You never return to the place you left

I haven’t been to New York since Anjali and I were flown out to play Basement Bhangra in December of 2004. The most disconcerting change was the closure of Udipi Palace. This was my gold standard Indian restaurant and the only must-eat destination for me in NYC. When we went to 27th and Lexington looking for a lunch buffet the other day I couldn’t believe it when I saw the place a gutted room filled with building materials. What the hell?? Temporary closure or permanent erasure? There had been both a vegetarian and a non-veg restaurant by the same owners on the same strip and they were both gone. Major bummer. Don’t know if I will ever find a suitable replacement. The (presumed) success of Chinese Mirch means that there is now a second Indo-Chinese restaurant on the strip, Indo Wok. We ended up eating at an expensive, “classy,” “refined,” “elegant,” spot called the Copper Chimney. The buffet was select and quality, without being mind-blowing. The tamarind rice was good.

The next day we received a similar shock when we got to Stern’s Music and it too was gutted and filled with building materials. A call to their phone number resulted in a number out of service message. Quite disconcerting. This was a solid around-the-world music store with a unique selection. It is possible that somewhere in the five boroughs there is a similar store but despite having a few hopeful names on an old list I’m not convinced a suitable replacement exists for this spot either. One of their employees, Oscar, was my superb hook-up for all the latest Punta Rock so I will send him a query as to what the hell happened.

Still haven’t made it to Spanish Harlem. Since my flight is in a handful of hours I doubt if I will make it. Despite already loading up on Bhangra and Bollywood at Jackson Heights I think we might end up back there since we only had time for a cursory visit. Spent quite a bit of time at Virgin Megastore last night. They have a very impressive and diverse world music section so it is always on my must-visit list. It’s too bad the one in Vancouver, BC closed. The reggaeton section has expanded to become 4 entire walls in the back. Two walls of strictly comps. I didn’t even have it in me to go meticulously through the entire section which I have always done in the past. Such an absolute flood of releases. I feel sorry for people just starting to get into this music because of the endless repackaging of material.

Anjali has been sick and I’ve been exhausted from shopping all day so we haven’t even gone out at night once this trip. We’ve managed to miss: a Fader release party with DJ Rekha, Eddie Stats and Nina Sky, Turntables on the Hudson, Slavic Soul Party, Nanuchka (with members of Balkan Beat Box, DJ Spooky, Raz Mesinai, Macka Diamond, and YERBA BUENA! If you were to tell me in Portland a few weeks ago that I would be too wiped to attend these shows I would no doubt be incredulous or devastated or both. None of these artists ever play Portland (although we have confirmed DJ Rekha for our September Atlas). Yerba Buena plays Seattle fairly regularly but no one has ever brought them to Portland. I’ve suggested it to a few promoters but no one thinks there would be a draw.

I’m looking forward to Andaz on Saturday. I’m hoping to spend what time I have in Portland before the gig cramming all the new Indian music I’ve purchased. Some major new Bhangra releases and a bunch of interesting new soundtracks.

I’m still reading “House of Leaves” and am quite engrossed. I had to break off this morning because I was afraid I’d be left without reading material on the plane which is a frightening thought. I haven’t been able to find a single issue of La Connexion or any other reggaeton magazine in New York which is a bit disappointing. You sure don’t find any in Portland.

See you on Saturday,


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