Week 16 6/5 – 6/11

This was a scattered week of routine and repair. A number of new restaurants filled any gaps.

Bareburger – decent but expensive. Part of that trendy genre of “fancy burgers” that does as well as their location.

Martha’s bakery – nearby on Bell avenue. Acceptable desert bakery but the gelato doesn’t stand up to Maggie Moo’s ice cream just up the street.

Press 195 – service was inconsistent and the bread a bit sharp, but the fries were genuinely fantastic.

Villa Rustica – poor selection and extra charge for sauce with garlic knots? Meh.

Greek World – likely overpriced, everything in great neck is, but the mussels really were excellent. Tough to park along the main drag. Probably a one off.

Wonder Woman
Like the rest of humanity I saw Wonder Woman. As a character her literally history has always struck me as more interesting than her artistic merits – you’re seemingly jumping right into the overpowered deep end the moment you start bringing Greek Gods into the mythology, as villains no less. How does a Batman even come to be in that sort of universe?

The film is, of course, noteworthy for being the sole watchable contribution to the D.C. Universe and thoroughly enjoyable one at that. There’s also that whole female protagonist and director thing that shouldn’t even be noteworthy in 2017 but is because our universe is as comically deranged as anything drawn with speech bubbles.

The plot was standard comic book fare and the secondary characters were shades of irrelevant. Gal Gadot was perfectly cast though and WWI is a novel enough setting. The female antagonists implied motivation was perhaps the most subtlety a super hero movie has ever shown.

I had originally hoped to view from an Alamo Drafthouse – there are two within an hour. The times didn’t work so maybe for Dunkirk which is the next movie I’m likely to care enough about to see in a theatre. It’s rare – and I feel guilty for only getting pulled for the big budget nonsense. As much as I liked Wonder Woman, we’re still rehashing an eighty year old property. There was a narrow period in my life where I saw enough movies to view the off kilter mid-list. The mid-list doesn’t exist, my time is much constructed, and off kilter only comes to film if it’s been vetted through three generations?

Who and where is the current Fitzcarraldo?

Somewhere on Netflix I’m sure. Or HBO. I’m seemingly the last person around who decidedly does not prefer to binge or even approach a long series. Just no time for this sort of thing…no matter how thinly that seem justified by what I write about.

That said – WW gets an A- or A+ if you curve for my general fatigue and ambivalence toward superheroes…

Fort Totten

I returned to Fort Totten in better weather. It was more populated this time around but the museum was still closed and the buildings somehow felt even more disheveled without the excuses of winter. I had heard from a program flyer that Ospreys were roosting nearby – after a long walk without any hint of them I discovered the nest on the far side of the island amongst the light polls. There were three in total – the one greedily clutching a half eaten fish. Not sure why it continued the fly around with the fish exactly…but it offered a great opportunity to get some more bird photos…

Next week I’m at Pukaskwa National Park in Canada. Not bringing my camera though-purely a hiking trip.

Final Thoughts

Week 9 – 4/03 – 4/09

Week 9 brought a return to NYC adventures as well as a pair of visiting friends in need of entertainment. That supplied a generous excuse to visit the:

Metropolitan Museum of Art & 9/11 Memorial

The former is just overwhelming. As noted after visiting the Brooklyn Museum, I think there is some challenge to the standard museum arrangement. The Met compounds that by just being too damn large. Unless one wants to see a specific thing, it’s this discordant walk from one age or genre to another with only scraps of story being collated in between. The highlight of that dizzying promenade was the medieval woodworking style known as intarsia. I’ve never really seen that before and it appears quite striking even now.

The rest of the museum was suitably impressive. In truth we mostly wandered the Egyptian and Medieval wings along with European artwork while barely touching the southern wing. In retrospect I would have liked to have seen some of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s paintings, but there’s no reason to see it all in a day. It was all too much as it was. Still – one of the great marvels of the world and only 30 minutes or so away…

Following lunch, we visited the 9/11 memorial a good ways south of the Met. The real victory here was me over the subway system. I wouldn’t exactly say I know what I’m doing, but I’ve got a decently handy understanding of Manhattan now – or at least the main North/South subway lines. There’s not a chance of me jumping on anything without double checking a thousand times, but I’d probably do that anyway. The success of confidence over a natural aversion to city transport is the real cause for celebration.

