Friday, December 30, 2011

A Merry Christmas means a Happy New Year.

Santa and his elves were very generous this year. A Merry Christmas was had and I anticipate a very Happy New Year. This was all but guaranteed by two of the gifts I received this year.

The first gift (from my generous wife) was "The PTD Cocktail Book" by Jim Meehan with illustrations from Chris Gall. PDT (Please Don't Tell) is the now legendary speakeasy on St. Mark's Place, created by Jim Meehan, that is reached by going into the hot dog joint Crif Dogs, entering a phone booth and picking up the receiver to reveal a hidden door that leads to the bar. Mr. Meehan and PDT have been on the forefront of the now pervasive cocktail culture and this book is the "Mr. Bartender" of this era.

The book is set up as a guide not just for the home bartender but for those who are interested in (or fantasize about) opening their own bar. He starts with  his own history and how PDT came about (the secret door, it's most famous feature, was actually a clever way of circumventing the need for a liquor license). The book is then broken up into three sections. Section 1 is "Setting Up The Bar." Design, equipment, mixers, techniques etc. Section 2 has "The Recipes". Besides the great cocktails it includes food recipes from Crif Dogs as a bonus (yes, you too can make a Chang Dog and a Wylie dog). Section 3 he calls "The Back Bar."  This contains a spirits primer, pantry, seasonal mixology and specifics for the home bartender.

The PDT Cocktail Book is a detailed, well thought out and fun guide for any lover of cocktails and cocktail culture. There are no airs here, and Mr Meehan goes out of his way to give credit to those who helped and influenced him. Every recipe credits the person who created it. This is clearly a labor of love for Mr. Meehan and it is infectious. There are recipes for the beginner (a classic Manhattan). There are recipes for the insane who are happy to track down rare ingredients and infuse their own liquors (the Vaccari for those who have some chamomile-infused Compass Box Asyla Blended Scotch Whiskey lying around). Regardless, this is a great read that will make you thirsty and will have you exploring that corner of the liquor store with the Italian spirits you never noticed before.

As for my second gift? As coincidence would have it, my lovely sister gave me a kit containing all the ingredients needed for a classic Manhattan, Did I mention that the Manhattan is my favorite cocktail? I know. What a surprise. In the kit was a bottle of Old Overholt Rye, Dolin Sweet Vermouth and Bitter Truth bitters. It is going to be a Happy New Year. Who is thirsty?


2 oz. Rye or Bourbon
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes bitters

Chill glass. Put ingredients in cocktail shaker and add ice. Stir or shake. Strain into glass. Add cherry. Enjoy.

(The Manhattan was originally made with rye but bourbon has replaced rye as the whiskey of choice in this country. Use what you like and don't let anyone bust your chops. Bourbon is made with at least 51 percent corn so it is sweeter than rye. There are a lot of nice ryes coming on the market so it is easier to find them for a Manhattan. Rye is made with at least, you guessed it, 51% rye so it is more herbal and complex than most bourbons. Martini Sweet Vermouth is the classic but there are a lot more vermouths available these days so experiment. The same goes for bitters,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a wonderfull Christmas! I hope your stocking was full this morning and your belly is full tonight.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas spirit

This season has been the most hectic that I can remember. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way. Here is a quick,last minute recommendation to help you calm things down and get in the spirit of the season. Sean Smith's album "Christmas" on Thompkins Square Records. It is a beautiful album of 14 classic Christmas songs and two originals all performed on acoustic guitar by Sean Smith. No syrup, no schmaltz,just wonderful playing that distills the essence of each song. Put it on, sit down, have a drink and relax. You won't even realize you are smiling and humming. Have a merry, mellow Christmas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Things I am Thankful for - Part 2

The second thing I am grateful for is: WWOZ

I am a devout New Yorker, but anyone who knows me knows a little part of me belongs to New Orleans. It is my favorite place outside of the five boroughs. The music. The food. The drink. The people. There is no place like it on earth. And when I get down, when I "Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," I have a temporary cure. WWOZ.

