Category Archives: Music

A Weekend in Queens in Pursuit of the American Dream

This post is my entry into the TBEX Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by Choice Hotels International Services Corporation.  UPDATE:  On July 18, TBEX tweeted this announcement that I was one of the three winners!  Thank you to TBEX and Choice Hotels! 

In honor of Independence Day (July 4th) in the United States, I want to celebrate one of the many things that makes this nation great:  its people.  All of us who have ever lived in this country can trace our histories back–even the Native Americans, who crossed on land over what is now the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia–to that first arrival in America from a different shore.  Some came of their own volition while others by force.

For centuries, New York City has been the destination of choice for explorers, traders, immigrants, and tourists.  But a visit to New York City today is too often limited to the borough of Manhattan.  Even people who live here are hard pressed to explore the vast city they live in!  So hop on the subway, bus, or ferry and cross the East River to visit Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States!  Below I have tailored a special weekend itinerary in Queens that celebrates New York City’s past and present, and honors the people who have settled here in search of the American dream.

Strap on your walking shoes, prepare your senses, and come on an empty stomach!  Queens will enthrall you.

SATURDAY:  WESTERN QUEENS
Ride the N or Q train to the first stop and walk to the remaining destinations.  Travel time is built into the itinerary.

8:00 am – Breakfast at Artopolis Bakery (Greek)
[23-18 31st Street, Astoria]

As a teenager, all my high school Greek friends hailed from Astoria.  Before the Greeks arrived in the mid-20th century, the area had previously been settled by the Dutch, Germans, Irish, and Italians.  Since those high school days nearly 20 years ago, people from the Middle East (particularly Egypt), Brazil, Japan, the newly formed Eastern European countries, plus whites escaping escalating rents in Manhattan and Brooklyn all flocked to Astoria, due to its close proximity & easy access to Manhattan.  Despite this diversification, Astoria is still synonymous with Greek immigrants.  For the 2004 Olympic Summer Games, the Olympic Flame first traveled all over the world before arriving in Athens.  As one of four US cities to host the Olympic Torch, it only made sense to commence the NYC relay in Astoria, in Athens Square Park.

Start your day off at what is arguably the best Greek pastry shop in the neighborhood!  Your eyes will be bigger than your stomach when you see the seemingly endless displays of cookies, pastries, bread, and delicacies.  Remember to order a coffee!  The bakery is located in a mall, just follow your nose.

Coffee at Artopolis - Photo Courtesy of Petit Hiboux (Flickr)

9:00 am – Steinway Piano Factory Tour (German)
[1 Steinway Place, Astoria]

Walk through a residential part of Astoria to get to the industrialized northern tip of the neighborhood.  The famous piano maker still creates and refurbishes Steinways in its original Queens factory.  Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later anglicized to “Steinway”), emigrated from Germany with his family in the mid 19th century.  Shortly thereafter, Steinway started manufacturing pianos and by the 1880s, the Steinway family built its new factory and village in Astoria.  The Steinways were influential in the development of the neighborhood, hence a major thoroughfare is named after them.  The three-hour tour highlights the history of the family and the neighborhood, the one-of-a-kind quality of each instrument, and the craftsmanship of the workers past and present reminding you that historically, Western Queens was a major manufacturing area as a result of its close proximity to the East River.

1:00 pm – Lunch at the Bohemian Beer Garden (Czech & Slovak)
[29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria]

Established in 1910, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is the oldest beer garden in the City.  Munch on grilled kielbasa or bratwurst and wash it down with one of the Czech or Slovak beers on tap.  My personal favorite?  The Krušovice tmavé (dark) for its roasted, malty flavor.  The scene is always packed on weekends and it is not uncommon to see families enjoying themselves while they let their young children run round.  Many of the outdoor picnic tables are shaded by old trees, allowing for a relaxing and refreshing afternoon break from the summer heat.

Photo Courtesy of WallyG (Flickr)

3:30 pm – The Noguchi Museum (Japanese/American)
[9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City]

If you are not a lover of sculpture, a visit to the Noguchi Museum may just change your mind.  Born to a Japanese father and a white American mother in 1904, Isamu Noguchi lived in Japan as a child and moved to America as a teenager.  By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, he was in his late 30s living in NYC as a sculptor.  He created the Nisei Writers and Artists Mobilization for Democracy in 1942, a group dedicated to raising awareness of Japanese-American patriotism.  He also asked to be interned as an act of solidarity with his brethren Japanese-Americans.  He spent 7 months in an internment camp and his work during this period clearly reflected his personal turmoil and sadness.  The gallery, which includes an outdoor garden, was created by Noguchi.  His primary studio was across the street, which he often biked to from his Manhattan residence; he also maintained a studio in Japan.  His pieces are strategically placed so that you sometimes feel like they belong in the “natural” landscape.  Somehow, serenity manages to envelop you during your visit.

