Jeff Newelt, a.k.a. JahFurry, is a PR/social media consultant to artists, authors, musicians, non-profits and brands. He’s also a comics editor for SMITH, Heeb and Royal Flush magazines, and edited Harvey Pekar’s webcomic series and his final graphic novel, Cleveland. And he’s a dancehall reggae singer who regularly jams with musicians from the Skatalites & Steel Pulse. It’s no surprise that this busy man’s ideal Saturday includes noshin’, comics shoppin’ and ditty boppin’.
As told to SideTour
10:30 AM: A Sweet Start-Me-Up I recently moved to Harlem and am uberjazzed about the neighborhood nosheries. A stellar Saturday starts at Lee Lee’s Baked Goods to procure a dozen “Rugelach by a Brother.” Alvin Lee Smalls’ marzipan-tinged chocolate ruggies are a mouth-watering miracle… the miracle being if there are any left by the time you get there.
11:00 AM: Leisurely-Yet-Lively Brunch After a pastry procurement, it’s time to head over to ll Caffe Latte. This bustling frills-free joint gets jammed with folks kibbitzin’ over coffee; one can eat, chat and relax. My order: a glass of blood-orange juice, eggs and cheddar on a croissant with crispy sweet potato fries—oh my’s!
12:30 PM: Comics Culture From Harlem, schlep down to east Midtown to peep the latest exhibits at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art at the Society of Illustrators. I’m jonesin’ to check out the current showing on Harvey Kurtzman, creator of MAD Magazine and pioneer of pop-culture satire, and on Bill Griffith, creator of the brilliantly absurd long-running Zippy The Pinhead strip.
2:00 PM: A Nice Sandwich After soaking in the Yiddishisms of Kurtzman’s kooky comics, a Kosher deli is the only way to go. Fine & Schapiro, on the Upper West Side has decidedly not-fancy décor—simulated wood paneling and big diner booths—and a blasé wait staff that nicely complements the near-perfect pastrami. Listen for the elderly deli-men behind the counter loudly confirming delivery orders on the phone to even elderly-er UWS residents.
4:00 PM: The ‘Strip Club On one family-fun excursion when I was 10, we stumbled into Forbidden Planet, a comic-book and sci-fi heaven, and my already super-hero-soaked brain blew into itsy-bitzies. On a recent present-day visit to its East Village location, I picked up a few groovy graphic novels, including Jerusalem, a riveting true tale of the forming of Israel, based on writer Boaz Yakin’s family story and explosively illustrated by Nick Bertozzi, and Maximum Minimum Wage, a highlariousy written and raunchily illustrated semi-autobiographical tome by Bob Fingerman.
6:30 PM: Pizza Party Every savvy New Yorker’s got his or her own preferred pie. Mine is Luzzo’s. Coal oven. Thin crisp crust. Sweet and tangy tomato sauce. Melt-in-mouth mozzarella di bufala. Perfection.
8:00 PM Karaoke Break Remember the Seinfeld episode that took place in a Chinese restaurant waiting area, and finally the maitre d’ mysteriously calls “Cartright!” instead of “Costanza!” so George misses their table? Well, good thing I do, because I just knew that when the karaoke guy at Planet Rose shouted, “Jerk! Jerk!” he was really calling for me. With funky leopard-skin couches, a goofy fun crowd and relatively cheap drinks, this spot on Avenue A is a hit.
10:00 PM Jazz, Blues and Booze 55 Bar is an intimate unpretentious, affordable jazz club with consistently excellent music, both accessible and experimental. My favorite acts to see there are blues guitarist/singer Bill Sims Jr., who brings a soulful vibe; keyboardist/accordionist/singer Brian Mitchell, with his New Orleans gumbo-funk ensemble; and saxophonist/singer Jay Collins & His Kings County Band who mixes rootsy Americana into the jazz stew.
12:00 AM to LATE. Underground Sounds NuBlu, a hip-without-being-hipster club for music-lovers. The act to catch here is Clark Gayton and Explorations in Dub, a jazz-meets-reggae all-star ensemble let by Gayton on Sousaphone, dropping deep-dub bass lines.
Want even more ideas of cool stuff to do around town?
Check out what’s on tap this weekend on SideTour.