Ramblings: RIP Motor City Bar


Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time in bars. To be honest, I don’t even really think about it that way – I’ve always spent a lot of time in bars, in all of the different countries I have lived in. It’s all about hanging out with my friends in a social setting. Where I come from and where I grew up, going to the pub or the bar was not about how many alcoholic beverages you could throw down your throat in the least amount of time. It was more about meeting your friends, getting a drink and catching up, chatting, being social. Drinking coffee and then moving on to wine or beer early in the evening. A bar was a place to meet up and talk, read, be together. After moving to the States I felt that bar culture here was a little different and that often a bar seemed to be just a place to get wasted and meet someone to hook up with. Luckily for me this initial feeling was dissipated when I found several bars that I could consider my homes away from home.

I have my moments getting very drunk in bars, and hooking up with not-so-random people and all the rest, but first and foremost it’s always been a social spot for me to meet up with my friends. I’ve met many of my closest friends in bars too, and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not as if we only hang out in bars either. We met in a bar, met up several times aterwards, and then exchanged numbers, had brunch, dinner, went to a show, got to know each other and then became close. That’s how you make friends, or that’s how I make friends in any setting. Just because it’s a bar doesn’t mean that the friendships that start there are less worthy than the ones that may have started at work, or at the gym, or at a restaurant. 

Anyway, this is not supposed to be a post about bars in general but about one special bar that has been part of most of my life in NYC, a bar that I have spent so many nights in over the past 8 years and a bar that will always have a very special place in my heart, as it does in the place of many other people. This bar, Motor City, closed its doors for the last time last Sunday, after 18 years of existence on Ludlow Street. The one bar where on any night of the week (or any time of the night for that matter), you would find like-minded people and a DJ playing music that you would like. Even on Friday and Saturday nights, amidst all of the bars playing radio-friendly mush for the drunken weekend crowd, Motor City would still be rock n roll and a haven from everywhere else. 

So many memories, more than I could ever put into words, as one memory just divulges tens of others. So many friendships made and broken and reformed again, so many people passing through and moving on to other lives elsewhere, but often leaving there own mark on the establishment, and leaving with a piece of Motor City in them, never to forget the bar where they did more than just drink in. Because you always did more than just drink at Motor City. You danced and talked and wrote on the bathroom walls, you changed the world with words, discussed things for hours, jumped up on the bar and danced (well I used to for a while), heard songs you had never heard before and watched your friends scream and shout when they tried to beat each other at Miss Pacman. Injuries may have been sustained (a broken cheekbone in my case) and many a hangover suffered after a night at Motor City. Some memories that you probably would prefer to erase, but many more that you will cherish for life.

In my opinion there is nothing better than going into a bar by yourself, knowing that you would never be alone. Nevermind knowing if one of your friends may be there or not, just by the fact that you knew the barstaff and that they would always be there to chat and have a laugh with you, whether you were drinking alcohol or not. And I have to say that Motor City would not have been Motor City without the bartenders and the owners. Wonderful people who had been there for years and probably would have continued to work there if it hadn’t been forced to close down. People who always made me feel welcome and at home, even when I was at my drunkest, or when I was at my most sober. People who never made me feel judged or uncomfortable, and who I will miss not seeing in the setting of the bar, as this bar really was an integral part of my life. Even if, over the past few years, I had spent less time there than I used to do, mainly because I was working most nights on Orchard Street, but also because I was trying avoid running in to some people I didn’t want to be around anymore, the bar still felt like home whenever I stopped in. 

I stopped by the closing party, which was held a week before the actual closing, on a Sunday night after I finished work. The bar was so packed that it was nearly impossible to get a drink. I had a shot and left, as I couldn’t speak to anyone or really hang out there. Then I went back a week later, on the actual night that it was closing and it felt EXACTLY as it always had – a place where you went to have a lot of fun, listen to the music you loved and hang out with people like yourself. Or different, but that didn’t matter! My last memory of Motor City will be sharing a bottle of Powers and a few cans on PBR in front of the bar. Fitting memory for a place that never failed to remain the same, even when the entire street started to change. 

How many memorable birthdays have we all celebrated there? How many of us DJ’d there at least one night? How many times did you bump into, and hang out with people who play in bands that you adore? How many debaucherous after parties were held there? How many times did you end up there because there was nowhere else to go where you would feel at home? How many times did you walk through the doors and breathe a sigh of relief because the atmosphere never changed and you knew you could be yourself without feeling judged? And how many places in the city (especially on the Lower East Side) can you still go to and feel the same way? How many times in my life have I ever bought a new dress specifically for a Christmas party in a bar? (only ever for the MC Christmas party!).

