Sunday, April 30, 2006

Don Pedro's Belly Busting Brunch

Don Pedro's is a Latin-Caribbean restaurant on the corner of 96th Street and 2nd Avenue with excellent food and an excellent belly busting brunch special. For $11.95 on Sundays only Don Pedro's (warning: bad music on their site) serves a very filling 4 course brunch. They begin with a Caribbean bread basket which contains chili popcorn, fried plantains, and toasted Cuban bread slices, all served with a saffron oil dipping sauce. The fried plantain slices were addictively good. The dipping sauce was ok in small amounts, as the flavor tended to be overpowering. I found the chili popcorn to be very hot. The brunch also includes choice of Bloody Mary or Passionfruit Mimosa. Yum.
We began with the Sopa de Frijoles Negros-Cuban style black bean soup, which had excellent flavor due to the crunchy additions of chopped cilantro. After a little wait our main courses were served. CNote had the Ensalada de Pollo a la Parrilla- tangy citrus marinated grilled chicken breast slices over field greens with citrus vinaigrette. The vinaigrette had a slight hint of lime to and was very tasty. I can't comment on the chicken but she said it was good.
I ordered the Bistec de Palomilla- steak sandwich with grilled onions, served with Yuca Frita- fried yucca, and some salad greens with the citrus vinaigrette. The fried yucca was a bit dried and starchy for my tastes but the salad with cabbage was quite good due to that citrus vinaigrette. The steak was very good, seasoned and grilled- juicy and flavorful. The steak sandwich had plentiful grilled onions atop and a small amount of melted cheese on the bottom. It was served on Cuban bread but not totally flattened like a Cuban sandwich. The meal was well presented and extremely filling:
Dessert was also included and since there's always room for dessert we each had the Flan Caramelo. It had a sticky coconut cluster underneath and dollops of strawberry and passion fruit syrup on the plate with a tasty cookie sticking out. Texturewise, the stickiness of the coconut was well balanced by the smoothness of the flan. Muy delicioso.
The service was excellent and attentive, refilling our water several times without prompting. The restaurant was surprisingly pretty empty. Oddly the salsa music level slowly increased to blaringly loud levels before descending back to quiet several times during our meal. Don Pedro's is a phenomenal value for Sunday brunch (the plates are much bigger than they look in the pictures here). It's the type of meal you eat when you know you're probably not going to eat too much else that day.
category: food_ nyc_

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cutting It Short Today

Lots of plans today so just a quick link to the funniest post in the history of the internet. In honor of my buddy who just converted to Judaism (although I think he just did it for the jokes). Veiled Conceit is one of the smartest and most humorous blogs out there. He basically just rails on the pretentious NY Times wedding announcements. Mercilessly. So check out the linked post above and Veiled Conceit in general.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Survivor Is Awesome This Year

The old man of reality TV, Survivor, is as strong as ever. For Survivor Panama, CBS has switched up the strategies in the game by introducing "Exhile Island" and the secret immunity idol. The game is down to the final 6 and suddenly there's all sorts of shifting alliances and it's become completely unpredictable. That's not going to stop me from bs'ing a prediction though. Up until last week it seemed like Shane (the Tommy Lee lookalike) was running the show. Now it seems like Cirie's boobs are in large and in charge.

Terry appears to be unstoppable in challenges and he has the hidden immunity idol, so it will be very difficult to defeat him. Plus he sort of looks like MacGuyver. But the big question is if he's in the final 2, will the jury vote for him based on his merits or will they vote for whomever else based on them making it that far in a significantly less physical manner than Terry. Then there is the curse of the car; he won the car and now he will lose Survivor. That's how it's gone every other time someone wins the car, and somehow it will continue.

Danielle (brunette Melissa Rivers) is clearly not going to make it much further as she has no grasp of the game's strategies. She will be used as a pawn of some sorts. If Mr. Miyagi hadn't been forced out last week due to injury, she might not be here this week. Aras might win it all. He doesn't appear to have made many enemies and has played well strategically and physically. The only issue is that everyone else is aware of that and he has a huge target on his head.

