Archive for the NYC State of mind I be Category

No Pinot for me thanks….

Posted in 'MURCA!, Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , on July 28, 2014 by robdc

Have I mentioned that I love New York? If not, then, I’m sure that I’ll get around to it eventually.  I’ve been back in the Big Apple for a number of reasons but as always, cultural progression appears to be the most pressing matter. As the mood has continued, we have managed to get a great deal accomplished while never being in a hurry. Beyond hitting absolutely every eatery we had set out for ourselves this trip had 2 particular highlights. Other than the fantastic company…

M worked her magic and we managed to get our hands on tickets to Shakespeare in the park without spending a single second in line. This years show had John Lithgow and Annette Bening in the production and they did a truly awe inspiring job. As a second super luck out moment we got to see The Book of Mormon which, until now, was prohibitively priced.

IMG_4843[1]The show caught us almost completely off guard. Not that I know what the hell we were really expecting, but it wasn’t that. The musical numbers were perfectly choreographed and the acting was spot on. All in all the show was hilarious, I laughed to tears on at least 3 occasions.  That being said, if you lack thick skin or are particularly sensitive to the concepts of the Mormon faith, African American heritage or, shit anything else, bad language also included, you really shouldn’t watch this show. It amazed us both that it has been so popular with how positively insulting the nature of the whole performance is. That being said, everyone on earth should watch this and stop taking themselves so seriously.

The MET also had some particularly alluring exhibits that we were dying to check out but, personally, the Edo period exhibit was the star for me. I got to see, with mine on eyes, the single wood block painting that had occupied more desktop backgrounds on more computers for more time in my life than any other. Here is the masterpiece:

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There were also some very interesting exhibits on calligraphy and early Asian character composition.

IMG_4829[1]Of course no trip to NY would be complete without crossing the paths of some of my favorite people and oldest friends. Over the years, for some reasons I will never quite comprehend, a handful of my best friends have independently migrated to NY and I have had the pleasure of seeing them when I run through town. 

On the first night of ruckus I was looking to hang out with Sergio (http://latintafresca.wordpress.com) but when I met up with him in Park Slope, Brooklyn I had no way of knowing that Marco (http://marcovergel.wordpress.com) and Fabien, also from Miami, would be here to get down with the get down. We wandered around the local cocktail lounges for a few hours and rode a place or two till last call then in the end had a fantastic time, as far as I can remember.

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Then, round two was to meet up with Dee and Rich, some other Miami ex-pats who I can’t normally spend more than a few minutes around without expelling a drink or two through my nostrils. We did a similar set of rounds, running around Brooklyn taking shots and splitting bills until I had to leave, an action that I have little recollection of. One thing I can assure you of is that was spent %90 of the time laughing, that remaining %10 completely filled with attempts at straight faced set ups to some high impact punch lines, so basically all laughing.

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Great friends and amazing times but in the end I owe this great feeling I have while leaving NY to M, she made it all worth doing and I might owe her a bit for that.

Cojelo!

Robo

A Harlem (visiting) Globetrotter

Posted in Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , on July 9, 2014 by robdc

This trip to NY was unlike any before it. I was able to see some things that had been eluding me in my past visits, and as always the food was a main attraction. Unfortunately this style of visit didn’t really allow for much photography but I would like to write down the places we went so that I don’t forget.

My initial spot on the lower west side was positively spacious by Manhattan standards with a nice skylight and a little yard which we did get to enjoy on one of the more pleasant evenings.

IMG_4758[1]Although the early restaurants were delicious like UVA, I have to focus on the highlights. We found a reverse gentrified steak house in Harlem where we were definitely the minority and were sat in the back but that didn’t at all hinder the quality of the food. The place is called Ricardo’s steak house and it was the stuff of dreams, try the beef stroganoff.

We managed to see (some of) the fireworks off the Brooklyn bridge where I managed to meet up with Dee and by complete coincidence Lazer was in town so we partied a bit.

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After a nice conveyor belt sushi meal at EAST, we went directly across the street to Grace where the music was on point and the lack of other patrons put smiles on our faces. Also, they had a pretty damn good cocktail menu.

