Shower Me With Your Love

Shower Me With Your Love
"...we don't need no piece of paper from the city hall, keeping us tried and true..."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shitty service, Sean P and BK bike thievery

During my first two weeks in Brooklyn I've been quick to notice several issues that will haunt the duration of my stay in the rotten apple.  Don't get me wrong.  I still love my neighborhood.  And Brooklyn as a whole is alive and breathing with beautiful people, places and shoes that my eyes can effortlessly indulge in for the entirety of an afternoon.  That being said, my Boo and I have yet to receive proper service at a restaurant and perhaps that's just the way it is, unfortunately.  Is it that no one cares?  Simple tasks such as, what we in the service industry have come to label an 'initial call-back,' have been non-existent. You know, the server comes to check on your table about three or so minutes after the food has been dropped?  In addition, keeping waters refilled seems to be an even simpler task that almost every waiter has failed.  Hell, even being asked if we'd like another beer (me) or  vodka rocks (her) when our first was less than half full or empty has only occurred once without us having to flag someone down. And in that instance the establishment is losing money - i.e. the server isn't being a 'seller', which is perhaps the most important aspect of the business.  I slung food for seven years and booze for eight.   Quite frankly, I'm appalled at the way these customary (at least where I'm from) interactions are completely disregarded in New York.  I will admit that we don't dine out very often, as we both enjoy cooking and it's obviously more cost efficient.  We also haven't dined in Manhattan, but we have enjoyed $60-$100 meals in Brooklyn multiple times during these inexcusable situations and I feel we've been either a) shafted by lazy employees, or b) absolutely spoiled by the kind folks back home in the Lonestar State.  

Despite the service, the Italian cuisine and pizza served up at Graziella's on Vanderbilt is hands down the tastiest food we've experienced thus far.  B's personal veggie pizza was "thin crusted and fired well done" from a "unique wood burning brick oven and topped with fresh basil."  Amazing.  The crust was bendy, yet crisp, while the cheese and sauce were the first thing I've experienced in Brooklyn that could touch Stony's.  My lasagna was "layered with nutmeg-infused Bolognese sauce, béchamel, fresh mozzarella, and topped with parmesan" to my extreme pleasure.  It was marvelous and we will return...with our own water, perhaps.

One couldn't ask for a more appropriate introductory to live BK hip hop than the Duck Down showcase last Wednesday at Southpaw.  It was the album release party and the Brooklyn premiere swinging of Random Axe, the formidable trio of  Brownsville barbarian Sean Price, Detroit underground native Guilty Simpson and fellow Motor City producer phenom and emcee Black Milk.  The under bill was a rewarding treat for local heads and hip hop connoisseurs,  as Skyzoo (one of Brooklyn's most underrated emcees) spit-vicious through a hype set of passionate rhymes to a charged hometown crowd in promotion of his new The Great Debater mixtape.  The night then turned into a Duck Down-Boot Camp Clik-family affair, as Black Moon took the stage, and Buckshot, 5ft and DJ Evil Dee (who kept the crowd moving for the entire evening) performed cut after cut from the '93 classic album Enta Da Stage.   They shared the spotlight with  fellow Duck Down brethren Steele of Smif-n-Wessun fame, who was promoting the newly released SnW collabo with God-producer Pete Rock, entitled Monumental.   Then it was Sean P's Heltah Skeltah cohort, Rock, who added to the 90's BK gathering, donning a snide, almost bitter grin, as he spit a verse or two a capella that was boasting of his own  legacy on the m-i-c (the partner-in-rhyme would eventually join Price on stage for an HS reunion at the end of the evening).  Label co-founder and Duck Down CEO 'Dru Ha' Friedman even accompanied the performance, rapping a verse from "U Da Man".  The vibe in the building was nice, as the crowd and everyone involved on stage was feeling the music and the respect that blossomed along side the flashing cameras and videos.  