Friday, December 19, 2008

The End.

Studio B looks to be closing forever. Well, they certainly caused their own demise. Still, it definitely feels like a bit of a victory, and can't say I'll be sorry to see them go.

Wonder what comes next in that space?

Gone Away, Come Back: Mickey Rourke

I've always loved Mickey Rourke, even as he became a huge freak seemingly bent on destroying his acting career. There was always something about him onscreen that made him the center of any scene, even when the movie flat out sucked. Check out this great and thorough article by Shelia O'Malley on his 25-yr career on The House Next Door. O'Malley on his latest film, The Wrestler:
It is a great performance, one that I am still processing and thinking about. I am not sure where Mickey Rourke fits in now. He "fit in" when he was young because he made it to the Alpha-Dog position of male Hollywood stars, and was gorgeous and sexy. He can no longer rely on those things. He must rely on something else that is much more permanent: his talent. He needs to choose wisely, and the problem still remains that it is difficult to cast Rourke properly, even more so now.
I can't wait to see the Wrestler.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Neil at MSG

Wilco opened. I'm always interested in what they are doing, even if I don't like all of what they do. I sometimes can't believe how far Jeff Tweedy has come since the Uncle Tupelo days but I'm glad and impressed by what he has done. A six piece band since the last time I saw them, the 9 song set had lots of joyous noisy endings. Didn't knock me out, but liked most of it. Solid.

As for Neil Young: what is there to say? The man has been making good music for longer than I've been alive. I will always go see him play, no matter what tour it is or what his last record release was. The first part of the set was the highlight for me, with the first ten songs including Hey Hey My My, Powderfinger, Everybody Knows this Nowhere, Oh Lonesome Me, Cinnamon Girl, Needle and the Damage Done and maybe the best version of Cortez the Killer I've ever heard. Stunning. The ;atter part of the set was lamer, as it usually is, with lots of his newer, topical call-and-response crap ("Cough Up the Bucks? Please). He's gotta play the new stuff, I get it, but his ticket prices seem to go up as the new song quality goes down. I know he can't just play the oldies, but we were debating how many hours Neil could play without playing a crappy song. Three hours? Longer?? As it was we got about 2:45 of Neil, with about 40% being decent.

In case you forget sometimes, the 63-year old man still completely rips it up on guitar. More energy than bands full of kids 40 years younger than him, he gets such a great sound, so full and big and clean. Still blows me away.

I can't get over how expensive tickets at almost $100 a pop for GA standing room on the floor, but being on center court at MSG is always cool. And those 'seats' are the place to be, good views and lots of space. I only came into mine as a Christmas present at the last minute when SL got sick and I got to be Greg's replacement date.

I can still remember listening to Live Rust with my family in our blue wood-paneled Country Squire station wagon. We had a tape we played over and over again on vacation travels; and because my older brother brought Neil into my life when I was about ten, I will always and forever love Neil. Live Rust is still one of my favorite records and I'm going to go listen to it right now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


An interesting new blog that pulls materials from the archives of The Brooklyn Collection at the Brooklyn Public Library can be found here.

Check out the beautiful map of my home borough from 1835.

The Rockettes

My friend and co-worker Allison from LBM scored the production team free tix to Radio City Music Hall's Christmas show last night. She's the biggest Christmas queer ever, and got all 4 of us wound up about going. Snow fell, skaters skated on stage, bears danced, fireworks flew, Rockettes kicked high, 45 Santas danced at once, and there were real live camels on stage. Not to mention a 10 minute 3d movie mid-show complete with cardboard glasses.

As the ads say, it was spectacular. Also hilarious and show stopping, causing big smiles all around. Now I can check another "classic New York thing I've never done" off my list. I mean, if I had that list.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Eatin' Out - Simply Fondue

71-19 80th Street, Glendale NY

A new branch of this Texas-based chain fondue restaurant has opened in the Atlas Park Mall in Queens (80th/Metropolitan). It's fancy, in that shiny surface /tall black leather banquette / we-have-80-kinds-of-horrible-"martinis" way. I love fondue in all forms, so no complaints on my end. You are looking at $18 per person for your basic and decent swiss fondue served with bread, fruit and weird things like cocktail onions. We had a very nice young man providing extremely accommodating table service while whipping up our bowl o' cheese on site.

Gotta think it would be a good place to take your baby mama out for date night, but make a reservation if it's prime time. Our server said they served over 200 people in the place last Saturday night.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On the Street Where You Live

I was there tonight when a man named Dennis on a small, shiny red dirt bike was run down by a giant tanker on the corner of Franklin and Greenpoint around 8:30. I heard the collision -- and looked out the window of the Pencil Factory to see a bike crushed beneath the wheels. A huge 18-wheeler was turning right onto Greenpoint from Franklin, and Dennis was in the crosswalk. Who knows who had the light? Most likely they both did and the truck simply didn't see him from the cab high above the street. No matter -- it's wrong that it even happened how it did.

Dennis pulled himself on his stomach from beneath the tires and began tossing back and forth on his back in the crosswalk. I bolted to the bar to ask Charles at the PF to call 911, then ran outside to do....something. His jeans were torn in places they shouldn't have been. I crouched down to ask Dennis his name, tried to keep him still, and held his hand to assure him he would be okay as we waited the longest 4 or 5 minutes in the world for the ambulances to arrive. The driver stood nearby anguished, with his hands in the air repeating "I didn't see him, I didn't see him." A ubiquitous, drunk Greenpoint Avenue Polacki did his part to add to the confusion in the street, while people stood around gawking and not knowing what to do -- and how can you?? The world turns upside down during such instants. It's unexpected and all out of order in one second. There I am, finding again that I am much better with others' traumas than my own.

I saw the ring on his finger and asked who to call. He gave us his wife's Karen's number and I spoke with her for ten minutes on someone's borrowed phone as he was loaded onto a backboard and into the ambulance. While his child talked about his bedtime in the background, Karen tried to process what was going on. I told her that her husband seemed coherent with no obvious head or body injuries, although he was in a lot of pain as legs were probably broken, and that she should go to Bellevue. (Thankfully, they weren't taking him to Woodhull. Bellevue is the best trauma center in NYC, at least post-9/11. If you are at all coherent in an accident, tell the guys take you there). For their family -- for him -- in an instant -- everything changed. Man, I hope he's okay.

As a side note, Charles mentioned that this was the 5th time he has seen an accident similar to this right there on the corner. I wonder how many more it takes. When does the light on a major truck route need to become an arrow-only turn with a clear crosswalk?

So, ahem. As I was saying right before I left home, strangers can become part of your lives in NYC for the most poignant and intense ten minutes you can imagine. And there's no other way you can be sometimes. We all live half on the street; and there are crystallized instances where if we are at all human, we are flung deep into each other's lives.


When the thing happens again that you never imagined and you feel shattered into little pieces, you try to turn to others to reaffirm that you are still alive and whole and valid. Double whammy -- Your shit is inconvenient around the holidays and most other times; Or you are forcing someone else to confront their own personal, unrealized dreams; Or the hardest of all, you asked someone to step outside of their own tenuous world to hold onto your hand, just for a minute, so you won't drift too far away.

And that's when you are surprised to find that some of the greatest kindness comes from strangers. No one knows exactly what to say, and it's hard and awkward like life is sometimes. But they offer you an ear and comfort, because that's all it really takes.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Golden Rings

Yesterday, SL and I made a trip to a crowded Aqueduct for the annual running of the Cigar Mile. The last Grade 1 stakes race for NYRA's year, it was a chance to see a quality field run in our own backyard at the Big A. These were the "pretty good" horses who say, came in 12th and 15th in the Derby this year. There was great betting to be had, with 6 legitimate contenders in the 9 horse field going off at odds between 7-1 and 10-1. Neither of us hit the Cigar Mile, but an easily attainable exacta for someone playing Tale of Ekati over Harlem Rocker would have netted them $142.50. The race ended up ugly, unfortunately, with an 9 minute inquiry that knocked Harlem Rocker down to second, and the tough 7 yr old gelding, Wanderin' Boy, needing to be euthanized after breaking down at the top of the stretch.

