Friday, December 21, 2007

Changes

Today's the last day of full-time work for me.

Its OUT with the two challenging magazines that caused all kind of stress I wasn't fully aware of until it was gone.

And IN with production consulting work (Visionaire issues continuing as my first 'client') and the formation of my company, Derby Print. (spiffy logo below by Strath Shepard)

In the midst of two weeks of holiday fun, with visitors coming to NYC this year from Dallas and SF. Steve and I are off to Thailand for the month of January, split between Bangkok and quiet weeks on the beach.

NOW: a deep breath and an attempt to finally....reeeeeeelaaaaaxxx.

The M Train

Was sitting between two older Hasidic Jews this morning, while listening to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack full blast on my Ipod.

Struck me as rather ironic.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More on Greenpoint

Big article on Greenpoint in today's Daily News. Been the 'next big neighborhood' for the past 10 years, but I think I finally believe it now.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

World Clock

As my friend who sent this to me said, it's terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time. Check out that earth's temperature slooooowly rising....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Pop-Up Guy

Here's a link to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer (oddly enough) about my friend Bruce in Houston. He's the paper engineer we are working with in creating Vis 54, a collection of pop-up spreads by 12 different artists.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ol' Lefthander

It is utterly impossible for me to think of the Reds on radio without hearing the tandem voices of "Marty and Joe" dishing opinionated Reds-centric commentary. He hadn't announced anything for the Reds in a few years, but 28 years of hearing the voice of Joe Nuxhall on the Big One WLW will stick with me for life.

RIP Joe.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Free Me

I haven't taken a vacation in 2 1/2 years where I turned off the Blackberry and simply did not work, so unfortunately I can relate to this article in today's Times. Sad state of affairs, and a place I never saw myself living in.

With my work on the two mags coming to a close, and the new person starting right after Thanksgiving, I am dreaming of that time post-Xmas when I am (mostly) free from the electronic shackles. Free and in Thailand for six weeks!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ancient Chinese Secrets

A product called Aquadots was recalled this week because it was found to convert to GHB (date rape drug) when ingested. A few kids apparently had to collapse and almost die for this to be discovered.

Wow. Now that's a serious production error.

Nothing blew my mind more on my trip to Asia than the sheer number of factories in China. Everything was growing so rapidly that the roads weren't paved yet, traffic was horrendous on the inadequate existing roads and all one could see was space and people eager to make money. There's absolutely no way any government agency could be overseeing safety standards in all of these new places. And there's going to be a whole lot more of these kind of recalls.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

City of Angeles

Staying in downtown LA for three nights at the oh-so-hip Standard while overseeing the assembly of the latest Vis issue (Sound) and eating like a king. LA is such a great food town, but I've never been a fan in general of this place. Constant driving would make me nuts, for I'm spoiled by living in one of the few cities where you can walk or take public transit. Anne stopped by for a couple hours Sunday, went over to Beverly Hills last night to have dinner with Mr. Steele at Michael Ovitz's new place (whatevs), may go out to Encino to see Phillip's two chillluns, and assembly is happening in Glendale but mostly am exploring downtown for the first time. A few thoughts:

--who knew there was a hill in downtown LA? I didn't, and was the only person in the city yesterday who was huffing up it on the way to the excellent Gordon Matta-Clark show at MOCA. No one walks around but me and homeless people.
--lotta donut shops. Weird considering everyone's so beautiful out here. Donuts do not a beauty make.
--Had a bangin' lamb sandwich at Phillipe's today. Yum.
--taxis are like unicorns. You only get an occasional glimpse as they flit by.
--there are TONS of old movie theaters, mostly dark. Kind of wild that they were built less than 80 years ago with glamour galore, and are now useless and shuttered. There's about 30 on Broadway alone.
--i love the early-mid 20th century architecture that is everywhere, including the diners/americana-type vibe, neon and art deco shite.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Breeder's Cup 2008

Monmouth Park is only 60 miles south of the city on the Jersey shore, but since I never, ever go to Jersey, Breeder's Cup on Saturday was my first trip to this park. It's a small, gorgeous old track whose staff was absolutely idiotic about how they handled the overpriced seating for a smallish crowd of 41,000 on a miserable day of weather. The track was a sloppy mess, and had to effect the outcome of more than one race. While it was easy to get in and out via car, Monmouth's biggest day on the national stage was marred by a complete lack of regard for the most hardcore group of racing fans there is. 'Nuff said about that.

I always lose cash on Breeder's Cup day, for separating any equine stars out of the field of the best horses in the world is next to impossible. There is always money to be made, with most every entry going off at 4 or 5-1. Not too bad: I was only down $65 for the day, with Tania taking a biggest loss after dropping her newly replenished voucher worth over $100. Ouch. Lamest way to lose money at the races.

The worst note of the day occurred during the Classic, with European star George Washington needing to be euthanized on the stretch after sustaining a visibly gruesome injury that caused an audible gasp from the crowd after Curlin's winning run. Curlin tore through the final two furlongs like the champ he is, unfortunately, most of us were watching George Washington pull up lame in horror.

Still, it was absurd to get the Horse of the Year at a price of 4-1 (!!), and some money was made.

We.

I used the word "WE" in reference to something the man friend and I might do in the future, and my god, you would have thought I gave him a million bucks with the grin I got in return. I am a dope.

This of course did not quell the minor panic attack that using said word caused me. My independence and fear do not go quietly into the night, but I'm tryin'. Really trying.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Playoffs

Does anyone care about these NL baseball playoffs? I even forgot that the Rockies and Diamondbacks were on last night. Go Tribe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Maybe

One day I'll resume posting again, when I have head space.

The job reconfigurations of recent weeks are still causing anxiety -- not sure if I am going to go freelance starting in mid-Jan and only work on the Visionaire publication + other print projects for other clients (most likely) / get fired / find a new full-time job / quit in a huff during the next two weeks so I can run away to Thailand with my man friend for a couple months (most appealing).

I had a semi-relaxing trip to SF last week for my old roommate Mikey's wedding, Ann and Derek's 10th Anniversary dinner and the baptism of Denise's 8-month old Sonny. Loads of friends around - the vast majority from Ohio - and amazing weather for the 7th Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, where I saw Buddy Miller, Del McCoury, an Atlantic City-covering Jason Isbell, Dave Alvin, Doc Watson, Jim Lauderdale and the ubiquitous Emmylou. The 3-day Festival is a terrific free, yet not too crowded with dirty hippies, event in Golden Gate Park. Going out simply for the music would have been a good trip in itself.

Said man friend came along, and was an unsurprising hit. And I didn't even have to put on my mature and meet his ex-girlfriend, also in town all weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Liquor Icons

I've always been partial to the Miller High Life broad, but this article gives a play-by-play on 10 recognizable figures from the front of your favorite beverage.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Great article in today's Times about the growing popularity of raising chickens in the backyard.

If I had any sense, I would have written this trend piece back in May when I started claiming I was going to soon have some chickens of my own.

I still want my own chickens. Even though I hate birds.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sweetness

..is your man friend going upstate for a couple days, and bringing you back the last tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and lavender from his sister's garden.

Better than jewelry. And more thoughtful.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr Met: Fraud!


Mr. Met was voted into the "Mascot Hall of Fame" this week. First of all, who knew there was a Mascot Hall of Fame? And secondly, Mr. Met is a straight up rip-off of Mr. Red, who was the first baseball-head mascot circa 1955. Shameful.

*thanks to my brother Mike for setting Wikipedia straight on this matter. (see paragraph 2)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years On

Most New Yorkers don't talk about the after effects of 9/11 much anymore, but this time of year inevitably brings back crystallized moments from that day. I didn't talk about it much then either, avoiding situations outside of NYC when people would want to share with me "their 9/11 story". I wasn't interested in other experiences, for I saw my adopted hometown break apart from my kitchen window. The. End. It wasn't and isn't an easy thing to process and accept.

I get a small pit in my stomach when I wake up to a clear, sunny, early September day with the bluest sky imaginable. Or when I drive down the BQE under Brooklyn Heights, directly across from where the Towers rose the largest to my eyes, something is just missing. And each autumn, when I see those giant beams of light projecting endlessly into the sky from a nighttime vantage on the East River, I get anxious before pausing for a moment--being forced into remembering--tear up a tiny bit, and usually follow it with a wan smile about what once was.

