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Caliente en Coney

Posted by evankessler on July 20, 2010

These are the temperatures that try men’s souls. 90, 93, 87…when accompanied by a soup-like humidity and the promise of no escape or air conditioning they could prove to be the ruin of many a weekend.  The oppressive swelter blankets the body like an ill-advised trip to the sauna in a wool sweater. Fun and heat exhaustion seem to be mutually exclusive ideas at this point, but the reward for magnetizing the seemingly alien concepts with three days action-packed activity ends up being all the more gratifying when successfully carried out.

The center for much of this weekend’s polar attraction was a real freak magnet, Coney Island. Dotted with mysterious, fascinating beings of all shapes and sizes and all walks of life; at times a living, breathing, hypnotic train wreck; At other times a vast expanse shrouded in the promise of  undiscovered thrill and uncharted territory that often accompanies the exploration of a tomb of ancient relics.  Or maybe it simply served the purpose of alcohol central for those looking to relax and have a good time.

The latter was certainly the case on Friday afternoon as I traveled due South via the Q line from the 7th avenue Station in a race against time and my good friend Matt who had himself hopped aboard the F train at a similar time to reach Coney Island to get his 30th birthday proceedings off to an early start.

My determination to win the race to our meeting point hit an early snag when the Subway came to a 10-minute standstill at the Prospect Park stop due to some sort of emergency at the next station. I still had faith that I would arrive before or at the same time as Matt, but I had replaced my competitive edge with a more patient disposition. Besides, upon my arrival I was going to stop at Nathan’s and get a hot dog and cheese fries before high tailing it to the rendezvous point at the ever-so-famous Ruby’s Bar  & Grill on the boardwalk. It had all the makings of a classic day at Coney Island.

Midway through making my Nathan’s order at the corner of Stillwell and Surf, Matt called to notify me that he had won this time. I didn’t gracefully accept defeat. I held that we were at least tied because I had stopped at a convenience store and at Nathan’s since I’d been there. We called it a draw and I met him two minutes later with Cheese Fries in hand having gulped down my dog with onions and ketchup along the way.

I grabbed two Ruby’s Ambers at $7 a piece for myself and the birthday boy and started out our Friday afternoon working our way towards potential mental imbalance that goes with excessive heat and the dehydrating nature of too much alcohol. In a matter of minutes our party grew bigger to include Matt’s sister Brooke and their mutual friend Jackie. Having a taste for something other than beer they decided to break in the day’s festivities with a Vodka Tonic only to discover that the surly female bartender had more or less given them vodka on ice with a splash of tonic.  Their request for an accompanying lime was met with a harsh rejoinder of “no fruit.”  So there they sat, drinking their Vodka and ice as Matt and I enjoyed our tasty brews watching the crowd of summer beachgoers parade up and down the boardwalk.  The only thing missing was Matt’s wife Jenny who had unfortunately come down with the flu.  We remarked that as a nutritionist she’d probably be busy handing her card out to the nutritionally challenged majority who proudly flaunted their spare tires like baby kangaroos popping out of pouches, revealing them as offspring ripe for the tanning.

The crowd grew bigger yet and stayed true to the old adage, “the more the merrier.” Aleks, Marie, Abbi, Drew, Natalie, Jeff, Alix all came out early to celebrate before the evening’s main event, a baseball game featuring the Cyclones of Brooklyn as they took on the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

The game itself was not the main event, rather it was the fact that our good friend Matt would be tossing out the first pitch on account of it being his birthday. Seeing as Matt, like myself was a lifetime Met fan he was thrilled to be throwing out the first pitch for their minor league affiliate and still even more thrilled to get the chance to meet their manager, Wally Backman, a pivotal member of the ’86 Amazins.

Brooke, Matt, and Jackie enjoy a few sips of Shapely Piña Coladas

As we sat and sipped our drinks Matt ran through his scenarios while drinking a Pina Colada through a red tube shaped like a lady with curves in all the right places, figuring out what he would say to Wally. I maintained that I didn’t think there would be a chance  he’d get to meet him, but he would never know until he went down there.

Matt and Marie split off from us at 6:15pm so he could prepare for his pitch. It was actually pretty endearing. Matt had his glove and was desperately yearning for a few practice pitches even though he had no ball. We sat around for a few more minutes until Marie sent a text message giving us our marching orders to head for MCU Park.

As we rounded the side of the stadium we heard an announcement about a first pitch being thrown out by someone else. Determined not to miss Matt’s pitch as it was pretty much the sole reason this idea was chosen for his birthday party, I broke into a bit of a jog to get into the stadium on time and what do you know…as I descended the steps behind home plate shortly after my entrance, this is what I saw:

Matt Slings It Right Down the Pipe...But A Little High

The rest of the game was kind of an enjoyable breeze. Our party grew bigger to include 25 plus people including but not limited to Arby, Sam, Chris, Pete, Zak and Emma. The ‘Clones jumped out to an early lead off a home run in the third by their shortstop Nieves and held on to win 2-1.  For a good portion of the game Marie and Abbi had picked a favorite player they thought was cute. Unfortunately, we soon found out it had been the wrong guy and they quickly switched their allegiances from 2nd Baseman Rylan Sandoval to 1st Baseman Jeff Flagg.

A 'Clones Victory

There was no need for rally caps, but we did have nice new hats courtesy of our birthday deal with the Cyclones that also included a free beer and a free hot dog. With game in hand and a few beers in our bellies we left the ballpark satisfied as the skies opened up to highlight that Coney Island summer tradition of Friday Night Fireworks.

Oooh...Aaah

Once the light show died down I was trying to push everyone to an evening at the vaunted Beer Island but there was a slight push to go towards another more storied landmark in the Wonder Wheel. Abbi was pushing it and I was sort of dead set against it on account that there would probably be a line and I kind of had to go to the bathroom, but as we drew closer I found myself entranced by the old-fashioned amusement.  I gave in, forked over $6 and just like that was in line for the shaky section.

This Way to the Wonder Wheel!

We Prefer to be Swingers

Which is Not Immune to Certain Dangers

I rode in a car with Matt’s sister Brooke, Marie, and Aleks. The swinging section was not what I had expected at all. I thought it would just be kind of dangly.  Instead it was on a track that purposely dipped you on an incline and back like the tamest of roller coasters. It was a surprise not only to me, as Matt’s sister was certainly not thrilled by this wrinkle and let out her fair share of reactive noises. Still, it was a fun experience that not everyone in the party had partaken in.

...But the View!

The rest of the crowd had sidled up to the sauna-like bar at Ruby’s that was undoubtedly 15 degrees warmer than the outside seating area.

After watching an obese women in a bikini act a fool in front of a young crowd who made her the chief entertainment in Ruby’s unadvertised freakshow, I retreated outside to the more calm confines of the boardwalk making relaxed chatter and generally enjoying myself amongst the company. Matt enjoyed his first corn dog and then we pretty much packed up for the Slope.

Matt Sizes Up His Nitrate Popsicle

The last survivors of the evening ended up being Matt, Myself, Arby, and Samantha. The latter two didn’t last long as Matt and I had one more beer at Bar 4 before calling it a more-than-successful evening.

As I headed home towards my apartment I had the urge to tackle a protective stomach coating from Smiling Pizza on 7th avenue. I ordered up a slice and was immediately greeted by an excited declaration of my own name, “Evan!”  I looked to my right at the person who had ordered a slice just before me. There stood my good friend Ryan from my days at Ramapo High School.  It was a holy crap kind of moment, but good to see him after what had probably been 10 years.

We talked for a bit outside before I reached into my pocket to exchange numbers only to realize that there was nothing in my pocket with which to exchange numbers. I was phone-less. Fortunately, I knew I had my phone on the train and must have left it at Bar 4. We both walked to Bar 4 where my phone lay conveniently between 2 couch cushions. Crisis averted, old friend’s phone number received, evening over.

The next day I woke up at my own leisure and casually went about my business for the first few hours of my day. There had been some talk the previous few days via email about possibly making a trip to Coney Island to check out the Village Voice’s annual Siren Festival. Jason and Kayvalyn were really the only ones who expressed interest, but I didn’t have anything else to do that day and thought Coney Island might be fun to do again.

