topless paradise and pulp

Jarvis Cocker
rocked our socks off at the Williamsburg Hall of Music last night.  He put on a ridiculously energetic and charismatic show with a handful of encores, finally closing with his take on a 1986 deep house track, which seemed to keep the crowd satisfied (despite not hearing any Pulp, as to be expected).  Thanks to Jenn for the surprise birthday present (the tickets)!

Highlights included Jarvis giving a glass of whiskey to someone in the front row after they accidentally spilled their drink on the stage, and someone gave him flowers during one of the encores.  His stories and anecdotes between songs were very, very funny.

He’s still got it (and yes, that’s a braided belt).

A car parked outside of Duff’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

• I met up briefly with Chris Reid and Sara Waters last week, who were in town to see Chatham County Line and an upstate music festival, on their annual girls-only trip.  They were in great spirits, but the hang out time was a little limited due to tons of office work.  Jenn and I grabbed a quick drink at a surprisingly full Home Sweet Home that seemed to be having sorta a Bauhaus-ish, dark-keyboard night.

Ici’s brunch over in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill is decent.  The staff is at least super nice.  Six of us (Big Nasty, D.Lish, Mehgan, Jenn, Moses, and I) had an extra long meal to discuss upcoming stuff in BK.

A few tags in Williamsburg.  Click here for a larger version.  There’s a Colt and a Miss 17, but I’m not too keen as to the others.

Bonita (that place on Bedford that has the “Comida Tipicos Mexicana” or something on the windows) has quite good sangria pitchers for $24, for what it’s worth.  The only problem is you need at least one per two people to get the night started right.

Jenn and I embarked on a 35 mile trek (round trip) to Fort Tilden at the end of Long Island, near Far Rockaway.  This is a pit-stop at a snack truck on the bike path, in between Sheepshead Bay and the Floyd Bennett Fields.  Jenn’s Miyata (right) is in beach mode: towel and Krypto lock on the rear rack, and flip-flops, purse, water, and helmet up front.  My bike on the left was a little less burdened, I instead opted to load down the bag on my back.

Fort Tilden has abandoned buildings to explore.  The beach felt remote enough for a handful of the twenty-something girls nearby us to run around topless all day (like jumping jacks and stuff).  No complaints.  At all.

• Later in the day, on the return trip, we had a bizarre craving for a chain Americana restaurant, so we locked our bikes up again and ate at the Applebees at Sheepshead Bay.  Turns out, the junk is good and gully: while enjoying a Bourbon Street Steak, an afternoon fist fight erupted out in the parking lot, and everyone in the restaurant ran to the windows to see the fists flying.  Food and entertainment.

gas, brake, dip, dip

A fish near Lake George, New York.

• Riding home from work the other evening, I saw a guy selling ice cream from a reclaimed and converted wheelchair. He had some sort of cardboard coverings over the larger front wheels, and had fashioned a large cooler into the main chair part of it, as if people weren’t going to notice it’s former wheelchair qualities.

• Also food-related, the owner of the Park Slope-based, Willy’s Dawgs, was telling me about the tattoo he plans to get when his shop hits it’s two year anniversary in a month or so.  I’ve become partial to the make-your-own over the recommended specials.  Also, beware of biting insects in the back patio during the summer.  Great food (and of course they have that carrot dog thing too).

Don’t let them tell you otherwise: Rich can grill some mean hamburgers.

We made use of a bar we found in an empty country club building that we gently let ourselves into for exploring purposes, late in the evening.  From left to right: Emily, Jen, Jenn, and Rich.

To be honest: I have no idea why there were heads on plaques.


Lake George, New York. Jenn and I took the Amtrak up to Albany, NY this past weekend to hang with our friends Jen and Rich (plus Emily and Erin), who invited us up to hang out at a lake house up on Lake George (an hour out of town) that they were in the process of selling.  While the water was beautiful and inviting (they had floating, anchored platforms for swimmers and such), the swimming was maybe overshadowed a little bit for me by the amount of intriguing, abandoned “family fun” parks and defunct, low-budget theme parks that were sprinked in the woods around the dense, touristy area.  Turns out, they even have a tiki-themed hotel and surprisingly-still-operating, ridiculously spooky children’s theme park called “Magic Forest” (suprisingly, i learned that Clara has wandered through it).  We explored Action Park, and noted the weirdness of a handful of others.  Other highlights included: seeing Albany’s downtown area, the large and slightly-dated New York Museum, Albany’s Egg venue, grilling hamburgers while a large amount of fireworks exploded over the lake, the lake water feeling super clean while swimming, an all-American breakfast at The Lone Bull on Lakeshore Drive.  When Rich was kind enough to let me borrow his car for a day, you better believe Weezy had the Albany airwaves on lock.  I’m telling you: it’s oddly unifying (and yes, I did hear those rumors about a biographical film coming out).