We did hit on a couple other races, with Steve nailing a $243 exacta on the 6th (the Demoiselle, won impressively in 9 1/4 lengths by the 2 yr old filly, Springside, who immediately was vanned off -- ugh), and I got the exactas on the 7th (The Remsen, won in 7 1/4 lengths by a 2 yr old colt trained by Larry Jones named Old Fashioned aka my first Derby pick of 2009,) and the 9th for a net total of $178. Since track money is found money to be spent immediately, we decided the best thing to do would be head straight over to Camille's and put a $300 deposit on the wedding rings she's making us.

Track winning for rings. You can't beat that. Even in a country song.

Friday, November 21, 2008

One Degree

Proving once again what a very small world we live in, I was in Chicago/Logan Square last weekend when Shellie and I randomly went into this food/wine store called Provenance, looking for some lunch. They didn't have anything like that, so we turned to walk out. The guy at the counter suddenly says "Hey, did you live in Cincinnati?" Yes, Shellie and I both did. He then asks me if my name is Susan, and turns out he's the owner of the place, Joe Patt, a name I have known of forever from the Ohio music world, but not that I remember meeting before. I was a bit stunned. He was extremely nice, and we chatted for a couple minutes, including me dropping my friend Pat Hennessy's name as some sort of Ohio Ambassador (always a good ploy with people from Cincinnati) before heading to grab a dog and cheese fries at the always delicious Hot Doug's down the way.

Lesson? Ohio is everywhere. You can never, ever escape.

A Classic

How do I love Russ and Daughters? Let me count the ways: horseradish cream cheese, raspberry rugelach, salmon roe, wasabi roe, whitefish salad, smoked trout, scottish smoked salmon...And the Super Heeb sandwich (bagel with whitefish salad, horseradish cream cheese and wasabi roe) is the absolute bomb.

Although I know that some of their products come from Acme Fish, right around the corner from my house on Gem Street (open 9-1 on Fridays only for retail sales, another great thing), almost nothing makes me happier than going to Houston Street to stand in line for a few minutes and soak up the atmosphere of Russ and Daughters.

And now they have launched a cleverly named blog, Lox Populi.

Russ and Daughters
179 East Houston Street

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Guernica: A Novel

I finished "Guernica: A Novel" by David Boling last night, in a mad 75 page dash to the finish complete at 3 in the morning (gotta love the hours of this freelancing thing!). This historical novel tells the story of three generations of a Basque family, in and around the city of Guernica. I knew nothing of the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian planes with the cooperation of Franco-run Spain in 1937 except for Picasso's mural of the same name, but this book gives a very real face to what the citizens of this city must have experienced at that time. Love, war, smugglers and resisting fascists in Spain: I'm down. I've got to get this part of the world on my next trip to Spain.

While some of the plot turns were predictable, and the characters archetypes you've seen before, the story was an enjoyable and interesting read. Recommended.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Big Picture

Here's a fantastic news photo blog from The Boston Globe.

Some of the Breeder's Cup photos, and the ones of our president elect, are breathtaking.

Today in New York

I couldn't find a newspaper (except the Post) in any of 12, 13, 15 stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and people were smiling and chatty on the streets and subways. Almost unnerving. Welcome to the New America!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We Win

I'm hearing yelling on the streets, and fireworks explode on the river here in Brooklyn as the real John McCain finally makes a reappearance with his gracious concession speech, and Jesse Jackson stands alone with tears in his eyes (can't someone give a brother a hug?). I'm welling up, seeing and feeling something I never thought possible. Putting the race part aside for a moment, I can't believe that my country did the right thing, at long last by electing the right man; Americans took a risk on what might be, and acted on the belief that things can be better, rather than 'more of the same.'

I can't shake my head any more, easily dismissing our leaders as someone else's fault, as people I can't relate to, or as some out-of-touch old insiders put in power by someone else's vote. I've never actually liked any of our Presidents my entire life; or ever felt that the best minds of my generation were leading; or even believed that things could be any different.

This time, at least for tonight, I do. It's overwhelming. Indescribable. All I can think, is, please carry us all safely on our new path.

Dare I say it, and really mean it for the first time ever? God Bless America.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Pix

New photos on the Flickr page from London and New Orleans.

I stumbled across this crazy tunnel underneath Waterloo Station that apparently was the site of graffiti festival in the spring. I know next to nothing about graffiti artists, but the scope and number of pieces was amazing.

Storyville Stompers playing on the veranda at Bartley and Tania's wedding. It was a beautiful and fun NoLA wedding, and I couldn't be happier that these two are hitched. They complement and support each other so well. Much love and congrats!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stupid Economy

Nothing like being one of three final candidates from over a hundred people that applied for a dream job at MoMA, and having the joint go on a hiring freeze for the next couple of months. (At least they finally called today to tell me that.) Grumble.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Big Easy

First morning in New Orleans for a long weekend complete with Bartley and Tania's wedding, and I'm still in bed with a pounding headache. Goddamn Daphne, Dan and Mimi's. I used to not be such a pussy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

DWTS Tragedy

Yes, I'm watching the debate but I also am reading that Misty May-Trainor, one half of the gold-medal winning USA beach volleyball team, ruptured her achilles tendon while competing on Dancing with the Stars. She had surgery today and needs nine months of rehab before she can hit the court again. Injured from being on some ridiculous TV show.

That is the lamest shit I have ever heard.

(almost as lame as Tom Brokaw's moderation job tonight)

The Pet Dragon a cool-looking new children's book from illustrator Christoph Niemann told partially with Chinese characters. You may have seen Niemann's work on numerous covers for The New Yorker. (Link via Print.)

Round Up

In my own version of Twitter, here's what has been on my mind over the past 24 hours:

•Had Korean BBQ last night with SL's lovely parents again on their way back through NYC before returning to their home in Athens. That's Greece, not Ohio.
•What does one wear for a second interview at MoMA? And what samples to take? Hmm. Time to put on my corporate. Hope to also stop see the Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling exhibit before it closes.
•What movie to go see later today/tomorrow? Haven't seen anything in a theater in forever.
•Lisa B's in town from London. This mean pork buns and pickles at Momofuku Ssam Bar tomorrow.
•How should one cook lamb shanks?
•Can I pull off this year's Derby Day plan without alienating SL entirely?
•Are the rats running rampant on Calyer Street over the past few weeks going to make their way into my 1st floor apartment?
•I finally cleaned the scary closet in my house, where tools and paper products go to hide. Now I keep opening it to admire the amazing organization. Dork.
•Should I finally give in and join Facebook? Probably not. Social networking sites annoy me. I find them a poor excuse for actual friendships.
•It's Baxie's 3rd birthday! You can send dead rodents as presents. Here's a photo of him laying all up on my freshly washed sweaters, in honor of one funny and dear cat. (Yeah, I know I'm gay. Shut up.)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Eatin' Out - Walter Foods

253 Grand @ Roebling, Williamsburg

SL and I had been a bit cranky with each other this week, so we decided to have a date on Friday night, consisting of dinner and a rock show on campus. There's been lots of new places opening up in the Williamsburg, so many I barely can keep track, but a blurb on Walter Foods had stuck the place in my brain as a good new option.

Going out on a Friday night at 8:30 without a reservation was probably going to be tough, but when we showed up, the friendly hostess told us it would be 30 minutes or so. That seemed okay since the Kills weren't due to start until 10:45, so we went across the street to Clem's for a drink. Twenty minutes later, we were back and standing outside on the street, trying to glare through the big windows at those seated inside, in hopes of inspiring them to eat fast. We didn't mind being outside: it was way too crowded around the bar for giant people like us, was a nice night, and we ran into a few people we knew while waiting on Grand Street.

