Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
On a recent steamy night in New York City, Debbie Harry entered the Mondrian Soho, wearing a snug little black dress, and made her way to Mister H, the hotel’s opium den-inspired bar. Just for context, this place draws the banker/surfer contingent, boasts an in-house restaurant run by Sam Talbot, the foxy Top Chef from Season Two, and showcases décor decadent enough for Marie Antoinette. It’s one of those New York hotels that L.A. people feel safe in – ostentatious, overdone, but a real blast if someone else is buying drinks, as they were tonight, at a private listening party held in honor of Blondie’s excellent new record, Panic of Girls.
While free cocktails at a grown-up Disneyland is reason enough for me to be there, it doesn’t fully explain the presence of the entire band, who were billed as part of the evening’s experience, but who I didn’t expect to show up in full. When a publicist tells you an interview’s at noon, you automatically add two hours. When they say you’ve got 20 minutes with an artist, it means you’ve got 12 spent getting connected on the phone or situated in the room, and eight or so actually talking. When they tell you the band is coming to their own listening party, that means you will making awkward conversation with a room full of people you half-know, while attempting to absorb a note or two from the record, no band in sight. Which is why seeing Ms. Harry show up in top icon shape, sporting a mammoth helmet of spectacular hair that looked remarkably like the cut she had going in “The Tide is High” video, was such an astonishing thing to behold.
I only wish I’d been there to see it for myself. Instead, I was home in bed swigging cough syrup, surrounded by discarded tabloids and hastening the corrosion of my own soul via a marathon viewing of Entourage Season 7 on demand. My annual summer flu had arrived. I had planned that evening to eat a dinner comprised of free hors d’oeuvres at the Blondie listening before checking out Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye project/band at Webster Hall, then swinging by the aftershow at literary club Norwood. Instead, I found myself ordering in Chinese soup and padding around in sweats I’ve had since high school. Fortunately for you, I am friends with lots of other rock writers and they updated me via drunken text message, and remarkably coherent notes the next morning, on all of the evening’s shenanigans.
That’s how I know that while at Mister H, the members of Blondie mostly talked to each other and endured a mildly awkward Q&A, in which they were all rather sullen and therefore extra awesome. It’s also how I know that fans wore Man City jerseys to the Beady Eye show, where the band didn’t play any Oasis tunes (bastards) but no one seemed to care. And that at the afterparty, which also celebrated Liam Gallagher’s clothing line, Pretty Green, they served tasty sliders and really posh stinky cheese, which almost no one ate because the oak-paneled, velour-covered lounge was filled with slinky fashion types who don’t eat.
In keeping with rockstar rules (broken, blissfully, by Blondie this same night), Liam did not show at his own party, which is a bummer because he is the second most quoteable man in rock. The first most quoteable man in rock is his brother and (temporary!) ex-bandmate, Noel, whom I once sat next to at an awards dinner, and who turned to me and asked me if I was lost. This is in the top five most devastating moments of my rock existence, right behind the time Stephen Malkmus asked me a rock trivia question about John Peel that I knew the answer to but was too tongue-tied to answer, and right after the time Nick Cave offered me a post-interview drink, saying I looked like I needed it.
When it became clear, well into the wee hours, that my dutiful colleague was too loaded on free beer to ask Liam questions even if he did show up, I turned off Entourage just at the part where pretty boy Vinnie Chase’s dalliance into the world of coke-snorting and porn star-dating is getting him into trouble, and, in search of some real rebellion, started randomly googling Liam. Snooty and coughing, I took a double dose of NyQuil, knowing Liam would approve, and fell to blissfully trippy sleep with a clip of him discussing the 10 things he loves/hates, which naturally, are the exact same.