Monkeying Around

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Posts.

The Clientele are well into their U.S. tour in support of their new CD, God Save the Clientele, and despite playing night-after-night to uproarious fanfare, the journey isn’t without its heartbreaks. “I didn’t get to meet 50 Cent,” complains frontman Alasdair Maclean, via cell phone while en route to San Francisco. The band and the rapper were both scheduled to tape a performance for the same Yahoo Music program in Santa Monica.

With his starched British accent, Maclean sounds more suited to lecturing on the intricacies of surrealist literature clad in patches of suede instead of spending a Saturday afternoon crammed in a tour van and lamenting a lost opportunity to get matching grills with Fiddy.

“I wanted to call him ‘50 Pence,’or maybe ‘25 Pence,’ assuming we could even get within 6 feet of him.”
Of course, a Clientele and 50 Cent pairing wouldn’t be the first unexpected blip on the cultural radar. The band has already been sampled on a track for a hip-hop band so obscure that Maclean can’t even recall the name when pressed. “It’s certainly no one very well known, probably just a myspace hip-hop group. But it’s an art that’s very alien to the one that we make, and it’s great that we can just pop up in it; it’s fantastic.”

Perhaps the band’s most curious incarnation involves their role in The Story of Lee, a comic strip written by Sean Michael Wilson, a Scottish writer currently living in Japan. “If I had one wish, it would be that we were as good looking as they made us in the comic,” laments Maclean. “They gave us a fifth member who is a very sleazy one and who is constantly trying to pick up girls, which is something nobody in the band really does at all.”

However, anyone who has listened to Maclean sensuously coo, “C’mon darling, let’s be lovers” in the chorus to the God Save The Clientele track, “Bookshop Casanova,” might assume him to be a fairly adept letch. “This one certainly is sunnier. It’s a record all about fun,” Maclean says of the new album. With its ’60s pop sensibility, it plays like a 14-song love letter to The Monkees.

Maclean was introduced to the Monkees the same way many a second-generation fan on this side of the pond was, via reruns of the TV show in syndication. “There’s no ’60s flavor to anything that happened in the ’80s, but the Monkees were shown every day during summer break. It was the reruns shown during school holiday that kept the torch of ’60s music burning in me for a few years.”

There’s a certain irony to a meticulous songwriter idolizing a pre-fabricated band who didn’t write their own songs and didn’t even play their own instruments on most of their records. But that doesn’t seem to bother Maclean. “It doesn’t matter who wrote or played on the record, it just matters how the record sounds and The Monkees records sound fantastic.”

June 8, Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St. (betw. Bowery & Chrystie St.), 212-533-2111; 8, $15.

Monkeying Around

Written by Robin Lasher on . Posted in Eat & Drink, Posts.

Monkey town, the restaurant/cinema/bar/lounge and now brunch spot on North 3rd Street in Williamsburg is a jumble of aesthetics. It’s located in a converted garage near the East River and home to a regular series of films and video art projected nightly on four screens. In the front dining room, low cushioned benches are set at stylish right angles in a loft-like room with high, high ceilings and big potted plants in a row by the windows. You might get a calm Japanese garden vibe until you take in the massive cardboard chandelier and the wall hanging made out of yarn. And then there’s the mural of the tropics at night and the neon lights in the hallway to the bathroom. Just where are we again? Oh yes, Williamsburg, where we like eye candy.

The weekend brunch menu is a similar tangle. Monkey Town is the only place in the city that I’ve come across migas, a Tex-Mex breakfast staple that I first met in Austin. Posters plastered around the ‘Burg have been touting “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmigas” for weeks, and I was eager to try.

Monkey Town migas involve eggs scrambled with queso and strips of corn tortilla and served neatly on a plate with tomatillo salsa, refried beans, cubed potatoes and a side of soft flour tortillas. The eggs were fairly salty on their own, so best to pile all the ingredients together and create a breakfast taco concoction. It’s not as messily authentic as it was down in Texas, but I’ll take what I can get.

Not as flavorful were the Southern-influenced eggs and biscuit, studded with sausage. It’s hard to compete with the biscuit bakers up the street at Egg, and the Monkey Town version were doughy and topped with a dull white gravy. The Cardamon French toast also had a doughy center, but was saved by excellent edges. I thought the pulled pork sandwich would be another import with a Southern accent, but it was more nicely in tune with a Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich. The pork was topped with tangy pickled carrots and served on a brioche bun with a side of breakfast potatoes. All together, it may have been the most fully realized item on the menu.

Coffee was taken as the French do, in big bowls, and refilled often. Should all this coffee be the cause of a bathroom break halfway through your meal, you’re in luck. The three doors in the futurist back hallway each lead to a “Bathroom Sound Series” experience—90 second, custom-crafted sound collages that begin when you open the door. The bathroom I chose was also outfitted with a showerhead. I don’t know if it actually worked, but I do know that it made me chuckle.

Monkey Town’s website says they serve experimental cuisine and classic dishes from a country that doesn’t exist. I like that idea, although I wish some things could have been imported from reality. The spicy homemade ketchup was interesting, but my breakfast potatoes deserved, I think, a dose of Heinz. The country that doesn’t exist was also sparsely attended at noon on a Sunday. That all may be changing soon since there’s talk of movies programmed during the brunch hours, and (to be perfectly honest) the upscale movie room with its quirky programming is the biggest streetside draw. But on this lazy day, lacking exotic people-watching opportunities, my brunch-mates and I admired the decor and the region-hopping menu. And it seems we perhaps felt just a touch more arty and exotic ourselves, just by being there.

Monkey Town

58 N. 3rd St. (betw. Wythe & Kent), Brooklyn