I had a fun drunky, New York moment a few weeks ago. After dinner at Eataly and drinks at Gramercy Park hotel, Eric and I walked our friend Sue, also in town for a visit, to her Union Square hotel. Sue had wanted to extend the party and find a karaoke bar, but Eric, curmudgeonly or pragmatically, refused, “Absolutely not. No karaoke.” Sue and I consoled ourselves by singing I’ve Never Been to Me as we walked around Gramercy Park.
But I interrupted our duet to tell Sue about this walking tour of Gramercy Park that I’d just listened to on the flight from Los Angeles to New York. I tried to tell the story of the lady with connections to Croton Resevoir who attained Egyptian artifacts when they tore down the resevoir. I tried to tell Sue about Edwin Booth and The Players Club. Did I get all the details correct? Unlikely. But still it was a sweet moment and it was enriched by this new discovery I’d made, this wonderful Bowery Boys Podcast.
Like I said, I only discovered the podcast, by chance, really, a few days before our most recent New York trip. I downloaded a few episodes, and listened to them on the plane and during the trip. But I must say, the real love affair began when I came home. For the last three weeks I have binge listened to over 40 episodes. Driving to and from work or walking the dogs or while I do dishes, The Bowery Boys Podcast has been an almost constant presence.
If you are a history buff or a New Yorkophile, you will love this podcast. You can download episodes for free on Itunes and there are 177 episodes. If you thought it was fun to binge listen to those measly 13 episodes of Serial, you’re in for a treat with The Bowery Boys.
The hosts, Greg Young and Tom Meyers, are funny, punny, smart, curious Midwesterners who moved to New York around the same time that I did. In what I believe is the Gramercy Park episode, one of them told a story about working at a video store in the ’90s and delivering videos to famous Gramercy Park residents like Julia Roberts. When I lived in New York, any time I was in the area between 14th and 23th, 5th Avenue to Lexington, I always had my eyes peeled for a Julia Roberts sighting. Her sister worked at a restaurant named Zip City (I think) and I would always stare in when I passed hoping to catch a glimpse of either sister.
But I digress. And I admit, it is not unusual for my memory to wander off into my own memories when I listen to The Bowery Boys. Just yesterday, I listened to a recent Little Italy episode, and when they talked about Ferrara Bakery on Mulberry, I couldn’t help but remember my first visit to New York when my BEST FRIEND AB and I ate cannollis from there. And that bakery became a stop I introduced every visitor to when they came to see me. That bakery, even still, is a must every time I’m in town myself. So, basically, I am a part of Little Italy history too.
That’s what I love best about this The Bowery Boys, how when I listen, I feel like New York is still mine, that somehow I am part of her history.
Also, while I was in New York, my friend Eboni and I had brunch at a restaurant, on 7th Avenue, not far from where I used to live. “What restaurant used to be here?” I asked the bartender. He replied that he had no idea, but he asked the manager who was standing right there. “Uh, we’ve been here for a LONG time, since 2002.” And let me say, of course, I get it, 13 years is a long time for a restaurant in the ever changing Manhattan business landscape, but you know this town did exist, for a few years, before the year 2002. It was kind of like this bartender and this manager thought that Manhattan was created the moment their airplane landed or their Greyhound pulled into Port Authority. I probably thought the same thing when I was that age.
Anyway, all of this is a rather lengthy invitation to check out my new favorite thing. Here is the link to the website. http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/ The website is a great companion to the episodes because they often post pictures that complement the content of the podcast. As I said earlier, most episodes are free, but I am sure ordering a t-shirt or donating a little money to their paypal account would be greatly appreciated too.
177 episodes, and counting. If I’ve listened to about 25% of them so far, that means there is a lot of New York to still uncover, still discover. I am driving to San Francisco tomorrow and I know what I’ll be listening to the whole time.
When I listen, I imagine different Bowery Boys fanatics throughout the world, people who live in New York or used to live in New York or maybe folks who always dreamed of it, but have yet to set foot on the island. I’m not the only wistful NewYorkophile, pining from under my palm tree. But when I listen to these guys, I am there. Graciously, Tom and Greg close each episode with “Have a great New York week, whether you live here or not.” And, you know, because of them, I do.