So I'm going out on a huge limb here and predicting Cirie and her gradually increasing bosom will be the winner. She is much more deceitful than she lets on to be (or the producers let her on to be). Cirie knows who's playing who and is not afraid to shake things up in her favor. She will sit back and let others self destruct if needed or will make a move if she's in danger, like this week. Cirie will be victorious.
category: tv_

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's Unanimous: Unan1mous Sucks

Mercy! Just end it already. Unan1mous, FOX's latest reality stinker is too grating to watch. In theory Unan1mous should be great; put a bunch of schlubs in a bunker and don't let them out until they make a unanimous decision on the winner, while the money goes down from $1.5 million at a buck a second while contestants are slowly whittled down to live-in voting outcasts. Social Darwinism in a human sized ant farm.

In execution however, Unan1mous is as horrible as it's name. Paradoxically, the show is too short. It's only 30 minutes and has too many seemingly made up on the fly new rules to explain each week. There's also a painfully slow voting process involving the contestants dropping an orb into a bank teller like vacuum slot. The host, who only appears on the monitors, looks like a robotic Danny Bonaduce. He might be computer generated, I'm not even sure. The bunker looks sort of 1998 dotcom excess company conference room space-agey meets Ikea low budget meets cheesy SciFi movie set. The outcasted players are forced to wear what looks like an inside out Star Trek background extra person's shirt with huge X on the shoulder. Dropping the prize from $1.5 million to $750K the first episode when someone quit the show definitely didn't help.

The show's short length gives the viewer virtually no time to learn anything about the contestants beyond their voting strategies. It's too stripped down. At this point, I'm too invested to stop watching the show even though I know it sucks. I just need to see who wins and be done with it. I have no emotional attachment to any of the contestants. I just don't want the guy who was revealed to have been in a mental institution to win because he might be crazy enough to make a Unan2mous.
category: tv_

Old Madonna

Madonna's getting old and I miss the old Madonna. Madonna aka Esther turns 48 this year. I'm not sure what she's trying to do anymore. Madge's best music is the dance club stuff or the soaring vocal ballads- the old hits. After a dry period in the 90's, the Material Girl did sort of get back into the groove with Ray Of Light and Music but since then nothing. It just feels tired these days. Madonna's on tour and nobody cares.
So what's good about the old Madonna? Here's Madge's best hits of all time, in order of bestness, in my opinion (yes I am now officially the first straight person to ever refer to her as Madge):
  1. Borderline
  2. Like a Prayer
  3. Live to Tell
  4. Into the Groove
  5. Holiday
  6. Open Your Heart
  7. Crazy for You
  8. Lucky Star
  9. La Isla Bonita
  10. What It Feels Like For a Girl
  11. Ray of Light
  12. Where's the Party
category: music_

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Shake Shack: Can't Beat Their Meat

It's now officially spring as the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park has reopened for the season. I hereby re-anoint the Shake Shack burger as the best burger in all of the great and bountiful land of Manhattan. Burger Joint will be forced to relinquish the crown until fall when the shack closes again. The Shake Shack is so dominant that is the king of burgers. In fact, I believe they should rename the place "Burger King", it's a real catchy name, I'm shocked nobody's thought of it yet. Great name for a hamburger place-rolls off tongue real smooth.
Apparently 3pm on a weekday is a great time to go. This was one of the shortest lines I've ever seen for the shack. The burger was fantastic as usual. Unfortunately I could not tear myself away from devouring it to snap a picture of the meat (and looking back at pics from my last trip- same thing). I was surprised they could not cook it medium-well; I had to choose one or the other. Shake Shack reigns supreme.
category: food_ nyc_