IMG_4778[1]The next night was probably one of the high points of the trip for me, personally, as we discovered a new place and it immediately opened it’s arms and welcomed us in. We arrived at Bondurants and found the ambiance exactly what we were looking for. There were high seats against the wide open doors, the whole street facing side of the establishment was open which made for a very pleasant breeze flowing through the front of the house. After midnight some of the bar staff from surrounding establishments started to roll in (a good sign) and we all struck up conversations about all sorts of garbage. As last call drew closer it became apparent that our bartender was more than just a bartender and as the shots and conversation poured on, my suspicions were confirmed, she was the owner.  After lots more jokes and laughs she introduced me to their house shot, an interesting mix of flavors, almost like Jäger but more mild and with a citrus note. I was instantly hooked.

IMG_4783[1]The mandatory stop at Go! Go! Curry! and here I sit at the Newark airport waiting for my flight to Miami. This trip certainly had its fair share of surprises and I have to say that I’m beyond happy I came. Here is a closing shot of the Empire state building from the Monarch rooftop bar taken after a few hours of karaoke.

IMG_4786[1]Thanks for everything M, I had a great time and I’ll be back soon.

Cojelo,

Robbie

Bed Stuyvesant, the livest one, my borough is thorough

Posted in Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , , , on March 20, 2014 by robdc

After a reflective few months on the road, it was time to return to the states. As luck would have it some of my oldest and best friends happen to have migrated to New York in the past few years, so I could think of no better gateway home than that.

Serge met up with me in Bed Stuy and we headed to the Brooklyn bridge. I had never crossed any of NYs bridges by foot and this seemed to be the most picturesque (and close) one, so why not.

The walk over is rather pleasant, even if the wind over the river was sub arctic. The views of the sunset over Manhattan to the west and the Williamsburg bridge to the east were awe inspiring. 

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Brandon and Natalia headed up from DC and of course we had to get our grub on at some serious places. GO GO Curry, as always, was a must but we added a new badass eatery to the list called Traif.

Although NY provided a fantastic backdrop, the highlight of this trip was the people. Life being the way it is, I normally only get to see Rich and Marcella on holidays back home but being able to go to dinner with everyone was a damn treat. After Dave headed out to meet us and we did our usual at ‘No Name’ among other places.

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Brando, Dave and I headed out the next day for the St. Paddies day parade in Manhattan which is the oldest, and LONGEST on earth. You read that right, the oldest. Meaning that this was being done here before it was in Ireland, not sure what that means but I found it interesting.

IMG_4126 On one of the days where all the locals had to work, Brando, Natalia and I headed out to Coney Island. It was still very cold here but none of us had ever been so we decided to head out. Due to the weather almost everything was closed on the boardwalk but we did manage to find a bar. We must have a gift or something. Also, the original Nathans!!

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A very forward French fellow who introduced himself as Arno, then Andrew started chatting us up about all sorts of nonsense. Including but not limited to:

  • His wife cheating on him with tall good looking men.
  • His hatred of tall good looking men.
  • Am I Brandon’s father?
  • He’s lived in Brooklyn for 6 years.
  • American beer is the best (he was drinking a Budweiser).
  • Would we look after his beer while he went to the bathroom?
  • Don’t piss in his beer while he’s in the bathroom.

We continued talking to Arno and awkwardly laughing at the batshit insane stuff that he yelled with a smile, then hastily got the hell out of there. It did feel good telling a Frenchman that I didn’t like Paris though, I feel like it usually falls on deaf ears and I wanted to see his reaction. His reaction, much to my surprise was: “fuck Paris, Parisians are dicks.” His words, not mine.

NY continues to be speckled with some of the most entertaining places and people per capita and I could come back every week for the rest of my life and never see, do and taste all that there is to be had here which makes it one of my favorite destinations on earth. Today I head back to Miami for a bit but I’ll come knocking again soon NY.

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Cojelo,

Robo

A walk in the park…

Posted in NYC State of mind I be on June 17, 2013 by robdc

We’ve all heard the saying, now I have the experience to go with it. If what is meant by “a walk in the park” is what I experienced today then I understand more than ever why it is used to describe something that is not just easy but exaggeratedly so. We kicked the day off with a trip to Amy Ruth’s, affectionately known as a soul food restaurant. The menu has pictures of and all the items are named for famous black people in history. I’m pretty sure everyone got the “Reverend Al Sharpton” which is essentially chicken and waffles. There were variations on the theme so I had mine covered in gravy while others opted for dark meat, all were obscenely good. I can’t believe that this is what it took for Natalia to finally breakdown on her whole “I don’t mix savory and sweet” thing. This is not a good picture but it’s the only one I got of us in this place.

