Monday, April 30, 2007


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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Naming Conventions

Wondering: Why is "Wein" translated from German into English as "Vienna"? And why is Roma=Rome; Firenza=Florence; Venezia=Venice; and Mantova=Mantua, but then Verona is still Verona, Vicenza=Vicenza, Paris is Paris, and Budapest is Budapest??

Very puzzling. Perhaps the first really 'other' cities English-speakers went to confused them with unusual names, or were too 'foreign,' and thus translations were offered? Roman names?? I honestly have no idea.

I drove through a city today in Lombardy called "Roverbella" but I am guessing that was never called "beautiful dog city," as I translated it in my own head.


Two days out of Vienna, and I am still waiting for strong impressions of my first time in a Germanic-flavored city to cross my mind. Beautiful city-not surprisingly, I suppose-unbelievably clean, quiet, serene,uncrowded but not dead, and well-kept. It all seemed very civilized, and maybe one of the best-kept secrets in the EU as a totally liveable and slower-paced city than most urban centers. You certainly wouldn't know that half of it was bombed to kingdom come during WW2 for its (readily accepted?) role as a stronghold of the 3rd Reich. Whatever was reconstructed post-war (in a mere 7 yrs or so, although it was under control still of the allies until 1955) fits in seamlessly.

I confess that in true ugly American-centric fashion, my knowledge of European History is shoddy and vague at best, but with each country I visit, I manage to learn tons about the role of each city, um, over the past 2,000-odd years in the best walking through history ways. So yeah; the Austrians were huge in their day, dude. Owned it all. Didn't fuck around with the palaces, either: built some doozies. They wisely married into every other monarchy they could possibly join with to expand their empire. Nice work, all in all.

Kate, by the way, is now the Queen of Viennese history. Alas, not yet a Habsburgh baronness. (Two weeks left to find Christopher Plummer in 2007 form!)

One more thing to add to the universal rules of comedy that monkeys/retards/midgets are always funny: recorded, overly-enunciating voices speaking German are always funny.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I'm off to Vienna and Kate tonight for 4 days before train riding down 12 hours to Verona. Allegedly going on 'vacation,' however, I'm the idiot who took a freelance book job for this gallery, and thus will be spending time on said vacation working as I normally do ...doing a press check. Ah well. Nothing to complain about: A couple days in my home away from home in Verona, before moving on to a day in Milan seeing two friends made in Vietnam, and then back to NYC next Friday. The sun seems to be shining in Europe and, optimistically, spring will have come to Brooklyn by then.

The fever has just barely loosened it's grip on me, so here's to hoping stale airport air doesn't send me back to the sickbed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Emily Barton's novel Brookland has been keeping me company the past few days. I'm not a fan of all historical fiction, for it often seems like everyone in the story knows the three famous people of that era (see: the Alienist). This one is good enough that it's completely engrossing: a perfect at-home-sick book.

The story is set in late 18th century Brooklyn, and tells the story of woman who runs her family's gin distillery on the shores of the East River while dreaming about building a bridge that will connect her town to Manhattan. Her main characters seem very modern for the 1790s although they do make for a good read. Sprinkled with last names that are now streets: Luquer, Schermerhorn, Boerum, Livingston, and Remsen, Barton probably takes her liberties with history, but halfway in, I'm completely captivated by the story of Brooklyn as it once was.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Toxic Brooklyn

The usually annoying Vice Magazine crew's online TV channel has created an interesting series on what lurks beneath the grounds of million-dollar condos going up like wildfire in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

Most of us who have lived in these parts for awhile are aware of some of these horrors, but the show is well worth checking out to give you more detailed statistics of all the toxins we live next to. Some of their facts aren't dead on based on other stuff i have read, but regardless, the point is still made and relevant.

I have a friend who has tried to make me promise I won't live in Greenpoint for more than 5 years (sorry, going on 6) for these exact reasons. Maybe it's why I'm working on day 4 of being sick at home.

Always sobering stuff. But can I afford to move?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Touch Me I'm Sick

I finally got the typhoid fever or whatever it is that has laid up almost every person I know in the past 10 days. And that's all I got for now -- my brain isn't working right...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Man Josh

Josh Hamilton hit his second homer in two games last night. Rumor has it he's walking a dangerous path of half-sobriety. He went to rehab EIGHT times so will be interesting to see how this turns out. From On the DL:

3. Rehab Is For Quitters
Which supposedly reformed bad boy has reportedly hit a few bumps along the road to sobriety? A source claims that the recently bulked up cutie pie was spotted feeling no pain on several occasions in bars with women who were most certainly not his wife during spring training. On the positive side, none of this seems to be having an adverse effect on his job status, as his manager seems hell bent on getting him a fulltime position with the team regardless of which veteran players might get pushed aside to make room for him. The manager is so enamored with him that he has even gone as far as to arrange photo-ops which portray his prized player as a good family man. The photo session might have gone better had the player in question been given enough time to sober up from the night before.

