This photo essay is the follow up to a previous post entitled, “Like A Good Neighbor…” It has been made possible by Mile End Delicatessen in Boerum Hill; Mile End Delicatessen, they’ve got the whole mishpucha.
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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by evankessler on June 7, 2010
Posted by evankessler on April 12, 2010
The main event of this past weekend took part on Saturday Night at Littlefield, a new-ish and rather excellent art space and venue in the Gowanus/Park Slope region of Brooklyn. My good friends in Mahogany headlined one heck of a bill with Philadelphia’s Arc in the Round and another band called Long Distance Poison. Unfortunately I missed the first band, but I really thought Arc in the Round and Mahogany were both excellent. Although it seems the bands were having monitor problems, they dealt with them like professionals and put on a great show. Over the last couple of Mahogany gigs I’ve really taken a liking to some of the newer tracks like “Light Brigade” and “Emmanuelle & Valerie” although the last one doesn’t necessarily feel new to me after having it seen performed a bunch of times. There’s something about getting lost in a sea of swirling guitars and keyboards, isn’t there? I took a bunch of photo and video and really should put my camera down every once in awhile to enjoy the show more, but I’m a sucker for documentation and I enjoy myself just fine. For those of you in the world who couldn’t make it…and I assume there are a lot of you, because the number of attendees didn’t reach into the billions…here’s a peak at what you missed.
Posted by evankessler on April 9, 2010
I thought there’d be more posting this week amid the wondrous weather and its limitless possibility for inane adventuring. Alas, instead of being involved in high jinks galore, I’ve chosen to admire the sprouting springtime in my humble hood. It all began last week with a run around Prospect Park, where I noticed colorful buds threatening to become full-fledged blossoms. After a brief cold snap, the sun and season did their best to welcome those signs of better days to come. I spied a few early-bloomers on a Tuesday run as the plants in front of my own apartment had their guns and petals at the ready. By Thursday morning the block had become somewhat of a verdant wonderland.
Posted by evankessler on April 4, 2010
Back when I lived at Bleecker St, my old roommate Anthony, a professional dancer, used to travel around the world on tour. Occasionally he would come back with little curios for myself and my brother. After one trip to South America he returned with a little South American Indian wooden statue. It seemed like a harmless little piece of craft work, save for the fact that when you lifted him up, the legs dropped and a little wooden penis would pop out. It was never the most popular gift, but for some reason I had kept it around through two moves. So yesterday, when my roommates and some of their friends were prepping for a stoop sale, I began foraging through my room for things to sell and what did I come upon but the little wooden guy.
I didn’t really have any use for him as he was basically sitting in a bin in my closet. I decided I’d see if I could get at least a pretty penny for him, otherwise I’d bring him back inside if common decency appealed more to people than a little native with a funny wooden donger.
Afraid of the initial horrified reaction, he wasn’t even placed on the table in front, rather we just propped him up along the railing. Dan F and I started to grow fond of the little guy when some middle-aged guy walking around with his wife felt the impetus to pick him up. He got quite the surprise and was oddly delighted. The wife kept asking if he wanted it, he insisted he didn’t need it. They bought it for 50 cents. I was sad to see the little fella go. It’s like they say, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. Ain’t that the truth. At least I have this little video to make me laugh.
Posted by evankessler on April 1, 2010
Early this morning I wandered towards downtown Brooklyn to help ease the pain of my struggle with employment or lack thereof. I wasn’t going down to the docks to make a quick buck in the field of drifting, rather I was heading down to Smith Street to take a test to be Census taker. That’s right, not only would I try to make a few hard-earned bucks, but I’d help my country out while doing it if it was determined that my country needed me. Is there any truer patriot than me? Keep quiet Sarah Palin.
In any case, as I happily strolled down Atlantic Avenue I came across a striking blue building that wasn’t striking so much as an architectural specimen as much as it was for it’s blueness. It stuck out like a sore thumb in the midst of more traditionally colored city buildings. Even more outstanding was the company it advertised on its facade:
In a way, I was shocked that I was not aware that this building existed in my neck of the woods. For this was no doubt the site of many great moments in the advancement constipation science. Surely the bathrooms within were hallowed sites of laxative experimentation where ground was broken and many a bowel was purged. I’m not sure if this building has landmark status…but perhaps we should start a movement. Poor choice of words?