Before Random Axe in its entirety took the stage, Mr. Price, formerly 'Ruck', went on and wrecked his two and half minute banger (one of my favorite joints from all of last year) "Figure Four.''   The "PEEEEEEEs'' being echoed by the crowd (in homage to the baritone moniker "P!'' he so often spews) could have been mistaken for ''boos'' they were so thick!  Guilty Simpson followed with his own solo gem, "Clap Your Hands'', a Dilla-produced track from 2006.  Joined by Black Milk, the trio then ripped through a good portion of their self-titled debut.  It was my first time to hear much of the record and I was thoroughly impressed.  Download it on iTunes for your summer soundtrack (peep footage below).  P's verses alone are worth the trip.  You see, Sean Price has a certain disrespectful aura that innately surrounds his speech and mannerisms; it's almost as if he's talking down to you as he schools you, and in the braggadocio world that is hip hop and emceeing, that holds considerable weight and can be accredited to a man's authenticity.  While I may have just lost some of you or perhaps you don't think you would admire such a voice - hear me out.  Yes, P is arrogant.  Yes Sean Peabody raps about selling and smoking cocaine.  Yes I think Jesus Price has probably done some legitimate dirt.  Yes he is a bully.  Yes he heralds mad respect from his peers.  No I wouldn't want to cross him or disrespect him.  A veteran of the game, Price is the kind of emcee that I naturally revere because of that air, because of that confidence.  And dude can flat out rap.  He's beyond seasoned and been around longer than so many paid cats in the industry.  I'm sure he can still walk through Brownsville whenever he wants.  Last Wednesday was my first time seeing him spit live.  He was the only emcee that evening that didn't seem overly excited or aroused about the occasion.  It wasn't in an 'I'm too cool to get hype' kind of way either.  He is just naturally somewhat private, unenthusiastic and/or extremely fucking cool.   His hand mannerisms are sharp and deliberate.  They firmly bring home every punch-line and joke.  Yes, joke.  He's not all about punking dummies and pistol claps. He's actually laugh-out-loud hilarious when he rhymes, but his stare is cold and penetrating.  He's probably a real nice dude, but maybe not.  I'm about through dick-riding,
Kimbo Price @Southpaw
but the bottom line is that Sean Price is dope.  He's been dope.  "Grown man rap,'' as he so often puts it.  Listen for yourself if you don't share my opinion or feel that I'm blowing smoke.  And I won't lie and tell you that I copped Nocturnal when it dropped back in 1996, but I've done my research and I recognize talent within a mic-controller.  Look no further than Brownsville's bully who is still somewhat of a blue collar, under the radar kind of artist.  Tell the aspiring hip hop kiddies about Sean P!

I'm going to leave you with some disturbing, yet not so surprising facts about NYC.  Hell, I guess I should've been ready for the shitty service as well, but needing to lock your bike seat to its frame?!  My lady and I thought we were prepared for theft, as we scoped the neigborhood and the lock choices before peddling out.  We found that U-locks weren't popular and that everyone used a chain, like that of a Kryptonite or something bigger.  While we were in Austin two weeks ago, I went to Home Depot and purchased a chain large enough to wrap around both of our frames and front tires when we went out together.  However, what we failed to notice was that most everyone has a smaller locking cable or chain that secures the actual bike seat to the frame AND that many people simply detach their seat, along with the
Yo Crooks & Castles!  You can borrow this design :0
connecting  metal rod, from their bikes every time they lock up.  Well, B's seat got jacked while parked near the subway in downtown Brooklyn.  It WAS there all day.  And when she looked at the other bikes parked on the rack surrounding hers, about half had their seats secured with said devices.  So now, we have our seats secured, a large chain for our front wheels and frames, and I even carry my old U-lock to bolt my back
wheel mags to the wheel frame just in case someone goes to eye-balling my 20" beauty and
its clean black shoes.  Three locks, one bike. #welcometoNYC

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Farewell 512...

B, Cookie and (clears throat) Myself...