IMG_5700_tonemappedWe left Ruth’s feeling beaten and tired, they also had a cool aid of the day that we were not bold enough to order after tasting the lemonade which was comprised of a super solution of sugar, how they did that at ice cold temperatures is nothing short of cold fusion. So we made another set of plans, we went back to Melissa’s, picked up Heart and some mats (I may have prepared some thermoses of adult beverages) and we headed to Central park.

On the way back we stopped to observe something called the Juneteenth celebration. It looked interesting but we had park stuff to do so we kept moving.

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It was a beautiful day and we took full advantage of it. We took in the sites for a bit.

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Heart was having the time of her life.

IMG_5720_tonemappedThen we did as any overly stuffed travelers would do on a nice day like this… we found a shady spot and took naps, interrupted with peach cobbler shots and rum and coke for me.

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At some point during this trip someone brought up that the SNL parody of the gathering of the juggalo videos was not so much a parody as it was a re-enactment. My failure to believe this led to a showing of one of these videos which in turn led to us referring to each other as Ninja quite often. It also increased the likelihood of us uttering the phrase “you know we got magicians up in this bitch!”

We laid around and plaid with Heart for a few hours then did some more exploring.

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We were lucky enough to stumble upon a clan of rather well organized skater kids. They appeared to be quite highly regulated. They all had helmets and pads, some were even wearing action cams. I took the opportunity to snap some shots. This kid was pretty damn good.

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IMG_5745_tonemappedWe heard some commotion when a garbage truck came around the corner and had no idea what was going on, when we got there we realized they had some downhill action going on and that truck almost ended the lives and careers of some NewYorkean children. Although I missed the may-lay, I managed to get my camera up for round 2.

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Those kids were tearing ass through Central Park, and they looked like they were having a blast doing it. I loved that there were parents and other groups of people roving around with this group, it seemed like an ideal way to get young people into things like this, NY has it all.

Now that we were rested it was back to being the gluttonous bastards that we are. No trip to NY is complete for me without visits to 2 of the most badass eateries I have ever encountered. Go!Go!Curry! and Doughnut Plant, so we went to both.

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We then attempted to visit the 26th street pier and enjoy some boat top drinks like we did last year but we had failed to take into account that last year we had visited this spot on the very last day it was open for the season, today it is the height of the season so it looks like a reverse Mariel boat lift on these things…

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No thanks. So we turned our attention to finding a place that was A. outside and B. within walking distance. Where we landed was the Hotel Americana which promised a rooftop “Pool” side bar. We were in. The view and rooftop part were right but the “pool” was quite literally a 10’x4’x’4’ chunk of the roof which had been removed and filled with chlorinated water, it’s bathing capacity was under 5 I’m sure. But, since none of us had our swim trunks and the bar was stocked, who are we to complain? Like I said, the view did not disappoint.

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This place had its fair share of characters including V for Vendetta’s wife (I can only presume) and a dude in speedos that even his colleagues didn’t find amusing, we people watched and had a few then moved on to dinner which we chose to have a Malt House. This ended up being a great spot, we had some drinks and continued the trend of peach cobblers we’d been having throughout this trip, did more people watching. A guy rode up on his bike wearing a reflective vest and a parrot on his shoulder, people commented and he walked by. I was later informed that he was sitting at the table behind us with what I can only assume was a group of strippers, life is strange sometimes.

So here are what appear to be two normal pictures of us hanging out at Malt House…

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The reason I put them here (other than showcasing our beautiful faces) is to set up what is, hands down, my favorite shot of the trip. As I handed Brando the camera to take the second picture, he spilled not just his drink but mine also, together, onto my lap. As he did this I must have freaked and hit the shutter release which produced this.

IMG_5828HA! That’s a god damned action shot!

