Thursday, September 11, 2014

Best Learning from Andrew WK

So ultra-earnest, completely non-ironic heavy party rock musician Andrew WK has an ultra-earnest, completely non-ironic advice column in the Village Voice now and it's really popular, right? Maybe you've seen someone on Facebook posting one of his—hold on, wait. If you don't know or can't remember who Andrew WK is, maybe take a minute to watch at least some of the video for his big hit "Party Hard" to get the general idea/the general reminder:

Ok, like I was saying, he's been writing an advice column for the Village Voice. Maybe you're seen someone on Facebook you've never expected to be posting about Andrew WK posting his responses to the "Prayer is Stupid, Right?" or "My Dad is a Right-Wing 'Jerk Face'"? Or maybe you saw him on Glenn Beck?

Anyway, the advice business is going well for Andrew right now and last night he held a live Advicing event at his club, Santos Party House, which is around the corner from my house. And it was cheap. And I was curious. So I went! See!

Andrew, as he is, was terribly humble and grateful and the audience generous with their questions. Andrew did a good job of answering the questions in his own style, it's got to be a lot easier to do it when you're writing your responses and have time to think about them. All of his Advices were in line with his pro-partying, pro-do what makes you happy, pro-think about the other person worldview.  I wrote some notes and voice memo'd just about the whole thing, but some of these notes I can't remember the context to them. But here are some of the notes:

  • Told someone (I can't remember the issue but I think it was heavy?): "Choose wisely and have fun with it."
  • A woman asked him about how she likes smoking and feels like she should quit but really likes smoking so she doesn't want to quit. As Andrew is in favor of doing what you like to do, he told her (after looking stumped for a second): "Life's too short not to smoke" and "Until you want to not smoke you should smoke as hard as you can smoke." It was pretty funny.
  • When asked about people who choose not to do anything (meaning stay at home all day resting or playing video games) Andrew defended the all-day gamers by saying "Well, you can make millions of dollars playing video games professionally now" and that resting all day might have inspired "the guy who invented my pillow" (Andrew then talked a bit about his pillow that he loves so much and how he saw a woman taking the same pillow home on the subway and it was in a box and why should a pillow be in a box, they're soft.)
  • He also added that someone resting at home all day "Might work on a shoe invention" which I just thought was a funny thing to say..."shoe invention."
  • There were lots of questions about paths in life and challenges in life and he said "Maybe you were supposed to go through all those things to know you weren't supposed to go through all those things."

As the show wrapped up Andrew began to mention, repeatedly, that we could take pictures together after. There was a line and it was a long show and he was having a conversation with each guest, so here's a picture of Andrew with someone that is not me.

Okay, so maybe this wasn't my most ace reporting, but it was an event worth at least trying to talk about.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Best Eats of August

Here's some of the finer foods I ate last month.

Went out to the Meat Hook Sandwich Shop in Williamsburg with Cher one afternoon. This is the sort of place that punishes you with an abundance of items you'll want to try. In this visit we had the Hot Chicken sandwich (I'd call it a Medium-hot at the hottest on the Prince's scale, but it was nice and crispy) and the super-solid, real good Roast Beef sandwich.

Heather was in town and there were a lot of eating opportunities, one evening Allison had us eating Prosperity Dumplings curbside before I took everyone into this basement noodle shop whose name I do not know a block down the street for sesame noodles.

One Tuesday I went with Kim to the Mission Chinese pop-up at Prime Meats because she was curious and because I missed that food. You pay cash at the door and then they bring out plate after plate of their old greatest hits and a few new inventions. I totally forgot to take a picture of the room, which was a mistake, but here's all the food:

Started with two pickle plates

Red cabbage and buckwheat salad with, I don't know, maybe a miso dressing? (I was eating, not taking notes)

Ramen noodles in peanut butter sauce. New to me and dope.

The spicy-in-an-other-worldly-way-you-cannot-understand-unless-you've-eaten-them-yourself Chong Qing Chicken Wings, which have nearly ruined (or actually ruined) the meals of three out of five of my Mission Chinese dining companions over the years. Once I ate an entire full-sized order of these. I don't know how.