RIP Motor City – you will always have a huge place in my heart. And thanks to everyone who worked there and who I met there who made the place into what it was.


Ramblings: February Reflections

I find that the beginning of each new year is usually a time for reflection on my life, for some changes and also a time to relax a little and think about what I want to accomplish over the rest of the year. 2012 was an interesting year in terms of change and life in general and in a way I want to continue along that route, pinpointing the issues that tend to bother me and get rid of them for good, while at the same time focusing on the things that make me, and others happy. Of course there are moments when I feel like I am doing everything wrong, moments where I feel like I am a failure at everything, as well as moments when I just want to give up and go and live somewhere else away from everything. There are also moments when I feel like everything is worth it, and there is no place better to live than where I live now.

I feel like I am finally miles away from all of the gossip mongers that tend to be in any place that you live. People who spend their lives talking about other people, deforming stories and passing them along, just because they don’t know how to stop and focus on their own lives. I hear snippets of things here and there, random stories that I supposedly told someone else (how I wonder, seeing as I haven’t spoken to said people in well over six months), but I have decided that there was a reason that I moved on from all of that and decided to remove myself from it all, for better or for worse. Nowadays it doesn’t hurt me as much as it used to, because I am surrounded by people who really care about me and my well-being, as much as I care about them and theirs.

Sometimes in life you spend a lot of time with a certain person, and think that they will always be there for you, as much as you have been there for them. This person will be the first person you call to tell good or bad news to, the one who will answer your text at 5am when you are suffering from insomnia and need a friendly ear to listen to you. This is the person who you will pick up every time they fall down, even when you are tired of doing it and wish that it was the other way round for once. But you continue to do it because one day you know that it WILL be the other way round. Or so you think… Sometimes that person decides that they don’t have the time or the energy to help you. However painful that may seem at the time, in the long run it is all for the better. At least you are now aware of the one-sidedness of your relationship, and in the end, you are better off without this person in your life. It gets easier, and honestly your life takes a turn for the better. I feel lighter and happier nowadays. I’m not worried about that other person’s mood swings or anger or happiness anymore.

Hmmm… I don’t really want to finish that last paragraph anymore, as I started it last week and things have changed again. Yet another sign of how life can often surprise you, especially when you think a certain part of your life has gone forever, it pops back up and decides to give it another chance. We will see how things pan out in the long run, but in the meantime I am putting all reflection on hold so that I can see it with an open mind instead of being bogged down with past feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal as well as nostalgia and memories. Maybe that’s a sign of growing up (finally) – the ability to be able to forgive and move on and not to just cut someone out of your life for once and for all. Although I have to say, it doesn’t work with everyone. Some of the people I have cut out are never coming back in, and that is just so much better that way!

I’ve now been living in Bushwick for 5 years and in New York for nearly 8. Our landlords decided to raise our rent $250 this year, and although I feel like the raise is extortionate, it’s still going to be less than what most people are paying in this neighbourhood for the space and the amenities that we have. We were able to negotiate a complete revamp of the apartment (fixed windows, paint, bathroom regrout) and are staying another year here… I don’t want to move, and in any case, how would I ever be able to sign a lease nowadays with my credit as it is? I’m still not paying anywhere near as much as I paid when I lived in that tiny studio in the West Village, and this apartment feels like home. It’s also been incredible to see how the neighbourhood has changed over the past 5 years. Who would have thought that this quiet, not really very safe, area would become full of new buildings and interesting restaurants and bars. I never have to fight with cab drivers to get home anymore, and even more surprising, they actually know where my cross streets are without sighing and getting out a GPS or asking for play by play directions. This apartment feels like a home and looks like one. I couldn’t even imagine having to pack everything up into boxes and moving out now – so I suppose that means that I really have decided that New York is my home. As long as I balance it out with more travel and less time spent wishing I were elsewhere, I really don’t see myself moving to a different city or country anymore. 

Based on what an old (not anymore) friend told me via text message that bartending was cool when you were 20, not so much when you are 34, I should probably think about changing my line of work, but to be honest I’d rather not. In my opinion, living is about being happy and content in what you do, and my jobs make me feel happy. Maybe not the most mature of professions in some people’s eyes - but then again, what is? Are you all of a sudden supposed to remove all of your tattoos, put on a suit, stop having fun and do something boring for a living just because you hit the age of 35? I was pondering on that mean text message I received for a while, until one of my friends deleted it from my phone as there was no point in thinking about it anymore. I’m happy at work, and that’s the most important. Most days I come in with a smile. I am given different types of responsibility, now have some managing shifts at one job, and get to meet lots of interesting people (and many assholes too), and make new friends all of the time. What better job is there for a writer? I have enough material to write about for the rest of my life, and will continue to accumulate said material every day. Lesson learned – don’t read into hateful text messages that only contain a projection of the sender’s own life on your own. As long as you like what you do and you aren’t hurting anybody, there is no reason to feel like you are not living your life “properly”.

