Monday, March 31, 2008

Local Yokel

Name: Kate Bryant

Occupation: Copywriter

Relationship status: Left blank intentionally

Neighborhood/Borough: Greenpoint

Why you moved to NYC: It was love at first sight.

What you love about your nabe?
I can have pierogis for breakfast, authentic tacos for lunch, and a pretty decent pad see ew all in one day. Also, the scenery ain't too shabby. And all my friends are here.

Favorite restaurant:
Dumont Burger, the taco joint on Grand (dunno name), Snacky for their kimchee hotdogs

Favorite grocer:
Proud member of the greenpoint/williamsburg CSA. Also, Arlo is a fan of the $1.50 lamb bones at McCarren farmer's market.

Favorite local designer:
Toss up b/t Mociun & Sunshine and Shadow. Oh, and Devotte.

Favorite NY band: Free Blood, The World Without Magic

Favorite corner to people watch:
N6 and Bedford. Sitting on the bench in front of NY Muffin in the afternoon sun. (Summertime where are you?!)

Signature karaoke song: Dancing in the Dark

Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but my two would-be respondents have yet to return their questionnaires!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Illustration by Julia Kim
In the tender hours of twilight, I watch until the last traces of pink and purple fold into the transparent grey that substitutes for night. In the wee hours before dawn, I hear the gate below creaking in the slow wind. And in the sleepless hours in between, I listen to the mechanical tick of some unknown device keeping irregular time, my upstairs neighbor's unsteady shufflings, tight-lipped yelps as my dog warns his dreamland companions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Weekly Local Yokel

Name: Ryan Sovereign

Occupation: Designer

Relationship status: Single

Neighborhood/Borough: Willamsburg

What brought you to NYC?
Some college friends had an extra room in their loft/garage.

What you love about your nabe?
I can buy anything I want on the sidewalk, the girls all wear boots and have bangs, I can eat at a different Thai restaurant everyday of the week, and of course the morning commute on the L train!

Favorite restaurant:
I've never been to Marlow & Sons and not said, "This is the best thing I've ever had! Even dessert. But that's probably no surprise. There's also something special about a hanger steak and a beer at Radegast on a Sunday night.

Favorite grocer:
None, but Topps on the Waterfront has a walk in cooler and cheap 12 packs of Schaffer. Both Great in the middle of summer.

Favorite local designer:
Octopi! Anyone who can make yellow faux fur hot has to be #1 in my book.

Favorite NYC band:
Cheeseburger. They never cease to amaze live and the drummer is hot as hell.

Favorite corner to people watch:
N12 and Bedford. Turkey's Nest drunks, tennis players and cute dogs in the park! All at once.

Signature karaoke song
Rock Lobster? I do a killer Fred Schneider and duets/crowd participation songs are always best! Especially when you get to make sea animal sounds. ooo-wwaaaaahhh

Friday, March 14, 2008

Viva Los Huaraches!

I like how I'm addressed as "Dear Citizen."

dateFri, Mar 14, 2008 at 3:43 PM
subjectFood Vendors of Red Hook Park

Dear Citizen:

A year ago, you wrote to us to share your love of the huaraches, pupusas, tacos, and other Latin American delights available each summer in Red Hook Park. At the time, we told you that we were obligated to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) in order to comply with the regulations for concessions that were established by the city charter.

I am pleased to inform you that this week we awarded a permit to the longstanding Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park. Thanks to the joint efforts of many elected and appointed officials, the Food Vendors Committee of Red Hook Park, and the support and enthusiasm of people like you, we will be enjoying some of the finest food to be found in New York City – or anywhere, for years to come.

I have attached a press release with more information about our announcement. Thank you again for your support, and I look forward to seeing you in Red Hook Park this summer!


Adrian Benepe

image care of Roboppy.

Friday, March 7, 2008


That headline was a geography test. If you immediately thought Biennial! then you live in New York. Proceed to Go.

I guess the Biennial is supposed to be some kind of litmus test for what is hot in the art scene right now. So let me pare it down for you:

Bird droppings
Inspiration walls as gallery installations
Shiny and metallic
Vinyl-sheathed "paintings"
Cinder blocks
Broken heart
Sharded glass

If you're working with any of these mediums right now, your due for a Biennial entry has passed, because it's already been done. SAWRRY.

The 2008 Biennial is unique in its use of newly commissioned art, so while several pieces fell short on insight or execution (ahem, inspiration walls and giant litter boxes seriously?), there were enough pieces to set into flight a sense of possibility and wonder that only seeing something new and beautiful can do. So yes, go, even though you can find all those images online.

Topping the list of faves was Eduardo Sarabia's storeroom installation "The Gift." Like if you crossed a Mexican bodega with Chinatown souvenir shop then meticulously dusted and polished everything (including the cardboard boxes) into high gloss. Then hired Martin Burney to measure the placement of each freshly glazed artifact on the shelves. Perfection! Is it a commentary on commercialism? immigration policies? the whole weird concept of stores devoted to gifts? you tell me.

There were plenty of video installations to round out the entries, but for some reason, I can never really get into videos in a museum setting. For many reasons. Stepping away from the brightly lit displays into a darkened room, interrupting and being interrupted, walking in on a middle, since if it's going to be a narrative I want to catch it from beginning to end; and the complete inability to sit still when my idea of a gallery tour resembles a Sunday drive in the country: slow, leisurely, contemplative, but always moving.