WWOZ is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage station. It is a community station, public radio, that plays all the great music New Orleans has to offer at any given moment. Blues, Jazz, Zydeco, Cajun, Swamp Rock, you name it. Kermit Ruffins, Dirty Dozen, Dr. John, Bonerama, Irma Thomas, Galactic. WWOZ plays it all, big artist or small. And thanks to that handy dandy internet, I can listen to it when ever I want, any time of day.

Listening to WWOZ transports me to The Big Easy. I can imagine myself sitting at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, sipping a bourbon on the rocks, watching the the parade of people stumbling by.  And when the DJ starts to run down the concert calendar , listing who is playing Tipitinas, Chickie Wah Wah, Le Bon Temps Roule, The Maple Leaf or, of course, Rock & Bowl I start smiling and get an itch to jump on a plane and make it down in time for the Soul Rebels late set.

If you are a New Orleans fanatic like me, just getting a feel by watching Treme, or don't know the town or it's music at all, WWOZ is a must for you. For the junkie, it will give you the fix you need. For the uninitiated, jump in and get hooked. And when you start to feel that pull, that need to head on down to NOLA, let me know. I'll meet you at Snake and Jake's for an Abita Purple Haze.

Check out WWOZ at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Things I am Thankful for - Part 1

This time of year I always reflect on things I am thankful for. Let's get the obvious ones out of the way. Family, friends, healthy, living in New York. Of course I am thankful and grateful for all of those blessings. But I want to focus on the smaller, less obvious things. Hopefully some of these will be things you can be thankful for as well.

#1 - City Bakery Pretzel Croissant

A few years ago I walked in to a Birdbath Bakery, one of City Bakery's small outposts. I was contemplating an iced tea (best in the city) or a cookie when something caught my eye. It was a stack of delicious croissants, but something was just a little bit different. They has sesame seeds on them. Then I saw the words "pretzel croissant" and my head exploded. I bought one. I tasted it. I was Homer Simpson, drooling and muttering things like "butter", "salty", "so good", "aaaggghhhhhhllllllll", etc.

Imagine this: the best, flakiest croissant you have ever eaten meets a delicious, perfect German soft pretzel while at Octoberfest in Munich. One thing leads to another and the result is this heavenly, hearty, savory and salty crescent shaped gem.

Eating a pretzel croissant will restore your faith in humanity and sooth your weary soul. Seriously. Just go get one. Now. You will thank me. And pick one up for me while you are at it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Second Coming

After a brutal 24 hours I made my way out to Brooklyn Thursday night to restore my body and soul. The house of worship for the evening was Brooklyn Bowl.

For those who haven't been, Brooklyn Bowl is a bowling alley as well as music venue. It is clearly inspired by the legendary Rock & Bowl in New Orleans. Rock & Bowl is one of my all time favorite venues/houses of worship. It is should be on your list of places to go before you die. So you know I hold Brooklyn Bowl to a very high standard. It delivers.

BB is a massive, cavernous space in Williamsburg. It's industrial character is complimented by a carnival like atmosphere that is part country fair, part Coney Island. The sounds of the sixteen bowling lanes mixes with the music from either the house DJs or bands to keep the energy high.

The bar features local beer on tap from Brooklyn Brewery (just around the corner), Greenpoint Brewing and Six Point. Fans of brown liquor will be happy as well.

A nice Brooklyn Weisse in hand, it was time for a little sustenance. Once again BB delivers. This is because the good folks behind BB had the the good sense to have the folks from Blue Ribbon take care of the food. The menu is chock full of bowling alley, southern and comfort food classics, but none of them have come from a box in an industrial freezer.

Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and sauteed greens is better than you could ever expect in a place with shoes for rent. An Oyster Po Boy usually isn't this good so far north of the Big Easy. Pork Ribs, Mac & Cheese, pizzas and burgers will easily put a smile on the face of everyone on your league team. Fresh pork rinds, Calamari, blackened salmon. The Blue Ribbon menu will satisfy both the pro bowler and devout foodie in your clan.

