Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. And Ass Kicking.

Well, it's been a hell of a year. Lots of changes, pretty much all of them good. I've had a huge number of realizations —I can't really describe them any other way—and have, it seems, almost daily made connections about myself and life that have eluded me til this year. It's been great, but it's also kicked my ass. I doubt that the next year (or the years to follow) will lessen my revelatory pace, but I'm exhausted. It' been a trying year, as well, what with the loss of my job and the associated stress (nothing like coming to the very edge of the waterfall, only to see a lifeline and grab it); it's exhilarating, sure, but I'm tired in a way that I haven't been for years. Like since high school.

Speaking of high school, this year's been a lot like a rehash of that. A lot like a condensed version of high school, actually. Strange dating experiences (often, I would find myself thinking, "what am I doing here again?"), some angst (mostly about getting older and the feeling that my life was somehow over, even though it was really only starting), confusion about a boundless number of subjects, but mostly about what I'm going to do with my life, (starting over again, it turns out, but that's the same as starting out; it's actually more daunting, cuz you realize how many places you can fail, which is knowledge you don't possess the first time out) and then graduation and the boundless sense of freedom and possibilities that comes with that.

There's still a lot I have to figure out, but I'm looking forward to it, probably really for the first time in my life. There's a lot of folks I need to thank, a lot of people whom I'm thankful to know and to have in my life. I have never been one to want to live someone else's life or even change the life I've had and now is no exception. I can only ope to get a moment's respite so that I can recharge and bash on in the year ahead. It's gonna be a hell of a ride and I can't wait!

Peace y'all!

Wine of The Week - December 18th, 2006

I've been busy drinking—and before you think anything to yourselves, yes, it IS indeed a job to drink wine, think about wine and lay down an opinion about wine, so nyaaaaaah!—some really interesting wines this week, but here's my pick for your holiday consumption:


Valle dell'Acate (Sicily, Italy) 2003

Grapes: Nero d'Avola
Il Moro has a great ruby red color and nuances of garnet red. The nose reveals intense, pleasing and refined aromas of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by tobacco, leather and a hint of caramel (and only a hint). The palette closely follows the nose, except that there's an additional touch of cocoa-powdered cherries (slightly bitter chocolate flavor followed immediately by cherry). There's a tannic attack, but it's balanced by the wine's alcohol level, good body, intense flavors. The finish, while a bit short, is persistent with flavors of plum, blackberry and black cherry. From it's taste and complexity, you'd never know that Il Moro ages in steel tanks and in bottle for at least 9-12 months.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Food matches: Broiled meat and barbecue, sauteed meats with mushrooms, stuffed pasta, hard cheeses.

This is a fairly killer wine; easy drinking, not too acidic, not too high in alcohol. Although I find it a bit tart, I can drink it alone, but it will go really well with just about any of those holiday meals we're all going to invariably be having. For example, I'm thinking of bringing it along for my Christmas eve meal of roast duck. Should be yummy!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jobness!

Well, the job I wanted to get, I got! I love it when that happens. Money, AMAZING health benefits (it's a natch, though, from these folks!), amazing benefits, period. Interesting work, a LOT to do, too. Everything I want in work right now. Goodbye bread line, hello gravy train!

I'm too excited—and, quite frankly, relieved—to go into any more of it. Holidays are here (Happy Chanukkah everyone!) at last & I'm celebratin'!

Oh, Odelay! still rocks the shit out of me! Yeah, yeah. "Mellow Gold" was the ONLY Beck, EVAR! Sure, sure, whatever you say. Did you like any other Beck albums? If so, it's cuz of Odelay. If you didn't like any more Beck records, well, then you suck. And everyone knows it. So there!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Corinne Bailey Rae

Now, some of you may know that I'm a musichead. have I said this before? Sure I did. Cuz I repeat myself endlessly. Ask anyone. Hell, scroll down. I'm sure I've repeated myself. But if not, I'm sure I will.

In any event, I've been listening to a bunch of stuff lately—some of it thanks to my man JonGre; you rock, bro!—but right now I'm listening to Corinne Bailey Rae and she's rockin my world. I mean, I know I have a penchant for chick rock (and I jut figured out why that is a few days ago, too), but this woman blows me away.

In terms of effect, her initial offering reminds me of Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite: lounge/R&B, but of a very listenable quality/variety. Soulful, funky, heartwrenching in parts across the whole disc. And her vocal range is exquisite. Overall, it's the kinda thing I could easily Krazy Glue into my disc player and play over and over again. Kinda like how I felt about Morcheeba's Big Calm and Soul Coughing's Ruby Vroom.

So, like, go buy it (and I'm not getting endorsements from her record label, either)...

Updatedness

B'gosh 'n' b'golly, I haven't updated this thing in a while. And, in light of my "expanded readership"—howdy DK readers!—I suppose I should add something. And I do have stuff to add now, as it's been a busy few weeks. So, onward! [Note: Firefox 2.0 on an Intel Mac sucks _____ (add your favorite dirty word/body part/whatever). Really. Really. Hard. Firefox folk, please, please, please fix the damn thing! Pinwheel of death is NOT fun!]

So, let's see... Ah, yes. The "wine thing," as my mom calls it (man, she's been confused by my drives/motivations for years now, and there's no signs of it getting better any time soon; but I give her mad props: she supports me as best she can in my endeavors. Love ya, mom! :), has been going really well; I was totally sweating my WSET Intermediate Wine Certification exam. It was like I'd built Mr. Peabody's WABAC (that's "wayback" to you & me) machine and was taking an exam in high school: thought I'd completely screwed the pooch in the exam, only to find that I'd not only passed, but earned marks with distinction! So, I've now signed up for the advanced cert class, which starts January 11th. I'm friggin' psyched!


I've also started working part-time at a boutique wine shop in Clinton Hill called Olivino's. It's a great little wine shop; nice selection of wines, cool customers, cool coworkers. Overall, very nice. And I deeply appreciate that they took me on, considering I have no wine sales experience and my palette's COMPLETELY different from anyone that works in the shop. Yes, yes, all palettes are indeed different, but it seems to me that, as with anything, there are some basic similarities in what/how people taste and that like people come to hang with like. Just like with movies, music, literature or food, people tend to come together in their similar tastes. And mine are just, well, not the same as the people I work with. Mostly. But it's cool and they're very interested in and appreciative of my tastes. And I've started to get a bit of a following with some people in my suggestions, so I suppose I've added a new dimension to the clientele or, at the very least, steering folks towards stuff that they like. Which is hella cool!


In job news, I've got some offers in and am just trying to figure out where I'm gonna land. There's a job I'd really like to take, but the offer for it hasn't come in yet. I'm doin' an interview
later today—man, its late at night/early in the morning right now!—that will hopefully cement an offer, but whatever, I'll be employed before the end of the year and that rocks! I'll finally be able to begin my master plan, as well as move and change my scene/scenery. I've been building and building towards changing my life completely and making it more about doing what I want/love to do and the table's finally getting set. I can't wait!

