Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cheesy Political Joke

So, Senator John McCain picks Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. Do you think this was a well thought out decision, or did he do it just for the halibut?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Waterfall Of Death - Update

Just a brief update on one of my least favorite "works of art," the Waterfalls. The Brooklyn Heights Association, a neighborhood group, has asked the city's Community Assistance Unit Commissioner (whoever that is) to end the Public Art Fund's project early. They want it shut down right after Labor Day rather then in mid-October.

The reason for this, as I posted about before, is that the mists of salty water blowing off the "waterfalls" is destroying vegetation. Apparently the problem has spread beyond just the trees in the River Cafe garden. Plants along the Brooklyn Promenade and in nearby gardens are also being destroyed.

The Parks Department has been giving the plants on the Brooklyn Promenade extra waterings, and have said there shouldn't be any long-term damage. Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Bright Day On Brighton Beach

For those of you who may not know, Brighton Beach is on the opposite end of the boardwalk from Coney Island. It is about a half mile walk and the New York Aquarium is right in the middle. The New York Aquarium is where The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I met up with our friends Kathy and Frank. We got off the subway one stop before Coney Island and walked across a pedestrian walkway to the boardwalk. Great view of the iconic Cyclone, still one of the best bang-for-the-buck will this thing last through my ride thrills in any amusement park.

The Cyclone

Luckily The Cyclone has been landmarked so it will survive whatever makeover the rest of Coney Island may undergo. I sure wish they would landmark Ruby's Bar And Grill.

Brighton Beach is also known as Little Odessa because of the large number of people living there that came from Odessa, a major seaport on the Black Sea in the south of Ukraine. Strangely enough, the name Brighton Beach was chosen because the area was going to resemble Brighton, a popular town in England known for its seafront bars, restaurants, nightclubs and amusement arcades.

If you ever get to New York, Brighton Beach is definitly one of those "must see" places. It is a close as you will ever get to visiting any of what was once the Soviet Union without actually going there. You will hear more Russian spoken on the streets than English.

Our initial reason for heading there this time was a street fair. For some reason I kind of thought a street fair in Brighton Beach would have a bit of an ethnic flavor, but I was mistaken. Like so many street fairs in New York now, they are all pretty generic. Same food, same merchandise, no longer much that is unique. Oh, except for the Atlantic Antic Street Fair, that is my favorite.

Same Old, Same Old

Well one thing they had, a booth where you could buy those ShamWows that you see advertised on television all the time. Interestingly, I had just bought some the other day and Frank was excited to have a chance to buy one as well. Must be a guy thing.

Wow, My ShamWow

I hope he didn't get an imitation, Vince warns you about them.

We didn't nibble at the street fair but headed to one of the several restaurants right on the boardwalk. I have eaten at all of them over the years and they are all good. We decided on Tatiana today, for no particular reason.

Tatiana On The Sea

When the weather is nice, as it was on this day, there is no better place to sit and have a beer or two and some really excellent food. We weren't particularly hungry so we shared some mussels, two styles, and some little cheese filled perogis that were more like ravioli.

Mussels With Ginger And Who Knows What

These were just delicious, and the sauce was great for sopping up with the heavy bread that came with it. Everything here is really good, but if I was in the mood for more food their fish dishes are excellent. Some of the best you will find anywhere. Interesting plates of cold dishes as well and of course borscht that is dynamite. A Russian friend of mine raves about the potatoes and mushrooms, and they have three different versions of this dish.

And, of course, big bottles of ice-cold Russian beer. In this case a Baltika No. 3.

A Cold One Is Better Than A Cold War

My friends Kathy and Frank shared my opinons all the way.

Frosty Good

Oh, and did I mention that the view of the beach is fantastic. I decided to take an "artistic" picture that got both me and the beach reflected in a window in the back wall of the restaurant.

Just Too Cool

And The Mysterious Chinese Woman managed to get a picture of me getting a picture of me.

