Rock and Roll?

I try not to have purpose driven trips very often, I like to go to places and enjoy them for what they are. Have things you want to do along the way, sure, but to travel with a minute by minute itinerary is to travel with anxiety.

That being said, this was a purpose driven trip, actually a dual purpose trip. The original plan was to be in NY for 5 days, hang out with my old friend Serge for a couple of days then meet up with my die hard travel dream team of Brando and Natalia for Governor’s ball but due to some complications at work, that wasn’t possible so… like many other times, much (spiked) lemonade was had by all.

Friday night was great despite a few setbacks, weather was awful so flights were delayed all around, I’m lucky mine didn’t get canceled right out. Arrived in Manhattan and showed up at Melissa’s, it was welcoming right off the bat.


We headed out into east Manhattan and started with the drinks and bar hopped a bit, trying to remember that we had things to do the next day.

Saturday started as pretty much any weekend day should, with delectably flavored Margaritas and Mexican food. I had the pomegranate, while others at the table sampled such flavors as blood orange, guava and prickly pear.


Then we mounted up and headed out to Governor’s Ball. As we arrived Santigold was just firing up her set, much of the same stuff we saw in Cali but still a very good live show. Some other “bands” played like ‘Ducksauce’ and some dj set I didn’t care about then the main attraction for me… Atmosphere blew the God damned roof off the place!IMG_1779

Now, anyone who listens to Atmosphere knows that most of their music is about jilted love or women screwing up Slug’s life (or vice versa) so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Slug was in a tremendously good mood. They played pretty much all of their positive songs, including sunshine which the crowd went completely insane for. They even played my all time favorite, God Loves Ugly and changed some of the more offensive words to suit the happy crowd and fantastic weather. In all, it was better than I could have imagined and even Brando, who had said that he sampled the music and didn’t care for it, had to admit it was a damn good live show.

The food was definitely a main attraction of this particular festival, many varied and oddly specific foods were being offered by the tents and food trucks scattered about the island. Here is, without question, my favorite:


This is ”The Wafel Truck.” They sell, as one would expect, waffles. The thing is they’ve augmented their waffles a bit. They sell a few variations on the theme, including a chili waffle, a waffle with pulled pork on it and a variety of delicious toppings or ‘dinges’ for you to choose from. Choosing the unlimited ‘dinges’ option makes a “WMD” or “Wafel of Massive Deliciousness”. Given those choices I went with door number 3, simply titled ‘de Bacon Syrup Wafel’ when, it came it looked much less impressive than my companions waffles:


But it stealthily hid a most delicious secret, this waffle was stowing bacon. The preparation involved frying bacon then laying the bacon in the waffle batter and cooking that then sprinkling powdered sugar and syrup over the whole shebang. It was, hands down, the best thing any of us walked away from the truck with.

There were other performances that were very good throughout the rest of the day, Passion Pit was good but the crowd was overwhelming so I excused myself to the sanctuary of the liquor tent. Kid Cudy had an awful sound set up, or he’s autotuned obscenely in his music because he sounded like garbage, not the music, just his voice. The bad sound and impending throng of people made our decision to leave the party a little early.

After the 30 minute ferry ride back to Manhattan we headed to the Cask bar & kitchen for dinner and ran around the neighborhood a bit before turning in.

The next day I had to part ways with my musically inclined group of travelers and head to Brooklyn. I’ve been avoiding Brooklyn on all my previous trips to NY mainly because it’s where Williamsburg is and that’s pretty much where Gainesville hipsters go to turn 25 so I’ve been keeping my distance.

But, as life would have it one of my oldest and best friends has wound up here as the next step in his career so to Brooklyn I go.

It was a truly entertaining day, fantastic art, good drinks and I even got to see some old friends. It was the best introduction possible to a borough that I had stupidly been avoiding. At the end of the day Serge and I hit some of the spots around Green Point that he had come to enjoy in the short month since he moved to NY and we shared many drinks and deep conversations, but one sticks out in my mind. You see Serge is a tattoo artist and has become very much consumed with the very essence of what makes his profession and passion the extremely personal and prolific art form that it is today. Because he puts so much thought and effort into his work and how he interacts with the people who’s body’s he’s augmenting, it struck me how a very simple question is actually the result of many years of experience. Before Serge gets started putting the ink to the skin, he asks the person: “Rock and Roll?” This may seem like a pretty benign and simple question but I assure you that it is loaded, it is meant to remind the person that what they are about to do has a great deal of history and meaning behind it. They are not simply picking a design off the wall (a rare action in custom shops like Hand of Glory), they are making a statement, a statement that has been made by many groups of people throughout the ages. From aborigines to criminals to sailors to musicians to IT professionals to doctors, the tattoo has been a method of speaking without words for centuries.  The message may not always be clear but the decision is always a permanent one that will stay with the tattooed forever, and just as permanent as the ink now embedded in their skin, is the idea that they are taming nature, they are choosing their own path, they are becoming voodoo children, and if that isn’t Rock and Roll, I don’t know what is.




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