It's really amazing to me what a different person I've become over the past year: much, much more positive, aware of what I want pretty much for the first time I can remember (man,I remember being a kid and wanting to be a marine biologist; what a long way off I was then and up until recently!) and finally able to affect changes that can get me there. So awesome! Everyone should try it!!!

And, on that note, I'm Audi 5000 for now. Love, peace, hair grease!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PIRATEPEDIA!

Well, I now hold in my hands an actual copy of Piratepedia, which hits stores on January 1, 2007 (just in time for my 40th birthday). A very awesome little book, if I do say so myself.

A bunch of stuff is tied in with this book, not the least of which is several appearances I'll be making to promote it, including some readings at local Barnes & Noble stores here in the city (a storytime reading in the Union Square store is already scheduled!!!). There's also the launch party for the book, which is coming up. Oh, and a website that's getting done in the next few weeks!

It's great to finally have a copy, both to look at—ah, the memories of writing it!—and to show people. It's also not lost on me that I have two degrees in writing and I was always to write, you know, LITERATURE, yet what I have finally managed to put out is a book for kids about pirates. Ah, the irony.

Now run out and preorder a copy!

What Do I Wanna Be When I Grow Up?

All this time off has forced me to really sit down and figure out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. It's probably an outgrowth of my turning 40—which, I'm shocked and a bit horrified to realize, is about 60 days away! Holy crap! Should I have a party? Should I run and hide?—but it's still a weird concept for me. I mean, I just a few months ago realized what I don't wanna do:
  • Work in your average "corporate American" office. The need to look busy cuz otherwise you're not productive pisses me off.
  • Work with more God-complex technology people. Grown up geeks tend to really exude that holier-than-thou vibe; look, it's not my fault you were geeky in adolescence and couldn't find a girlfriend and/or beer/other drug. I did and turned out (relatively) fine. Take your "my kung-fu iz teh hax0r and u r lame" and peddle it to some beta-male geek. I'll likely as not insult you or just kick your ass. Cuz I can. And cuz plenty of other people who know you would applaud if I did.
  • Work a technology job like it means something to me other than a paycheck; tech jobs have done fine by me in the money area, but they don't feed my soul and I've realized in the past few months that my soul is fuckin starvin! It drove me out of my last job in search of sustsustenance...
So, what do I wanna do? That was what the wine class and the voiceover class were for. And, I gotta tell ya, the wine stuff strikes a chord in me. And not just cuz you get paid to drink wine, either (although that is a nice perk). I can see myself as a wine curator (that's the person who stocks the wine cellar; well, more than that, but it's as into the topic as I'll get here) for somewhere like Cru or Craft. That would really rock my world, I think. If only I could figure out a way to get something like that going. See, I have too much accumulated stuff and debt to just drop everything and do that. I need a plan. And a job..... But, I guess I've got step 1 (get a job) and step 2 (make a career change plan), which is better off than I was 3 months ago.... Man, there's a change in me evident right there: a year ago, I'd be all pissin n moanin about shit and not be able to see a positive or bright side. So change is possible! Amazing!

Wine of the Week - November 13th, 2006


Well, having finished my WSET Intermediate Certification in wine course at the International Wine Center—the test was last Thursday—it's weird to not have a night where I sit down, think about, talk about and drink wine. So, naturally, I found myself at a friend's house drinking and talking about wine.

We had a real treat tonight, as I pulled a Sauternes from Oriel Wines. Now, Sauturnes aren't for everyone. First, it's a dessert wine, which will seemingly automatically put this wine into a "I don't drink that" category. Well, it shouldn't and I'll get to why in a minute. But, if it does, hell, more for me.

Sauternes are French wines that are "boytritised" wines: the grapes are attacked by the boytritis cinerea fungus (also known as "noble rot"), which shrivels the grapes and concentrates flavors and sweetness, as well as adding some distinctive flavors to the grapes and hence the wines that are produced.

This Oriel Sauturnes is a knock out, lemme tell you. I got the noble rot on the nose right away: a smell that reminds me of rye bread dough. "What the hell," you're saying, "That's gross!" Well, no, it's not. It's just there, on the nose. And I've smelled *much* worse in wines in class (tar, smoke and rubber, anyone? That came from a red wine). There's some citrus and vanilla, too, so hopefully that will make some of you happy.

But the taste! Man! A silly, over-the-top amount of apricot, as well as some nice doughy notes. And yes, this is a dessert wine. Served chilled, it will rock you.

So, for taste, for its noble rot and to get y'all to try something new and different, this bay is the wine of the week. Plus, you can mix a LOT of different foods (Roquefort cheese OR a fresh fruit tart among others), so it's versatile, too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Wine of the Week - September 04, 2006


It should be no secret that I have a sweet tooth. It's apparent to me and, well, anyone who knows me. So, it should be no surprise that I like sweet wines. And fruity wines.

So, I'm recommending Cafele's Recioto Di Soave "Le Sponde." Most years are good; I'm drinking a 2000 that's phenominal. A viscous dessert wine, its very fruity with apricot and, to me, a touch of honey. It's got a strong fruit nose and is very smooth. My only real letdown with it is that it has a very short finish, not lingering in the mouth very long after a sip. Some people might find this a blessing, as it's very much a sweet dessert wine. Almost like a white port, but not as mature.

Here's some intersting information on this wine (taken from http://sette-bello.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_sette-bello_archive.html):

Le Sponde, Recioto di Soave... [is a] vino dolce. This wine comes from the Coffele vineyard outside Verona. It's made from a perculier grape called the garganega. It's what they call a "creeper" because the vines like to stretch out their arms. In this area, the vintners tend to situate them on pergolas to get the most sun exposure... It was incredibly smooth with a powerfully fruity taste. According to the vintner, it's best with dry cakes and biscotti, but also with cheeses like Gorgonzola.

Interesting pairing ideas, to be sure. I'll have to check out that gorgonzola pairing.

This wine isn't cheap, however: my local, discounted price (I'm in a wine club at a local liqour store over in Brooklyn Heights) is $30.00 But, if you find it and have the money, I'd defintely buy a bottle. It's a great finish to a meal and an excellent little wine to sip & relax to after a long day—whether that day's spent hard at work or hard at play... or hard at rest :)

Ciao!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wine... And How Everything Lately Seems Related To It

Strangely, I was just thinking that I haven't written—as in writing, what I got my degrees in, what I used to feel I was going to do for a living—in a long time, and I think I've just thought of (an/the) answer: because I can't seem to describe things lately. And I used to be able to describe things really well. You kind of need to be able to do that as a write.

But how did I get to that? Well, I was thinking about wine. I'd just opened a bottle of Syrage—it's a blend of Syrah and Petit Syrah and one other red—and I can't for the life of me tell you what it tastes like. I think it's plum (but I can tell you it had a slight tar note when I opened the bottle), but I'm not sure. It's tannic as hell, I can tell you that. It made me feel like my gums were receeding as I drank it. But I can't describe the flavors of the thing.

So, I went for a walk. And on that walk, I was thinking about what to write in this blog. I knew it would be wine-related; that's just where I'm at right now. I'm about to start my introductory sommelier class soon, so wine's on my mind a lot lately (in 2 more weeks, my mind wil be on voiceover stuff a lot, so ust wait for that). The inability to describe the wine was leaking through to other areas, though. Which is when I thought of the writing thing.

