We Bet on Horses (and Met Bill Murray) With Dinowalrus
"You're never too old to not have a real job."
I'm on a J train to Jamaica, Queens, with Pete Feigenbaum and Liam Andrew of Brooklyn synth-psych group Dinowalrus, and guitarist/frontman Pete is giving me life advice. It's not like he's being defensive, either; of the three of us, I am the only one without highly specialized skills and/or a yearly salary. Pete's an architecture grad student and Liam develops software for a start-up. But that doesn't mean they are rolling in it, either, which is where today's excursion comes in.
We are on the way to Belmont Park, where Pete and Liam (and their drummer Max, absent) hope to win enough money betting on horses to get their next record mastered. Pete has been here before, making the trek from time to time with friends to drink beer outside and gamble small amounts of money. "Horse races are the perfect blend of classy and trashy," he explains. "But they're also a cheap and convenient form of entertainment, with a bit of strategy mixed in ... there's a bit of old world charm to the whole scene." He first got into it from watching The Sopranos.
We reach the end of the line and transfer to a bus. Belmont is a BYOB establishment, so we have brought along refreshments. We enter through a desolate stretch of concrete which we will later realize is the ass end of Belmont. The track's entrance is not nearly as depressing. It even has a fountain!
A sign says grand stand admission is $2, but nobody's there to take our money. Clad in spiffy thrifted leisurewear, the guys almost make ducking under a turnstile with a paper bag of booze in one's hand look suave.
We enter the grandstand to find it's not a particularly well attended race day, despite it being the second-to-last day of the Belmont season. "It's at 10-percent capacity, like a typical Tuesday night show," Pete says. We look over the program for cool horse names, which are the best feature of horse racing. "I would name a horse after a Judas Priest song," Pete says. "Halford was influenced by Freddie Mercury, who was influenced by horse racing."