Photo Courtesy of RocketLass (Flickr)

7:00 pm – Gantry State Park at Dusk
[Center Boulevard between 47th Road & 49th Avenue, Long Island City]

View the Manhattan skyline while strolling along the now refurbished waterfront piers of Long Island City, where the landscaped park offers you welcoming chairs to take in the scenery.  Watch as the sun sets behind the skyscrapers, feel the last rays of the day hit your face, and listen to the river lapping on the shore.  If you’re lucky, sometimes hammocks are there.  Snag one, close your eyes, and take in the silence.  Burn this memory into your brain:  you are swinging in a hammock, by the water, in NEW YORK CITY!

Manhattan Skyline from Gantry State Park

8:30 pm Dinner at Manducatis Rustica (Italian)
[13-27 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City]

On the outside, this squat Flatiron-shaped building looks like a residential house with a non-descript white door.  The only possible clue offered is its big bay window with curtains pulled shut and a sign.  Blink and you could miss it.  Once inside, you still feel like you are entering a residence, since in many ways, you are.  Couple Vincenzo and Ida Cerbone, have been feeding artists and working-class folks from the neighborhood for approximately 20 years, well before the arrival of the sleek luxury condos and chic, hip restaurants that now inhabit the area.  Let them and their staff welcome you and help you pair the right kind of wine with your Neapolitan meal.  Try to resist the urge to plant a kiss on each check when you say good-bye, but if you can’t, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

If you still have some energy left and want an after-dinner drink, there are a bevy of bars within several blocks of each other, including Domaine Wine Bar, Dominie’s Hoek, Dutch Kills, and LIC Bar.  You could even stroll back to Gantry State Park to view the lights of the Manhattan skyline at night.

SUNDAY:  CENTRAL QUEENS
The second day, you’ll ride the 7 train and hop on and off in both directions.  Again, travel time is built into the itinerary.

8 am – Breakfast at Ihawan (Filipino)
[40-06 70th Street, Woodside]

Filipino food reflects the countries that have heavily influenced the culture,  usually China, Malaysia, Spain, and the United States.  It comes together clearly in a typical Filipino breakfast, consisting of a cured meat or fish (tapa), garlic-fried rice (sinangag), and eggs over easy (itlog).  Combine each underlined portion of the Tagalog words and you come up with its name: tapsilog.  Ihawan is run by the Bacani Family, who hail from the province of Pampanga in the Philippines, widely accepted amongst most Filipinos as the home of the best cooks in the country.  Fuel up now, because you’ll need it for your next stop.

Photo Courtesy of Kitakitts (Flickr)

9:30 am – Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Once the site of the “valley of ashes” as described by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novel The Great Gatsby, a rush of urban beautification measures in the early 20th century created this 1,255-acre park, and site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.  Today, the park offers many outdoor activities.  Walk, or even better, rent a bike to cover more ground.  You’ll definitely want to see remnants from the World’s Fair such as the Unisphere and the New York State Pavilion observation towers, more recently made famous in the movie Men in Black as the place the aliens apparently hid their spaceships.  Be sure to stop by the Queens Museum of Art where you’ll see the Panorama of the City of New York, a 3D model of the city’s buildings and structures since 1992.  See also the memorabilia from both World’s Fairs and the exhibit on Tiffany glass, produced in neighboring Corona.  The park is also home to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, host of the US Open and Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets.

The Unisphere with Observation Towers in the Background

1:30 pm – Flushing (Chinese, Korean, Dutch, English)
[137-16 Northern Boulevard, Flushing]

Wander around the neighborhood that is home to Queens’ Chinatown and Koreatown.  If you are feeling peckish from your time at the park, you could get some cheap street food to tide you over to dinner.  You’ll find the majority of storefront signs here not in English, and perhaps you’ll start to wonder if you’re in another country.  Before your mind starts playing tricks on you, stop by the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, built near the end of the 17th century, and considered to be the oldest house of worship in New York State.  Even back when Flushing (then known by its original name, Vlissengen) was a Dutch colony, residents clamored for religious freedom in response to rampant discrimination by the colonial Dutch government.  This vocal protest resulted in the signing of the Flushing Remonstrance by local residents in the mid-17th century, a document that inspired the right to freedom of worship as enshrined in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