Posted by evankessler on November 3, 2009
Evil spirits rose from the fiery pits of Hades, Sexy cops fled with reckless abandom from their sexy precinct, and Internet memes came to life, all to rendezvous at countless parties across the earth’s surface in celebration of All Hallow’s eve. Although Pumpkins were carved and lit on Thursday evening the 29th, it was Saturday night when all of the party monsters came out to shovel haunted candy and frightening amounts of alcohol into their eerily adorned mouths.
Where was your kindly blog impresario when the ghouls and poorly costumed came out to play. Well, as your kindly blog impresario, I’d like to think I was in the thick of it. After a marathon such as Friday evening that included local watering holes, going away parties and ultimately karaoke; many revellers would’ve cowered in the face of another night on the town. Instead I embraced it. I took to the streets at a strange hour as children were scouring the neighborhood in search of sweets. It was close to 3:30pm when I met Arby for lunch. And as my companion said as we walked towards Press 195 for some halloween afternoon sustenance my meal companion remarked that it was “like someone opened up the box of kids and dumped it out on 7th Ave.”
While 7th Avenue in Park Slope was littered with little ones transformed into their or their parents favorite fictional characters, 5th was slightly less inundated with miniature demons and princesses. However, as Arby and I sat at the bar awaiting our late lunch a steady stream of kiddies filtered in demanding treats, as they most certainly were not looking for tricks, save for maybe the five-year-old dressed in a pimp outfit. While most of the kids that crossed our path whilst eating were in the spirit, one mother brought in her two toddlers dressed in normal clothes carrying plastic bags. I was sort of offended by the lack of effort. The mother, who I’m pretty sure was an immigrant and possibly unaware of how seriously we take Halloween in this country was seemingly unaffected by the costumed tradition of the holiday, instead preferring that her children get hopped up on sugar rather than learn to exercise their creativity.
After finishing up our meal at Press 195 Arby and I split off. I had to go home and fix up my costume. I was going as a veiled insult/threat and in order to make as much sense as I could I was going to have to somehow conjure up a phrase that hinted at an insult to write on my plain white t-shirt. I already figured that my threat shirt would read “My fist, your face.”
Rather than get straight to work on my evening party wear I pondered the phraseology for a bit before drifting off to dreamland. I napped for about an hour and a half before procuring sharpies from my roommate’s room. I immediately got to work on drawing up my threat which included the aforementioned phrase in addition to tracings of my fists. For the veiled insult I decided on: “Your costume is so creative,” meant in a sarcastic manner. Hopefully, people would see through my lacy veil I’d be clipping to my hair and draping over my person. I wasn’t holding out hope and was sort of regretting I hadn’t conjured up a silly character to be, but the point of no return had passed. As I readied for the evening I began to sing the Monty Python “Lumberjack Song” and began to wish I had just gone as a lumberjack with “suspendies and a bra.”
It was 10pm when I finally left the house ready to party, candy in hand en route to get a six-pack. There was another party I had originally planned going to on that night but I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I texted my friend Jess who I had previously planned on meeting up with there. Jess sent me a confused email that alerted me that I had missed the party, for it had been the previous evening. Funnily enough, I had just seen the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Larry David pulls the going the day after to a party you don’t want to go to trick. It’s not that I didn’t want to go and I didn’t plan on showing up the day after on purpose…but if I had done that it would’ve seemed like I had completely stolen that episode’s premise.
Oh well. I always think it’s better to go to one party than to try to go to too many parties and spread yourself too thin. So I got to my friend Andrea’s place in Prospect Heights at the very same point as my friends Lina and Maya. I expected to know a good deal more people, but a lot of regulars were there. Kishore (as something), Suli (as “The More You Know” PSA), Jes P ( as a heartbreaker/ripper) , Rich (as Inspector Gadget), Jeni L (as an Irish person, Summer (as a banana/plantain), Jason (as someone who was a little too fond of knitting), Enisha (as OG-Original Grandma/Gangsta), and Jennifer the downstairs neighbor (human skeleton) all made the scene along with plenty of people I didn’t know.
