[Continued from yesterday’s reminiscences about my first trip to New York City]
When you travel west from London your sleep patterns adjust pretty quickly. We had left Heathrow on a Friday morning and crashed out before 10pm Eastern Time, 3am London Time. The following day all three of us woke early, before 6am, and headed out for breakfast. We found a place that I went to many times in the years afterwards, Café Gourmet on 5th Avenue, within sight of the Empire State Building.
We sorted out our public transport for the week, a 7-day pass for the bus and the subway, and took the green subway line towards Central Park. We wandered past the zoo and headed nowhere in particular. New Yorkers were out and about, running, jogging and power-walking.
We walked down Fifth Avenue and visited the Empire State, took the lift (elevator) up to the viewing deck, 86 storeys high. We made our way back to Rocky Sullivan’s just as it opened. We were meeting a couple of girls from New Jersey for lunch. We had met one of them in Rome in February, a few months earlier, at my favourite bar in Europe, The Fiddler’s Elbow, not far from the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. She had travelled to Rome with a friend and her friend’s brother, who played bass guitar. The three of us who had travelled from London to New York had struggled to find a bassist to complete our band line-up and we were in New York City to see if the bass-player from New Jersey was the right man. He was the right man in every respect, apart perhaps from location.
We had lunch at an Italian place in Greenwich Village. The portions were huge and the accompanying beer was strong: Moretti La Rossa (7.2%). I had last tasted it in Rome. We had arranged to meet our future bassist in Hoboken later that evening and made an afternoon shopping trip to 48th Street for some guitar-shopping. We celebrated with something bubbly, Californian champagne.
We took The Path and met our bassist and his girlfriend in Maxwell’s Music Bar. Our hopes of spending a few days with him to rehearse, record and play were to be disappointed but that Saturday night we ended up practising in a rehearsal studio somewhere east of Hoboken until after midnight. We got a lift (“a ride”) back to Hoboken and took the Path back to the City. We cabbed it back towards the hotel and ended up at Rocky Sullivan’s till about 4am, as enamoured of the bar on a raucous Saturday night as we had been on an our two previous visits. We hadn’t quite managed to stay up for the full 24 hours but we were close.