Where not to go in Brooklyn this weekend.

March 29, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Where not to go in Brooklyn this weekend. 

I don’t usually spend too much time thinking about places I don’t like or won’t return to, but these two deserve some special attention.

Brooklyn Social is a bar I should like.  The bar is new but the building was at one point the site of more or less an actual Sicilian social club.  I should have liked this place, and I did when I walked in.  Like most bars in areas like Brooklyn, this one came equipped with the required touches to let everyone know it’s a “cool” place.  Bartenders with facial hair.  Faux-vintage clothing inclusive of vests and bow ties.  A drink menu that merely lists the ingredients and tells you nothing about anything.  Indie bands you’ve never heard of on the 70’s-era speakers.  A record player.

Good stuff when it works, sad and pathetic when it doesn’t.  Nothing worse than a bar trying too hard.  Alright there’s a lot worse than that but anyway.

We ordered our drinks and they were average.  Mine tasted like it had no alcohol in it, and this fact was eagerly confirmed by all present.  It was supposed to have a whiskey base; no hint of alcohol whatsoever.  Not out of the question, as some flavors do counteract any hint of spirits.  But the waitstaff was too preoccupied with being hipster to tell us anything about the drinks.

I walked up to the bar to speak with the bartender.  What follows is an exact transcript of the conversation.

Me: “Just wondering, this drink tastes like there’s no alcohol in it?”

Jackass bartender: (glares at me for a minute) “Well I’ll give you more whiskey but you’re wrong.”

Me: *too stunned to respond*

He takes out the bottle of whiskey and pours it all over my hand, all over the bar, and manages to get a drop or two in my glass.

You’re wrong?   You’re wrong?!?  Oh you’re right, because YOU paid ME to come in here and drink from you. Right.   You know that scene from Desperado where Tarantino tells the bartender the joke about a guy pissing all over his bar, all over him, all over his customers?  I wanted to be that guy.  In reality we just walked out.

Fast forward to a few nights ago.

A bar we’ve wanted to check out for a while called Zebulon just a few blocks away from the apartment.  They always have live music, and they play movies on a screen so large  you can see it from Fire Island.  Anyway we were there a few nights ago to see a concert so it was pretty crowded.  Now nothing actually happened to me, but rather to two of my friends.  Zebulon only takes American Express, no Visa or MC.  This has got to be some sort of stupid hipster/ironic thing they are trying to pull off.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dive bar that only takes Amex.  Very weird.  So this will inevitably lead to problems.

Padraic orders a round of drinks, and comes back with an odd look on his face.  He repeats the following no less than ten times.
“So I order the drinks, and only have $35 on me.  The total for five drinks is $31 and she won’t take my card.  So I give her $35 and she says “A $4 tip for five drinks?  Ugh whatever.” She didn’t really say that did she?  Did she?”

He manages to convince himself that she did not in fact say this to him and goes on watching the concert.

Kerry then orders double whiskeys for a few of us, and also comes back from the bar completely pissed.  She had ordered $44 worth of Jameson, about 6 drinks.  She finds out that again, they only take Amex.  She has $50 in cash.  So she hands this cash to the bartender who replies: “That’s okay, you can bring the rest of the tip later” “THAT’S OKAY YOU CAN BRING THE REST OF THE TIP LATER.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but a tip is something given for good service.  At least that’s what it means when you don’t expect 20% regardless of how completely terrible your attitude is, while you’re being pissed off that we dared to come in, sit in your section, and interrupt you checking your Twitter feed.

So Zebulon and Brooklyn Social.  Stay away.

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Been a while…

February 22, 2012 · Posted in Uncategorized · 1 Comment 

It’s been a while…I basically skipped 2011.  It’s not really my fault though.  Two things happened that kept me from updating.  1 – I was stuck in Steinhausen, Switzerland for about three months.  This place is a virtual black hole – I was told that my wireless connection was weak because I closed my door.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that kind of the point of wireless?  In any case, it was just short of traumatic and I sincerely hope I never see Steinhausen again as long as I live.  2 – I can’t fit in to skinny jeans.  And if you can’t fit in to skinny jeans, you are legally not allowed to go out in Brooklyn.

As a quick recap – I spent 2011 moving to New York (Williamsburg, Brooklyn actually), trying to figure out what would give dinosaurs high cholesterol, whittling a new set of kitchen implements, small-batch producing absinthe in recycled oil drums, wrestling musk oxen with my bare hands, bottle feeding endangered swallows on their migration south for the winter (some swallows are non-non-migratory), and practicing my axe throwing skills with the Midwest Knife and Axe Throwers (I’m currently a Hobbyist but should be Expert soon).