Halloween parties are weird for the sole fact that you may, in fact, know everyone there but behind all of the effort expended on disguising oneself, you could miss out on a few familiar faces. That happened to me with a few people. It took a while before I recognized Andrea’s friend Pete and then I just kept staring at people wondering who they were.
My favorite costumes of the evening were Andrea who came as Keyboard cat and the girl who came as a slug. I didn’t really talk to her, but I heard that she kept putting gobs of purell on her hands and touching people with it. That’s solid effort if I do say so myself.
The party was quite packed in for about an hour and a half before everyone decided to move out. It may have been longer but the prospect of daylight savings time and moving the clock back confused me. There were accidents involving spills and broken glass, but for the most part crises were averted, people danced, and everyone maintained a generally jovial mood.
As the night came to a close somewhere around 4:30 or 3:30 or 5:30, it was just me, Kishore and Andrea hanging out talking about general life things as I finished my very last beer before heading home. It made sense that Sunday was The Day of The Dead, because I might certainly use the D-word to describe the way I felt for the rest of the it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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: America, BBQ, Beer Island, Boston, Brooklyn Cyclones, Bruce Springsteen, Coney Island, Independence Day, July 4th, Toby Keith, Tri-City Valley Cats, USA | 3 Comments »
Posted by evankessler on May 6, 2009
After a blazing hot summer-like weekend to close out April, things cooled off quite a handsome amount last weekend. Shorts were briefly sent back in storage as temperatures plummeted into the high 50’s and everyone more or less wondered where the super happy fun park weather went.
This self-contained blogging apparatus didn’t exactly have the most eventful weekend, due to somewhat damp and cool conditions, but things started off promising and maintained a relaxing pace all the way through…and there was a derby. Friday was cause for celebration as Andrea P celebrated hitting the big 3-0 in style. I took the subway into the city around 8:45, despite VP Joe Biden’s mass transport warnings. I have to admit, everyone on the train looked beat down and full of suffering as they could’ve been carrying some sort of disease that may or may not have swine flu…and the two who did not were young ladies dressed loosely enough to cause me to ascertain that they might also be candidates for a disease of another ilk…if you know what I mean.
I met a bunch of my friends including the birthday girl at around 9:45pm at Jadis where a slew of folks had been enjoying a dinner and fancy wine type get together in the early evening after-work hours. I decided to stroll in fashionably late as to avoid taking part in a hefty bill situation opting to miss out on the heaps of champagne in favor of a few Stellas from the bar.
There was plenty of discussion afoot of our hopefully upcoming video project which is currently on the QT even though people reading this might know something about it and there was also a heaping helping of action film discussion spearheaded by Ajay, Suli, Andy, and Jason. The main topics in that discussion were the Transformers movie, the Star Trek movie, and GI Joe…all hitting theaters this summer. I have to say, I am excited for GI Joe as I had an odd animated attraction to The Baroness as a child.
From our cozy beginnings we made way for a hot and happy underground conclusion to the evening, spending the last several hours dancing to the straight up rock and soul sounds at Home Sweet Home. This was the 2nd time I had been to said establishment in nearly a month and it was even more entertaining and energetic than the last. The largest difference in going this time around is that the elevated dance floor had been removed, which is probably for the better since it was a bit of a hazard having people onthe closely cramped riser fall on top of those one foot below them. Either way, shoes were shuffling and body parts were twisting and turning all around to the great soundtrack. When the night ended I had danced and sweated up a storm, which I know is highly unlike me…but the music was that good.
Saturday morning there was no plan. I knew the Kentucky Derby was that day, but that was about it. I was tired from a late evening the night before and really had no motivation to conquer the world. It was mostly overcast with slight periods of sunnyness at a semi-pleasant…but slightly cool 62 degrees. At around 1:30 or so I decided to take on the outside world for a brief spell and work myself down to the OTB on 5th ave and 14th street to place a bet on what I thought could be a winning horse for the derby.
