Friday, September 30, 2011

Angus' Gonzo Guide to New York

In New York I met up with an old university friend, Angus Vail. I hadn't seen him in 25 years. He was with another Kiwi, Giarna and we immediately bonded upon agreeing all our jobs entailed "organising other people's shite." Angus is a rock manager.  Giarna, a former actor, is now a personal shopper and assistant to the super-wealthy. And I am a mother. See the similarities?

Me, Angus and Giarna
Angus did the business management for  INXS for five years from 1988 and has managed the business office for Kiss for the past 16 years. He is also currently helping out a group of Kiwi DJs called Mt Eden.  His email to me about them: "Was utterly shagged today after seeing them play at 2am. These 21-year olds have 22 million hits on one song on YouTube. Even they have no idea how it happened!  View and weep." He has made a TVseries on food and restaurants in NY (pastrami-making without a shirt and the like) produced by a Hungarian company and sold to various markets. Exhausted yet?

How did he get the job with Kiss? Answered an ad in the back of the New York Times.
He was led to an anonymous room and told:
"I can't say who the group are, but they wear make-up and big boots and were big in the 70's."
And so it was that Angus became their biz manager.

How did he get the job with INXS? Bored with his broker job in Sydney he sent hundreds of CVs (resumes) out to music companies. His favourite memory was of guitarist Tim Farriss, a joyful character who woke up every morning delighted to be a rockstar. One of his conversations with Angus:
"Angus mate, do I have enough money to buy a big boat?"
"No, don't buy a boat."
"Angus mate, I bought a boat!"

We met in the Greene Space near Soho to hear a classical group called The Knights  recorded by public radio. There was a light brunch nearby and being good Kiwis we positioned ourselves right next to the bagels, fruit, coffee and orange juice.

"Don't chomp too loudly" said Angus. I stepped away from the free grub - who wants to be immortalised on the radio in a choking incident?

WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon and The Knights
Angus remembered a Greek place round the corner which sold thick coffee and augolemono soup. He didn't remember the name or the street and we walked around for some time looking for it. "This is what he does" said Giarna "He gets a place in his mind and won't give up until he finds it."

We found the Greek place - it's called Snack - and drank the stand-a-spoon-in-it coffee and the sublime lemon soup. Angus talked about one of his life-long obsessions - Shakespeare. Who really was author of those plays? Shakespeare, an untraveled man? Or was it someone using Shakespeare's name like Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. As a noble he would have been frowned upon for openly writing plays for the "plebs." Angus is planning to use his ArtBlocs (mobile art spaces made from shipping containers) to build a Globe similar to the one in London, but mobile.

Angus and Giarna
We mooched around Soho and I envied how Angus and Giarna both stopped at every step to talk to whomever: people they knew; people they thought they might know; and just randoms. We stepped into Icebreaker which sells Kiwi actionwear and I met it's trademark buff bloke wearing a sheep's head. Giarna is part of a voluntary team, Achilles NZ, which includes Frank Bunce (All Black) and Tawera Nikau (League Legend), bringing disabled Kiwi athletes to the NY Marathon. Icebreaker is donating items for a fundraiser and Giarna chatted to the staff about that.

Me and the Icebreaker bloke
We then stepped into Barneys so Angus could spend a $1,500 gift cert from a satisfied client. He has little interest in clothes shopping and was stumped. Giarna, ever the personal shopper, put together an outfit for Angus' wife to wear to Gene Simmons' wedding in LA, which funnily enough, was advertised around the corner.

Billboard in Soho
Angus had to leave to meet his wife at the Ground Zero 9-11 Memorial. Before he took off,  I spilled the beans to Giarna: "You know Angus was a cult figure at Uni. He had about six guys following him around all the time, from Tai Kwon Do to the caf'. It was Angus this, Angus that. He always wore black. We all thought he was so cool."
"No! No! No! That's TOTAL bullsh..!" said Angus.
"Oh don't tell me, Angus ..." said Giarna "but you felt so terribly alone, so misunderstood."
"Oh yeah,"I said, adding the final damning word: "In fact, he was....popular."

Angus winced as he headed off. I hope he's still talking to me when we meet up again in 25 years' time.

Angus' Off-the-Grid NYC:

1) Latin foods along 75th St and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. If you look up "Piedad the Arepa Lady" you'll see a little bit what I mean.