Body revived, it was time to revive the soul. The real reason I was here, the main event, was Alabama Shakes.

I saw the Alabama Shakes at CMJ (you can read my post about them). Halfway through their set I knew had to see them again. As soon as this show was announced I bought tickets. I have been singing this band's praises insessantly. Tonight I brought a few potential converts with me. Would the band live up to my hype? Of course.

The profile of Alabama Shakes has grown rapidly since the CMJ show. NPR profiles, MTV interviews. From a half sold Bowery Ballroom appearance (with a heavy music industry presence) to a packed Brooklyn Bowl, the question would be how does the band handle it. The answer would be, like pros.

The band took the stage and proceeded to blow the place up. As good as they were in October, they were better tonight. Stronger, more confident. It is rare to see a band grow as artists and performers as quickly as their hype. Alabama Shakes are one of the few who have. Brittany Howard is rapidly becoming one of the most captivating, dominating band leaders around.

The band tore through an hour long set, making the crowd dance, sing, move and yell. The Alabama Shakes are a Rock & Roll, R&B and Soul band wrapped up in one, playing at a tent revival. There is no artifice. No angle. This is just great music made by real musicians. I am here to testify. Mine eyes have seen the glory. The glory of the Alabama Shakes. Do your soul a favor and get to the revival near you.

Friday, December 9, 2011

No Conflict here.

I made a return visit to Joe Dough today with one thing on my mind. The Conflicted Jew. I was not disappointed.

The Conflicted Jew is a decadent heart stopper of a sandwich. Grilled challah is slathered with the smoothest, creamiest chopped liver you have ever tasted. The chopped liver is topped with sweet sauteed onions and, here comes the conflict, bacon. Traif? Oh yes! (Look it up gentiles). Any conflict for me? No. Luckily, I am a former Altar Boy, so I can always go to confession. And in a welcome touch, with a classic Joe twist, the sandwich comes with a little side of homemade apple sauce that is really a delicious apple pie filling. The bright, sweet flavor works contrasts perfectly with the sandwich.

Round two and Joe Dough delivered. The only problem next time will be what sandwich to get. T.C.J or one of the many other tempting sandwiches? Call that the Conflicted Catholic. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Manila in Manhattan

New York has seen a tremendous growth in both the amount and diversity of restaurants serving food from, or inspired by, Asia and the Pacific Rim. Be it authentic Chinese food from a specific province, the Ramen craze or Koren style fried chicken (more on that later), it is a great time to be a fan of food from that part of the world.

Couple this with the porcine take over of NYC food culture and you have to ask yourself one question:

"Where are all the Filipino restaurants?"

I was lucky enough to to grow up with a big posse of Filipino friends, including my best friend from High School. Beyond an affinity for covering any couch, chair or settee with plastic slip covering, what struck me about my friends of Filipino heritage was was how easily I was welcomed into their homes and families. The Filipino love of family, friends and life in general stayed with me and inspired me. Generous to a fault, willing to help out in any way. That is the Filipino way.

Oh, and one more thing. They know what to do with a pig.

While Filipino cuisine may not be as diverse or storied as other food from the Pacific, it is good and has its own unique flavors. And now we have Maharlika.

Maharlika is a new Filipino restaurant in the East Village. It is as good a calling card for, and intro to, Filipino cuisine as you will get. The moment you walk in the door you are warmly welcomed by the owners and staff. The place is decorated with family photos and traditional Filipino totems. It is fun, quirky and comfortable. For those not familiar with Filipino food they will give you a quick crash course.

Once you see Tang on the cocktail menu and Spam on the dinner menu you understand that you are in the hands of people that love their culture but don't take it to seriously. A creative cocktail menu should be your first order of business. Start with a Pacquiao's Punch, named after the great Filipino fighter, to loosen you up and get you in the right frame of mind. Then it is time to tackle the food menu. Here are a few highlights:

A hot dog is not something one usually thinks of as an appetizer, but The Longga Dog makes the case that this has been a huge oversight. Meaty and spicy with atchara (pickled unripe mango) and bagoong (fermented fish, shrimp and salt) mayo, it is must for any hot dog lover. It is substantial enough for two people to share.

