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"It's a hell of a town ... smoke coming up through the holes in the ground"
Probably a reference to the 1944 musical "On The Town" (music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green), made into a film in 1949. Compare Joe's lines with these from the musical:
"New York, New York, a helluva town
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down
The people ride in a hole in the ground
New York, New York it's a helluva town!"
Internet Movie Database entry for "On The Town"
"I'm walking here"
This is a quote from the film "Midnight Cowboy" (1969). In a memorable scene (about 26 minutes into the film) Ratso Rizzo (played by Dustin Hoffman) crosses a New York street, talking to his friend and not looking where he's going, when he walks into the path of a taxicab which stops with shrieking brakes. Ratso bangs his hand on the taxi, shouting at the driver: "Hey can't you see I'm walking here! I'm walking here! Up yours, you sonuvabitch!"
Internet Movie Database entry for "Midnight Cowboy"
"At a bar on 43rd ..."
New York City's 43rd Street runs across Midtown Manhattan and crosses Broadway at Times Square.
"Met my friend the Chinese Elvis ..."
This is someone impersonating Elvis Presley (1935-1977), American rock singer.
"He talks like Mickey Mouse ..."
The cartoon character Mickey Mouse was created in 1928 by Walt Disney (1901-1966), that speaks with a squeaky voice.
"At 83rd and Amsterdam ..."
On the corner of 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan's Upper West Side.
"Why the Empire State Building green ..."
The Empire State Building is one of New York City's landmarks, erected 1930-31. It was the tallest builing in the world until 1972.
According to the lighting schedule the building is illuminated in green on the following occasions: St. Patrick's Day, March of Dimes, Rainforest Awareness, and Earth Day.
"Saturday night went to see La Bohème ..."
The opera La Bohème was written in 1896 by the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924).
"... and Giuliani charm"
Rudolph Giuliani (1944- ), mayor of New York Jan 1994 - Dec 2001.
The song refers to a real event. On 25 March 1990 a fire destroyed the club "Happy Land" in the Bronx, New York. 87 people lost their lives. However, as Joe states in the CD booklet, while the song is based on this true event, it is nevertheless fiction.
Report on the Happy Land fire
"Sabrosón from Spanish Harlem ..."
Spanish Harlem is the area around 116th Street in Manhattan with a mainly Spanish-speaking population.
"... and Luz from Camagüey"
Camagüey is a city in Cuba. Founded about 1514, it was the capital of the Spanish West Indies during the 19th century.
"She remembers all the firetrucks and that maldito TV crew ..."
"And people say she's loca to go back into that place"