My sendoff weekend in Austin was the perfect pint of ice cream to follow an absolute favorite meal of mine—that spicy, wholesome, gigantic and utmost fulfilling plate I’ve been eating from for thirteen years now.  The ATX is a dish best served loud.  I'm stuffed and grateful.  \m/ 
Last Saturday evening at 617 Red River left me full of emotion and spirit.  And spirits!  And Stony’s—thanks for continuing to sling the best pie in Texas.  The graffiti-laden brick walls and squished dance floor that is Plush will always be home…a place that I take a huge degree of pride in, knowing that I built at least a portion of the Capital City’s original deejay Mecca  during my tenure there.  The party marked the end and the beginning.  A big thank you shout goes to my homegirl Ericka I Wanna Be Her for the fitting flier above.  I feel extraordinarily blessed to have made so many lifetime friends over the years.  I’m referring to the kind of soulful, memorable people that would do a favor for you at the drop of a hat, or in this case, a tune.  The Best Love in Town opened the evening with chunky riffs engulfed by the bluesy, decaying groans of my dear buddy Mrs. Glass.  And while Jordan Webster’s natural demeanor
Jordan Webster
is a fitting sketch of so many men baptized in whiskey, whose depression matches their tattered speech and clothes, this ‘decay’ was of the passionate and soothing variety, recapturing the essence of American roots music. Thank you sir, yet again. 
Bridge Farmers also agreed to play the bill despite being booked to open for Archers of Loaf at Emo’s on the same night.   They swung the double duty AND played a pair of new tunes for me.  Their dynamic brand of psychedelic groove continues to swelter right alongside my heart.  I booked one of their first shows in Austin years ago and they have been my favorite local band for quite some time.   Don’t sleep. 
Eric Tussing (Indofin, The Hungry Ghost, Mud Doctors) then began to shred out the jams with his kilted counterpart Lothar, who banged his kit to the likes of some countrified renditions of Sabbath and the Go- Go's.  Appropriately labeled Fine & Dandy, the duo was the perfect swinging segue way between Bridge Farmers and the punk-as-fuck acts that followed.  And without my boy Eric, the entire show wouldn’t have been possible, as he agreed to learn the BxGxDx songs
Bridge Farmers
and thus I decided to get the band back together.  Before we took the stage in a drunken mess, Revenants plastered those in attendance with a raucous blend of hardcore and post hardcore songs that incited a masculine shoving contest and beer showers for all that nestled themselves between Plush's bar and the brick walls.  The drummer of this band is my former counterpart in Like Dogs.  I always enjoy watching him slay.  My boy Adam Reposa could have been their mascot for the evening, as he made his usual mark and left the usual amount of newbies saying 'who the fuck is that guy?'  Love ya Buddy.
Finally a little punk band from nearly eight years ago called Bohemian Grove Disco took the stage for reasons I’m still not quite sure of.  As we started practicing and relearning the parts to our five song, less than twelve minute EP, I asked myself why I enjoyed singing in bands.   Back in April when I began putting the show together, I had no idea if, when, or where I was moving to.  The night morphed into my going-away party as I learned I would be relocating to Brooklyn before the show actually took place.  I had to fly back to Texas to play and enjoy the farewell weekend.  Anyway, I missed being in a band.   A tediously long and stressful school year of teaching and coaching, for me, is best rewarded with a summer stuffed with music--playing shows, jumping around, singing along, screaming, partying, spitting and watching other kids do the same.  That’s why I THOUGHT that I wanted to recreate BxGxDx.  However, after about the third or fourth practice, at the point where we were getting tight and fast and hitting on all cylinders, I can remember looking at my boy Tiburcio behind his drums and saying, “I think THIS is really all I need.’’