Action Park in Lake George, NY.  It hasn’t seen much action (aside from amateur graffiti) in the past few years.

I didn’t have quite enough time to let myself into the main Opera House.

Some of the other buildings, though, seemed to have some salvageable materials.

My cousin, Paul, demostrates how to achieve Ambrel’s aesthetic with stellar ease.  My brother, Clay, is seen on the right in the shot.  Check out all the rest of the shots from the extended weekend at the beach here.

• Emerald Isle down in North Carolina has been a good annual escape for the past few years with my mother’s side of the family, to get away from work for a few days.  Jenn and I went down to a rental cottage they had for a week to find a large assortment of bikes (my brother’s collection, one of Paul’s, and a handful of others).  We did a thirty mile ride on cruisers (a Schwinn cruiser, and an old British-made Royal) while Clay and Paul rode fixed (Bianchi Pista and Surly Steamroller), and my father joined in on a Trek road bike.

• One thing I love about New York in the summer: the way that little weeds and grasses grow up between all of the cracks in the most desolate of areas, and pepper the asphalt and concrete landscape with some green.

• Happy birthday the other week to my boy Val in Boston.

Jenn and I met up with B.Davis and Sylvia to watch the 4th of July fireworks from the Empire-Fulton State Park area (in Dumbo, between the two bridges on the waterfront) with Sylvia being kind enough to bring beer.  The next day, Jenn and I went over to Esperanto on Ave C for brunch.  Reasonably priced and good bloody marys.

I’ve been riding this thing around as much as possible.  Next step: cut the steerer down to get rid of some of those spacers near the stem.  Thanks to Clay for the black risers.

• The bike arrived last week.  I couldn’t be happier about the fit and the fun involved while riding it.  Thanks to Jeff over at Continuum for some wheel-truing and brake assistance.  This past Friday night, after doing a few laps at Prospect Park (and then picking up burritos at Uncle Moe’s), I caught the free Brazillian Girls performance in the park.  We weren’t close enough to get a great look at the lead singer, but the sound quality was pretty good.

• “My junk is janky.”

here’s to the first thousand

I vote for more than one bike month.

• So it has been a good thousand days. A few years ago, it got off to an action-packed start, with this little quote from Day 2:

“…two of them start beating the dreads guy’s head against a parked car’s door… Blood is running down the faces of at least 3 of the men, several have cuts near their ears that look pretty rough, the dreads guy has blood coming from his nose, perhaps mouth.”

I’ve been debating about it, and I think I may be dropping the “day” nomenclature. At least to see how it feels for a while. We’ll see. In the meantime, here are some recent film scans from an old Canon SureShot 80 I’ve been testing out for a few months.

A concrete factory near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

Timeless Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Maybe one day. Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Spare mountain bike tires. Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Foodstuffs outside of Mama’s Food Shop in the East Village, Manhattan.

• I caught up with Mr. Appalachia, Corey, and Jenn over at that new barbecue place that replaced the old barbecue place (Biscuit BBQ) on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, and the verdict is in: it is somehow equally bland. While the food has more flavor, the lameness of everything being served in Mason jars combined with overpriced meat results in a bland experience.

• I walked to a bodega last night about a block from my apartment for some gatorade and heard no less than three cars rocking the new Lil Wayne album. I mean, I’m certainly not one to hate on him, but it’s no Weezy mixtape. Just saying.

• Also: a goodbye goes out to my dear grandmother. She’ll be missed.

family wheels

We left the room, and Clay had removed the rear brake in a matter of minutes. Purchased at Pearl River Market on Broadway in SoHo.

Jenn and I flew down to North Carolina this past weekend. There were some bicycles involved. Top left: Hillary tries out a petite converted single-speed Spalding Blade. Top right: I admire the threadless fork on Clay’s Bianchi Pista. Bottom left: the lineup. Bottom right: the Pista rides like butter, top notch.

I’m not sure if I’m becoming too much of a New Yorker, but down south felt ridiculously green. I mean, I was stunned with the magical lushness all over.

After the party it’s the after party. My good friend Mitchell’s wedding is what brought Jenn and I to North Carolina.

It happens.