After picking up a NY Post to read their assessment, I lined up amongst the most obvious crowd of degenerate gamblers, who in their steadfast dedication to the thoroughbred had obviously built up quite a hatred for the tellers who had handed them one too many a ticket for a losing exacta. There were mutterings about how slow each teller was and how all of the people in there for the derby didn’t know how to bet and were obviously affecting their ability to bet on the 4th race at Yonkers and the 6th at Meadowlands on time. Old men who had most likely pissed their life savings in this place yet came back everyday to salvage some rent money or enough for a few beers, but really knew how to pick a winner scurried about. The audible field was a sea of haggard mumbles and I thought to myself that this might be an interesting place to spend a day. Sure, I liked Atlantic City, which was it’s own cesspool of negative currency sadness…but this was probably the end all be all of degeneracy and it was oddly appealing. I sort of wanted to hang around, but had no knowledge of any of the other races…though it’s not as if I would have picked winners based on that knowledge. I just go by names and so the name that sounded like the derby winner to me was “Desert Party.” I could almost hear it now reverberating through the speakers on my TV “…and down the stretch they come Desert Party takes the inside and stretches his lead to two lengths. He’s got a few challengers, but looks to be widening the gap…And it’s Desert Party by two lengths to win the derby!” At 15-1, that all had a nice ring…so I place my $5 bet with my dream scenario floating around in my brain. I also placed a $5 one for Arby on Friesan Fire. That wasn’t a bad name either but it had 9-2 odds and not so great payday potential.
Before returning home with my potential I.O.U. from OTB, I stopped by 7-11 in the hopes of grabbing a cherry slurpee. Unfortunately, the sad look on the fat eleven year old’s face attempting to drain the icy treat into his super-sized cup told me that wouldn’t be happening. So instead of having a tasty cool beverage to enjoy as I strolled on the sunny side of the street, I was empty handed.
I didn’t head straight home after that, I swung by Jenny P’s place to pick up a notebook I had left over there on Monday and then accompanied her all the way to 7th ave and 9th street to latch onto Robert, with whom she was going shoe shopping with. From there, I stopped at Louie G’s for some ice cream to satisfy my cool treat fix and eased on down the road back to my abode to catch the beginning of the Mets game.
I didn’t spend too long by my lonesome enjoying baseball. At 6pm, I headed over to watch the end of the game and the Derby with Arby and Steph with a 6-pack of tallboys in hand. Once the gates opened and the jockeys did their jockeying and horseys did their thing that horsey’s do when they’re getting whipped and steered or whatever happens down there, things looked promising. At first I didn’t hear the words “Desert Party” very often but then at around the midway point I caught wind that my 15-1 champ was pacing himself in 4th place primed for a stretch explosion. Unfortunately, another horse got into colossal spring seemingly coming from all the way back. Mine That Bird weaved his way through the equine competition and won by well over a nose. My ticket was worthless. I wanted to go commiserate with my beaten down brethren at the OTB but that would’ve been too far of a walk. Instead I continued drinking with Arby and Steph and continued watching the baseball game.
From our sporty perch in Arby’s apartment we moved the weekend festivities to La Taqueria for some delicious nachos, tacos, and ice cold beers with the helping hand of our lovely bartender Kayla. The tacos were tasty while the nachos were disappointingly soggy, but I was hungry for them anyway. We drank our fill and the time flew. Before we knew it it was 11pm. So much for making any night moves, it was time for bed.
I woke up pretty early on Sunday, kind of unaware of the fact that I had passed out on the early side for the weekend. The majority of my final day of the weekend was spent inside, deterred from tackling the outside world because the outside world was wet and wholly unappealing. Rain persisted throughout the day and the chair in my room got a work out if supporting my smallish expanse can be deemed a workout. The weather’s been more or less crummy ever since… but there’s always next weekend to look forward to. C’mon mother nature, give us some sun…and maybe add a little more heat in there this time around.