As for the monument itself – striking for sure. I’m not sure it has quite the same impact the Lincoln or Vietnam memorial have – it doesn’t feel nearly as hallowed as I might expect for what is truly a grave, or at least cenotaph, to catastrophe. Maybe that’s fitting though. 9/11 reflects neither a national mistake nor the dashing of a nation’s savior. It’s a tragedy but perhaps one that should inspire not so much reflection as an eagerness to get on. Or not. It’s a challenging time to write about or discuss and the monument didn’t seemingly make that any easier. Does that that make it more successful or less…?

In any case, it marked the end of a Saturday in the city. Couldn’t have asked for better weather and – low and behold – I took a few pictures along the way.

Russian Tea Room

What a fantastically unusual experience. The Russian Tea Room was founded in 1927 (post-revolution), but shows much of the old imperial splendor. In modern language that comes off almost gaudy but within the confines of a slightly darkened interior enlivened by waiters bustling around blinis and clanking tea kettles it’s really quite spectacular. I attended the afternoon tea service, of course, so I can’t speak to the broader menu but the sandwiches were uniformly very good as were the deserts. The initial cavier was too fishy for my own taste but the second had a wonderful salty sense to it that went well with slightly soft cracker beneath. Altogether it was a wonderfully cosmopolitan addendum to an already city-filled weekend. I would most certainly go again if only to stare at the baffling array of mixed genre paintings spread hectically throughout.

Other Stuff

As usual I visited a few other (read foody) things throughout the week.

E.A.T : Madison Ave deli with a somewhat claustrophobic seating area. Excellent bread and the foccacia sandwich was quite good. Well-placed as a light follow up to the met.
Shake Shack : I’d possibly visited once before but this falls into that narrow world of regionally significant burger joints. Not as good as In and Out or Culvers but good enough. Pricey though…
Burger City : Not at all pricey! Cash only but similar enough to Shake Shack I can’t imagine visiting the former anytime soon.
Bonchon : Peculiur chain of korean style fried chicken. The breading is very sweet. Possibly better as a leftover than in real time, but the food was very good even though the atmosphere was a cross between darkened dive bar and k-pop superstore. Odd.

That concludes another charming weekend. Weather is finally getting good so I’m keen to start turning this into more of a photo blog. Soon. Very soon…

Final Thoughts

Week 6 – 3/13 – 3/19

I’m running late on this post – it’s been quite busy. The main adventures of note, however, were Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt’s home during and following his Presidency, and a bunch of restaurants. I’m not keen to become some cut-rate food blogger so I’ll simply list them. Perhaps I’ll be more verbose in future weeks…

Biwon – Excellent Korean BBQ.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bi-Won/183651674997827

Trattoria Lucia
http://www.trattorialuciarestaurant.com/

Jackson hole burger – Thoroughly confused by the name. Diner-like atmosphere.
http://jacksonholeburgers.com/

Krung Tep – Really excellent Thai. The Green Curry Duck was fantastic.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/nyregion/a-review-of-krung-tep-thai-bistro-in-great-neck.html?_r=0

Bell Diner – quick, cheap, very good.
http://belldinernyc.com/

Sagamore Hill

I’ll need to visit again in Spring to tour the grounds, but the house is quite the impressive collection of interests and history. There’s no photography allowed in the interior but the exterior is a Queen Anne house – large but not enormous. It’s quite the interesting look into a life intimately connected to the conservation movement, America’s imperialistic age, and the modernizing economy of the early 20th century.

Final Thoughts

Week 2

Last week was an introduction. New job, new apartment, new city, new adventures. This week I attempted to make good on my self-made promise…

Saturday

My first real adventure – Fort Totten. Built to defend NYC during the civil war, it was never completed and instead served a variety of later purposes including its modern incarnation as home to the New York Fire Department. Otherwise I strolled the snowy roadways and snapped photos of the largely antebellum era park structures.