Meaning...I LOVE just feeling the music close-up, being part of a cohesive unit and vibing off the fellas in a small, sweaty garage or practice space. *insert homoerotic joke*  But at the point when everyone is ‘on’ and you’re together rhythmically and it sounds perfect, if  that feeling, at that moment, doesn’t inspire you or give you the most sincere satisfaction, be it practice or not, why play music in the first place?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love it when you can move a group of people.  It’s super dope when kids are singing the words that you’ve written in your face and then telling you how much they enjoyed the show or how they have been listening to your records.  For me though, that  fire of satisfaction can be lit with the music alone, regardless of the bells and whistles that are a venue, the ego stroking, other people's opinions, the hype, the buzz.  Dare I say the success?  It IS truly in the eye of the beholder, mang.  Peep game from Mr. Allen Toussaint.  With that being said, the fiasco that was the BxGxDx set that night, although short-lived, roared as an unforgettable maylay that spewed, spit and shat a bit of (skewed) political science. : )  From the moment I fell into Eric’s amp and unplugged it during the first song, to the sing-along cover of Sailin' On that we closed with, the fifteen or so minutes we rocked Plush for perhaps the last time was exhilarating.  That left the remainder of the evening, which I was unfortunately blacked-out for at times (see above photo with Cookie and my Boo...yikes), to Kid Slyce and a pair of 1200s, alongside crowd mover and my current ATX favorite, KaiZen, on the m-i-c.  Slyce dropped plenty of Spitta, AB, and Sean P amongst other favorites of mine.  At around 2am I was doused in champagne as Boys II Men’s “End Of The Road’’ blared from the speakers.  Cheesy?   Sure.  Harmoniously heartfelt and right-on-time, you bet your sweet ass.  #OMI #KIL #TA$T #UBG #BGD #_m/LIFE Thanks again to Jake, Bruce, Mark, and all the other staff at Plush that made my night a success.  The weekend, however, had just begun.
Smitty and Cookie VICTORIOUS.
            The Second Annual Broadhill Baller 2on2 Tourney and BBQ was the following day.  The event was moved up two weeks to coordinate with my stay in Austin since Buddy and I were indeed the defending champions.  Dehydrated and completely stuffed from the six slices of pie from the prior evening, I got up around 9:30 am so that I could contribute to the barbecue portion of the sweltering day that would ensue.  My dear mother helped me (well she did everything besides pick the ingredients up from the store) with my award-winning chili con queso and a side of sautéed garlic spinach.  It’s the least I could do since Cookie, Shittles and Buddy had already put in hours of prep on the pristine brisket, the falling-off-the-bone ribs and chicken, and a cauldron of Texas pintos that fed us for three days after the BBQ.  The tournament was bigger than last year, hotter than last year and saw a little more turbulence.  We broke up a fight early on and Buddy’s consumption itself made for an entertaining, and at times, embarrassing afternoon.  Well, embarrassing in the way that it was Buddy’s house and he wouldn’t shut the fuck up about being the best and that nobody could beat us. Somewhat embarrassing in the way that we ended up getting beat, as Buddy could barely stand up to post-up his man or guard him, although having a few inches in height on him.  Embarrassing in the way that not a single person at the party (nearly fifty folks) wanted us to win due to Buddy’s mouth, despite the contest being my last hurrah on a basketball court in Austin.  I took it with a smile as Phran and Zeale hands down whooped our ass.  However, all was somewhat redeemed and made right, as Cookie and Smitty eliminated the powerhouse that had knocked us out, earning the championship jerseys.  It couldn’t have been scripted any better, as they were the team that fell to us last year.  And since Smitty lives just down the road from Broadhill Drive, the jerseys ended up staying in the ’23 where they belong.  Be on the lookout for a fall tournament, as we are going to try and organize it biannually.
Thanks Buddy.
            After all was said and done with our little tourney, my hometown Dallas Mavericks silenced the colossal super group that was the Miami Heat to earn their first NBA title in just six games.  I’ve been made nauseous over the constant debate and rhetoric surrounding King James and company since their demise.  Who cares?  Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest to ever set foot on a basketball court.  So is LeBron James.  He will get his.  For now though, nothing feels better than rockin' these bad boys and turning heads in BrookNam. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Welcome to Brooklyn

Tillie’s in Fort Greene is my coffee and Wi-Fi spot for now.  While I’m sure it’s just one of many caffeine serving gems, it’s the place B brought me first and the coffee and grub is fantastic.  I wasn’t starving and on recommendation went with a slice of zucchini quiche.  YUM.  Built upon a delicate, perfectly brittle crust, my medium sized triangle of cheesy, egg-y greatness hit the spot.  The zucchini was still crisp, to boot!  B went with a slice of Brooklyn Blackout Cake.  DUDE!   Moist, rich and thick, she dug through and ate around the chocolate slabs that separated the layers of actual cake which were gone in moments.  I ate the leftover chocolate pieces which reminded me of actual Hershey bars—DIVINE.