Missing in Action

I am boring and boring myself lately: work's been kicking my ass up and down for the past three weeks, consuming most energy and thoughts, and it flat out ruined my last weeks of summer, including one I was supposed to have off. Add my car getting hit by a friend's husband and causing over $2Gs worth of damage, and you have a recipe for being preoccupied.

With the most coverage we've ever gotten due to cover boy Brad Pitt on V49 and some totally gay shots of Tom Brady on V Man, everyone's excited and a little tightly wound. What would typically be minor production mistakes have been blown up into events of major proportion, culminating last week with me telling the two photographers of Vis 52/Louis Vuitton ad campaigns/shitloads of other big fashion clients that the files they provided us were of terrible quality.

This does not make already high-strung and flaky photographers happy. Especially when we aren't fixing the problem before going on sale.

I slept about 11 hours last night and missed out on our big whoo-ha fashion week party down at The Bowery Hotel, but am nearly seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

(As a side note, how douche-y is it for a special friend of mine to try and weasel his way into the party right after I said I couldn't hang out with him last night?)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ode to the Tomato


It's been tomato season for at least few weeks now, and as usual, I'm completely obsessed. I dream about this time of the year in darkest February, getting greedy and overbuying when I see the tumbling piles of Jersey tomatoes at McCarren Park on Saturdays. I can't even stomach the mealy, white, year-round supermarket tomato as anything close to a substitute in the off-season. But come high summer, I manage to work tomatoes into pretty much everything I eat for eight weeks, as is this writer in the Times.

To this list of recipes I'd add: tomato sandwiches on soft white bread with tons of mayo, sea salt and fresh pepper; fresh pasta with tomatoes, garlic, brie, and basil (only cooking the pasta); tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs/tuna/herbs/garlic whathaveyou; tomatoes tucked under baked or poached eggs; spreading them with cheese/tapanade/greens/nuts/herbs before a quick pulse in the microwave; salsa; ceviche with mango and whitefish or scallops; and simplest and best of all, a caprese salad made of the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes you've ever seen from Sang Lee Produce.

Rapturous odes to just-picked summer corn, or peaches, or zucchini, or blueberries, run right alongside tomatoes in my brain, for eating doesn't get any more pleasureable than produce in season. I swoon over cooking in August with an constant overload of options and tastes. If there's ever a time to visit a farmer's market, these are the weeks to be going. All is luscious and ripe and juicy and flavorful. And perfectly amazing, when you realize no one can improve on nature.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summer Wind (and some braggin')

The weeks of August have been flying by, and I've got not too much to comment on, busy living instead of yapping and typing. There were a couple nice weekends at Shelter Island, complete with SI friend-filled dinners straight out of the old 3 Chase Street house; a nice amount of company, including an surprisingly fun and undamaging hang with the ex-Irish boxer bf for the first time in a couple years; and a surging softball team on a juggernaut towards the WBSL playoffs. Ahem.

Currently in Montreal for the week with my new assistant Sebastian (straight, Brooklyn-raised, rockabilly kid) printing for 115 hours straight through (5+ days) to get the fall issues of V and V Man out.

Nice surprise that I'm pleased about - the mags were awarded two Gold Ink Awards in the 2007 competition, winning "Gold" level awards for both V45 and V Man Spring/Summer.

Now in it's 20th year the Gold Ink Awards recognizes excellence in print reproduction and is considered one of the most prestigious and challenging print production competitions in the printing industry.

Our straight-as-an-arrow, always slow and corporate printer submitted the issues for their own accolades, but damned if they would have won the awards if we didn't push them to the edge of their capabilities, and give them something pretty to print. A week up here is often tiring and frustrating, although at the end of it all, the very good quality I'm getting is almost worth the constant hassle. There is a big fancy printing nerd banquet in Chicago in early September when the awards will be presented. (Probably coming to visit, big brother - Sept 10th.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Racing Note

The 3-yr old horse I was hot on all spring, Any Given Saturday, is finally starting to blossom as evidenced by his 4 1/2 length win in last Sunday's Haskell at Monmouth Park. The 113 Beyer score he achieved is higher than any number put up by Street Sense, Curlin or Rags to Riches in the Triple Crown races this year.

It looks like he won't be running in the Travers ("The Summer Derby") up at Saratoga on the 25th, but I'm glad to see him becoming the horse we only had seen flashes of. Although I'll miss that Derby, I am hoping to catch a couple days of racing at the Spa at the end of the month, including the Grade 1 Woodward for 3 year olds and up on September 1st.

756

Love or hate Bonds, it was hard not to be moved by his big record-breaking moment on Tuesday night. I happened to just walk in the door, switch on the live broadcast of his 3-at-bat of the night via Sportscenter. A 3-2 pitch, and BOOM. Did everyone else watching, at least the baseball lovers, also hope this one was going to be gone? It's pretty hard to ignore that many home runs and how GOOD the guy truly is, even with the help he had along the way. As for me, I'm (oddly enough) a bit of a waffler on the steroids issue, but I'm curious how future fans and players will judge Bonds, and the 15+yrs of performance-enhancing drug use in MLB.

Hank Aaron's video message was classy and on point, offering congratulations and a wish that
"(My) hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

Was a nice touch to have Hank present, causing the always impenetrable Bonds to choke up, and I, too, got a little shiver watching this bit of baseball history.

Chinatown Breakfast of Champions, P2

Two steaming fresh pork buns from Canal Seafood Restaurant. $.65 each.

I have been ignored briefly in favor of Chinese-speaking customers but it's like that all over Chinatown. Big deal. Good buns.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tom Terrific

I've always liked Tom Glavine well enough, but reading over his stats (lifetime 3.49 ERA) after last night's 300 win made me realize how good he truly is. On top of these numbers, he's the best hitting pitcher of his generation, is extremely active in the player's union, and he's seemingly a stand up family-leaning kind of guy: an old-fashioned type of ballplayer with no skeletons in his closet. From ESPN.com:
If you want to start a good argument, try this: Tom Glavine is the ninth-best left-hander of all time, slightly ahead of Sandy Koufax. Here's the ammunition you'll need.

In beating the Cubs on Sunday night, Glavine became the 23rd pitcher to win 300 games, 135 more wins than Koufax. Glavine has the fifth-most wins among left-handers and the sixth-most wins in the National League since 1900. He made 10 All-Star teams, won two Cy Young awards and has five 20-win seasons, more than Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Barry Zito, Carlos Zambrano and Mike Mussina combined.

The common denominator of the greatest pitchers of all time is durability: Glavine has never been on the disabled list. He has made at least 25 starts in 19 consecutive seasons; only Greg Maddux, with 20, has a longer streak in baseball history.

Glavine also has 14 postseason victories; only Smoltz, with 15, has more. Glavine did all this without throwing 95 mph, but few pitchers have commanded a fastball and changeup better than he has.

Every 300-game winner who's eligible for the Hall of Fame is in. So 300 is the benchmark, but who will be next to get there?

Randy Johnson has 284 wins, but he's 43 and has a back injury. After Johnson, no one else with at least 200 wins seems likely to make it, and no young pitcher is off to such a sensational start that he's a threat to 300 even with mass statistical projection.

So, Glavine might be the last one for a while. And that's appropriate in every way.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Trip Photos

•Bullfight at Plaza de Toros.
•Beavis and Butthead have fun with Italian signs. Fabbrica is factory, and Oreficeria means goldsmith, but that's not as amusing. Still don't know what a Boner is.
•Spooky guy on the bronze doors of San Zeno.
•Two shots of the frescos in San Zeno, the most beautiful church in Verona, with graffiti dating from 1390 and 1588. Always an urban scourge.
•Beautiful Verona on the River Adige.
•Julia with Verona behind her, from the Teatro Romano.









Monday, July 30, 2007

Dia de Quatro Sebs

Today was a day of Sebastians: hiring a new assistant of same name, coddling a high-maintenance fashion photographer, the somewhat tacky hair product company soliciting our company for an issue, and parking in front of St. Sebastian's Catholic church in Woodside when getting dinner. Coincidence?

The Postive and Negative

Good: seeing Shelter Island & friends after a year of absence; playing sand volleyball; meeting one-week old Ronan Burton in Greenport; Two A/Cs creating a world o' central air at 110 Calyer.

Bad: Pulling muscles I didn't even know I had; Lexapro; Mosquito bites, always on my feet; Home Depot on Northern Blvd any goddamn time of the day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ways to Ingratiate Yourself to New Clientele

This bar opened up literally 50 yards from my front door about two weeks ago. It's bar number 7 down on the Franklin Street corridor, for those of you keeping count. This one is owned by a nice fellow who I vaguely know from him working at Spuyten Duyvil for a few years. As you might guess, it's a big beer geek bar, while also offering about 6 wines by the glass or bottle.