Crackheads don't play well in the Midwest, even if they are good-looking white guys who are batting over .300. He should get Farney to be his sponsor.

In other Reds news, this from the Onion.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Renting Genius

The Times front page backs my lifestyle up today, and makes me feel better about being the loser who doesn't own my own home at the age of 37.
In a stark reversal, it’s now clear that people who chose renting over buying in the last two years made the right move. In much of the country, including large parts of the Northeast, California, Florida and the Southwest, recent home buyers have faced higher monthly costs than renters and have lost money on their investment in the meantime. It’s almost as if they have thrown money away, an insult once reserved for renters.

Most striking, perhaps, is the fact that prices may not yet have fallen far enough for buying to look better than renting today, except for people who plan to stay in a home for many years.

Using the nifty calculator thingie, I discover that given my current rent, and assuming I could even find somewhere to buy for $300,000 (ha), buying is only better than renting for me after 30 years! And this is if the house value rises by 3% annually, and if my rent increases at 2% a year (which it doesn't.)

Right. So that's why I'm putting in a garden and wood flooring pronto into a place I don't own.

Speaking of Washed Up Country Stars...

These guys aren't washed up in my book, as I've been totally digging these CDs from Omni. Received in pretty much the best music care package ever, the Bobby Bare, Porter Wagoner and Henson Cargill (RIP, just died a few weeks back. Killed by Kaplan's enthusiasm, I suspect) are on non-stop rotation....haven't even gotten to a few of the seven. Yet.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus, Whatever

Sick of hearing about what a dick he is. I think that was no surprise, as he's been a known dick for a long time. I'm more interested in how dude looks. I've never seen him before, and he looks like a former cokehead washed up country music star. Totally surprised by the long gray hair.

Or maybe Rocky from Mask.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Horses and Easter

(Does my attempt at tying this post together by using two Patti Smith albums as the title work?)

Spent a cold day at Aqueduct yesterday for the Wood Memorial, running into my Forest Hills-raised friend Denis, who is a theology teacher at St John's and also often a solo track-goer. While we sat right at the finish line in racing queen Marylou Whitney's box -- great seats we could thieve only because Mrs. Whitney probably hasn't been to Aqueduct in a really long time -- we discussed all matters of racing and religion.

Growing up as a Catholic, Easter was a big deal holiday when I was a child. We always went to my grandparents' house in Louisville, when the flowers, dogwood and redbud trees were starting to bloom, had an Easter basket hunt and a big ol' ham for dinner. To this day, I don't think there is any place more beautiful than Kentucky in the spring. Nowadays, I barely know when Easter is, often becoming aware only because of street cleaning regulations and the closure of most everything in Catholic Greenpoint. I went to Easter mass a couple years back up at St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus up on Manhattan Ave., mainly because one of my brothers + his family was in town. I still enjoy the spectacle of a Catholic holiday with all the singing and joyous celebration, much better than the more regular guilt-inducing homilies from priests. My other brother is in town and staying with me tonight, so my family does still (randomly) see my heathen ass on Easter.

I can't get into all my problems with the church, although I realized on Friday as I explained what Easter is to a Jewish co-worker that my 11-yrs of Catholic school is completely ingrained in me. I don't mind having this knowledge. It helps me understand a lot of what goes on in the world today, how far reaching the influence of the church is, makes me appreciate a lot of Italy, as well as giving me a huge frame of literary reference. Alas, my bi-yearly forays back to mass only drive me further away from the flock, much to the dismay of my mom who continually has a card next to her bed entitled "A Prayer for Lapsed Catholics."

Denis is a practicing Catholic, so it was interesting to talk to him about the Pope, Rome, and all matters of the Church while we lost on the Wood. We both put the majority of our cash on Any Given Saturday, who ended up a weak third, while much-hyped Nobiz Like Shobiz looked every bit the horse he is claimed to be. He's gotta be one of the faves in 4 weeks for the Derby. I hate when I get emotionally attached to horses based on something stupid like "he looked at me in the paddock" or a "feeling" instead of placing the smart bet, but no matter. I hit a $105 tri on one race which paid for the day, and Denis walked away claiming mass today was going to absolve him of all the gambling he did on Holy Saturday.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

New Favorite Band

From Scotland, called 1990s. Kaplan made me see them Friday at UPB. Great, great, great live show, although that first song on their myspace page sounds pretty queer. Don't judge based on that alone. Album comes out stateside in the fall on Rough Trade.

Eatin' Out - Fette Sau

354 Metropolitan Ave@Havemeyer, Williamsburg
Directly across from the sometimes overwhelming beer boutique Spuyten Duyvil and owned by the same people, Fette Sau opened two weeks ago with much hype and support from the food press.