As it started to become more like an hour wait, the hostess came out three different times to tell us what was going on, and inform us that we were the very next table of two to be seated (two tables decided not to leave after eating and had instead joined together for drinks -- which, as an aside, is a pretty rude move when people are obviously waiting to be seated. Let the restaurant turn the tables and go to a bar! There's only about 15 on Grand Street, after all.) She was charming and good humored while being slammed on their first full Friday night. Impressive how she kept her cool, without even a hint of the irritation you can get from a lot of staff in North Brooklyn.

We sat at about 9:35 and almost the first thing that happens is that the owner Danny, who we had met briefly outside through some mutual friends, comes by with three glasses of comped bubbly to thank us for waiting. We tell him we are only two, but he says no matter and leaves us all three glasses. Classy move. Thanks, Danny! The interior has the same vibe as Marlow and Sons or Cafe Moto -- sort of clean vintagey gastropub with old photos, mirrors, shiny tiles, previously used doors and other fixtures. I love it. We order an Old-Fashioned (my favorite) and a Manhattan from an fantastic classic cocktail menu. And they come fast, with those big square ice cubes that don't melt instantly and ruin your drink.

The menu is American bistro, with a lot of seafood options including oysters from the raw bar, and lobster shows up solo as well as in several dishes. Otherwise: fried chicken, steak, pork chops, hamburger, surf and turf, salads. We had pigs in a blanket (sausage in pastry dough with red pepper sauce. Wished for some mustard) and the poached lobster salad for appetizers. Both are tasty. Then: pork chops that came with delicious butter-soaked brussel sprouts and apple compote, and the pepper-incrusted filet mignon served with garlicy smashed potatoes. No exaggeration, the meat cuts were about an inch thick. Very, very generous cuts of meat for the price, and perfectly cooked. There are no overcooked meats coming out of this kitchen - medium rare was even on the rare side.

We were so stuffed by the end, we couldn't even finish the entrees and brought some leftovers home with us. Overall cost was about $50 per person. Great meal, great staff, nice vibe inside, even on a Friday night packed with the fancy types: we will definitely be back.

Dr. Ralph on Obama

Listen here for an powerful ad currently running in Southwest Virginia from Ralph Stanley. Think about that -- an 81 year old bluegrass legend from deep Virginia endorsing a black man for president. If you can't trust Dr. Ralph, who can you trust?

Thanks to andtheend. for the link.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Newtown Creek Tour

SL and I went on a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek on Sunday. Newtown Creek is often called one of the "most polluted waterways" in America, and we are lucky enough to have it right in our neighborhood. The tour was organized by Riverkeeper, The Newtown Creek Alliance, and the Working Harbors Committee, and it was a fascinating (and smelly) trip into New York's working industry.

It's almost unbelieveable, seeing the state of the waterfront today, to realize that this area was considered a hunting and fishing paradise up until the 1850s, crammed with oysters, fish, and wildlife. As we traveled, the boat's propellers dredged up the smelliest sludge you can imagine from the bottom of the creekbed (called "Black Mayonnaise" by the harbor crew). The creek is shallower than it was back in the early 1900s, when it was an extremely busy waterway into the geographical center of NYC. The creek is no longer dredged because of all the toxins in the sediment. No one has a good, safe way to dispose of the mess. But there it sits, suffocating any fish that dare swim deeper than a couple inches below the surface.

Images below, and more here.

Sign seen from the entrance to the Creek, from the East River.

The point that the name "Hunter's Point" comes from. UN in the background.

Black Mayo.

Metal scrapyard.

Abandoned barge. People still dump unwanted items into the creek to this day. This was towed in by parties unknown and left. I did not know barges had styrofoam interiors to keep them afloat.

Civil War era storehouse.

Rusty industrial goodness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Leaving for London today through next Monday on my last trip for Visionaire. I go to Leicester to oversee the assembly of Sport, and then to London for a few days for some quality time with Lisa B., Alex and good ol' Jay McMullen. I'm going to spare change the rich Brits, since the exchange rate means a cup of coffee costs about $7.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Times on Palin

An article in the mainstream media that is starting to get to the heart of the matter here. Money caption:
The Wasilla City Council, with Sarah Palin, the future governor and vice-presidential nominee, at the center, in a 1998 photograph. Throughout her career, Ms. Palin has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and blurred the line between government and personal grievance.

Studio B reopened

Studio B was open last night for the first time since July 30th. Wonder if they got that cabaret license that is required to allow dancing. I'm guessing not. Although the roof deck wasn't open, nothing on the DOB website indicates that anything has changed in their status.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David Foster Wallace Dead

I was shocked to read this evening that writer David Foster Wallace committed suicide on Friday at his home in Claremont, California. While I didn't like everything he did, his books of essays, including A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again are great reads. He was an absolute real talent, and in passing, a tangible loss to American contemporary literature.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I may have to stop reading TPM. All of the blatant lies being thrown out by McCain and Palin are only making me angrier and angrier. If the US public votes these clowns in, I'm moving to Southern Spain.

And justifying my occasional enjoyment of the View, Barbara Walters took McCain to task on today's show. Go Baba. Love that she nailed him to the wall, seemingly more than any other major reporter has to date.

Lots more clips from the View here. Nice job, ladies.

The Queen's Hideaway Closing

If you like Liza Queen's flavor-filled cooking, get on down to The Queen's Hideaway before October 18th, when Ms. Queen will be closing up shop. Sadly, landlord problems are forcing her closure, but she's open Thursday-Saturday until D-DAy. The food's as good as ever and the brugs are in full bloom in the backyard. For more on Liza, check out the three pages on her in this month's Elle, including one foxy opening picture.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Images of Summer

Uploaded some new stuff to Flickr. Some of my favorites from the past month or two below.

New Decor

North Fork garage sales are GO! I scored two chairs, now freshly spray painted black. (Along with my foot, making a permanent thong mark. Der.)

Friday, September 05, 2008


An online guide called snatched one of my photos from Flickr of the Arena in Verona, Italy with my permission and published it online here.

No, they didn't pay me. And yes, I'm giving them a free link.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


WHY is that Palin baby up every night at the convention?? The kid has Down (when did it become 'Down', btw? I thought it was 'DownS' my entire life) Syndrome, is four months old and they simply MUST trot him out every single night past a reasonable bedtime to gain some votes? Seems like a crap mothering decision to me. And does his mother ever hold him? (Assuming that the Sarah dope is the mommy, ahem) What is wrong with these people??

No reply needed. I truly am trying to cease the hourly frothing.

Fred Thompson is like James Earl Jones for the Republicans now. King of the Douchebag voiceover. And Tina Fey must be pissed about that whole lookalike thing.

Summer's Not Over

Staving off the inevitable fall by being out in here in our Greenport-trailer-by-the-swamp rental with SL and the cat for two weeks. Its been more with the farmer's markets, beach, reading, catching up with old Shelter Island pals, pond/LI Sound swimming, Camille in (and now gone) for a few days visit, and we go to a wedding in East Hampton on Saturday night for some old friends from This Old House. Also regularly getting totally worked up by the conventions and daily coverage. We'll be back Sunday. But it's still summer on my calendar, goddammit. Suckas.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


The Chinese/Zhang Yimou part of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies was beautiful, powerful, perfectly executed, and as stunning to see as his movies Hero and House of Flying Daggers. (Both are must sees on a big screen, BTW.)

Then they get to the London part, as a preview of the 2012 Games. To whet our appetite, apparently, for cliches. The double decker bus comes along to pick up some extras from Godspell, and then wheel out Jimmie Page with some chick badly lip synching "Whole Lotta Love" to illustrate the "excitement" of these upcoming events in the UK.

First of all, thank god New York didn't get the Olympics. I seriously cannot imagine what a clusterfuck it would have made the entire city. Although on the plus side, there would have been beach volleyball courts 5 blocks from my house.

