Downtown New York? It’s not so much a place as an aura, an ethos and the a.m. all rolled up in one creased E-Z Wider. CBGB, Max’s, Cedar Tavern, the Factory. Pollock, Punk, Basquiat, Blondie. Everybody has their own (and for each, the above named won’t be esoteric enough). And the scene, believed squashed by hedge fund real estate usurpers or relocated entirely to Brooklyn, marches on–with the proverbial different drummer on the downbeat. Cool is as cool does, a hip Forrest Gump might say. (What would a hip Forrest Gump look like? Willem Dafoe?)
Verifiable proof the scene survives can be found in the Downtown Piano Queen, Kathleen Supové, she of the Exploding Piano. “This was classical music played like the best rock’n’roll…passionate, earnest, loud” wrote critic Ben Sisario, who knows. Check her out here from a couple of years back getting, well, Cage-y among other things. That the piano might at any moment go the way of Keith Moon’s drum kit is a constantly crescendoing likelihood. And it’s not just the instrument but the very idea of piano that’s endangered. Internal combustion–a downtown staple. These days she’s doing Digital Debussy at The Flea. You’ll have to head downtown, of course. If you can, sit next to Jim Jarmusch.