I figure I stop in there regularly until I can basically walk over in my slippers and not have it seem all that weird. I stopped in for a nightcap last evening, and not only did the owner offer me several wines to taste while we bullshitted about wine and the neighborhood, but he also gave me 2/3rds of a bottle of a tasty Muscat to take home.

New favorite bar! Nice.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

•I realized that Madrid has changed in the past nine years from a cosmopolitan-yet-still-very Spanish city into more of a generic, European Union one. Globalization strikes again. Walking and eating in Madrid continues to be great fun, especially on the narrow streets of the Malasena district, and doing a tapas bar crawl to start your evenings before dinner is always good. I was able to see some of my favorite art again at the Prado via Francisco Goya's series of 14 creepy images called "The Black Paintings." Another highlight was spending a morning working (discussing Jason's unfortunate departure via phone with my bosses, damn) at Chocolateria San Gines while having churros con chocolate.

•I went to a bullfight at Las Ventas in Madrid that Helen, Julia and I all found disturbing. First of all, there's no "fight." The bull is going to die, and he's definitely going to lose. Six bulls are on the card each night, but we could only stomach two. The first one was pretty horrible, as the bull was not given a quick, clean death. He simply wouldn't go down and bled and bled and bled. The second one made a little more sense, as we watched the intricate interplay between bull, three matadors, the cape and the crowd. While I'll go to any type of spectacle or sporting event in an effort to understand a culture better, this event is a little tough to handle. BUT: Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon is in hand because the whole thing is definitely intriguing. (But I hate Hemingway.)

•I ate horse meat (the dreaded cavallo) not once but TWICE, including cavallo carpaccio with greens. It really IS on about half the menus in Verona. Julia and I only made it part way through that plate, for the more we talked about it, the closer we both got to needing to go outside to vomit. My take: leaner, saltier, with not as much flavor as beef. And I probably don't need to go there again.

•I had a few-day affair with a very funny, blue eyed trombone-playing Italian named Diego from the Verona Opera orchestra...because ten days in Verona means you have enough time to have dates, and enough time to see two operas in the 2,000-year-old Roman Arena. (Plus, go "backstage" to visit. Too funny. And familiar.) Seeing these operas in the arena on a clear warm Italian night is something I am not going to forget for a long time (even with all the mean Germans around us who refused to smile). Magical, and although I have no appreciation or clue about opera, I caught myself tearing up a little bit in one part. Who knew?

•I spent five days in Production Geek Summer Camp at the always charming Hotel Elefante in Verona (home of 20 pet peacocks wandering about!) About 8 other people from various publishers were there doing press OKs at the same time I was, along with my friend/sales rep and her family, so there were loads of people to talk shop with while drinking wine at random hours in the garden. While these work trips usually stress me out at some point when things go horribly south, this one was the best one yet, and the next issue of Vis (called Private with a Louis Vuitton case) will be out in October. I realized I am very fond of Verona, and will miss it until I go back again (maybe next spring?), but having visiting cohorts in Julia and Jason certainly made it all the better.

•My Spanish and Italian improves the more I ghetto-talk my way through things. And I learned some seriously dirty words in Italian.

Hey Porter!

Porter Wagoner opened for The White Stripes and Grinderman last night at Madison Square Garden. (Have to admit, I was a little thrilled to be on the floor at the Garden, to look up from about center court and see all the banners and retired numbers surrounding me. Thought about dunking but didn't want to show off.)

Porter played just under 25 minutes, with the first 10 minutes one of those instrumental jams led by Marty Stuart that really huge stars get before they take the stage (Ray Charles was big on that, too). He was dressed in a royal blue Nudie suit, as you'd hope and expect. He shows his 80 years, seeming very frail with a tremulous voice and needing help on and off the stage. Dismissing the lead-in (The Wagonmaster's Comin'!!) and lead-outs by the band, Porter did five songs: something off the new one, Green Green Grass of Home, Rubber Room, The Cold Hard Facts of Life and one I didn't know. Still, it was a awesome to see him. He's on Letterman tonight.

I bailed on the Stripes 45 minutes in, half because I was tired and half because the sound seemed kind of...muddy and too vibrate-y to me. Not crisp. Maybe too big of a place? I dunno. It wasn't working for me, whatever the problem was. And I had already seen the excellent show at Irving Plaza. Grinderman was good, intense, and about what you expect from the always entertaining Nick Cave: lots of stalking around the stage, big theatrical movements, interesting anecdotes. Most interesting to me was that most of the music was pre-recorded: The drummer was live, but the bass and guitar were used only sporadically, to emphasize a bar or two. Half the crowd HATED them, giving their biggest cheer when Cave said "this is our last song". Maybe this was due to to all the uses of "motherfucker" that came across the speakers right before they hit the stage, or perhaps the straight-up-in-your-face SEX quality of the music, including "No Pussy Blues," didn't help their cause. People did not know what to make of them. The parents of all the 12 yr old kids there didn't seem amused. I was.

Street Food

Why do people dump their old food on the street "for the birds"?? Or for pigeons, rats, roaches and god knows whatever other kind of vermin. Drives me crazy when I see a big heap of moldy bagels sitting on the sidewalk. Soooooo gross. Seriously, in what world is this a good idea?

Exhibit A from the corner of Howard and Broadway this AM. (Yeah, now who's crazy--I know I know....)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dear Loyal Readers (Hi Pat!)

Been back at home since late Friday; was not murdered in Italy by La Cosa Nostra; work is nuts due to my dear assistant Jason giving notice 3 days into the Europe trip (his last day is tomorrow and the interviewing begins...arghh), and did anyone else see Junior's highlight reel tonight?? I think I missed Baseball Tonight.

Will be back shortly with things to say, no doubt.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Spain: Cordoba

Out of NYC on July 4th, and 18 hours of travel through Frankfurt took me south to two nights in Andalusia, Spain, and more specifically, Cordoba. Cordoba is about 2 hours south of Madrid via the fast train and was the capital of the western part of the Moorish empire that ruled in Spain from 711-1492.

It was the most modern city of its time in Europe, with street lights, running water, huge libraries and a population that was split between Jewish, Islamic and Christian factions. I stayed in the former Jewish section of town, the Juderia (at the charming, clean and recommended Hotel Lola) where the streets were designed crookedly to keep the blazing sun from pounding directly on the streets. Cordoba is reportedly the hottest city in Spain, and I'll attest to that, for it was about 105F on both days I was there. Everything closes between 4-8pm, and afternoon naps hiding from the sun for a few hours are almost a must.

The big sight in Cordoba is the Mezquita, a huge mosque begun in 785 and modified into a cathedral in the early 1500s, after the rise of Ferdinand and Isabella (Columbus's benefactors) when they tossed the Jews and Moors out of Spain in 1492. I didn't see much more than the old quarter of the city, but it's a gorgeous, quiet place, even with the gross tangle of souvenir shops a la Canal Street around the Mezquita. Lots of mosaics, the air is warmer, the golden glow of the sun until 10:30 pm, and the perfume of the place is exotic from the Moorish influence. I had a fantastic meal of pork cheeks at Casa Pepe de la Juderia while sitting on their roof deck, as the sun set, and birds flew in and out of the bell tower of the mosque. It was one of those magical moments of travel where I take a deep breath and positively know there is no place I'd rather be than that exact moment.

I'm glad I started my trip off here slowly. I want to go back and explore the south of Spain on another journey, inclusive of Cadiz, Saville, Granada, etc. for I was instantly enchanted by how different this part of Spain felt. Although I haven't been in Spain in 9 years, thus began my mantra of the next few days as I worked my way through loads of tapas and Spanish reds: I Love Spain.

Pix below as follows: three pictures of the exterior of the Mezquita; oil vessels in a chapel in the Mezquita (general holy, baptismal and sick from left to right) ; interior of the Mezquita; old city wall in the Juderia; and a (ubiquitous) horse head in the former Royal Stables.






Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm Here

Not dead, just a dearth of decent internet connections in Spain and Italy. It's unreal how hard it is to get on a wireless connection. Work begins full-on today; more TK shortly.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Top 50 Songs of All Time

Per the challenge posed by godihateyourband, here's my list of the Top 50 songs post-1950, in no particular order. Although the polling fascists are counting this as my 1-50, instead of assigning each song an equal 25.5 points as requested, here we are. Apologies for Crimson and Clover getting 49 points.

