Ice on the window, -84° Fahrenheit at 37K feet.
For Jetsetter's New York City Hood by Hood iPad guide, I sat down with Luca Venezia, aka DJ Drop the Lime and Trouble & Bass co-founder, to chat about his perfect day in Williamsburg. Here are trimmings from that same interview in which Luca remarks on the rave revival happening in Brooklyn's hippest 'hood.
How would you say Williamsburg's nightlife changed since you first moved there?
It has experienced many waves. When I first moved to the neighborhood, the peak was when I was DJing for Trouble & Bass parties at the former Studio B. About five years in, either the cops shut down the illegal clubs or the dance spots just died. Now a lot new spots are opening up, which is super exciting. The next wave is definitely deep house and techno. Electronic music quickly became over-saturated with dubstep, and I think everyone is ready to move beyond its hard and aggressive aesthetic. I think people want to go back to something a little bit more sexy. I'm noticing a lot of the kids in Williamsburg that entered into electronic music during that harder wave want something deeper.
Which electronic genres are on the rise in Brooklyn?
It depends on where you're targeting it or what kind of parties, for example. What I've always loved about in New York is crowds tend to be very diehard to their promoters, their crews. A crowd that would go to a Verboten party wouldn't necessarily go to a party where there was trap music or dustep. You always have to be conscious of the crowd. I love mixing it up with Trouble & Bass techno artists with Verboten's bass artists. That duality always attracts one of the most diverse crowds.
Attending NYC raves was the transcendence from you hardcore/punk background to electronic music. Are raves as relevant now as when you first experienced them?
Lately, yes. Williamsburg is experiencing a resurgence of proper warehouse raves. In 2002, rave culture died down in New York. But it's coming back along with the rise in popularity of electronic music and nightlife separate from bottle-service clubs.
How does Berlin's nightlife and rave culture compare to Williamsburg's?
Unfortunately, I don't think Williamsburg could ever match the spontaneity of a warehouse rave in Berlin.
Legal reasons. The cops would shut it down, if you have a proper sound system that's loud enough to attract thousands of kids. Berliners can party a lot longer than us. For them, it's common to stay out at an after-hours party until 10 or 11 a.m. A lot of clubs in Brooklyn — Williamsburg, especially — try to emulate that vibe. In a way, we do a better job at taking the feel of a Berlin rave and putting it into a club environment. A good example of this is Output, a no-cameras, all-music club that recently opened across the street from the Wythe.
Are secret elements like undisclosed locations still relevant in rave culture?
Definitely. Another reason why I love living in Williamsburg is because it's full of password-protected, speakeasy-style drinking spots and undisclosed after-hours parties that require you to follow a certain person on Twitter to find the location. That spontaneity is sexy, and it keeps me excited about the music.
It sounds like the Internet is making it easier to find these places — doesn't that defeat the purpose?
The Internet makes everything accessible. Those at the forefront of the rave revival are having to get creative with event promotion – if you announce parties using slightly different means, it makes that discovery process all the more exciting. One of my favorite techniques is the old-school approach of setting up a temporary contact number (now via a Google phone) that people must call in order to access an address mere hours before the doors open.
"Mo-Bay" (Montego Bay for short) is on the tourist-laden western tip of Jamaica's North Coast. Many a cruise passenger or newlywed flock here for its quaint beaches and dazzling waters. But beyond downtown's bend of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and base-heavy beachfront clubs there are acres of private land offering crescent-shaped beaches lined with designer digs and decades-long history.
Less that two hours and barely one Red Stripe in, I'm already sun-baked and drowsy. While adding my third layer of SPF 70, I stumble into the mohagany-lined lobby of Round Hill, an 18th-century plantation house on Montego Bay's quiet western curve. A charming staff dances around us, scurrying off with our luggage, offering rum punch on ice and ushering us to striped-cushioned rattan chairs on a veranda designed by Ralph Lauren. Across the way a sparkling azure Caribbean Sea beckons us and does so every chance it gets.