And, on the heals of that, it leaked into my life in general. I've been doing a lot of soulsearching in the past few months, which is all thanks to losing my last job (see previous post). I've been trying to figure out what it is I want to be doing with my life, after seemingly waking up from a ten-year sleep. Which has led me to voiceover stuff and sommelier track. So, I was thinking that I'm also unable to describe how I feel from moment to moment. Makes it hard to communicate with people sometimes.

So, wine related all these things together for me (or was it the inability to describe things? :). And, hopefully, expanding my palette and doing voiceover work will help me out and leak out into the rest of my life in positive ways...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fired....

Dear Diary.... Er, I mean howdy there!

So, it's been a while since I posted and daaaaaaamn, has a lot changed. Let's see, where to start? Oh, yeah! I was fired from my job as a senior security engineer. Bummer, sure, but it seems to be the best thing that's happened to me in years.

I'd been unconsciously hating on technology jobs for, apparently, years. So, it came as a sort of relief when the company I previously worked for--they'll remain nameless, for reasons which will become clear in a second, scumbags that they are--let me go. It was actually pretty damn funny in many ways.

I'd decided that the tcpdump work I'd been doing was 1) boring as fuck and 2) not really what I wanted to be focusing on further in life (end of tech jobs, comin up!). So, I thought I'd tell my boss that I'd like to make a bit of a change and see if I could do more creative stuff. The company was always after me to do more jobs than I was currently doing--damn startup companies; to quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, "I'm gettin to old for this shit"--so I thought I'd offer up my services for writing corporate documents and such. It filled me with an enthusiasm that I hadn't had in about five months (which, coincidentally, is when I started the job).

But I never got the chance; I got an ominous email: "Can you meet me in my office at 2:30?" Shit, I thought, having been through a number of lay-offs before, that sounds like a firing line if ever I heard one. So, I half-nervously, half-giddily started talking around the office that I was getting fired. Everyone I talked to--all five of them--thought I was paranoid. But, as they say, just cuz you're paranoid...

So, my boss whisks me into the conference room in the front of the office, where I'm seated across from him and the CEO. Now, the CEO, to say the least is off-putting. I didn't like him in the interview and he's just gotten more obnoxious to me as time has gone on. But, I digress... He looks at me and says, "well, it just hasn't been working out, so we're letting you go."

Wow. Who even knew we were dating? Just not working out? What kind of firing is that? But I guess I got off easy. I went through the paperwork and then sat calmly as my boss asked for all sorts of stuff. Standard information security firing: you leave immediately and someone watches over you as you clean out your personal shit....

Here's a link to commemorate the occasion.

Well, you'd think I had it made then, especially since it was Labor Day weekend. That's right, they let me go Labor Day weekend, specifically so they didn't have to pay me for the holiday weekend. There's a word for this kinda person or entity and I don't use it often, but here it is: cocksucker. Anyways, I'm figuring that I just apply for unemployment and have a little summer vacation. But no, they contest my unemployment, which simply delays it for three weeks. Cocksuckers.

So, I've spent the entire summer coming to grips with what it is I wanna do with my life and my time. I was working through this whole thing over the past year or so anyways, due to some stuff that happened in m personal life, but I put my "career" under the microscope over the summer and decided that I need to get outta tech in a bad way and back into something creative. I have a BA and an MFA in creative writing, after all. Why not finally do something with it?

Well, besides getting a nice tan and drunk most of the summer--man, who'da thunk that drinking and carousing the whole summer at 39 would put shit in perspective?--I've taken some steps to get further along in my dreams and desires. I've enrolled in a sommelier course as well as a voiceover acting course. Both start in about two weeks. I'm pretty pysched!

Oh, yeah. I also co-wrote--or co-edited, or something :)--a book for kids 7-14 on Pirates: Piratepedia. It comes out in January, so stay tuned for sales numbers!

I'll be getting back to reviews and such soon! Really!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Carousing, Loss of Voice, Pictures

Well, was out very late last night, but had a great time, wrangling a bunch of groups of different friends together. Shouting over the din for so long--as well as, I suppose, a great deal of beer--made me lose my voice. But it was hella fun.

So, with no voice and no other words, I leave you with random pictures I have taken recently with my cell phone. And, at 2 megapixels, the pics aren't too bad, neither. :)



Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's Still Techno, Stupid


Best hard, deep techno I've hear in a while: Josh Wink's Profound Sounds 3. Give it a listen. It's deep, it's hard, it makes ya wanna move.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Viva Arepas!

Whew. Day after a long night (dose of house party, dash of a new music/dance spot and a pinch of late night/early morning pizza... yum!)....

So, last night, before the "Cinco De Derby" party, a friend of mine & I dipped down into the East Village--again; I've been down there quite a bit lately--to check out Caracas Arepas. It's a crowded little place: it has only 8 tables and four seats up near the kitchen. The space used to be a taco/burrito take out joint, so you can imagine the size...

Let me just say that I had high hopes for the place right away, as there were Venezuelans sitting outside waiting for a table. They were all very nice and let us know that they were waiting for a table in a hushed bit of english. I walked in, to see how long the wait was and, to my surprise, the hostess/waitress said she had a table right now. So, in we went.

Inside, the atmosphere is very laid back and personable. We were given menus right away and I saw San Miguel beer, so I was quick to order one when the waitress came back (I'd had San Miguel in Nepal and loved it so, whenever I see it around (which really isn't very often), I get one, or two, or three...). There was some Venezuelan music playing and the three people who'd been waiting outside were finally seated behind us and were singing along, which actually added to the good atmosphere (they weren't singing very loudly :)

Now, I've heard about arepas from friends of mine who'd been the Venezuela, but never actually had one before. They're basically smallish sandwiches, with the bread being made of cornmeal flour instead of wheat. They're filled with all kinds of things: pork, chicken, cheese, etc. And, I can tell you, they are yummy as hell.

I started out with the La Del Gato, which is avocado, fried sweet plantains and guayanes cheese (basically this is a solid, creamy, white cheese). My fellow diner picked the La de Pernil, which is roasted pork, tomato and a spicy mango salsa.

Hmm, let's see. How to describe these things. Well, besides, "friggin delicious!" Now, I'm a bit of a sucker for plantains, but these were really well done. Lightly fried--the arepa dough itself is also lightly fried--and not tough (I've had to gnaw on some plantains before). The cheese is very creamy and light, kind of like a goat cheese, but much less sharp, although less light and sweet than, say, a mascarpone cheese. The avocado was even very good (yeah, yeah, some of you may scoff at the idea of a good avocado). The pernil was also very good. The pork was lean and somewhat shredded. The mango salsa was spicy, but not too spicy.

Now, I have to tell you that these things are a bit greasy. I'm sure you've figured that out by now, with the whole "lightly fried" thing getting tossed around, but I felt I should explicitly state it. Moving on...

Now, after I went through my la del gato, I realized that my San Miguel was empty--how did that happen?--so I had to get another one, even though I had bourbon in my bag for the party we were going to. So, another beer came to the table and the waitress looked at us expectantly.

I hadn't planned on having another one. I was pacing myself, especially since there was reportedlyy food at the party (and it was a Texan party, so I figured there'd be booze and food), but when my friend raised his eyebrow inquisitively, I simply asked for the menu again.

Round two went like this: I ordered the De Pabellon, which is beef, black beans and that
guayanes cheese. The beef was shredded and juicy; the beans and cheese were quite a compliment to the beef. As a testament to how good it was, it was gone before I actually realized it. My friend ordered Los Muchachos, which has grilled chorizo, white cheese with jalapenos and sauteed peppers. This one was spicy, but not too spicy, despite the peppers. Both were excellent, both messy as hell. I tried to keep it neat, but much of mine fell into the handily provided basket that your arepa's served in.

Usually I don't really go in for desserts, but the
obleas just sounded too yummy to pass up: very thin wafers with "dulce de leche" in between. The wafers were white, thin and a bit bland, but this was the perfect match for a thin spread of dulce de leche. Soooooo good! Took a little while to eat, but dulce de leche can take a little while, even if it's a thin layer of it.

As I got the last bit of the dulce de leche off of my fingers, I asked for the check. The damage? Less than $40.00 and that's with $15.00 of beer (and a white wine, which was not bad; slight taste of apples and semi-dry).

Overall, I'd give Caracas Arepas a 4.5 of out five. The food was great, the service was very good and the only drawback I can see is that the place is so small (so, go early, as it gets crowded the later it gets). So, go listen to some Los Amigos Invisibles and head on over to Caracas Arepas Bar. You might run into me there, as I'll definitely be going back.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wine(s) of The Week


Ok, now some of you know that I'm really into port (then, of course, there's the rest of you, who don't even know who the hell I am :). Well, for my first pick of the week, I present the Barros Colheita 1977. I've bought (and drunk), over the course of 2+ years, two cases of this beauty. And I can tell you that every drop of every bottle was worth whatever I paid (and, actually, I didn't pay over $60.00 per bottle, which is incredibly cheap for this stuff). It's got a warm, rich feel; the first time I tried it, I presumed that it was warm because it had been sitting near the hearth in a restaurant I was in, but it's got that warmth all the time. It's perfect for capping off a good meal and if you can get your hands on a glass of this and a dark chocolate-coated fig, you will be in heaven.

Some may complain, "port, ugh. It's too sweet." Well, that may be true for young ports (like my next recommendation), but a colheita is a tawny port, which has aged for quite a long time. You can tell by the color of the port: tawnies are amber to light brown in color. You can also tell by the nose and the taste. This stuff doesn't overpower either your nose or your tongue; it's subtle and tantalizing, as well as refreshing.

Now, I wish my palette was expanded enough that I could roll off something like, "it has notes of cherry and caramel," but my palette is very limited (at the moment, but I hope to change this in the coming months). All I can tell you is, if you see this, buy it. If not for you, then buy it for me :)

Next up: Warres LBV 1994. Now, this is a young port. It's strong in the nose and on the palette. This is typical of an LBV (Late Bottled Vintage), since it ages in the bottle and is less than 20 years old. However, it's a vintage grape and is not a blend, unlike many ports. And 1994 was probably the best vintage year in the second half of the 20th century, so anything from this year is good to drink and great to cellar. And this port can be had for less than $20 a bottle, which is a steal. You can probably thank 1997 for that, since it was almost as good a vintage year as 1994 (and has hence brought down the prices of much of the 1994 wine and port that's out there). Unlike the colheita above, this stuff needs to be decanted, as it "throws a crust," meaning that, as the unfiltered port matures in the bottle, bits of grape leaves and such fall to the bottom of the bottle. In order for these bits not to be caught in the glass, you pour the port into a decanter and pour out individual glasses from there.

As far as taste goes, this is a young port, so you can distinctly taste the brandy as well as the grapes that have gone into the port. It's not as sweet as say, a ruby port, but you can definitely taste cherries in this one. It's aged in oak barrels for 4 years, then bottled and cellared for an additional five years, but that's a wee babe in terms of ports.

In any event, this stuff is tasty--bottles tend to go quickly at my place, especially if I have company--and will only get better as the years go on. I've ordered a case (that's 12 750ml bottles for the uninitiated), which I will cellar (in my apartment, the wine cellar is an extra closet I have; it's dark, somewhat temperature-controlled and, best of all, I tend to forget that I put stuff in there, so I don't drink it all too soon ;) and drink later. And, at less than $20.00 per bottle retail, almost anyone can afford this. I recommend getting some to try. You won't regret it!

TriBeCa Film Fest

Well, got lucky & scored some free tix to a screening last night. Friend & I saw Windows, which was preceeded by a screening of 16 Letters (a concatinated version of 25 Letters). Now, I'm all for "experimental cinema," but I can't say that I recommend either of these pieces for viewing. 16 Letters was mostly time-lapse recordings of rotting fruit, which is okay when you see it once, but it was three of the 16 vignettes in the short film. I actually liked the director interviewing himself, even seeing that section more than once. The rest of it was too kind of bland and decidedly anti-war. So much so that I almost literally felt beat over the head by it.

Windows was a much better piece, but you knew from the intro animation (a shadow figure literally trudging through endless spaces that looked like they had been taken straight from Pink Floyd's "The Wall") that you were in for a downer experience. I knew people would be walking out after one scene in which a rape occurs in a park; sure enough, another scene, intimating at either an older man with a young girl being held captive or incest, caused an en masse exit by a great number in the theater.

While neither of these works were my thing, it was interesting and informative to hear the Q&A session by the filmmakers at the end of the film. For example, it took 2 years for the director to finance his piece, but even still, most of the film was paid for with credit cards (the director's)!!! He also had a great response to the question, "where did the ideas for this film come from?"

"I dunno. I wake up with ideas every day. These are just some of them that I thought fit together into a film." Classic. And priceless. I'll need to use this for my writing projects.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Nice Spot For a Bottle

And now, for a word from our sponsors... Brooklyn, a good place to visit, a great place to live!

In support of that supposition, I offer you Pane e Vino, on Smith Street. A nice little place, with an indoor garden that's enclosed, so it's open year round. Stopped off in here for a bottle of wine and some starters. The wine was a nice Montepulciano from 2000. It started off a little bitter, but after 20 minutes, it had breathed enough to open up quite a bit (and it only got better as it breathed more). For dishes, we had the polenta, which was actually done right and well, with some white truffle oil, mushrooms and a hint of sausage. Very well done and you could tell the polenta was freshly cooked when we ordered, as it didn't cement up until well after we were finished with it (it was delish, but we were really there to drink wine :). We also ordered the bruchette tradizionale, which was fine, but a bit plain. Not that it was bad; it was exactly what it purported to be: tomato and basil on bread.