2) Far Rockaway, Queens....great beach, my ArtBloc.....urban surfing....

3) Sleep No More,  an immersive theater experience.  Audience wears a Venetian mask and follows actors up and down stairs, encouraged to poke into corners and trunks ...just extended to Nov 11th. 

5) Polish delicatessens, meat markets and restaurants in Greenpoint, Brooklyn...esp the Lomzynianka Restaurant....the white borscht soup....

8) El Faro restaurant, near Meatpacking district -  For 70 years run by same Spanish family- the garlic shrimp is legendary.....

9) Red Hook food vendors around the soccer fields

10) Inwood Hill Park Old Indian caves and the supposed location where the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Indians for 50 or so guilders.


  1. You guys look like a fun group to hang with! And Angus has live quite the life - INXS?! As usual, you look lovely and always have the best stories to share. Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks for allowing us all to live the glam life for the length of time it takes to read the post. I love the pics and links.

  3. What a fab post - what a fab way to spend a weekend - i rather enjoyed living your life for the last few minutes - i'll say it again fab post x

  4. Great post! Enjoyed reading it. Sounds like you had a fabulous time in NYC. Have a lovely weekend:)

  5. You always meet the most interesting characters. (I use the "characters" advisedly.)
    Sounds like you had a great deal of fun. Good for you. Would have loved to be there with you.

  6. How cool! He sounds like such an interesting guy! I've been a longtime INXS fan. Been to so many concerts I can't even count. Your friend did a great job managing :)

    Sounds like you had quite the NY experience. Ummm and I'm craving some avgolemeno soup right now. It's my absolute favorite soup!!! My Yia Yia's is amazing!

    Have a great weekend, sweetie :) xoxo

  7. Angus sounds like qutie the character!!!

    I had a great time meeting up with old College friends while I was in NY as well---- brought back so many great memories!

  8. Looks like we're both blog readin' :).

    This is so incredibly COOL!! Wow- what a life these two lead, and yet- as you pointed out a deep similarity runs throughout (except we don't get paid to do our "job"... monetarily anyways ;)).

  9. You know the most interesting people!

  10. Ah what a glam life you lead - Angus looks like so much fun!

  11. Barney's is literally one of my favorite aspects of NYC - I just love it there! :)

  12. Whoa. Were those abs real??!!

    PS: You don't look like you use to much bronzer at all :)

  13. it's funny how the decisions we make affect the rest of our lives. this post does a great job of pointing that out. thank you.

  14. another great story and good tips for NYC. I'll be there in about a week and will let you know if I make it to one of angus' off the grid places. ;)

  15. I had never heard about Achilles NZ before - what a lovely charity!

    Andrea x

  16. Fabulous post! Thanks so much for sharing you trip and these amazing picks... cannot wait to check some of these spots out.

    I lived down the street from El Faro and love that spot! Such a classic.

  17. Jody- Oh, to be out on the town with the locals! I love the insider list and have been past that Hollister store - sexy young things, and me shlpepping kids and a huge red bag with an American Girl horse...


  18. Wow, Angus is quite the man! You have a very jolly bunch of friends.

  19. Fab stories (I loved INXS) and great guide to NY - most of those places I had not heard about and will have to try some of them out. Have been meaning to get down to Far Rockaway some time as not so far from us and it is meant to be becoming very hip and happening.

  20. How cool! My husband and I are actually flying to New york on Thursday! Yeah for this post- just in time!

  21. Wow, you have way too much fun for a mom:) That sounds like a fantastic trip and your friends are a blast.

  22. INXS and Kiss?! Way cool! And great tips :)

  23. Love this post Jody! Angus sounds like a lot of fun to hang out with, even if it's only every 25 years! Also that pic of you with the sheepshead guy--I'm still smiling!

    xo Mary Jo

  24. rina_london@yahoo.comOctober 5, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Jodie ! You are way to kool for school. How do you flip from discussing marrowfat peas and scone recipes to this.? by the way saw Damages in Portuguese whilst in Madeira, Its even more evil in a foreign language.
    much love rina

  25. Sounds like so much fun! I love hearing about all of your friends and your adventures with them! :)

  26. haha you are a fun group and that man with that head is fabulous haha :D


  27. This post is great! Looks like you had an amazing trip to NYC! I love your friend's 'off the beaten path' guide to NYC! And I love the story with 'I already bought a boat!' Too funny! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...