Friday, August 15, 2008

How Weird Is This?

Back when I lived in Minneapolis I used to hang out at a bar called The Triangle near the University of Minnesota's campus on the east, and grittier, side of the Mississippi River. There were a number of bars in that area, somewhat dive-like in nature, but a lot of fun. The Triangle always had decent live music, Willie Murphy and the Bumble Bees played there a lot as well as one of my favorites, Spider John Koerner who often played with Tony "Little Sun" Glover and Dave "Snaker" Ray. Now The Triangle has been gone for years, the whole area has been somewhat gentrified now. Last time I drove by it was a pizza place. That was just sad.

Okay, coincidences, one of which occurred in Key West back in the year 2000. I went to the Green Parrot Bar and saw a poster for Spider John Koerner and Dave "Snaker" Ray. I hadn't seen these guys for about 25 years and just assumed that it was an old poster up for decorative purposes only. I took a closer look though and damn if it wasn't a current poster and they were playing that night. I came back and had a great time. When Spider asked for requests I hollered "Red Palace." He said he hadn't played that for years and I said he always played it at The Triangle. Well after his set he came over and we had a couple of beers and chatted about the old days. I found out that Tony "Little Sun" Glover didn't like to travel but still played with them in Minneapolis. Actually, it turned out that the three of them very seldom played together anymore. I think Dave and Tony played together most frequently, and Dave died of cancer on Thanksgiving day, 2002.

Anyway, I hadn't really thought about Spider for years. Then, for some reason, I looked him up on Rhapsody and played a couple of his albums last night, Raised By Humans and Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Been. Brought back a lot of good memories.

Okay, so here is the weird part. I got up this morning and picked up the morning papers including the free weekend edition of am New York. I was browsing through the 24/7 section which lists things that are going on in Brooklyn for the next week and nearly fell on the floor when I saw this:

Now that was really spooky. To think I hadn't seen this guy for several years and probably hadn't thought about for almost as long (sorry, Spider) and then the day after I listen to a couple of albums I see he will be playing almost in my neighborhood. Needless to say I will be making every effort to see him even though one of my nieces is having a birthday party that day. Guess I will just have to leave early. It is almost like I am meant to go see Spider, caught up in his musical web, so to speak.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Waterfall Of Death

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been kvetching about the Waterfalls installation on on the East River here in New York. To me they have always just looked like scaffolding with water running off the top, something you see all over New York after a heavy rain. The fact that they were designed by a famous artist and cost $16 million to put up doesn't change that. But now it turns out the one right under the Brooklyn Bridge is damaging the nearby trees.

The Culprit

You can see that the trees right behind the "waterfall" and in the garden area of the River Cafe are unnaturally brown for this time of year. The damage is quite extensive, as you can see in the following pictures.

By the way, supposedly, once the waterfalls are turned off this fall, the the trees should make a full recovery. We can only hope, but in the meantime this "waterfall," rather than enhancing the view is turning it rather ugly.

Why they needed to put up this "waterfall" is beyond me. There is a lovely one that is also in the River Cafe garden.

Much Nicer

I will have to admit though, that it is a bit smaller than the monstrous tree killer.

A Matter Of Scale

A nice little nearby park area is adjacent to where construction is finally starting on the Brooklyn Bridge Park. There is a really big sandbox or a small beach, depending upon your point of view, for little kids to play in and benches with umbrellas where you can sit and admire the views. Best of all is a little snack stand where you can by over-priced hot dogs and beer.

You Are Paying For The View

Actually, the price of a beer isn't too bad for New York, $6 for a plastic cup of Brooklyn Lager, one of my favorites. I suspect it would be much pricier at the River Cafe, if you could even get in. At the River Cafe their idea of a special is the $95 prix fixe. I have eaten there and the view is really great, especially at night with all of Manhattan's lights twinkling across the river. The food and service is also quite good. For me though it is a special occasion kind of place. You need to make reservations for dinner well ahead of time but you can generally get in for lunch. And there is a bar where you can have a cocktail it seems like you should have a cocktail instead of a beer. A nicely made Bombay martini, straight-up with a twist sounds about right.

On the other hand, the views really can't get much better than the ones I enjoyed while sipping my beer.

A Lovely View Of The Brooklyn Bridge And Manhattan

Directly across the river is the South Street Seaport, a very touristy place with over-priced food and drinks. To be avoided at all costs.

South Street Seaport

The tents you see are for Spiegel World, a European style burlesque show with little cafes and bars in the smaller tents. I missed going last year but I am going to make a real effort this time around.

