Larry Levan – Genius Of Time (Universal compilation, 2016)

  
Larry Levan was a major figure in the New York club scene of the Eighties, and The Paradise Garage on NYC’s King Street where he had his residency was the day-glo decade’s answer to Studio 54. As a DJ Levan was legendary; as a remixer he applied his dancefloor nous to his work in the studio, developing mixes that focussed on the groove but emphasised soulfulness over alien electronics and overly-regimented 4/4 beats. 

Universal have released a compilation of 22 mixes, edits and extended versions by Levan. I reviewed the album for Clash. You can read my review here.

(c) 2016 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

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HTRK – Chinatown Style (Ghostly International short film, 2014)

HTRK 'Psychic 9-5 Club' LP artwork

In my Clash review of HTRK‘s third album (Psychic 9-5 Club), I likened the smooth, sensual dubby soundscapes of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang‘s music to the ‘aural equivalent of Prozac’, an effect that leaves their music devoid of any discernible ups and downs.

The duo have worked with director Nathan Corbin on a short film for the track ‘Chinatown Style’, which finds the viewer following various Chinatown residents around seemingly quotidian pastimes – cooking octopus, jazz dancing and so on – all jarringly set to Standish and Yang’s ethereal ambience.

Here’s what Corbin had to say about the film: ‘I worked as a delivery boy in Manhattan in my early twenties. It’s an intimate way to experience the city. The delivery is a conduit into an extended, physical exchange. It can be erotic and psychedelic; the repetition of “opening” in a city full of guarded skyscrapers and locked doors. You float invisibly, drifting from one ambiance to the next.

‘In NYC there is fluidity between everyone. You’re constantly “encountering”people. Always entering. The energy can vary wildly with successive shifts from light to dark to light like yin-yang. You found luck! You find yourself in a utopian center: a Psychic 9-5 Club.

‘People are dancing.

‘I chose to work with people I didn’t know for the most part..so that our interaction was new, innocent..like a delivery.

‘The cinematography concept was crucial. Shoot with a wide angle lens to create that innocence. You see everything so the “gaze”… the obsessive and voyeuristic part of looking is reduced. The eye of an open heart.’

Chinatown Style can be viewed below. Probably not one to watch at work (or if you’re a vegetarian).

Thanks to Matthew @ Ghostly.

(c) Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

Teany, 90 Rivington Street, New York

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Teany

Teany is the vegetarian restaurant established by Moby and his ex girlfriend Kelly Tisdale, located on Rivington Street, New York, just off Bowery in the Lower East Side.

Moby and Tisdale are no longer involved in the venture, and I don’t believe Moby was ever really ever actively involved, but the pair did pen a book of Kelly’s recipes, and the book included a whole stack of Moby’s self-deprecating Little Idiot drawings. The restaurant even spawned a range of Teany-branded iced tea drinks; I bought one once from a convenience store on Fifth Avenue, but I couldn’t tell you now what flavour it was, or even if I enjoyed it, though I’m slightly surprised I didn’t try to squeeze the empty bottle into my suitcase. The name Teany itself was an amalgam of the words tea and the abbreviation for New York, as well as being an intentional misspelling of teeny, as in small. Which it is.

I’ve been to Teany twice. The first time was in 2005, back when Tisdale and Hall were still the proprietors. It was a hot late summer afternoon in Manhattan, and I’d dragged my pregnant wife across the island to Bowery with the sole intention of getting a drink a Teany. When we got there the place was heaving, the tables outside were all taken, and, well, I was a bit of a chicken about going in places like that. I don’t know why. Mrs S was not hugely impressed with me, mostly because she was tired and grumpy because of bring pregnant, but also because back then the area round Bowery was still a bit edgy.

The second time was this year. My family and I were schlepping around the area in pursuit of, variously, ice cream, rice pudding and cheesecake, all of which were consumed before lunch. Don’t ask why. Rivington Street itself was pretty empty, and when we walked past Teany I thought I would nip inside to take a look and also to try and buy a mug. Back in the day, Teany offered a limited range of merchandise, but they wouldn’t ship to the UK. The webshop ceased trading a few years ago also, and despite some enquiries via an email address off their website, it seemed that a Teany mug was not going to be mine. So I thought I’d pop in and see if they’d sell me one on the off chance.

Sadly that was not meant to be. I had an exchange with a pretty waitress who didn’t speak much English (and who clearly couldn’t work out how to comprehend my English accent), somewhere on the axis between confusing and frustrating. It went a little like this:

‘Do you still sell mugs?’

‘You wan’ milk?’

‘No, I want to buy a mug. Do you still sell mugs?’

‘Milk?’

‘No, a mug.’

‘I’m sorry – whas’ a, a, merg?’

‘It’s like a cup. But, you know, a mug?’

‘You wan’ a cup of milk?’

‘No!’ I then spied a white mug with a red Teany logo on the shelf behind her. ‘One of those!’

‘Ah, you mean a mug!’

‘Yes, do you sell those?’

‘No.’

‘Okay. Bye.’

If I’m honest, I didn’t like the interior much. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be and, well, a bit shabby. I’m not sure if this is how it would have looked back in the day, but I wasn’t that impressed. I obviously didn’t eat so I can’t comment on the food.

Anyway, I can say I’ve been in now, and I can (not without some disappointment) put to rest my quest for a Teany mug.

As we turned off Rivington and headed down Ludlow, I found this bit of graffiti, which cheered me up.

Grafitti on Ludlow Street

Wise words.

(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence