Thursday, April 20, 2006


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


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.