The Shooter Gets Shot

During our stay both The Mysterious Chinese Woman and Kathy visited the ladies room and they both, independendly said it must be seen to be believed. I am not sure what that meant because they wouldn't tell me. The men's room wasn't anything special so I was a bit disappointed by that. There was a neat statue on the way though.

Must Have Been A Hell Of A Party

Tatina also has a nightclub and if you haven't been to a Russian nightclub you don't know what you are missing. More food and vodka than you can imagine. The last time I went the action didn't get started until about 10:00 PM and we didn't roll out of there until daylight was breaking. Think a better than average Las Vegas lounge show and you will have an idea of what the entertainment is like.

Of course there is also free entertainment on the beach.

Is He Holding A "Tight-Rope-Walking For Dummies" Book?

I am certainly going to try to get here again while the weather is still nice and I will post more about the food they have. It will have to be later in the day though when I have more of an appetite, and thirst.

After we ate we did a little grocery shopping, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tatiana Restaurant and Nightclub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jets Fan No More

Okay, don't get me wrong, I will still root for the Jets and wish them well, but the concept of being a fan, while waning for years, is now pretty much gone.

To have stuck with the Jets since they played at Shea Stadium hasn't been easy. But stick I did. I will have to admit though that when they played the Vikings in the play-offs a few years back my loyalties were indeed torn. I am originally from Minnesota and grew up with the Purple People Eaters.

Now this year the Jets have brought in an aging quarterback from the Vikings arch-rivals, the Packers. Whoo Whoo, the New York papers are going crazy. He will be the salvation of the Jets. Hell, he might even get them into the playoffs this year. Ah, so what. Didn't they make the playoffs in 2002 and then blow out Indianapolis in the first round with Chad Pennington. Oh, Chad also led the league in passer rating and completions percentage that year. And then in 2006 Chad got us into the playoffs again. But we sent him to Miami so maybe Favre can lead us to the playoffs this year. Am I missing something here? It wouldn't surprise me if the Dolphins have a better season than the Jets. Okay, so I am a bit bitter.

But that was nothing compared to the new Personal Seating Licenses and the increase in ticket prices announced by the Jets. I have three season tickets on about the five yard line. Nice tickets and this year they cost me $80 apiece. Now, to fund the new stadium being built (Favre will probably be retired for good by the time the Jets play in it) it looks like it will cost me $15,000 a ticket or $45,000 just for the rights to continue to buy my tickets. And, on top of that, the price of the tickets will go up 75% to $140 each.

Hey, professional sports are no longer about teams and fans and haven't been for a long time. Professional sports, no surprise, is just another business (except for maybe Roller Derby and Professional Wrestling). Oh, I will still root for the Jets, but I can no longer afford, emotionally or financially, to continue to be a fan.

Just had to get this off my chest. Man, $45,000, at $5 a beer that is 9,000 of them. And at $140 a seat times three, that is another 104 beers each week the Jets play a home game, including pre-season. Now that would be money well spent.

Actually, what with the real estate market in a free fall, I could probably use the $45,000 to buy a condo in Miami and root for Chad this year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On The West Side

The pier where the Temptress was moored is, as you might imagine, on the Hudson River. Specifically, it is located at 42nd Street across from the West Side Highway. Walking there to and from the subway I passed through a neighborhood I haven't visited for awhile. This is right by the Bus Terminal across from which was Siberia, bar number 564 back in 2005. Right around the corner were Bellevue Bar (I have spelled this numerous ways in my blog, but this is the correct spelling) which was number 527 and where I did my guest bar tending gig, and the Holland Bar bar number 565. Sadly, both Siberia and Bellevue are now gone. A sad story that gets even sadder. But, for this night at least, the Holland Bar was still there, tucked between the East West Grocery and Aceluck Thai Cusine.

Still Standing

Still the old dive bar I know and love. Narrow as a closet and packed three deep at the bar, and you cant pack them any deeper than that. Its not as cheap as it once was, but $6 still gets you a good sized shot of Jack Daniels and a Budweiser.

A Beer And A Bump

Ah, but the sad news. Despite the fact that the place was packed and the bartender had worked up one hell of a sweat, this place was on its last legs.