This would no doubt change next week, if I did it again.

Jumpin' Jack Flash - Rolling Stones
Crimson and Clover - Tommy James
I'm So Lonesome (I Could Cry) - Hank Williams
Tryin' Times - Roberta Flack
Pretty Polly - The Stanley Brothers
Psychotic Reaction - The Count Five
I Wish I Was the Moon - Neko Case
Papa Was a Rolling Stone - Temptations
Fever - Peggy Lee
You Can't Always Get What You Want - Rolling Stones
Wichita Lineman - Glenn Campbell
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
Wonderwall - Oasis
Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
You Send Me - Sam Cooke
Tangled Up in Blue - Bob Dylan
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Rocky Top-The Osborne Brothers
California Dreaming - Mamas and the Papas
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
Little Fury Things - Dinosaur Jr
The Weight - The Band
Downtown - Petula Clark
What'd I Say - Ray Charles
Blue Moon of KY - Elvis Presley
Love and Happiness - Al Green
Waterloo Sunset - Kinks
You Said Something - PJ Harvey
Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
Dancing Barefoot - Patti Smith
Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley
Jolene - Dolly Parton
Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed
Fairytale of NY- Pogues
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag - James Brown
Marquee Moon - Television
Loose - Stooges
Message of Love - Pretenders
I Can't Explain - The Who
Monkey's Gone to Heaven - Pixies
Los Angeles - X
Touch Me I'm Sick - Mudhoney
Here Comes a Regular - Replacements
Don't Let it Bring You Down - Neil Young
How Soon Is Now - The Smiths
Rocky Mountain High - John Denver
Windfall - Son Volt
Venus - Shocking Blue
Moon River-Henry Mancini
Blank Generation - Richard Hell

On the cusp, mostly totally gay and thus irrelevant:
Steve Earle - I'm Nothin' Without You; Someday
Jane Says - Jane's Addiction (i hate this band, but love this song)
TLC - No Scrubs
Tom Petty - Free Fallin'
Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead or Alive
U2 - Beautiful Day
Nina Simone - Feeling Good
Commodores - Easy (Like Sunday Morning)
Elton John - Tiny Dancer
Eminem - Lose Yourself
Little Feat - Willin'
Gram Parsons - $1000 Wedding

I'm Pissed

This article in the Times says New York is second only to Miami in incidents of road rage. I'm a little surprised (infuriated by it even) but as Heater once said to me while she was driving "don't bring your road rage in my car!" She was right, yet I enjoy a bit of aggressive driving when on NYC roads. It's fun. That is, until the bike messenger you flipped off chases you down East Village streets swinging a bike lock at your back window. Or a giant howyuhdoin mook comes to a dead stop, jumping out of his car in the middle of Flatbush Avenue to grab the car door handle, and call your friend a 'fucking bitch'. Or someone throws a bottle at you, just to name a few charming incidents of good times on the roads of NYC.

I'm about to get on a plane to Europe for two weeks, where I will try control my New York ingrained habits of walking too fast, swearing too much and getting annoyed too easily, but I'm with the author of this article who says:
I’m not suggesting it’s fun watching people endangering themselves or others. But come on, who doesn’t enjoy a good fight every now and again?
I surely find getting in an altercation on the city streets or subway funny and strangely liberating, especially if one of the parties goes overboard and really vents. It feels good. Plus, it's our right in being second best.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Worse and Worse

The Reds fired manager Jerry Narron last night after they lost to the Cardinals, and officially became the team with the worst record in baseball.

Some more fun stats from the article: they are on pace to lose 100, the most since 1982. They've had seven consecutive losing seasons, their deepest slump in 50 years. Arroyo hasn't won since early May. The much-touted Homer Bailey has been beat up in the past few starts, although he'll come around with some more experience to become a #1 starter.

My take? Trade Dunn and Griffey for some pitchers, especially for help in the bullpen. (leading the NL in losses, btw). I loved that Junior came home, but since he's not gonna get a ring in Cincy, we might as well let him go while he's worth something. And some AL team should jump all over Dunn.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Day in Sunset Park

Spent the day with Signe and Josh in their hood of three years, Sunset Park. Although it's only 15 minutes by car from home, I've never made it over there to visit. And it's nice. They are 3 blocks from Sunset Park itself, the highest point in Brooklyn, which is home to a filled and working WPA-era swimming pool, opened for the season yesterday. Signe and I spent a couple hours there, dipping and watching the many-hues-of-Brooklyn-children dunk and toss each other in the pool. We watched, fascinated, as 40-50 teenage boys made a mad group dash of prohibited diving into the pool. It was hilarious to watch the lifeguards blowing their whistles like mad, as they tried to figure who they needed to kick out but were utterly unable to separate out the hordes of Latino youngsters in Jams from one another.

The park is gorgeous and well-maintained with a thriving, diverse community of mostly Latino and Chinese residents living, playing, barbecuing and relaxing in it at all hours of the day. The city runs tons of programs out of the park for the neighborhood, and for once, the NYC government is doing something right, for you can see the pride everyone takes in this jewel of their community. It was impressive (and not much like McCarren Park) but a model of what a park should be to the taxpayers in this land of concrete and grass free spaces.

We also strolled around Chinatown on 8th Avenue (the boroughs have FIVE different Chinatowns!), had some pretty good Vietnamese at Nha Trang Palace, pastries from a Chinese bakery and then drove over to Victorian Flatbush (Cortelylou/Argyle/Marlborough Sts, etc) on the other side of Green-Wood Cemetery to gawk at the giant Victorians with yards in the heart of Brooklyn. How do I get me one of those? Some of them are fixed up but a bunch are a little faded, and seem an almost reachable dream. What a gem of a neighborhood. Brooklyn never ceases to amaze me with it many facets and ranges of communities.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Spain?

Have a couple days to kill next week before meeting up with friends in Madrid. Any opinions via email on Cordoba, Sevilla, or Valencia welcomed...

That's It.

It's basically over for two members of my softball team, who have hit the pinnacle of success, at least in my small world, by having their names on the lead page of today's NY Times Dining section.

Well played, Cindy and Keller!

(It's A/T day in the Times, as our shortstop Jordan is mentioned on Pg 2 of the same section.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

God Boy Would Say No

One of the owners of my company (gay makeup artist) was asking me who #46 was on the Yankees -- as I am the go-to sports expert in my office of 25 women and gay men, go figure -- and was going on about how hot Pettitte is, blah blah blah.

The debate is if they can get him to pose for V Man, our "men's" magazine, i.e. gay men's magazine. But I just had to tell him.... Um, I don't think he'll do it because he thinks you gays are going to hell. He's got a pro-Jesus book out, and he does those weird late night commercials for Power For Living....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

At Least Rickey's Back to Help

Me and my friend Brooks went to Shea last night on his 38th birthday so he could see his fave team, the Twins, beat up on the Mets.

I love that Oliver Perez (now 7-6, 3.16 ERA), but he walked five as the Mets dropped 2 of 3 to the Twins. And man, they looked REALLY bad doing it. Hope they snap out of this funk where they've dropped 14 of their last 18. Horrid, flat and downtrodden- looking as each of them dejectedly shuffled out of the batter's box.

They ARE getting some always entertaining quotes from Rickey. And Delgado is pulling up his socks, copping El Duque's look, in hopes that he can hit more than .250.

NEW YORK -- With the return of summer -- actually, one day before its return -- has come the return of a man who used to own summer in these parts, one Rickey Henley Henderson, also known as Jose Reyes' personal tutor. Henderson, officially identified as a special instructor in the Mets media guide, is back for five days of ... well, special instruction, and, as he put it, "Give 'em a boost with my special lucky charms."

"Back in the day," Henderson said, "I had something that I would rub when we got into a funk. And they thought I lost my mind."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stripes at Fillmore?

Attended a 'secret' White Stripes show last night at Irving Plaza --- sorry, The Fillmore at Irving Plaza -- courtesy of my little buddy K. and his flagship band.

Weird, that new moniker. I associate that venue's name so much with my years in SF, after the Fillmore was reopened in 1994 and became an excellent place to see shows, second only to Great American Music Hall. Only change I could see at Irving is the old rock posters and photos hung all over the joint now. And terrible security who dig through bags at will, but do nothing about crowd control and idiots causing problems.

