Jeff & Monica's Infinite Play List"/>
Last October I took a trip to East Rutherford, New Jersey to catch the final Springsteen show at old Giants stadium (last concert ever to be held there). The next night I hit Manhattan and sang karaoke at this bar in the East Village called Sing Sing. They had a different kind of set up there. The place was packed with people wanting to sing so they charged a buck per request. The bartenders split KJ duties and a wireless mic was passed around by the crowd to the next singer.
Didn't know you could sing me so well, mate.
It was an awesome night. The crowd was partying, and not only did I deliver one of the best "Thunder Roads" of my life, I managed to make a friend. Her name was Monica. I was standing near her group and was super impressed by her soulful voice. She complimented me on the Boss number and we were instant karaoke chums. The place was still going at 3:30am when we all retreated for an early morning wiener at this place called Crif Dogs. I had to make it back down to Maryland later that day but really wanted to get another karaoke night in. Monica told me she'd set me up at her place the next time I was in town. Her offer was totally sincere, but even if she didn't mean it, there was no way I wasn't going to take her up on it someday.
Just before baseball season began I saw the Mariners would be playing back-to-back series in Baltimore and New York in August and decided to book a trip (this was back when there was still hope and I gave a shit). I could hang with my sister in Maryland and slip in a weekend in NYC. I hit Monica up on Facebook to see if her offer still stood, and she told me to come on up.The plan was perfect except I didn't factor in my vacation drinking habits. Going into the Saturday of the New York phase of my vacation, I destroyed myself with a combination of sangria and Patron shots in Baltimore. My sister, brother-in-law and I had a huge night at this bar in Canton called Walt's Inn. They claimed to be the best k-bar in B-more so I had to check it out. My buddy Imix who lives in Silver Spring, MD was there before we got there and already had a couple songs in. He was hungry for the mic because he wanted to make up for a rough U2 performance at the Trolley Stop in Ellicott City the last time I was in town. He also wanted to prove to me not all 90's music is cheesy to karaoke.
This place started out pretty slow and we each got to sing four times in the first hour, but the bar was cool, they had a good song selection, and the crowd loved every song I did. I discovered I can do a mean "Accidents Will Happen" by Elvis Costello. Imix was on fire, rattling off everything from New Wave, to classic Queen to Alternative Pop. The best performance of the night was his rendition of "Absolutely (Story Of A Girl)" by Nine Days. I'd totally forgotten about that song and didn't ever realize I liked.
I set off for NYC at two in the afternoon on Saturday and had one of those hangovers where I had no appetite and all I wanted to do was to curl up in fetal position on a bed and moan. I made myself pull into one of those food court rest stops off I-95 to force down a slice and some baked ziti at Sbarro. It was gross. After getting back on the road I had to pull over at the next rest stop to lay back, close my eyes and get a grip.
Once I hit the exit off the New Jersey Turnpike it took almost two hours to get to, and through, the Holland Tunnel. I didn't get to Monica's place on the Upper West Side until 8, but the good news was as soon as I entered the city my hangover was gone. I still had no appetite, but I was ready to drink again. We wound up downing a couple shots of tequila and pounded a bottle of wine. She said our first stop was meeting up with her friends at this bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We hung out there for a couple hours and I switched to beer for the rest of the night.
After getting officially hammered we made our way to a karaoke bar called Toto in Koreatown. Monica and her friend got the singing started in the taxi. They sang some a cappella Beyonce and "Brass in Pocket" by the Pretenders and the cab driver was very entertained. This karaoke bar was one of those private room places. I'm not a big fan of them because the reason I want to karaoke is so strangers can see me and be impressed by how good I am. I couldn't think of anything more boring than renting out one of those rooms with my friends because everyone's seen everyone sing before, and no one would really care how good anyone does. It's like one notch up from singing alone.
When we met up with the rest of her friends I realized it's a completely different ballgame when you rent one of those rooms with complete strangers. I'm a huge fan of the movie Lost In Translation. There is an awesome scene where Bill Murray is out on the town with Scarlett Johansson and they wind up at one of those private karaoke rooms in Japan with a bunch of random people. That part stuck with me from the first time I saw it, and I always wanted to experience a night like that.
The place was just a couple blocks south of the Empire State Building. You could see it peeking over the buildings above 32nd Street. We had to pick up beer and liquor for the room because they don't provide any. That wound up working out really well. There were six of us and we each must have sung ten times apiece. The dudes we were with didn't look like the type that would light a karaoke room on fire, but they did. Every song wound up being a sing-along, and we sang until we were close to passing out. They finally had to boot us out of there at 4 a.m. My hangover lasted three days, but it was worth it.