borderline royalty

Jenn and I made it down to Coney Island last weekend to soak up the bleakness of winter in a decaying Thor-owned wasteland. (Question: is Thor Equities truly a domestic company?)  The clouds ended up bringing snow, but not a lot of it.  In the far left in the shot is the old, abandoned historic building seen near the beginning of Lord of War (2005).

Avenue U, as we approach Coney Island on the train.

• From reading even more Chuck Klosterman as of late (big ups to Welles), it’s becoming pretty apparent that anyone who writes anything (you could almost use the word “writers,” but it’d be in the loosest definition) tends to evolve and work out their initial shortcomings in writing, slowly but surely. I suppose the exceptions may be the raving substance abusers that use their habit/hobby to fuel a lucid written experience from day one (and I’m not saying it’s going to be magical from the beginning in that situation). And yes, I know that writing about writing is somewhat akin to making one of those hideous, unnecessary AIGA posters and mailing it out only to the New York chapter’s most environmentally-conscious members. But back to the point. I’m about 62 pages deep into Klosterman’s first book, having started it the day after finishing his newest complete work (omitting “IV” because it’s just a collection of articles, not a holistic piece), and it’s clear that he is tossing around unverified blanket statements and unqualified opinions, as opposed to his later works, in which become more of an exploration from within, and how pop culture (and “underground” movements) have shaped his view on the world, and his personal relationships.  He’s grown.

I caught a jazz show over at the Williamsburg Music Center two weekends ago.  Gerry Eastman, the director, gave me a history lesson on the jazz scene in Williamsburg, while the art curator and a resident barfly confirmed his information.  I ended up also having quite a long conversation with the barfly about the decay of certain cities directly adjacent to larger cities, the main two being East St. Louis and Gary, Indiana, all while I opened people’s beers for them.  The bar couldn’t locate their bottle opener.  (Afterwards I went over to see Ola Podria at a far-too-packed Pete’s Candy Shop).

This West Village staple, A Salt and Battery, remains one of the top fish and chips restaurants in New York City.

• On Friday, a young cashier was stabbed to death at my grocery store (Key Food at 4th and Avenue A). A butcher knife. Very unfortunate that nobody had a chance to tackle him before he vanished into the streets. I didn’t know the cashier by name or anything, but did see her quite often. Just yesterday afternoon they put up a memorial out front, and a few other cashiers were in tears. Here’s a report on the Times site.

• You might be thinking to yourself right now, “when I’m walking down the street and I hear a random Biggie Smalls song blasting out of a car, like, one that I haven’t even heard because it’s just some random junk that probably isn’t even that great, things just tend to feel right.  It just seems that things are in order, and the street is fine.”  Well, I would tend to agree with your sentiments, but I’d also secretly doubt the grammatic correctness of your sentence structuring.

• Here in the Lower, over the past year, we’ve seen the local dumpy laundromat go first from $1.75 to $2.00 for a wash, now its $2.25.  The dryers used to be $.25 for 7 minutes, now it’s down to 5 minutes per quarter.  I mean, for my standard 2 loads, it only increased from $5.50 to $7.50, which is a 36.5% increase, which does exceed normal inflation predictions… though it may be as good of a marker of devaluing of the dollar as anything else.  One could argue that it’s simply a byproduct of rampant gentrification, but in fact, isn’t that same gentrification somewhat proof of the same national currency embarrassment?  And one could argue that if I’m gonna nickel-and-dime the self serve laundry, that I should get out of the United States’ most expensive metropolis.  But, I may be around for the long haul, we’ll see.

Anyway, it might seem possible that people are priced out of their buildings every day because rich people keep moving to New York.  True.  But, I don’t think it’s as much trust-fund-welding young Americans as raw-resource-backed/borderline-royalty immigrants (ie: oil-backed Middle Eastern investors)… but, I need to qualify that to say that I don’t mean to come across as xenophobic, or anti-immigration, by any means.  Just simply, it is similar to what happens when an upper class US citizen visits a South American country: you bust in there with stronger currency and basically own the place.  But — I have nothing beyond anecdotal evidence to support any hypothesis.  It seems a bit melodramatic to think that it’s international oil barons that are causing the newest Lower eyesore, “The Ludlow,” to cut into virgin skyline.  But I find my thoughts become unproductively cyclical when you start to question whether or not inflation/devaluing/gentrification are even bad things, per se.  Maybe it’s not as simple as a more-and-more universally accepted moral & scientific issue like environmental sustainability.

• Last Friday, Mr. Appalachia, Robin, Jenn, and I met up at the great Sherwood Cafe in Carroll Gardens, before getting turned away from the sold-out show at Union Hall, then hopping from Great Lakes, to Commonwealth, and then to Buttermilk.

• The next night, Marta introduced Jenn and I to Roberta’s — an amazing hidden pizzeria near the Morgan stop on the L train in Bushwick.  The Faro-tagged door opens up to reveal a large, warm room of exposed-brick and young patrons (beards seem required for men, and perfect bangs required for women).  I hesitate to mention this place only because of it’s seeming secrecy.  Regardless, if you’re going on a pizza tour of this fine city, don’t overlook this gem.  And it’s BYOB, naturally.

• Recent catching-up of the film scene has involved: There Will Be Blood (2007), Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), No Country for Old Men (2007), and Spartacus (1960).  Surely it does not seem to pay to receive months and months of hype on Hollywood blockbusters, only leading to varying degrees of mild disappointment.

Around maybe 11th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.