Jack and Meg played for nearly two hours, with half the set comprised of older songs, and half from the new 13-song album released yesterday. I haven't heard the new record yet, but about 50 people in front sure had downloaded it early and knew every single word. Bizarre to watch those super-fans sing every word. At first listen, the new flavor seems to tend towards longer, slower and more narrative songs. Although not my favorite band EVER, The Stripes are always quite good and loud as hell, with stomping rock-blues being the basis of any tune, even if there's piano layered on top. Jack had several rambling off-the-cuff stories to tell, and Meg sang to a backing track (at the very least) on the chorus on "In the Cold Cold Night."

Must admit I prefer a 50-minute rock show these days with maybe one encore, so it was a bit long to stand. Still, nice to see Jack only getting more talented, and the two back at a smaller place after their 7-year trajectory from 2 shows@Mercury, 4@Bowery, Irving Plaza, Union Square, Hammerstein, 3@Roseland, 2@Coney Island, and the amazing bill this July 24th at Madison Square Garden (currently at 12,000 seats and almost sold out) with Grinderman and Porter Wagoner.

Best in Decades

Good column from John Pricci on why this year's Triple Crown races, and the crop of 3 year old horses involved, are the best since the hallowed days of the 70s.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Revenge is Immature

Draining, and yet often strangely satisfying. Just ask a cunty ex-friend of mine who, four years later, still carries her anger around and irrelevantly writes in her sex advice column about the end of our friendship (three days before my dad died, nice.) The ax-grinding is due to the fact that a crush of hers dared to decide he dug me, instead of her victimized ass. We had seriously bad chemistry as friends, but on the off-chance I read her column (she is smart and I did miss her voice), finding a mention for the umpteenth time only reinforces a "good riddance" to the best thing to ever leave my life. I am fortunate I escaped only a couple years in.

Anyhoo, I digress. Summary of the link: When a boyfriend dumped her by email, French artist Sophie Calle asked 100 women to read it - and became the star of the Venice Biennale.

Here's an much-discussed post in a similar vein. After reading about Calle's project, I think I let him off easy, and shoulda made a billboard calling it art. Against my instincts, I took crazy's name off that original post, after he repeatedly Googled himself, found his emails online in all their glory, REALLY flipped out, and wrote me threatening emails. He continued to Google himself every day thereafter for, oh, about 3 months, promising to sue me for libel. Again, I only breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't get in any deeper.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Today's Questions

Why is it that mosquitos treat me like a goddamn fat kid stranded on an island of cannibals? The minute I am outside anywhere near nature after 7 pm, I have 14 bites. Usually on my feet. And why do my bites only start itching around 6 pm??

Am I the only person in the world whose therapist has stood them up twice? There's always an (alleged) good reason, but seriously -- What does it say when the person I am PAYING to talk to me doesn't show? Christ. New complex developing: I am going to need a second shrink to talk about the ongoing conflict with my first shrink. Only in frickin' New York. Yet, I'm sure it is all my parents fault...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Schedules and Dates

Boring work rant that I try not to do but am indulging myself with today: The past two weeks at work have been hellacious, with an increased need to boss people into keeping planned-months-in-advance dates to meet release schedules, with every single project quickly going south due to the ridiculous demands of big deal fashion photographers. No names, but my god, it's like pulling teeth to get final retouched images from people. We all want the publication to look gorgeous and beautiful, and it will, believe me. But I need something to work with in a time frame that's reasonable. All of it driving me nuts and making it impossible to plan the rest of my life/summer, I've had to lay down the law with pretty much everyone from editorial, printers, retouchers, the publisher and my bosses, getting into draining conflict every single day just for asking people to do their jobs. I can't make magic with no time, dammit. And don't make me keep repeating myself.

That said, I've finally (almost) sorted out the next trip to print and finish the next just-in- under-the-wire Vis 52 titled PRIVATE. Two weeks in Verona in mid-July, and visiting Spain, Madrid + Helen prior to work for 6 days. I'm looking forward to it, for it will be warm, relatively mellow, full of reading, great food and one of the hotels I will be in has a pool. And I'll get to be in Verona for the first time during opera season at the Arena. I suppose should find something real to complain about.

Another date: today's my 38th birthday. Another year, another number, another tick, another marker, another measure. You wonder if this is where you thought you'd be. And then you also don't care, although it's hard not to have a twinge of excitement, or a sense of expectation (always a bad idea, that concept), like you did when you were a kid. I always knew it was my birthday when I woke up on the morning of, for a parent had hung the flag up in honor of Flag Day, and my birthday. My lovely assistant gave me a BAG O' CHEESE as a gift today. Five kinds sitting on my desk at 9:30 am. He knows me well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Guest Blogger

Best paragraph I got in an blog-esque email today from my brother Chris in Dayton:

Baseball
Its baseball season, the Reds and the Alter JV team suck. The Dragons [Dayton Single A Reds farm team] and Jake's [my 11-yr old nephew] team are great. Went to the Dragons game last week and they get it. They are well organized, know how to entertain, put on an event and oh by the way the team is decent. The Reds should take note.
Jake's playing baseball for the first time since he was about 6 and like the Dragons he gets it. Strong arm but needs to use better mechanics, good field sense, good glove, and can hit the hell out of the ball. The catcher got hurt so Jake moved to catcher and does a decent job especially never having played before. He is also very proud of his cup but that's no big surprise, all boys are.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

ZZZZZzzzz

My two cents: I've never been hugely into the Sopranos. I like it, it's fine, but I liked Six Feet Under and Sex and the City way more. So fifteen minutes left in the Sopranos finale, and I'm dead asleep on the couch. The DVR let me rewind, and see for myself just how NOTHING it was. I seriously was thinking I had missed a pivotal line/scene/something. Nope. Snore. And Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as the exit song? Weak.

Belmont 2007

Great day with Tania, Julia and Goldie for this year's Belmont, with Denis, of course, around and in attendance, plus were able to accommodate Keller, Schoenfeld (carrying about 200 Xanax), Culyba, and Shelby into the area of our clubhouse seats for much silliness and bullshitting.

I was down about $85 on the five graded races prior to the big one, but after seeing that big, gorgeous girl in the paddock, I was even more sure who to bet. So I hit the tri, had her across the board, and walked with about $120, i.e. about broke even for the day. Filly or no: she simply looked like, and ran as the best horse. A good horse is a good horse, colt or filly. My men Pletcher/Velazquez finally won a Triple Crown race together, after Pletcher posted an 0-fer 28 in previous races.

There were three incredibly competitive races comprising this year's Triple Crown, but seeing this gal stumble out of the gate, recover without incident, make a huge four-wide move on the last turn, and fight Curlin off down the stretch turned this one into the most exciting of the three. Do yourself a favor and watch the replay online, for I am still getting goosebumps thinking about the race. The cheer the crowd gave her as she paraded in front of the grandstand on the way back to the winner's circle was stirring and deserved. It's going to be interesting to see what they do with her next but I hope they keep running her with the best competition, rather than playing it safe and taking her back to only Distaff (f.) races.

Although only 46,000 were there to see it, it was a race for the ages, one for the record books, etc. etc. And where were YOU when the filly won for the first time in 102 years? I say it every year, but THIS truly was the best Belmont ever.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

DL Watch 2007: Part 2

Denis Leary was at the Turkey's Nest last night filming Rescue Me. I, goddamn it unfortunately, was not, but was getting text updates from Gina. For some reason, this intriguing softball-playing boy from Ohio I was out to dinner with refused to humor my excitement by going a-stalking with me.

Denis Leary and The Nest?? I can't think of a better combination.

New season of Rescue Me premieres this Wednesday at 10pm on F/X

UPDATE 6/13: And they were filming at Cheaters, my local, all day today. Missed it by an hour, although we did chat up the crew. Groupies for a TV show: that's pathetic. So close, yet so far. Hell, Leary's stalking ME.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Belmont Preview

Big news this week is that Rags to Riches, champion filly and winner of the Kentucky Oaks (girl horse version of the Derby), will be running against the boys in The Belmont. Only two fillies have ever won the mile-and-a-half Belmont, and only 22 chick horses have ever been entered. Daughter of A.P. Indy (lost Derby, won damn near everything else in 1992), and half-sister to last year's Belmont winner, Jazil, she brings a buzz to the already-strong field of seven. Best quote from my man Todd Pletcher: "Aside from having testicles, she has it all." Curlin, winner of the Preakness, will go off as the favorite at 6-5. Value bet: Tiago.

My bets: boxing Curlin/Tiago/Rags to Riches in some Tri/Exacta combo depending on odds; and Tiago and Rags to Riches across the board.