We met up around 2:30pm on the 7th avenue Q Platform only to have to wait 40 more minutes for the train to come. Our first move upon arriving back on the Isle of Coney was for beer. The concert organizers were doing it a bit different this year. Those in need of alcoholic refreshment were confined to an alcohol pen under the guise of being a beer garden. It was not the way to drink, but we each had 2 drink tickets each so we were sort of forced to use them, though we did so at separate times and separate stages so as to not spend too much time in one place. First we sat in the pen listening to what I think was Ponytail.

Beer Pen Blues

Not content to stand amongst the crowd, we sought out the variety at hand opting to cross the boardwalk and plunge feet first into the bay.  The only problem with this was that the beach was so densely populated that actually reaching the water was a bit of a labor, but one that was certainly well worth it. Once we came to the waterfront we were amazed by tightly packed masses in the water that extended far beyond our area of the beach. It was a sight that not even a well-positioned photograph could say a thousand words about. The visceral experience was far more valuable.

The Beach-going Masses

Happy Feet

Happy People

There were so many characters around us on the beach and all seemed to be having a blast as they cooled off from the intense heat. It was also an interesting perspective from which to take in the sites beyond the boardwalk in the other direction. They Cyclone and Wonder Wheel formed a playful, aging skyline that stood as a proud testament to Coney Island’s lasting recreational appeal.

The Wonder Wheel was Really Just an Excuse to Get a Photo of This Weird Skinny Guy

The Cyclone in the Distance

Having just cooled off a bit, we weren’t ready to throw ourselves into the roasting pit known as the main stage beer pen. Instead, we made a b-line to check out the view of the stage from Luna Park.  Rather than hang around with a clear view of the stage Jason, Kayvalyn and I took advantage of being in the middle of all of that updated amusement. There were a few ride options that interested us, but none more than the Air Race that gave willing participants the opportunity to spend a few minutes hanging upside down in an airplane.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...OK Yeah, It's a Plane

There was something perfect about gliding and dipping upside down through the air listening to the poppy sounds of the Pains of Being Pure of Heart. It seemed an atmospheric ideal and I for one felt a bit of a thrill upon my exit from the ride. It beat standing around watching a band. On our way out of Luna Park we happened upon a carnival game where two weeks ago my roommate Laura and I had won little animals with Mets logos emblazoned on them.  Those bears/weasels were still there but on top of those there stood the creepiest game prize I had ever seen.

"Show Me on the Doll Where Mr. Jackson Touched You"

Leaving Luna Park we decided to catch some more Siren Bands. I think we caught the end of the Pains of Being Pure of Heart while enjoying another brew in the barricaded drinking region. While talking to Jason and Kayvalyn I noticed my friend Summer off in the distance and said a quick hello, but once beer was done, we had more exploring to do.

Our Surf Avenue travels took us into another familiar site which I had never before taken the opportunity to explore, the home of the El Dorado bumper cars. Well, that sounded like fun. Jason, Kayvalyn and I bought our tickets and lined up for a bit of bumper bashing, though we figured the blinking lights and constant beats threatened to give an employee or two one helluva headache or recurring seizures. Lights and music overload mixed with a childlike propensity to create mayhem behind the wheel made for a smashing good time if a brief one. I didn’t have time to pick out a fellow bumper car rider to punish mercilessly with my reckless driving habits.

All of that excitement was enough to make you hungry, so we settled on some tasty tacos on the boardwalk.

Real Mexican Tacos Indeed

Mmmm...Tacos.

As I marveled over the Chorizo taco from some place that advertised “Real Mexican Tacos” Jason or Kayvalyn noticed a group of hipsters just sprawled across the middle of the boardwalk as hordes of people were forced to avoid their selfish lounging. We repeatedly exclaimed in an increasingly incredulous tone how much we were not fans of these clowns causing a bottleneck on the boardwalk. Jason took matters somewhat into his own hands, walking up to them to snap photos of their general obnoxiousness. At one point a strange old lady poked herself in and eventually myself and Kayvalyn posed with them as well. I think they started to understand towards the end the more than obvious intent of our actions.

Our culinary adventure didn’t end with tacos and boardwalk hipsters. Prior to making our way back to the Stillwell stage we stopped for some dippin’ dots. Now I had previously heard of dippin’ dots and have heard many people exclaim about them as a vital ice cream experience of many a person’s childhood; I however had never experienced the magic of dippin’ dots. I have to say, I do prefer regular ice cream. Dippin’ dots were ok, but nothing special.

Meh

Finally, our evening at Coney Island came to a close as we took in a few minutes of the Holy Fuck performance from the side of the stage. We all agreed that they sounded really good, but we also wanted to beat the throng of thousands to the subway station.  We chose not to stay too much longer.

HOLY FUCK!

Upon my arrival at home that evening my roommate Laura was having dinner with our former roommate Laura and her family. I was treated to a lovely desert and a few beers thanks to the welcoming crowd. Someone had also bought a wine called Red Cat that featured a cat in a hot tub, with a smitten kitten in the background pining over said sexy red cat. The smitten kitten was especially hilarious because the cleavage on display in her  dress somewhat hinted that said cartoon kitten might be sporting some feline implants.

Red Cat: The Perfect Wine for Hot Tubbing with Kittens in Heat

So how did the wine taste, you ask? Let’s just say it was a red wine for those who like their red wine as sweet as life. And life so far this weekend had been particularly sweet.  Fortunately, I had one more day to go.

Sunday was not so much  a day rich in uncharted adventure as it was anchored firmly in the promise of a relaxing outing with friends.  My friend Enisha’s former roommate Julie was having a Bastille Day party a few days after the holiday celebrating French Independence.  I was slightly vexed over which accoutrements would be appropriate for the festivities.

My original thought was to swing by the supermarket and pick up some frozen French fries from Ore-Ida, the most french of our frozen food corporations. Then I remembered that the party was to be within spitting range of a McDonald’s and resigned myself to the task of buying a few helpings of large fries and delivering them in a greasy paper bag.

Before I could make that move official, I made a mini beer run to the supermarket where I happened on La Premiére Biére Française also known as Kronenbourg 1664. After stocking up on a classy French brew, my curious nature led me to the frozen foods section in search for Ore-Ida products.  Before I could stock up on frozen fries I happened upon another gem perfect for the celebration, Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza. Perfect.

The Perfect Bastille Day Accoutrements

I was on the early side to the party, per usual, but I joined the fray out back on the deck making appropriate conversation about Whit Stillman movies as one of the girls at the party had just auditioned for one.

While enjoying my Kronenbourg 1664, I also partook in the delicious array of fine foods prepared by our wonderful french host who had apparently been slaving over a hot stove for the better part of the last day and a half. The Pulled Pork and Vietnamese Meatball Sandwiches were no doubt the culinary highlights of the afternoon along with some sort of Dijon Mustard and sliced tomato pizza.

There were few familiar faces in the early going but soon the back deck was populated by Jason, Kayvalyn, Pete W, and Morwin. I made new friends with Serena, Jessica, Patricia, Pete’s friend Jeff and Jimena, the latter of which I had seen on several occasions but never really had the pleasure of making her acquaintance. There was plenty of warmth emanating from new friendships to go along with the somewhat unbearable heat. Luckily there was refuge to be sought in the central air conditioning of Julie’s apartment.

The original plan had been to move the festivities down to Smith Street for their Bastille Day Street Fair, but as the day grew on til it bordered the evening we saw that this would be a futile effort. Instead a few of us went to Woodwork down the street for a few beers.

For the last few hours Pete had been talking up the burger at Cornelius and although I had been stuffed full of food both french and not-so-French, all of that meat-centric conversation had my taste buds watering. So, the weekend came to a close with burger in hand as Morwin, Jimena, Pete, and myself savored the last taste of the perfect couple of summer days.

THE END

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As American As Apple Pie

Posted by evankessler on July 8, 2009

Despite the words gracing the title screen, there was no apple pie to be had this past weekend, but that didn’t make it any less American.  The arrival of Independence Day weekend boasted an opportunistic array of good time revelry steeped in Patriotism and marinated in beer.  As most of the local working folk had Friday off on account of the holiday, the games were able to begin at a reasonable daylight hour on July 3rd. The celebratory mood wasn’t necessarily due to the fact that if you were to cut one of our arms open, you might just find red, white and blue dripping out; rather it was the 30th birthday of my roommate…one Laura B.