Secondly, the contrast between those two spectacles shows why the Chinese are going to rule the world.

10:22 Did the "Its a Small World" ride at Disneyworld throw up all over my TV?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


..On the week of tomato recipes by two trips to Easton PA for press okays and a bang-up fun mid-August BBQ on Saturday night in the backyard. At least until people (KAPLAN) got wasted on Dark and Stormies, and started screaming, much to the chagrin of the neighbors. Good times. Ironic now that Studio B is closed, and I'm causing more noise than ever.

Tomorrow, SL, Elan and I go up to upstate to Saratoga for two days, meeting up and staying with my old softball pal Tim and his wife Natalie in Schnectady. We stop on the way back at SL sister's farm/artist collective up near Monticello for an all-day pig roast on Saturday.

Who has time to blog?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Lunch: Bruschetta

Easy as can be, and perfect in every way

Good rustic country bread. (Italian of any kind is a good bet)
2 fresh tomatoes, or a pint of small grape tomatoes
Fresh basil
Fresh mozzarella (DiPalo's, or the Salumeria on Graham)

Toast 1/2" slices of bread. Rub thoroughly including all edges with cut piece of garlic. Cut tomatoes into 1/4 squarish pieces, or if using small tomatoes, quarter. Save all seeds and juice and put in bowl. Roll basil and cut into thin crossgrain strips, about 1/4 cup total. Cut mozzarella into same size pieces as tomatoes. Toss all with 1-2 tbslp of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture with some juices onto crostini. Enjoy mkaing a big mess when you eat it.

Saturday night: In a Mexican Mood

SL and I attempted to go to Alejandro Escovedo on Saturday in Central Park. We trucked it all the way up to Central Park with picnic and papers in hand, not knowing until we got there that Al had unfortunately cancelled because of his ongoing health problems. Ah well. We stayed for a few hours of Mexican Music Day anyway, sitting in the grass, drinking wine and reading the paper on a gorgeous afternoon. Pistolera wasn't bad, and I plotted Saturday's dinner (mostly stolen via Domino magazine).

Assume all my recipes use extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

1 pound of fillet of dogfish, mahi mahi, cod, catfish, or red snapper
1 head of savoy or red cabbage
1-2 avocados
2 tomatoes
1 red onion
1 jalapeno
cotija cheese

Heat grill or broiler to medium high. Sprinkle fillets with salt, pepper, olive oil. Grill for 5-6 minutes per side.

Core and thinly slice 1/2 head of cabbage. Toss with 2 tblsp white wine vinegar, salt, pepper

Mash avocado into a chunky guacamole (limes, salt, bit of jalapeno, garlic, red onion)

Chop tomatoes, 1/2 of onion. Add juice of two limes, 1 tblsp minced jalapeno, salt and 2 tblps of cilantro.

Wrap it all up in warmed tortillas. Squeeze more lime, hot sauce and mexican cotija cheese over if desired.

Saturday lunch: The Classic


Soft white bread (Pepperidge Farm makes a not-totally gross one)
Juicy, bestest tomato you can find
Fleur de sel
Fresh ground pepper

Simplest. Cut 1/8" thick slices of tomato. Slather both pieces of bread with mayo. Lots of salt and pepper. Bite. Have orgasm.

A Week in Tomatoes

Tomatoes are in full swing in the markets these days. As always, I can't stop eating them, or talking about them. Even the smell makes me happy -- that moment when you pick up a big handful from a farmer's table and take a big whiff. Ah. Glorious. (Incidentally, tomato smell perfume is available from I Hate Perfume)

Because my biggest project in recent weeks is attempting to cook a banging dinner most nights, upcoming is a week's recipes of how to work tomatoes, and the happiness that tomatoes bring, into your meals.

Friday night

3 tblsp thai yellow curry paste
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
3-4 1/2 cups of water, depending on how thick you want it
Juice of one lime or a bit more to taste
3 kaffir lime leaves, or thai basil (or regular basil if you must)
3 tblsp dark brown sugar
1 tbslp galangal (or ginger if you must) minced
2 thai chilies, sliced into thin rings. (or jalapenos or scotch bonnetts)
2 tblsp lemongrass, cut into 1/2" rings
Can of bamboo shoots
2 vegetables of your choice: tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, pepper, beans, thai eggplant, zuchinni....
1 pound of shrimp/chicken/pork/fish -- free of skin and fat and cut into thin strips

Saute curry paste with onions and garlic until soft. Add water, fish sauce and lime juice and bring to boil. Add rest of ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. Don't let boil again. Serve over rice.

All the ingedients are available at Bangkok City Grocery in Chinatown. This is super simple to make, and will give you 4 platefuls of sweet and sour deliciousness. The Thai chilies are super hot, but necessary.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Show of my Summer

Black Keys last night at McCarren Pool w/Kaplan, Camille, SL, Elan and her two gay stoner friends from upstate*. Absolutely stellar performance on beautiful summer night. How DO two guys get so much sound? In the two-person band category, this killed over any White Stripes show I've had to pleasure to see.

*two 20-ish long haired boys in kerchiefs, numerous piercings, heavy metal shirts, and both as gay as the day was long. They were sweet and amazing. I love the ease gay kids a generation or two younger than me have.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fire Island

SL and I went to Kismet, Fire Island for four days over the weekend to stay at Seanie McCague's summer rental. We had great weather and a great host, but being crammed into a small space with a lot of really white people from Long Island was not my personal cup of tea. It is definitely a good place to let kiddies run rampant, with no cars to worry about. I bet if I was a fireman's wife, born in Bay Ridge, now living in Syosset with 3 kids, I would love it. Still, nice to check out and continue to get as brown as a nut in the ongoing Tanolympics.

Monday, August 04, 2008

DOB Shuts 'em Down

Studio B has been closed since Friday night because a lack of a Public Assembly Permit, for both floors. Shows scheduled through at least August 19th will not be held at the venue on Banker Street.

Is it snotty to say I told you so??

These folks thought they could break any law they wanted, do whatever they wanted, and no one would stop them. Well, they were WRONG with that assumption.

It's downright ugly to be so arrogant, but it's even more pathetic to be completely stupid. They bought this shitstorm right down on themselves.

Friday, August 01, 2008

CB 1 Votes NO!

Because you want to know about the latest in the "Footloose" hearings, click here for a detailed play-by-play of last night's vote AGAINST approving Studio B's cabaret license.

The upshot is that a letter Julia and I wrote raised quite a stir. Studio B's lawyer, former assemblyman Ken Fisher, was caught in a bunch of his usual arrogant double talking, raising the ire of the Safety Committe Chairman. Thus, the CB decided they will not recommend the issuance of the cabaret license. The roof deck was also shut down by the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement last Wednesday, at least supposedly until real permits are in place.

Which is all I wanted in the first place: no open air roof deck until 4 am in my backyard -- Not such an unreasonable request. The cabaret license application simply gave us a way to voice our ignored complaints to the community leaders.

The Dept of Consumer Affairs could still issue the license in spite of the CB recommendation against it, but it's one big step towards quieter nights. And now I'm in good with the Nine-Four since Captain Fulton liked my letter so much.

Also: my lobbyist skills are now available for a fee.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's All About Me.

Can't a woman just have a beer in her garden in peace?

I, seriously, can't believe that Ken Fisher's argument is that it's not their problem to police their patrons. Hmm. No one causing the problems would even be in the area (check out how many reviews call it "in the middle of nowhere) without the shows happening at Studio B. Thus, they are your responsibility. Three security guards is a laugh. There may be three, but I have never seen a single one of those guys walk further than 5 feet away from the front door. The problems are around the corner, where patrons are shooed to smoke, take a piss and drink BYO open containers.

I guess all those press releases, BBQ announcements, and blog postings (check the last paragraph!) about people being on the "roof" of the B are just "allegations."

