I'm a Freelance Music Photojournalist from NYC and Founder of the Heavy Metal website PiercingMetal.com; I created this blog site to showcase the other things in life that keep my interest or catch my attention. Believe me that is a lot of stuff to talk about when it comes down to it. I hope you enjoy what we are delivering because there is so much to share as a resident of this bustling metropolis.
It was only just over two weeks ago that I announced the debut of a brand-new blog that I would be launching called “The Chronicles Of Piercing Ken”. If you didn’t see that post, just click HERE to be more up to speed with the news. This new blog was being delivered to the interested using Google’s Blogger software.
Today I am here to share the news that a proper dotcom domain name has been secured with “PiercingKen.com” and WordPress is now installed under this domain so no more using Blogger for the posts. I spent most of yesterday integrating the few weeks of old posts into the new WordPress software and from here on everything that you will be reading will be in WordPress. For the interim I have a “We Have Moved” sign posted as the final post on the Blogger account but in time that entire presence might be deleted to avoid any confusion. The writer in me wants all the traffic to come to the correct location and stay here and I’ve gotten pretty adept at WordPress since I’ve been using it on the PiercingMetal Blog as well for a couple of years. The blog has a few dozen subscribers so I want them to find the new place easy enough. I’ve placed a link to my Twitter below so you can follow along with whatever I am getting up to over here and in time perhaps I will employ the other social networks that are available to keep people in the loop. You might laugh at the notion that I have not used that Twitter since some time in late 2009 so it will be nice to finally have a reason to tweet. Okay that is all I have to share with you. Let’s make this something fun together.
I guess one can say that “Pre-Gaming” by it’s literal definition seems to denote any activities that one partakes in before a particular sporting event but with that being said, it can probably be applied outside of this realm as well. This is a good thing in my humble opinion and I like the idea of this term as not just something that’s relegated to the parking lot before the Jets, Giants, Mets or Yankees games. In reality it can also be applied to any of the hanging out time that finds friends or like minded individuals gathering at a single spot before they hit the venues to support their favorite bands. To many people, it is just as much fun getting together before a show as it is going to one and with this in mind I wanted to point out some of the haunts that I have found myself stopping into before the shows took place. I also wanted to speak up about what I had enjoyed about each of them and by using the blog angle of my music adventuring would be able to accept views from the wider public should they care to chime in. Of course this whole idea of “PiercingMetal Does Zagat’s Guide” is not at all music related but on the same token it is because at the end of the day the thoughts being presented happened while on the way to a hopefully kick ass Metal show. Our first chapter actually deals with two establishments that are no longer in business and ones that made me come up with the whole idea in the first place.
First up is a place that I happened to pass by while on a neighborhood walk doing the usual errands that one finds consumes their time. It’s the long shuttered Carroll’s Bar in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, and this space was located not too far from where I did my whole “Viking Quest” adventure several months ago. Anyways, in my own musician life history, Carroll’s Bar was NOT a pre-gaming spot, but instead a post gaming space that was used to a regular extent by my band Machine and also Eclipse. I am thinking that it was my Machine guitarist Rizzo who actually pointed out the place to me first even though I was a long time resident of Bay Ridge and he was from Park Slope. Amazing how things work out. Anyway, the place was run by Eddie Carroll who I am pretty sure has long passed on. It was your typical “Old Man’s Bar” which now gets labeled as “Dive Bar” based on their being no frills to the establishment. You want beers, we got a couple of them. You want whiskeys, we got those too. Food? What does this look like to you , a diner? Anyways, for a band coming home late from gigs and looking for a place to decompress this was perfect for our needs.
The photo above was taken by my buddy Eric from the Beehivehairdresser.com Blog, and as you can see the place is shuttered. I am not sure how long it has been closed but in my own personal history this remains a fond memory of youthful good times with a number of my band friends. I recall five dollar pitchers which were filled to the brim and ice cold. Given the timeframe I am speaking about this was very likely Budweiser out of the tap. The beverage I tend to avoid nowadays. My how the times change. I remembered Machine signing a photograph for Eddie which he kept at the bar. I tried to be poetic and write something like “You’re The Tops For Tap”. Corny I know, but I was not a writer yet. Next up – The Blarney Stone.
The Blarney Stone
Ahhh “The Stone”….This one comes with some lamenting based on its eventual status but first let me recant some of the reasons why this place was called home when my friends and I were hitting shows at Madison Square Garden or the Theatre which is located directly beneath it. If memory serves me right, I believe that I started going to “The Stone” with my buddy Trig and a couple of other friends when we all used to regularly attend N.Y. Ranger hockey games. The bar was located right up the street from The Garden and was a stones throw in distance to the train lines that got me there and back home again. This fact alone would make it welcome sanctuary when it was brutally cold outside or found the city pummeled by torrential rain. After a few visits the comfort zone factor set in and this eventually became the meeting spot for concerts that were happening as well.