Working Up A Sweat

I did manage to chat with the bartender a bit, but damned if I didn't forget his name. He told me that the building housing the bar had been sold and that tomorrow or the next day would be the bar's last day. He was hoping the new owner would remodel the bar and re-open it, but that never happens. But there is always talk that it will happen this time. I have heard it a couple of dozen times now. The days of the beer and shot places is rapidly coming to and end, especially in larger cities and especially in New York. The end of an era. And where will these people go to drink now? I really don't know.

Another puzzle, why is it that at the end of the night The Mysterious Chinese Woman is always more photogenic than me?

I Just Don't Understand

And, all of you who were planning on posting a comment along the lines of "What do you mean at the end of the night?" don't bother.

For some reason, maybe an open bar on a boat and beers and shots after, I found this to be hilarious.

The Department Of Redundant Signage

I mean, if you didn't know it was a fire hydrant by looking at it, would the sign really help? Only the next day did I realize that the sign was easier to spot than the fire hydrant itself so it might help you find it. I thought the fire department knew where all the fire hydrants were, though.

Well, all in all it was a very nice evening, but in a bittersweet way. I truly do hate to see the old bars fade away.

Hopping On The Hudson

A friend of mine, Sean Murphy, as many of you know, runs MurphGuide, a guide to fun events throughout New York. You have to like a website that has a page dedicated to places where you can drink competitively, Beer Pong, Beirut, and Flip Cup. Now those should be Olympic Events. Combine that with swimming and you would definitely need to put that urine detection chemical in the pool.

For those of you who are interested in checking out MurphGuide, indispensable if you live in or around New York City, you can find it at:

  • MurphGuide

  • Last Thursday Sean sponsored a nice little three hour cruise on the Hudson River aboard the good ship Temptress. Just a three hour cruise.

    I Got My Ducats

    Our boat was a bit bigger than the Minnow, however. And much better stocked.

    The Good Ship Temptress

    As we were preparing to weigh anchor, or cast off, or whatever it is you do, it was touching to see the natives canoeing out hoping to retrieve coins thrown over the side.

    They Are A Simple People

    Actually, they have kayaking classes and free use of kayaks not far from where we were moored on the West Side of Manhattan. It really is amazing all of the stuff that New York has to offer if you know where to look for it.

    We boarded the boat at 6:30 P.M. and were scheduled to depart at 7:00 P.M. Free beer, booze, and food plus music with a DJ. Not to shabby for $65 bucks. It didn't take me long to find the beer up on the rear deck.

    A Beer, A Boat, A Bar Man

    Soon we were on our way and waving good-bye to the island of Manhattan. People often forget, and it is easy to do so, that of the five boroughs of New York City, four of them are on islands. For some reason this always seems hard to comprehend. There should be more steel drums and rum drinking, in my opinion.

    Bidding Good-Bye To The Island Life

    Ah, but there is nothing like a romantic cruise with The Mysterious Chinese Woman.

    Voted Cutest Couple

    It was a lovely night and the lights twinkling in the distance makes Manhattan look like a glittering jewel box.

    Manhattan After Dark

    Even New Jersey looks nice at night. Cheap, but obligatory, shot at New Jersey from someone who lives in New York.

    You Always Know The Time

    And, of course, the obligatory shot of the Statue of Liberty, which actually sits on an island in New Jersey waters. New York was devastated when this became public.

    The New Jersey Lady

    The passing of this brightly lit boat reminded me of the final scenes of the Fellini movie, Amaracord. This is a great movie and if you have never seen it you should. It is a series of vignettes about a man's memories of growing up on pre-war Italy.

    The Boat, The Boat

    I spent most of my time out on the back deck when I wasn't making runs to the open bar. The weather was warm and there was a friendly crowd.

    Great Crowd, Great Night

    And there was plenty of dancing going on down below.

    Rocking On The Waves

    It was a great night and the weather couldn't have been better. When Sean puts together an event, and this was one he put together, it is always a good time.