Wednesday, November 29, 2006

To elaborate

  1. Went to Peter Luger for Thanksgiving. It was killer.

Peter Luger

178 Broadway, Brooklyn, New York.
Cash only.
Reservations required. 718/387-7400.
JMZ train to Marcy Avenue.
Expensive (steak for two is $80).

Opened in 1887 and serving continuously since, the wooden, well-worn Peter Luger in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is for many the ne plus ultra of steakhouses. And for good reason: in an age where nothing old is good enough, Peter Luger sticks admirably to its guns, serving a limited (though indulgent) menu of dry-aged (in-house) porterhouse steaks, potato hash, appetizers of thick-cut onion, tomato, and bacon, and rich desserts, all served with a side of “schlag,” or homemade whipped cream, which refuses to melt even in coffee. (Not to mention the gratis Luger-branded gold gelt.)

Though the steaks (ordered for two, three, four, and so on) are without equal—served family-style by the professional waiters, who spoon pan drippings over the meat as they place it on your plate—the bacon (ordered by the slice; don’t get more than one per person) is more of a revelation, given that many restaurant-goers are used to fine, well-aged steak, though perhaps not so much quality bacon. These are no Oscar Mayer strips, limp and curled-up: rather they’re thick (almost a half-inch) rashers that lay flat on your plate, with charred edges and a blend of crunchiness and tenderness; they taste like no other bacon you’ve ever had, with a complex, rich, smoky flavor.

On the service side, much has been written about the supposed brusque nature of the wait staff (all men) at Luger’s. It’s true, the waiters are all business, and will not indulge in, say, a smiling recitation of the day’s specials (there are none). But that’s a refreshing change from most restaurants these days; at Luger’s you feel as if you’re in the hands of a professional, which in fact you are. The two times I’ve been to Luger’s, most recently with my father, our waiter was no-nonsense but charming in an old-world way. I highly recommend them, and the place.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back from hiatus

I was on hiatus while my dad was visiting over Thanksgiving. Now I'm off hiatus.

My dad and I had a great time. We:
  1. Went to Peter Luger for Thanksgiving. It was killer.
  2. Saw Borat. Ribald.
  3. Checked out Times Square. (It's still there.)
  4. Watched the Razorbacks lose in an exciting, if ultimately disappointing, game with LSU.
  5. Saw The Producers. Infectious.
  6. Ate dinner at Carnegie Deli, 'neath a signed photo of Guv'nah Mike Huckabee, the Uzbek.
  7. Took a very insane cab ride home.
  8. Walked all 'round Central Park. Gorgeous fall weather.
  9. Watched A Mighty Wind. It was OK.
  10. Ate brunch at Harefield and listened to a band play.
  11. Ate at White Castle. Sober. Oof.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

23rd & Pistol

This morning I exited the subway station and walked across 6th Avenue for a paper. As I crossed the street, I saw an armored car being unloaded. A guy was wheeling a dolly stacked with stacks and stacks of currency. I couldn't see the denomination, but it was a bundle of bread.

As I passed the dolly full of dough, I saw a guy in uniform standing at the ready near the back of the armored car, pistol totally drawn, down by his side with his finger through the, um, trigger hole? I don't know what that's called. It was a bit unsettling when I caught the guy's eye.

On a side note, there are very few words that have come to English from the Czech language. Pistol is one. Robot is another. Can anyone name the most notable word we've inherited from the Czech? (Robot and pistol are the No. 2 and 3 entries; the missing word's No. 1.)

(Hint: this blog entry is peppered with slang terms for what this word, more generally, represents.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yesterday evening I solved a problem

On Antarctica, a friend of mine named Toby had a mix CD that his friends back home in Oregon had made him. Apparently it was made on the occasion of a road trip to Montana, as it was named “The Montana Road Trip Mix.” (Toby had literal-minded friends.)