The standout bit of the evening was the dessert (man, am I on a dessert kick lately or what?): glazed pear in a red wine sauce with a bit of ice cream to make it all go down easy. The pear was really well glazed: not too sweet, not burnt. Carmelized pretty much perfectly. The red wine sauce was a wonderful complement to this, as well as to the wine were were almost finished drinking. And the ice cream, well, swirling that around in the sauce and getting to drizzle it on the pear was heavenly. And the pricetag for the evening wasn't too steep, either. I'd say it's affordable enough for daters who are out to hit Smith Street to make an impression or as an alternative to Manhattan wine/dining. The bottle we had was $32, which isn't bad. There were cheaper wines on the list--which was quite well rounded, both in white and in red varieties and regions--but this one was middle of the road. And the most expensive bottles on the list were only $80, which isn't that bad.... Overall, I'd give Pane e Vino a 4 out of 5.

That's TAPAS, Not TOPLESS

Let's see... Continuing on the Spanish food tip, I went to Tia Pol last night. And I was blown away. There's tapas all over this town, and I've hit quite a bit of them. But this place, well, it takes top honors (at least thus far :).

It's a small little spot, long and narrow and brick-lined on one side. The bar's right up front and it's well stocked with some good wines (white and red, which I still find somewhat surprising when I go out). The sangria here is excellent: good fruit pieces and the wine that they start with isn't swill, so the end product is actually quite good. They add a bit of peach schnapps, which gives an enhanced fruity flavor to it. And a pitcher was $28, which isn't as murderous as it at first soujnds, since it's a pretty BIG pitcher.

The tapas selections look, at first, quite standard: calientes y frios, but upon closer inspection, you can tell someone's both been to Spain and has a very good palette. The 1st set we ordered consisted of:
  • White asparagus with mayonnaise and mujol caviar. Very interesting taste combination. The asparagus was a little to limp for me but, then again, I'm mostly a raw vegetable person, so don't let that sway you from trying it. The taste was quite yummy.
  • Fava bean paste and tomato on bread. My friend dug the shit out of this, but to me it was, well, fava bean paste, some grated cheese and tomato on a small slice of bread. Not that it was bad, it was, well, just.... fava beans.
  • Pescado en adobo. By far the best of the tapas we tried. Shark bits fried lightly and adoboed just enough. They were gone almost before we could decide how great they were.
  • Deviled eggs. The Spanish name for this was too long to remember, but it started out like this: huevos rellenos... Excellent, for deviled eggs. Nice bit of paprika here. Not too much nor too little.
  • Lamb skewers. With so much other yummy stuff to try, I dunno why my friend ordered this, but he's weird like that. Nice little bits of fried lamby, though. Wouldn't order it again, but that's not because it was bad, but because there's so much better stuff to order.
  • Jamon y queso Manchego sandwich. This thing was da bomb. The flavors of the manchego and ham blended perfectly and it all seemed to melt in your mouth in nicest way...
  • Salted green peppers in a light olive oil, The surprise taste treat of the night. We got these on the house--it's good to get to know your servers, people!--and I was really impressed, as I'd never had this dish before. The green peppers were only slightly spicy--"they're sweet peppers" our server said as she put them down on the bar for us--and the salt and the olive oil contrasted in a very subtle way with the flavor of the peppers. An excellent dish and one I would recommend.
Actually, there isn't a dish we had or that I saw that I wouldn't recommend here. And that's saying something. We even went in for a dessert, but how can you not get a dessert when you eat tapas? Anywho, we got an almond torta and carmel with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream. Heavenly. The prefect cap to a great tapas experience. I highly recommend the place. 4.5 out of 5!

El Quijote: A Review

OK, it's been a while, but I'm imbued with a serious feeling of purpose right now, so I'm gonna get right down to it:

El Quijote - Now, if you were new to town, or didn't know of other places, you'd see El Quijote, right there next to the Hotel Chelsea and think, "man, real Spanish cuisine. Right here." Well, before you go rushing off, let me just break it down a bit for ya.

Now, the interior of El Quijote is pretty impressive. Very tastefully done, it's not kitschy or too overly done; the bar is top notch, carrying every liquor I've ever seen--and quite a few I wish I'd had at my disposal as a bartender, lo those years ago--and I'm sure the service is quite good (but I don't know, as I only looked at it through the glass from the dining room).

The wait staff were dressed in their best red outfits, although they did, to me at least, look more like bellhops from next door than garcons at the restaurant itself. They were attentive and quickly delivered our menus, which were extensive. Overall, the wait staff were excellent and deserved the tip that we gave them.

Nowe here's my first nit: if you run a Spanish cuisine restaurant, what, pray tell, is the 1st dish anyone is likely to look for? The pescado valenciana en adobo? No. Paella. And it took me almost 2 minutees of looking at the menu to find it. And that's not just to say that the menu is large and extensive; it is, but come on, arrange it in a way that a layman can pick from it.

Anyway, we ordered a pitcher of red sangria right off the bat: no need waiting around, plus sangria lossens the palette for food. Now, there are reviews out there that El Quijote's sangria is the best in the city, but I beg to differ. It was good, but I'm not gonna rave about it (I actually had better last night, but more on that in a minute). It didn't have much fruit in it at all which, while not the hallmark of a great sangria, at least shows some care went into making it.

Onto the food. I ordered the paella valenciana con arragosta and my fellow diner ordered the fish in a tomato sauce. It took quite a while for our food to arrive--our sangria almost ran out before the food arrived, and not because we were guzzling it--but once it did, well, read on.

I've had paella before and, much to my continual letdown, it hasn't been as good as the valenciana that a friend of mine made me years ago (Kristi, my little Valencian friend, where are you? And why, oh why, didn't I get you to give me your paella recipe?), but I guess that's to be expected when a Valencian chef cooks you a Valencian dish. El Quijote's paella was huge, for a Manhattan restaurant, which I didn't expect at all. So, score one for them. And it wasn't a choice little selection of seafood bits with a lot of rice, either: a lobster tail and a large claw, a few oysters, mussels and littleneck clams rounded out with a hunk of chicken and modest vegetables was what was in the pot (and the fact that I got my paella in a pot was pretty impressive, too). So, color me psyched when the waiter started serving it out. And they put in saffron, as I got a whiff of it as the paella made its way onto my plate. So, I pull out my fork and get ready, completely ignoring the whole fish that they've served my friend across the table. More on that in a minute.

I take a bite of the paella and the letdown hits: everything, including the rice, is overcooked. Dry. Damn. Now, I'm no connesieur of food, but I did however learn through my travels, especially in Italy, that no dish should ever be overcooked. Dry food seems to be a peculiarly American invention, although I think that we Americans may have learned about how to overcook food from the British, but I can't prove that. In any event, as a fan of risotto (as well as many other rice dishes :), overcooked rice really depresses me. I actually thought of sending it back, but couldn't think of anything on the menu that I would have actually tried in place of my order, especially if it was overcooked. So, I drank some more sangria and that made things a bit better, although I'm not sure if that's because it made my mouth wetter or if I just started to get shit faced.

