Rock 'N' Roll
I hope you are surviving the hectic lead up to the holidays. I find that this time of year is a great opportunity to look back ... way back! And, for some reason, I keep coming back to my past through music. I think everyone remembers the music of their parents (Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees), their first album (The Doors Greatest Hits), and their first concert (Huey Lewis and the News). Music provides the soundtrack to our lives. For me, this was a year of music nostalgia with the death of music icons David Bowie & Prince, my recent visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as my new (old) vinyl collection given to me by my Mom. This week, I will keep you in the Loupe as I explore my past (and present) through music!
Most people will be traveling or laying on the beach during Winter Break. Therefore, you need a great book (maybe a few) that will hold your attention. I recently read Please Kill Me and couldn't put it down. It is the story of Punk Rock, and the book is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. It is written in the tradition of oral history, directly from interviews by the primary players in the story. I will caution you that this book is not white washed and presents the dark underbelly that was Punk Rock in the late 60s/early 70s. If you are not interested in punk (sex, drugs, and rock & roll), then this book isn't for you. Who knew that Lou Reed had a penchant for transvestites (I guess I should have listened more closely to Take a Walk on the Wildside) or that Dee Dee Ramone turned tricks as a gay prostitute to feed his heroin addiction. You may know some of the individuals, bands, and places, but this book will reveal their stories in ways you never knew.
Rock Junket New York City
This group provides the most comprehensive New York City Rock tours. With options like The East Village Punk ‘n’ Rock Tour, Greenwich Village Rock Tour, Union Square Rock Tour, and the Beatles Walking Tour, you choose your own adventure! I, of course, due to my newfound fascination with Punk Rock headed to the land of CBGB's. This tour brings Please Kill Me into the physical realm as you can experience the actual place where it all went down. Sure, the area has been gentrified and CBGB is now John Varvatos, but you can get a sense for what it was like for these very flawed, yet genius individuals, who created punk rock. Oh, and do not miss along the way GEM Spa, which is literally legendary. While it may look like the ubiquitous newspaper/candy stores on every Manhattan corner, it's not. This is the birthplace of the authentic New York City-style egg cream. BUT, more importantly GEM SPA was a gathering place for the Beats, then the hippies, then the punks forever made famous by New York Dolls' first album and Basquiat's art! Try the Egg Cream --- it's a NY classic: milk, Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup, and seltzer from the siphon.
50+ years ago emerged one of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Rolling Stones! Deservedly, this legendary band is being celebrated in NYC with a must-see, limited run blockbuster show. Like all good shows, this one started in London. Much like the Stones themselves, this exhibition(ism) is on tour and currently playing live in NYC! It's completely immersive, with 9 rooms dedicated to Stones' influence on music, art, and fashion. With interactive 3D footage, you are thrust from their humble beginnings to rock super stardom! Sure there will be lots of white dudes aged 40-60, but I brought my daughter and she has a new appreciation for Rock & Roll (and Instagram photos). Get some satisfaction ... here!
As I alluded to earlier, I found (and took, thanks mom!) a comprehensive and rare collection of vinyl records by The Beatles, Elvis, as well as a few choice selections from the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead. Playing those records brought me back to a time and place in my life that I hadn't been in awhile. It also harkens me back to a time when we would listen to entire songs (no skipping) and entire albums (it takes time to switch). Both my memories of punk rock and Please Kill Me motivated me to expand this budding collection and buy the vinyls of The New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Patti Smith, and The Ramones to name a few.
Good Records NYC has been in the East Village for 12 years and is thriving! Its inventory is offline and only available in the store, imagine that! Therefore, you have to go in religiously because the inventory changes all the time. Part of the fun is scavenging through hundreds of records to potentially see the one you want. It is the perfect task for the true finder! After all, if something is easy to find, is it as rewarding? Ahhh .... existentialist questions!
Need a great record player to spin your vinyls, this is it! This turntable has it all and makes the perfect gift, as you can plug and play. If you want to take it to the next level here, you can too .... as it has a built-in USB port if you want to digitize your LP collection. Furthermore, it has the ability to convert the analog signal into a digital one making it compatible with most sound systems. With professional sound, this will suit the audiophile as well as the novice, and makes for a killer holiday gift costing ~ $249, not bad for the person who has everything. Anyone can have Sonos, but an authentic record player ... that's for the true rockers at heart.
Master and Dynamic Headphones
These headphones are for the techie and the fashionista. Selling at stores like Colette, Ralph Lauren and Bergdorf Goodman, this indicates one thing --- they're more than just your run of the mill headphones. The metal/leather combo is perfectly suited for your new turntable, as it conjures up a retro, sturdy, kind of aviator feel. I'm predisposed to the luggage and metal as they are surprisingly cool. Founder and CEO Jonathan Levine launched this headphone company alongside his son, an aspiring DJ, bonding over a mutual passion. Forging style and function, these headphones repeatedly receive high marks for sound quality, durability, design and function. Not cheap at ~ $400 a pop, don't leave these behind on the airplane. I suggest going with their newest wireless model the MW 50, but the MW 60 and MH 40 are crowd favorites as well. Great gift for the person who has it all --- and doesn't want/need to compromise on anything --- I'll be listening to The Ramones with mine!
Before you set your sights ahead on next year, take a nostalgic look backward through your own historical soundtrack and consider Please Kill Me, Rock Junket Tours, Exhibitionism, Good Records NYC, Audio Technica Turntable, and Master & Dynamic Headphones Found!