Laura had originally been unaware of the festivities that awaited her on her special day, but due to a certain lack of alertness about the general nature of birthday surprises, she began the day fully cognisant of the fact that she would spend a portion of her evening at the Brooklyn Cyclones game.  Aside from that, the day was a blank slate with a big baseball diamond in the middle of it.

Prior to leaving Park Slope and heading for the amusing confines of Coney Island a few of us sat on the stoop waiting for a special signal to finally head deeper into Brooklyn.  Myself, Eric G, Andy, Jessica,  Laura B, and Kelly R just hung out in the hot summer sun in the hopes we could take off soon.  I, personally had no idea what it was that would trigger the beginning of our birthday jamboree.  I assumed we were waiting for someone to show up before we could take off.  I didn’t want to guess though as there was obviously some surprise that I was not privy to in the planning of the birthday event.  At some point Laura inquired as to what we were waiting for.  Just that moment a car in front of us pulled a U-turn and settled into a parking spot just in front of our stoop.  Someone (I think Kelly)  jokingly commented that the car was exactly what we were waiting for.  Little did we know, but this was the actual truth.

From an open window came the words, “hey Laura.”  The words were uttered by Laura’s friend Erin’s mother in the front seat.  Erin, her mother, and her father exited the vehicle and proceeded to greet the party.  Laura’s college friend had made the trip for the special day from the distant land of Danbury, Connecticut; a far cry from Park Slope.

Just like that we hit the road.  Kelly, Laura, Erin, and I hopped aboard the 7th Avenue Q towards Coney Island.  I flaunted Laura’s Brooklyn Cyclones foam fan finger the whold way down in anticipation of some dynamite Single A class baseball from some minor-league Mets.  We were a joyful squad if there ever was won.  Laura was glowing with anticipation at what the rest of the night held, and we were happy to be apart of it.

We got off the train at Stillwell and Surf and Kelly led the way to our first stop, a bar on the boardwalk the name of which escapes me.  Upon entry Laura was greeted by a rousing ovation from her friends.  Andrew M, Matt, Judy T, Maureen, Stephen, Andy, Eric, Renga, Mike H, Dan, Dan’s sister Emma, Robin, and more folks too numerous to recall them all.  The merrymaking began with Coney Island lagers and Renga dispensing gift bags to party participants.  Mine had a panch, a snickers, a map of Coney Island, a USA necklace and some vampire teeth. Score!

Next on the agenda was the blowing out of the birthday candles.  For that portion of the afternoon/early evening we were going to need something cakey.  Luckily, there were an array of cupcakes from Renga and a fantastic cookie cake, which was made by Eric.

Laura Makes A Wish

Laura Makes A Wish

After doing her part to extinguish the 30 flames atop soft and sweet treats; Renga made the birthday girl read the message on one of the set of cupcakes.  It read, “You’re throwing out the first pitch!”  Laura immediately kind of freaked out in a fun and totally natural manner. I was instantly jealous.  My roommate was going to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game.  It’s not that I’ve ever had that dream before, but it seemed like a perfectly awesome thing to do on your birthday.  I immediately wanted someone to tell me that I’d be doing the same thing in November.  Alas, there is no baseball in November.  Que sera sera.

This day, however, was not about me.  It was about Laura.  If she wasn’t in a great mood already from being surrounded by her best friends, the first pitch thing may have put her over the top.  I wanted to coach her and show her how to pitch in the off-chance she needed my assistance, but then again, I’ve never been a pitcher.  The closest I’ve come to being a hurler was in my ten visits to Dorney Park as a camper (and then counselor) at Camp Westmont.  I used to play the speed pitch game where if you correctly guessed the speed of your third pitch; you’d win the helmet of your choice and then whilst wearing it people would repeatedly pound the top of your head repeating the mantra emblazoned in small letters on the back, “THIS IS NOT A PROTECTIVE HELMET!”  Ah, Those were the days.

So anyway, after grabbing a few beers at the boardwalk bar (and a slight torrential sunshower) we went for a bit of a walk ourselves as our birthday balloon-toting birthday girl led the way.  A few minutes into our stroll we lost her inside the amusment park as she split with Maureen and Laura to get a fake tattoo.

The lot of us were getting a bit worried.  We were supposed to be at the Keyspan Park at 5:30pm and we had lost Laura.  We didn’t want to be late to grab our tickets and we didn’t want her to be so late that they wouldn’t let her throw out the first pitch.  Rather than wait for them, the majority of us headed to the park and hoped they’d be on time.  We looped around to the front entrance of the stadium via the boardwalk and hung out at the entrance in front of the blood drive van.  I briefly put in my vampire choppers and planned to leap unannounced into the plasma collecting vehicle demanding their entire stock, but I decided against it.

Several more fans of Baseball and Bassett met us at the front gate to the stadium;  Trish, Patrick, and Brian among them.  We had a full motley crew of ‘Clones fans ready to root to our heart’s content.  Filing in in an orderly fashion we scanned the stadium for our seats, but first set about collecting our free hats that came with the special deal we had partaken in, not to mention the fact that it was also Jersey pillow night.  This was either an all-inclusive steal or highway robbery.  Our money bought us one free beer, a free hat, and a free dog; not to mention the opportunity for the afore-mentioned first pitch for our newly-minted 30-year-old [Editor’s note: actually, it was three days before she turned 30]. It didn’t really matter though.  We were so completely psyched for the first pitch that all of the peripherals were gravy.

Scenic Keyspan Park

Scenic Keyspan Park

There was a brief period after picking up our snazzy new Cyclones caps that we took to our seats, but with the prospect of Laura’s minor league pitching debut at hand, we chose to line up behind home plate to get as close as we could for the big moment.

'Clones Fever: Catch It!

'Clones Fever: Catch It!

When the time came we were parked directly behind the dish.  Laura was not the only one however, throwing out the first pitch.  Apparently two other people had arranged for the honor.  They saved the best for last though. Once the first two pitchers had gone, our excitement level was certainly palpable when the announcer was about to trumpet Laura’s name and the fact that she was celebrating her 30th birthday.  One problem though, instead of announcing Laura B’s name, he announced Renga’s.  The rest of the evening we congratulated Laura as if she was the other Laura celebrating her 30th year.  I don’t think this got old. Despite the misidentification, Laura pounded a heater right  into Pitcher Darin Gorski’s strike zone or something like that.  Why the pitcher was catching, I have no idea.

Not A Belly-Itcher

Not A Belly-Itcher

Back in our seats we caught quite the outstanding amateur contest.  It was a hard fought match from start to finish; the kind that really makes you appreciate our national pastime. The Brooklyn Cyclones were engaged in a hard fought battle with the Tri-City Valley Cats.  We weren’t sure which three cities they were from, but we think Troy and Schenectady were involved.  Whenever they were at bat I kept yelling for them to go back to Utica, Ithaca, Rome, or wherever they were from.  Minor league games are fun to heckle at.

A Bidding War Over The Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles Would Ensue

A Bidding War Over The Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles Would Ensue

Maureen Maintains Her Brooklyn Pride Despite Living on The Left Coast

Maureen Maintains Her Brooklyn Pride Despite Living on The Left Coast

The game was tight the whole way.  Both teams scored a run in the 2nd inning.  Tri-City took the lead in the 6th, but the ‘Clones pulled it out in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 9th thanks to big time hitting and ultimately the heroic bat of pinch hitter Nick Santomauro.

Dan's All Too Effective Rally Cap-Jersey Pillow Combination

Dan's All Too Effective Rally Cap-Jersey Pillow Combination

Clutch Performer Nick Santomauro

Clutch Performer Nick Santomauro

The vibe after leaving the game was an ecstatic one.  We felt as though we had witnessed one of the more exciting games in Cyclones history and it lifted our already high spirits.  On the way out, we were handed tickets to have a go at the speed pitch booth, only the radar gun was broken.  It didn’t matter though, I was jonesing to throw a few pitches after Laura’s big moment.  I got the lead out with a few slowballs through strike zone.  It was somewhat therapeutic and a bit of an adrenaline rush at the same time.  I was ready to continue partying as was the rest of the crowd.