We peddled around that afternoon to get a feel for the neighborhood.  Diverse and friendly as expected, the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene area is a proper mix of families, college kids, independent business owners and commuters.  It is extremely bike friendly (zero hills—WOOHOO) and I can’t wait to call ‘next’ at one of the three basketball courts we came across.  While the competition level is most certainly higher than the Eastwoods pickup game back home, they seem to only play 4on4, half-court games, which makes it easier for us speed and handle-challenged folks :)  While making B watch at least twenty-five minutes or so of pickup games, I immediately noticed that EVERYONE can ball up here, which isn’t surprising.  I’m talking short, fat, old, young, black, British, Asian, Puerto Rican.  People were hoopin’ and I can’t wait to bring Texas to the muphuckin court.  _m/
We decided to grab dinner at the Five Spot on Myrtle Avenue (formally coined ‘Murda’ Ave) just two blocks from our apartment.  Advertising ‘SOUL FOOD’ on the side of the building, I was excited.  However, we aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto, and while the food wasn’t really bad, it definitely wasn’t great (especially for the price).  I had meat loaf which was blackened by design (great flavor, yet a little dry and in need of more sauce) and the collard greens, which were downright bland.  When I asked for hot sauce, I was brought a plastic ramekin of what I guess was Tabasco (I guess theses brothers are worried about customers stealing the bottle? I though it odd, but then again maybe it’s like that everywhere up here).  I then learned that Long Island fries are what we southerners call ‘steak cut’ fries.   My beautiful cohort had thinly fried New Orleans’s catfish strips (ummmm, not really).  They were mostly breading and very fishy--she couldn’t bear them.  I cleaned them up with ketchup because I refuse to waste food.  The absolute best item was the cornbread.  DAYUUUUM!  It was of the sweet variety (my favorite) and thicker than the slice of cake from earlier.  It was chewy, yet not doughy in the middle and maintained its fluffy consistency through the morning, when I had it for breakfast with a glass of milk.  There was a ‘DJ’ at the Five Spot, but hell, he was beyond terrible.  He sat down in front of a laptop and used the space bar to attempt to blend mega-mixes of pop dancehall and reggae-ton tracks.  I didn’t appreciate one single mix or song, and yes, I’m difficult to please.  I did return the next day for happy hour though.  The folks there are friendly and a $3 pint of Brooklyn Ale (my new Fireman’s 4) is hard to pass up.
We enjoyed an early evening of nothing in our apartment.  We found that we need curtains if we’re ever to sleep past 7 am.  We’re on the fifth floor and the sun came-a-shining bright!  It felt wonderful though, to be in a new place with new opportunity, starting a new life  J
The next day started off shitty, as the first bike repair shop we took my 20” to (the brakes were somehow damaged in the move) tried to hustle us.  We were still without tools at that point and I knew it was an easy fix.  However, this dude looked at me and then the bike and then started saying I needed new brake pads and that maybe the wheel wasn’t aligned.  I was shocked.  I looked at B and we both knew we were being lubed-up.  He then said, “Well, if you’ll give the clerk your name and information, I’ll take a look at it when I can…”  yeah fucking right.  We bounced and were pissed.  I was having to maneuver the bike on its front wheel only around the city.  The next spot was completely different.  We walked in and I let B do the talking this time (maybe I just look like a dumbass) and this Italian fellow stopped working on the bike he was tending to.  He grabbed a wrench, loosened the pad, shifted the cable and said “that should do it.”  We gave him $5 dollars (that he didn’t ask for) and I was so joyous.  That was the kind of service we’d become accustomed to at East Side Pedal Pushers back home!  And now we BOTH had wheels again!
We rode all over the city again that afternoon.  Watched a few more basketball games and grabbed our first slice of pie.  It was only $2.50 and gigantic!  I forget the name of the place.  Better than ninety percent of the shit from back home, but still no Stony’s!  The absolute best pie back home HANDS DOWN!
