shoes. They are making it well known to the group. We arrive at the concert venue and the show has not started yet. There’s a DJ spinning some pretty good hip-hop jams on stage. Al, Bonnie and I order some drinks and we all stand around awaiting the show to start. The space begins to fill up and Alias, the first of three acts, takes the stage. Halfway through his set, Danielle and Ramya can’t stand anymore, so they retire to the bar in the next room so they can sit. After Alias plays, Buck 65 goes on and it’s a very cool performance. He plays new songs that have never been heard before. He displays his amazing turntable skills. He plays some old favorites. I take a ton of pictures. The performance is absolutely fantastic! There is some French dude and his girlfriend all grinding on each other and dancing into everybody, which is very annoying. Eventually we make our way in front of the offenders and avoid their annoying wrath.
After Buck 65 plays, Themselves take the stage. Dose One and Jel (the members of the group, Themselves) put on a phenomenal show. They’re extremely talented and it shows! Finally, the third act is done and everybody’s feet are sore. We settle up with the bartender and head out of the venue. Ramya and Danielle refuse to walk another foot, so we decide to take a cab. The only problem is there are now six of us. This guy named Jose, a very small Mexican dude with good taste in music has been charming Danielle all night and has joined our clan. He lives near Ramya and is now traveling with us. We decide to split up and take 2 cabs. After Jose valiantly flags down a taxi, which Bonnie and Danielle join him in, we stumble upon a minivan cab, which would have held us all. Oh well. Al, Ramya and myself head back to the Upper West Side in the minivan cab. We have a rather extreme driver who’s crazy ass driving is rather amusing to Al and Me.. Not so much to Ramya, who was by now, tired and cranky.
We arrive at Ramya’s building, she ascends while Al and I go across the street for some pizza. They have pizza by the slice and it’s like $4 per. I called Bonnie to see if she and Danielle wanted any. Four slices of pizza is almost $20 and drunken Al is razzing the foreign guy behind the counter about the highway robbery. It’s pretty funny.
We get back up to the apartment and dig in. Finally Bonnie and Danielle arrive and after our ever-so-healthy 2am pizza snack, we all find a place to sleep and crash. Bonnie and I relish in the possibility that since we kept Danielle and Ramya up so late, there’s no way they could possibly be up at the crack of dawn!! We may get to sleep in yet!