We certainly didn’t slow down as we made our way through the site of the next day’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, past a big load of horse crap, all the way to our surfside sanctuary Beer Island.  Beer Island is a beach-themed Coney Island bar that looks like it could exist in Daytona Beach or Paradise Island, save for the Port-o-john’s.

The Mgical Land of Beer Island

The Mgical Land of Beer Island

Our party found two tables to place together and the revelry continued at our Coney Island paradise.  Classic rock blasted throughout our surroundings, but eventually it was eclipsed by the din of fireworks being released over the confines of Keyspan Park.  The pyrotechnic splendor was visible over the horizon and we soaked in the sparks and a few more drinks before deciding it was time to head back to the neighborhood and keep it going in The Slope.

Matt, Andrew, Mike, Brian, and I headed back on the Subway and made for the Union Street abode before heading out for a night-cap with most of the rest of the crew at High Dive (a.k.a. the bar formerly known as The Lighthouse Tavern).  The night didn’t end there.  Some of the crowd had dispersed after finishing one or two beers, but a group of us headed back to the house to put a cap on top of our night cap.  Laura and I partook in some of the Bailey’s I had acquired on my trip to England and before heading off to bed we took in some of my new DVD of The State.  The last part fell out of favor very quickly as the letter “Z” seemed to be catching up with everyone.

We had partied all the way through to the Fourth of July and the next morning shouldn’t have been as easy as it was.  Thankfully after plenty of rest, I was able to sidle out of bed in relative comfort, prepared for a big day of BBQ.  It was around 2:40 when I started to walk towards Kishore’s to commence the celebration of this great nation’s 233rd anniversary of Independence.  I figured it would take a while to grab some food and beer and walk all the way over to Fort Greene.  I was partially right, but I was still the first person to arrive on site.

It was a little after 3pm.  The party was supposed to start at 3.  I know that my friends are usually fashionably late, but it seemed like such a shame on such a beautiful day to have to really get the party started when the sun was on the downside of it’s daily cycle.  I was content to sit in the yard by myself even if no one was around to enjoy it with me.  Kishore, Jeni and Pat were inside preparing food and I hung out in the garden drinking a beer and texting people.  Soon enough though I was rescued from boredom by Jason and Kayvalyn, who seated themselves at the table and started the day’s conversation.  Little by litle the floodgates of visitors opened: Rich, Suli, Lauren, Rosario, Ajay, Morwin, Miller with half of the population of NYC Ron Paul supporters, and so on.  It was now officially a party.

The Beginnings of A Good TIme

The Beginnings of A Good TIme

The only problem with this celebration of America however, was the music.  Kishore had put on a playlist of lounge-y electronica, and Indie DJ music that seemed best suited for a nighttime lounge.  This was America’s day not smooth euro DJ day.  Normally, I wouldn’t raise a stink about someone else’s music, since I’m more than sympathetic with the idea of wanting your own music to play at your house.  Any other day, I would’ve been fine with the selections, but this was the 4th of July.  It’s the day you’re supposed to hear Toby Keith, Bruce Springsteen and Boston.  It’s the day to rock out, with your Red, White and Blue cock out.  I tried to put on Bruce’s Born in the USA album but was quickly rebuffed after two or three songs.  Ajay was supporting my efforts to patriotize the party, but the host certainly was not.  I made another brief stab at things with “More Than A Feeling” but once the song ended, my mix was given the boot Toby Keith style.

Ajay Approves of The Boss and Boston

Ajay Approves of The Boss and Boston

The music went back to soothing, sexy lounge style for awhile and I sank into a bit of boredom.  Ajay, Suli, and myself kept discussing how America had to win out musically in this party.  A little while passed when I finally made a last stand stronger than that of General George Custer.  My mix finally hit the airwaves and the people at the party were proud to be Americans whether or not they were born in this land.

Snappin' Along to American Tunes

Snappin' Along to American Tunes

From then on the party felt a helluva a lot more lively.  The conversation seemed more sprightly and the good times rolled.  I filled up on meat and beer relatively early in the night, but I kept drinking beer anyway.  I didn’t get drunk, but I felt relaxed as the night skies rolled in and the music ceased being patriotic again.  I didn’t mind though as the new music fit the nighttime mood just fine.  We didn’t get to see any fireworks, save for the few who went inside to catch the televised explosions, but that generally seemed all right by us.

Morwin and Jason in Sparklerz '09!

Morwin and Jason in Sparklerz '09!

The crowd slowly dwindled down throughout the evening, there were a few unexpected arrivals as Andrea and Enisha eventually joined the crowd and subsequently left.  It was rather late when we filed out.  Suli, Rich, and I were among the first to arrive and some of the last to leave.

Sunday was none too productive.  I think I did some reading adn some wandering, but that was about it.  If there was anything momentous about the day I do not remember it.  I think I went for a walk and grabbed a slice of pizza and that’s about it.  I was resigned to letting any potential excitement slide by the wayside for one day.  I had had enough patriotic fun for a few days.  When the next weekend rolled around, I would almost certainly still be an American.

Posted in baseball, BBQ, birthdays, Brooklyn, holiday, New York Mets, Patriotism, Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Open Letter To The New York Mets

Posted by evankessler on September 25, 2008

Dear New York Mets,

I have been a member of the New York Metropolitans faithful since before that glorious 1986 world championship season.  I’ve stuck with the team through thick and thin,  the Dallas Green years and even Mo Vaughn.  After enduring last season’s collapse during the final seventeen games of the season, this season’s atrocious bullpen performance, and finally the debacle that was Wednesday night’s 9-6 extra inning defeat at the hands of the NL Central Champion Cubbies, I’m almost tempted to toss my arms up in the air and say, “no mas.”

It’s always required a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to be a New York Mets fan.  Each progressive offseason sees the introduction of promising new arrivals that we’re told are destined to lead a smiling Mr. Met and his round stitched baseball head soaring into the post-season.

This year we had the good fortune to acquire a brand new stud arm in the form of Johan Santana and with that myself and the rest of the Shea faithful were delighted.  Surely, this was the final piece of the puzzle we had all been waiting for after coming oh so close and ’06 and being so painfully shut out of the postseason last year.

. Surely, we were a little naive to think one man could make a difference.  They don’t make pitchers like they used to you know.  Starters aren’t often required to go the full nine innings anymore.  Sure they occasionally pitch a complete game and let the relievers rest once in awhile, but even if you have two or three guys who can eat up innings you’re going to have to rely on some other guys to finish off games for you.  And you know what, it’s not often that you’ll have a four or five run cushion to fall back on…However, when you do have a nice soft five run cushion, you shouldn’t be afraid the game is going to swing in the wrong direction every time your manager takes the ball from his ace on the mound sometime around the sixth or seventh inning.

This season has been downright offensive.  I don’t mean in the way the Mets have been scoring a lot of runs, I mean that I am offended by the lack of ability permeating from the team’s bullpen.  They turn every game that should be a solid victory into some variation of a wild roller coaster that’s sort of like Coney Island’s own Cyclone.  It’s not that fun and you have to endure a frighteningly precipitous drop and face the prospect of painful whiplash in order to get out alive. On the odd occasion that they do nail down a victory, you feel so scarred that you vow to never put yourself through it again.
Well, Metropolitans.  I’m not really sure I want to waste another four hours of my life watching my favorite team go up 5-1 on a heroic grand slam home run, only to give the runs right back, then squander several gift opportunities before accidentally stumbling into a tie only to squander more precious gifts before having that same bullpen so dutifully usher the opponent to a win via yet another awful performance.

Now with the team knotted up with Brewers for the Wild Card spot and four games left to play and even though I know the Mets motto is “Ya Gotta Believe”, I’m thinking more along the lines of “No Way. No How.  Not With This Pitching Staff.”  Please be wrong.  You have four games or you’ll lose me forever (or at least till next season).  Let’s end the stay at Shea with some pride and a little bit of postseason.

Sincerely,
Evan J. Kessler

p.s. Please chain Aaron Heilman to a pole using an impenetrable pair of titanium handcuffs and please melt the key into liquid.