Something strange happened in 2011, and a few people have commented on it.  Food seemed to jump the shark a bit.  Everyone is now  (ok and this has been approaching nonsense for years let’s be honest) organic, natural, farm-raised on grandma’s plot of land she settled on in 1734, wholesome, and most likely full of s**t.  And not in a compost-is-full-of-manure way either.  I don’t need to “experience” my water or the way my silverware curves match the ceiling tiles.  In fact, if it’s truly an experience, you don’t have to tell me that.  This goes along with the whole “if you’ve gotta say it, it’s probably not”.  See: clean coal, safe nuclear, the Philadelphia Eagles “dream team”, and Michelle Bachman’s “I’m a serious candidate for President.”  No you’re not.

Also stop drinking drinks that end in -tini anything.  Just because. The Crafted Cocktail hates you.

So now we’re stuck with a small class of people who actually are changing the way we experience food, and pretty much everyone else.

I think we should just kind of agree to chill out, shop at our local farmer’s market, buy from our local butcher (or fishmonger, which I can allegedly do now), drink a microbrew and stop being so damn fussy.  We’re not that cool anyway.

Unless you own a vintage duck press.  Then you probably are that cool.

Either way, let’s get this thing started again.

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Side of antibiotics with your steak, Sir?

December 14, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · 1 Comment 

Last week the FDA released its first report on antibiotic use in livestock in the US.  It was a short report, with almost no press.  But it said that in 2009, livestock producers used 29 million pounds of antibiotics on their animals.  Some, yes, are used to treat sick animals.

But antibiotics are also used to treat perfectly healthy animals that might get sick, or that live in unsanitary conditions as a precautionary measure.

Why is this an issue?

Many strains of e.coli exist in parts of livestock we wouldn’t normally eat anyway, like the intestines.  (Yes you can eat them, but you don’t often see them for sale at your local supermarket)  They spend their lives with other bacteria, playing cards and doing whatever it is bacteria do when they’re not infecting people.  They are harmless and would continue to be that way if the animals were properly cared for.  But when antibiotics are used merely as a precautionary measure, drug resistant strains begin to develop, and have been developing for years now.

Which means you could get sicker, and in a manner that we are not yet able to cure with existing medicine.  Hmm.  Frightening.

In 2009 the FDA released a report detailing safe use of antibiotics in livestock.  Included were these choice phrases:

Misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs creates selective evolutionary pressure that enables antimicrobial resistant bacteria to increase in numbers more rapidly than antimicrobial susceptible bacteria and thus increases the opportunity for individuals to become infected by resistant bacteria. Because antimicrobial drug use contributes to the emergence of drug resistant organisms, these important drugs must be used judiciously in both animal and human medicine to slow the development of resistance. Using these drugs judiciously means that unnecessary or inappropriate use should be avoided….

In regard to the use of antimicrobial drugs in animals, concerns have been raised by the public and components of the scientific and public health communities that a significant contributing factor to antimicrobial resistance is the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in foodproducing animals for production or growth-enhancing purposes.

So not only can you get fatter, you can now also get sicker.

Here’s a very clear, slightly revolting example of why preventative antibiotic use should be avoided.

One of the most harmful strains of e.coli is O157:H7.  This strain exists in the intestine of most cows, and doesn’t usually cause an issue with them.  In order to infect a human, it has to exit the intestinal tract and be ingested by a person.  If that’s not clear enough – you got sick because you ate fecal matter!

Cows that require preventative antibiotics spend their lives in confinement, close to other cows and usually without proper sanitation for their byproducts.  They are quite literally covered in manure.  When they go to get butchered, the knives, saws, what have you cut through whatever layer of feces is on the cow’s hide to butcher the animal.  This bacteria is then transferred to the meat, which you then ingest and get sick.  Really though, we’re not supposed to be eating manure so you shouldn’t be too surprised by the connection there.

So, in order to eat less crap, consider shopping at your local butcher, your local farmer’s market, at Whole Foods, or at a place like La Cense Beef, which is a great online supplier of grass fed products.

Less poop.  More meat.  Happy eating!

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Will travel for bacon.

December 10, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Will travel for bacon. 

“Run faster, the zombies are chasing you!”