Night falls to the smell of smoky Vape mosquito repellant and a spirited chorus of tree frogs and chirping geckos. Come morning, sunlight seeps between the cracks of the plantation-style wooden shutters. I awake to the smell of fresh-brewed Blue Mountain coffee from the kitchen of what was once Oscar Hammerstein's summer villa. Right outside the door of the master bedroom is the original desk he propped himself up against to write the pages of The Sound of Music, which goes without wonder, as the top of the desk still adjusts to the tilt Hammerstein preferred to support his weak back.Breakfast is a spread of tropical fruit so sweet it tastes like candy, scrambled eggs with spicy Jamaican sausage and small portion of salt fish and ackee, which I was warned was an acquired taste despite it being a staple in Jamaican diet. I sampled but am disappointed to report that I did not conquer the salty platter. I left this sunny 10-acre hideout feeling fat, tan and happy (or "irie," as the rasta mons say).
We're driving at 15 mph as the bald tires on my white 2003 Hyundai hug the edge of Highway 1. The Pacific air blowing in off Bolinas Bay dances with our hair, disquieting our feverish thoughts to imperative introspection. All is silent as we take in whiffs of wild sage and rosemary — the romanticized version of Northern California that has lived throughout the years since Simon and Garfunkel's seminal 1966 album made its mark.
On the way to Stinson Beach we pit stop at gravel-dusted turnouts on the side of the narrow two-lane road. A pastel-colored procession of heaving cyclists make their way up the hill as my friend points an iPhone toward my pose against Marin County's purple wildflower-speckled hills. My hair run amok, my jeans high-waisted, my tank-top white and paisley — a dwelling nomad turned flower child.
We frolic amidst grassy cliff-top knolls where mammoth-size rocks hold their weight against gusts of oceanic wind. I run my fingers along the loose sea-foam green mineral runoff of the cherty mudstone as my friend scales another rock all gangly and child-like in a bout of sun- and fog-spurred ecstasy. We are transient beings lost between the familiar and nature, allowing the ethereal coastline to have her way with us.
We arrive in the cold darkness of Pier 12 on Hoboken's Hudson River waterfront. It's approximately 7 p.m., and indications of the coldest day of the winter have me and my companion sniffling and cradling our body warmth in tightly folded arms. Anchor lights aboard the historic 1907 SS Yankee Ferry flicker, as ripples from New York ferry rush-hour traffic slap against the wooden boat and the pier's mammoth-size dolphin fenders. We stand quietly looking out toward the twinkling Manhattan skyline across the river. Its sight reminds us of our absorbed New York lives, yet as we approach the ferry's wooden boarding ramp, we feel as if we're transcending time and self.
From the outside, the ferry bears uncanny resemblance of an early 20th-century tug boat, only one with endearing window-lined quarters and clean decks that have been tactfully polished since her first voyages as an island vacation vessel for Philadelphia's bourgeoisie. Once inside the lower deck, a blond pure-bred longhair Dotson wags her way toward us, sniffing our cold boots warily yet graciously. Co-owner and -captain Richard Mackenzie-Childs tells us Pinkie is one of two dogs on board, the other being Mr. Brown, a full-sized Dotson, who is wise beyond his years with the receding hairline to prove it.
Inside the Cargo Deck, hammock cradle chairs and a makeshift wooden plank swing sway with the boat, and a convoy of vintage leather-bound suitcase chests and antique area rugs lead to the main deck. On the way, we pass the first deck's master head (bathroom), adorned with charming basin tables, Victorian lace towels, port windows, a slate-tiled shower and a separate cast iron tub. In the intimate living quarters, relics of the owners' whimsical Mackenzie-Childs home decor abound, from waggish screen-printed chairs and busy-patterned quilts to checkerboard- and black-and-white-lined surfaces and a pulley offering a kettle of mini candies. A shredded fabric curtain marks the entrance to the galley, where Richard's better half, Victoria, huddles over the gas stove preparing tapioca pudding, which she later serves from her namesake tableware.
We set ourselves in the Guest Stateroom, which is big enough for a wall of wooden closets and a double-size canopy bed trimmed in white doily tassels. Slothful after consuming spoonfuls of lamb Vindaloo and glasses of California cab, we make way back to our stateroom, where two hot water bottles have been placed at the foot of the bed to help combat winter's chill. Before the boat's sway coddles us to sleep, we chuckle at the bedside lamp's play on double entendre—its base is of a Labrador standing on top of a cob of corn. Corn dog.
