Handcuffs and Fortune Cookies
I found a video on Hulu that shows you how to make homemade fortune cookies and it made me think of one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had in New York City.
Last fall my friends Brad Elvis and Chloe F. Orwell were coming to New York to play a gig at a club here in town called Rehab (yeah, I know, strange name for a rock ‘n’ roll place, but maybe they just don’t want any surprise visits from Amy Winehouse.) Their band is The Handcuffs and I was thrilled because I’ve never seen them live.
So I go to the club, see Brad and Chloe and meet the other two Handcuffs, Emily Togni and Ellis Clark. The Handcuffs lineup is: Brad Elvis: Drums (Slingerland, I believe); Chloe F. Orwell, Lead Vocals, guitar and megaphone; Emily Togni, bass; and Ellis Clark, guitar and keyboards. Brad and Chloe are super fun to hang out with and Emily and Ellis turned out to be just as cool.
The show was great! Brad is one of the best drummers in rock ‘n’ roll, he’s like combination of Keith Moon and Johnny Barabata, with sticks constantly twirling and the sound of a one man army of drums booming. Chloe is a stupendous vocalist and front person, she looks great on stage and really whips the crowd into a frenzy. Emily looks fabulous as well and is a bassist extraordinaire. And Ellis multi-tasks on guitar and keyboards and really rounds out the sound. The Handcuffs will plaster you with their wall of sound, so if you get a chance to see them live, do!
So anyway, the show went great, the crowd went nuts and there was even a celebrity sighting in the crowd of Maureen Van Zant from the Sopranos who came specifically to see The Handcuffs.
Later a group of us all went to have a celebratory dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The group included myself, all four Handcuffs, writer Ira Robbins of Trouser Press fame, Mark Loucks (Brad, Chloe and Emily met him on the flight and they became instant friends, so he came to the gig! And he turned out to be a great guy and picked up the check, I need to have dinner with him more.) The meal was great, the chatter and jokes lively and I got engaged to a Mexican waitress (Long story, lots of Mexican beers were involved.)
Afterwards, Ira and Mark said their goodbyes and I found myself wandering around the Lower East Side with The Handcuffs. Somehow in our ramblings we found ourselves in front of a storefront where they were making fortune cookies inside. Emily said she wanted one, so I said, “No problem, I’ll go in and get you one.” (Yes, I had had a lot to drink at this point—big surprise, huh?)
Well I sauntered in and walked up to a short, pudgy, Chinese fellow wearing a white apron covered in flour who started yelling at me in clipped English, “You can’t be here, you leave!”
“Settle down my friend,” I said touching him on the shoulder, “I just want to get a cookie from you for a friend.”
“No cookie, you go, can’t be here,” he shouted back, while brushing off his shoulder from where I touched him.
“Look, I’ll buy one from you,” I offered while pulling out some cash out of my left pocket.
“You buy cookies?” He asked as a quizzical look colored his round Asian face.
“Yeah, why the fuck not?” I told him. “How much?”
“Wait here,” he said and ran up the rickety wooden stairway that was next to the wall.
I looked out at The Handuffs, threw my hands up in the air in a “what the fuck” kind of motion and they laughed and were probably wondering if I was going to get us all arrested.
An older Asian guy with a bald head and clad in a suit and tie came down, walked up to me and forcefully asked, “You want to buy fortune cookies?”
“Yeah,” I shot back, “my friends are waiting, so can we speed this process up a little?”
“You buy whole box?” He asked while pointing to a big box on the cement floor.
The box was huge so I was assuming it would be about twenty bucks, but well worth the yuks, so I told him I wanted but the box like nothing I’ve ever wanted for.
He looked at me like I was nuts and, believe me, it’s not the first time I’ve gotten that look, and said, “Five dollars.”
Five bucks for a humongous box of fortune cookies? I couldn’t believe it and immediately told him I’d buy them. I think I agreed too quickly, because right after I said, “I’ll take it!” He countered with, “The price is seven dollars!”
“Okay, but let’s not keep escalating the price, my friend,” I said handing him seven bucks.
He took the dough and I grabbed the box and proceeded outside to present it to the Handcuffs. Here’s a picture of us frolicking in the fortune cookies.
From left: Ellis, Emily, Me and Chloe. Brad took the photo so he’s not in it, but here’s Brad:
We all ate one, laughed and agreed what a ridiculously big box of fortune cookies it was. And then I’m not sure who, but someone one said, “What are we going to do with these?”
We all stood around puzzled and I think it was either Chloe or Emily who picked up the box and as a woman walked by said, “You want a fortune cookie?” She asked if they were free, we told her they were and she looked at us like we were kooks, but took a couple. That did it, none of us are particularly shy and soon we were like carnival barkers on Houston Street yelling out to people, “Have a fortune cookie,” Don’t go home empty-handed,” and most people were taking handfuls and laughing at the five of us.
I decided to take it to another level and told one group of kids who stuffed their pockets with fortune cookies, “Be careful now, they’re loaded with acid!”
“Great!” One of the kids shouted out as they ran to a subway station. Their reaction cracked up, so when another group approached and were scooping them up, I said, “Watch out now, those are stuffed with heroin!” Somebody in that group laughed and just said, “That’s cool!” So I was bound and determined to get a bad reaction from someone. Now this was last fall and it was election time, so as the next group of kids grabbed some cookies and walked away, I shouted, “Don’t forget to vote for McCain!” They shouted back, “Hey fuck you assholes!”
Ha ha ha! Nobody cared if there was drugs in them, but the minute they thought we were McCain supporters they got pissed off to the max! You gotta love New Yorkers!
After about a half an hour the box was still half full, or half empty for you pessimists out there and we gave it to a group of kids and told them they could have it, but they had to share the wealth. They grabbed it and walked down a block and we all laughed as a crowd gathered around them as they started handing them out. Fortune cookie love passed on!
Anyway, that was a great night and you really should’ve been there. So next time The Handcuffs play New York, come to the show and you can hand out fortune cookies with us later!
And now, here’s The Handcuffs live (shot by Aaron Smith drummer for the Joans and his trusty camera phone at a recent gig in Chicago) singing “I Just Want To Be Free Man,” which was recently a featured tune on Gossip Girl. And check out their website for information on how to buy their latest release, Electoluv and up to the minute Handcuffs new: The Handcuffs.
And here’s a video to make homemade fortune cookies!