That’s how, by mile 2, I knew I was going to love running the Dallas marathon.  This seemingly simple, pointed trip turned out to be much more fun than I anticipated.

Due to a SNAFU, I had to find lodging via a good friend of mine in Milan.  As in Italy.  So Jenny hooked me up with her friend Nick, and this guy was nice enough to let some random crash at his place for a few days.  The main purpose of this trip was to run the Dallas marathon, but on Thanksgiving I was watching a TV show about bacon and the first stop was a little cafe in Dallas called the AllGood cafe.

Perfect.

Truth be told when I got off the plane I knew I was going to have fun.  I saw two guys walking toward security with maroon shirts that said “Don’t touch my junk.”

What made it better was that one guy was tipping the scales at over 300 lbs, and one guy was…well…vertically challenged?  I don’t know what the politically correct term is.  Either way they made quite the pair, shuffling up to security telling the TSA clearly what they thought.  And since the TSA is the US government’s form of a practical joke, staffed with ex-convicts, these guys were instantaneously new friends.

The marathon itself was about 95% excellent.  Good expo, mostly good race organization, a great course, and some pretty interesting fans.

One entire block was set up as a luau, with all the people wearing grass skirts, handing out leis, and passing out cans of beer to any runner who wanted one.  One guy was also holding a gigantic baking sheet mounded with bacon.  If it wasn’t only mile 8 I would have taken some of both.

By mile 19 I was eating the sugar glazed donut holes people were passing out though…

At mile 21 one of the local Hooters restaurants was staffing the hydration station.  I don’t think I really need to go too in depth here…it was pretty amazing.

Not to be outdone by the Hooters girls, mile 22 had an interesting group of characters.  We encountered two rolling hills, and just before we passed through them was a sign.  “You are now entering the Dolly Parton hills.”  Fantastic.  Except that the “Dolly Parton’s” were all dudes dressed in drag with enormous fake man-boobs.  I preferred the Hooters girl, but you can’t knock their effort!

After setting a new PR by 5 minutes, I rested most of the day on Sunday, in preparation for breakfast on Monday.

On my way to the airport I stopped off at AllGood Cafe and took some mediocre pics with my phone.

The place itself is very cool.  It’s got a small stage, and they host shows there all the time.  I saw signed posters by Wilco, Steve Earle, The Old ’97s, Paul Simon, and Los Lobos.

When I walked in the four cops sitting in the middle of the cafe just glared at me, like they could smell the Yankee on my coat.

To my dismay, they were OUT of chicken fried steak.  Out of it!  Thankfully they still had bacon.  I settled on a “mega breakfast sandwich” and a side order of bacon.

Ham, fried egg, avocado, bacon, cheese, mayo, and dipped in tabasco sauce.

If you like your meat thick and full of spice…

If you’re in Dallas make sure to swing by The AllGood cafe.  And look for the “Kinky for Governor” signs.  As one of them says – How hard could it be?

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Why I Run.

October 9, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Why I Run. 

5:45 a.m.  It’s rainy, and cold.  The alarm goes off.  On a Sunday.

Why? Why do I do this?

The short answer is, if you have to ask me why, I won’t be able to explain it to you.  I could tell you why, I’m physically able to articulate an answer.  But it won’t really explain why anyone does this.

I think the obvious answer is health, right?  We want to be fit, we want to be in shape, we don’t want to end up on The Biggest Loser clocking in at 400 lbs?  But that’s almost too simple, too easy of an out.  You can stay in shape running 5 miles, doing a few 10k’s every now and then.  Collect your Turkey Trot t-shirt and go home.

Running is much more than that, and health really doesn’t factor into it a whole lot.  At least not the physical kind anyway.

Over the years running has proved to be one of my most unforgiving teachers.  I used to think that I liked to run because it was something only I could control.  No matter what, I could go out and run.  Everything else could collapse around me but I could always just run, as far as I wanted.  Bad day?  Go run.  Fight with the girlfriend?  Go run.  Run because I could control it, because no one could tell me I couldn’t.

Until you begin to realize you had no control over it, ever.  Your legs give out.  You feel nauseous for no reason whatsoever.  Your feet kill.  And these things happen all the time.  You’re forced to re-evaluate, re-think, cut training, and regroup.  And slowly but surely, you learn patience.  It seeps out into other parts of your life, and I think that’s where the benefits really come through.  Let’s say hypothetically you lose your job in the worst financial crisis in 80 years.  You can either wallow in sorrow, curse your injury, and watch from the sidelines.  Or you can lace your shoes up again and run.  You may not run as fast right away, but you’ll keep running and eventually you’ll hit your stride.