I cottoned to the mix at once, burning it for myself. Mornings in the galley, alone in the dish room, I’d listen to it in between breakfast and lunch, the quietest time of the day. It was languorous, sexy, and odd; there were covers of Beatles songs, “world music” in a language I didn’t recognize, and two songs by a woman with a rich voice, with quirky orchestration; lots of left turns and quick swerves, reminiscent of Jon Brion’s work on Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine (which actually wasn’t the version that was released commercially).

But the mix CD came with no tracklist. Track 1, Track 2, Track 3, etc.; that’s all I had to work with. And no one knew who this woman was, not even Toby. I asked him to write his friends in Oregon and find out, but this either never happened or they didn’t know. I played the mix for people, asked them who they thought it could be; I Googled snatches of the lyrics … to no avail.

Cut, then, to yesterday; or, more accurately, this past Sunday, when I went to Earwax Records in Brooklyn and picked up three CDs: Brightblack Morning Light’s self-titled debut, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s IBM 1401—A User’s Manual, and a comp of “Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys” called Rogue’s Gallery.

I’ve been listening to the latter ever since; it’s full of strange seafaring nuggets, sung by a motley cast of characters, from Sting to new-ish Brooklyn band White Magic. One song, though, stood out to me over and above the others; it was called “Dead Horse,” and was sung by Robin Holcomb. I listened to it, walking around the city; I listened to it at night; I listened to it on the subway.

I couldn’t place the voice ‘til I did, out of nowhere, last night at 6th Avenue and 14th Street, about to descend into the station to take the L train home: it was the same woman whose songs I’d heard, lonely in the dish room, mornings in Antarctica. I highly recommend her.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Give My Love to Rose

This morning, smoking out my window, a graffiti'd box truck pulled up in front of my building. Along with the usual tags, there was another, unusual tag. It read "Give My Love to Rose," which is the title of a Johnny Cash song.

Also, from the Times this morning:
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14 — O. J. Simpson, who was acquitted 11 years ago in the 1994 death of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald L. Goldman has written a book and will appear on television telling “how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible,” his publisher and the Fox television network said on Tuesday.
No, I'm not making this up. Here's the link.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That sounds about right

The following quote comes from this story, about Toys for Tots turning down the offer of 4,000 Jesus dolls:
According to the company's Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus, dressed in hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals, recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." It has a $20 retail value.
That sounds about right.

Yesterday & Today

Yesterday was my birthday. It was nice.

Tonight (11/14) is an art show called Free Reign. It is in Williamsburg at a place called Avantfloor, which is at 210 Kent, aka (according to the flyer) "around the back on River St., corner of Metropolitan Avenue, in the basement of Monster Island."

Which reminds me of some of my favorite lines from The Simpsons:
Carl: I hear we're going to Ape Island.
Lenny: Yeah, to capture a giant ape. I wish we were going to Candy Apple Island
Charlie: Candy Apple Island? Whatta they got there?
Carl: Apes. But they're not so big.
Nevertheless: this art show, from 9pm to midnight, is not made-up, even though the directions maybe sound like they are. Several people I know—including Jibz Cameron, Samantha Marble, and Will Plummer—will have work there. Anyone wanting something fun to do should come.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Valley of the Gods

First off, go Dems! Yesterday was the first day in, oh, twelve years that I felt good about politics and the political direction of the country. I actually smiled at the newspaper. Big ups to everyone out there in TV Land (perhaps more literal than I realize ...) who voted; big downs to the New York Post, whose front-page photo and headline of Britney getting divorced from that idiot was larger and more prominent than their headline RE: Democrats taking the House. But I guess I should not be surprised.

This morning I looked out the window and the sky and the fresh air was amazing. A weather front was over Manhattan, and there was a clear demarcation between dark grey clouds and clear sky beyond. The Empire State Building, too, which has many different faces, was a gunmetal grey that I always find particularly striking. The buildings of Manhattan, as seen from my roof or window, can appear very different from day to day, much like the weird red rock monuments of the American Southwest, particularly those of the Valley of Gods, which I have visited, on a quiet, post-rain morning, as I heard, for the first time, Van Morrison’s "And It Stoned Me" playing from the roof of a green bus.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Weedy sea dragon

Though this animal might look like something animated from Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic, it's not; it's the real deal Holyfield.

