If a $150/night hotel near Central Park in New York City sounds too good to be true….. it probably is!
I’m here for the ‘Sputnik Mania’ premiere at the IFC tonight. I jetted in for only two nights. Looked for a hotel on Expedia. Most hotels in the SoHo area start around $295/night. Last time I was here I found one on Expedia for about $160, close to Central Park, and it was a real score. That one (Park 76) had increased to $280 this time. So I picked another close by, the Belnord on 87th St, which is only $150 per night with free Internet. How for wrong could I go?
I was a little concerned when I walked into the lobby and it looked more like a taxi office. The clerk gave me the key to my room, on the 5th floor. He said he had to warn me there’s no elevator. Boy, I’m feeling glad all I have with me is a small rollaboard, unlike last time I came through NY on my way to TED with a keyboard flightcase packed full of equipment. And my torn calf ligament is close to completely healed. Still, I’ve carrying my laptop and a chunky hard drive as I’m hoping to get a couple more TED tunes mixed over the weekend. So I start climbing the 10 flights of stairs. The place looks like a building site—door framed half finished, dust everywhere, plastic sheeting. I get to the 5th floor, naively hoping that this one will be habitable; but it’s no different from the other floors. Now I realise to my horror that the clerk had pointed me down a different corridor, presumably with its own staircase! Standing there dreading the double trek back down, around and up again, I am approached by a Hispanic workman in overalls. I tell him my room number and he confirms my worst fears. But, ‘come!’ he says, and even picks up my case. I follow him through the rubble to a fire exit, and it opens onto a corridor on what presumably is the correct side of the building.
I find my room, and it’s a bare shell with a bed and a lamp. It’s hot in there, but the window doesn’t want to open, and I can tell that if I was to force it, the mini air conditioner would plummet 80 feet to its peril into the alleyway below. So I turn on the a/c but it’s one of those units that has a terrible, irregular rattle. And there’s no desk—so much for mixing this weekend! Nor, for that matter, is there a bathroom. Ugh. I call down to reception. It appears none of the available $150 rooms have bathrooms, you have to share one with everybody else on your floor. Oh well, at least my room is right opposite it.
But wait, it gets worse: the one shared bathroom has a problem with its lock. You have to slam the door repeatedly to get it closed enough so that you can lock it. So this means that every time anyone goes to the bathroom all night, I hear three minutes of repeated door slamming! This, combined with mild jetlag, assures me a rotten night.
But I’m up again at 6 and I head to a Starbucks around the corner (I know, I know) with my computer. I get some breakfast in me, and now things are looking up. I plug in my MacBook and my brand new MBox ProTools Micro. This is basically a little USB dongle that lets you use ProTools without being connected to any of their hefty hardware.
With occasional refills of capuccino I spent a very happy morning mixing a song of Rachelle Garniez’ called ‘Hello Cruel World’ on headphones. This needs to get done for potential inclusion on a BluRay disk of the TED Conference. It’s amazing what a good mix can do. I saw a QuickTime clip of us playing it at TED with the audio mix that was recorded live to camera. It was a long way from anything Rachelle would have been proud of. And I’m ashamed to say I seriously buggered up the second verse. I was playing a kind of saloon bar honky-tonk piano, and as I’m anything but fluent in that style I had a brain fart in the middle and played utterly the wrong notes. Ah, but that’s the beauty of multitrack recording: I simply cut and pasted 3 beats’ worth of my piano from the first verse into the second, and wa la. I checked it in sync with the QuickTime and it still works fine. Rachelle, incidentally, looks absolutely stunning. She’s one of those naturally videogenic people. And out of her mouth comes a growl like Tom Waits, it’s fantastic.
Now back at the hotel, all is all quiet and there’s just time for a nap before I head down to the Village for David’s premiere. He got a nice review in the New York Times today and he should be well pleased. He asked me to invite some of the ‘influential people’ that I know. I managed to knock off emails to David Byrne, Moby, and Ryuichi Sakamoto, but it remains to see if any of them will show up.
‘Sputnik Mania’ screens for the next 2 weeks at the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village.