Monday, April 24, 2006

Quirky NYC Store Layouts 2- Duane Reade 86th/Lex

In our previous round of quirky store layouts, we noticed a tight column in the Duane Reade on 86th and 1st Avenue. Today's quirky store layout is the Duane Reade on 86th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues (not to be confused with the Duane Reades on 86th/2nd, or on 84th/3rd...). This drugstore took over a movie theater which was in the Gimbels Department store building. Gimbels built the theater as compensation for tearing down another theater on the site to build their store. Today the replacement theater and Gimbels are gone; replaced by apartments, Best Buy, Staples, Barnes & Noble, Starbucks and a quirky layout Duane Reade.
You walk in under the old movie theater marquee, it's signage replaced by Duane Reades bright logo. You enter into what appears to be the world's smallest Duane Reade (photo above) selling nothing more than candy and cigarettes, until you realize this is just the register area. Make a mental note the total width of the store now. Behind the umbrella stand are the escalators:It still feels like a movie theater, you can picture some guy at the bottom asking for tickets. Once up the escalator you find one of the most spacious Duane Reade's in the city; a huge suburban sized store:
Wide, spacious aisles. Easy to see overhead signage. Well stocked. Prices marked on the shelves. Basically impressive. After stocking up, you must proceed back down the escalator to the small entrance area to pay, only to find there are only TWO registers for a store this size! As is usual in Duane Reades, only a single line forms for both registers, taking up the entire bottom level and blocking access to the escalators (you can see 2 people on line in the middle picture). That is the quirky layout Duane Reade shopping experience. Until next time...
category: nyc_

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rocks Off Concert Cruises Rocks On

An awesome thing about New York summers is the Rocks Off boat cruises. They take you out on a three hour tour (...a three hour tour) on the river with a live band rocking your dome. Rocks Off runs two boats- The Half Moon which is smaller and leaves from the east side and The Temptress which is more Love Boaty and takes off from the west side. Both boats have outdoor areas with speakers for smoking or enjoying the views but the band area is weather protected inside. The Temptress will sometimes head north up the Hudson but will usually go south towards the Statue of Liberty; the Half Moon seems to always head south. Rocks Off keeps the prices pretty reasonable considering you're getting a boat cruise and a concert all in one- usually $20-30.

Yesterday afternoon I was on The Temptress to see Deep Banana Blackout as part of the Green Apple Festival. Overall a good show, nice to hear Jen Durkin back with them again, but it somehow didn't have the same magic as the old days and I'm not sure exactly why. Anyway, here's the view from the back of the tiny dance floor- the band is under the overhang straight ahead. It can be difficult to see them from certain spots on the boat. Two winding small staircases to the upstairs are to the rear.
Randoms relaxing on the rear outdoor deck in the misty rain. The deck in the front is partially covered. Almost as close to Lady Liberty as you can get without crossing the Homeland Security white cross these and we'll sink you in two seconds no hesitation ask questions later floaties.
Concert cruise season has just begun, so get on board.
category: music_ nyc_

Friday, April 21, 2006

Earth Day Concerts at Grand Central

Today was the Earth Day festival at Grand Central Terminal. There were free concerts throughout the day outside as part of the Green Apple Festival. The first act was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They were amazing. Grace has a soulful bluesy voice and plays a Rhodes keyboard as well as acoustic guitar. Her band had a hard rocking bluesy feel to it. Great songs and a great performance. I will definitely check them out again.
Next up was Umprey's McGee. UM played a decent set, nothing spectacular but much better than the shows of theirs I saw in Amsterdam last month. Here you can see the stage setup on Vanderbilt Ave, next to Grand Central. UM drew a much larger crowd, perhaps due to their 1p lunchtime slot.
After a 3 hour break, the next act was up- Mickey Hart and Mutaytor. Mickey Hart was one of the drummers for the Grateful Dead, and today he was joined by Mike Gordon (Phish) on bass, Steve Kimock on guitar, as well as a menagerie of percussionists and dancers. Played a few songs from the Dead catalog- Iko Iko and Not Fade Away. It was a very lively and fun show, lots going on and thundering percussive beats throughout.
Mickey unfortunately did not have his red white and blue wristbands on tonight but he did have awesome biker gloves on and was joined by special guest percussionist Walter Cronkite (seated). Walt plays a mean tom-tom.
Martin Sexton closed the night. I did not stay for much of his solo singer/songwriter style performance. Overall some really good shows and nothing beats a free outdoor concert.
category: music_ nyc_

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Top Chef Cooks

Top Chef is another well done reality competition series from Bravo. The challenges are interesting and the elimination process is very fair. Although like Project Runway, a few of the challenges are based more on luck than real cheffing. Plus the host is Billy Joel's (much younger) wife. Here's who left on Top Chef and what their deal is:

The flamboyant bleached blonde gay Californian. One week he looks like he has no clue what he's doing, the next he's putting out impressive meals. He frequently gets frazzled easily and runs around the kitchens frantically. Seems like a nice guy though not quite Top Chef material. Odds of becoming Top Chef: 100-1

The overconfident young sommelier. Cocky does not even begin to describe Stephen. His knowledge of wines, foods, and cooking is impressive but he is often blinded by his knowledge- unable to deviate away from making a technically good but soulless meal. His presentations and flavor combinations look outstanding at times but his immaturity will cost him. Always wearing a suit even when the other chefs are in uniforms does not help his case. The guy you love to hate. Odds of becoming top chef: 20-1.