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Sederiffic!

Posted by evankessler on April 4, 2007


It’s been an eventful or uneventful couple of days depending on how you feel about the the act of upholding religious traditions. It was a rather quiet stay in the suburbs aside from the It was also a good time for familial arguments and misunderstandings. Though I suppose that sort of thing is commonplace when people return home and are confronted with the fact that they’ll be under the same roof with their parents once again, if only for a few days. There was a good reason for a get together though, since it was Passover and it was time to break matzah and celebrate being led out of Egypt. Dayenu!

Despite the apparent reason for my stay, the majority of my time at home was spent taking in baseball, as Sunday night when I arrived was the start of the baseball season…but you knew that since I talked about it on Sunday night/Monday morning.

I woke up Monday morning, around noon and partook in some Oatmeal so lovingly prepared by my mother, though I added some bananas, brown sugar and walnuts. The rest of my day was spent watching baseball, looking for work, and monitoring my Fantasy Baseball teams (all named Met Offensive). Aside from the maternal requests to wash the potatoes and help make charoset, the latter or which I enjoyed, I was pretty sloth-like throughout the day. Though I did manage to get in a Costner Post and get through 8 songs on the iPodyssey from Ryan Adams’ “Thank You Louise” to Aimee Mann’s “That’s When I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart”, which just so happened to be the 4000th song on the iPodyssey. At the rate I’m going this thing is coming to a close, which will be just fine with me because there are certain songs I’ve been dying to hear for months that I’ve already passed on my musical journey.

I also had the opportunity to participate in such Seder readiness games like “Clean the Silverware” and “Make Sure the Glasses Aren’t Streaky Even Though They Look Fine and No One Will Care Because The Light In The Dining Room is Out So No One Will Be Able To See The Aformentioned Streaks”. Once I finished those tasks it was back to baseball and the Met Offensive.

At around 4:45 pm I jumped in the shower with the planet’s strongest water pressure (this shower scoffs at the notion of low flow heads, emitting on average 200 gallons of water per second blasting your body clean into the tile at the back of the shower) in preparation for the Seder dinner. Our close family friends whom we usually share the holiday with were coming over though the lineup card was not exactly the same as the previous several years. This year myself, my mother, and Irwin (my brother is in Germany or somewhere foreign) were joined as usual by Rhona and Stuart and one of their three sons David. David was accompanied by his lovely wife Missy and their 19 month old daughter Alexandra who I had only seen when she was but a few months old and quite stationary.

When the doorbell rang, nay, was knocked on Rhona, Stuart, David, Missy, and Alexandra were all standing there. I didn’t expect to see Alexandra standing because I wasn’t aware that she was at the standing age. I’m not even sure what age kids are suppose to be able to stand at, but apparently it’s well before 19 months because she had the standing and walking thing down. Alexandra also had the staring thing down and for the first several minutes she did not avert her eyes from my direction. Now, I’m kind of a sell professed child hater, but when it’s your friend’s child you can’t help but be fascinated. I didn’t make googly eyes or obnoxious sounds at his child. I can never bring myself to do that but I did get a laugh out of the staring contest we were engaged in.

At one point Missy gave my mom a gift and said something along the lines of “since you don’t have any grandchildren here’s a gift”. I don’t think that’s exactly what she said but all of the sudden I thought to myself, “and not anytime soon” while at the same time I was kind of aware how much my mom was probably jealous of her friends who have grandkids, I am nowhere near the point where I can be making babies. I was extremely impressed though at little Alex as she didn’t cry or whine. Sure she asked for her mommy and daddy but that seeemed more because her vocabulary hadn’t been expanded beyond a certain extent yet, though later on in the night I was made aware that she knew numbers, snails, buses, and Dora The Explorer characters amongst other things.

The seder meal was the usual mockery of the Jewish religion as we only went through half of it. We got through all of the important parts: the ten plagues, the story of passover, two cups of wine, singing dayenu, eating Irwin’s homemade horseradish and my Charoset. We never made it to Elijah’s cup since the meal got in the way. I’m sure Elijah had enough wine that night anyway. If you went around to every seder in the world and drank a cup of wine you’d certainly be candidate for alcohol poisoning, prophet or not.

The meal itself was chock full of good eats. There was Matzo Ball Soup, brisket, chicken, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, vegetable kugel, roasted potatoes, and probably some other stuff that I was too full to partake in. The conversation was fun and Stuart told his usual gambling anecdotes about his trips to Foxwoods. I did steal away for periodic trips to check my fantasy team on my computer but I did so covertly under the guise of a trip to the bathroom. I am most certainly a sports dork.

After the meal I sat with David and Alex as they watched an episode of Dora The Explorer on demand. David told me of the horrors of having to watch the same episode sometimes 3 or 4 times in one morning nevermind how many times that meant watching that same episode in the span of a week. Nothing like learning through repetition. I’ll take Sesame Street over that Dora show anytime but then again, I’m not 19 months old anymore.

When the episode was over we headed back into the dining room for dessert. I enjoyed some chamomile tea and fancy macaroons unlike the ones that come in the jar from supermarket. They were much better than the ones I currently have in my apartment that I’ve been snacking. on. The party broke up at around 9:03, just in time to catch the beginning of 24. I contemplated doing a running diary of the show just then but I didn’t want to face constant questions from my mother as to what I might be doing. Also, I didn’ do one the previous week and might be giving up on them altogether since it seems a little silly to not do it one week and then do it the next. That being said, the show is getting more and more ridiculous and when the President was awakened from a coma to stop an uneccesary nuclear attack on a foreign country only to decide later on in the episode that he should go through with it, it seemed like the writers are trying to keep things interesting by making the events more and more ludicrous. My bullshit threshold has almost been surpassed. I mean this guy was dying an hour and a half ago, attached to tubes and all of the sudden he’s in the White House making decisions. I think they should have held him out at least two more hours of real time before he got dressed like the president again…but maybe that’s just me. After 24 ended I did some more Fantasy watching and finally went to sleep a little after 1am.

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) at 11:45am. I didn’t even try to keep kosher for passover and had some Oatmeal. I don’t think that confines to the laws of Judaism but I’m not really sure. McCann’s Irish Oats have most certainly not been blessed by a Rabbi or even a Rabbinical student. Oh well, I would’ve screwed it up later anyway with a slice of pizza or a sandwich or something. After breakfast, I was determined to finish another Costner post before I made my way back to Brooklyn. It was an important day as it was our 50th post in our mission to get Kevin Costner to visit, “If I Blog It They Will Come” and send in a photo of himself doing so.

My mom drove me to the bus stop in Suffern in time for the 3pm bus to the Port Authority. The bus came at 3pm with a sign that read “Port Jervis” but was broken. I got on and resumed my iPodyssey at song 4000, Aimee Mann’s “That’s When I Knew This Story Would Break My Heart” and I also resumed reading my book, Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. It was just under 2 hours door to door as I arrived at around 4:45 to the tune of Pulp’s “This is Hardcore”. At around 6pm I reheated some Passover leftovers and watched TV. The Matzo Ball soup was as good as I remembered it.

At 8pm I had a meeting with Andy and the rest of the crew for the movie that we’re making for the 12 hour film festival this weekend. I headed over to Andy’s place with iPod in hand once again, listening to Pulp…The only people at the meeting were myself and Andy as Kayvalyn, Jason, Lauren, and Rich could not be present. Despite the minimal presence, I would certainly consider the meeting or brainstorming session very useful. I’m certainly looking forward to making some movie magic this weekend. You can look forward to viewing it once we’re done with it….if we indeed want to share it with you. I got home a little before 10pm with Kasey Chambers singing to me about “This Mountain”.

I sat down in the living room with Marty and watched the Mets as well as some Daily Show and Colbert. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty complete last couple of days. I’m damn tired and still full of the Jew food.

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Life In The Fast Lane

Posted by evankessler on April 2, 2007


Welcome to the EvanKessler.com weekend recap. As I write this, I’m sitting at the desk of my bedroom in my childhood home in Pomona, New York. I took the bus back Sunday afternoon in preparation for the Jewliday of Passover or Pesach, which starts on Monday. Before, I made my way back to the hallowed hillz of Rockland County, I had quite the weekend. If you feel like reading along then I shall recap it for you. Well if you’re still reading this sentence I can surmise that you’ve no doubt volunteered your time to read about my weekend. I hope you’re not disappointed.