Three of us snuck in under any line around 9:30 on Friday night, were seated quickly by scouting out a small opening to park ourselves. I gotta give it up to them: the BBQ was really good. We had a rack of pork ribs, a 1/2 pound of flank steak plus sides in potato salad and baked beans for around $40. Everything is ordered by the pound, which leads to some confusion about how much to get, but it's hard to have too much meat. Considering the volume they must be doing, it was great: the meat fell off the bone, beans were fab and the steak was perfectly medium rare. Beers are sold by pint/quart/half gallon/etc and there's a wall of bourbon, with a guesstimate at 80 different kinds available. It's crowded for sure and I bet could become a total nightmare at the wrong time, but being forced to share group picnic tables with kids on dates provides much eavesdropping entertainment.

Another worthy addition to the 'Burg. Nice to see really good places in 11211 finally becoming the norm instead of the exception -- add Fette Sau to my list of local faves that includes The Queen's Hideaway, Marlowe and Sons (and Diner), D.O.C., and Brick Oven Gallery.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

There's this food cart lady outside of the JMZ stop on Centre@Canal with a pretty big line every morning. I finally got in line about a month ago ordering by saying "um...that" and now grab a $1.25 rice noodle with pork skin breakfast from her a couple times a week. Yum. What's not to like about pork skin 24-7?...Go Chinese. She's also got lo mein, rice noodle plain or with fish ball, and chicken congee.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

MLB Are Still Chumps

Finally resolved, Extra Innings will now be available on both cable and In Demand, with a free preview period for this week and then you can cough up $159 for the season. Whatever. Dicks.

Christ on a Bike

First week of April and it's fucking snowing on my way to work. I want to put in my damn garden but am afraid it might freeze out in May. Gonna be another cold one for the Wood Memorial this Saturday at Aqueduct.

The Wood is supposed to be Aqueduct's finest spring day, with the Grade 1s Wood and Carter, and the Grade 3s Excelsior and Bay Shore on the card, but the past couple years have totally sucked, at least weather-wise. I'm disappointed that Circular Quay, one of my Derby faves after winning the Lousiana Derby, won't be running again until the Derby. Kind of a weird training plan - 8 weeks off between races, although it's similar to what Barbaro did last year (good news/bad news there). I'm gonna have to assume Pletcher knows what he's doing, and his replacement runner Any Given Saturday is another colt I'm into, dueling against what will probably be the co-fave in Nobiz Like Showbiz. This Saturday's race schedule with the Wood at Aqueduct, the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita and the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne should provide a good shakedown of who'll be on top on the first Saturday in May

In bowling news, we went 1 for 3 last night, hopefully retaining our grip on 18th place, and I finally broke 100. We lost to Gawker, but were able to ridicule "their little blog" and claim that we were both Highlights and/or Sunset when first asked who we worked for. They did a lot of digital filming and we did a lot of jabbering on said film, so little afraid we are going to show up on their site today later....

UPDATE: Video here. A couple of our male designers are at the end, coulda been funnier.

So there you go: weather, horse racing and bowling are what's on my mind this AM. I'm already like some weird 78-year-old woman.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

First Pitch Bodes Badly for Reds Season

From With Leather, check out the Opening Day pitch by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory to Eric Davis. The pitch goes about, I don't know, 20 feet outside of the plate. The disgust on ED's face is totally priceless.

Video was (of course) removed by MLB: try here.


Tonight's the last night for the Wednesday night bowling league V Magazine is part of at Leisure Time Bowling in the Port Authority. That's the acronym up there: New York All-Media Bowling League. Every time I see it typed out, I do a double take, thinking it actually says NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association), a group that is no stranger to controversy.

Anyhoo, we are currently 18th out of 18 teams, behind Gawker, Comedy Central, Jane, Maxim, GQ, and every single other team you can name. Our team consists of the art and production departments of V, and its embarrassing how badly we suck. As a midwesterner, I should be way better, but bowling's never been my game.

However, I suspect we get the most drunk off the beer towers, and look the best doing it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Day Discussion With My Mom

Whereby when talking about the Opening Day Parade in Cincinnati led by this year's Grand Marshal Eric Davis, (ED! Sweet!) she defends Marge Schott and says that the "liberal media" put words into Marge's mouth. Good god. While I always thought Marge epitomized so many things Cincinnatians were REALLY thinking, and loved the fact that she had the good sense to put elephants in the Findlay Market Parade alongside her slobbering St. Bernards, I had to hang up on my mom when she tried to dispute that ol' Marge wasn't an ignorant racist. Sure, maybe Marge was a product of her generation (much like my Grandma continually calling every Asian person a "Jap") but that still doesn't excuse how many times Schott was completely inappropriate.