The quiet underachiever. Harold seems to do pretty good every week but never good enough to win. He has a great deal of common sense and is very focused on his goal of winning. Harold appears to get distracted by non-kitchen goings on and can lose interest if not in his element. With the right types of remaining competitions, he could be the dark horse to win. Odds of becoming Top Chef: 8-1.

The bubbly but tough red head. Tiffani is clearly very experienced and comfortable in the kitchen. Her dishes are almost always appealing and unique. She exudes confidence but it's that same confidence that may betray her, as she can be difficult to work with in a team situation. She is virtually guaranteed top 3 and her odds of becoming Top Chef are 3-1.

Lee Ann
The consistant one. Lee Ann is extremely talented but she doesn't show it in her personality. She lets her food do all the talking. Lee Ann has executed almost every challenge with great ease to near perfection. She is consistently among the top and is right now the one to beat. She is tough and creative. Odds of becoming Top Chef: 2-1.

Top Chef airs on Bravo on Wednesday nights.
category: tv_

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Endangered Species Returns to New York City

A species once thought to be extinct in the New York City region has returned with a vengeance. Today at the uptown exit ramp to the Midtown Tunnel I spotted the endangered homo squeegeeus, or as they are more commonly known- the squeegee man. The species was once widespread throughout all five boroughs at bridge and tunnel approaches as well as busy intersections. The squeegee man was thought to have been eliminated to extinction by former mayor Rudy Giuliani (or not), but now appears to be making a comeback.
Scientists have reclassified the squeegee guy from extinct to endangered. A Manhattan sociologist commented, "This is a truly a phenomenal find. It is imperative that we trap a second one, so as to have a breeding pair and ensure the survival of the species. Alas, the female squeegeeus is much rarer." Sam Champion's hair said, "Global warming is clearly a factor in driving the squeegee man from the warmer southern regions. Global warming is also giving me an awesome man tan this year. I won Village Voice's best fake tan on a local weatherman in 2004 and I expect a win in the real tan category this year."

This squeegee guy managed to extort at least $10 in the few minutes I watched him at "work". He's holding a buck in his left hand in the picture. About 1/3 of the cars used the pull up fast method of avoidance, 1/3 used the windshield wipers, and the rest let him "clean" their windshields. A half hour later I saw him in the back of a NYPD van. Of course, sometimes the squeegee can be used for good.
category: nyc_

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pointless Wet Paint Sign

Why not just put the sign right on the green box where the wet paint is? Or even on the pole above the green box. By the time you see the sign, you're already walked past the green box and possibly touched it or leaned on it while waiting for the bus or the light to change. This can't continue. How many people have to lean on it and ruin their clothes before we do something? How many? This might be a conspiracy by local clothing stores to drive up business. I'm not investigating any further for fear of mafia reprisal. I watch Sopranos, I know how these people operate. However, if anyone's looking for a Wet Paint Sign Placement Supervisor, my resume is posted.

category: nyc_

Monday, April 17, 2006

Parking Garage Defies Laws of Physics

A Trump Place parking garage on New York's Upper West Side has managed to defy the basic laws of physics and create infinite space. Unlimited parking within a building- how is this possible? I decided to investigate. The manager on duty, who looked to be around 800 years old all hunched over, told me in his gravelly voice, "Help you I can, yes. You will find only what you bring in. Size matters not." That sort of made sense but this big-eared old man was not the man I was looking for.