So there you have it, and if you ever hear me say “that shit was a walk at the park.” you’ll know I meant that it was absolutely something you want to do. Whiskey is kicking in and we are descending into Miami, time to shut down. Hopefully I get a chance to write about my last couple of days in NY but if not, a huge thanks to the people who made this happen, I love you all.

-Robo

Beep boop, beep boop, beep boop….

Posted in NYC State of mind I be on June 15, 2013 by robdc

Started off the day by piling in the car and picking up Dan, then headed to NY. We stopped in Baltimore (The Wire, woop woop) to get some food. We roamed around for a bit in Greek town then agreed on the Greek Town grill for some souvlaki and it was pretty damn good. We arrived in NY just in time to get unpacked at Melissa’s and hop on the train to the Barkleys Center for The Postal Service. If I’m being honest I wasn’t exactly a huge fan but there was an extra ticket and I’m always open to new musical experiences. They were actually pretty good and thanks to the bar I recognized a few songs, one affectionately known to some of us as the “beep boop song.”

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We had some crazy brisket mac and cheese at the arena that was made by the devil himself, they are really stepping up the sports event food around here.

After the show we ended up at a beer garden where we sat, Bavarian style, at huge benches and some large man (wearing a shirt that read simply “sarcasm” which we thought was inappropriate) proposed successfully to his lady, it was pleasant.

I don’t know why I love how the subway looks so much, but I do.

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We took off and ended up at a place called Uncle Barry’s where we took shots and got tired. The high point was definitely the show, we are knocked out from that and the travel to NY so I think this will be a short one. 

Welcome to America

Posted in NYC State of mind I be on June 15, 2013 by robdc

I arrived in D.C. pretty early today, well before noon. Brando picked me up at the airport and off we went. We started the day with some food trucks in Farragut square and headed to what Brando affectionately called a “dive”, the place was called recessions and it was amazing. As we walked in we were the 4th and 5th patrons and the first 3 had a lively conversation going about how to keep your kids off of drugs without being a hypocrite. We had some conversations about work and life and after a bit 2 of the early crowd took off leaving just the two of us and one other patron. After not too long our conversations mixed and man were we in for a doozie. Our new friend was apparently a retired judge and had much in the way of moral dilemmas to discuss. When the subject came up of where I was from he extended his hand to shake mine and said “welcome to America” We spoke about the effect that gender change would have on citizenship and a man who tried to naturalize based on his relationship with a recently deceased wife then, it so happened that we had the same birthday. We were graciously bought a round and then we sadly said our goodbyes. Brando and I headed to ChurchKey and started in with the scotches. We were met by Natalia, Nicole and Christian and then the party seriously got going.

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Later we headed to GBD (Golden Brown Delicious) and I had a chicken fried steak which is normally a thin overly fried steak but not here, this was  a chuck steak and fried with great care. We had plenty of fun doing the usual Christian gouging, he’s taken on an “Indian Elvis” or “Tiny Hector Lavoe” look which made it pretty easy to sling barbs.

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Unfortunately a combo of weather and lack of opportunity have made the pictures pretty sparse but I’ll work on that, on a pleasant note, we’ve been seeing a bunch of these everywhere and they crack me up:

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It was getting late, so we headed back to the Calrisien’s and enjoyed some drinks on the balcony. So much for my first night in D.C. I’m happy everyone was able to make it out.

Rock and Roll?

Posted in NYC State of mind I be on July 6, 2012 by robdc

I try not to have purpose driven trips very often, I like to go to places and enjoy them for what they are. Have things you want to do along the way, sure, but to travel with a minute by minute itinerary is to travel with anxiety.

That being said, this was a purpose driven trip, actually a dual purpose trip. The original plan was to be in NY for 5 days, hang out with my old friend Serge for a couple of days then meet up with my die hard travel dream team of Brando and Natalia for Governor’s ball but due to some complications at work, that wasn’t possible so… like many other times, much (spiked) lemonade was had by all.

Friday night was great despite a few setbacks, weather was awful so flights were delayed all around, I’m lucky mine didn’t get canceled right out. Arrived in Manhattan and showed up at Melissa’s, it was welcoming right off the bat.

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We headed out into east Manhattan and started with the drinks and bar hopped a bit, trying to remember that we had things to do the next day.