It's going to be a nice day at Belmont on Saturday - Six (!!) graded stakes races including the Belmont version of the Oaks, the Acorn, now moved to Saturday; It won't the madhouse it is when there's a Triple Crown at stake, with attendance cut in half to about 60,000; The weather is predicted to be gorgeous; And we have my favorite clubhouse seats just past the finish line where I will, once again, make an attempt to become the third, younger, wife of a 65-year old man who owns horses. Although I'm sure I am already too old, and surely lack the trashy blonde hair and fake tits needed for that role.

Someone who is way funnier than me has a great preview here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Kurowycky Meats Closed

This sucks. The providers of this year's Derby ham (The best one so far, beating out the country ham and traditional smoked hams straight from KY) is going out of business. From Lost City:

Owner Jerry Kurowyckyj said in a statement:

It is with great sadness that I am announcing the closing of Kurowycky Meat products after 52 years. Today’s economic climate just does not support a small business on the scale that ours endeavors to survive in. Thank you all for all your years of support. We are closing as of this Saturday, June 2nd [2007]. It was a great ride and again, we thank you all.

An article in the Times revealed that a rent hike didn't do them in. The family owns the building. Profit margins have just steadily declined over the years, what with the changing nabe and changing eating habits. Slavic laborers eat ham. Artsy hipsters do not.

The business was founded in 1955 by Erast Kurowycky, who arrived in New York in 1949, having evaded the Nazis and Communists. His first store was located on Avenue B between 10th and 11th streets in New York City’s East Village. When Erast retired, his son Jaroslaw took over, and they moved to their present location. The shop is currently run by the third generation. Their website states that they "continue to operate one of the last existing smokehouses in New York City and still manufacture our sausages using the same methods that were used in Eastern Europe before the Second World War." Oh, and it's pronounced KOO-duh-vit-sky


Guess I won't walk around next year with a 15 pound ham in my bag, and then have to check it with the receptionist (quote: 'I don't think anyone's asked me to hold a ham before') when I go into to get my hair did.

Eatin' Out - Prime Burger

5 E. 51st Street btw 5th and Madison
I've gone on about this place for the past ten years, since I first started eating here when I worked at 666 Fifth Avenue. It's always been my standby for meeting friends for a midtown lunch or to take a short sit-down respite when up near St Patrick's.

Their slogan is "A burger is a burger is a burger. Ours is PRIME!". Gotta love a diner with it's own slogan. They have individual tables where the top swings out, like a grade school desk, decor that hasn't changed since the early 60s, homemade pie, decent burgers (make sure you ask for any extras beyond meat, bun and cheese) PLUS grilled cheese and tomato soup every day of the year. They also were given a James Beard Award in 2004 for being an "American Classic."

Gene Shalit once harassed me during lunch; I sat next to a guy with a HUGE Yankees 1996 World Series ring (never did find out who he was); and a waiter in the white jacket-and-tie staff uniform once sang the whole of "Wichita Lineman" to me while I was eating. Home of the nicest staff ever, most of whom have been there at least for the past 10 years, they always remember me and say "Where have you been? Don't you work nearby anymore?" when I don't show up for awhile. A truly only-in-NYC type of vibe, it makes me happy to walk through the doors and sit at the huge counter.

Quote of the Week

From one of my oldest friends, the Little Feat-loving Roger, in reference to making out with people you've traditionally been "just friends" with. "Yeah, if it keeps happening, than you move up one base per episode, and see if you care enough to eventually get to home." Had me cryin'.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cutting Edge

Time Out New York boldly declares Greenpoint "the Next Next Hot Neighborhood" on their cover this week. Uh, thanks.

My favorite thing is that Cheaters, the new Irish place, Van Gogh's and Lulu's or whatever it's called now i.e 75% of the places in the hood are left off the list of bars. The crowds on weekends down on that illustrious corner of Franklin and Greenpoint are pretty nuts these days anyway, so suppose that's not a bad thing. Whatevs. Sick of these kind of articles.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Other New Hobby

While I'm talking all this shite about making cheese in my kitchen under the guise of the newly-named Newtown Creek Farms label, I've found another hobby that will go hand-in-hand with that. Fresh eggs plus cockfighting for fun and enjoyment on Sunday afternoons.
Farms have chickens, right? Although a friend just told me he would no longer speak to me if I get chickens for the backyard, and has to describe me as "You know, the one with the chickens."

...Cripes, just read the chicken directions. Even I am not that insane to try it out.

The word 'hobby' is strange. It makes me feel like I should do some hooked rugs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summertime...

And the living is eeeeeeasy.... I never get tired of that song, especially Billie Holiday's version, and it was playing in my head since the start of this 4-day Memorial Day weekend. It's been (almost) all good things in the last week, and with much to do, who wants to sit inside and blog??

Things that made me happy: a "personal day" on Friday after not wanting to come home on Thursday night; driving in the hot summer sun with sunroof open; vodka, lime and sodas; oysters with smart ladies at happy hour; a bolstering, kind, and hassle-free booty call; folks stopping by for cocktails on the veranda; Sunday AM coffee klatsch on the veranda; the gottdamn veranda in general; baseball; hitting Bloomingdale's with a new credit card; the first day of the season and 75th anniversary of Riis Beach; a date with a fella who just dished out the compliments; a birthday party (groaningly turned too lengthy) locals-only night out; the baby pool filled up again at TQH; and M. and I both hitting trifectas on Met Mile day at Belmont, allowing us to come home solid winners.

Although this is the first summer in five that I won't be renting at my beloved Shelter Island, I have rediscovered that summer in the city soothes my spirit, ups the energy, improves my appearance, and quiets the discontent. I'm surely crowing and clanging a bit, but it is nice to be back.

No Longer Filling in the Blank

Charles Nelson Reilly, star of the brilliant Match Game shows of the 70s has died. Obit says he never hid his homosexuality; but I feel like a total dumbass, like I did when I suddenly realized the Village People were gay when I was about 12. How did I not know this? The pipe and the cravat should have been dead giveaways.

Whatever. He + Brett Somers + a half in the bag Richard Dawson = pure comic genius. And still viewable on The Game Show Network.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Open Space

The East River State Park down on Kent btw N 7th and N 9th is finally going to open this weekend. Will be nice to have some green space along the riverfront. Very midwest like. And can't wait for the soccer players to kill all the grass and wildflowers. Now could someone please put in a sand volleyball court??

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taxis Going Hybrid by 2012

I oddly enough don't have a strong opinion about Mayor Bloomberg one way or the other, but you certainly can't fault him for his measures in taking baby steps toward a healthier, greener city. And smoking friends, I'll admit it: I love smoke-free bars and restaurants. Although the transfat ban is a a little too nosy.

NEW YORK - Every yellow cab in this city will be a fuel-efficient hybrid by 2012, and stricter emissions and gas mileage standards for taxis will be phased in starting next year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

There are now 375 hybrid vehicles among the 13,000 taxis rolling on New York City streets. Under Bloomberg’s plan, that number will increase to 1,000 by October 2008 and will grow by about 20 percent each year until 2012.

The standard yellow cab vehicle, the Ford Crown Victoria, gets 14 miles per gallon. In contrast, the Ford Escape taxis get 36 miles per gallon.

Automakers said hybrids are uniquely well-suited to be taxis. Many of them, like the Ford Escape, run solely on battery power while stopped or at low speeds, so they don’t cough exhaust while navigating through city traffic. At higher speeds, the gas-powered drive system kicks in and the two work together.

Selective Memory

Had a most animated conversation last night with my old Ohio chum Texas Liberal, after we had barely spoken over the past 20 years for some asinine reasons that he remembered much more of than I did. I had not a clue, but certainly knew I had been mad. And that it was probably his fault.

Memories are interesting stuff: He did not remember calling me at home in SF in about 1996, or contacting me again right after 9/11 when I was quoted in his now-hometown Houston Chronicle, but clearly remembered me spurning a mutual friend of ours at age 19; I forgot he went to Xavier for 7 years, only hanging out in UC's student center for socializing reasons, and why I stopped speaking to him. Yet I vividly remembered his job running the lottery machine, and his predilection for curly-headed women with large breasts. He married one, in fact.

The NYC streets do this to me on a regular basis. Recently, I've been walking through Washington Square Park regularly for the first time in a couple years after my class twice a week at NYU. My Irish ex-boyfriend used to live on Thompson and Bleeker, and I still associate that area of the West Village with him. With the smell and feel of NYC's almost-summer air, I'm recalling the times we pulled ourselves out of our mutual self-destruction to sit in the park in the late evenings and people watch. I haven't forgotten that that there was a lot of heartache then due to the recent loss of my dad and nearly 2-yrs of back-and-forth with said bf, but the light in the park this May only makes me remember the good, and how crazy we once were about each other.

