A Weekend In the Life of Tony Z.

As some of you may know and for those of you who don’t, I’ve been working at an Internet start-up, Entertainment Media Works, building out the music video section of our flagship web site, StarStyle.com. Although I work for StarStyle, I hardly consider myself a star of any sort. However, this weekend, I did live a bit of the jet set life that makes my New York experience, well, kind of hard to beat.

For the just over 10-years I’ve been living the struggle and building a career in the Internet and music space in this city, let me tell you, it never gets dull. There’s just so much to do and not enough time to do it. You can literally gorge yourself to death on all types of media and entertainment. From art exhibits, plays, broadway shows, concerts and sports to film, comedy and nightclubbing, New York City is akin to a massive entertainment media kitchen, mashing up tons of ingredients to constantly serve-up new food for the creative soul. In New York City, you can choose to never get the same dish twice. Unless of course, that’s what you’re looking for. I’m certainly not.

Metaphorically speaking, last fall I went to a food & wine expo in Rockland County, where my girlfiend Missy and I watched a cooking demonstration by Tyler Florence, the celebrity chef from the Food Network. The recipe he was demonstrating was a basic pasta dish with fresh tomato sauce.

As Tyler cranked the handle on the pasta maker, the glob of flour and eggs separated into hundreds of long, fine strands of shiny yellow spaghetti–akin to the hundreds of people who end up moving here and contributing their flour and eggs to the bowl that is this media village. Once you’ve arrived here, you kind of lump yourself into doing just about anything you can find. Uptown, downtown, Brooklyn, Hells Kitchen and the Upper West Side–you try everything until you find that one hole in which you’ll pass through to submerge yourself into that specific stream of multimedia consciousness. Although separated from the rest, you’re still part of a greater whole, even though you’ve discovered a movement that seemingly fits you perfectly. But, like the soft yellow pasta in Tyler Florence’s hands, it all still ends up falling onto the same plate, another metaphor for Manhattan. Add your favorite sauce, then dig in and enjoy!

In an attempt to keep my reputation as a forward-thinker, this past weekend I decided to add a little spice to the mix. Friday night, my girlfriend, Missy and I embarked on what New Yorker’s consider just another ho-hum night. For Missy and I, it was a definitely a bit indulgent.

Cruising through the city in her Porsche (okay, so it’s a 2001 Honda Accord…hey…I’m just trying to spice things up here!), Missy was on her way to pick me up from StarStyle’s penthouse digs on 17th Street. She rang me on her Motorola Razor (okay…so she’s got a Samsung…sigh!) to tell me we needed to find a place she could get a pedicure before she jetted off to Costa Rica early the next morning (that part is true). Knowing I’m a pretty open-minded, she suggested I should join her for one myself before we headed out to dinner. I’m always up for an adventure, so without hesitation I said, “sure, let’s do it!”

An hour later, after some scrubbin and rubbin, my feet were squeaky clean! What self-respecting DJ who’s on his or her feet for 4 to 10 or more hours a night couldn’t use a nice warm jet bath for your feet and topped off with a massage? This DJ loved it! Should’a done it a long time ago!

After pampering ourselves, we headed to da Umberto, an amazing Tuscan-style Italian restaurant at 107 W. 17th between 6th and 7th. After an appetizer of melon and prosciutto, I feasted on the risotto of the day, a buffalo bolognese. It was delicious! Missy enjoyed the Rigatoni all’Umberto and then we split desert; chocolate gelato and a cream neopolitan.

After dinner, we made our way down to Tribeca’s hottest recording studio, Integrated Studios, where we ran into Kimyon, Madsol, Armand Van Helden and an old friend, Ricky, a break-dancer who used to hang with Armand and I back in Boston days. We spent about an hour hob-nobbing on the roof deck overlooking the Hudson River. We were intrigued by the latest resurgence of Members Only as a fashion statement. The brand seems to be making making a comeback of sorts. Did you see the Soprano’s edisode, “Members Only” last night? We ended up leaving around 1:30 AM. Couldn’t stay long as Missy and I had to jet back out to Bay Ridge (the homefront) to get her things together for a 5:30 AM flight to Costa Rica.

After dropping her off at JFK, I jetted back to the Ridge to catch some Z’s. Later that day, I caught up with Kimyon on the phone. He told me about a hot party Saturday night at NuBlu, a tiny, gritty spot on Avenue C in the East Village. He’s been high on this electronica group, Kudu, who were performing that night.

Around 12:30 a.m., I jumped in the ride to zip back into the city. Cruising by the spot while looking for parking, I noticed about 40 people in line. In the East Village, mind you! There’s never a line in the the East Village for anything, or at least not that I can remember. But tonight, Richard, a styilshly dressed (for the East Village, he was definitely stylish) door person had a cue going and was keeping thing orderly.

When you’re in front of a New York club waiting on the cue, rule number one is: never give the door person a hard time! You either shut up and look cool, or you might as well just go home.

Of course, a few idiots fresh out of college were either daumb or spoiled. Eager to gain entrance, one kid held out his I.D. in front of him for 3-minutes while Richard was taking care of other’s who would walk up, shake his hand, and be let in. It was like he was at some college frat bar in Boston, where that’s the rule and not the exception. Richard asked him what the hell he was doing holding his I.D. out like that. He told him to put it away. The kid gave him some lip and Richard shut him down quickly, saying, “You know what, just go home…you’re not coming in here tonight.” I chuckled and shook my head remembering how many times I’ve seen that happen in my life!

After waiting about 15 minutes in the cue (something I rarely, ever do), I shot Richard a “whazzup” glance, tapped my chest with my index finger–a signal to let him know I was rolling to the spot solo. He looked me up and down then waved me around to the front of the line.

After a bit of veteran club-goer negotiation, I introduced myself to Richard (which is the first thing you do, to get that one to one rapport going) We gave each other that New York door respect, he smiled and opened the door, granting me entry into the tiny, cramped venue. The crowd was literally on top of the band with lot’s of pushing and shoving going on, but I guess that’s the appeal. And I thought the subway at rush hour was tight! You really felt like you were being violated in some deviant kind of way.

There wasn’t a stage to speak of. The drummer sat ona banquet. The keyboardist managed to tickly the ivory’s while making sure no one knocked his keyboard off the stand. And the lead singer; she was kind of boxed in against the drum-kit, with no where to move. Needles to say, it was very tight in there, but that’s what made is so cool.

After about an hour of bopping my head to the punk infused electronic rhythms of these former Berklee College grads, I made my way to the front of the Nublu where I ran into Kimyon and his weekend guests, the legendary techno DJ, Stacey Pullen, who was with his stunning wife Andrea. I had a great conversation with Stacey, and learned a few things, like he’s real popular in small desert towns in Spain, where kids are just havin’it to his music. Very cool!

So, that was my rockstar weekend…a pedicure, a party, a band, a Van Helden, a Pullen plus one, a Madsol, a Derek and a Kimyon…all in the span of 24-hours–from Friday night to Saturday night. Not a bad weekend if you ask me. Great food, great music, good friends and a good life! I hadn’t had that much fun bopping’round in a while!

I’m going to be back tomorrow with a post about the band, Kudu, with some photos and a brief video I shot from my camera phone. Stay tuned.

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