There has been so much good music released over the past few months, and I feel excited to see what else is to come this year. The new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album is epic (no surprise there), there is to be a new Suede out soon, a new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, a new BRMC album, as well as many new bands that are right up my street. I need to start working on new playlists for the bar as well as for myself. And I need to make an effort to go to more shows again, starting with Knoxville Morning who will be playing at Mercury Lounge this coming Friday. I’m sure they are just as brilliant live as they are recorded. I have a pinboard above my desk where I stick notes of all new album releases, book releases and gallery exhibitions in an attempt to be on top of everything I want to do and see everything I want to do and see, but I’ve been too lazy recently. I feel like it’s time to go back into hermit mode for a while, finish off the pile of books that is growing by my bed, add to my poetry collection, finish off this newest collection of short stories and get some more photography collections together.

It smells like early Spring outside. I’m glad, as this winter has been a tough one again. Not really so much weather-wise, although it has been cold enough. For the second year in a row January and February have been plagued with the death of people close to me and of people close to people I know, and it just makes me really sad. I wanted to finish this piece of on a positive note, but I’m honestly finding it hard to be super joyful and happy at the moment. I think that all I can really say to this is that I need to keep reminding myself to always let people know how much I care about them, and to live life in a way that won’t lead me to regret too much along the way. Focus on accomplishing everything I want to accomplish, and help others feel happy with their lives too – that’s seems to be the most important take away from all this sadness and grief.

Ah Spring… I am really looking forward to feeling your warm sun on my face again!

Ramblings: Of Changes and Survival Modes



I can't believe how this year is flying by, it's already the middle of May, Spring is finally here and I'm going to be flying to California for two weeks in exactly a month. Which also means I need to save and save and save every penny I make over the next month, because nowadays holiday means unpaid time off, and rent and bills still need to be paid, wherever I happen to be in the world. I'm not complaining though, this time last year I would sleep about 3 hours a night, go into work with a pit in my stomach that would grow and grow throughout the day, and go home and collapse, still stressed out and thinking about all the projects I was undoubtedly going to mess up at work. Now I am working three different jobs, 7 days a week with a day off thrown in here and there, but I have time to see my friends, hang out at home and write, draw and dream. I even have time to read and write at one of my jobs, which happens to be in the middle of a theatre, which is probably one of the coolest things ever. But the best part of all this is that I go to work and then don't have to think about it until I have to go back again. No one calls me with questions about different projects, I don't have to spend 12 hours working on a coverage chart when I take a day off, and guess what? I actually have fun at work. Who would have thought?!

I can't say that it has been easy to pull off, this whole change thing, there were days when I didn't know how I was going to actually afford my next meal, let alone pay rent and other important bills, and I still have a lot of credit card debt I am going to have to start paying off in the very near future (because letting all those 1-800 and 1-866 numbers ring to voicemail every day is really not dealing with the problem very effectively), but, you know, I feel like smiling every morning/afternoon when I wake up. There are days when I still feel so mad I want to stomp my feet and kick people, and there are still days when I don't want to get out of bed to face the world, but they aren't as frequent anymore. I just feel like this is what I always should have been doing when I moved here. What I want. I still don't know if I actually pulled anything off really, everything could fall apart tomorrow, but at the same time I know it will always be OK.

I was walking to the subway this morning, thinking about a million things as usual, and it dawned on me that I live most of my life in some kind of survival mode. Not real "I am being hunted by evil murderers" survival mode (although that is a recurring nightmare of mine), more like a "shit happens so I just have to bear with it" kind of outlook on life every day. Tired because I got home at 7am, had to take the dog out and have to be back at work at 4pm? Oh well, I'll sleep better tonight. Annoyed because friend never comes to say hello because her job is too tiring? No problem, there are at least ten other better friends who always come to visit me. Nose broken because stupid ice machine lid fell on it? No problem, it will heal again, just like the time before, and the time before that. Annoying people being dickheads at work? I just complain and then forget about them (even those annoying student idiots who thought that adding a tip to $2 beers didn't apply to them).  It's all about getting to a place where you want to be in life, a place where you don't have to worry so much about everything... I feel like I am nearly there now. Don't get me wrong, I still worry about everything, but just less than I used to.

