Quick Indie guide to Seeing NY


I believe Indie is not just a fine taste for music…it’s a lifestyle.

So, a little while I got an email from a friend announcing he’d be spending a few days in New York City, and he wanted to know what were the coolest sites to see. I spent two months last summer living and working in Manhattan, and I prided myself on getting around and seeing some of the lesser-known, but definitely worth seeing, sites. In fact, after the two months, my co-workers gushed at how I had seen more stuff in NYC in two months than they had in the years they had lived there. Anyway, here’s what I recommended–my Indie guide to seeing NYC.

Note: These are only a few sites, if you have some good suggestions, add your 2 cents below.

1. The site of the 1964 World’s Fair. A sight that maybe only an avid historian would love…this one has particularly cool meaning for They Might Be Giant’s fans. Not only do they mention the fair in a number of their songs, they filmed the video for Don’t Let’s Start (video below) there. Sadly, the site is fairly run down now…half of it has been taken over as a skate park, and the arena behind me in the picture below has been overrun by a local theater company, which uses it as a junk site.

2. Strawberry Field: The immortal memorial to John Lennon still features plenty of flowers and a steady flow of Lennon music. It’s on the outskirts of Central Park and can be kind of hard to find…but once you find it, you get a “daily double” as just across the street is the hotel where John Lennon was shot.

3. Battery Park: Summer Concert Series. Last year, NY had the best Indie music for FREE at Battery park. I blogged about the spoon concert, below, already. I’ve posted a recording of the concert as well (click on Spoon in the side bar). Definitely worth seeing.

4. Go Meet Rupert. My FAVORITE experience while there…the Hello Deli, just around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theater where David Letterman is filmed, is actually a great place to eat…and Rupert is one of the nicest guys around. Right in the middle of orders, he’ll take a picture with you and even wish your dad a happy birthday on your cell phone (ok, that’s what he did for me…I cant imagine he’d have done it if it was busy when I went in). You’ve got to get there early though, the place closes at 4.

5. The NY Cathedrals. In the Cathedrals, of New York and Rome, there is a feeling, that you should just go home, and spend a lifetime, finding out just where that is. Ok, so few may know this Jump Little Children classic, but I’ve always held it as one of my favorites…so when I got to NY, I had to find every cathedral I could. St. Patrick’s is easy to find…but this one right in front of the Juliard* (below) was my favorite.

The LDS Temple is a very nice addition to the NY skyline

*Speaking of the Juliard…10 points goes to the reader who knows the Moxy Fruvous song that mentions the
music school.

So, that’s my quick Indie guide to seeing NY. If you want the main sites, you can probably find them on a quick google search.

Brian’s Sansa Lil’ Monster on Random

Well, I don’t have an Ipod. I think they’re too expensive for what you get. In stead, I  have a SanDisk Sansa Lil’ Monsta…got it for Christmas from the Indie Girl. It’s been great. 8 GB of listening fun.

Which brings me to the point of this post…Last Summer, I read an article where  John Linell of They Might Be Giants put his Ipod on random and commented on the first 5 songs to show up in a live interview. I like that idea, and have always wanted to do it myself. So, without further ado, here’s my Lil’ Monsta on random:

1. King of Spain, Moxy Fruvous (album: Loud Noise): This is a fun song. It’s rather old (mid 90s I believe), but I love it, and not just because I used to live in Spain. It’s a quirky little song about the King of Spain doing a Mark Twain Prince and the Pauper switch and ending up driving a Zamboni for the Maple Leafs and working at the local Pizza Hut. And it’s even a capella (yeah, I know, a capella died as soon as the first a capella record was released, but this one’s fun). The thing I love about Moxy Fruvous is their wit. Their songs are incredibly intelligent, and quite funny. One of my favorite lines comes at the end…”So next time, you drool in the pizza line, remember slow our pizzas are lucious, the King of Spain never rushes!” If you’ve never heard of this group (there’s a good chance you haven’t, they’re from the Great White North), I highly recommend checking them out.

2. Love has no borders, Howe Gelb (album: ‘Sno Angel Like You): A haunting little song. Think gospel music without the pep.  Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of this song, but it’s worth a listen to…and it’s  part of a longer set of Howe Gelb music I have. I love his stuff. It’s all very rhythmic, with some tunes that are hard to forget.

3.You got Yr. Cherry Bomb, Spoon (album: Ga Ga Ga Ga). After my previous post and this post, you’d think I was a huge Spoon fan. I like them, and I think Brit Daniel can infuse some excellent piano into his songs, but this song doesn’t do it for me really. It’s only on here because it’s part of the rest of the Ga Ga Ga Ga album. The song feels like 60s pop a la Chantelles and other bubble gum pop groups from the era. Yet, the song is catchy, so it stays on my MP3 player.

4. Yankee Bayonet, The Decemberists (album: The Crane Wife): I love this song. I don’t care that this album is old news, this song is one of the best the Decemberists have written, says I. I love the back and forth between Colin Meloy and Laura Veirs. It’s so catchy, while maintaining the nice Indie undertones.

5.  Another Day in L.A., Indigo Swing (album: Red Light). Ok, this may not be Indie music, but the thing about being an Indie fanatic, you’ve always got an eclectic mix of music on hand for diversion, and this is one great diversion. Indigo Swing’s “Red Light” album is absolutely fantastic, even if you don’t like Swing music. Johnny’s voice is fantastic, reminscent of cool, old-time jazz, and you don’t get that very much these days. Oh, and the piano tracks are fabulous…I’m a sucker for a good piano track.

6. Oija Me, Communique (album: Poison Arrows). I found this on e-music, and I have to say, there are days when I can listen to Communique all day long. It’s got a charm to it, with a nice mix between Boy Kill Boy and Teenage Fan Club (I know, odd pairing). They’ve got some powerful electronic sounds, but a nice old-school melody feel with them. This song is a great example.