Safely back in New York, though this seems outside the boroughs.

lets not be fair weather riders

There’s an old airport in remote Brooklyn, in between mainland Brooklyn and Far Rockaway, on the coast. The area is called the Floyd-Bennett Field.

Road bikes make the best transportation.

The amount of open space (and asphalt/concrete) feels a little overwhelming.

Despite the looming clouds, there were still people down at the tracks. The gas-driven R/C cars can corner with astonishing speed.

Apparently some of the airport is still functioning, on one of the more distant runways. “Yeah, take the picture, buddy.”

Jenn shows off the tight rake (the fixed distance the fork pushes the front wheel forward) on her new Miyata 10-speed.

In a nearby salt marsh area, we found an old car, burned beyond recognition. Brooklyn, NY.

• Last week, Leticia and I caught a performance of Sizwe Banzi is Dead over at BAM’s Harvey Theatre. Despite a minimal cast (2 people) and a minimal set (a table and a chair), it still came through, maintaining a compelling story. The title and story refer to the desperate measures taken to survive the apartheid system in South Africa. While the first few minutes are painfully dull, hang in to get to the segments with dead bodies and drunkenness. I understand the actors have said that this will be the very final performance.

• On Friday, Big Joseph, James, Jenn, and I saw a Loser’s Lounge Battle of the Bands show over at Joe’s Pub near Astor Place. Though the event felt a little bit 40+, you can’t hate on anything that involves comped tickets. The main event was a Duran Duran cover band versus a Cars cover band. There was a bizarre, skinny electro guy with angular hair who came in to do a song at one point for The Cars band, but regardless, Duran Duran won. Too many aging white people are into “Hungry Like the Wolf” it seems. Drinks are $$ at Joe’s, just an FYI. Afterwards we had a mediocre dinner over at B Bar down the street on Bowery.

Pam, Jenn, and I had another great brunch over at Cafe Mogador. Like with a lot of other East Village/Lower spots, getting there prior to noon most likely guarantees a table. Don’t sleep on the pita and hummus. Certainly don’t leave without a few poached eggs either.

• Yet another flat today caused me to go ahead and pick up an armadillo for my rear wheel today at the beginning of my commute home this evening. The ride is a little bit stiffer, but from many people I’ve heard that they’re boomproof: a quality that is handy when riding through a terrorism-targeted city.

• Sunday night, Moses and Cory hosted a dinner party over in the Hook, complete with lasagna, a melon & prosciutto heavy salad (from Jenn and I), beer, wine, bread, and some f-ing solid olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Fairway (arguably the one staple of the Hook, as a neighborhood is as only as good as it’s grocery store). Davis, Lehman, and Calloway also made it out, and we started to run out of poles to lock to out front.

• “In hindsight, I don’t want to be like the people I’ve liked.” – The Death Set.

aquatic rock

Leticia near the Gowanus Canal in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

• Two weeks ago (ouch, it’s been a while), Jenn, Jesse, Jessee (yes, I don’t think there are even that many J’s available in Scrabble) and I caught the Brazilian dance troupe, Grupo Corpo perform two dances back to back over at BAM’s Opera House. Afterwards, we went over to one of the three (and supposedly the first) of the Kiku Restaurants in Park Slope, that are all unrelated, and just want to all be named after the small flower.

• Jenn and I scored a Miyata road bike (well, via paying for the item, but regardless, always good to pick up a new bike) for her to replace her GT Rebound. Shaun, the guy we bought it from, a few blocks from my place here in the Lower, is opening a bike shop on 3rd between 1st and A. He’s going to specialize in older steel bikes, and seemingly isn’t pro-track/fixed (or even BMX) like the rest of the neighborhood. Look out for his opening around May or so.

• Caught a late screening of Contempt (1968) directed by Jean-Luc Godard over at the Film Forum. Luckily it was held over an additional week. Jack Palance (ie: Ripley’s Believe it or Not host) as the typical “stupid American” seemed perfect. Godard goes over the top to show the female body on display, during the collapse of a marriage, set against the beautiful Italian coast. It felt like Godard doing a Fellini film from the beginning: we see that we’re about to enter the world of on-screen filmmaking in Italy, and the main characters are the film’s suave writer, arrogant producer, and oddball-genius director (played by Fritz Lang). Great film.

Jenn and Mr. Lehman in the gallery section of Supreme Trading in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Williamsburg Open Studios happened two weekends ago, to coinside with the Armory Show over at a pier in Manhattan. Will Hall, Chelsea, David Lehman, Jenn, Pam, and I went to a handful of them, occasionally held up at the keg lines, then went over to the afterparty at Supreme Trading, then finally Legion Bar to see Welles spin.