Signs along Union Street between Northern Boulevard & 37th Avenue

4pm – Louis Armstrong House Museum (African-American)
[34-56 107th Street, Corona]

Catch the last tour of the day at the home of jazz legend Louis Armstrong.  He and his wife, Daisy, lived in their modest Corona home for nearly 30 years, from 1943 to his death in 1971.  No one has resided in the house since then and the interior decorations have been preserved to show how the Armstrongs lived.  Listen to audio clips as you walk through the home and wander through their Japanese inspired garden.  See photographs and learn about the man whose career spanned a time in American history when racial discrimination blatantly segregated blacks and whites in society.

5:30 pm – Dinner at Rincon Criollo (Cuban)
[40-09 Junction Boulevard, Corona]

In recent decades, Corona became the home to people from all over Latin America.  And while you may have your pick of cuisines from Guatemalan fast food to Mexican chain restaurants, I recommend Rincon Criollo because it has been around for 30 years and the story of the family who owns and runs it exemplifies the American Dream realized.  The Acosta Brothers opened the original Rincon Criollo in Cuba in the 1950s as a modest room consisting of four wooden planks for its floor and palm branches as its roof.  Years of hard work led to the restaurant’s successful growth and expansion, while becoming a favorite of Cuban celebrities.  However, life changed dramatically in Cuba as the brothers had their restaurants seized following the Cuban revolution of 1962.  Fourteen years later, the brothers re-opened Rincon Criollo in Corona, Queens.  The restaurant walls are lined with photos from the old country, a reminder of their past and their roots.  Regular patrons of Rincon Criollo have been coming with their families for years, savoring the tastes of a home that exists today only in their memories or in the stories of their [grand]parents.

The Acosta Brothers and all the people and families who have been highlighted on this tour of Queens are living testaments to what we celebrate most visibly on July 4th:  the American spirit of innovation, creativity, hard-work, determination and hope.  Regardless of their backgrounds, immigrants have come to America with a dream for a better life for themselves and their families, and millions have started that dream right here in Queens.

Artopolis Bakery
23-18 31st Street
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 728-8484
www.artopolis.net
N, Q train to Ditmars Boulevard

Steinway & Sons Factory
1 Steinway Place
Astoria, NY  11105
(718) 721-2600
http://steinway.com/
N, Q train to Ditmars Boulevard
Call in advance to schedule a tour.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
29-19 24th Avenue
Astoria, NY  11102
(718) 274-4925
www.bohemianhall.com
N, Q train to Astoria Boulevard

The Noguchi Museum
9-01 33rd Road
Long Island City, NY  11106
(718) 204-7088
www.noguchi.org

Gantry Plaza State Park
Center Boulevard between 47th Road & 49th Avenue
Long Island City, NY  11109
7 Train to Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue or
G Train to 21st Street/Jackson Avenue
http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/149/details.aspx

Manducatis Rustica
13-27 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY  11101
(718) 729-4602
7 train to Hunters Point Avenue or
G train to 21st Street

Domaine Wine Bar
50-04 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY  11101
(718) 784-2350
www.domainewinebar.com

Dominie’s Hoek
48-17 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY  11101
(718) 706-6531
www.dominieshoek.com

Dutch Kills
27-24 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY  11101
(718) 383-2724
www.dutchkillsbar.com

LIC Bar
45-58 Vernon Boulevard
Long Island City, NY  11101
(718) 786-5400
www.longislandcitybar.com

Ihawan
40-06 70th Street
Woodside, NY  11377
(718) 205-1480
7 train to 69th Street
www.ihawan2.com

Flushing Meadows Corona Park
7 train to Mets-Willets Point

Flushing Quaker Meeting House
137-16 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, NY  11354
718-358-9636
7 train to Main Street
http://www.nyym.org/flushing/hmh.html

Louis Armstrong House Museum
34-56 107th Street
Corona, NY  11368
718-478-8274
7 train to 103rd Street-Corona Plaza
www.louisarmstronghouse.org

Rincon Criollo
40-09 Junction Boulevard
Corona, NY  11368
(718) 639-8158
7 train to 103rd Street-Corona Plaza
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Take Me to Queens at Once!

The title of this post is a line from a movie.  Can you name it?  Bonus points for character, actor, and scene.  You have until the end of this post to guess your answer.