We awake early to the boat's rapid sway caused by the morning ferry traffic. Whiffs of a fresh-baked something fill the air, and signs of other life on board (the owners, boat crew and a team of teenage post-Sandy volunteers) make their way toward the galley. After snagging bites of miniature bran muffins and sips of homemade hot chocolate—and giving our respects to a chatty crew of wild-haired chickens—we check out of the National Historic Landmark and slip back into the 21st century.
- Breakfast is a jam- or chocolate-filled croissant and kava s mlijekom (coffee with milk).
- Lunch is the main meal. Goulash here is meat, egg, potatoes — little peas and carrots.
- Dinner is a plate of cheeses with bread, and late at night, when the many liters of Ozujsko leave you hungry, you have pizza or a greasy kebabs, one of the main signs of gentrification in Croatian cities.
- Historical relics abound and are visible in Zagreb's infrastructure, such as the old wall separating what was once the Peasant City from the Clergy City — the old town that hosts the capital city's communist-era government and financial buildings.
- Dogs are seldom held on leashes; they follow their owners like loyal servants, wherever they go. Stray cats rule the streets.
- Teenagers untie their love on park benches, dark-lit schoolyards and well-packed bars and sidewalk cafes.
The afternoon smelt of damp mud and budding tulips—that dewy stench of early spring. This came as a pleasant surprise on a winter day in mid January. From noontime onward, this curbed my mood significantly despite experiencing the heavy cast of a head cold and the couple glasses of red wine imbibed the night prior.
Atop the High Line between a gleaming (rare) Hudson River and Chelsea's charming crown of brick and glass, the city looked its best. A slight breeze made the tall grass and shrubs dance, sprinkling a blond ash about the former above-ground railway. As we strolled passed the most prolific stretch of the winter garden between 14th and 20th streets, passersby spoke in various faraway dialects, stopping occasionally to leer out toward the water or to pose where the sun shone just right.
In the Jonathan LeVine Gallery at 529 W. 20th St., young art patrons looked aimlessly through the Virtual Reality exhibit by Haroshi, a self-taught sculpture whose art bespeaks a passion for kickflips and truck stands. On display were pop-art figures made from repurposed skateboard decks, such as a wooden foot fitted in a glass shoe to a whimsical skull whose pearly smile was laced with braces and a flashy gold tooth.
Visitors took cautious steps on a bubbled linoleum floor in the elevator at 529 W. 20th St., where months prior Hurricane Sandy wreaked her havoc.
As the sun ducked behind the buildings in the West, rosy-cheeked wanderers chatted giddily along 14th Street and Seventh Avenue. Nearby, a dozen roses sold for $12, a fair deal that could not be evaded on such a well-tempered day.
With every full moon, I anticipate the rush of hyperactive ruffians making their mass exodus from the Bushwick bars. In the wee hours, I hear them stumbling down the street, cursing at one another or licking one another's necks while fumbling for a place to relieve their puckered paranoia, their fervent masochism.
I awake to sounds of a canoodling duo outside my window, to her shrieks of euphoria played out for her male compatriot, and to his grunts muffled into her elongated neck. They hook their fingers like lassos around one anther's belt loops, as his other hand makes way up the inner folds of her blouse. She pinches his cheek. They giggle. Their perpetual lust seethes a milky haze around them, which should fancy my dormant hormones in the middle of the night. But as the moon bloats, its distinguishable whiteness inundating the night's dark sky, I feel the forced exposure of these werewolves, and I'm reminded of the animals with which I share these streets.
I pull back the curtains and feel a whiteness flood over me. Their muddle blurs the sight of everything else. My presence, whether inconspicuous or not, doesn't seem to phase them the slightest, and I linger there in the window observing this spectacle seemingly unabashed. But soon my pulse quickens, and I grow hot from the feeling of preemptive embarrassment or anxiety of whatever rash temptation I have.
I step away from the white light, and I tune out their moans and giggles enough to hear the silent pull of my imposed darkness. This is insane. This is volatile. I lean toward the window once more to find her fingers cupping the back of his neck. Sounds of wet lips smack the coarse stillness of the night, and that white light of the moon coats the space around my feet. I knock on the window. They continue their embrace, ignoring my weak distraction. I knock harder, this time cracking a sly smile followed by elongated, "Hello!" She raises an eye and a smiling cheek over his shoulder, and he shifts his head to his left to offer a respondent, "Hi."