I'm not sure when everyone forgot that besides operating with the lack of a cabaret license for over two years, the whole second floor still doesn't have a Certificate of Occupancy, a Public Assembly permit, or a fire plan. Period. And no one cares enough to just shut that part of the club down.

This two day party ought to be fun for all. At least I'll be out of town.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Fifty-three year old Donald Ray Pollock's debut collection of short stories, Knockemstiff, is for you fans of Harry Crews or Chris Offutt, and it's deadly. The stories semi-intersect in small community in Southern Ohio about 75 miles southeast of my hometown and run along that rough country line that veers on disturbing. With 18 stories in 200 pages, and a couple hours straight through before bed, the images dug in my skill and altered my dreams. While not light summer tales, they are powerful and stunning. Rentable from your local branch of the BPL.

The Perfect Game

Yesterday, Mets v. Phillies. Game started at 12:10, and was done by 2:25, in proper fast NL fashion. My man, even though he's inconsistent as hell, Oliver Perez struck out 12 and walked 1 in 7 1/3 innings. The Mets broke the tie in the 8th with a double by Carlos Delgado, another Met I like even though he's on the decline. But the clincher? We got free tickets from a guy outside Shea. Just giving $39 seats away. So we paid $15 for parking, ate our own brought-in food, and we had more or less free baseball. In a scare, SL lost his wallet for 10 minutes but ran back up to our seats, and found it still hidden under our seats, waiting for him. Picking up Thai food in Woodside on the way home capped off a great few hours in Queens.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Maps are Fun

It's graphics day here at the Know-All. This super cool map was stolen from Very Small Array. Check out the site, there's lots of other interesting maps to peruse. (Hi Sparky!)

A Bacon Flowchart

(click to enlarge and read)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lazy, Hazy, Days of Summer

Riis Beach, Belmont for Friday sunset racing, Barbecuing nightly feasts*, Farmer's Markets, hanging with SL, Softball Sundays, Home improvement, Working for Camille at her store, Easton PA for thrice-monthly press checks for LBM, Ongoing nonsense with Studio B, Happy hour at Pencil Factory, Pilates, Keepin' on with late Visionaires, Music on the compudio, Pickling**, Books from the library, Roz on TCM, Justifying why I need an iPhone***, and not a lot of blogging.

*tonight's menu: bbq pork spareribs, freshest of fresh corn on the cob, steamed baby artichokes, chicken liver pate and blueberry-peach cobbler. SL is a lucky dude.

**peaches and califlower for today's selections.

***no iPhones to be had on the isle of Manhattan

Andy Rooney Moment

Did you ever notice that the more jobs you have, the more keys you have to carry around?

Did you ever notice that if you have to run errands during the day (vs. after work/weekends), there are loads more people getting in your way, like old folks, tourists, strollers, disabled-types, or just general retards? Frickin' impossible to get up and down 14th street in a timely manner.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dinner Redux

Barring the fact that two people canceled the morning of the benefit for Scott, leaving me scrambling to try and fill two unpaid for seats, the backyard supper was a smashing success. (How I wished I hadn't turned 10 others away!) We raised a nice bit of cash, even with the one empty seat, and a good time was had by all. Teri Wahl of Auntie Em's Kitchen in LA and an old friend of Scott's, came in to help Millicent out (thank god).

We managed to pull it off without anything more serious than an emergency butter run, after running through 3 pounds halfway through the meal. Anthony Nicalo of Farmstead Wines was a huge help, and kept the wine and food moving along smoothly. Thanks to everyone who participated, with a special shout out to the families of my landlord and next-door neighbors, who donated $60 just because they are nice.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Trade

This spring, the Reds got Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton: an 2.29 arm for a million dollar swing. Am I crazy for thinking it was a pretty good deal for everyone? I only hope we won't remember it next year as something similar to the Paul O'Neill for Roberto Kelly trade in 1992. Worst trade ever, for the Reds but good for the Janks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

And Why Should Studio B Be Rewarded?

The Community Board meeting tonight in reference to blocking Studio B's cabaret license went well for us, I think. After an hour of tribute including an appearance by Marty Markowitz to the CB1 president Vincent Abate on his 90th (!) birthday, six (correx 7/16: FIVE) of us had our say to the Board on the problems with Studio B, and why they should not be given the cabaret license. The not so good news was they have Ken Fisher, a former city councilman now lobbying for them and acting as their legal council. It suddenly makes a little more sense as to why every violation up to this point was ignored by the city. I do wish someone could explain why they have been allowed to operate as a dance club for over TWO YEARS under the Studio B name without a cabaret license. And, more importantly, why exactly they should now be awarded one after 'suddenly' deciding to go legit after breaking every law they possibly could, and adding nothing of value to Greenpoint. And by suddenly I mean: lots of bad press and angry neighbors. Unreal.

Although I am the worst public speaker ever, another 10-15 neighbors or so were there to show support. It was great to see, and having Ms. Julia contribute her past experiences with community organizing was a real plus. Thanks, J. You gave me some faith.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The floors are finally done, and my furniture can go back to its proper home.

The Scotty Hard Supper sold out in two days, and we even needed to add seats for a total of 22 to accomodate. If only I could take all the others who also wanted to come but space is tough as it is -- sorry if you got shut out! Now its onto the logistics of a 22 person sitdown dinner in a Brooklyn backyard....

Curlin is running at Belmont Saturday in the Man O' War for his first ever turf race. It may be the only time you see the current best horse in the world take a loss.

After a couple trips to the beach, and few days in Texas, including my first trip to Austin, with Jen, I'm also very tan.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Scotty Hard Supper Club Comes to Greenpoint!

As many of you know, my dear friend Scott Harding was seriously injured in a car accident on February 15 2008, and left paralyzed from the chest down. Like so many, he has no health insurance and untold costs have been incurred as he continues to work his way through rehab. Please join us for a backyard meal cooked by Millicent Souris with all proceeds going towards Scott's medical bills, and the Scotty Hard Trust.

The Place:
My backyard -- Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

The Date:
Sunday, July 13, 2008. 7 PM.

The Chef: Millicent Souris, Egg

Formerly at Queen's Hideaway in Greenpoint, now at Egg in Williamsburg, and a returning judge at the annual apple pie contest at Enid's on Manhattan Avenue, Millicent Souris is famous throughout the borough for her mastery of artisanal ingredients and techniques – especially Southern-style eats, down-home pastry, and drop-dead delicious biscuits.

The Host: Susan Kowal, Visionaire Magazine.

The Menu: Assorted tea sandwiches, pig's head salad, and goose liver pate with radishes, seasonal southern-style pickles, cheese grits with fresh peas and mint, chilled melon soup, grilled apricot chicken thighs, greenmarket corn & jicama salad, and a mighty fine fresh pie.

The Wine: A selection of Old World wines from small, farm-based producers, courtesy of Farmstead Wines' Anthony Nicalo.

The Price: A suggested donation of $70. All net proceeds go to the Scotty Hard Trust.

to susanekowal (at) yahoo (dot) com. 20 seats available.
First come first served!

Want more information???
Scotty Hard Suppers
The Globe and Mail

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hobbit Hipsters

A question I have been asking for years: Why are people so tiny and thin (or what I have may referred to as "pussies") in this part of Brooklyn? Amazon broads want to know.


Here's what my fridge looks like right now. Gayest. We've been eating good over here, what with time to cook and go to the farmer's market regularly. So does that mean I should or should not feel guilty about being inside watching TV almost all day today? I may need a hobby.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Photos

New uploads to my Flickr page in the Brooklyn and Race Daze sets. Also added some oldies but goodies in the Vietnam and Italy sets.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Little House on the East River

While SL continued on with hand nailing 1" red oak planks for new floors in the hallway and dining room, I pickled garlic scapes, mushrooms, radishes and beets today.