Before heading home, I purchased plants for my office and taro buns from the local Korean H-Mart. Lychee drink!

Later that evening, I visited Williamsburg. It’s clearly popular…trendy and recalls, to my mind, the vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods of Jane Jacobs. I couldn’t personally imagine living somewhere like that – a wonderful panoply of smell and sound too endless to imagine – but it makes for lovely place to visit. Bit like an old public square really…soon followed by the digestive walk home.

In this particular case we visited Sweet Chick, a chicken and waffles joint. I’ve never eaten that particular cultural lifting but it’s surprisingly effective. The waffles are predictably given the à la carte treatment with associated batters and butters, but it’s really the chicken that make the meal. These were crispy and moist which made the waffle more like a sweet breeding and the combination, and culmination, quite satisfying.

Sunday

Today’s adventure was of the cultural variety. With a prompt 10am departure, and after weaving beneath the 31st street subway tracks French Connection style, we found parking and walked the remaining distance to the Museum of the Moving Image.

The subject matter is largely the art, science, and magic of film, and like any good film it was made immensely better by tight editing, a narrow theme, and a reasonable viewing time. The exhibits variously cover the history of film, hair/make up, stage design also advertising, promotion, sound recording etc. It doesn’t force itself to be exhaustive and wisely contents itself with a few evocative samples (makeup of Mrs.Doubtfire for example) before moving on.

The current marquee exhibit is Martin Scorsese. It occurred to me as I wandered through that I’m not as familiar with his films as I thought. I’ve seen Goodfellas, The Departed, Wolf of Wall Street, and parts of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. The storyboards were probably the most striking example of craft for me…something I should maybe consider if I ever decide to write more fiction.

In any case, the best exhibit in the entire place is a recording booth where you dub over the lines of famous actors/actresses. On one level it’s technically very impressive to near instantly match my voice with that of someone onscreen. On the other, I really feel like I brought something to the role of Sugar Cane…

Lunch followed at Saffron just a few blocks away. It had that same quiet echo every Indian place seems to share but also warm naan, subtly sweet bismati rice, and a well balanced chicken korma.

If happiness is a short list than New York is hell. Since moving here it’s grown unmanageably long but I’ve obviously been hitting the list with vigor.

Following lunch, we glanced over the map and identified Roosevelt island as geographically distinct enough to warrant a visit.

At the north half is lighthouse park. The parking lot is unpaved, feral cats live in abundance nearby, and the signage fails to say what or why exactly anything is there. (Later learned most everything old was either a hospital or prison.)

On the other, gentrified, end of the island is Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms park. A fitting destination for Presidents Day, it’s actually quite charming and has an excellent view of Manhattan. The trees aren’t in bloom obviously so it might be worth a second look but considering the state of our current politics, it’s a pleasant reminder of presidential greatness and a national vision sadly never quite attained but inspiring nonetheless.

Other Stuff

Earlier in the week I visited a few other restaurants:

Golden Crest – Jamaican restaurant near union ville. Like seemingly ever Caribbean restaurant, it’s rather dark inside and I felt decidedly out of place rolling in wearing a tie, but the curry chicken and rice and peas was everything I wanted it to be.

Michael Anthonys – Haven’t tried their Buffalo Chicken pizza yet, but it looks a bit like what I miss from Rocco’s upstate. In the mean time, I suspect it’s nothing like “New York Pizza” (Too many toppings), but no complaints for lunch.

White Castle – I first say the place while visiting the library last week. I technically have been a White Castle previously, sometime in middle or high school on the way back from a fish store in Paramus with my parents, but I recollect nothing and decided i needed to again experience that particular mixture of pop culture fast food. I can’t say I’m likely to do so ever again – it’s perfectly average – but the staff were endearingly sincere for working at a throwaway stoner joke.

Final Thoughts

Next weekend I’m in Montreal!