Fashion, Food and Murder in New York

New York is still throbbing with great places to eat, unique clothes shops and the newspapers have a hunger for outraged front page crime stories.
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The first time I came to New York a woman was murdered near the hotel – Wilding they called it, a pack of teenagers chasing and attacking a lady jogger in Central Park. Nearly 20 years on they’re still at it. This time it was Dead In Tub or Beauty In The Bath. America’s fascination with turning murder into movie style headlines continues unabated. “Drugged up socialite throttled by loser son of perv composer” the papers scream.

The death occured on the only night of three I wasn’t at Soho House. I was there for the launch of two books – The Rat Pack and Bill Gold: Posterworks by Reel Art Press, the movie poster company. Everyone should own at least one great movie poster or deluxe poster book. On the Tuesday Shawn Levy, who has written the forward to The Rat Pack - which is full of newly discovered images of his heroes - told us the term Rat Pack was coined by Lauren Bacall.

Thursday the same guys launched Bill Gold: Posterworks – Clint Eastwood’s fave movie poster designer – he’s done all Clint’s posters from Dirty Harry to Mystic River. Not to mention Casablanca, A Clockwork Orange, Enter The Dragon, Bullit and The Exorcist. I bought two of his books.

In between they had the death – lingerie designer throttled by her spoilt fucked up boyfriend. The police have charged him with attempted murder. They don’t know if it’s drugs or drowning or choking. Don’t they watch their own TV shows - how hard is it to work this shit out?

Either way the tabloids loved it and bang we were back in Walter Winchell times. On Tuesday my mate Marshall the architect from Brooklyn walked into Soho House and said ‘Which arseholes come here?” by Thursday he knew, his girlfriend's ex-boss was the corpse.

The first time I came to New York in 1987 was to interview Sonic Youth. This time it was the great British newspaper editor Harold Evans, formerly of the Sunday Times. We talked spies, workrate, invention and Marlon Brando. I will post the interview on  ST shortly.

Harry’s daily schedule is impressive. He wakes at 6 am, edits a Henry Kissinger book, breakfasts with his wife, Tina Brown, swims before lunch and then plays table tennis with the American all time champion, together they’ve designed a new bat. He ends the day watching Life on Mars. The guy’s 82 years old. Bill Gold is 90, they shame those of us who’ve retired in our 30s to a place on the sofa with a box set.

When I first came to Manhattan I liked necking margaritas and necking with girls in The Hat/Il Sombrero at Stanton and Ludlow, back then it was a bad boarded up block with crack houses  and gangsters – now it’s worse, boutiques everywhere.

I don’t drink anymore so I like to eat, by Wednesday I could hardly get into my Kilgour trousers to meet Harry Evans. I picked the wrong city to start slimming. I like Lucky Strike which has rare tuna with wasabi sandwiches, a cozy atmosphere, cool waitresses and it’s where I meet my friend Edward, a writer who’s in court every day following a case about the Saudi Prince.

Onto The Palm – a ‘suff and tuff’ place going back to the late 20s with amazing cartoons and illustrations of the customers on the wall. Many of them were the ad execs Mad Men was based on. After the lobster or steak if you can finish the chocolate cake they’ll give you a jacket.

CBGBs is a jeans shop now, it looks fake but at least there isn’t piss all over the floor anymore. Nowadays there’s a great looking hotel on The Bowery that I’m going to stay at, I bet they won’t charge me $116 dollars for breakfast like the Tribeca Grand tried.

Two cashmere jumpers and a packet of crisps please

The best men’s clothes shop in town is the Liquor Store in Tribeca. It’s an old liquor store with original fittings, and masses of JCrew cashmere jumpers, jackets, socks, and loads of curious details. I went there everyday and bought two navy jumpers.

Then I popped up to see Pykey, the only one of my old loaded gang to have a CBE.  Steve’s a gaunt, gallant photographer the New Yorker hired to replace Richard Avedon when he retired. I love him, he lives the city, breakfasts at teatime, works when he likes, we did NME covers together. Now he’s moved on from The Fall and his loft has Kurt Vonnegut and Peter Cook staring down from the walls.

‘Hey if you don’t like your hotel,” said Steve,  “try the Jane, it’s where the people they rescued from the titanic stayed…” Does he mean I’m all washed up or a survivor?

In New York I feel alive. When I first came here – a mere kid with a notepad, good music ears and a big mouth- I fell in love with the city. This week, though, was my best time here for a decade.

Walking round with my girlfriend. Both wrapped up in thermals, her in a Paul Smith duffle coat and me in an old Woolrich jacket, and strong Grenson shoes. Thinking about Harry Evans, Steve Pyke, Bill Gold. There are legends wandering this city. The girlfriend can read my mind. “This will be a great city to live when we’re old,” she says. And she’s right. I’d never thought of it like that before.