It gets gayer and gayer over here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Scotty Hard Supper Club

I love this brilliant fundraising idea from Scott's old friend Chris Mooney. Friends can host private dinners in their own homes cooked by known chefs, with the cost paid for the meal all going to The Scotty Hard Trust. Scott is one of the bigger food queers I know, so this tie-in makes complete and poetic sense. I am working on putting on one together here in my backyard. Stay tuned for details....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brooklyn Courier Outlines Studio B's Violations

Article here.

Upshot: More citations. Studio B skipped the community board meeting because their lawyer didn't show. The hearing is postponed until July 8th. Club still in full operation, including the roof deck on Friday, June 13th, in complete violation of all the missing permits. The 94th precinct tells me they can do nothing since it's a DOB issue. And the DOB has passed it off to the Department of Consumer Affairs. Apparently not having a cabaret license is worse than not having any fire safety plan or being over occupancy. Uh, ok.

It's going to be a long slog, but myself and rest of the neighbors are not going away.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Scenes

Driving down 56th in Sunset Park in my newly a/c-less car, and instead of avoiding two open fire hydrants spouting 8-foot fountains into the street, going right through both of them slowly with the windows down.


Love the heat, love the summer, but four days of this intensity is a lot if wrapped deep into the city. SL and I spent our first day of the season at Riis Park Beach yesterday, where it was about 15 degrees cooler than in Greenpoint. Gorgeous, windy, and water so cold I couldn't feel my legs 10 seconds after wading in. No matter. In we went. Broke down last night and put in the central air at home, after spending 2 hours cooling on the stoop with my neighbors Betty and Cookie, gossiping about the neighborhood. They have lived at 110 for 47 (!!) years, raising both their families in our building, after growing up in the 'Point. Telling me stories about seeing movies in the theater that used to be where the Rainbow is now. I can't imagine this life: living within a 10 block radius since the day I was born. A throwback to the old ways of never moving, these two ladies are a wealth of local information, and hilarious to boot.

Today I'm ensconced in the a/c at a friend's, babysitting her three-month old son while she runs into the city for some errands. My summer is looking quiet, with trips to London and Thailand on the horizon in July for Visionaire projects. Not a lot of work, but just enough to live on. We're putting in some gifted-to-us solid oak flooring in this week, and cooking from the farmer's market most nights on the new gas grill, but I don't have much else. Here is where I am. For once.

Missing the Triple

Another year, another failed Triple Crown. Find myself wondering if the lack of his regular steroid shot on the 15th caused Big Brown's utter failure, or if Dutrow put 100gs on Da Tara at 34-1 and called it a day. I'm waiting for the announcement that something is wrong with the horse, and that he'll be retired without racing again. Horses just don't tank that bad without SOME reason.

Either way, easily the most anticlimactic missed Triple of the four I've seen in the past seven years. Still: great day, great undercard to lose your shirt on, and great company (SL, GregBennetts, Julia, Tania and Ramona in this year's version), barring the fact that half the bathrooms were inoperable on Belmont's biggest day of the year. And that I had to say goodbye to Haas and Brooks right before heading to the race,

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Words of the Day

Two new words I like:
SPLINE: the thin rubber stuff that roll into a small gap to keep screens in their frames.
EGRESS: a way out; exit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Won't You be my Neighbor?

Somehow I've become the 'point person' in the ongoing quest to have Studio B's roof deck shut down. A reporter from the Brooklyn Courier called me today to talk about their permit problems after I went to Community Board 1's monthly meeting on public safety last Thursday. Weird how these things spiral.

For those who have inquired recently (at least, the ones who have asked without making a snide comment in the process) is that the second floor of the place a.k.a. "the roof deck" has not one single permit to be open legally: no fire safety plan, no amended Certificate of Occupancy, no amended Public Assembly (PA) permit, no cabaret license. The roof hasn't been open much recently, but if that is due to crap weather or no permits, I really don't know. The few nights they have been open caused a ridiculous amount of noise to float into the houses on the residential sides of our block.

They recently made motion towards applying for a cabaret license, although their current PA indicates they have a cabaret license. However the Department of Consumer Affairs are the ones responsible for the cabaret permit, not the DOB, who issue the PA. This means they have been operating for over TWO YEARS without a cabaret license, when they constantly promote dance parties, DJs, etc. Why the owners would suddenly care about having one permit specifically, when they have no others for the space, is a mystery.

There will be a public hearing on their application on June 11th at 6:15 at the Swinging 60s Seniors Center (my new best friends, no doubt) at 211 Ainslie St., a recommendation from the board will be made, and then the final vote will be in early July.

I also had the pleasure last week of helping my neighbor Chuck write captions for the Greenpoint Gazette, who were going to run his photos from the Greenpoint Memorial Day Parade. Weigh laid on my way to the store, I sat in his front yard for 20 minutes and pounded out some brilliant stuff like "Greenpointers show their American pride as members of the Armed Forces march down the Avenue on Sunday, May 23rd" Easily my most stirring work.


For those of you keeping track at home (or, like Retotted, actually present), it's been a year since SL became more than just some guy I-sort-of-had- known-forever- that-hung-out-at -dog-bar.

As I say as a regular one-liner when people ask how we met: "I thought he was a dirty drunk freak, and he thought I was too fancy for him. Turns out we were both right." Who knew then it would turn out to be such a great and lasting fit for both of us?? It's been a blessed year. (Hi Baby!!!)


•Jay Bruce was brought up on Tuesday from the Reds Triple-A team in Louisville, and is tearing it up. Bruce is now batting .591 (13-for-22) in six games, with six RBIs, two HRs and two steals. The rookie center fielder hit his first career home run on Saturday night, a walk-off solo shot in the 10th inning to give the Reds an 8-7 win. The hype on this guy is proving to be true, and his tear seems to have energized the Reds as well, who swept Atlanta at home over the weekend.

•Great day at Shea on Saturday afternoon for Brooks' last MLB game in NYC before he heads back to the West Coast and their Triple-A Padres club. SL, Brooks, Rubes, Greg, Eric and I saw the Mets rally in the eighth to beat the Dodgers 3-2. Believe it or not, the Mets are finally starting to look like a decent team.

•In WBSL news, A/T goes down in a tough loss to Black Betty, after putting 8 runs on the board in the top of the ninth to lead by two. Costly errors handed the Betty about 7 runs of their runs. grrrr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Crazy busy fun Memorial Day weekend here in Bklyn. I still get nostalgic for the 5 years of leavin' town immediately to start a summer share at the Shelter Island house (R.I.P.), but don't miss it AS much when there's lots of local entertainment to be had.

The ShellieandTommys were in from Chicago all weekend, as well as SL's old pal Ger from Reading sans his kids. It was non-stop activity including a sunny Yankees game (the win made everyone else happy), getting back on the tip yesterday at Belmont for Rubes' birthday and the Met Mile (hit two exactas for about $90 bucks total), biscuits-n-gravy Sunday brunch at Katrina's, a couple of happy hours, and the first of soon-to-be-many smallish BBQs in the "I'm so happy I have this" oasis of my backyard.

It's less than two weeks until Meghan and Brooks pack up Calyer Street for their move west to Portland OR, but otherwise: Summer makes me happy.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Here's a very entertaining story from today's Post about the eejits in the Brooklyn Kickball League. I laughed and laughed. Kickball IS better than softball!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Benefit for The Scotty Hard Trust - NEW BILL

Right around the corner from home this time, it's a great (revised) rock bill next Wednesday May 28th @ Europa. Europa is located at 98 Meserole Ave @ Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Dub Trio 11:15

Two Tears (Kerry Davis from the Red Aunts) 10:45

The Brought Low 10:00

Fresh Kills 9:15

Damemas 8:30

All things considered, Scott's doing well these days. He moved from Bellevue up to the Bronx for his next stage of 6 hours-a-day-rehab two weeks ago. With steady progress, he'll be out of there in a month or so, and into his new apartment in an elevator-equipped building near friends in Bed-Stuy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big Brown's Preakness

Big Brown dominated another field on Saturday on the second step towards winning the Triple Crown. I'm not all that wound up about this, because in the past seven years of attending Belmont, I've seen three horses get to the exact same spot (War Emblem, Funny Cide, and Smarty Jones), and seen all three go down in the mile and a half "Test of Champions." Still, it's exciting, and couldn't come at a better time for a sport that has been under harsh scrutiny since the Derby. The hype machine that goes along with this each time is already rolling.