Saturday started as pretty much any weekend day should, with delectably flavored Margaritas and Mexican food. I had the pomegranate, while others at the table sampled such flavors as blood orange, guava and prickly pear.

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Then we mounted up and headed out to Governor’s Ball. As we arrived Santigold was just firing up her set, much of the same stuff we saw in Cali but still a very good live show. Some other “bands” played like ‘Ducksauce’ and some dj set I didn’t care about then the main attraction for me… Atmosphere blew the God damned roof off the place!IMG_1779

Now, anyone who listens to Atmosphere knows that most of their music is about jilted love or women screwing up Slug’s life (or vice versa) so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Slug was in a tremendously good mood. They played pretty much all of their positive songs, including sunshine which the crowd went completely insane for. They even played my all time favorite, God Loves Ugly and changed some of the more offensive words to suit the happy crowd and fantastic weather. In all, it was better than I could have imagined and even Brando, who had said that he sampled the music and didn’t care for it, had to admit it was a damn good live show.

The food was definitely a main attraction of this particular festival, many varied and oddly specific foods were being offered by the tents and food trucks scattered about the island. Here is, without question, my favorite:

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This is ”The Wafel Truck.” They sell, as one would expect, waffles. The thing is they’ve augmented their waffles a bit. They sell a few variations on the theme, including a chili waffle, a waffle with pulled pork on it and a variety of delicious toppings or ‘dinges’ for you to choose from. Choosing the unlimited ‘dinges’ option makes a “WMD” or “Wafel of Massive Deliciousness”. Given those choices I went with door number 3, simply titled ‘de Bacon Syrup Wafel’ when, it came it looked much less impressive than my companions waffles:

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But it stealthily hid a most delicious secret, this waffle was stowing bacon. The preparation involved frying bacon then laying the bacon in the waffle batter and cooking that then sprinkling powdered sugar and syrup over the whole shebang. It was, hands down, the best thing any of us walked away from the truck with.

There were other performances that were very good throughout the rest of the day, Passion Pit was good but the crowd was overwhelming so I excused myself to the sanctuary of the liquor tent. Kid Cudy had an awful sound set up, or he’s autotuned obscenely in his music because he sounded like garbage, not the music, just his voice. The bad sound and impending throng of people made our decision to leave the party a little early.

After the 30 minute ferry ride back to Manhattan we headed to the Cask bar & kitchen for dinner and ran around the neighborhood a bit before turning in.

The next day I had to part ways with my musically inclined group of travelers and head to Brooklyn. I’ve been avoiding Brooklyn on all my previous trips to NY mainly because it’s where Williamsburg is and that’s pretty much where Gainesville hipsters go to turn 25 so I’ve been keeping my distance.

But, as life would have it one of my oldest and best friends has wound up here as the next step in his career so to Brooklyn I go.

It was a truly entertaining day, fantastic art, good drinks and I even got to see some old friends. It was the best introduction possible to a borough that I had stupidly been avoiding. At the end of the day Serge and I hit some of the spots around Green Point that he had come to enjoy in the short month since he moved to NY and we shared many drinks and deep conversations, but one sticks out in my mind. You see Serge is a tattoo artist and has become very much consumed with the very essence of what makes his profession and passion the extremely personal and prolific art form that it is today. Because he puts so much thought and effort into his work and how he interacts with the people who’s body’s he’s augmenting, it struck me how a very simple question is actually the result of many years of experience. Before Serge gets started putting the ink to the skin, he asks the person: “Rock and Roll?” This may seem like a pretty benign and simple question but I assure you that it is loaded, it is meant to remind the person that what they are about to do has a great deal of history and meaning behind it. They are not simply picking a design off the wall (a rare action in custom shops like Hand of Glory), they are making a statement, a statement that has been made by many groups of people throughout the ages. From aborigines to criminals to sailors to musicians to IT professionals to doctors, the tattoo has been a method of speaking without words for centuries.  The message may not always be clear but the decision is always a permanent one that will stay with the tattooed forever, and just as permanent as the ink now embedded in their skin, is the idea that they are taming nature, they are choosing their own path, they are becoming voodoo children, and if that isn’t Rock and Roll, I don’t know what is.

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Cojelo,

Rob

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