To find the answers I had to go directly to the big cheese, the head honcho, the man with the hair, the big man himself, The Donald. Since it's in a Trump building, he must have the scoop. Suspiciously Mr. Trump has not yet responded to my request for further comment via his Trumpblog. So the plot thickens. Clearly it's some sort of Trump conspiracy to cover up his newest real estate weapon- infinite space. This unlimited space thing is going to be huge- just think about the price per square foot when you're living in infinity sq feet. It's a bargain at any price. That's why Trump's making the big bucks.
Yes the lowest rates in the neighborhood are over $500 a month for a luxury car (plus $42 if it's an SUV).
category: nyc_

Sunday, April 16, 2006

New York's Easter Parade

Happy Easter! Today is Easter Sunday and one of the coolest parades in New York happens today. The Easter Parade isn't like any other parades; it's just an unorganized mass of people walking around dressed up. It's the best thing since the Cadbury Mini Egg McFlurry. Dressed up is an understatement- showing off outrageous hats and outfits is more like it. It's an opportunity for regular people to be a bit flamboyant for a day and for flamboyant people to be regular for a day. It's all about the bonnets:

pet rats?
Jesus is resurrected

category: nyc_

Friday, April 14, 2006

Quirky NYC Store Layouts- Duane Reade 86th/1st

New York City's premium on space creates some truly quirky store layouts, particularly for supermarkets and drugstores. Duane Reade is the biggest local drugstore chain with stores approaching ubiquity. Their stores are a bit bizarre to say the least (check out New York Metro unlocking some of the mystery of Duane Reade.). Sometimes they give you massively long receipts, which doesn't quite make up for not putting price stickers on any items. Almost every store has signs saying to form a line at each register, yet customers virtually always form a single line (not doing so may cause some consternation). There's always a line- day or night, at any location- always; even their CEO admits it. The most unusual characteristic for many stores is the quirky layouts. Check out this column in the middle of an aisle at the Duane Reade on 86th Street and 1st Avenue.
It's a pretty wide column, maybe 4 feet; a larger person with bus driver arms would not be able to reach in or get into the Dove shampoo and conditioner section. A handicapped person could not get in there. It's really discrimination and it must be stopped. Nobody wants to see someone get wedged in there until the fire department comes with the jaws of life just because they want conditioner with moisture pearls. Short armed fat people need the good shampoo too! At least the rest of the layout for this store is very straightforward- just a box. In coming weeks I'll be bringing you more quirky NYC store layouts that will make this look positively normal.
category: nyc_

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar Good but Needs Work

The Google Calendar web application was released yesterday in beta form (MYGHmm has a nice rundown of the features). I immediately tried it out and right away ran into problems. I attempted to invite my wife to a movie for Monday- a simple enough task. I put in start and end times of 7p and 9p. GCal would not let me save the item, insisting that the end time was before the start time. I switched the times around several times and it just would not work. Finally I changed the times to "all day" and it went through. This is a huge issue obviously but it seems to have been resolved by today.

The only other problem was that when I attempted to put my wife's Gmail address into the "add guests" box, it listed her under her old maiden name only. This makes it impossible to type her name into the box- I can enter her email though. I assumed this would only be a behind the scenes minor issue until my wife responded back asking why I was using her old name- ouch! Otherwise it seems to be pulling the addresses right from my Gmail with no problems. Besides causing potential marital problems, it does have some other issues too.

Minor hiccups aside, Google Calendar seems pretty awesome. The ability to type in a simple English phrase like "bbq on monday at 8pm at my place" and have it added to the calendar instantly is a very powerful timesaver. The interface is very slick with virtually no loading time for any of the features I tried. This is a significant improvement over Outlook's weak/slow/bulky calendar feature. If GCal were more integrated into Gmail in ways other than just the address book, than Google would have a massive winner here. Just one link to it in Gmail on the left above Contacts would be ideal. There are links to go from GCal to Gmail but not the other way around, from within the respective applications. Ideally it would integrated enough that Gmail's scanning system would read dates/times in your emails and suggest adding this to your Gcalendar, similar to how it asks if you want to map something or track a package.