It all began very innocently enough when Thursday evening turned to Friday morning. I knew that my weekend was about to start. Without the aid of a calendar or days one might never know when the weekend was. Friday was a bit of a mystery as I had not planned anything for the day aside from a post for the Costner blog and perhaps some interaction with other human beings, but then again perhaps not. It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I finally ventured outside. The weather was nice enough so I picked up my iPod and continued on my iPodyssey as I headed towards 7th avenue. The iPodyssey resumed at Clem Snide’s “Sweet Mother Russia” and as I listened to I remembered that it was that song that taught me that sharks never sleep. It’s funny what educational information you can gather through pop music.

I continued to burn through songs on my musical journey. I knew I was nearing the end of the “S” Section but had no idea of the exact number I had until hitting the T’s. It turned out to be several since after the Sw-songs there were a couple of Sy- ones, two of which were Synchronicity I and II by The Police. I sat on a bench in the sun outside of a coffee shop reading my book and listening to my iPod. Unfortunately, I sat within several feet of a twelve year old practicing his Sitar which tended add an Indian layer to the production aspects on all of the songs on my iPod playlist. There’s nothing like hearing the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for The Devil” with some messy sitar in the background. I can’t complain though, it was my choice to sit there and read as I was drinking my green tea. Talk about multitasking. Somewhere during “Synchronicity II” I packed up my stuff and headed back home. On my way home I broke into the T’s with The Roots’ “Table of Contents (Parts 1&2)” and walked through the door as The Jayhawks introed “Take Me With You (When You Go)”. It was quite the lovely excursion and a needed respite from my time staring at my computer in the neverending job search.

As the afternoon drew to a close I was not quite sure what the evening held. I contacted my friend Morwin to see what he was up to and it turned out that he was headed to the slope for a film called Brooklyn Matters about the problematic Atlantic Yards project that’s pretty much going to ruin Brooklyn in order to put up monstrous high rent apartment buildings and bring the New Jersey Nets so people can watch Basketball after they get kicked out of their homes.
I decided I would meet him at the screening at a church on 6th avenue. I left at around 6:45 pm and took my iPod with me (of course) because it was a bit of a walk and I would certainly be able to get through even more songs….and I did. From the time I left my apartment to the time Morwin met me at the Church I had gotten from “Take Me With You (When You G0) by the Jayhawks to Beth Orton’s “Tangent” which was a good 12 songs.

Morwin and I went inside and met up with his friend Karen and watched the documentary which ran about an hour. It was fascinating to see all of the corruption that Forest City Ratner was involved in order to get this project through as well as the spin they used to mislead and divide the public on the issue. I really hope that this Ratner douchebag doesn’t get away with circumventing the local government and the people who live in the neighborhood all in the name of hoops.

I left the screening at about 9pm after hearing a few speakers and signing a few letters to Governor Spitzer against the project. I then headed over to Andrew Morton’s place, since he lives near the church. We had a beer and talked about writing a script amongst other things. We’ll get a project rolling down the pipeline one of these days. I know we’re still due to fulfill our sweeps week sweepstakes promise. That’ll happen after the iPodyssey is done…I promise…I think.

Close to 11:30pm I departed from Andrew’s abode and made my way towards Smiling Pizza. As I walked down 7th Avenue I heard Laura R yelling my name from a cab. She was with Maureen and Laura B. They wanted me to walk over to their cab but I was on the phone and they were quite drunk and the light would turn green soon so my effort would have been wasted. I knew I would see them Saturday so I just yelled at them from the sidewalk. Anyway, I got me a slice of the pizza and then went on home going through even more on my iPodyssey. My evening ended on PJ Harvey’s “Teclo”. Saturday was to be a busy day so I tried to get as much sleep as possible but to no avail.

I woke up at around 12:45pm on Saturday after virtually no sleep. Nonetheless, I was ready to go. Where was I going? Maureen was leaving/moving to LA on Sunday so we were having a going away party. The first stop on this going away party was BOWLING!!!! I’m not sure what the lanes were called (Harmony?) but they were located on 5th and 37th in Brooklyn. I was the 2nd one to arrive. Andrew was the first. We were soon met by the Lauras, Maureen, Kelly and Patrick. We waited in line to get a lane and as we were waiting there was a large crowd of children and mentally disabled persons. One of the children made a bee-line through the crowd and bounced off of a mentally disabled person’s (can you tell how politically correct I’m trying to be?). The mentally disabled person then proceeded to freak out that this child ran into her ass. She started screaming and shouting and walked over to whoever was watching after the kid and in general started shouting about how the kid spanked her and how she should spank the kid.

Now Bowling: Evan Kessler

While this was going on Laura R was talking to me but I couldn’t concentrate as I was simultaneously frightened and mesmerized at the ruckus being raised one foot to my left. The furor soon died down though and we took to our lanes with our ratty old bowling shoes and divided ourselves up into teams using the old playground method of team captains. Team captains were myself and Patrick. I had first pick and went with Maureen. Pat picked Laura R next. I then conferred with Maureen out loud. She wanted to pick Laura B but I wondered if she was any good aloud and we deliberated i grade school fashion before picking her. You need to make people sweat. The teams were rounded out as Kelly and Dan (who would come later) ended up on Pat’s team and Andrew ended up on my team.

Laura B: The B is for Bowl…or Balls…or Bowling Balls

Maureen Knocks Down 4 Pins and Celebrates


The first game kind of felt embarassing since I had faith in myself to at least bowl in the 120’s and I ended with a 107. Though I wasn’t entirely taking it seriously since there was no reason to. Not that there’s ever a reason to take bowling seriously. Andrew won the first game with a 121 or something. Laura R got 2nd and I had 3rd place…again, not that it mattered. We were all having fun eating fried food, drinking beer, and mowing down pins.

Laura R and Dan: They’re Good Kids

Dan showed up as we started the 2nd game and the drinking increased as did the gutterballs…However people were getting better. More strikes and spares started happening. Maureen did little dances whenever she would get a spare and we were all just having a good time. At the end of game 2 Andrew had eclipsed his 1st game with a score of 139. I think Laura was in 2nd again but I’m not sure. I had a 111. I really have no recollection of many of the other scores. We hadn’t originally planned to play a 3rd game but we figured what the hell. All I know about that game was that I won with a 121, but what mattered is that people were starting to get drunk and the happiness level was increasing by the minute.

We left the bowling alley at 5:30 and headed on down to The Lighthouse Tavern via bus. Once we reached The Lighthouse we met Stephen and Mike H to watch the Georgetown-Ohio State final four game. I was rooting for Georgetown because most of the people in my crowd or at least a few were alums. I was also rooting for them because I picked them to be in the final in my bracket. If I were to win my bracket I’d win a trophy but if I were to place 2nd I’d get an Air Supply Greatest Hits CD. Actually, I could deal with either of those. Fortunately or unfortunately Georgetown lost but our party had grown in size. Maureen’s friends Conrad and Brian showed up as long as other people whose names escape me. Throughout the course of our stay at Lighthouse we drank plenty more beer and inhaled a generous amount of fried food. We stayed long enough to see most of the UCLA-Florida game and long enough for Andrew, Dan, and Myself to be quizzed about our sexuality by a tattooed girl who was trying to be shocking and edgy buy asking us questions that she probably thought would make us uncomfortable. Needless to say, we were not shocked.

The party soon escaped the confines of the Lighthouse but while we waited for everyone to empty out Dan, Andrew, and myself spied Stephen on his phone. We decided it would be a good idea to fake beat him up. Laura R joined in the fun which ended rather abruptly as we decided to head to The Gates for more alcohol. When we got to The Gates we realized Stephen wasn’t with us. He came in a while later and was pretty not sober. None of us were sober though as we had been out since 2pm. The rest of the evening was kind of a blur. It was 1am when we finally stopped drinking and said our goodbyes to Maureen. On my way home I passed the Lighthouse and the tattooed girl was outside looking pretty beat and I got into another conversation for about 2 minutes but she didn’t try to shock me this time. It ended with a have a good night and I went home and passed the hell out.