By now I find running has become a source of patience for me.  There are several instances I have considered taking one course of action, gone on a long run, and by the time that run was over, reason had taken over my thinking.  If you can’t calm down and act more rationally after three or four hours on a run, you’re just not going to.  This helps with that whole Sicilian temper thing.

The road helps bring release too.  There’s no Twitter, no Facebook, no “Digg”-ing anything, no text messages, emails, or phone calls.  (If you’re someone who does actually bring their phone, and update Facebook, from the road, you have issues.  Stop it.)  I truly believe we all need some time to unplug from the hyper-connectivity we all experience day in and day out.

I run because I get to see things others don’t.  If you haven’t been out around the bend of the Shedd Aquarium at sunrise, and watched the city light up in a beautiful orange burst of color at least once, you have no idea what you’re missing.  Seeing what others don’t, catching a new, different glimpse of what you thought you knew is one of the best benefits to this kind of lifestyle.

Haruki Murakami writes – “In long distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.

Not how fast you used to run, not how quick you made it to the finish, not how strong you were.  The entire way you used to be.  Running impacts every single aspect of your life.

This quote, more than anything I’ve read or heard about running, sums up why I run.  It also sums up the way I feel about life in general.  In running, as in life, it doesn’t really matter what we do relative to those around us.  What matters is that we try, every day, to make sure we’re better than we were yesterday.  This is my personal philosophy, the way I view the challenge, nothing more.  I will never win the Chicago marathon.  I’ve accepted that, along with the fact that I may not win any race I ever enter.  I did come close with the Warrior Dash though.  (See the part about patience.)  But if my training gets better, if my time gets better, if my time stays the same but I don’t hurt so much, these are all victories to be proud of.  I’m not nor will I ever be the perfect runner, friend, brother, son, and hopefully some day husband and father.  But that doesn’t matter, because no one is.  What matters is that you don’t stop trying to be a better runner.  Not faster, quicker, stronger – just better.  I think this is a struggle a lot of distance runners come up against – through injury and bad performance it may seem like you’re not making any progress.  But on some level, as long as you take it one step at a time, you look back and realize you’ve come farther than you ever thought possible.

There are obviously a lot of reasons why I run, and why I won’t stop running.  But in the end, I run because I’m a runner, and I don’t know any better.  See you on the lakefront.

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Quotes From Last Night

April 9, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Quotes From Last Night 

Here’s a selection of context-free quotes from some crazy nights in Milan.  Most involve Marco in some form or fashion…

“He was looking for the bathroom.  I’m not sure how he ended up in the hotel lobby in his boxers.”

“You don’t eat flan out of a box.”

M: “Lean over and say (screaming) I WANT SOME OF YOUR <BLEEPING> PIZZA RIGHT NOW!”
Girl: Do you want some of our pizza?
Me: Um….yes please?

It was a mountain lion.  A mountain lion on skis.

K: “Did you tell him the story?”
M: “Yeah, I did, why?”
K: “Well did you tell him about the cops?”
M: “No….no I forgot that part”

Is that a giant purple snail?

Ma Cecil…..che bello!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I mean (spreads hands apart)….che bello!!!!!!

The Germans….we love the idea of a European Union.  I mean, we tried to do it twice ourselves.

“Prof.a, my name is Joe….like Joseph….like Giuseppe in Italian.” “Okay John…”

K: “I can’t believe you’re staying in a hostel in Bratislava by yourself!”
T: “Why, is it not safe?”
J: “It’s fine.”
K: “No, it’s not fine…they’re gonna rape you.”

J: “So I’m sleeping on a bench in Stockholm’s main station tonight.”
J: “Um, why are you doing that?”
J: “It’s a long, long, crazy story.  Let’s just say all of this can be blamed on a Portuguese millionaire….”

J: Last night was probably the worst night of sleep I’ve ever had.
A: Why, what happened?
J: So I’ve never done acid….

K: Did you see the big letters in Amsterdam?
M: No
K: Did you see the Van Gogh museum?
M: No
K: Are you sure you were in Amsterdam?
J: I think this is like the time he was in Venice but really was in Verona…

K: I like good looking people.  And orgies.

