Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Brad’s Other Life, in New York City

August 20, 2011



I am still recovering from the cold I concocted in New York’s torrential rainfall and torrential air conditioning. I therefore did not play any music in Paris since my return, as I’m in a state of “can’t sing very well.” But looking back over my one-week trip to New York City, it occurred to me that maybe I had something to blog about anyway. Sometimes it is difficult to judge between pure self-indulgence, and showing off, and something that will be of interest to others. Not sure which one this is, but there was something fabulous and unique about my trip to NYC.

I have spent very little time in NYC in my recent life, but it was pointed out to me by a friend with whom I had a brunch in NYC that although I live in France, I have a whole other life in New York City. This, in fact, was very true, and very surprising to me. When I first went to NYC in 1976, it was with an ambition to succeed in show business. I ended up living in a crappy building in the horrendous, war-torn neighborhood of the Lower East Side, East Third Street, between avenues B and C. I was about as much of an outsider as you could possibly be, and my talents were un-honed to say the least. Last week I returned for 7 nights and eight days, and I found myself in the following strange situation, ending up at the following places:

1.) a full afternoon tour and (attendance at the Page 1 meeting) of the New York Times, where I work at both the global edition of that paper, also known as the International Herald Tribune and do an F1 blog on its web site, and see my newspaper stories occasionally published in the local NYT pages as well;
2.) a meeting at where I went out to lunch with my editor there concerning the next step in my career as the “guide”;
3.) an interview for my documentary film at the Music Building, a huge building devoted to music studios since the late seventies, where so many of the punk bands and many more since then worked and jammed – including even people like Madonna – and where my interview took place with someone from the Bitter End in his studio, which was formerly the studio of The Strokes;
4.) an interview with a top executive from Warner Music, also for my documentary, and in the offices of Warner Music;
5.) a lunch and talk with a friend at HBO, the massive television channel and production company, whom I had met at an open mic in Paris, along with her friend, the musician Woody Lissauer;
6.) attendance at the opening show of a Formula One film about Ayrton Senna at a Houston Street cinema and being warmly welcomed by the writer of the film, and later the next day having a drink with one of the film’s main players at a bar around the corner;
7.) playing music and receiving truly felt applause at places like the Bitter End and certain other – but not all – bars and clubs throughout the city;
8.) staying in a hotel in Chelsea that was miles above my former residence in terms of earthly comforts;

But also learning that if I wanted to live on East Third Street between Avenues B & C now, I could not afford it as it has become “the” place to be. Yes, I may not be the huge star I had envisioned in 1976. But the life principles I learned around that time and decided to apply to my life, without seeking out fame or fortune, have meant that I returned 35 years later kind of on top of the same world I used to be on the bottom of – and having, indeed, another life in New York City.

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