At any rate, I am told that I am officially back on TL's A-List. Ah yes, the internets, bringing people together.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Water Sports

Thus far, 4,740 Brewers fans have pledged to pee their pants if the Brewers make the playoffs for the first time in 24 years.

Wow. Milwaukee is hot in the first quarter of this season, and also a huge a beer town, but I have been stunned into silence. I am clearly not a die hard baseball fan.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Preakness Preview

Too much going on and not enough sleep to give my own preview, but an excellent wrap up can be found here. I've never been to the Preakness, much less Baltimore, so you won't find me rhapsodizing about the redheaded stepchild of the Triple Crown. I'll leave that to Ope. I surely do need to go to the one Triple Crown race I've never seen. And I say that every year.

Betting a $5 tri box on Street Sense, Curlin, Circular Quay. I will, perhaps foolishly, bet the Pletcher/Velazquez combo for eternity, and I still don't buy Hard Spun.

Eatin' Out - Momofuko Ssam Bar

207 Second Ave@13th
The much heralded Ssam Bar was the site for my last overly-indulgent weeknight meal with the soon-to-depart- for-London Lisa (B)H. Since I'm still semi-refusing to mentally acknowledge my dear friend's move next week after 12 years in NYC, I'll move onto the food.

We went in at about 7, and were seated quickly at the bar right in front of the lovely Julie Farias, in her first week at the new job. We shared the pickles (a can't go wrong dish from David Chang), steamed pork belly buns (again, can't miss), grilled veal sweetbreads (yum) and the hanger steak ssam. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and god knows I like wrapping any kind of grilled meat in lettuce. All in all, everything was tasty. Really courteous service, too, very friendly and helpful while we tried to figure out how much to order.

That said, I think after reading all the hype about this place, I was expecting truly transcendental, and what we got instead was really good for about $50 each. And that's just fine. I'd go again, but if there was a line, I could skip it without much fuss and go to Dok Suni instead.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Big Oyster

I'm really enjoying The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky right now. Full of useless facts that will help me dominate Trivial Pursuit, and old ephemera including maps, recipes, photos, drawings, this title traces the history of New York via the rise and fall of the oyster. The author also explores how NYC began to lost touch with the waterways that surround Manhattan Island, in tandem with the dwindling, poisoned and rapidly depleted oyster population. Did you know that in the 1600's, New York Harbor was estimated to hold HALF of the world's oysters? And that the Lenape Indians, Manhattan's first inhabitants, loved oysters as much as the encroaching Europeans, as evidenced by the giant centuries-old shell piles (called middens) found all over the five boroughs? Damn. What a loss. Imagine being able to buy some fresh ones down the street right now: All you can eat for 6 cents on Canal Street.

On that note, Spike Hill up on Bedford now has a 5-8 Happy Hour special with oysters selling for a buck a piece.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Daze

Warm weather is here, the garden is planted and growing, softball is back, friends are out and about in full force, my French class at NYU starts tonight, pork banh mi for lunches, Anne arrives tomorrow, and the new veranda was inaugurated on Sunday via sharing a bottle of prosecco with friends at twilight (shoulda busted it over the prow?). Some real living-in-the-moment for a change. Bliss??

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pet Peeve

Walking down the street, and some Greenpeace person says to you "Can you spare a minute for the environment?" The automatic answer when anyone asks you a question on the street is "NO," of course, but then you sound like a dick. Uh, yes, I hate the environment...most especially when I'm trying to get lunch and you are insisting on blocking my way with a petition.

Same thing with the comedy show guys up in Times Square. "Hey, do you like comedy?" At least those guys never knew how to respond when you said NO and sailed right on by them...

Derby Talk

Nice piece from John Pricci on MSNBC.com on why this Derby was a really good one. Couldn't agree more. I'm still grumbling about the 2005 Derby when Giacomo won, then went on to only capture one more race in his career. In my perfect world, the Derby would only be won by great horses, not lucky, mediocre ones. As for Street Sense? He's damn good, and a viable candidate for the Triple Crown. I'm not automatically ruling it out this year, as I did for Funny Cide or War Emblem (the gay one).

P.S. I finished 7576 out of 21238 in the Kentucky Derby Fantasy challenge.

Book Club

Was fortunate to have enough sitting around time while traveling in the past few weeks to rip through some books. Brookland was by far the best one, although the last third of the book gets a little heavy into bridge construction. I read most of The Great Bridge by David McCullough (and liked it a lot), and you know what? I'm not enough of an math geek or engineer, to really care about all the intricacies of building the Brooklyn Bridge, especially in my fiction. (McCullough always spins a good tale, though.) The bridge holds me up: 'nuff said. That said, Brookland is worth a read.

Moved on to Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda. This book was a huge bestseller in France--I got roped into reading it after being drawn in by the good-looking cover design at the fantastic McNally Robinson. Only okay, it's a a bit too sentimental "chick-lit"-ey for me, telling the story of three roommates who bond together to create their own family. I often found the writing banal with lots tired images, although the three main characters were interesting and decently portrayed. Claire Danes in the main female role in the movie? Sure to be an Oprah pick.

Then I checked out The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova after a friend mentioned the title in passing. I would love to read a good historical novel that actually works and doesn't embellish facts, but this piece of shit does neither of those things. A page turner, written in the best blockbuster style, with truly awful writing and a plot line that barely holds itself together as the story travels all over the world in search of the still-alive 'Dracuyla.' I have never understood the vampire fascination, all that Anne Rice shite back in the early 90s in SF, yuck...This must be being made into a movie with Angelina Jolie and Ralph Fiennes.

Breathe

The breakneck pace of the past few weeks is finally slowing down a bit. I'm tired. And my allergies are murdering me this week. It's hard to find time to sit down when the weather gets warm, and then add in two major fuckups (maybe because of tired eyes?) on the current issue of V. Urgh. With both errors being ultimately my fault after four stages of errors that happened BEFORE the last one, it is still a good issue overall with the best cover in a long time (above), but has been a long (tho' awfully fun) month.

The deck goes in this weekend and it's free compost day tomorrow. What could be more fun? It occurred to me the other night when out with Gina discussing the bougainvillea on the deck at UPB that we used to go out and check out boys. Now we talk about the plants. Sweet.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Derby Pix

1. Carving big ol' ham in party dress, as Strath anxiously awaits his meat. Don't ridicule the electric knife until you try to carve off more ham (four juleps in on Derby Day) without one.
2. Loretta n' ham. Two great tastes that go great together.
3. Atmosphere. Mirror by Craig Falbe.
4. Mr. Kentucky Derby 2007, WAC4, in the finest seersucker with a garland of roses and biscuits.

1-3 courtesy Miss Alyssa.
Ham ® Kurowycky Meat Products




Friday, May 04, 2007

Running for the Roses

I'm exacta boxing Circular Quay, Any Given Saturday and Street Sense in tomorrow's Derby.

At least that's the plan right now without digging too deep into the Form. May throw a couple more in there.

The Derby Pie is baked, and the bourbon is a-ready. As they say to you in Louisville all day on the first Saturday in May, Happy Derby!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Loneliness of Technology

I've been tossing these ideas around in my head a lot lately, especially the more I travel and and rely on technology to keep me in touch with my "real life". So my postulaton is that all the technology today -- internets, texting, blackberry, myspace, facebook, online communities, caller ID, dating sites, etc. etc. -- that should lead to greater connectivity is actually more isolating. The more connected we are, the less we actually connect.

I think back to when I had no answering machine in college; then only had an answering machine with a landline that I shared with 5 other people. I met my first TWO boyfriends in SF in 1991-92 (yes, a nerd fucker from way back) using a thing called SF Net where you could chat with people at home and coffeehouses via a 1200 baud modem connection and a Procomm account. Got on the online with a UNIX shell account in '95 using some form of gopher (those commands Sparky wrote out for me!); remember the first use of a buggy browser called Mosiac that became Netscape; and so on. With each advance, the world became smaller and the personal circle bigger.

Back in my younger days (says granny), you'd call up people, make plans, meet up when you planned without calling back 5 times to check in, and that'd be it. You'd actually talk to someone to make plans. Or you'd walk down the street to see if they were at home sitting around. Eventually, we all "progressed" into being able to screen calls, or pick up messages using the answering machine, but I don't think that became a regular occurrance until the mid 90s. Before then, if you missed a call, you tried to guess who might have called but really have no way of knowing so didn't think about it much.