Dig it; the picture is amazing. I would post it here, but it's someone else's.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day's tomorrow

Attn: all

Election Day's tomorrow, and you should make it a point to go out and vote. If you are registered to vote, but hesitant because you don't feel like you know enough about the candidates to make an informed (aka meaningful) decision, don't make this the reason you don't go to the polls. There are a number of ways to quickly educate oneself about those running for office and ballot measures.

The first is your local newspaper, which tomorrow will (no matter where you're at) run an election guide, detailing all the races and measures, and (usually) indicating whom and which the paper endorses. If you trust your paper, there's nothing wrong with following its lead.

The second is your state's board of elections, which usually publishes a voter's guide, similarly detailing all the races and measures, but offering no endorsements. To find your state's board of elections (which can also tell you where your designated polling site—aka, where you vote—is), just search online for "[your state's name] board of elections."

Third is the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, nationwide organization that works to educate the public about those running for office and initiatives on the ballot in your area. I'm not sure if every state's chapter of the League does this, but New York's publishes a fine, nonpartisan voter's guide—which is available here. (That's a link to the PDF.) To find your state's chapter of the League, go here.

In summary: find something to read about the elections, print it out, and go over it tonight, making your choices for tomorrow, before you go to bed. You don't have to be a political scholar to feel informed enough to vote; you just have to do a little homework, get up and make it to the polls.

And, quickly, to those who still ask, "Why vote?" Because, as former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon said, "Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote."

Very convenient, gypsy

From The New York Times:
Three and a half years after American troops captured Baghdad and ended the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi court set up to judge the brutalities of his 24 years in power found him guilty on Sunday of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to death by hanging.
Can anyone spot what's the matter with that sentence? That's right: by hanging. Since when do we hang people, or allow people to hang people? Doesn't seem very freedom-loving to me. Putting someone to death in the first place, probably not the best thing, but at least do it humanely.

Also: very convenient timing for the GOP; almost as convenient as 2004's "October surprise" Bin Laden videotape, which boosted Bush before the election against John Kerry.

I dunno, I dunno what I'm saying. But it does make you wonder. I don't think the neocons are at all above such jury-rigging (meaning subterfuge and sabotage), not for a minute.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Freudian slip?

After running into a friend, British Emily, whom I hadn't seen in a couple years, on the street, I crossed the avenue into the deli, to get an Alka-Seltzer (my stomach was upset, a bit) and a coffee.

But at the counter, in a conflation of my two requests, what I announced was, "Can I have an alcohol?"

No I cannot.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In other (monkey) news

Yesterday, after reading an article in The New York Times about how elephants seem to be self-aware—proven via the "mirror test," in which animals are tested as to whether or not they recognize their own reflection in a mirror—I did a search online for "monkeys and mirrors." Though I didn't find anything much about monkeys and mirrors, I did find a very interesting story about how a troop of monkeys in India rescued a recently orphaned member of their group from a police station. Below is a quote, and then the link.
"The monkeys behaved in an exemplary fashion and impressed us with their show of solidarity. Human beings have a lot to learn from them."
Here it is.

Autumn for Hitler

Gothamist today has a hilarious story-about-a-story-in-the-New York Post; the headline is “Heil o’ween,” and concerns a 16-year-old Brooklynite named Walter Pertyk who yesterday wore a Hitler costume to school. The kid’s obviously not a racist, so it makes it easier to laugh about. Gothamist quotes the following from the Post story:

“Excuse me, fuhrer, can I talk to you for a minute?” is how Petryk recalled the dean, Paul Puglia, summoning him out of class.

Puglia then allegedly asked, “Are you out of your mind, you idiot?” and ordered him to the office with, “Consider yourself my prisoner of war.”

Nice. Pretty funny way to deal with the situation.