Ma Po Tofu (significantly toned down, spice-wise, since the first time I had it) and Salt Cod Fried Rice.

Salad with walnuts and oyster sauce dressing. (Might not have been an oyster sauce dressing, actually, but that's how I remember it).

Bacon and Rice Cakes! Bacon and Rice Cakes!

Kung Pao Pastrami.

Then a couple days later Pearl and I went to the Momofuku Noodle Bar for their 10th Anniversary Throwback Menu where we got to eat things that are in the cookbook but haven't been served at the restaurant for years.

Getting the shot.

Tomatoes and Tofu.

Corn and Bacon in Miso Butter.

The Original Shrimp and Grits.

Chicken and Egg.

And then there was a Thursday where I went with Patricia to Totonno's in Coney Island for the pizza that many respectable pizza fans call the best in the city. 

How about desserts?

Here's a Chocolate Half-Merlin Twist from Mister Softee.

The Ice Cream Cake at Parm

Finally tried the 20 for a Dollar mini-cakes of Chinatown.

And the late-arrival of actual summer heat has had me buying a good number of midnight Slurpees on my way home.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Best My Slow March Towards Fame Continues Ever Onward Still

An article I wrote about the Torta Cubana, its history, my relationship with this sandwich, and a few of the places you can get one in New York was published online today by Lucky Peach magazine.

Yeah, Lucky Peach magazine. The 21st Century's most popular and most celebrated new journal of food and writing and literary offshoot of the Momofuku empire.

Check it Out!

UPDATED Or check it out via this intro-post on the Lucky Peach Tumblr 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Best Backstage Tour

So one big thing I did on my day with the new Leica M was go take a backstage tour of the Loew's Jersey Theatre off Journal Square in Jersey City. If you know me you know this in one of my favorite places in all of New York City. I first visited it to see a concert in 2004 and for the last 4 or 5 years I've been going there regularly to see movies, which it shows once a month in the not-summer months (as the building gets awful hot in the summer, and maybe for other reasons, too).

We started off in the theater's grand lobby.

This is the guy who introduces each film. The Jersey Loews is an entirely volunteer run, volunteer maintained, volunteer fixed-up operation. 

Those first few shots I took with my Leica 28mm f/2.8 lens, but from here on out I was using my Zeiss 35mm f/2.0.

From the lobby we headed into the theater.

Our tour guide and a photo of the theater before or during when they began fixing it up. The theater had been abandoned and slated for demolition in the 80s when the volunteers rescued it. The main auditorium had previously been split into three smaller theaters and they restored it to being one big theater.

We got to ride the rising orchestra pit up to the stage where we learned all about all the stage stuff. 

The stage floor is the only part of the whole building that's wood. In case of fire the asbestos curtain drops, lead weights on the skylight melt and let it swing open, and the stage burns up and falls into the trap room below.

This tour-member is probably looking at how the ceiling goes up 80 something feet above us.

Learning about the giant speakers they use for the shows.

Lowering the movie screen (it's full of holes and see-through so the sound of the speakers can go through it)

We went over and had a look at the lighting panel.

And ropes.

A choice of telephones.

A look at the theater's organ. When they show movies they always have an organist playing before the show. I've been trying to tell you for years that seeing movies at Jersey Loews is the best and this is a big part of it.

After the stage we went downstairs to see the changing rooms. This is when the tour started to get real and I was like "Aw man, I didn't know we were going to get to see this" over and over again.

We went into the sub-basement where they're using an old rehearsal space (as big as the stage!) to store things that they're working on. Like painting chair parts.

I did not ask about the sub-basement murders. JUST KIDDING! There were no sub-basement murders or murders of any kind. It's just paint on the walls! (or I am 98% sure it's just paint on the walls)

Then back through the theater,

And up to the loge, where volunteers have been fixing up seats and making it nice for 4 years now.

The promenade.

And a corner of the Men's Room.

Up even higher! Can you believe it?!

Went around the balcony,

And up into the projection room where we learned ALL about the projectors and film reels and soundsystem.

Around the corner from the projection room: windows.

And a view out onto the roof of the theater and a behind-the-scenes view of the statue on top of it.