They grasp hands and giggle again before stumbling off toward the corner. I lie down and feel my pulse slow to its usual strut and the burning feeling dissipate to a coolness in my fingertips, my toes. I shift to a cooler side of the pillow and allow my enfeeble mind to rest, as the whiteness of that full moon runs its course.
I recently interviewed Carrie Brownstein about her perfect day in Portland, in time for the third season premiere of her IFC comedy show, Portlandia, which she co-stars and -produces with Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen. Here are a few excerpts from that same interview in which she divulges about what to expect in the new season, as well as which PDX cultural trends are on the rise.
What can we expect from Season III?
We made an effort to expand character exploration and to have stronger narrative arcs that took place not only over single episodes but over the entire season. Portlandia has never totally felt like a sketch show—this season we wanted people to find a bigger emotional connection to the show. By developing the characters further and making them more multifaceted and multidimensional was a way to do that.
Who's guest starring this season?
We have Kyle MacLachlan, who is back as the mayor, as well as Chloe Sevigny, who plays a major role specifically to Fred and Carrie as their new roommate. We have Roseanne Barr, who I'm very excited about. Although television is stronger than ever, her show as a single entity is incendiary and ahead of its time. We have two great British comedians, Matt Lucas and Matt Berry, as well as Rose Byrne, who is a fantastic actress. I love her in Damages, and she's shown some great comedian shots in Bridesmaids.
We also have Jim Gaffigan, Bill Hader, Martina Navratilova, the band Dirty Projectors and J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. All of the guest stars are people whose sensibility we admired and whose career paths have always taken a turn for the weird and the unusual. Their participation in the show in the vague world of Portlandia felt very organic and not overly contrived.
Portland has often been described as
the third character of Portlandia. How has your relationship changed
with this character since the preliminary era of the Thunderant videos?
Aside from recognizability, my life here is very much the same. I've lived my entire life in the Northwest, so this is a very innate lifestyle for me. I've always incorporated in my writing the notion of landscape and the observation about the Northwest's inhabitants, so Portlandia is just an extension of that.
with the city hasn't changed much—if anything, it makes me appreciate
it more. People from all over the county and the world have talked
about how they relate to the show and how they live in a community, a city or
a neighborhood where people do things that are akin to behavior in Portland.
Somehow, Portland still maintains a uniqueness that's not like
Williamsburg or Silver Lake, LA.
How do locals respond to the
perception of their city on Portlandia?
It’s mixed. People who come up to me give overwhelmingly positive feedback. I'm aware there are some who don't get or don't like the show. That's quite all right with me. Things that are innocuous are boring. The conversation that the show foments about whether or not this kind of progressive, highly curated life in Portland is meaningful, silly or important is a conversation people have among their friends or write about in newspapers or on blogs.
Portlandia is one part of that conversation, and whether people put Portlandia as something that's funny, not funny, trenchant or awesome, that's okay with me. I'd rather have it be divisive because that makes for a more interesting, critical debate or polemic than just, "Eh, that's okay." Ambivalence surrounding anything creative makes it feel like you're not pushing hard enough. I'd rather have somebody be angry or bothered than just offer a shoulder-shrug.
What are some emerging
foodie trends in Portland?
Foraging is popular right now. "Local" has trumped "organic," and people are interested in the story behind their meal. There's going to be a competition to see what story can get more exotic, outlandish and obscure in terms of how that food reached the kitchen or the plate.
Restaurants feel exclusive, and there's going to be—and this is already happening—a resurgence of secret society restaurants underground, where you get on an email list or a wait-list to eat the food of somebody running a restaurant out of their home. Of course that existed in Portland early on, but I think the bootleg restaurant trend is going to become more popular because we know there are so many great restaurants here that the novelty of it is wearing off. The food cart craze has felt like that, with the secret handshake. But we've reached critical mass with that.
What about cultural trends? I hear
there's a Magic: Regathering on the rise...
If people are going back to the fantasy world, maybe roleplaying is coming back or there's a push toward getting offline and getting in these real gatherings. For whatever reason, I think there's going to be a return to these gathering places that are in the real world as opposed to virtual. Young spirituality and religion is going to come back, but I'm not even saying it's going to be based on Judeo-Christian or anything. I think there's going to be a resurgence of cults, but ironic cults, or like a sow WiFi movement, where people are going to yearn for a time when it was dial-up or things took longer.