Six weeks of the WordPress Post-A-Week challenge has been very good in getting me to blog regularly this year!  While I did say that would I write about travel, culture, food, New York City, and bikram yoga, I have yet to figure out the common thread(s) that would pull all these disparate interests together to make an interesting and worthwhile read for visitors.  Ultimately, I am trying to figure out what my unique contribution will be to the online community.

Last Thursday, I saw travel blogger Vagabond3‘s tweet on a current weekly blog feature:  a 12 week challenge centered on the theme of  traveling within your own hometown.  Immediately, I thought this challenge would be a perfect way to complement my Post-A-Week challenge and the goals I hope to accomplish!  So once again, I declare to the world my intent to participate in this excellent idea to write about New York City…but with a *TWIST*.   I’m going to focus all future articles for this challenge on only 1 of the 5 boroughs of New York City:  Queens.

A Manhattan-ite once wrote on her Facebook status update, “Only reason to go to Queens is the airport.”  While the borough does house the city’s two airports, as a Queens native, it absolutely PAINS ME to hear this statement!  Yes, Queens gets very little love in the hearts and minds of many people when compared to limelight-stealing Manhattan and trendy, hipster Brooklyn.  While the Bronx gets little attention too and Staten Island is barely on the radar for most tourists and New Yorkers alike, I believe Queens to be a real gem as New York City’s most ethnically diverse borough and arguably, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States.

So if you are a tourist visiting New York City interested in getting-off-the-beaten-Manhattan-path or a city resident hesitant to cross the river, check back here every week as I spotlight Queens.  I hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and explore another layer of this wondrous city.  And as much as I love the westernmost neighborhoods of Queens — Astoria and Long Island City — that border the East River and are closest to Manhattan, I’m going to do my best to focus on lesser known neighborhoods in the borough that are equally interesting but don’t get very much publicity.

Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall in Coming to America* (Paramount Pictures)

“What better place to find a queen than the city of Queens?” Prince Akeem asks Semmi, his friend and cousin in the 1988 movie “Coming to America”.  In fact, this movie holds a special place in my heart.  McDowell’s Restaurant was, and still is, a Wendy’s restaurant in Elmhurst, where I grew up.  Filmed in 1987, I will always remember my elementary school classmates coming into school one morning excitedly talking about their bus ride home the afternoon before.  Apparently, they hollered and frantically banged on the bus’s windows to get the attention of Eddie Murphy & Arsenio Hall as they filmed on the street.  Little did I know that in 6 short years, I would hold a part-time job in high school at this Wendy’s.  The hallway was lined with black and white photos of the cast.  Heck, I eventually dated my first boyfriend who also worked there and took him to my prom.

Personal tidbits aside, name me another borough that has a major thoroughfare with the coolest street name ever.

Fountains of Wayne's sophomore album cover

*Movie still picture found on Slowly Going Bald.

Still Got the Moves

…and the stamina. Ha! Four Tanqueray and tonics and some unrecognizable shot later, I was still standing at 4:30 this morning. I was out celebrating my cousin’s birthday at Strata. It was a nice little group of her friends, whom I’ve never met. But you know me, I can hang with anyone. And I sure did…and they were all 8 years my junior. They must’ve thought me a dinosaur. I chuckled to myself when two asked each other in wonderment, “When did we grow up and get old?” LOL — ok spring chicken at @ 24. Yeah, you’re old. And I’m a well preserved mummy. It’s all good though because I had a great time…and just my sheer experience taught these kids a thing or too about confidence. 😉 I’m so happy to be in my 30s!

Last night, I dusted off my dancing shoes and showed off my dance moves. It was a small blessing that MoJo wasn’t there. He would’ve been bored to tears and begging to go home, which would’ve totally cramped my style cuz I’m a dancer! Had great fun. This episode of clubbing should last me a couple of months. Not my thing as it once used to be.

Surfing YouTube

Well…since my body isn’t used to going to bed until 3 or 4 am these days, I lay in bed wide awake. WTF!?! So I do what any insomniac would do who doesn’t own a TV…surf YouTube! LOL.

I watched some amazing videos: Led Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven, DMB’s Say Goodbye, Alanis Morisette’s Hands Clean, Ani DiFranco’s 32 Flavors, Stevie Nicks’ Landslide, Pink’s Don’t Let Me Get Me, the Indigo Girls’ Kid Fears. Good stuff peeps.

