Monday, August 2, 2010

A New York City Weekend of Food and Music and Animals with No Shame

This is the first in a series of posts from a weekend trip to NYC. The remaining posts will go up over the next several days.

This past weekend, Joel and I traveled to NYC to visit friends and family. Kim (who is responsible for the many yeti drawings of Fork it over, Boston!) and I had tickets to see one of our old favorite bands, the Goo Goo Dolls, at Jones Beach. While we were at the show, Joel went to his brother Dan's birthday party in Brooklyn. The following night, Dan's band, The Stepkids, had a show at Sullivan Hall in the West Village. It ended up being an epic weekend packed full of food and music, and I finally got to explore Brooklyn a bit. And we saw a whole lot of X-rated animal behavior at the zoo.

The Food

A pretty decent bagel from Everything Bagels
Food was the first thing on my mind, as usual. I have enough material for six or seven posts after this one, and I'll be putting up one a day this coming week, so stay tuned for the delicious details! A sneak preview: three stops on the ever-continuing Cupcake Quest, Thai food, Mexican food, a mobile farmers' market that plans on coming to Boston after conquering New York, and a hearty Southern brunch that I don't think I've finished digesting yet. A few honorable mentions for foods that won't be getting their own blog posts: a decent bagel from Everything Bagels (that failed to convince me of the alleged superiority of NYC bagels to the rest of the world) and a decent 99 cent slice of late night pizza from 2 Bros. Pizza (that failed to convince me of the alleged superiority of NYC pizza to the rest of the world).

(During the car ride home on Sunday, a pizza discussion threatened to turn violent. Joel is an unapologetic pizza snob who idolizes places like New Haven's Pepe's Pizzeria. He once brought me to the Fairfield location, and it was great, but it reminded me of Bertucci's on a really good day: very satisfying but not groundbreaking. I jumped to the defense of Boston's pizza. Yes, it might be harder to find outstanding cheese slices that are both good and cheap in Boston, but they exist. My favorite is Pino's in Cleveland Circle. Boston also has a notable selection of fancy pizza (Emma's, Zing!, and countless others). While I agree with Joel that a good pizza place should be judged heavily on how good a plain slice is, I think that the gourmet places should be considered separately from the cheap places, while both types can influence a city's overall pizza rating. Bottom line: It is OK to be proud of Boston's pizza. Some of it is very, very good.) 

The Fashion 

A Happy Tree Grows in Brooklyn
We saw plenty of spectacular fashion fails over the course of the weekend, particularly a one-shoed walk of shame through a subway station, cloven hoof shoes even weirder than my Vibrams, and packs of girls in nearly identical outfits, bringing to mind the song "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds. Of particular over-doneness: not-dresses. Ladies, if it doesn't cover your butt, it's a shirt. Wear leggings if you must, but real pants would be better. Just wear something. That slightly-past-the-waist tank top is not a dress no matter how sequin-covered it is.

After brunch on Sunday, we walked through Williamsburg a bit because I hadn't gotten a chance to see much of Brooklyn yet. We found a little piece of hipster heaven, an artsy flea market (Artists and Fleas). Boston readers: think SOWA, but more hipster. There, I found a spectacular yeti/bigfoot shirt to go with the yeti/bigfoot print that I already have at home. I didn't venture past the first vendor because I didn't want to buy the entire market. I did, however, buy a couple tiny cupcakes outside. More on those later this week.

The Music

Part I: Goo Goo Dolls

We had a beautiful view from our nosebleed seats.
Aside from the part where the Goo Goo Dolls actually performed, Friday night was extraordinarily frustrating. Sure, I love to complain about Boston's MBTA, but the grass isn't always greener: NYC's MTA is changing and cutting service left and right. Early on Friday, Kim found out that the shuttle bus that would have taken us from the LIRR to the concert venue wasn't going to run that night - no explanation. The venue instructed us to plan on taking a cab from the train station. They said that there was a shuttle still running to the beach part of Jones Beach, but it would be a "confusing walk through a parking lot" to get to the music venue. Seemingly having no choice, we found a cab. They encouraged us to pre-pay for a round trip, and they'd pick us up after the show. It was $21 each way for a 5-10 minute ride. Once we got to the show, we saw that it was certainly not a confusing walk from the shuttle bus, but we had already paid the exorbitant fare home.

We showed up way too early and sat through both opening bands, Spill Canvas and Switchfoot, while eating overpriced greasy venue food and not drinking beer. That's right, Jones Beach doesn't sell alcohol. We wished someone had clued us in ahead of time. The bag check was hardly thorough; it would've been easy to bring in our own little party. Instead, we entertained ourselves by watching a swan family swim back and forth around the edge of the amphitheater, and we hoped that they were plotting to jump out of the water and devour Switchfoot, but to no avail.

The Goo Goo Dolls were fun and played all of the songs we were hoping to hear, but we came to the horrifying realization that we were old people at an oldies concert. In any case, live performances of "Iris" always get me a little teary-eyed. (We've seen GGD six or seven times throughout the years.) 


We finally made it home and grabbed a drink at the Thirsty Scholar. (I'm guessing it's not related to the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville, but they do have a similar feel.) On the way back to Kim's apartment, we stopped at a grocery store to buy toilet paper and somehow ended up with a bottle of Delirium Nocturnum, which we drank while watching Moulin Rouge

Part II: The Stepkids

On Saturday night, we went to see The Stepkids at Sullivan Hall. They play psychedelic funk while dressed all in white: a projector covers them with trippy moving patterns of colorful stripes and dots throughout the show. Check out their MySpace to hear some songs (my favorites are "Brain Ninja" and "Santos & Ken".) Joel's brother, Dan, is on bass and vocals. He formerly played with Zox out of Providence. Here's a video of one song from the show, with Dan's girlfriend Clara stepping in for some nice atmospheric backup vocals.

FYI, Dan and Clara have an empanada catering business, empanadas ¡dpm! If you're in Brooklyn, keep an eye out for them at markets. They'll also be on an upcoming episode of the Cooking Channel's Food(ography)! So far I've only had a chance to try one of their dessert empanadas, and it was delicious. (And I'm not just saying that because they're my friends. You've really got to try these empanadas.)

The Animals

On Saturday, Kim, Joel, and I headed out to the Bronx Zoo. As we were riding the subway there, a guy got on the train and opened up his Spiderman backpack, revealing a very young kitten and an older kitten. He spent the next few minutes feeding the tiny kitten from a bottle of milk while nearly everyone on the train stared (and then spontaneously combusted from the overload of cuteness). Don't worry; I have a short video of it for you to watch. Note the paw grab at 0:14. Prepare to melt:

At the zoo, we saw an adorable baby sea lion who desperately wanted to play with Mom, but she just wanted to relax in the sun.

In the monkey house, we saw X-rated monkey sex. In the Madagascar exhibit, we saw tortoises mating, complete with creepy ring-tailed lemur voyeurism. Below, you'll find a video of the tortoises, including spectacular narration by a nearby man who decided that it was a good time to have The Talk with his young son. (Photos of the creepy lemurs will be uploaded soon. I'll post a link to the full zoo photo set once it's up.)

1 comment:

  1. It looks like it was a fantastic weekend! Can't wait to read more about your NYC food adventures!


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