defend brooklyn


A stray cat hangs out in the lot that might unfortunately become the prohibitively-expensive Whole Foods near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

Speaking of being eco-friendly, Jenn and I made it out to the monthly Brooklyn Critical Mass, at Grand Army Plaza on Friday.  It was decidedly higher profile than normal, with the widely-publicized police brutality at last Friday’s Manhattan ride.  The entire, enjoyable 2.5 hour police-escorted cruise through Park Slope, Dumbo, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, Bushwick, and some other remote neighborhoods went successfully, without tickets or much police harassment.  The vast majority of onlookers cheered and waves, though a handful of drivers and pedestrians shouted some funny things: “I thought the Olympics was in China!  Yall is the Special Olympics!” and, “Are you the Bike Squad?”, “There goes the Gay Marathon!” plus, “Communist bastards!” Haha, near a bar, some guy walked out with his beer and asked “What are you riding for?” and someone responded “Yes!  What are you drinking for?”  We met a few nice fellow cyclists, including some people active with TimesUp and a Dyker Heights guy on a black and white Langster named Mike (who reminded us of a younger and slightly more Brooklyn Mike Morarian).  Great fun, check it out next month.

• This past Tuesday I made it out to a small group ride for some training laps at Prospect ParkHenri, Lewis, and (damn, drawing a blank now on the other name), were super nice, and very fast.  I’ve got a little ways to go before I can power through that many laps at a decent clip again.

• Speaking of keeping active, in very unfortunate news, my super-active British uncle, Peter, died unexpectedly the other week.  He was a well-respected physician and marathon runner based out of Richmond, Virgina.  He’ll be missed.


Under-appreciated South Slope, Brooklyn.

• So as of August 1, I officially became a Brooklyn resident. I’m living out of a suitcase on 9th street in Park Slope until I move into South Slope (on 23rd St) on September 1st.  But no, to get “BROOKLYN” on one’s knuckles is certainly more than a little preemptive.  Though, I did get this on my left arm a little over a month ago (though it’s a homage to a small place in South Carolina, not the NYC area):


Carroll Gardens side of the Gowanus Canal.

• The new Five Guys Burgers & Fries on 7th Ave in Park Slope does cook great burgers.  The normal ones are double patties, and the smalls are single patties.  Their interior space and identity do seem to be a laziness-driven cop-out, but the food is certainly worth checking out once or twice a month (though, go easy on the arteries).

• Last night Jenn and I caught I’ll Come Running (2008) as part of the Rooftop Films series over at the American Can Factory on 3rd Street.  The passion-into-freak-accident plot reminded me a lot of the poorly-named Japanese Story (2003).  A 2-person band called “Bell” opened for the film, and drew upon Bjork inspiration to layer vocals, keyboard, and electronic drums, sounding like a cuter and decidedly less catchy version of Cassettes Won’t Listen.


Defend Brooklyn.

• Thanks to Jason & Kirby for throwing a good, old-fashioned cookout in the backyard of their 8th Street apartment, in the heart of the Park Slope brownstones.  Filled with many of their triathlon friends and coworkers.


Remnants of an alleyway pool party in the Lower while I was moving out.

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.