"Yes! Yes! Yes!" — kid on the subway to Coney Island
The most was made of the long four-day Fourth of July weekend, involving all the things I like to do: eat, drink, see bands, movies, dance, and… minor league baseball! As rain seemed to threaten every day, my camera stayed at home and only took a couple snaps with the phone.
Summer hours took effect, so I left work at 1PM. My girlfriend and I bummed around Bed Bath & Beyond for a bit and then had a late lunch at Momofuku. I am a fan of this place, though not the soups for which they are mostly known. Too salty. But just about everything else there is good. We ordered some pork buns, fresh pickles (including ramps, baby carrots, and beans) and two dishes from the Greenmarket menu: a salad of beats and green beans, and sauteed sugarsnap peas with bacon. Momofuku stays packed all the time now, even at 3:30 in the afternoon.
We then bummed around, went to Trader Joes and Whole Foods to nibble on free samples before heading to Prospect Park for TV on the Radio, Matt Pond, PA and Voxtrot. We got there early enough to have snagged actual seats, but we brought a picnic blanket and food, so laid out a spread on the grass just right of the sound tent.
As popular as Voxtrot are in NYC, I don’t think they’re ready to make the move to any venue bigger than Bowery Ballroom (which is where they’re bound to play next) any time soon, if Friday night was any indication. They seemed dwarfed by the size of the stage and didn’t really know how to fill it. That said, they were still good and there were lots of girls dancing like crazy within the pavilion area. Maybe it would’ve come off better if I was closer. Or maybe they’re just not that good. (I’ve wondered this before.)
This was not a problem for TV on the Radio who have become a live powerhouse and were swinging for the fences Friday night — and connected most of the time. Wow. I like them fine on record (and …Cookie Mountain is growing on me) but they just knocked it out of the park live. It didn’t hurt that there were like 20 people on stage, but even without most of them they probably could’ve held their own. Color me impressed.
(Coney Island, Tequila, Strangers With Candy, Spring Onion Sandwiches, and more Voxtrot after the jump.)
I missed the Mermaid Parade, I wasn’t going to venture out to Coney
Island again for the Fourth (it’s fun, but it’s a zoo) and I’m going to
be out of town during the Siren Festival, so I got my freaky fix on
Saturday with a whole day out there. The ride out was especially fun as Kelly and I sat across from three kids (all about three or four) who were super-enthused to be going to the beach. They each had brand new pails and shovels, and were pretty much going bonkers the whole trip out. But when the ocean came into view, Savion went into full freakout mode "Yes! Yes! YES! I want to stay here FOREVER!!!" Part of me wanted to volunteer our services to babysit for a while and give their moms a break.
But instead we went to Totonno’s, which is my favorite pizza place in the five boroughs. The country’s oldest single-family-owned pizzeria is situated on Neptune Ave, which is a few blocks away from the main drag. Every time I take someone there for the first time, I get nothing but complaints on the short walk there. "Where are you taking me? How much further? Can’t we just get a slice on the beach? It’s hot. I’m tired." Etc. But nobody ever leaves complaining. Totonno’s margherita pizza is about as close to perfection as you can get. You start adding toppings, however, and that impossibly thin crust can get a little soggy.
After some post-pizza time on the beach watching the throngs (not thongs), we took in a Brooklyn Cyclones game. They played the Aberdeen Ironbirds. It was also Bandanna Night and Blues Brothers Night. We got there too late for the free bandannas, but you couldn’t miss Jake and Elwood, who came roaring onto the field in the Bluesmobile and sang hits from the film every other inning. For two guys pretending to be Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi (who have been doing it for 20 years, apparently), the act was surprisingly entertaining. Okay… diverting. Anything to distract from the tedium that was the game. The Cyclones kinda suck. At one point it looked like they were going to lose 6-1 but they almost rallied to a not-as-bad 6-4 defeat. Though the only seats left to buy were way out in the bleachers, the stadium was only half full so after the second inning we moved up to seats about six rows behind first base. The game got slightly more interesting when you could actually see the errors being committed on field. Please note this paragraph is the most I’ve written about sports ever.
After the game we rode the Cyclone, which takes on a new level of terror after dark, and the Wonder Wheel, got some fries and headed home.
I have no recollection of Sunday whatsoever, apart from Deadwood being pretty good, and being glad that Dom has been banished from Entourage.
I really wanted to love Strangers with Candy but ended up just liking it. It will probably play better on DVD, on an old TV. First-time feature helmer Paul Dinello (who also stars as art teacher
Geoffrey Jellineck) has barely directed anything before and it shows. (Yes, I know he co-wrote the movie and the series, etc. I’m a fan.) Strangers With Candy is one of the most drably-shot feature films I’ve seen since Sour Grapes. (Or any Kevin Smith film.) Defenders have tried to convince me that it’s supposed to look that way — like an after school special. I get that, but don’t buy it. It’s just plain ugly. I’m sure they had no money to hire a real director or a good cinematographer (sorry, Oliver Bokelberg) but it could’ve been so much better with someone better behind the camera.
That said, if you liked the show, you’ll like the movie. Amy Sedaris remains hilarious as completely inappropriate Jerri Blank, and the number of quotable lines are too numerous to mention. Lots of cameos too — though most are wasted, especially Justin Theroux as a driver’s ed teacher and Dan Hedaya who spends the whole movie in a coma. I bet there will be lots of great deleted scenes on the DVD.
None of previews the Sunshine Cinema showed before the movie looked any good at all. The worst bar far, though, was Peaceful Warrior, which came off looking like some sort of mystical hoohah version of The Karate Kid but about gymnastics — and Nick Nolte in the Mr. Miyagi role.
For dinner, we attempted to go to Tides on Norfolk St but it was closed. I’ve tried to eat here half a dozen times and they’re either closed, or there’s a private party, or the line is out the door. I think I’m doomed never to go there.
Instead we headed back to Williamsburg to Marlow & Sons, a place that has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in the city. Almost their entire menu changes daily, based on whatever’s in season and available. We had two varieties of East Coast oysters, Spring Onion Sandwiches (a favorite of James Beard), deep-fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese and sardines, chicken liver pate, bibb lettuce salad with bacon, blue cheese and buttermilk dressing… and a couple gin fizzes. Everything was great, especially those Spring Onion Sandwiches. Just sliced sweet onions and fresh homemade mayo on slices of baguette. Perfection.
That night, Hot Kate had a dance party at her new gigantic apartment in Bed Stuy. Tequila was involved. Which led to…
Me being incapacitatingly hungover on The Fourth. So much so I didn’t think I’d make it out of the house. But eventually my apartment’s lack of food forced us out into the sweltering heat and humidity for Thai Food. We also rented The Matador which was very entertaining, with lovely super-saturated photography, gorgeous locales, and great performances by Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan. It’s a bit amoral about killing but I don’t think anyone should be taking a movie like this seriously. Brosnan is given loads of great lines (and he gives them great delivery), most of which are too filthy to be repeated in a family blog such as this.
Around six, we dragged ourselves out of apartment to the party at Office Ops in Bushwick. Rather empty for most of the time, but after my second beer I finally began to feel better. Unfortunately the party had no food (!) so we went to the nearby Life Cafe for takeout. Horrible, horrible burger. But I was starving. The bands were mostly bad, though we missed The Occasion so I can’t speak towards them. Voxtrot headlined. The corner of a roof was a much more appropriate place to see them play than the huge Prospect Park Bandshell stage. They covered Springsteen’s "Dancing in the Dark" as fireworks went off all around. A nice moment… but I’m still not in any hurry to see them again.