Two fried spring rolls, impossibly long and thin, make a play for dominance in the spring roll wars.

Kare Kare is a hearty, meaty dish that features oxtail braised in peanut butter served with long beans, batchoy and eggplant. It tastes just like it sounds, and it is good.

Grilled batchoy (bokchoy) is smoky and delicious, a perfect side for the hearty food.

Then there is the Sizzling Sisig. Pig ears, snout and belly (broiled, grilled, sauteed), served on a hot skillet with rice mixed in. I am not a die hard, tip to tail eater. I thought twice about ordering this. Thank God I did. It is delicious. The meat is all finely chopped, mixed with a magical assortment of condiments that turn it into a dish that defies expectations. Get it. Devour it. Smile.

A note about eating at Maharlika. They will present you with various condiments throughout the meal that are intended for specific dishes. Use them. They transform dishes from good to great, even sublime.

By the end of my first meal there I had met and talked with two of the owners, one of the chefs, the bartender and other staff. When Nicole, one of the owners, started playing 80s club music and Latin Freestyle I knew I was home. Maharlika will make you feel full, happy and at home as well. Anyone know where  can get a wooden shield with weapons of the Philippines for my living room?

Maharlika - 111 First Avenue (Seventh Street)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Joe Knows Sandwiches

Joe Doe has been one of my favorite restaurants from day one. Joe Dobias' "Aggressive American" cooking won me over instantly. The creativity he shows and liberties he takes with classic "American" fare is always good and never boring. Imagine Popeye coming home after years of sailing the globe, downing a can of spinach and deciding to become a chef.  His decision to rework the classic Passover Seder made me a disciple. Any one that can work magic with boxed matzo must have been touched by the Hand of God.

The Choir of Angels that sang one night when I was walking down 1st Avenue only confirmed it. I saw a heavenly glow coming from across the avenue. I crossed over to see from whence the celestial light was emanating. As the Angels reached a crescendo I saw the two heavenly words. Sandwich Shop. 

Joe Dough is the new sandwich shop from the Joe Doe team. OK, it is not the pearly gates, but it is good and it will put a smile on your face. Situated on 1st Avenue between Stromboli's Pizza and This Little Piggy (St. Marks and 9th Street), Joe Dough takes sandwich classics and gets them ready for a fight.

Roast Beef Sandwich?  "The Almighty Brisket" with brisket, cheddar, horseradish mayo and fried onions on a brioche bun. 

French Dip? "L.E.S French Dip" with griddled tongue instead of Roast Beef. 

Club Sandwich? "Chicken Avocado Club" with tomatillo chicken and bacon on challah.

Other sandwiches include the "JoseDoe Cubano," "Stoners Delight" (grilled cheese) and a welcome return of a sandwich they used to offer at JoeDoe, "The Conflicted Jew" (challah, chicken liver, bacon, onions, goosebumps, Lipitor).

All the Sandwiches are 10 bucks, 14 with drink and chips. Drinks include house made Celery Soda and Lime in da Coconut, Manhattan Espresso Soda as well as the usual sodas. 

Joe Dough is a welcome addition and a bright spot in the proliferation of Subways that have been popping up all over the L.E.S. Forget "Eat Fresh." Eat Strong! Way to go, Joe.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bringing back the Austro-Hungarian Empire one bite, and beer, at a time.

There are those times when you just need to get your German (or Austrian) on. Thankfully, NYC is having a bit of a German (and Austrian) moment. Beer Gardens (or Bier Gartens) are popping up all over the place  and a few new restaurants are joining the scene as well.

One of the new restaurants catering to your inner Otto Von Bismarck is Edi and The Wolf. Across the street from Zum Schneider on Avenue C and 8th street, the restaurant looks like an overgrown industrial Black Forest with a bit of shipyard decor thrown in. It works. As for the food, it is spot on. Traditional without being dated or boring.