I'm so in love with this city, still today. It's been 7 years now, and I can't really imagine myself being anywhere else. I was writing a short story based on a parting of ways that occurred in my life in 2004 last night, and was looking for the journal I wrote during that time. While searching for it I came across a couple of journals I had started in 2005 and 2006, and spent an hour reminiscing about those days... It was all a lot of innocent fun, words about people I had just met who now happen to be my closest friends; words about people who have now disappeared into different lives and places; places that no longer exist and other places that are still there, and are still frequented by us all. Then there was one entry, written during my last trip to France in 2006 that was so insightful at what was to become of me over the next few years that I wish I had listened to myself a bit more when I wrote it. Or maybe not, because in the end it was all for the best. Someone once told me a couple of years ago that I just needed to hit rock bottom in order to find my way again, and I think he was right. I probably always knew what I was doing, even when I thought I didn't anymore.

So yes, New York. I often say that I miss Europe or that I want to move to a desert island and live by the ocean for the rest of my life... This isn't a lie, and I do miss France terribly every once in a while. I just need to make my way back there for a bit, see my friends, go to the old haunts and see how Grenoble has changed over the years (or not, whatever the more accurate statement may be). But New York will always be the city I come back to, I know that all too well now. I've never felt so completely at home as I do here. My apartment, my friends, my jobs, my favourite places to drink and eat, my memories and the new memories I create every day. Sounds silly maybe, but I spent so long looking for a place I could call my home, and it makes me happy to know that I found it.

I wrote a piece called Paradise the other day, based on the same theme for an online magazine. If it doesn't get accepted I will post it here seeing as I was quite proud of it when I wrote it. Something a lot of people can relate to I think, and it also goes along the vein of living in survival mode, continuing to move even when you think you can't anymore. I used to write mainly based on images in my imagination, nowadays I feel like most of my writing comes from something that happened to me, or that could have happened to me. I don't know if that is good or not, but I know that I need to get it all written down before I forget it.


The sun is shining outside, I'm writing this at work listening to Ride and I'm looking forward to seeing what this summer has to offer... And I just got inspired to write a few more short stories. Not a bad start to the day, I think!

The reasons why I am still in NYC

A lot of different events and incidents that ended up colliding in full force in June made me question whether I wanted to be here anymore. It's been five years, doesn't that mean it's time to move on? For once in my life I resisted the impulsion to pack up and leave, discover another country and let whatever was hurting me in the past, far behind me. For once I actually thought it over and weighed the pros and the cons of my life here, and decided that i don't really want to leave here, I just want to run away. Well, for now. Who knows what will happen when the temperature starts dropping, when I really can't handle my job anymore, when someone breaks my heart again...

Here are my reasons for staying here:

1). I have the the best friends in the world. People I can trust, who know me by heart and who I can count on at all times. And who can always count on me for that matter. I've lived through a lot with these people (you know who you are).

2). However much I craved stability it always scared the shit out of me. I've finally let myself settle down here. I've been working at the same place for five years, I have a great apartment and don't want to have to move again.

3). NYC is amazing and I discover something new all the time. I can see all the bands I love and know so many talented musicians. It's inspiring.

4). There are four seasons here, and I love every one of them equally.

5). I feel that I have the perfect middle ground of Europe and the US here and I am halfway between the two countries of my youth (England and France) and my family in California.

6). After five years I have realised there is SO much more to discover outside of the city, and I need more time to visit these places.

7). I think I would miss my life and friends here more than anything. I never ever want to feel that homesickness that would randomly hit me before i moved here...

Happiness is back!

I figured out an agreement with my landlord's attorney. I stayed in one night last week and realised how much I loved my apartment and how much I didn't want to give it up. I've worked soooo fucking hard to give it all up. I really want to kick myself right now for being such an idiot - but as my Mum says, sometimes you really need to hit rock bottom in order to climb back up again. Even work is more manageable and I have so many fun and interesting projects outside of work in the pipeline. Sooo I have an agreement to pay everything off by Jan 31st. I am going to need a second job in order to do this...
I love being busy, I love having multiple things to do. I hate being bored and sitting at home wondering who I should call. I've never been like that and I am not going to start right now. Burning the candle at both ends is my thing - I just need to know when to chill out so that I don't collapse.

Happiness Happiness Happiness!

Can't wait to see Paradox Twin in a bit. It's been too long. And Combat Baby later at the show. No fail evening again I hope! I am so proud of Combat Baby and my mix while DJing at The Skinny last Tuesday - I think it was our best ever. Who's up for a whole night of Motown now??