The Unbearable Banishment: Memory Lane needs repaving

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Memory Lane needs repaving

One of the first restaurants I frequented when I moved to New York [mumble-mumble] years ago was a place called Acme on Great Jones Street in the East Village. It served southern/New Orleans favorites. Catfish po' boys. Fried chicken. Collard greens. Red beans and rice. It had a nice selection of brews. The food was comforting and the price was conducive to my new-to-New York broke ass. Downstairs was a performance space called Under Acme where I spent many, many nights watching my musician friends perform in their bands. Unlike most New York restaurants, Acme lasted for years.

A few months ago it was closed and gutted. The new owners just reopened it under the same name. Jay Cheshes, the restaurant reviewer for TimeOut New York, called the new owners "cool-kids" and gave it four out of five stars. It now serves "cutting-edge New Nordic cuisine" (whatever the hell that is) and has a "hot crowd" and is a "chic downtown bistro."

They ruined it. The average main course is now $25 and the menu includes items like bison tartare. That sounds appetizing, doesn't it? For desert, you can order a Danish doughnut for $10.

In the review my old, fond, warm memories were disparaged as being from a place that was "once-grungy," "...a former Cajun dive..." and "...a downtown dump." I fucking hate New York snobs and New York food snobs are the worst of the worst. They're worse than New York fashion snobs, and that's saying plenty. Scratch the surface of any foodie and underneath you'll find a pretentious bore who couldn't tell the difference between expensive wine and ripple in a blind taste test.


I was walking up Sixth Avenue yesterday afternoon and saw who was the current tenant at Radio City Music Hall:

Rush! A blast from my teenage past! I began listening to Rush as an act of rebellion. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, hated them. The media hated them. Radio ignored them. Everyone in school hated them. My brother hated them. Their cool-quotient was sub-zero. They got no respect. So I decided to be "different" and follow the band. But I soon discovered that they were masters of their instruments and never wrote songs about obsessing over a broken heart, which I found refreshing. I started enjoying their work for more legitimate reasons. Their music was smart and complicated.

I haven't seen them for many, many years and I thought it might make for an enjoyable stroll down memory lane to see them perform in one of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in all of Manhattan.

Then I turned the corner.

Doh! Not these guys:

These guys:


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Ah, renowned Canadian rockers! They've been in the Canadian music hall of same since 1994, I think. Geddy Lee has a very distinctive voice.

That other band? I have no idea who they are. Which is probably a good thing.

March 10, 2012 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: "Distinctive" is the polite way to describe Geddy Lee's voice. You don't know Big Time Rush because you're not 11 years old. I'll bet they don't know who Geddy Lee is, either.

March 10, 2012 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

"You can choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!"

sad when we lose some of our favorite places. like you, i prefer a dive to a hot, trendy, hip place that sells raw bison and over priced donuts.

but i think you need to shoo a few kids offa your lawn. then the transformation will be complete. dude. we're old.

March 11, 2012 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...


March 11, 2012 at 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had red beans and rice for lunch today!!

March 11, 2012 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Dude you're from Cleveland and you knew people who hated Rush? who? i knew no one who hated Rush, in fact their last concert film (which i actually sat on watched all stoned on my couch one night) is called: Rush- Live in Cleveland, hell i grew up going to Croatian halls and seeing punk bands and still listened to Rush, i thought everyone in C-town did, little did i know.

March 11, 2012 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: It seems like our favorite places are always preyed upon by douchebags with a lot of money. And we are NOT old. We are classic.

kono: I was in a small pocket of Rush hatred. I actually think it was a bit of backlash. You're correct. If it weren't for Cleveland, the world wouldn't have Rush to kick around. The new documentary "Beyond the Lighted Stage" proves my point. And I think there was something wrong with Geddy's voice on the night they recorded that live from Clevo film.

March 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

i seemed to have missed both of those groups, sugar!

we have a wine snob friend who absolutely sucks the air out of a room when he starts talking about wine or heaven help us, food parings. sweet mary sunshine, it's enough to make a person go vegan and on the wagon when he's around! i've gotten to the point were i just arch an eyebrow and say, "oh really?" and then talk about something else. but i do it politely.... xoxoxoxoxo

(damn, i went off on a tangent didn't i? it must be because i'm vintage!)

March 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger mapstew said...

Not so long ago I recommended one of my favourite eateries to a friend. A place where a family could get 'posh restaurant' food at diner prices, with wonderful staff and great athmosphere.
This same friend, (and his lovely wife) now look down on said establishment, and would rather go to one of the newer, more expensive 'happening' joints, the one that 'everybody's talking about', the more expensive, exclusive place. (Oh yeah, he got a job!) Kiss my arse!
My family and meself still go (when the pocket permits) to our favourite old place, to the same good food, the same welcome, the same smiles.

And I'm older than 11 too. :¬)

March 11, 2012 at 9:20 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

The trouble with eating places round here is they never stay constant - it's a lottery.
The Rush boys look nice - no relation to Geoffrey I suppose?

March 12, 2012 at 5:23 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Sav: I can understanding being passionate about something but I find a lot of folks who, shall we say, embrace food a bit too enthusiastically, tend to be a bit more judgmental than most. Or is that just my imagination?

map: People like to go to high-tone places just to be seen. In the end, I think it has very little to do with the food. They may say so but I don't think it's true. Give me a big plate of comfort anytime.

Pat: Same problem in the city. Ownership rotates on a regular basis and they always gravitate toward the trendy. That's what was so great about the old Acme. Same great, reasonable, food for decades. Then...poof. Gone.

March 12, 2012 at 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite agree with you about the cafe place. Fortunately, despite its pretentions, Lancaster just doesn't have the money to support much of that kind of place. Our problem is that the cheap places are just shite.

Rush were quite popular here but I don't think I've ever heard a chord of them (or at least no knowing it was Rush).

March 12, 2012 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Sausage said...

I guess it's true that you can never go home again

March 12, 2012 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

looby: That's the beauty of this city. Lots of good, inexpensive dives. And if you're willing to lower your standards or, like me, have no standards at all, well, this town is your oyster.

SF: I don't know about home but I sure as hell won't be going back to Acme anytime soon. Jerks.

March 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least it wasn't the RUSH I was thinking know, the one that doesn't respect women.

March 13, 2012 at 9:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home