But THE BEST was when I stumbled on the following video!!! Holy shitake!!! I love The Ground Beneath Her Feet and it’s rarely played. Very few peeps know about it (shout out to Colin from years ago who made me a tape mix and introduced me to one of the few U2 songs I didn’t know). It’s one of my top 3 favorite U2 songs. Bono and The Edge…sweet combo. It so obvious that these two have been together for so long…they behave and sing together with such ease. Sweeeeeet.

http://www.youtube.com/v/cGOi-WwdjNw

If you’re interested in seeing the first part of the interview, you can click here. They’re pretty dang funny.

So now that I’m done with my MA (hopefully)…still need approval to graduate…besides planning our wedding, maybe I can I aspire to doing this one day?? Damn that Kelly Slater, he’s awesome! I can see why chickie Cameron Diaz would be hangin’ out with him in Hawaii after a gruesome breakup with Justin. She was gettin’ some private lessons! Shoot. I want private lessons with Kelly. Bruce Iron’s go at the pipe was actually cooler to watch than Kelly’s. But like any good gymnast knows Bruce, you gotta land the jump cuz that’s what the judges see last. What was that side flop off the board about??? Graceful Bruce…nice. :/

http://www.youtube.com/v/TbfHH7nlP3w

Who needs a PhD when the great ocean is waiting to play with ME? Do you think I’m ready for the pipeline masters???? Ummmm….

…probably not. Dammit wave, where are you????

Thesis FINALLY Emailed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://static.esnips.com/images/widgets/flash/hands_shake.swf
George Michael Fre…

OMG. I can’t believe it. I just emailed it to my two readers. It’s late and I’m giving them precious few days to review it. I sure hope that they just pass me. Ugh.

OK, so I know it’s a bit premature but I don’t care. I’m celebrating. First, a happy dance. Then some wine. Then bed. I’m so exhausted that I can’t see straight…but not too exhausted to shake my booty for 3 minutes!!

I’ve had this George Michael song runnin’ through my head these last two weeks as I’ve tried to intellectualize Filipino balikbayans and balikbayan boxes. It’s been a living hell, lemme tell you. I would NOT recommend working full-time and pursuing part-time graduate study if you can somehow help it. These last 3 weeks SUCKED!! Actually, these last 2.5 years have been pretty rough. Be prepared to say goodbye to your life.

Hopefully, in two weeks, I’ll get to say hello to my life again!! YEAH! FREEEEEDOM!!!

Madonna at MSG

Madonna! Madonna! Madonna! (Think Robin Williams’s Armand Goldman in The Birdcage.)

I promised myself that I would see Madonna live in concert at least once in my lifetime. And considering I love her latest album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, I thought that now would be a good time as any to see her. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get 2 tickets to any of her concerts at Madison Square Garden. Her show must’ve sold out in less than 5 minutes. So then I did the next best thing. I searched for one ticket on TicketMaster and snagged one. So I went alone! Ha!

Tonight’s performance was her first NYC show on her tour. This morning I was warned by a radio announcer that Madonna was keeping the air conditioning low or off (couldn’t exactly hear) in the Garden to preserve her voice. Oh puhleaze! What a diva…give me a break. She was pulling a Whitney Houston.

A little put off by the fact that it would be stifling hot in the Garden that night, I came prepared and wore a tank top underneath my work clothes and the hippest pants I owned that would still be professionally acceptable. I get to my nosebleed seat (seriously must’ve been tenth row from the roof!) but got compensated because it was an aisle seat. Thank goodness because I don’t think I could’ve handled being sandwiched between sweaty people.

The ticket said the concert started at 8pm, but my girl did not come out until 9 nor did she have an opening act. So what did our crowd do? By 10 to 9, we were getting antsy so one really flamboyant gay male several tiers down decided to harness that energy into doing the wave. After several attempts, we managed to do a 3 or 4 complete waves all around the Garden! Hysterical!

There was an announcement about the AC being turned off or low (again, couldn’t hear above the screaming crowd) but the pleasant man’s voice assured us by saying, “Madonna appologizes for any inconvenience but hopes you enjoy the concert.” The lights go down and “Future Lovers” starts to play with a background slide show of horses and Madonna in her equestrian get-up. Then this crystal ball lowers into the middle of the Garden floor and opens up to birth a Madonna in her riding outfit complete with hat and whip (of course), which she used as she played dominitrix to her back up dancers. In these first few minutes of the concert, I realized that out of all the concerts where my seats did not matter, this one did. Madonna puts on a show. And you want to see it clearly with your own eyes rather than watching a jumbotron ‘cuz what’s the point of that. You may as well be home watching it on TV.

