I saw a blinding white light -- or rather felt -- it as the sucker punch hit the left side of my temple. Later, staggering on The Bowery, I would be amazed that my Goorin Brothers newsboy hat stayed on my head and that my library book (Duff by Kody Keplingeri) would remain in my back pocket. I had taken two shots to the noggin and the next day my shoulder would feel pulled out of the socket (had the guy grabbed my arm or had it happened as I pushed towards him before the second white light punch?). The day after that, my left tricep would be sore perhaps where the two girls were banging on me. All in all, I was fine, nothing a day of ice packs and Netflix (American Horror Story season one) couldn't fix. I was sorry to miss the rest of The Dwarves punk show at the Bowery Electric, but glad not to be blindsided by punches. It was a good show, but I won't be attending anymore punk concerts and I blame the New Yorker magazine.
The New Yorker has had a lot of punk history stories -- the Cro-Magnum's singer has a new autobiography, the old NYC scene of CBGB's, modern street urchins, skinheads, straight edge suburban kids and the like. My favorite band is The Tubes, which is straight-up rock-and-roll via performance art, so the punk/hardcore movement passed me by. I never minded the bollocks and was happy hearing The Tubes live over 40 times in 30 years. The first naked female breast I saw was at The Tubes in Wochester, Massachusetts as an eighth grader. I procured a fake ID my senior year of high school so I could see The Tubes at The Channel in Boston. The Tubes have been all the music I need and the soundtrack to my life (fine, I like me some Katy Perry too.) The closest to punk was hearing stories about the DC punk scene from fellow window cleaner Ivor Hansen, who later wrote those stories down in the excellent book, Life on the Ledge. Ivor is the son of an Admiral and rebelled by drumming his path to a punk pioneer in the '80s with luminaries like Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi) and Henry Rollins (Black Flag and large biceps). Ivor and his wife and family now travel the globe for the United Nations, drumming a better world for all of us. That was my punk experience until I attended a Dropkick Murphy's show last week and wrote lovingly about it for The Huffington Post.
With the New Yorker making it seem like punk was safe for everyone, I attended The Dwarves show. I had seen the flyer -- a curvy topless woman with panties -- and checked out their shirts online (prior to the beatdown I bought the hot woman drumming in XL.) I realize that this is not the best way to judge a band's music, but the New Yorker led me to believe that it's not about the music, but the scene. I took in the scene at The Bowery Electric and it got the better of me. My friend Sam told me that The Dwarves have an entire album of 12 songs that lasts 13 minutes total and indeed the band plays fast, loud, and the songs are over quickly. I had pregamed at Coyote Ugly's happy hour (two for one Bud Light as I have consumed my lifetime quota of PBR, and some shots of Bushmills Black Bush Whiskey). I wasn't drunk, but ready for the punk, or so I thought. Midshow on the balcony (I don't do the mosh pit for the same reasons I don't do certain yoga poses -- my body just doesn't bend in that way), a girl who looked like the actress Lake Bell but with Warby Parker glasses was motioning to her blond friend (think Busy Phillips) that she wanted to go upstairs to smoke. She did this by jostling me, knocking into me as if it was the last subway train at rush hour. I pointed this out to her and she responded with a flurry of expletives not printable in a family-friendly blog. I verbally responded as well with some not-so-nice words and adjectives (like the wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap ones) and the girls went upstairs. The guy next to me on his Blackberry said to me, "What's up with her?" I didn't know.
She returned and with her back to the stage started slamdancing into me violently. My Bud Lite went flying and as I tried to put my hands up in defense, I was sucker-punched from behind. White lights twice and I was up the stairs and out (knocking down almost Busy Phillips I believe, but she might have been the one attempting to give me Tommy John shoulder surgery.) I was out on The Bowery not far from the former CBGB's (perhaps the new punk esthetic is $600 sweaters) and wondering what happened and what to do next. I thought of going back but didn't know what my male attacker looked like (perhaps shaved head, goatee, black leather jacket -- but I might be punk profiling.) I thought of calling the police, but there didn't seem much reason; it's only in Williamsburg that beating on a hipster is a hate crime. I thought of posting a nasty Yelp review but really, who has time for that asinine negativity? So I went to Croxley's Ale House and bought some chicken wings to go, which I ate with a sore jaw while watching Netflix (switching from American Horror Story to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for some levity and laughs.)
It was only the next morning, with a sore head and a ringing pain, that I wondered if my jaw would recover in time for Brisket King NYC. That was my main concern as I prefer punk-rock chefs over, well, punk rockers. My jaw did recover and I attended Brisket King NYC (in a yellow ascot -- good thing I wasn't wearing that at The Dwarves show.) It was stellar. The highlights include brisket innovation from kimchee to brisket tacos, but no one did it better than Red Hook's Hometown BBQ -- it was thick, moist, and both mouth- and eye-watering due to perfect peppered spices. I asked one of the faithful who follow Pitmaster Billy Durney and the smoked meat master said that they just put in the time and if it's not right, they won't serve it. It sounds a lot like the philosophy of pizza genius Dom DeMarco and it worked at Brisket King NYC. I also ate an excellent potato bun-clad sandwich from Dinosaur BBQ, and the guys from Pig NYC made some fine goods but were a write-in ballot entry for the judging, which is always tough in the grease-stained world of sliced meat-ranking. I rubbed shoulders with luminaries like the guy who owns the Waterfront Ale House and the fifth generation of Katz's Deli (who is charged with not changing a thing to do his job.) Joey Deckle was there as was Jimmy Potsandpans, so it was a swell gathering. Of course, no NYC BBQ event would be complete if it didn't resemble The Walking Dead and the crowds ate most of the brisket in an hour, mumbling for more, more, more. I took dessert in the form of Sheepdip Whiskey, which like the meat around it, was smokey with a nice mouthfeel. Oh, and no one punched me in the head, which I now consider essential to a pleasant night out.
Brisket digesting, scotch evaporating, I guess the lesson is to stick to one's own brand of punk -- or simply don't believe everything you read in the New Yorker. Finally, I want to apologize for my unkind words to fake Lake Bell and almost Busy Phillips, but I think they owe me a Bud Light and I don't want to get hit in the head anymore... just in the gut with some hardcore brisket.
Crazy Legs Conti tweets about his new found cathartic Icelandic rock, Sigur Ros, at colemansbandg.