However, I did find myself rather transfixed by Mika Rottenberg's video installation "Cheese," a ramshackle plywood construction, where you enter and stand in any of several viewing nooks to catch a septuplet of real-life Rapunzels (the famed Sutherland Sisters?) in various stages of an elaborate procedure for rendering one square block of cheese, not the least of which is funneling water from a waterfall back to the farm through a simple garden hose. The background noises of goat's milk spurting into a metal pail, chickens clucking, and the restless head-butting and kicking of kids fall into a mesmerizing rhythm sustaining the bucolic fairy tale atmosphere.

Exiting the viewing area, I found several women and girls furiously scribbling notes in front of Ms. Rottenberg's artist statement — perhaps suddenly inspired into feminist reverie...and failed to see any other artist garnering nearly as much attention for theirs.

Thumbs up also for other-worldly bird dropping-inspired sculptures, sugary cement blocks edged with glitter and Ry Rocklen's nail-studded bedspring.

"Cheese" image taken by Libby Rosof.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Arlo's New Organic Dog Food

When that stupid pet food recall swept the nation last year (this is in keeping with my thus far blog's theme of topics that were newsworthy before 2008), I'd initially felt some relief that I'd wisely invested in premium "natural" dog foods for the most part. Oh how easily they dupe me, because apparently "premium" just translates to "better marketing" to lure in anxious pet owners like me. Not that I was all that surprised.

And so I shopped for alternatives, eventually weaning my dog completely off dry kibble. While I'd experimented with raw food diets and other more expensive approaches, I wasn't really in a position to completely switch to homemade meals or anything — not everyday anyway. What I needed was a balance between cost effective (and convenient) cheapish food vs. real whole foods. And damned if my dog was gonna eat better than me.

I mean, what did dogs eat back in olden times, or on farms? (I frequently find myself mulling over these same such scenarios when faced with a larder full of mismatched items; i.e., How would a vegan make this quiche? What if i was lactose intolerant? How would Iron Chef prepare a dish of beets, miso paste and spaghetti noodles...? You get the picture.)

So we switched him over to a variety of canned dog foods like Merrick, Abady, Wellness, Avoderm, but none were really, you know, being digested all that well.

But Lo and Behold, just a few weeks ago, do I stumble upon a new dehydrated dog food produced by a company called The Honest Kitchen out in California (I know, shipping fuel, sad face). Just add water, and presto! A meal of "hormone-free chicken, organic flaxseed, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, apples, alfalfa, organic kelp, honey, zucchini, green beans, cabbage, bananas, papayas, yogurt, basil, garlic and rosemary" can be ready for your dog in ten minutes for just a little more than what it costs to feed the guy premium canned. And he seems to have acclimated to it pretty readily with no ill side effects, i.e., diarrhea. (Sigh of relief. Capital D smiley face!)

Added bonus, I no longer have to worry if the corn-derived lining in cans is harming him since dogs (I've read online) cannot digest corn. (I have Michael Pollen to thank for that latest bit of paranoia. Thanks.)

What can I say, I'm also kind of a sucker for their "natural" packaging.

Also, if you were wondering, it tastes like a low salt version of Lipton chicken & veg soup. Arlo told me.

I found the stuff at District Dog in Greenpoint. Word.

Tender Patch of Spring Shoots

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Be Kind, Rent Local

About a year ago, the New York Times published this piece on Movie Place, one of the last relics of that dying breed — the local video rental store. Shouldered out by rising rents and the Blockbusters of the world, these independent shops were beginning to take on a familiar modern-world patina — manufactured obsolescence — set to take their place alongside electric cars, family farms, scripted TV shows —...

Oh, but wait. Maybe we're on to something here. With the recently re-invigorated consumer obsession with all things green (sick of that word yet, don't worry, this year, it's all about the Blue), perhaps there's hope yet for mom and pop Videophile.

Even a hazardous guess at the amount of energy that goes into delivering one Netflix dvd should spur any guilt-ridden consumer into re-strategizing their video-borrowing habits... The fuel for the truck that delivers it to and from your home, the single-use (okay, double-use if you want to get technical) mailers, the tens of thousands (I presume) of new release dvds that fade from memory after a few months and thus must be liquidated or tossed out or refashioned into ugly works of "art."

Compare that to walking down to the corner to rent your movie, then walking back to the store to return it, with the dvd(s) all in the same packaging that gets used over and over by subsequent renters. Plus, you also support the local economy by reinvesting your dollars back into the community. And let's not overlook the simple pleasures in browsing the titles by hand or chatting about films with the store's other occupants or the smug sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing the bad choices that other renters make.

Of course there are benefits to a Netflix membership not to be discounted. Twofold for me (without even factoring in the price difference); it assuages any anxiety I might have of keeping a movie out too long, and well, there's the convenience factor. Here it comes, in my mailbox. And there it goes, dropped off in any number of mailboxes near my home, or work, or wherever I happen to be.

Convenience lulls us into a common complacence, sure. But with the green/blue/blue-green movement rapidly reaching critical mass, perhaps we'll be more apt to consider the myriad hidden costs it accrues. And as the old villager in Kurosawa's "Village of the Watermills" might ask, what's so great about convenience anyway? I mean, a few blocks ain't so bad now, is it? Just trying to keep it all in perspective...

Remember Kim's?
6 St. Mark's Place
89 Christopher St.
144 Bleecker St. (where I signed up for my first NY video store membership...ah, the memories)

More convenient for me, though, is:
Videology at 308 Bedford, Williamsburg
which is where I rented Kurosawa's Dreams

I'm sure there's one near you too.