I looked over, to give my friend a bit of my paella and see how his food was. He was astounded by the amount of food he'd been given: an entire fish fillet, bones removed and all. I dropped some paella on the edge of his plate--the lobster was passable, so I gave him some, so he'd have the better part of the dish to taste--and he proceeded to cut off a hunk of his fish and put it on my plate. And the fish was actually very tasty. The tomato-based sauce was neither too thick or too watery and had just the right amount of spice, including a little paprika, which I found a nice surprise. Too few people use paprika, let alone use it correctly, in their cooking. And that's too bad.

We continued eating for a few more minutes and I asked for my paella to get wrapped up. That happened rapidamente, so we cut out. I gave my paella to a homeless guy I ran into a bit further downtown. Hopefully he didn't find it too dry or overdone. Overall, I'd give El Quijote a 2.5 out of 5, mostly because it seemed so hit-and-miss in its food offerings. I'd go to Malaga over it anytime.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Quickie

Almost literally too busy for words today, so here's some more pics I took to tide you over. I've got a review of El Quijote coming up, though...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Brooklyn. House Party. Ask A Random Stranger

Now I'm sure that you've heard about Brooklyn. From all over. Well, now I'm gonna big-up Brooklyn. And not just cuz I'm a longtime resident, either. It's cuz Brooklyn kicks ass. Here's a few reasons....

I was out at the housewarming of a good friend of mine: Jongre. Great apartment in Fort Greene. Also saw a couple of iVillagers who I haven't seen in quite a while. It was mellow and cool and there were some really good conversations, too. And Jongre has just graduated from Culinary Institute of America, so there was a LOT of talk about food (and wine. And port). I forgot to bring Jon my housewarming gift: two bottles of Aroa Tempranillo. But anyways, Jongre's apartment kicks ass. It's really two aparments connected together by a kitchen. Jongre and his roommate have their own separate living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms. And the block is quiet and right off of Dekalb Avenue, two blocks above all the bars and restaurants that Fort Greene is now becoming known for. I haven't been to any of the places in years, but I suspect I'll be hanging in the Fort of Greene in the weeks to come, so expect some reviews to be coming out of here soonish.

The highlight of the night was--well, the 1st highlight of the night--was talking to a girl from Bay Ridge. She woke up my Brooklyn accent and we stood there comparing notes about "da neighbuhhood." The classic moment was when she was talking about a guy from Bay Ridge talking about seeing Brokeback Mountain: "I'd maybe see dat movie, but my grandfather would never see dat movie." I guess you hadda be dere (and by dere I mean from da neighbuhhood).

So the celebration of all that is Jongre and his new digs ended by about 1. I was riding with Jack, Rich, Adam and Chris, so we were all trying to figure out what we were up to. We were about to rock, paper scissors to see if we were all goin home when I decided we should all hit Smith Street and see what was up. Richie was headed upstate to take flying lessons (go, Richie!) and Jack had to get up for schul, so they were out, which left Adam, Chris and I. We stumbled towards Smith Street--well, okay, I stumbled out that way; I've been drinking a lot lately--and walked into Zombie Hut, simply cuz I was with two guys who started the night by being late to the party because they met some girls at a bar who asked them out to dinner. So, Zombie Hut was likely to have women in it, so in we went. And, viola!, there were women. I grabbed a rum drink and sat down next to couple of folks. One of these folks was a gorgeous, ringletted reddish-brown haired woman named Lisa. Of course, I didn't know that yet, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm quite the eavesdropper, both by practice and just because I have good hearing. Seems that Lisa was talking to her friends about something that happened to her recently that was fairly dramatic. A song came on that she started to dance in her seat to, so I said, "you should dance."

"I'm a terrible dancer," she says. I tell you this: she could not be a terrible dancer. And even if she was, it wouldn't matter. Gorgeous. Stunning. And a great little outfit, too.

"Well," I said, knowing I had two Texans with me, "you can always do the two step." Adam stood right up and took the lead, showing her how. That took a couple of seconds and I suddenly found myself showing Lisa how easy it is to dance.

"It's all about letting the man lead," I said. So, hands clasped, I gave her a bit of a lead and did a couple of steps. Finishing with a spin, I said, "don't worry, you'll be fine." She gave me a big smile and said, "metaphorically speaking?" "Yeah, really." I was talking about dancing, but it turns out she had just dumped her boyfriend for lying to her and cheating on her--and dude, whoever you are, you are a complete and total nimrod!--and she was feeling a bit down.

So, we sit down and Lisa tells her story, with her friends (who are looking to buy something, somewhere in Brooklyn) giving me the impartial story. Seems that she is thinking she was dumped, but it sounded to me like she did the dumping: "So, you've just lied to my face and I think that this is over." Lisa said that, so it sounds to me like she did the dumping. But hey, I'm okay with her wanting to get some sympathy and support from her friends after a breakup.

Anyways, this was one instance when the invisible-to-me neon sign over my head that reads "INFORMATION" didn't bother me. Ask a random stranger in a bar was good to me. But, somehow, stupidly, I didn't get her number or anything like that. Damn! Maybe I should go to the craigslist "missed connections" area..... Ha! But that was the second highlight of the night (but is the highlight of the night for me).

Lisa & her friends left, our drinks were empty and we were about to get Adam & Chris to the train, when we past a bar I'd never been to. It was thumping and packed, so in we went. Well, we actually followed Ant'ny into the place. Ant'ny is Brooklyn down to his track suit. He popped out of a livery cab and literally bumped into Adam, so they started talking and we followed him into a bar that I can't remeber the name of (you'll have to forgive me, I was hammered). It was loud, and filled with smoke. Everyone was smoking. I wasn't even upset. It was like a trip back in time.

We followed Ant'ny towards the back and looked for spots to throw our jackets on. Easy enough. $4 Brooklyn pints were on tap and on order. And this is when we met Airy.

Airy is a wispy little blonde who reminds me of Wynona Rider. Not really cuz of her looks; it's because of her personality. She's animated, quirky and just, well, pretty damn cool. She was waiting for a bathroom to open up and Adam said something to her. Somehow, we decided she was on the Olympic bathroom team, so we were timing her. Or something like that. I was watching at this time, throwing out the occassional comment. Anyway, Airy disappeared, but waved us over a few minutes later. So off we went. This is where we met Lynn, Airy's roommate. She's taller, darker and smokes a hell of a lot more than Airy. So, there we all are, talking, when the phrase I've heard way too much of lately rang out: "LAST CALL!"

Now, the details of what happened next are lost to me, but we were suddenly out on Smith Street and walking into a bodega to get more beer. We went back to Lynn & Airy's place, which was a great little spot, too. Not as big as jongre's, but it had a nice back deck and a great black and white cat. I miss cats, I just have to say. I can't wait to get some more cats. Now back to the story, which is basically we drank beer until like 5:30 in the morning and talking about where we had come from (Airy: Mississippi; Lynn: L.A.; Chris & Adam: Texas; me: NYC) and what places in the US we've been to/through. All in all, it was a great hang and I'm sure I'll be talking to Lynn & Airy again.