Most of my friends know that I hate the lengthy text message conversation, for to me, it seems to be a way to hold someone at arm's length, to not engage too TOO much (And my thumbs get sore, as they did composing this post almost entirely by Bberry.) I've surely used texting to keep distance with someone. Who hasn't been puzzled by the perceived 'tone' of a text, and asked a friend to help interpret? With the more ways we can send messages now, the less we actually communicate face to face. What we're missing is the ability to gauge and understand a person by their body language, an emotion written clearly on their face, or a catch in their voice: the most basic forms of human interaction are unavailable for interpretation.

We're so connected that if someone's out of touch for a few days or you are getting the high hat, you become painfully aware of it. Nope, no text. Nope, no message. Nope, no email. Yep, I'm out at 2 am, and I know there's been no reply because my damn phone is ALWAYS WITH ME. And you always know you didn't miss a message, because there are 5 different ways for someone to reach you, each finally appearing as a little yellow envelope on your phone signaling a hi. I do think, in retrospect, that I liked it better when I came home to a single blinking light, or a letter in a handmade envelope from a 40 oz bag in my mailbox, or a $50 phone bill because I spent 15 hours talking and laughing with my best friend in San Francisco.

I realize we have put ourselves in this position by getting Blackberries or whatever for work and personal use and, honestly, I do love (and by love, I mean addicted to) the positive things my little square waffle-iron like machine adds to my life. I seriously have a semi-panic attack when the phone goes out. I've always been an information junkie, so having Google Maps at my fingertips in any city in the world to help me find a street, or to text a friend for a quick confirmation, or to get on the web from the subway platform and find some dumb fact, or having a phone that works in every country (but Japan), or having email, or a blog, to keep in touch with people and dump your thoughts out on a page is often pretty durn cool. And sure, you could leave the phone at home, as I'm trying to do sometimes. Should be an easy habit to break, right?

Yet I'm thinking that all this technology leads to greater loneliness simply because we are all more aware of any silence or downtime. The times alone with no instant always-available connections are just that much louder.

Standings

Who woulda thunk that the Yanks would be 5.5 out and in last place; Cleveland would be 1.5 up on the Tigers and Twins; and the BREWERS would be 4 up on the 2nd place Reds, with the Cards 6.5 back in the NL Central??

I know it's early but still.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fringe Benefits

It is cool or pathetic that on my 12th trip through the Montreal/ Dorval/ Pierre Trudeau airport in the past 18 months, the following happened?

1) The dude at customs said "oh, you come up here a lot for your magazine, right?"
2) The rental car guys at Enterprise upgraded me to the fanciest car they have, saying "we haven't seen you since March, and we want you to have a nicer car" Of course, I didn't mention to them that we continually rent there only because my assistant and I decided they were the cutest and nicest car-renters, but its swell we are all such pals now. Der.

If only I could get some airline employees to make sure I always get to sit in business class. Now that would be real pull.

Good news is my friend Dave is on the overnight shift tonight, so there's someone crank out good work with, and to talk to all evening.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

I'm off to Montreal in 2 hours to print V47. Two nights away with little sleep, back Thursday evening, Mom arrives Friday AM and then begins one of my favorite things of the year, the Derby Party on Saturday.

It's been amusing trying to organize my thoughts, make lists and avoid cracking up, but for now, there's too much to do, and I can't even think about planning the next thing until the prior stuff is completed. Very hard for little miss organized to do.

But in this order: Vienna. Kate. 12 hour train ride. Verona. Printing job. Day off. Milan. Blow off tentative date. Garden. Main Drag Party. Catch up with friends. More Garden. Catch up with work. Shrink. Make some phone calls. OK deck plans with carpenter. Montreal. V47. Hair appointment. Clean. Mom. Plan menu. Shop. Cook. Figure out Derby bets. Throw party. Muddle through hangover. Clean up ham/jello/mint bits from floor. Broadway play. Mom back to Ohio Monday PM.

Pass out cold on Tuesday. Until Anne arrives for a week in about 10 days.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Davey

The Reds are retiring Davey Conception's #13, but he's unfortunately probably past the point where he will make it into Cooperstown. Too bad -- best shortstop of his day, second only to Ozzie Smith later in his career, 5 Gold Gloves, 2,300 hits, big part of why the Big Red Machine were who they were, and all-around nice guy.

Heavy Rotation

Album of the past week (again): Little Feat by Little Feat. I keep going back to this record over the past 5 years or so, after Roger got completely wrapped up in the two records and sent me a rush package containing this one and Dixie Chicken. It's a slow burner, mixing funky Exile-era Stones guitar and piano sounds with a bit of country and southern rock, and Lowell George's strange, memorable, reedy voice tenuously holds it all together. The album creeps up on you after repeated listens with songs like Willin', Takin' My Time and one of my all-time favorites, Truck Stop Girl. Two songs about truck drivin': what's not to like? Highly recommended.

Gardening at Night

I've officially lost my mind, and added another nail in the "I'm going to be a weird old lady" coffin by getting (re-)obsessed with gardening. I had a garden 7 or so years back behind my ex's house on N. 7th, but lost all of those plants (mostly taken from my mom's garden in Ohio) during the divorce. Admittedly after some manipulation on my part by filling up planters last spring thus making friends with the entire neighborhood with my half-assed lazy attempt at beautifying the street using coleus, my landlord was kind enough to give me access to part of the yard that will hold a flower bed 4'x 15', and an 9'x 9' deck just big enough for a grill and table.

Went absolutely nuts this weekend, digging the whole thing up and dropping a couple hundred bucks on shade loving perennials (clematis, 3 astilibe, columbines, hostas, lily of valley, caladium, tomato plants, gold dust bush, ivy, hydrangea, azalea...), in an rush effort to get them in the ground this year so that in the upcoming years, the garden will be gorgeous and plant-filled.

Having a little respite from the city to have tea in the mornings while reading the paper in the backyard is going to be a godsend. I am never, ever, ever moving.

Nice, too, to come back to the city with the cherry and magnolia trees in full flower. Dare I say it? Spring has finally sprung. And as always, with the sun comes good moods for weeks...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Italy: Round Three

After spending one 12-hour day working, I had two days off to wander around northern Italy. It was really nice this time, as I wasn't having withdrawal causing night sweats and crazy anxiety, plus last Wednesday in Italy was a national holiday. Liberation Day marks the anniversary of when the fascists were kicked out of Italy after WW2. The Italians are good about making sure they have plenty of vacation time to enjoy the real pleasures of life, so many places are closed for a week leading up to the Labour Day holiday on May 1st.

I went out to Lago di Garda for part of the day, and strolled around the eastern shores of this beautiful huge lake, through the towns of Bardolino and Lazise (eating gelato twice in three hours) along with about a million Italian families enjoying the spring weather. From there, I drove about 45km southwest to Mantova, a place Aldous Huxley called the most romantic city in the world. Hm. Not so sure about that, but it was another one of your ubiquitous medieval Italian towns based around a series of piazzas. Encircled by three lakes, Mantova was ruled by the Gonzaga family for 3 centuries, and retains a distinctly medieval flair in the city center. You can still see on Piazza Broletto two reminders of how criminals were treated under the Gonzaga reign: metal rings that were used to pulley up and suspend pickpockets in the air by their wrists are still embedded in a building, and the tower called Torre Della Gabbia has a cage attached on the outside where prisoners were exposed to the public and the elements for weeks on end.
















Finally spent a day in Milan on Thursday, instead of just passing through Malpensa Airport. Mirelle and Stefano, who I met in Vietnam and traveled with for a few days last August (she's from Baltimore and a former model; he's Milanese), were kind enough to take me out for drinks and dinner for the evening and show me some of the city. Milan has a great custom called apertivo. Between 6-9 each evening, people unwind over cocktail hour, and the bar counters are stacked with hot and cold food selections that are included in the price of your drink. Very nice deal and almost makes it unecessary to eat dinner. Since Milan is one of the major fashion capitials of the world, people in Milan are super coiffed and well turned-out, preening throughout the day and nights. Unbelievably good-looking and slick men everywhere you look, in pinstriped suits and shiny shoes, and women in expensive sunglasses and 4-inch heels picking their way through the streets. Interesting to watch -- woudn't want to live there, but I definitely can visit for a little while.