Google Calendar has huge potential in many ways; if it catches on like Gmail did and with the right application or add-on written, it will devour ad-heavy slow loading Evite-guaranteed. Currently it's an awesome application that I know will help me organize. For free, you have to be impressed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Passover from Manischewitz

Why on this night do we drink Manischewitz, sweetest of all wines? For a sweet Passover? As if the regular Manischewitz wasn't sweet enough, someone brought cherry flavored tonight. According to the Manischewitz people (makers of Robert Mondavi wine too- wow!), the cherry wine has an "aroma and taste is reminiscent of fresh baked cherry pie". I personally tasted a full bodied crisp undertone of cherry Vicks, a complex yet balanced palate tingling aroma of cherry Halls, and a lingering finishing note of juicy ripe cherry Chloraseptic. How sweet it is!
category: food_

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Springtime in Spanish Harlem

I walked a bit through lower Spanish Harlem today and into the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park. If it weren't for the projects, El Bario would be a great place to live. There's lots of cute little gardens and restaurants- I really have to go back for the food soon. It's so vibrant and full of life- the streets are hopping and it has a low rise character to it- lots of sun. Lexington Avenue makes an incredibly steep drop between 102nd & 103rd Street, check out the slant on Jalapeno Deli:
Spring is definitely here in New York City- the flowers are all in full bloom. I love the Conservatory Gardens- they are usually not too crowded for Central Park, it's very well tended, and the flowers change with the seasons.

category: nyc_

Monday, April 10, 2006

Adventures in Ice Cream

There were some strange things going on Saturday. At Tasti-D-Lite.. someone had left their credit card there. A clever employee taped it to the glass, concealing the card number neatly. Franci Endich if you're miraculously connected to these internets, head to TastiD on 86th Street to get your card. Also Franci, if you're buying so much fake ice cream that you have to charge it, you have serious problems beyond just forgetting your card. And congrats on winning the Ex-Lax award from your fraternity.
When my wife asked for a raspberry smoothie, the girl behind the counter said they were completely out of vanilla. How can you run out of vanilla? If the entire liquid half your menu requires vanilla to make, how do you run out? I don't understand. No smoothies, no shakes, no power boosts? The horrified look on the girls face when I suggested making the raspberry smoothie with the double dutch chocolate fake ice cream told me that I was probably the first person to suggest that all night, or all time. That's why I'm not the one making smoothies for a living people. Leave that to the experts.

Medium cup of swirled soft serve TastiD in hand, we walked around the corner to ColdStone Creamery to get me the real deal. None of that fake crap for me. So I doublechecked with my wife, "Are you sure it's ok to go into Cold Stone while eating the competitors product?" I was reassured that it would be no problem. We stroll in, wait on the line filled with teenagers, I decide what to get while CNote happily eats her fake ice cream. Before I can even order, the guy behind the counter starts yelling at CNote "what is that? hey everyone, look what she has" and the other counterpeople turn to look. He looked enraged and as if he were about to jump the counter. At this point I was scared. Scared that I wasn't going to get my ice cream.

The episode quickly came to an end when someone at the register left a tip. The deal with Cold Stone is that when someone leaves a tip, they make a big stink and the entire staff breaks into song. Not just any song, Cold Stone songs. They have jingles & chants- anywhere from 10-30 seconds. Some are hard to understand, the staff laughs through them. The best ones are when they take regular songs and change the lyrics; Addams Family, Flintstones and the greatest Cold Stone fake song of all time- Theme From Cops. Cold Stone Cold Stone whatcha' gonna do, whatcha gonna do when we mix for you, Cold Stone Cold Stone whacha' gonna do. Unfortunately this visit we did not get Cops and I was too scared from the above incident to video the antics anyway.

The ice cream at Cold Stone is freshly made and you are allowed one "mix-in" for free. The staff uses two big flat spoons to scoop up your ice cream into a ball, then they place it on a cold stone and work at it with the spoons and your choice of mix-in. I went with the white chocolate ice cream and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups for my mix-in. They took actual whole PB cups and crushed and mixed them with the spoons. Since the small size was $4.49 and the medium was only fifty cents more, I went medium. I ended up with a softball sized ball or ice cream plopped into a cup. It tasted great- creamy and thick. Too filling for one sitting, I put most into the freezer for later. Best thing since the Cadbury Mini Eggs McFlurry.

If you clicked the audio link at the top, you've been listening to Will Bernard's electronic project from 2001. Cool.
category: food_ nyc_

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Listen to the River Sing Sweet Songs to Rock My Soul

It's weird that Manhattan is completely surrounded by rivers but there's no almost no places where you can actually touch the water. The rivers are completely docked over (notable exception is the park just below the GW Bridge). Just thinking about rivers today, I feel some sort of connection to the water. I grew up not far from the water and I'm always drawn to it for some reason. Every now and again I need to walk along the shore here or across a bridge, maybe to remind myself that I am on an island here or to reassure me that the water is nearby. There's something calming about moving water, even when it's dirty and polluted. Still water like lakes and ponds don't seem to have the same affect- it's got to be moving. I love the smell of the water. I know others can't stand the salty, fishy smell but I enjoy it. It smells like my childhood.