If you ever get to New York for a visit I strongly recommend you take a trip on the Circle Line. It offers a couple of different river cruises and it really is one of those things that is well worth the price. If you have the time I would recommend you take the longer trip that completely circles Manhattan. You might not make it all the way around though, depending upon the tides.

Circling Tourists

A neat way to get around town is the Water Taxi. This service just started a few years ago and it has a huge hit.

Not Your Average Yellow Cab

As a side note, I think figured out why the "waterfall" on Governor's Island wasn't flowing the night I went to the Cyclone/Yankees game (pictures on my next posting). Each "waterfall" is equipped with a wind meter that temporarily shuts down the water if it is too windy. At least I think that was the reason.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

At Last., The Last Day In Rome

I am sure many of you thought I would never get around to this, but, at long last, the last half of my last day in Rome.

After the river walk I headed towards a pyramid that merited a picture on the little map I was carrying. This meant a little walk through a somewhat residential area. This little shop caught my eye.

Hmm, Ham

For some reason I like to look through delicatessens and supermarkets when I travel. It is interesting to see what is on the shelves. Things that are often quite different than what you would see at home.

Lots of Good Stuff

Luckily, where I live in Brooklyn there are still a number of delicatessens, butcher shops, cheese shops, fish shops and such that are somewhat like the ones you find in Europe. I was offered samples of some cheeses and hard salamis, quite tasty. I bought a chunk of cheese and a sausage for a snack later in the afternoon.

You might want to check out their website. I am not sure if they actually deliver to the United States, and I am sure it would cost a fortune if they did.

The first address, didn't really seem to take me anyplace. The second one, is more interesting. It pops up in Italian, but there are two little flags up near the left-hand corner. If you click the British flag you get the site in English.

Reading the reviews posted on the website I found out that I must have been in the "historic and moral heart of gastronomic Rome," at least according to the New York Times. It is known as the Testaccio quarter and well worth seeking out. I guess this is one reason to read a guide book or two before you go someplace. I would have liked to have spent more time in this neighborhood but, alas, time would not permit it.

The pyramid I was looking for was the Pyramid Cestius. It was built somewhere around 18 BC to 12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius Epulo, apparently a famous person. Whatever, it was kind of neat to see it popping up in the middle of Rome

Pyramid Cestius

What looks like a castle behind the pyramid is actually one of the southern gates in what was the Aurelian Wall. This wall was built between 271 AD and 275 AD during the reigns of Emperors Aurelian and Probus. They enclosed all seven hills of Rome, the Trastevere district and the Campus Martius (Field of Mars).

The Gate In The Wall

Heading back to the train station to catch the shuttle back to the hotel I passed through some less than upscale neighborhoods. This intersection caught my attention because one of the streets was Benjamin Franklin.

Bennie Deserves Better

Of course Rome is in transition and this neighborhood is also undergoing a transformation. On the opposite corner a luxury residential dwelling was being built.


I picked up a bottle of wine and had it with the wine and sausage before the Mysterious Chinese Woman and her Equally Mysterious Sister returned from there sight-seeing.

After everyone freshened up a bit we caught the shuttle back to the train station and hopped the trolley.

The Only Way To Go

They have some kind of an honor system here regarding the collecting of fares. You buy a ticket for a ride and then you run the ticket through a reader on the trolley. I guess that if someone in authority asks you to see it you are supposed to be able to show it to them. Of course our first time I followed this procedure but then noticed that except for the three of us, nobody else seemed to do so. Either nobody in authority ever shows up, they were on strike that day (always a good guess) or the penalty is so small as to be worth the risk. Who knows?

Apparently Hello Kitty is fairly popular here in Rome.

Pretty Pink Hello Kitty

Somehow the Mysterious Chinese Woman managed to find a Hello Kitty store not too far away.

No, Don't Go In, Just Step Back, Nothing To See

I had mentioned before that there are ruins everywhere in Rome. It is kind of interesting when you just stumble upon one in the middle of a commercial area though. It is kind of like seeing them popping up in mid-town Manhattan.

Interesting Juxtoposition

This one had a major cat infestation, they were everywhere.

Catching A Few Rays

And finally we made it to the restaurant that we had seen the night before.

San Michele

This really was a perfect restaurant to end our stay. Our waiter, assigned to our table because he could speak English, was really friendy and helpful, explaining the menu and offering suggestions. He even took our picture without doing any camera tricks.

Having A Wonderful Time, Wish You Were Here

The food here was great and we were, as far as I could tell, the only tourists in the place. A nice outdoor garden area where we ate, perfect weather, a perfect ending to a very nice trip.