#120: A. Savage (Parquet Courts)
Parquet Courts frontman A. Savage drops in to tell us about Bar LunÀtico, Crumb Cake, Harriman State Park, and more.
Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person A. Savage to come on Perfectly Imperfect & redistribute his good taste.
A. Savage is a painter & the frontman of Parquet Courts, a rock band that splashed onto the scene back in 2012 with their limited cassette-only debut album, American Specialties, and then proceeded to drop a handful of contemporary rock gems such as Light Up Gold, Human Performance, and Wide Awake! And back in 2017 he dropped Thawing Dawn, a solo record that I consider to be very underrated & I encourage everyone to check it out. Parquet Courts have a new album coming out this Friday (!) titled “Sympathy For Life” and have released three killer singles ahead of its release. If you’re in Brooklyn you should totally snag some tickets to their album release show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. A. Savage has great taste and lucky for us, he’s here to tell us what he’s been into.
Without further ado
🧗♂️Harriman State Park
I guess you could say I’m a pretty avid backpacker; I enjoy the autonomy of carrying your bed, kitchen and house on your back, while navigating the unpredictability of nature. For this reason I make routine sojourns to Harriman State Park. The park is both approximate to the city, and also very remote feeling once you are inside of it. No car? No problem. Just take NJ Transit from Penn Station up to the Tuxedo, NY stop. There are multiples trailheads just near the station. About 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail pass through the park, which boasts the trail-famous Lemon Squeezer obstacle. It also is a great place for climbing, with the Claudius Smith’s Den being the best known locale for rock-heads. Harriman is a labyrinthine network of trails of varying difficulties. It’s probably the only place where you can get mauled by a black bear while looking at the Empire State Building. Actually I have had multiple bear encounters there that were totally were drama free. Great for leaf peeping as well!
☕️ Crumb Cake
In my opinion, one of the more unheralded New York foods is the crumb cake. Sometimes known as the coffee cake, it’s an item that is so New York-centric, but somehow hasn’t made it onto the bucket lists of tourists. In my opinion, the crummier the better. I like there to be a thick layer of crumbs on top, the ideal ration sort of being half crumb, half cake. You’ve seen it beckoning for your attention in glass deli cases, or on an Entenmann’s endcap at the grocery, or in the shadow of scones and croissants at your local bakery. Hell even Drake’s makes a decent version if you’re in a pinch. Much like bagels and pizza, most places in New York make a uniformly great version of it, so there’s no need to seek out the “best”. The “best” is in fact the one that’s closest to you.
🍎 Silver Apples
Speaking of unheralded New York signifiers, I bring you exhibit C, the psychedelic electronic duo known as Silver Apples. Now perhaps, dear reader, you’re the type of switched-on young newsletter subscriber that knows Silver Apples as a pioneering band that inspired the likes of Suicide by introducing electronic instrumentation into the milieu of psychedelic rock. But did you know that they were Mayor John Lindsey’s favorite band? And that he described them as “the sound of New York”? Or that they were asked by the city to perform live in Central Park during the broadcast of the moon landing? For the unacquainted, Silver Apples were a duo that first brought oscillating electronic instruments from the sober and hyper-serious confines of academia and into rock n roll. The Velvets, The Dolls, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Run DMC, Biggie, Gershwin — these acts are all etched into the city’s history. Silver Apples don’t enjoy the same proximity, likely because after only two relatively obscure albums, they were forced by PanAm to disband (long story, look it up!). I think its time we carved the name Silver Apples into the Big Apple.
🔈 The Dream House
When people come to visit New York, and they ask me for advice on things to do and see, I without fail recommend the Dream House, a long-term sound and light installation in Tribeca. Conceived by minimalist composer LaMonte Young and light artist Marian Zazeela in the 1960’s, and in its current location since the early 1990’s, the Dream House is, essentially, a room on the second story of an otherwise unremarkable downtown building, with four speakers emitting mixed frequency sine waves, in a soft glow of fuchsia light. Hearing is believing, because as you navigate the room, the interplay of frequencies makes every coordinate in the small room completely unique. Even minute movement of the body alters the perception of sound in the space. And the sound isn’t just heard, it’s felt. The Dream House predates the public’s consciousness of meditation with binaural sound, and this is quadaural! Donations are suggested, might I recommend going there and spending an afternoon or evening. Stay as long as you like!
🍷 Bar LunÀtico
I’ve lived in the same apartment in BedStuy, Brooklyn for over a decade now. I moved here to flee the nightlife scene in Williamsburg, which had become tedious living on Grand Ave. Then a few years later, the action followed me, and now my neighborhood is robust with newer bars and restaurants catering to gentrifiers like myself. Bar LunÀtico is one of those watering holes; one that I actually feel lucky to live quite near. The bar, which is excellent, has live music every night. No tickets, first come first serve, and the owner passes the hat around, all of which goes to the musicians. I’ve seen ensembles from Morocco, Brazil, Hungary. It’s nice to have a place you can just show up to and expect to see some really interesting music you’ve never heard before. The atmosphere is confidently cool without being pretentious, and in a city where most bars have morphed into this hemogenous urban nightlife experience, its unique in a way that’s become increasingly rare. See you there perhaps?
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