• This past weekend, Jenn and I got in a lot of cycling in preparation for the upcoming Five Borough Bike Tour. We also caught the opening day of Brooklyn Flea over in the Fort Greene area on Sunday. We saw Brian & Rachel, Addie & Brandon, and a few others, before ducking out to prepare some guacamole over in Park Slope. Then, Leticia and I played a few games of pool over in Carroll Gardens over some corona and whiskey, respectively.

• The previous day, we got in a bike ride from the Lower to the Slope to Long Island City, Queens via the less-talked about Pulaski Bridge. Later we rode with Brian & Rachel to a really solid, new Latin American restaurant on Broadway, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, on the Brooklyn side.

Mos Def was heading into the car service next to where I was eating lunch last week over in Fort Greene, the neighborhood he calls home.  Also, in terms of music celebrities, Paul Simon was walking out of my office when I was leaving the other evening.

• Music-wise, unfortunately the Postelles & Bachelorettes show was moved from Sound Fix (likely due to the underage liquor bust the other weekend) to the inferior, Spike Hill, also on Bedford. Also the crowd was ten to fifteen years younger than we expected. I think I need to do my homework a little better before some shows. A few of the Postelles were in attendance at this show tonight:

Chairlift performed tonight at the wonderfully, aquatically-themed venue, Glasslands, in Williamsburg.

I couldn’t quite see where they were going with the first few songs, but it sounded like there was some potential, and then they finally reached a nice point toward the end of their set, with sparkley keyboard notes and catchier bass lines. Female-fronted, though the other two guys seemed to have decent voices as well. Though, perhaps anything would have sounded great following the tragic band that opened, Aquila. Even covering The Pixies (Break My Body), Aquila felt like they were missing a few instruments (well, and someone who can actually sing). Symbol-heavy drumming and bass guitar with too much distortion is lame. I did run into Ian though, in the crowd, a former college mate from a few years back, who happened to be in town for a few days. But I mean, the venue seemingly projects the Blue Planet series silently each evening on a side wall. I’m sad that I didn’t create an aquatic themed indie rock venue first. Long live David Attenborough!

An Elvis wheat paste on Houston. It’s a Fisher-Price assault rifle.

chef pants invades

• In a remote area of construction in the Upper West Side, we found a garfield stuffed animal crucified and left for dead.  Heavily faded, bloated, and missing an arm, it was difficult to determine time of death.

Jenn and I met up with Erica & Constantine for dinner at a small, snobby, new restaurant on 5th Ave, somewhat close to Southpaw.  Good food (steak, chicken, salmon tartare, and complimentary clams, but the owner was a little overbearing.  Later, we unsuccessfully attempted to bowl down at Melody Lanes in Sunset Park (we were faced with a 1.5 hr wait), so we met up with D.Lehman, Mr. Appalachia, and Ben Calloway over at Buttermilk on 5th Ave and 16th in Park Slope.

• I have no clue how those tiny urban boutiques survive.  You know, the ones like DQM, Prodigy, or Billionaire Boys Club, etc.  I mean, they have about five items for sale (which maybe isn’t the best word, because there isn’t anything sale-like about the prices), and the three-four employees in the 300-square foot space would much rather continue playing their video game console (perhaps Playstation 6 or whatever the kids have these days) than help any customers.  But it could be that I’ve never hung around those exclusive places enough to effectively pay my dues and gain their respect enough for them to assist me in purchasing something.  Or, I suppose, it could be similar to a bartender just intentionally not wanting to serve you… though, I never see anybody buy anything.  I mean, Republican Rob and I discuss the phenomena of the urban boutique from time to time, and his main theory involves unseen money coming in from a large behind-the-scenes celebrity (ie: Kanye, Pharrell, etc), which would always keep things afloat, despite never unloading any inventory.  It’s image.  (haha, actually, just from a little research, I see that Billionaire is Pharrell-owned, and Prodigy is going belly-up.  I think Rob was onto something.)

• Each time at the pay-what-you-want American Museum of Natural History, I find new things.  This time, I was most interested in the shapes the skeletons on prehistoric animals made.  Extra-large deer-like things, and ancient bears and stuff.