While there's no way in hell I'd missing seeing a horse capture the Crown at my home track, these "possible" years at Belmont are a pain in the ass, with the attendance going from a full and fun 60,000 people who are actually semi-into horse racing, to a sloppy and packed scrum of 120,000 yahoos. I am also not a fan of Big Brown's trainer, nor do I think that Big Brown has beat much in the way of quality competition, in a pretty weak crop for three-year olds.

BUT....Bitching aside, his win on Saturday was impressive, with Kent Desormeaux easily finding an extra gear of acceleration on the far turn without even using a whip. The horse didn't even seem to breathe hard -- he was just out on a little run, having a good old time. It was a very dominating performance to see.

I am anxious to see his match up with the much-touted Casino Drive in the Belmont in 2 1/2 weeks. I love Casino Drive's family, so it's gonna be fun to watch it play out. Nice clip here about Big Brown's partial owner, a regular guy who's trucking business is based in....Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (Who've ever thought you could meet a Derby owner near the poop factory?)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Our Nation's Capitol

It's strange to be in the capitol city of our nation when there's not much that your nation has done in recent years makes you proud of being American.

Still, I love a good museum, and it was easy to stay away from that idiot's white home. The Holocaust Museum was really well laid out, but emotionally overwhelming. Nice Botanical Garden with lots of unusual plant examples to crib for my garden, and I could look at stuff from the National Archives or Library of Congress for hours.

And always good to get to spend some time with the family, especially my two brothers, when I don't think the three of us have had a drink and chat together in about.....forever.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oh Sue!

I have always had a secret love for Sue Simmons on WNBC's Channel 4 News at 11. She always seems half-drunk, cracks wise way more than she should, and is simply far too goofy with her non sequiturs to be paid an alleged $2.5 million bux a year to read the news twice a day.

She went overboard on Monday night during a live promo for the 11:00 news, screaming out "WTF are you doing??" over a news clip. Too funny. They better not fire her for something so silly, especially considering practically every New Yorker uses the phrase WTF about 10 times a day. She did apologize, after all. Enjoy!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Charm City

I have never heard Baltimore called that, but I'm told that is the city's nickname. SL and I are going down tomorrow to see andtheend on her annual spring theater sabbatical, plus make a visit to our fourth racetrack in 2008. I've never been to Baltimore. And I'm told Pimlico is a dump, but that's like saying its cold at the North Pole. Not a lot of fancy tracks out there...

Eight Belles

It's a sad week when everyone wants to talk about horse racing, but only because of very public death in the Derby. For the record: a horse has never died on the track during the Derby. I have never seen a horse run an excellent second before breaking down 1/4 mile past the finish line. Nor have I heard of a horse breaking both front ankles simultaneously, if that's actually what happened. It was a freak occurrence of unfortunate magnitude because it happened to a highly touted filly the press was following closely, AND on the one day of the year when horse racing actually might have center stage in America.

I won money on her across the board, but I still haven't cashed my ticket. I sat quietly for awhile after the race (amid a VERY fun party) sick at heart when I realized what I had happened to this spirited, competitive filly who COULD run with the boys, beating 18 of them handily. No racing fan in the world wants to see this happen, but it is an unfortunate part of the game. You can't love this sport and remain unaffected by seeing the equine ambulance pull out and the screens come up. It only means one thing: a horse is being put down.

The same way that NASCAR drivers die in wrecks, or athletes' careers end because of a torn ACL (granted, they aren't euthanized), breakdowns are a part of horse racing. PETA's been wound up all week, calling for suspension of the jockey, and making other unreasonable demands. It would be hard to make an argument that these Triple Crown horses are abused, for the horses at this level are treated like kings (with purchase prices in the millions of dollars, and their own doctors, trainers, grooms who come running when the slightest thing goes wrong), and, to be honest, better than much of lower-income America is by their own government.

Everyone wants to understand: "How does this happen?" While I don't even think anyone connected to the horse will ever be able to answer that question clearly, there are a few things that should happen to improve conditions for the horses, and hopefully prevent more injuries in the future.

1) Determine once and for all if Polytrack or any synthetic racing surface really prevents more injuries. If it does, then put the surface in everywhere. I personally don't believe this is the main solution, especially when the stats on synthethic vs dirt surfaces over the past two years are reviewed.

2) Eliminate the use of race-day drugs that may mask injuries or problems. Nowhere else in the world allows the use of drugs on race days.

3) Eliminate the use of steroids on horses in training. Eight Belles was never on steroids, but plenty of horses are, giving them similar problems, such as soft-tissue damage, to what you see in humans with repeated use.

4) Work on improving breeding lines. There are more injuries today than there were 30 years ago, and horses ran twice as many races then. Certain breeding lines (Mr Prospector as a sire, for example) are known to have more problems, racing 30% fewer times than others.

An excellent post on this topic can be found here.

New Theory

Post-derby party/julep bacchanalia, a friend said to me that too much brown liquor brings out the self-doubt in people. Hm. Been pondering this important thought...I sure know that the brown stuff makes the irrational angry rear up, but is it all liquors or just the whiskey that does it?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Rail

Click here for an excellent racing blog from the NY Times as the Triple Crown season begins.

The Times is always a pleasant surprise with its horse racing coverage, with most articles written by the talented Joe Drape. The articles are few and far between, but often insightful, full of depth, and occasionally even revelatory.

And I've already decided to throw out Monba in my 4 horse Derby Picks, and put in Visionaire instead. How can I not with that name??

Hometown Reviews

SL and I road tripped to Ohio this past week for the time-honored event known as "meeting the family." Comments included: "Once you get past the hair and tattoos, he's very nice" (Mom) and "He's great. We emphatically approve. You should marry him." (PatnJames) Well, okay then.

All in all, a fun trip. We even got to see the Reds actually WIN a game.

Culprit Found!

Turns out that the person who left this love note on my car a couple weeks ago is a friend of SL's. Little Chris lives across the street with his girlfriend,and was big enough to fess up his misdeed to Steve at work yesterday, after they slowly figured out that my car and his note were part of the same story. He even got on the phone with me to apologize for the harshness claiming "I was drunk and we had to walk three blocks to get home after parking." boo hoo hoo.

While the apology was nice and he is still invited to Derby, it will not change the fact that I am going to torture him (and his car) every single chance I get by leaving fake parking tickets on his windshield. My love note will be recycled.

More on Studio B

The Village Voice this week very kindly ran a piece about the proposed rooftop garden at Studio B.

A stop work order has been issued by the DOB, yet construction on the 2nd floor continues onward, even with the lack of ANY permits in place, and a fine and hearing pending. Via advice from my neighbor Chuck (aka the Mayor of Calyer Street and also the local rep for CB1), a call was made to Community Board 1 with all the details of the lacking permits. The missing paperwork includes proposed operation of the roof garden without an amended amended Certificate of Occupancy, or an amended Place of Assembly application, on top of the non-existent construction permit.

The fact is that any PA place over 300 people requires a fire protection plan to be approved by the DOB and the FDNY. Studio B has not filed one in their history.

We'll see what happens when (if?) it actually opens. The arrogance of doing whatever they want, and the assumption that no one will do a thing is what really galls me. My hope is that this addition won't become even a bigger nightmare to our homes, or worse, put their patrons in danger. However, I am not optimistic. Or amused. But an roof deck with a full bar and separate sound system opening on Friday seems unlikely.