The phone rang at 11:15 this (Sunday) morning. It was Laura R alerting me about a goodbye brunch for Maureen at Stone Park at 11:30. 15 minutes was certainly not a lot of time to make it to a brunch but everyone was running late anyway. I changed my shirt from what I had slept in, put on some shoes and off I went. I was about 10 minutes late but Laura R, Maureen, and Andrew were still waiting for a table anyway. We were sat soon after we arrived and right before we ordered Laura B showed up. We spent the next several minutes going over the events of the last evening. Nearly 12 hours of drinking will yield plenty of stories. Especially since you don’t necessarily see or remember everything that happens. As far as nights on the town go, saturday night was certainly an odd one. After the first set of stories Stephen showed up and partook in some coffee action but he didn’t order since we had ordered some time before he made it. I have to say it was certainly a fun brunch despite being totally hung over. My green tea helped keep me awake and my pancakes were delicious. 2 Thumbs up for Stone Park.

After brunch we walked back to our respective abodes and said goodbye to Maureen one last time before she headed to Los Angeles. I had a lot on my plate before I could head home for Passover. I had to pack, shower, and post on Costner blog. With all of that activity out of the way, I left my apartment at 2:10pm and headed towards the Port Authority to start a rather lengthy leg on the iPodyssey. My trip home began with PJ Harvey’s “Teclo” as I rode the subway into Manhattan. Luckily, I made it to the gate where my bus was leaving one minute before it was scheduled to leave at 3:10pm. I arrived in Rockland at the Suffern Bus Station with my mom waiting for me as Ryan Adams sang “Thank You Louise”. It took me 24 songs to go from Brooklyn to Rockland. That doesn’t sound like such bad time.

The rest of the day was spent doing family stuff…actually not really. We ate dinner together and I made Charoset (one of the more delicious traditional Jewish foods) for the seder dinner tomorrow. After all of the food activity I plopped myself in front of the TV to take in the opening day magic that was the Mets 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes folks, baseball is back and like the nerd I am I’ll be monitoring my fantasy teams all day tomorrow. Hooray!

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From Contenders to Pretenders

Posted by evankessler on March 30, 2007


Happy Thursday night, Friday Morning Everyone. I hope everyone has had an excellent week. I thought before I disappear into the weekend, I’d better get everyone up to speed in regards to my all important ongoings. Fortunately for you there haven’t been too many ongoings this week. It’s mostly been a run of the mill routine of applying for jobs. However I did get down to one activity last evening and let me just say thatWednesday evening was a blight on the history of Pub Quiz.

I arrived at the Black Sheep Pub on Bergen St. around 7:45 where I was joined by Andrew Morton, Maureen, Laura R, Laura B, and quiz newcomer Kelly R. Prior to the start of the quiz at 9pm I got me a $8 pitcher of Michelob and allowed my anxiety to build. I was determined that whatever team I was a part of we were going to win. This would be an important pub quiz as well due to the fact that it was to be Maureen’s last Pub Quiz hurrah before heading off to Los Angeles to find out if there are indeed greener pastures on the West Coast. It was to be a bittersweet evening no matter what the outcome. In a shocking turn of events, we only had enough for two teams of three. We’re usually used to having enough for two teams of 4 and some excess participants who often get divided in an odd manner.

The first team was called “Best Friends 4-Ever” and it consisted of myself, Maureen, Laura R., and Maureen’s brother Patrick who joined us just as the quiz was beginning. The 2nd team went by the name Beers for Fears and was made up of Andrew, Laura B, and Kelly. We were all feeling good about our chances after the 1st 2 rounds. I think our team got 4 out of 5’s the first 2 rounds. Things went downhill fast after that. And after scoring a solid 8 after 2 rounds we had only manage muster up 14 correct answers after 5 rounds. We were 5 points behind the leader. The questions just seemed to get exponentially harder. After a couple more subpar rounds we knew that this was not our week. After being serious contenders in all of our other experiences at Pub Quiz the “Best Friend 4-Ever” finished with 30 points. We were not a proud bunch. “Beers for Fears” did a little better. I think they came up with 32. I felt dejected afterwards. I was kind of annoyed that some of our regulars hadn’t made the trip, but I guess we made our best effort and that’s all that counts. We’re going to win it some day. I just know we will.

I woke up early in the afternoon today (Thursday) as I hadn’t been able to fall asleep until after 4am the previous evening. My first order of business was to come up with a Costner post. My 2nd order of business was to apply for jobs. My third order of business was some room cleansing. The third order of business was largely ignored when I realized that I wanted to go to Target to buy a baseball simply because I like holding a baseball and tossing it up in the air and catching it. I’m easily amused. So with little hesitation, it was off to Target to get me a baseball. I picked up my iPod and hurried towards the Atlantic Center.

It was a lovely day outside though slightly cooler than the day before. I still felt summerific as I walked down 5th avenue listening to “The Sun Goes Down and The World Goes Dancing” by the Magnetic Fields. I got in 3 more Sun songs before I got inside, though two of them were repeats of Supergrass’ “Sun Hits Sky”. The tone rather changed after The Beatles “Sun King” turned into U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, which somehow seemed appropriate for being amidst the chaos of commerce.

When I finally got to the sporting goods aisles I noticed they were not selling individual baseballs, so I had to get a two-pack (not to be confused with Tupac). While I found that a bit annoying, I couldn’t really complain because it only was going to run me $3.99. That was not to be the last of my purchases though. I decided to purchase Monty Python’s Life of Brian for $9.99 and some mouthwash. At the end of my shopping outing, I had still managed to spend less than $20. After leaving the store I ravaged the wrapping to my tw0-pack of baseballs and immediately began to toss it up in the air while I walked home. It was a completely relaxing and engaging new wrinkle for my normally static walking routine. I happily strutted down the street being careful not to deflect my new toy into the street where I would not be able to jump in front of a car and retrieve it. I made it home to the tune of Lauryn Hill’s “Superstar” playing on my iPod and I certainly felt like a superstar with my new baseball.

Overly pleased with myself I decided to boost my ego even more by going to the gym. I kept my iPodyssey going for another 15 tracks while I sweated at the No Frills Fitness Center as I like to call it. Soon enough though, I walked through the door to the tune of the Talking Heads’ “Swamp”. I thought that would do it for Thursday’s portion of the iPodyssey but then I remembered I had left out some chicken to defrost. Time to cook and chill. The Thursday finally ended as Clem Snide’s “Sweet Mother Russia” began and I mixed my chicken and brocolli with the pasta I had prepared. Nothing like the feeling of a meal well cooked and ready to be enjoyed by the chef. The rest of the night was a TV watching and Fantasy team tinkering festival. I know it all sounds too good to be true but I promise you there’ll be more going on this weekend because I lead the most exciting life in New York City. Have a good weekend. I’ll catch you on the recap.

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Dear Mr. Fantasy

Posted by evankessler on March 28, 2007

Hello Baseball fans…or people who have no interest in Baseball whatsoever. Sorry to have kept you waiting for the latest EvanKessler.com update. I know you were all eagerly awaiting my 24 running diary on Tuesday morning and were probably heartbroken when you were welcomed by my weekend recap, which you had no doubt read the day before. I hope you accept my apology but a new day has come and with it, a new post.

The reason I didn’t get to my 24 diary on Monday was simply because I did not watch that evening’s installment of the Jack Bauer Power Hour. Instead I was embroiled in a marathon Fantasy Baseball draft on CBS Sportsline. The draft was not a previously planned event. I was having a rather run of the mill unemployed Monday afternoon when Arby sent me and IM asking if I’d be interested in joining his fantasy baseball league that was having it’s draft that evening, since someone had dropped out. I took almost a millisecond to accept his invitation. I’m a sucker for competitive sport-type things that don’t require any running or physical exertion. The draft was to be held a little after 8pm so I had plenty of time to read my Fantasy Baseball magazine and go engage in some physical activity at the gym.