Start with the best Landjager (a dried hunters sausage) I have had outside of Zingerman's. Rich, creamy Spatzel. Yes. Weiner Schnitzel, light, perfectly done with Lingonberry Jam, classic cucumber salad and a wonderful spicy, mustardy potato salad. Check. Crisp, meaty duck breast? You got it. Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and apples. Are you kidding? Top it off with a drink from their well curated beer and wine lists and you have an evening that will have you humming Strauss waltzes, singing German Beer Hall songs and ordering that Bayern Munich jersey you have had your eye on.

Gute Nacht!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish you all a happy, healthy and relaxing Thanksgiving. I hope the day finds you surrounded by plentiful food, good friends and loving family. And as you contemplate getting that third helping today, just remember these wise words of the great Howlin' Wolf:

"I'm built for comfort baby. I ain't built for speed."

Go for it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Pizza Test

I don't want to get political here, but I do have to address Herman Cain. This is not about his gaffs, personal flaws, etc. I am judging him by the true standard any New Yorker should. The Pizza Test.

As we know, another Republican hopeful, Donald Trump (really holding my tongue here) sealed his fate when he took Sarah Palin for a slice in Times Square and ate it with a fork. It just confirmed for the nation what we here in in NYC have always known about Donald. And now we have Herman Cain.

Mr Cain's claim to fame is that he was the head of Godfather's pizza, the 8th largest pizza chain in the US. And there, folks, is the reason he can't be President. Mr Cain's highest accomplishment is passing off crappy pizza as real NY pizza to the unsuspecting masses west of the Hudson River. And at a chain called it "Godfather's" no less to give it an air of New York "authenticity".

Godfather's is behind Pizza Hut, Sbarro's and Little Ceaser's for crying out loud. Have you ever eaten their pizza? It is awful. So imagine a pizza chain that can't even beat those guys. No thanks.

Herman Cain may not have a grasp of foreign policy, the tax code or collective bargining, but his his true fault lies in not having a grasp on how to make a good Margarita pie.

Monday, November 14, 2011


On my way down to Maharlika (more on that later) I saw a new sign lighting up the night on 1st Avenue. It read "Sandwich Shop." Of course I crossed the avenue to check it out. To my great delight, it was the store front for Joe Dough. This is the new sandwich shop from the folks at one of my favorite restaurants, Joe Doe. Jill Schulster, GM, host, mixoligist and muse of Joe Doe was out front and promised it was opening very soon. Hopefully within the week. I will be walking by daily, ready to consume. I wonder if Joe Doe's fried matzo will make an appearance.

Also, it looks like another Bao spin is coming soon the the neighborhood. BaoBQ in under construction. The store front is done and the interior is coming together. Wonder when it will open and when they will suddenly close it for no reason. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy National Metal Day

Firstly, of course, a shout out to all Veterans and those serving now in our military. God Bless you all. VH1 Classic is doing the best tribute with National Metal Day. As we all know, our men and women in uniform love their metal. So enjoy not one but two Iron Maiden live documentaries. Also highlights from the Big 4 tour, Megadeth Behind The Music and the new show that looks great, Metal Evolution. Death to false metal!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alabama Shakes coming back!

Dates are on sale now for Alabama Shakes at Brooklyn Bowl on December 8 and Mercury Lounge on December 9. Leaning toward Brooklyn Bowl but may have to do both. Hit me if you are hitting one of these shows.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reflections on Halloween

As I (still) recover from Halloween, I am reflecting on the differences between the Halloween kids experience today versus when I was a kid in the 70s. There are the obvious differences. The costumes today aren't a cheap plastic mask and vinyl to transform you into Frankenstein's monster or Ace Frehley. Kids (and parents, really) bring it with serious home made or store bought costumes.

As for Trick or Treating, a lot of places now have major Halloween Carnivals to supplement or, in a lot of places, replace the traditional door to door begging for candy. Where I live, we have both. The carnival followed by Trick or Treating in our building and buildings in the neighborhood. The kids make off like bandits. This picture is the pile one of my kids came home with. Hot Damn.