Crashing Studio B's Garden Party
A fantastic Greenpoint spot plans a vertical expansion, to its neighbors' chagrin

by Annie Fischer
Upon opening in September of 2006 under the discerning eye (and ear) of Justine Delaney, Brooklyn nightclub Studio B immediately established itself as a stylish source for the latest in dance, rock, and hip-hop. That hasn't changed. The 9,000-square-foot converted warehouse boasts a full stage, an incredible sound system, a VIP lounge, and a great dance floor—an increasingly rare element across the river. And it's a club where the bartenders actually smile. Even when the hipper-than-thou crowd doesn't.

Now the venue is expanding—skyward. On May 2, Studio B is slated to celebrate the debut of a large rooftop level, including its own bar and sound system, with live performances by Brazilian Girls and Spank Rock. Forty imported palm trees will serve as a nod to Studio B's sister club in Miami, Studio A; a retractable glass roof ensures a South Beach climate year-round. As Studio B has staked its reputation on offering the opposite of a pricey, smug Manhattan lounge, I'd expect some fans of the club to balk at the opening's $35 cover charge. Fans of a cleaner, quieter Greenpoint (as in: the neighborhood's residents), though, balk at the opening altogether.

According to them, Studio B's patrons forever vomit show flyers, cigarette butts, and broken glass (and occasionally actual vomit) onto the streets surrounding the club. Sometimes the atmosphere is even worse—at least one brutal streetfight broke out in broad daylight during the all-day, hardcore-centric Black & Blue Bowl that the club hosted on a recent Saturday. But many of Studio B's neighbors agree that the noise is the worst problem of all.

"It's terrible," complains a 44-year-old former music writer of her apartment's proximity to Studio B. "Every other bar or club posts signs that say, 'Please respect our neighbors' or 'Please be quiet to and from'—there's none of that here. There are just continual hordes of people who only see [Studio B] as a destination—people who know nothing of the neighborhood and think the club's in the middle of nowhere. They think, 'It's industrial, I can scream and yell all I want.' We're not human to them. It just doesn't register . . . And you can already hear the music, especially in summer when the doors are open. Now they're going to open the whole roof up?"

She sighs.

"Going around the corner to smoke a joint or have a drink or exchange something before the show—and then the extended drunken goodbyes—we hear all of that," she continues. "And they'll pee anywhere. I mean, what do they think? That's a business. Guys eat their lunches on those steps . . . [A rooftop deck] is only going to draw even more people to the area who say, 'Who cares about Greenpoint?' "

For their part, Studio B's management says that they'll do what they can to contain the noise. "The scale and times of the sound system on the roof are still TBD, because Studio B is aware that they must be courteous to neighbors in regard to sound levels on the roof during the nighttime hours," a spokesperson for the club writes in an e-mail. "This will always be an issue nightclubs must deal with to stay in business in New York City."

Another big issue for nightclubs, though, especially as of late: community boards. The Sun reported last week that CBs wielding clout with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) are more often requesting that potential liquor licenses be tied to earlier closing times, often at or before 2 a.m. (The paper added that in November, December, and January—the three most recent months in Community Board 3's records—not a single liquor-license recommendation was granted to a bar that would close after 3 a.m. in the East Village or Lower East Side.) On March 26, the SLA posted a notice on its website that in addition to liquor-license renewals, bars and clubs are now also required to file 30 days' prior notice with their respective community boards of their intention to renew. And now, unhappy residents of Greenpoint are suggesting on community blogs that like-minded citizens inundate their own community board (CB1) with noise- and permit-violation complaints to see action.

As it happens, the New York Department of Buildings currently has two open complaints for Studio B with regard to construction without permits (one filed April 11, another on April 16), as well as one unrelated pending violation for a March 8 inspection, which found the club filled beyond its legal capacity. (According to the document, the first floor of Studio B is permitted a maximum of 461 persons; at the time of inspection, there were "over 650.")

That's the one that has "Miss Heather," the blogger behind, up in arms. "That violation disturbs me so much," she says. "If they're allowed 450 or so people, and they're packing in 650—well, I haven't done the math, but isn't that nearly 50 percent? I have concerns about management that has such a complete lack of regard for the safety of their patrons. I agree that we need bars and clubs in the area. But at what cost?"

I ask if it's an actual possibility that CB1 could do anything to cause Studio B to lose its liquor license. "It happened with Triple Crown," Heather responds, referring to the troubled Williamsburg lounge that closed last year after racking up thousands of dollars in noise-violation fines. "They netted enough complaints with CB1 that they had to close. If this rooftop garden proves to be that much of a nuisance, then yeah, the community will go after the club's liquor license. It's already been run past the board; it's out there. They're already doing work without a permit."

According to Studio B's spokesperson, that isn't the case. "Some permitting is still in process, but this is very common with the opening of any type of venue or restaurant in New York City," he says. The official party line: "Everything should be good to go for May 2."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Road Bloggin'

West Virginia's state motto is "Open for Business.". How lame is that for a state motto??? Sheesh. There's gotta be something more interesting to say about W.Va. How about "Almost Heaven?" That would give John Denver two state booster-isms. But maybe Mountaineers aren't as pro-pot smoking as Coloradoians.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Derby Picks as of Today

With 18 days before Derby to change my mind ten times.

Colonel John
Z Fortune
Court Vision
Visionaire (Added 4.25)

Food Exacta

I was in Richmond VA yesterday for a quick Art+Auction cover check, and was able to eat at BOTH the Olive Garden AND Applebee's in an 8 hour period. Jealous?

I'm going to have to give the Olive Garden the higher rating, only because everything on the menu wasn't covered in cheese and salsa and ground beef. And then deep fried.

The OG was absolutely packed at lunch. Seriously, like 85 people in the place around 12:30 (Those damned early mealtimes are present everywhere but NYC). Meanwhile, a lonely little Vietnamese Pho place half a mini mall down was totally empty.

Applebee's was what I thought was the only bar in the airport, complete with FOX news on 10 channels in a frenzy over Obama's "cling" comment. Some lady tried to talk politics with me. I got scared of where that might go, and put on my Ipod instead.

I really wanted to say "Obama was a little hamfisted, but right."

Friday, April 11, 2008

After the Flood

I received a copy of this gorgeous, 10 pound Steidl (of course) produced book this week. Containing more than 500 pictures taken by Robert Polidori between September 2005 and April 2006 in the aftermath of Katrina, the book is a haunting record of the lives washed away in New Orleans. Does total destruction become art? Eerie and powerful. Some sample images below.

NIMBY, Literally

Please hold the line for a minute for an old person curmudgeon rant:
I am almost throwing up in my mouth at the thought of a roof garden at Studio B. This place is backed up against my garden. I already have to hear the bass coming from the club every night they have a show when I'm in my kitchen or bedroom. I shudder to think about people pissing down into my garden, shrieking all night from the rooftop, or throwing beer bottles off the roof.

While I wanted to be glad about a live music facility in the neighborhood, Studio B has been nothing but a crappy neighbor. They seemingly have no crowd control as people enter and exit the club, and take no notice of the fact that they are located on the edge of a residential neighborhood. On show nights, people scream drunkenly up and down Calyer, or even better when the windows are open, sit on our stoops to make phone calls at extremely high volume.

Trash is strewn everywhere on nights after shows, garbage bags pile up outside for rats to run around in, graffiti that is obviously tied into the previous night's show has gotten worse (Anarchy symbol anyone?) and parking is impossible. Beer bottles end up in the planters, and someone even went so far as to steal a lily in bloom, pot and all, last summer. I love when people fuck with my car, too.

Via newyorkshitty's research on the DOB online database, it looks as though the roof garden is completely without permits, so we'll have to see what we can do from this end to make their lives a little harder. Just as they have done to everyone's lives on my street.