I can’t get no sleep
There seems to be a thing with Irish people lately, that at least once a year they MUST go to New York, or NewJorka, as I prefer to call it, a name I made up as I strolled around Times Square and compared the amount of pasty, naked, tourist flesh I saw, with that of a lovely sunny day on the beach in everyone’s favourite part of Spain, Mallorca.
This city definitely has something for everyone. If flashy lights and in-your-face advertising are your thing, Times Square is the place to be. If you like musicals, plays and pretty much all types of theatre, there is no better place in the world. You are pretty much guaranteed to find some sort of entertainment here whether its six in the evening, or six in the morning.
If music is your thing, you can catch bands in dive bars and venues down in Soho. The day I arrived here, Garbage and Slash were playing around the corner from each other on the same night, and every night is pretty much just like that. Last Friday, Justin Bieber did a free concert on 44th Street for the Morning Show, while Project Runway recorded a free fashion show with Heidi Klum and Michael Kors at The Helm just around the corner. This was also the night after Chris Brown and Drake had their bottle throwing olympics in W.I.P, a nightclub on Vandam Street down in the south of Manhattan. So whether they’re fighting or performing, there’s always an A, B or C-lister floating around the touristy spots.
If you like food, head down to Soho and Greenwich Village and you will have the hardest time choosing which eatery is your favourite. For Mexican I’d recommend Tacombi on Elizabeth street in Soho, and for any time of the day food, hit the Bowery Diner on Bowery Street just around the corner. For pizza, hit up Joe’s in Greenwich Village for a slice.
My only complaint about New York is (apart from the touristy areas smelling of feet and death), that it is quite hard to find excellent coffee. For a city that pretty much runs on caffeine, there is a lack of great quality purveyors. The city moves so fast that Starbucks and several other chains have taken over and people are happy to settle for barely OK coffee. It’s quick, overpriced slosh. Speed is the essence here, and don’t be expecting a please or thank you any time soon.
If you do want to be picky (like me), you need to go looking for that perfect cup of coffee (and it is hard to find if you stay near the flashy lights) your best bet is to head south and go to the likes of Abraco on 86 E 7th St, or La Colome Torrefaction at 400 Lafeyette Street. After all, this is the city that never sleeps right?
Wrong… well, for some of us.
I love my sleep!
In fact I am known to my family and friends to be half man – half mattress. So what does a guy like me do in a city like New York? Drink Coffee until I pass out? Wrap myself in a duvet, hide under my bed and instead of counting sheep, count yellow taxis? Overdose on camomile tea?
All of these are perfectly good solutions, and in a city like New York, you could be under your bed, in a yellow taxi, in the middle of Times Square, surrounded by sheep covered in stars and stripes, and nobody would bat an eyelid. It is perfectly acceptable to be a complete space-cadet over here, and the crazies that roam the streets just add to the city’s charm.
So when it comes to sleeping; once you drown out the noise and close your eyes, it should come pretty easy to you. Since I’ve been here, I have taken it upon myself to start listening to much more ambient electro, classic jazz and acoustic tracks than I would have back home. You need no kick in the ass here, it’s more a case of finding the right way to wind down after a hectic day of listening to cars beeping at each other constantly (you become immune to that eventually) and looking at the flashy lights and yellow taxis. So with this in mind, here are a few of the tracks that help me nod off in the city that never sleeps.
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92 – Full Album
This is 75 minutes of pure ambient pleasure from Ireland’s finest electronic music export, perfect for zoning out at any time of the day!
Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus
An absolute classic from 1961. Everybody needs jazz in their life, be it Coltrane, Miles Davis or Yusef!
Naked Poetry – Sexytime “Always On My Mind”
Odd name, but seriously nice track.
James Vincent McMorrow – Follow You Down to the Red Oak tree
A beautifully sincere and melodic track from one of Ireland’s best new artists.
Low Leaf – June Gloom
I can’t recommend this girl enough, and I predict that in twelve months she will be nominated for a bajillion best newcomer awards. Get yourself onto YouTube or on to her Bandcamp page and be amazed. Her studio stuff is very well produced and includes drums, synth and samples, but this video shows just how talented and amazing she can be when left alone with just her harp.
Gemma Hayes – Wicked Game
My favourite Tipperary lady covers Chris Isaak’s classic.
Snow Patrol – Somewhere a Clock is Ticking
A hidden gem from Snow Patrol’s 2003 chart topper “Final Straw”.
Tycho – A Walk
This track just sends me away with the fairies.
And last but by no means least…
Tool - Reflection
My favourite band; most of their work is a very acquired taste but if you get them, you’ll be hooked. This is one of their most laid back tracks, don’t expect any of their other stuff to sound like this, but please take the time to have a listen.
Whether you decide to go to NewJorka or not, I really do hope I have brought you some artists you may never have heard of, or taken time to listen to before. And whether you know them or not, as humans, our sleeping patterns change as we age and we always need to try different ways to send us to sleep, these tracks might be the solution to your sleeping issues, and sure if they’re not, you can always just count yellow taxis.