The major difference between now and then is the complete lack of fear we, and our children, have on Halloween. Is today really safer or have we been lulled into a false sense of security?

This was the scene in the 70s:

Mom - "Don't you eat one piece of candy until you come home and your father and I can go through it all. Do you understand me?

Us kids - "Yes Mom."

So, why did mom and dad need to go through the candy? To make sure no one had put pins, needles, razor blades or broken glass in them. Seriously. We went on the hunt for candy, hoping to score serious chocolate but afraid one bite could gut us from the inside. Nice innocent fun.

Those days are long gone. Even if I wanted to go through all my kids candy, it would take me a day. And the reality is we don't let our kids go at it with that candy bag like our parents did. We dole it out, one piece at a time. They will never eat it all. I will probably eat more of it than they do.

But as I stood in awe of that staggering amount of candy my kids brought home, I realized that those people who want to do harm to my children have figured out a much more subtle and insidious way to achieve their goals. Instead of pins and needles and razor blades, they have corn syrup, caffeine and Red Dye 40. They are taking the slow, patient route. But I am onto them and I am willing to sacrifice myself for their safety. I think I will start with a Butterfinger.

The "real" Dream Team update

I tried to drop by Prima for lunch on Friday. Despite all the notices that they were up and running it was still in soft opening phase. Dinner only, no breakfast or lunch for a while. Table saw in front of the joint was a giveaway.

If Prima is as good as the sum of it's parts, 1st Street is going to be on the top of my list for food blocks. It is right next door to Prune and across the street from Joe Doe. Prima could make it a trifecta. Here's hopin'.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The "Real" Dream Team

Principles in three of my favorite places, covering three of life essentials (pizza, cocktails and great coffee) are joining forces. The folks from Motorino (pizza), Summit Bar (cocktails) and Ninth Street Espresso (coffee) and opening Prima on 1st and 1st tomorrow. I will be there. Please, please be good. Please.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A rare surprise - The Alabama Shakes

I have been doing the music thing for a long time. I think this was my 23rd year of the CMJ Music Conference. Add to that numerous times attending SXSW, New Music Seminar, Foundations Forum and so many more now long gone it is rare that I see anything that excites me, let alone surprises me. Then last week I saw The Alabama Shakes.

My friend Jason mentioned he was going to see them and sent me a link to a live performance. That was enough to get me out and what I saw and heard was tremendous.

This is music I didn't think any one could make anymore. At least not anyone under the age of 65. This is old school rock and roll, R&B and blues, but it is not retro. Not a throwback. This is not Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings. This is clearly the music they grew up with and they have made it their own.

And the songs are great.

They are a five piece band from Alabama. Brittany Howard is the singer and guitar player. If you saw her on the street, you would think maybe she was your school administrator, maybe she worked with you in your office. Turns out she is a guitar playing second coming of Otis Redding. No Joke.

Here are some links. Google them. Devour them. Find what you can. Most importantly, find when they are playing near you. Find out fast, because the word is out. This is the rare occasion of a band building quickly because they are actually great. And get me a ticket.

This is how they get you - follow up

It seems like their plan is working. "Why?" you ask. Because I am giving you a link to the recipe for my friend Catherine's buckeye's. I tried not to, but she is so nice, and they are so good.

It also happens to be on her food blog "Healing Comfort" that is wonderful. Great recipies for the keeping the body and soul healthy (and since we already know they include peanut butter and chocolate, they can't be bad).

That said, Go Blue!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This is how they get you.

The first two things you learn when you become a student at the University of Michigan is that there is no worse place on this earth than Columbus, Ohio and there is nothing more loathsome than a Buckeye. While we all know how to get to Columbus (South till you smell it, East till you step in it), no one knows exactly what a Buckeye is. Rumor has it it is some type of deformed acorn.

Over the last few years a strange thing has happened. I have made a number of good friends here in NYC that are originally from Columbus, Ohio. They are all, despite what I had been told, lovely, smart people. It has made me re-think all I have been told. But now I wonder.