• Last weekend, Hillary, Zena, Jenn, and I took a number in the waiting space for Jin Fong’s famous weekend dim sum, then, once our number was called on the microphone, we paraded up the long escalator and into the large banquet hall.  Everyone was happy.  It was my third or fourth time eating there, but the first time for everyone else in the group.  If you’re unfamiliar with dim sum, its a lunch-brunch meal where waitresses roll carts by your table, and they announce (or sometimes just unveil) what their cart contains (mainly an assortment of dumplings) while you request (and point to, a lot of times) the items you’d like to be added to your table.  Then, the waitress stamps your card, which you later use to pay at the cash register near the exit.  I still haven’t figured out how to accurately gauge what the final bill will be.  It seemed like we had something like 12 stamps on our card, but the total for the four of us was $32.  It’s a steal.  I’d love to try the other larger dim sum options in this city – let me know if there are any you recommend.

• I finally removed the larger, unused larger chain ring on my bike.  Here’s a new shot (above).  A lot of my coworkers and friends have signed up for the Five Borough Bike Tour in early May.  If you sign up in the next week or so, you can still get the early registration rate, which comes to $46.50 or so, with a small service charge.  The real draw, aside from it being one of the largest rides around, is the chance to ride the BQE and the massive Verazano Bridge all the way to Staten Island.

• From the cutting-room floor: OK, there are at least 15 things wrong with this shot.

• A north-facing building on 2nd Street between Avenue B and C received an organic makeover at some point last year.  At a glance, the only name I recognize from elsewhere is the “Best” on the door.  But speaking of getting up in this city, Chef Pants has been pretty active in the past two weeks.  I’ve seen his poor penmanship near the LES Crabs tag on Houston just past the dumpy little architecture firm, beside the newish wheatpaste Elvis Playing an Assault Rifle at the 1st Ave entrance to the 2nd Ave F Train station, and on a handful of the cross streets between Avenue A and B (such as like 4th, I think).  As far as bizarre names go, “Teeth Soup Meat” may beat “Neckface,” “Earsnot,” and “Elbow Toe.” People definitely like body parts around here.

rubbish tip

Hmmm… looks like I’ve been shooting trash (no, seriously, literally rubbish, etc) for at least five years.  Shot on a trail in Dover, UK, in 2003.

• I’ll go ahead and say it.  It looks like I’ll be spending even more time over in Brooklyn starting in a little over a week.  I took a new job in the most populous borough (“extra, extra large, like the borough of Brooklyn, the residential”).  I know, I know, you’re all like, “how backpacker to quote Talib, especially when the kid fell off after ‘Reflection Eternal.'”  Well, my response to you is: true, it’s a backpacker move, and yes, “Move Something” was indeed on “Reflection Eternal,” which yes, I’ll even agree it may have been his last good album… OK, I’m starting to think this vein of thinking causes people to end up with multiple personalities within a fortnight. (sidenote: weird, according to wikipedia, the duo of Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek together called themselves “Reflection Eternal” for that album, and that the album had a separate name… hmmm… regardless, you know what I meant).

• Good luck to Big Dirty with the WK12 thang over in Portland.  Fingers crossed.

•  The weather recently in the city has been incredibly cycling-friendly.  I hear on the street that it may drop to the twenties next week, which may start to creep into the time of the year where the wind feels so cold that you swear its cutting groves into your face.  It’s always a wind-factor thing.  And sadly, as a sans-mustache (but still mullet-sporting) Chitwood reminded me, “don’t forget about March.”  And he’s right.  Winter in the Al-Gore-Warming days is Feb-March instead of Dec-Feb.

• But what are we — tangential acquaintances accidentally on the same elevator forced to discuss the weather?  Back to New York.

• I received word (via Will at RazorApple) that Sagmeister’s got a show that opened this evening, and will be running through February down at the Lower’s own Dietch Gallery.  I mean, they have an animated illustration of a tight-pants-wearing Terry Richardson (minus full sleeves) on the homepage.  Automatically this place is worth a visit.  And, as I mentioned last go-round, Sagmeister’s also lecturing on the evening of the 19th.

• For your late night needs, has a streaming audio station called “Secret Agent,” I just realized this evening.  I mean, sure their poorly-named “Groove Salad” can be hit-or-miss with the electronica scene… but this channel seems to keep it downtempo and stylish in a clean way.  It’s listed under “electronic” in the iTunes radio channels.  Recommended.

Land’s End, the southern most tip of the United Kingdom, with its rocky landscape and continuously crashing waves, remains one of the most breathtaking places I’ve had a chance to explore.  Shot in 2003.

Regent’s Park, London, December 2007.