Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
It’s said that some sort of Gladwellian 10,000-hour thing takes over at the ten-year mark and you finally become a real New Yorker. I’m always in favor of vaguely mystical theories that lend reason and structure to the disordered chaos of life, so I subscribe to this idea (and horoscopes and the “universe” telling me things). And lately, as I near my ten-year anniversary, I’ve noticed myself becoming extra New York-y in some subtle but important ways: I send my laundry out. I tell cab drivers which way to go. And after growing up in Costco country I’ve finally gotten comfortable buying those single rolls of toilet paper from my bodega. I even brazenly order small coffees because, you know what? If I want another one there will be a coffee shop wherever I am.
“‘My suitcase is literally just a stack of shorts and a stack of pants and fifteen pairs of underwear,’ Eleanor told me after the show, giant whiskey in hand.”
But last night, as I attempted to navigate my way from Park Slope to Gowanus, I was confronted with a troubling new concern: I am one of those New Yorkers who gets lost in Brooklyn. The plan was simple: attend my brother’s cute little Barbecue in Park Slope, then meet up with friends in Carroll Gardens, then head to the Bell House in Gowanus to see the paragon of Brooklyn cool, Eleanor Friedberger, play the first date of her next tour. The problems were immediate: crushingly crowded train, no idea which direction to walk after getting off the train, rain and no magically appearing umbrella salesman like we have in my home borough! By the time I got to the BBQ I discovered they’d bought non-self-lighting charcoal and were already out of beer. So that’s how, about forty minutes after buying a Jordan almond truffle and cappuccino for the road at the Italian bakery around the corner from my apartment, I found myself in a fluorescently lit Key Foods in bright red lipstick and an A.P.C. trench asking the clerk for lighter fluid and Pabst.
Multiple beers and one car service ride later, things were looking up. The Bell House is everything good about Brooklyn — it’s a spacious, understated but beautifully appointed grown up rock club where they name perfectly mixed (and cheap!) drinks after indie rock songs. Eleanor took the stage right on time, wearing vintage skintight Levis, aged cowboy boots and a white silk cowboy blouse with fringe. No human on earth besides her could pull this outfit off, but it looked damn good with a guitar.
I’m a big fan, so you’d think I would have fit right in, but the reverence of the crowd shamed me. The cute dude in glasses, Baudelaire paperback in the pocket of his canvas sailor jacket (I’m not making this up) glared at me when I accidentally brushed up against him. The squat woman in terrible square-toed boots with a baby blue messenger bag turned all the way around and eye-sushed me like we were at the symphony when I whispered a comment about Eleanor’s cool haircut to my friend. And when I crept up to the side of the stage to take photos of the front-row lineup of rapt foxy dorks (plus one gooey eyed girl) a David Cassidy lookalike I walked passed on the way back seemed ready to tackle me for making off with footage of his kind in their natural habitat. I thought my girlfriends and I had the most intense crushes on Eleanor’s unassuming cool girl-next-door ethos but it turns out her core fanbase is insanely hot, uptight hipster boys, which of course makes her so much cooler.
“My suitcase is literally just a stack of shorts and a stack of pants and fifteen pairs of underwear,” Eleanor told me after the show, giant whiskey in hand. “I spent the morning ironing my shirts.” She had more to say about her packing habits but was pulled away to collect her cash from the evening’s show so I stood around catching up with the locals, including Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips of Dean and Britta. “Do you want a ride to the subway?” Dean asked as he and Britta headed to their car. Feeling overconfident in my new relationship with Brooklyn, I declined. Twenty minutes later, after the cab machine declined my bank card and I had to borrow twenty bucks from my local bodega dude to pay, I got a text from Chase’s fraud alert: “Did you purchase $41.59 at a grocery store or supermarket on 4/18/2012?” Even the bank thinks Brooklyn is shady.