K: Are you sure this is a good idea?
J: Yeah, you’re totally fine, you can do this.
(five minutes later)
K: No this was a bad idea.

“Ho fame, ho freddo, sono stanco…ma sto schiando….tutto bene!”

(I’m hungry, I’m cold, and I’m tired…but I’m skiing…it’s all good!)

“Juan…the problem is…your face.”

“Juan….do you have our passports?”
“Um…..no?”

(something gets said in Spanish)
J: You know I don’t speak Spanish and can’t understand you!
K: (throws hands up in exhaustion) You’re not making any effort!

K: I’m so drunk – I can’t ski like this.  (five minutes later)  Should we get some grappa?

“Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-ltitude.”

J: “I think that in the battle of Europe vs. The Americans, Europe is winning.  Apparently it’s hard to be everywhere and do everything without wearing down.”

“Fat kids don’t get kidnapped.”

J: “The end of the night is kind of fuzzy…”
M: “We didn’t lose anything, and no one got kicked out.  So, overall, a good night.”
J: “That’s how far we’ve fallen now huh?”

K: “No, in Venezuela we don’t have earthquakes.  We have Chavez.”

M: “Why are you laughing at me?  If I were serious right now, I’d be really offended!”

M: “If you fly, you look like a pussy.  If you run really fast, that’s different.”

A: “Why haven’t we taken over Canada yet?  I know, right, I mean, they have….stuff?”

M: “I didn’t like Hangover b/c it was in English.”
U: “They didn’t translate it into Spanish down in Mexico?”
J: “No, he didn’t like it b/c there weren’t any donkeys in it.”
M: “Yeah – that’s why I like Shrek so much.”

J: That’s totally skiable.
D: There’s a 100 foot rock face in the middle of that slope.
J: Okay that part’s not skiable….

K: She’s a 4!
(girl takes coat off)
K: Okay she’s a 0!

M: Non Brasiliano….TUTTO!!!

J: We invented the term “cougar”.
J: Who’s “we”?
J: My friends and I did.  We invented it.

M: OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH!  That guy almost got hit by a car!
K: “That guy” is our friend!

Shut up, stupid pigeon.

J: “I was gonna buy everyone breakfast, but then I couldn’t find my pants.”

J: “You!  Put some pants on!  You! Take these pills!  Trust me!”

J: “This is an ang blu.  Tell them I invented it.  Tell them the Puerto Rican invented it.”

J: “If they’re in high school, they’re your target.  If they have kids in high school, they’re my target.”

M: There are 3 things I don’t do by myself:  1) have sex  2) going to the theater 3) eating in a restaurant

“Hey…Yoe!”

“Ma che cazzo”

Don’t be a…..

“DON’T BE A POOSSY!”

And finally…if you went to ANY class at all, you heard this more than once from a professor:

“Did anyone read the case?  Anyone at all?  Does anyone know what case we’re studying?  Does anyone know what class this is?  I give up…”


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Stupid Price for Smart Laptop!

January 3, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized · 1 Comment 

So there’s been a few “lost in translation” moments while in Asia, and I figured it deserved a short post with some pictures to accompany.

The first in Vietnam was a billboard proclaiming:

Stupid Price for Smart Laptop!

Then in Cambodia – a billboard company advertising itself by saying:

Expose Yourself Outdoors!

These weren’t so much lost in translation as just funny:

I tried to edit the SARS one but it was giving me problems – it was officially titled with SARS in the file name and the authorities in HK wouldn’t let me upload it!  Whoops…

Scenes from the Temple Night Market – funny signs and shirts –

My love my angle?  Hmmmm….

Not to be confused with “No money no honey!”

Lots of possibilities for the top one, but the “buffalo” one is pretty clear….

The monkey is pointing at you, Octomom!

Have a great day!

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Had to happen sooner or later…

December 13, 2009 · Posted in Uncategorized · Comments Off on Had to happen sooner or later… 

My sister’s been at it for a while, and eventually I had to catch up.  And leaving the country for four months seemed like the perfect time to start.  For the time being this will primarily detail my trip around the world in 107 days (more or less).  Only going West (more or less).

– Vietnam & Cambodia

– Hong Kong

– Istanbul

– Milan & Europe

It will mostly cover what I eat (including deep fried tarantula in Cambodia) for the next four months.  When I get home it will talk more about food in general, recipes, the Green City Market, food policy, suggestions for greener and better eating and the like.  Enjoy!

~ Joe

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