Below, a refresher from that damn liberal for those of you who forgot how charming Marge was. It was always a real treat to be a Reds fan during these years, when we all pretended she didn't exist simply so there wouldn't have to be a dressing down of each embarrassing offense. I lived in San Francisco then, a town where you might well be ostrasized for being any kind of sports fan, much less one with a team owner who called earring-wearing men "fruits." And that was the least offensive of her gaffs. Cripes.

BTW, I'm still mad they don't have the first National League pitch of the season in Cincinnati anymore.

Nov. 13: Former marketing director Cal Levy says in a deposition in Sabo's suit that Schott called former Reds outfielders Eric Davis and Dave Parker "million-dollar niggers" and kept a swastika arm band at home.
Nov. 20: Schott issues a statement, saying her use of the word "nigger" and her possession of a swastika arm band weren't meant to offend.
Nov. 24: Sharon Jones, a former Oakland Athletics executive assistant, is quoted in The New York Times as saying Schott said on the telephone before the start of an owners' conference call: "I would never hire another nigger. I'd rather have a trained monkey working for me than a nigger."
Nov. 29: Schott is quoted in the Times as saying Adolf Hitler initially was good for Germany, that her references to "niggers" were in jest and that she doesn't understand why the word "Japs" is offensive.
Dec. 1: The ruling executive council appoints a four-person committee to investigate Schott.
Dec. 9: Schott, appearing at the winter meetings, issues an apology, acknowledging she made "insensitive" remarks.

Feb. 3:
Schott is suspended for one year, fined $25,000 for language the executive council judged "racially and ethnically offensive."

April 3:
The Reds open the season with Schott back running the team.
May 18: The Cincinnati Enquirer quotes Schott as saying she doesn't want her players to wear earrings, because "only fruits wear earrings."

April 1:
After umpire John McSherry's death on the field in the first inning forces the postponement of the Reds' season opener, Schott, who wanted the game to continue, says, "I feel cheated. This isn't supposed to happen to us, not in Cincinnati. This is our history, our tradition, our team."
May 5: In an ESPN interview, Schott praises the start of Hitler's rule. "Everything you read, when he came in he was good," she said. "They built tremendous highways and got all the factories going. He went nuts, he went berserk. I think his own generals tried to kill him, didn't they? Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far."
May 7: Schott releases an apology. Acting commissioner Bud Selig praises the apology but says baseball will continue to monitor the situation.
May 14: Sports Illustrated quotes Schott speaking in a "cartoonish Japanese accent" in recounting her meeting with Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Also in the article, in reference to seeing high school-aged Asian-Americans, she says, "I don't like it when they come here, honey, and stay so long and then outdo our kids. That's not right."
June 6: Baseball's executive council gives Schott an ultimatum: give up day-to-day operation of the Reds within a week or face a suspension of more than one year.
June 12: Schott agrees to give up day-to-day operation of the Reds through the 1998 season.

Coo Coo Ka-choo

What amazes me about Vegas is that people actually save up their money to take a vacation there. After not visiting for 11 years, I had an amazingly fun weekend mainly due to the company, but sheesh--the place is nothing but morbidly depressing. Chock full of chain store EVERYTHING, idiotic and ugly people treating the plane ride like a spring break trip to Daytona, readily available vices that will cause you to slit your wrists and the most shallow forms of entertainment imaginable, I thought most of it was a joke, but am not sure 90% of visitors do. I was fascinated by all the stand-up comics on their third lives (Rita Rudner?), and the celebrity impersonators, where no one ever dies or leaves: Barbra, Frank, 3 kinds of Elvis, The Beatles, the Rat Pack and yes, even a John Denver. I can't imagine paying to see some of this crap, much less searching it out.

The Wynn was gorgeous, and had the most beautiful Sports Book I've ever seen, and really, what's not to like about 3500 square feet of bettable sports on TV? (Thoughtfully provided Sports Books allowed me to drop a pile on the Florida Derby by only betting off the morning line odds and memory. Der.) One hilarious misfire: a visit to the Star Trek bar in the Hilton, where Tommy's enthusiasm from his last visit had me totally convinced that a smoking fish bowl containing about a gallon of pink god-knows-what-kind-of-liquor while sitting next to a mean female Klingon was a great idea.

That said, it is tough to beat sitting by the pool for two days with frozen drinks and periodic rides down the water slide; ghetto 2 AM under-the-influence blackjack at The Golden Gate with two of my best girls; seeing Anne marry a good fella she truly loves; lots of quality time with the crowd I have the greatest comfort levels with; and running around with six unambiguous under-30-friends- of-the-groom until all hours with true Mrs. Robinson style. Got it: rejuvenation.

Sunday, April 01, 2007