There were some parts of the concert that were painful to watch like when she played guitar. I don’t even think it’s playing…strumming is a better adjective. She even slipped with her guitar as she skipped down the runway at one point. But her yoga practices have taught her acceptance instead of resistance. So she let herself fall to her knees instead of trying to break her fall and it was cool to see that even Madonna is human. She trips and falls like the rest of us!

But lemme tell you, all that yoga must be doing something right. That woman’s body at 47 is ripped! Of course, she makes millions of dollars so there is no excuse to look anything but amazing. If I could look at least half as good as Modonna at 47, I would be stoked! But she’s inspiring nonetheless. Middle-age isn’t a death sentence as it once was and seeing her in concert tonight taught me that. I hope to be staying active, fit, and doing what I love at middle-age too.

Overall, the concert was amazing albeit hot. She sang “I Love New York” and she was disappointed afterwards and said, “I wrote this song for you guys and I don’t even see you jumping!” So of course, we complied and jumped as she started singing “Ray of Light”. But we stopped and in the middle of the song she yelled, “You’re NOT jumping!” I yelled back, “Bitch! That’s because we are hot!!!” LOL. Still, I had a great time and sang every single word to all her songs. And she did what she did best — dance! My favorite part of the concert was when she and her back up dancers dressed up in 70s suits and moved like John Travolta. It made me want to go out and get a shiny white suit with the big shirt lapels and dance to Disco Inferno or something.

One final note, I have to admit that I shook my head when she got lifted on a disco cross as if crucified with a crown of thorns on her head singing “Live to Tell”. I wasn’t offended but rolled my eyes at the serious ego that this woman has. I mean seriously, what makes her think that she can be the Christ? I know she was trying to send a positive message encouraging a unified faith community as verses from several major religions flashed in the background, highlighting the virtues of love, forgiveness, and peace in humanity but was the crucifixion scene really necessary?

Oh Madonna, what a piece of work! Nonetheless, I still live for her.

We Froze our Butts Off for Depeche Mode

We’re city folk. Therefore, we don’t own cars. So The Quirky One and I took the LIRR to see Depeche Mode at Jones Beach. We thought we would be 2 out of oh say, 10 people needing a shuttle bus to the theater…when in fact there must’ve been a few hundred of us. I couldn’t believe it.

Fooled by the warm weather of the afternoon, The Quirky One wore summer clothes: flip flops, capri pants, and a tank top with a light zip up sweater to the concert. I was dressed a little more warmly but all thanks to luck really. When we got to the outdoor theater (our first time to attend), the wind picked up as we realized how much colder it can get right by the bay! Needless to say, we froze our buns off. I was afraid our toes would fall off too. So, it was even more reason to buy Depeche Mode paraphanelia. We ended up wearing our newly bought purchases to provide extra layering against the wind.

I’ve waited 17 years to see these guys. This is a shout out to my JHS peeps!!!! We wore black, teased our bangs high, and listened to Depeche Mode’s Violator on our Sony Walkmans, and thought they were just simply amazing with the hits that came off that album: “Enjoy the Silence,” “Policy of Truth,” and “Personal Jesus.” Here’s to you ladies! Boy how we’ve grown: three of us are getting married this year, two are engaged, and three (including yours truly) are still standing.

Thanks goodness I always manage to sneak in my camera. I don’t know why I bother though. I never have terribly good seats but the camera has a video function. So sometimes I take a video…but then I’m always singing so I just end up hearing my voice on the video. That’s definitely not a good thing to post. Ha!!! I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t play Policy of Truth tonight. It’s my favorite song, I have to admit!!! It elicits such strong JHS memories!!!

The Quirky One and I were on the lookout for lots of Asians at the concert considering our group of friends who listened to DM were all Asian. We were surprised to find very few Asian folks at the concert and even more surprised to hear a lot of foreign languages being spoken. There were A LOT of Europeans there. It’s the first concert I’ve been to where English was not the predominant language (As a side note, a Pearl Jam concert was the concert where most of the voices I heard singing belonged to men.)

On a final note, which serves as a funny story to boot: when The Quirky One heard that I was a DM fan and how long I’ve been listening to them, she was startled at how far back they go. She’s only three years younger than me but got into them in college. I told her that I was listening to them in the late 80s! A few days later, in the excitement of perhaps finding another DM fan, she asked if she could borrow my DM disc collection so she could burn copies. I had to break it to her that I listened to them on cassettes and never got around to buying CDs!!! Funny, huh?