So, almost every person you see in BK has admirable fashion sense.  I haven’t even been to Williamsburg yet (the oh-so-hip, or so I’ve heard).  I have seen some crazy kicks that seem super custom.  You see a pair of Jordan’s nearly every two minutes.  I’ve seen the II’s, III’s, IV’s,  VIII’s and  XII’s just around our neighborhood alone.  I’m so jealous.  I have a decent collection of shoes, but have decided to quit collecting (at around forty pair) unless they’re Jordan’s.  I formally decided to do so before moving up here, and upon arriving, have been even more motivated to capture my favorite J’s.
We decided to go to Woodwork, a sports bar in Prospect Heights, to watch game three of the NBA Finals.  There weren’t many people there to see the game, which I guess isn’t surprising seeing how Lebron James DID NOT go to the Knicks or Nets, yet to South Beach.  My Mavs had a chance to win and missed.  The series is 2-1 now, with the Mavericks hanging by Dirk’s shoestring and in need of some other laces to help tighten up a winning pair.  Woodwork, like many places in the area is ‘cash-only’.  We assume that businesses don’t want to pay the credit card fees, so they don’t.  The dimly lit bar had three forty-two inch screens, only one of which displayed the basketball game.  I was craving a bloody mary and was excited when it arrived in tall pint glass with tiny sweet pickles and olives poking out of the top.  However, once again, Toto  was me.  It tasted carbonated and had entirely too much sour kraut (is that even legal?) The pieces were getting stuck in my teeth with every sip.  I first thought I had hair in my mouth.  Seriously!  AND once again, I wasn’t going to waste a drop at $8, so I patiently sipped and waited and hoped that someone else would order one so that I could eyeball the bartender.   Finally, I hear someone boasting about how tasty the bloody mary’s were there.  I watched the bartender (back turned) prepare the cocktail.  And then came across the most peculiar sight.  She topped off her concoction with a sizeable pull of Guinness draft!!!!  I’m still a little concerned as to who the hell thought this would be a flavorful addition to all that is supposed to be spicy and ripe with veggie flavor.  Anyhow, that’s how they do it at Woodwork.  I wasn’t mad.  Maybe some people think it sounds tasty, but I couldn’t enjoy it.  I instead was happy to find that Tecate was only $3!  B was starving and decided to order a veggie sandwich.  Eat your heart out Bouldin Creek Café!  This scrumptious, soon-to-be staple began on a perfectly toasted French baguette and was generously stuffed with slightly grilled squash, red peppers, onions and zucchini, smeared in garlic humus and topped with tapenade, a creamy, palatable blend of olives, capers and anchovies.  It was easily the best food we had tasted in the first two days.  We are going back to the bar for Game 4 partly because of the sandwich!  I was now hungry, after only tasting the sandwich and depending on the bloody mary to fill me up (barf).  When I told B that I wanted to eat the half Cuban sandwich the guy next to me was about to throw away, she replied with “BABE!!! Nobody here knows you that well yet.  When we find OUR ‘spot’ you can pull that shit!’’  I really love that woman!  J
We instead devoured the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding that was garnished with apple spears and drizzled with Nutella.  It was warm and splendid!  #nextlevelbarfood
Other first day observations: 
-The $2.20, half pound package of fresh fruit I purchased at the grocery store.  There was literally kiwi, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, oranges, blood oranges, grapes and apples packaged in Styrofoam and wrapped up with a plastic fork!  And for just over two bucks!  There is nothing of the sort that cheap and healthy back home! I didn’t even finish it all in one sit-in at breakfast the next morning! 
-I am finally in the presence of ALL my records and pair of Technics again.  I am so happy to have access to my vinyl and the ability to mix whenever I want.  Be on the lookout for smiznO to make an eventual BK appearance.  I also need to start a band, find a job (I may say fuck it and be a bike messenger) and continue networking.  I know so many people up here and have only contacted one of them.
THANKS for reading.  I’m O-U-T.