Seven days with John Wesley Harding
The musician, author and expat gives us the lowdown on his upcoming week.
Mon May 17 2010
John Wesley Harding
John Wesley Harding is known for being a folksinger (his latest record, Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, was released in 2009) and, to a lesser extent, an author—he’s published two books under his given name, Wesley Stace. But the growing popularity of his monthly variety show, John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders ([Le] Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St at Thompson St; 212-505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com; 7pm; $20), has cemented his reputation as a skilled curator. In early 2009, Harding set out to create an event that truly embodies the spirit of a variety show. “Seeing how things one might have previously thought incompatible come together is wonderful,” he says. Tonight’s show features the talents of Buffalo Tom and alt-country singer Robbie Fulks, along with comedians Janeane Garofalo and frequent COW guest Eugene Mirman. “I just pick people who I think will go together,” explains Harding. “My hope is that you will see something you didn’t know you would like.”
Sushi in Brooklyn
Harding plans on stopping by Hibino (333 Henry St at Pacific St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-260-8052, hibino-brooklyn.com) to sample its lunch bento box ($9), which combines the entre of the day with a spring roll, miso soup and salad. Next, he’ll travel farther into Brooklyn to check out Proteus Gowanus (543 Union St at Nevins St, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-243-1572, proteusgowanus.com; 3--6pm; free), a gallery and reading room housed in a former box factory. “It’s wacky and has a wonderful gift shop,” says Harding. He’s excited to take a look at the gallery’s Museum of Matches, a room designed by artist Sasha Chavchavadze, who was inspired by Vladimir Nabokov’s memoirs.
Mr. Harding’s neighborhood
Harding has lived in Fort Greene since 2004, and today he’ll catch the Alloy Orchestra performing a live score to the 1925 stop-motion classic The Lost World at BAM Rose Cinemas (30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, bam.org; 3, 7pm; $10--$20). Afterward, Harding plans to head across the street to Viennese bistro Thomas Beisl (25 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-222-5800) for a plate of Wiener schnitzel ($17) washed down with a glass of Gsser, an Austrian beer ($4--$6).
While Harding hails from Hastings, England, his wife, Abbey, is related to the Roeblings, the family responsible for building the Brooklyn Bridge. Today the Harding clan plans to walk across the iconic bridge and visit the plaque dedicated to Emily Roebling, Abbey’s great-great-great grandmother and a key player in the bridge’s completion (she helped transmit messages between construction workers and her sick husband, who was the project manager). After they’ve worked up an appetite from their stroll, they will satisfy their hunger by diving into various platters of buns and dumplings ($3--$4.50) at Dim Sum Go Go (5 East Broadway between Catherine and Oliver Sts, 212-732-0797); Harding is such a fan of the eatery, he samples “anything that they will bring me.”
Focus on the family
Once a week, Harding takes his 18-month-old son, Wyn, to Fairway (480--500 Van Brunt St at Reed St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-694-6868, fairwaymarket.com) to do his family’s grocery shopping. When they’re done, the pair will meet up with Harding’s wife and their four-year-old daughter, Tilda, for cupcakes ($2) and coffee ($1.75--$5) at Baked (359 Van Brunt St at Dikeman St; 718-222-0345, bakednyc.com); then, the family will saunter down the block to The Good Fork (391 Van Brunt St between Coffey and Van Dyke Sts; 718-643-6636, goodfork.com) for dinner. “We love sitting in the back room,” he explains. “[There’s] a record player and vinyl that you can play while eating.” (His pick for good dinner music: Johnny Cash.) Harding’s go-to on the seasonal menu is its new vegetarian option: cheese tortellini with fresh peas and mint ($18).
Harding recently contributed a story to the Significant Objects program: Writers compose a piece about a specific object (Harding’s was a corked bottle), and both the item and a copy of the story are sold on eBay, with all proceeds benefiting Girls Write Now. “I like [that] they work with underserved girls in and out of schools,” explains Harding. You can support the charity by hitting up Wrrrrock On 2010 at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 877-246-3537, galapagosartspace.com; 8pm; $2--$22); proceeds from the event will help the nonprofit organization. Hosted by novelist Joshua Mohr (Some Things That Meant the World to Me), the evening also features live music by teen band Care Bears on Fire and punk-rockers Japanther.
Spice of life
After discovering the cookbook 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi, Harding became obsessed with making the recipes in its pages. Today, he’ll take Tilda to Dual Specialty Store (91 First Ave at 6th St, 212-979-6045), where he’ll pick up some garam masala ($2.95--$3.75). Next, they’ll walk to Soho to shop for Japanese candy at Sunshine Mart (494 Broome St between West Broadway and Wooster St, 212-219-0033). After completing their shopping list, the team will hit up Housing Works Bookstore Caf (126 Crosby St between E Houston and Prince Sts, 212-334-3324) to peruse the selection of cookbooks, in pursuit of further culinary inspiration.