The Blarney Stone being discussed was once located at 106 West 32nd Street and this was your typical Irish Bar with a meat counter for the food they had and a bunch of tables scattered around the main bar section. They also had numerous sport photographs of the NYC teams hanging around on the walls which kind of reminded me of a sport themed “Rock and Roll Café”. Don’t bother looking up that last reference as they have been gone for more than ten years. The layout of this particular Blarney Stone was interesting as there was a back space that you could command if you got there early enough and also a great table right below the jukebox that I used to always hope to secure. The bar was always popular and packed before Rangers games and most likely Knicks as well, but since I only went to a single basketball game I cannot tell you more. Since it supported these teams on the various televisions around the bar (and they had a decent number of them) they also sold baseball caps with those team logos on them. I still have two of my Rangers hats and they are among the best in my cap collection. The usual scenario before shows was get to the bar as early as possible to secure a good table or space for you and whomever was joining you. Get something to eat, have a few pitchers around your group and stumble down, I mean head down to your sporting event or concert. I loved the meat table and always got my heaping plate of roast turkey, mashed potatoes and corn. It was $6.00. An amusing memory was seeing the Neil Diamond concert with my parents and stopping in there for supper and a drink and having my Dad enjoy the amount of food he got for the price. You might be laughing now, but believe me that really tasted good. Another notable memory is how a whole crew of friends had gathered for an Iron Maiden concert and recalled being at this bar back in the day when youth and dreams were still in charge of ones day. The amusement that they were still enjoying the same music today as investment bankers, financial analysts and technology professional was quite funny. Of course there was a music journalist spark being lit around this time as well. Fancy that.
You recall I said “was once located” at 106 West 32nd and that is because not too long ago I found the doors locked and the signage gone. A few months later the entire building and corner of the block followed. In its place are some luxury high rise office facilities and I must admit that this is one of those times that I do not enjoy the march of progress because there were so many damned good times at this little hole in the wall of the city. I took this shot when I passed the then empty space where a couple of buildings had once stood. Granted there are still a couple of other bars using the Blarney Stone franchise moniker but this was the one that I found sanctuary at with my people. I was very sad to see it gone as I didn’t even get to toast its memory or thank its owners for having it there for so many years. After seeing this empty space, I needed what our Finnish Ambassador refers to as a “street beer”.
Thus begins our next batch of blog musings and we hope that you will enjoy them in some fashion. I’ll be breaking up the tales place by place for easier mental consumption. Perhaps these will guide you to some places to meet your friends before shows as well but I don’t recommend that you do it unless you are the legal age to drink. If you are, then perhaps you will see me prepping for the Metal madness at one of these locations. If you do, please come say hello.
Helpful Toasts From Around The Globe
Depending on which band that you are seeing and where they are visiting from, you might want to know what toast to use in the event you meet the band members down at the merchandise table or somewhere else at the show.
German – “Prost” – very useful for EdGuy, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Savior etc.
Swedish – “Skol” (pronounced “skole”) great for those Viking warriors Amon Amarth, Sister Sin,
Finnish – “Kippis” (pronounced “kip-eese”) useful for Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, The 69 Eyes, HIM, Ensiferum, Turisas and many, many more. You’ll very likely use this one the most
Polish – “Nostrovya” (pronounced “nos-trov-ya”) useful for Behemoth, Vader, Gwynbleidd and Darzamat.
Chinese – “Cambei” (pronounced “come by”): Might be used mainly for the guys in Wormrot or Chthonic. Not sure how much you will use this one since we don’t get a lot of Asian Metal bands hitting the region.
French – “A Votre Sante” – Best for bands from that part of the world and even French speaking parts of Canada like Blackguard, The Agonist, and Unexpect.
While the plan is to feature some of the pleasant shots we have managed to obtain when wandering the area parks in this blog, there is one set of images that is already online and features all that you need to enjoy about this particular one. I will link to that in a moment but first some back story to help you understand. I was out walking with my friend Eric The Beehivehairdresser and we happened upon a couple of interesting sights that were captured on digital media. After the adventures had completed I realized how a number of the shots I had taken all worked within the framework of a musical genre that I find very important to me as a writer. Resultant of this I composed the “PiercingMetal Viking Quest” which you can enjoy by clicking HERE.
During one of my visits to a very favorite dining haunt of mine I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Miss Elspeth Brown and after some quick music journalist publicity I learned that she was a dancer and the artistic director of her own company which is called the Eyes Of A Blue Dog. For me its always interesting to meet new creative people because I find this to be the kind of positive cross-networking that helps reinforce my own resolve for the writing and photography – but enough about me. We kept in touch and discussed each others enterprise and I swore I would one day see her perform. Trust me it is not always easy to find a free night with the battery of Metal forces that come through a market like NYC. Anyways, it was the dead of winter and I learned that Elspeth and company would be presenting a new piece at the APAP Showcase and it would be held at the Dance New Amsterdam space in lower Manhattan.
A few years ago there was a Scottish cultural exhibit being held over at Grand Central Station down on Lexington Avenue. The year was 2005 and I am guessing that this was around April based on the time stamp of my photographs. That was a busy time for me as I had just officially launched PiercingMetal.com but that can be found on another blog. I had to say that for the most part the exhibit didn’t do anything for me, but there was one item on display that was a clear “must see” and a reason to adventure over there without any question. That item was the William Wallace sword.
For those who might not be in the know, William Wallace was a Scottish knight and a patriot in the eyes of his countrymen and lived during the late 1200’s. His was a life of combat and freedom fighting according to his Wikipedia entry and you can learn more about him by clicking on his Wikipedia link which I will have ready for you at the close of this piece.