Sunday, September 10, 2006
Raging tuba headache
So I was hanging out in Soho with my wife the other day, and we were eating Portuguese food at a restaurant with outdoor seating, right next to the Ear Inn. It was a nice, balmy evening, a hint of breeze, and the servers ladled out this great big pile of bacalao fried up with onion and egg on my plate. So far so good. Amy ordered some crazy dish --- shrimps with lemon shellfish bread pudding. Then suddenly out of nowhere I heard the blaring squawking shriek of a trumpet, a tuba and a snare drum. A trio of street musicians called the Stumblebums started cakewalking down the sidewalk, shrieking and wailing and making all kinds of faces while dressed up as tinpan alley tunesmiths from Prohibition times. They sounded like a cross between the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Tom Waits and an industrial gas-powered leaf-blower. I kind of like them --- they have style --- but I wish they wouldn't play so loudly. When they moved close to our table, it was just so ungodly loud, it felt like my skull was going to unhinge itself from my spinal chord. Waiters and diners watched helplessly as the Stumblebums squawked and wailed, with the drunken encouragement of Ear Inn patrons, who were lining up outside to get in to that bar. I'm wondering if the Stumblebums are one of those weird only-in-New York traditions that I'm supposed to know about already. I just hope this roving wind ensemble doesn't read this and somehow figure out where I live and show up to my apartment at three in the morning with drums and tubas a-blaring. That would be a horrible thing.