I left my apartment for the First Time on Monday at 4:30pm with my iPod in hand and headed to my no frills local gym while listening to Pavement’s “Stray Fire”. The entire outing only lasted about 40 plus minutes or 14 songs. I stepped off the elliptical while listening to Stealers’ Wheel “Stuck in the Middle with You”. Just as I began descending the steep steps with my wobbly legs to the lower level of the gym I heard the lyrics “…and I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down those stairs”. Talk about a coincidence. The fitness experience came to a close as I walked back into my apartment to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” and showered up in preparation to sit on my ass for several hours. I made sure I wouldn’t starve through the proceedings by picking up a sandwich from Blink 182.

At around 8:30pm I was ready to select the first player for my team “Met Offensive”, a name derived from combining the name of my favorite baseball team (The Mets) with the name of an event from the Vietnam War (Tet Offensive). With the 4th overall pick in the draft I secured Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard. My team was finally done drafting 4 hours later as I selected Detroit Tigers Outfielder, Curtis Granderson, to join my motley roster or Major League Misfits. The draft was an exhausting process that left me in no mood to post anything, but somehow I mustered up the energy to do some reading before dozing off to sleep.

Met Offensive Anchor Ryan Howard

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) on precious little sleep, but I had to muster up enough energy to make it into the city and run some errands. I reinstituted my iPodyssey to the tune of “Stuck Inside of Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” and headed towards the subway. I made it through one more “Stuck” song and a slew of “Stupid” ones as I took a great train ride over the river and through Manhattan to the Upper West Side. It was a beautiful day and I was certainly moved to do some wandering as the temperatures reached the 70’s. It was a therapeutic sensation to bask in the sunlight. Weight seemed to drop off my shoulders as the sun shone down on them and believe me there was a lot of weight with all of this unemployment business.

While waiting for my subway back to Brooklyn I noticed a family of tourists most likely from West Virginia. How did I know they were from West Virginia? Well, they were all wearing West Virginia University sweatshirts. At this point, my life as a New York City inhabitant flashed before my eyes and I came to the odd realization that probably the most common uniform for the average American family visiting New York City is that of the gear of their local University of which sports team they are mighty proud. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered tourists clad in their Ohio State, Indiana, or Nebraska gear as a show of hometown pride abroad.

In any case, not that it was a big deal, it was just a strange thing that occurred to me. It would be akin to me visiting Texas and making sure I wore a shirt that said “New York” in bold letters everywhere I went. Not that New Yorkers don’t do that…I just think we’re less likely to.

With that observation out of the way, I made my way back home on the good ol’ B train. I arrived back in Brooklyn and after a string of “Sugar”-y songs emerged from the subway with the sounds of “Summer” filling my ears. It was quite appropriate as I walked on the sunny side of the street to the tune of Kathleen Edwards “Summer Long” and The Kings of Convenience “Summer on the Westhill”. As I walked through the door Death Cab’s “Summer Skin” was coming to an end. I was ready to conquer the rest of the day and apply for more and more employment when, much to my chagrin, my internet was once again failing.

We had made an appointment with the cable company for between 12 and 4 but I was restless. I sat around killing time until a little after 2pm when Marty suggested that he would wait for the Cable guy and that I should go to Gorilla Coffee. I heeded his advice and off to the Coffee shop I went. I got a iced chai latte and set up my computer at one of the tables. I began to do research and write out the latest Costner post. When that was done, I scanned my email and craigslist for possible employment opportunities. However, I found the environment to be terribly intrusive as two guys next to me yelled about the map that was above me and to the left. I had my headphones on but could not avoid their continuous racket. Luckily, a little after that Marty sent me an IM and notified me that the Internet along with the Cable had been revived at home.

At that moment I headed straight for home and plopped myself down on the coach to enjoy the wireless Internet in a comfortable, relaxed setting. I had to prepare for a second consecutive evening of dorkiness as I was to draft yet another Fantasy Baseball team. This time it was for the league that I had expected to be in all along. For the past several years I’ve taken part in my friend Werner’s league and although he moved to Colorado, the league still continues. The only difference is that the draft had to be later on account of the time difference.

I took the next several hours to pre-rank my players so that I wouldn’t be scrambling throughout the draft to see who to pick next. I also made myself a nice dinner consisting of flank steak, broccoli, and brown rice and burned through 5 songs on my iPodyssey while I cooked. (Death Cab’s “Summer Skin” to The Magnetic Fields “The Sun Goes Down and The World Goes Dancing”. I even got some TV time in and watched last night’s episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report which I had missed due to last night’s selection marathon.

My only hope was that tonight the Baseball gods would be merciful and that instead of a draft where each pick was without a time limit, the rounds would speed by like life so often does, in the blink of an eye. When 9:30pm rolled around I was seated my computer ready to draft a new team, also named “Met Offensive” (I just want somebody to get it). This time I had the 2nd pick in the draft and went with New York Mets Shortstop José Reyes. It felt nice to get a Met in the lineup with my 1st pick so I didn’t have to change the team name. Forty-Five minutes later in round 21 I was selecting Kansas City Royals 3rd Baseman Mark Teahen to round out my roster. Compared to the previous evening, tonight’s picking process was pretty painless. I’m not sure if my team is any good but at least the hard part is over with. Now my one goal is to WIN, WIN, WIN…as I unleash my own Met Offensive on unsuspecting opponents.

Reyes of Light

So there you have it. That’s pretty much how I’ve spent the last two days in a magical FantasyBaseball Land. Now I must get back to reality…and what a harsh reality it is.

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Beat The Mets

Posted by evankessler on October 20, 2006

If I was ever going to use a sad face emoticon, now would be the time. Fortunately, I have no desire to ever use an emoticon instead I will just place a picture of what I look like after spending the last 3 and a half hours watching Game 7 of the NLCS, Mets vs. Cardinals, only to see Aaron Heilman give up a home run in the Top of the 9th and Carlos Beltran go down looking with bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

This Is The Face I Make When I’m Sad

And to think last night I was so optimistic after watching the Mets, in person, tie the series up at three games apiece in a thrilling Shea Stadium playoff atmosphere. I feel slightly dejected but take comfort in knowing that they would’ve most likely been swept by the Detroit Tigers in the World Series anyway and that I can finally resume my regular life of actually going to the gym after work and hanging out with people who have no interest in Baseball.

However, my Sundays are still off limits as the Football season is in full swing, though I am open for suggestions this weekend as the Giants don’t play until Monday. Alright, I think I’ve said enough but I must alert you that you have only a few days left to vote in the Sweeps Week Sweepstakes 3 posts below.

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Congratulations!

Posted by evankessler on October 21, 2004

Congratulations are in order this evening for the Boston Red Sox and their fans as they came back from a 3-0 series deficit to the Yankees, winning the last 4 games to take the AL Championship Series. So this goes out to you Arby, Marie, Zach, Ted Kim, and just really anyone who’s a Sox fan that I know. The Yankees got wrecked by a score of 10-3 and David Ortiz took home ALCS MVP honors. After here that guy talk, he now reminds me of Pedro Cerrano from Major League. He hits like it too.

I almost didn’t actually get to see the game. When I came home from work my brother was settling down with his Czech model friend, Linda to watch Bad Boys. I was almost in shock. I don’t know what’s gayer, Greg wanting to watch a movie with a hot girl who isn’t going to sleep with him, or me actually thinking he should watch the baseball game instead of watching a movie with a hot chick. Don’t answer that. I had to go to a Boxer’s, a bar around the corner to watch the first couple of innings all by my lonesome. Well, there were lots of other people at the bar so I guess I wasn’t alone. I think all of the bar’s in the West Village near me had a majority of Sox fans. This is probably due to the fact that none of them could get into the Riviera so they had to scatter to other bars around the area and turn them into Boston bars. That being said, my brother called me when he was done watching Bad Boys. By the way, doesn’t that seem like a strange movie to be watching at any given time? I mean, turn on TNT on Saturday and you can watch Bad Boys. Imagine this interaction.

Me: Are you going to watch the game (probably the biggest game of the year)?

Greg: No, we’re watching Bad Boys. What time does it start?

Me: (confused) 8pm

Greg: Oh, well then we’ll probably watch the end.

That sort of exchange doesn’t make any sense on the night of a game of such high importance. That being said, I got to see most of the game and by the time I got to watch it at home the game had already gotten out of hand. Anyway, congratulations to the Sox and I hope they win the World Series.

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