So regarding this post's title-(hit play on the embedded player at the top now if you haven't already) it's lyrics from one of the best songs ever written- Brokedown Palace by the Grateful Dead. The song was written by their lyricist Robert Hunter on the same day he wrote 2 other songs, including another favorite of mine Ripple. Together those two songs are the perfect rainy day/sunny day companions. Brokedown Palace is melancholy and mournful while Ripple is full of hope.
Brokedown Palace:

Goin to plant a weeping willow
On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow
Sing a lullaby beside the water
Lovers come and go - the river roll roll roll

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul
If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they're better left unsung
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air

The fact that he wrote both these songs in a single day is mind blowing. Truly inspirational lyrics and imagery. Both appear on the American Beauty album. Both songs mention going "home" which is one of the most powerful words when applied conceptually. Home represents different things to different people but in the end it's almost always a positive place and something we seek out. A place of comfort. Also the two songs sort of represent this weekend, dark and dreary one day, sunny and springlike the next.

For your listening should already be listening to a version of Brokedown Palace from Madison Square Garden 9/20/87. It's companion for today is an acoustic version of Ripple from 9/26/80. Enjoy:

category: life_ music_

Friday, April 07, 2006

American Inventor Shatters American Dreams

I've been watching American Inventor on ABC recently; a reality show to find the next great American inventor. The beginning few episodes feel similar to the first few of American Idol (Simon Cowell is the executive producer of both), showing would be contestants from 7 cities demonstrating their inventions. They are mixing up the cities throughout each episode which eliminates any sense of continuity- a minor point though.

American Inventor basically destroys the American dream for people who have invested their entire life savings into inane "inventions". It's shocking how many of the contestants are living in some delusions of their own minds that tells them to sell everything they own to make it big with a cupholder or a stick or a flatulence odor absorbing pad for your underwear (I shit you not). These are dreams that deserved to be shattered and therefore American Inventor should be congratulated for providing this public service. Bullet Ball is not the next Olympic sport- it's foosball with your hands. One person's dream is another person's nightmare.

There are four dream destroying judges: the annoying woman's marketing "expert" lady who seems to be a bit of an ugly diva and judges mostly based on feelings instead of any knowledge or thought, the handsome British marketing executive who tends towards the unnecessarily cruel, the Italian New Yorker who sympathizes with all the contestants but is tough and truthful, and the pudgy Hawaiian shirt wearing inventor who has way too much invention know how for his own or anyone else's good but brings the honest voice of reason to his judgments and looks exactly like that guy from Princess Bride.



Separated at birth? It's not inconceivable. The photos don't even do the similarities complete justice. Their mannerisms are indistinguishable.

Despite it's faults, so far the show is far superior to USA Network's similar Made In the USA, a show that did so well in the ratings that it's finale aired at 8am on a Friday (and who's winner "invented" a combination camelbak & football shoulderpads). Some of the inventions on American Inventor actually look good and seem commercially viable. The show hasn't fully described the elimination process yet, I'll have to see how that changes the show to determine if I continue to watch. But so far it's been enjoyable. Inconceivable!

category: tv_

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cadbury Mini Eggs McFlurry

The Cadbury Mini Eggs McFlurry is not just some made up stoner munchie food, it's the real deal Holyfield. Yes- it's lame for an adult American tourist in London to eat at McDonald's, however there was no way in hell I was going to pass up this opportunity for a unique cultural culinary experience since the Limited Edition Cadbury Mini Eggs McFlurry is only available in the UK (for only 1 pound!).