But stuff like this is why I love Brooklyn. Sure, you can get conversations, advice, drinks and good hangs in the city, but they are much less frequent. Here in Brooklyn, I continually (and consistently) find myself doing stuff like this. So, BIG-UP Brooklyn!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Drunkenness

Oh. My. God. The... hangover. Sometimes, there's nothing like closing down the bar. Last night wasn't really one of those times (no matter how you feel about closing down any bar at any time). Ray & I walked into Spring Street--it's becoming quite the hang lately, no?--to get a beer or two. Bartender X was not in, but that didn't stop Y from giving Ray and I shots. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sort of. Slightly.

The shots didn't come until after I'd already tied on a few bourbons at Bleecker Bar (man, I'll have to do a review of that place.... Oh, here's a quick one: 3 dart boards, 3 pool tables, good seating up front, great barmaids and I drink there for cheap. Oh, and last summer they filmed a Sam Adams commercial in the place. There. Review done), which I suppose says all that need be said. There was a lot of drinking. A lot of people buying us drinks, which, of coourse, begs reciprocation, so there was plenty of buying other people drinks.

Next thing ya know, it's last call. Yeah. I said it then and I'll say it again now: ouch. I'm gonna go take a nap.

The pic above is courtesy of Threadless. They do awesome shirts and your money goes to the folks who actually create the artwork, so go there and buy some t-shirts. Think of it as your good deed for the day.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Fragment

Been writing again, which is a pleasant surprise. I'm in the midst of some character discovery, so I figured I'd drop a bit of what I have in here:

Fucking phone. Ringing right as I slot the pick, scaring the fucking shit out of me so bad that I almost drop the fuckin pick. Only thing that stops me is that all my muscles seem to be locked up. I must have made quite an interesting sight: a guy leaned over like he’s got his keys in the door, frozen in place for God knows how many fucking seconds.

Anyway, I take a quick look around, jiggle the pick until the door opens, walk inside and close the door behind me. It’s probably been 30 to 40 seconds, so I wonder if anyone noticed me outside. They’re not as swift down here as they are back in New York, but if you’re slow you’re suspicious, and if you’re suspicious, you’re gonna get talked to. My phone rings again. Fuck.

“Yeah,” I say, not really caring who it is, cuz whoever it is, they’re gonna want something from me and I’m going to have to give them, whatever that is.

“Johhny Boy,” Clem says, “what are you doing?”

“Busy.” I try to sounds natural about it, like I’m on at the job.

“Are you in fucking Anita’s apartment again?”

“Fuck, Clem, what do you want?”

“Well, you can start by getting the fuck out of there. She’s gonna figure out you been there sooner or later. And you don’t want a B&E down here. You’ve been clean so far. Don’t go get burned.” Yeah, clean so far, but anything was lower profile than my job back in Brooklyn. Fuck, Brooklyn. Better not think of that shit now.

I moved out of the doorway and walked toward the kitchen, which was straight ahead from the door. “Yeah, I’m not gonna get burned, okay? Jesus.” I noticed that the shades weren’t pulled on the terrace door, so I ducked back from the kitchen right before I got there, just in case. No need to be seen somewhere at a time of day when the occupants wouldn’t be home. Anita was at work, like always. I’d tailed her for two months when right after we broke up, so I was sure, for the most part, that she’d be where I knew she’d be at any given time.

“Fuck, son, why can’t you drop it? That shit was over months ago. She will not understand the subtle signs and portends that you deposit, well, as often as you deposit them. I’d be fucking astounded if you understood them.”

I’d walked to the pull of the shades and had begun to draw them closed. Talking on the phone was making me feel like I couldn’t cover everything, like I’d forget something or fuck it up. “Clem, I gotta go. I’ll call ya later. I hit “end” and made sure I muted the fucking thing and dropped it back into my pocket.

There it is. Not too fleshed out, but I'm working through it. For me, characters--and often stories--seem like an archeological dig: you see something in the sand or rock that looks like it could be something, so you get out your tools annd start digging it out. Sometimes it turns out to be something innocuous, but sometimes, just sometimes, you uncover a whopping find. I have no idea what this might turn out to be...

OK, it's an AMAZING day outside, so I can't stay in here any longer. I'm Audi 5000!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Music, Please!

Well, not a lot goin on tonight (even those on the neverending quest to quell boredom have to rest sometime, right?), so I figured I'd give y'all a little list of the music that I have on hand during my jaunts. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it's just a sampling...

Ryan Adams - Rock 'n' Roll: The whole thing is really excellent, but I especially like

  1. "Boys"- Brilliant! "I'm as lonely as boys/who are lonely for girls/who are lonely as monkeys taught to enjoy/everything they're learn to destroy" and, especially, "I'm the loneliest boy/with the loneliest plan/but I'm ready and I want to understand/that ain't a woman/that's a girl!"
  2. "Anybody Want To Take Me Home?" - Who hasn't felt this way at some point?
New Order - Substance: Most of these tracks 20 years old--or older--and still kick my ass. Big, chunky analog synths, haunting lyrics.... It's no wonder it's a classic. Here's a couple to spin up and listen to:
  1. Lonesome Tonight - "I walk along the street/I look into your eyes/I'm pleasant when we meet"
  2. Bizarre Love Triangle - A classic if ever there was one. The only "pop" New Order track I actually like... (OK, there's Blue Monday, too) "Why can't we be ourselves/like we were yesterday"
  3. Temptation - Last one from here.... "Oh, you've got green eyes/oh, you've got blue eyes/you've got greeeeey eyes" and, of course, "tonight I think I'll walk alone/I'll find my soul as I go home"
Outkast - Big Boi and Dre Present... Outkast: It's a greatest hits disc. But damn! What a greatest hits compilation!
  1. Ms. Jackson - "This one right here goes oout to all the babies momma's mommas..." "Never meant to make your daughter cry/I apologize a trillion times"
  2. So Fresh, So Clean - How can you leave this one off? Do I even need to quote it?
Steve Lawler - Various dj sets and the Lights Out series: Absolutely incredible tribal techno. Best, most accessible mixes? His BBC Essential Mixes. Find them. You'll like them. "Please don not be alarmed, remain calm. Do not attempt to leave the dancefloor. The DJ booth is conducting a troubleshoot test of the entire system..." And then, BOOM, the music hits and keeps on hitting. 2 hours of stuff you're not ready for (and it's from 2000!)