My friend Catherine, born and bred in the Columbus area, and a graduate of OSU, made me a batch of Buckeyes. Whatever they are in real life, Catherine's are, essentially, the greatest peanut butter cup you have ever eaten. A mound of smooth, rich peanut butter goodness enrobed in chocolate heaven. They are incredible. As I was eating one and thinking that maybe Columbus wasn't that bad after all a terrible realization creeped into my head. This is all part of their plan.

Clearly, they pick the best of the bunch and send them into the world to corrupt weak minded Wolverines. Not to worry though. I promise, as I eat each and everyone of these Buckeyes, I am thinking "Go Blue!" in my head.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Like most people, this past weekend was one of remembrance and reflection for me. It was particularly visceral for me not only because I was born and raised in New York City, but because my birthday is September 10th.

On Sunday morning, the 11th,  I saw a friend of mine that I had celebrated my birthday with the night before. She asked me if I felt a lot older, even though it was only a day. I told her that I did feel older, but not because of one day. It was because of ten years.

I was dreading the build up to the ten year anniversary of 9-11. Living in New York City, I knew that it would be inescapable. On the news, in the paper, and even on Nickelodeon and WFAN you could not escape it. Ten years later the emotions are still raw. I decided to face it head on and not try to escape it. I saw family and friends, shared memories of the day, and reflected with admiration on how people have been able to rebuild their lives.

We have been through a terrible tragedy. We have had two unending wars, financial collapse and a growing division in society. But as I thought about the last ten years I came to the realization that despite all the hardships of the past ten years they have also been some of the best years of my life. The simple reason: my family.

My oldest daughter was 1 1/2 on 9-11. My second daughter was born a little more than a year later. They have given me joy, solace and a reason to get up with a smile on my face everyday. As the world and the business I am in changed and collapsed, they have given me meaning and purpose. Being a dad has been more important than anything.

Ten years later, they still need me. However, the first signs of independence are showing. Soon they will be venturing out on their own, becoming more and more self sufficient. More and more grown up. While they start to learn how to be on their own, I will have to remember how to be on my own, with out them.

It dawned on me that on the twentieth anniversary of 9-11 my wife and I will be alone for the first time in 21 years. We will have just dropped off our girls at college, my youngest for her Freshman year. Even though it is ten years away, it feels so close. It also filled me with a sense of accomplishment and hope. Despite everything, we have survived the decade after 9-11 and have a great family to show for it.

I went into this past weekend dreading it, and came out of it inspired. It was cathartic and life affirming. I woke up on September 12, 2011 and it felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my chest. I am excited about and bullish on what the next ten years will bring.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Time to Eat.

As a native New Yorker I do not have a shortage of opinions. Ask anyone who knows me. Sometimes this is a good thing. Sometimes, not so much. I am trying to be a better man. I do get people telling me I should have a "blog" of some sort. Food, music, NYC, etc. Sometimes this is because I am a fountain of wisdom, knowledge and guidance. I would imagine sometimes it is to direct my attention and opinions elsewhere.

That said, I also tell myself "I should write that down." Well, here goes. Time to put up or shut up.

Me: 4th Generation Manhattan native. Therefore you already know a few things about me. I am loud, opinionated, worldly but extremely provincial and I love to eat. Joie De Vivre. This is my attempt to put that into words. Hopefully my passion will come through more than my opinion. We will see.
My guess is a lot of what I will write and post here will be close to home. And I mean that literally.

We New Yorkers love the world but always come back home, to our Neighborhood. New York was built neighborhood by neighborhood. First (and still) by immigrants looking for the comforts of the home they left behind. The sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the familiar. Other groups have followed, building neighborhoods based other some other common bond and desire for understanding and support. Religion, the arts, sexual orientation. This is what makes New York so great, and so unique. And the beauty is that we all get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The other constant in New York is Change. New york is constantly changing evolving. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. That will come up a lot here as well. The changes I have seen in my neighborhood are monumental. Some for the good, some for the bad. Mostly for the good, I think.
Much more to come. I hope you you stay with me and enjoy.