After waiting on an interminable queue despite the late hour, I finally tasted the creamy chocolately egglike goodness. It can only be described as sublime; a gift from the gods that mortal man was never meant to taste. The mini eggs are crushed and swirled in with the McFlurry's soft serve vanilla. I'm not sure if they added something else or the combination caused it, but it almost had a melted marshmallow consistency that tasted like a swirled in Cadbury Creme egg- in some ways similar to Ben & Jerry's Phish Food. It's important to note that despite the creme taste, mini eggs do not actually have Cadbury Creme inside them, just chocolate. Insert your own McBlurry photo joke here:Dear McDonald's North America,
Please bring the Cadbury Mini Eggs McFlurry to the United States. It is unfair to deny the fine citizens of the US such a prestigious and delicious product. Additionally it would take some of the heat off your company for slowly eliminating the Shamrock Shake. This would be the perfect marketing opportunity with a sidestory for Grimace, who as everyone knows already loves the shakes. Or perhaps a new McFlurry Rabbit character could be introduced as an assistant to Mayor McCheese but moonlighting as a getaway driver for the Hamburglar. Caught between two worlds McFlurry Rabbit's thoughts are tormented and conflicted as he turns to boozing it up with the Fry Guys to ease the pain. It's a no brainer. Sincerely,
McLovin' the McFlurry in McAllen Texas
category: food_

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

When Do We Eat? A Passover Treat

Oy vey. I just came back from a screening of the new movie When Do We Eat? This might possibly be the finest Passover comedy movie ever made. I can't think of another one that tops it, or even another one at all. The premise behind the movie is a dysfunctional family getting together for a Passover seder. Oh and also the druggie son slips the father some ecstasy, the lesbian daughter's black girlfriend brings the matzah, and the Wall St banker son has turned Hasidic. Not to mention the autistic son, sex surrogate daughter, Jewish mother, and the handyman who all join them for the seder.

When Do We Eat? was hysterical. Very well paced with big and small laughs throughout. The entire family goes through a unleavened rollercoaster of emotions as they all bring their issues to the table. The soundtrack consisted of some traditional Hebrew songs done in various modern styles- techno, reggae, etc. There were some charoseriffic special effects to show the father (very well played by Michael Lerner) tripping out on the drugs.

I'd recommend it for all Jews and anyone with at least minimal familiarity with the Passover holiday. Many of the themes are universal and relevant to any family. Do not pass-over the funniest Jewish movie since The Hebrew Hammer and probably the funniest Passover movie of all time. When Do We Eat? comes out on April 7th in select theaters.
category: tv_

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Apprentice- Where Do They Get These People From?

Sometimes I think that contestants on reality TV are the stupidest people on earth. For about the 5th week in a row on The Apprentice, the project manager had been fired for not bringing the right people back to the boardroom. If The Donald says "but isn't it Johnny Mensa's fault for...", you freakin bring in Johnny Mensa*. To take personal responsibility for the loss after Trump has already blamed someone else is just dense. Are these people even paying attention to what happened in the previous boardrooms? Don't they want to win?

I do like how NBC is starting the show off without a true recap from the previous week. The show now starts with a brief clip of Trump firing the contestant and his reasoning and then cuts immediately to the start of the show, beginning with the reaction to the returning contestants in the suite.

*Johnny Mensa: The Gangsta Who Uses His Brain. Coming soon to theaters near you. "Yo Frankie, check dis out, if I use an underhand swing in an arc corresponding with the Fibonacci sequence with this here baseball bat, the centrifugal force and momentum from the backswing means I can beat this guy down wit half da effort". "Johnny you're a genius.. you're gonna be boss one day".

category: tv_

Monday, April 03, 2006

Yorkville Says No Boxes, Maybe Octagon

The Upper East Side's family friendly East End Avenue says hell to the no to New York Family newsracks. They lay out an argument that's tough to beat (although they fail to mention reason #6- this vicious shade of green can cause permanent retinal damage without proper eye protection):
If these boxes are enough to make local residents want to move then all they have to do is walk a block over to the water and look across the river at the huge banner aimed squarely at them advertising rentals at The Octagon on Roosevelt Island:
Why do I have a strange feeling that they didn't put a banner like this on the Queens side of the building?
category: nyc_

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Worst Van Ever

I didn't even know muzak was still around. This is one thing that if it's broke, let it stay broke cause I don't want to hear it. I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you, I knew you were right believing for so long, I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you, I can't be too late to say I was so wrong. See how annoying it is just written even without the audio? Enjoy that song in your head for the rest of the weekend people:Bonus points if you can name the landmark it's (illegally) parked in front of.
category: nyc_ music_