As regular readers of this website know, my travels have sometimes exposed me to danger. For example, there was the time when I went on safari in South Africa and wandered around the grounds of my lodge late at night, unaware that a deadly leopard was lurking on the premises. Or the time when I boarded a Greek ferry with the knowledge that there might be a bomb aboard. And who can forget the night in Mexico City when my taxi driver robbed me and and then dropped me off in the middle of nowhere? But none of those episodes terrified me more than an incident that went down just a few blocks from my apartment as I was making my way home from karaoke on a Saturday night in 2009.
The karaoke bar from which I was returning on that occasion was Second on Second, in the East Village. Second on Second is one of my favourite places in New York City to sing; it invariably draws a sizable and enthusiastic crowd on weekends, and it’s located in a vibrant area, not far from the colourful three-block stretch of Eighth Street known as St. Marks Place.
I went singing at Second on Second last night. Nothing particularly exciting happened to me during this most recent visit to that location; the most notable occurrence of the evening was the remarkable display of social cluelessness by one of the bar’s patrons. Upon grabbing the mic, he felt compelled to address the audience before his song began. This is what he said: “No offense to y’all, but some of your songs suck.” Then he added, “I’m going to sing some Pink Floyd. So shut the f*** up and enjoy it.” (The particular Pink Floyd tune that he chose was “Wish You Were Here.”) Yes, this individual, who I’m pretty sure has never read Dale Carnegie’s worldwide bestseller, apparently believed that insulting his audience was a viable way to get them on his side.
I didn’t stay till the end of the song, notwithstanding that I’d been instructed to “enjoy” this loser’s crooning. I’d been entertaining thoughts of heading home anyway; and after hearing his opening remarks, I decided that now was as good a time as any to skedaddle.
Last night I arrived safely home without incident. But in the early hours of Sunday morning, October 11, 2009, my journey home from Second on Second was more eventful.
A scary case of mistaken identity
On that prior Sunday morning, to get to Manhattan’s Upper East Side (where I live) from the East Village, I took the number 6 subway line. At about 3:00 a.m., while I was walking towards my apartment from the 77th Street subway station, a 4-door sedan with four men in it pulled up to the curb next to me. Continue reading