The Replacements - Let It Be: Post punk that I missed out on cuz I was listening to Depeche Mode.
  1. Unsatisfied - Call me cranky, but this song really gets to me and speaks to me. "Look me in the eye/then tell me/I'm satisfied/are you... satisfied?"
  2. Sixteen Blue - This should have been in an 80s teenage angst movie (I'd have liked it better than the title track of Sixteen Candles, for instance)
Depeche Mode - Violator: Arguably the best DM album ever (although I like Black Celebration and Music For The Masses more, myself). Big, dark synths, cutting lyrics....
  1. Blue Dress - The synths in this song kick my ass. Every time I hear it. "Can you believe/something so simple/something so trivial/picks me up"
  2. Policy Of Truth - Nuff said.
Bob Marley - So much in the catalogue, but here's two you probably don't know:
  1. Who Colt The Game - "It's not natty-dreaded/it must be bald-headed". This is off The Complete Upsetter Collection, which, well, kicks ass.
  2. Sun Is Shining - "When the morning/gather the rainbow/want you to know/I'm a rainbow too". The vocal from this track was used by Fatboy Slim for his little-known techno hit "I'm A Rainbow, Too"
Wow, that was tiring.... Here's a few more that I'll just list:
  1. Jay-Z: 99 problems, Dirt Off Your Shoulder, etc., etc.
  2. Undeworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman. Does it get any better?
  3. Fiona Apple: Tidal. It's the 1st. It's the best one.
  4. The Clash: London Calling.
  5. Thievery Corporation: The Cosmic Game. Excellent lounge. Their remixes are pretty damn good, too.
  6. Tricky: Pre-Millenium Tension and Maxinquaye. Who else could redo Public Enemy's Black Steel and make it acceptable in England? And Christiansands.... damn
Oh, I guess that's enough for now. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Walk Through Brooklyn (More Pics)

Well, I reversed my walk today, walking southeast into Park Slope. Here's a few photos for your viewing pleasure...

Late Night Photo upload




Walked around Manhattan snapping some pics (told ya I needed to bring my camera around with me everywhere, didn't I?), so here, reap the benefits of my walk through the city on a brisk spring night:

Saturday, April 08, 2006

OH! Taisho (Yakitori, beer and fun in new Little Tokyo)


Have you been on either St. Marks Place or 9th street between 2nd and 3rd avenues lately? If not, well, you should go and if so, what the fuck happened down there? It used to be all schlock jewelry stores and used CD stores--okay, there are a few of those left--but now it's like Little Tokyo dining. Not that I'm complaining, cuz, like, I'm not.

If you haven't been, head on down to St. Marks and walk on the north side of the street. When you get to number 5 St. Marks, stop, turn left and walk down the short steps to OH! Taisho. You will not regret it. Unless you're a sushi snob, and by this I mean someone who only thinks of sushi when you think Japanese food.

OH! Taisho is an authentic yakitori joint and if you've never been in one--I was in one in Tokyo in 2001--you need to check it out. This place is small in the front, with some small tables directly right of the door when you come in and seats around the yakitori bar (think the sushi bar in a sushi restaurant and you have the right idea). But there's a big, open room in back where you can sit in relative comfort (but not style; yakitori joints are not about style).

The menu is brightly colored and has pretty nice photos of everything the place has to offer. I was only so into yakitori on this particular evening--I'd just come from the gym and was starving, but wasn't really thinking of yaki until my friend and I passed the place--but I decided on quail eggs rapped in bacon and the unagi tofu, at least to start. Oh, that and a 21 oz. Sapporo Ichiban, cuz, well, who the hell can pass up a 21 oz. beer for $7? Now, the unagi tofu is eel, egg, rice and tofu cooked up in a pan in a light broth (of all things!)%

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Suddenly, last Sunday (or Adventures in and a review of the Spring Street Lounge)

For those of you who may not get the reference in this post's title, I'm talking about the movie as well as the song by Missing Persons. But anyway, on with the show...

So, I'm hanging out at Spring Street Lounge, a.k.a. The Shark Bar, with Dave (a co-worker and generally all-round good fellow). Now some of you may know Spring Street and some of you may not, so, in the interest of those of you don't know about it, here's the lowdown: Shark Bar, on what my favorite bartender--we'll call him X, since you never give out a bartender's name (always let them introduce themselves; it's good form, plus it usually means you've been coming in enough or know enough people that the bartender knows to be called a regular)--calls "pro nights," (known to the rest of us as Sunday, Monday and Tuesday), is about as good a bar to sit down in, listen to some good tracks (they have a pretty damn good jukebox, even if the selection is small) and drink in as any place I've ever been in New York City. It's so good, you'd think it was a pretty well-kept secret. That is until you show up on a Friday or a Saturday. But anyway, that's a post for another time.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Dave and I walk in and X spots us and shouts, "Evil!" since that's how I'm generally known around town. I walk over and shake his hand, introduce Dave to X and, of course, X leans in, winks and says, "ready for shots?" I must now remind you that it's Sunday, it's just barely 8pm and we've just switched the clocks ahead (hurray, Daylight Savings Time!), so it's a weird, weird hour. That and the fact that I've met X only a week before, so he's seen me like 3 times in life, so it's strange to me to be getting free shots as soon as I walk in the place... But now the Jameson's is out, X deftly pouring 3 shots and tossing them casuallydown the bar to stop right in front of Dave and I. X lifts his shot and gives us a look, so what are we to do but raise up and shoot? So, we do. "OK," says X, "so now what are you drinking?"

I look over to the left, where the placard sits that shows the beers on tap. The selection is actually fairly decent. A Brooklyn porter--hmm, I'll have to try that sometime--Boddington's, which Dave selects and the Six Point Sweet Action, which I take. We pick, pay and turn to find a seat. Spring street has one of the nicest layouts for bars I've ever seen: There's a long wood bench that runs the length of the window (which gives you a great view of Mulberry Street), with low wood tables and small wood stools. Very "I found this stuff on the streeet" kind of Lower East Side, but tastefully done. Just past this is an archway and 3 large barrels, with stools that turn the barrels into tabletops and, behind this, a couple of tables.

Pretty much having our pick of the place, we settle in right smack in the middle of the bench that faces the whole inside of the bar. Which leads me to another reason that I like Spring Streeeet Lounge so much: Dave and I proceeded to watch the mix of crowd that comes into the place. From girls who just turned 21 (or have fake enough IDs to get in), to old time regulars to a guy in a suit reading the Times, you get a great mix. And the bar always has people in it. Pro nights it doesn'ty ever really get too crowded, but there's still people coming in and sitting down and stirring the musical pot that is the jukebox (from Frank Sinatra to The Replacements to The Kinks to Billy Idol, there's something in there that just about anyone would play and like). And conversations happen all over the place. And you may know that I love randomly talking to people, so you know that I like this place for that all on its own. And, if you didn't know that I like talking to people, well, 2 things:
  1. I like talking to people
  2. Like Biggie says, "if you don't know, now ya know"
As an example of the kind of people I've met, I met the guy who runs this website and was a San Francisco cabbie for years (he's the guy hysterically laughing in the photo on the main page). I also had these lovely young things come sit down and start asking me questions (I dunno, maybe I have an invisible-to-me neon signs that reads "INFORMATION" that floats above my head):
Yeah, they're kooky. But they did get me to quiet the whole bar and ask the bar to sing one of them Happy Birthday, as it really was her birthday. The bar didn't sing to her, but she did get some bridge & tunnel guys come over and buy them all shots. I didn't get a shot, but I guess that how it goes.

So, all in all, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, I'd give Spring Street a 4, at least when it's not Friday or Saturday. On those nights, it's a 2.5 or a 3 max, but that's because it gets like a sardine can and meat market.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

When Ennui Isn't Enough

Yeah, yeah, yeah, three hundred bajillion friggin blogs in the world and you hadda walk into mine.

So what's this blog about? It's the wanderings, ramblings and discoveries of a native New Yorker, told in ways which, well, will hopefully be entertaining. Well, OK, let's see how it goes.