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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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Happy Meals

Posted by evankessler on December 3, 2009

It’s been a week since the Thanksgiving holiday.  Perhaps I’ve waited a week to recap the matter so that I’d have the proper perspective, or maybe the fact that the Time Warner cable and Internet service in my neck of the woods had something to do with the delay.  All I know is that this morning my cable box appeared as if it was counting down to detonation.  I cowered in my bed hoping it wasn’t synchronized with some sort of device at the Indian Point nuclear facility a bit north from here.  Luckily, it wasn’t and I’m still in one piece.

So where was I, ah yes, that holiday we celebrate in the final week of November to commemorate the Euro settlers decision to hold off a few weeks to start slaughtering the Native Americans they hadn’t killed with the mere act of upsetting their ecosystem.  Mmm, turkey.

I wasn’t really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  I have my reasons other than my general dislike for holidays that seem to upset the silky smooth flow of my month.  For some reason I had prepared myself for hostile interrogations and general tension.  The days leading up to the stuffing of stomachs I had been mentally preparing myself for arguments and tension…though not necessarily with relatives.

Upon my arrival in Rockland county on Thursday early afternoon, which was engineered by the steady driving capabilities of Suli, I arrived at my childhood home pretty much easing into port through an already open garage.  I strolled through the door and was met with open arms which gave way to an open couch for watching the Packers annihilate the Lions.

My mom was preparing some new specialties for our dinner down the street at our family friends who seem to host every holiday occurrence save for the occasional break fast for Yom Kippur and Passover Seder. She was making some sort of non-pizza pizza thing.  It had puff pastry dough covered in caramelized onions, slices of cherry tomato and goat cheese.  It looked delicious and while she and my step dad bickered over how to cut it into pieces, I dreamed of the array of food options that would satisfy my gastrointestinal yearnings in but a few minutes.

A short drive down the block found us at our destination.  I narrowly averted disaster as one of the pizza creations nearly slid onto the car seat.  My mother, stepdad, and myself grabbed hold of several dishes containing Thanksgiving specialties and ferried them inside before we lost our grip.

Inside we were met by a smaller party than usual.  Our group of three brought the count to a total of 14 thanks-givers. Rhona and Stuart once again hosted.  Their eldest son Jon was present with his wife Michelle, her parents, and Rhona’s brother had his family present as usual  minus one son.  It was a generally pleasant gathering.

We gathered in what I guess is the living room where Stuart had a roaring fire on despite the relatively mild temperature outside.  It was a tad bit sweaty in there.  I normally prefer sitting next to the fire but not on this day.  Instead I settled on the couch with a cup of wine, clearly missing out on the option of using a glass, and enjoyed some pleasant conversation and delicious caramelized onion pizza food.

After the glass of wine I slipped into maximum relaxation mode choosing to pour myself a nice glass of Macallan 12 thereby engulfing me in single malt bliss. So warm, so fuzzy.  Not much can put you in a bad mood when you’ve been embraced by a nice taste of Scotch.  I’m not a Scotch-hound by any means, but I can’t deny it’s pleasant effect.

With glass in hand I switched to the den and took in some thanksgiving athletic ineptitude courtesy of the Oakland Raiders who were struggling mightily versus the Dallas Cowboys, clearly the better team. While I kept an eye peeled on the game, I can’t say I was interested in it.  When the competition is that poor, there’s really no point.  The games only magnetizing factor was the play of Miles Austin who would be playing a crucial role for my fantasy team that week, but even that couldn’t hold my interest.

Jon May Talk Turkey But He Can Back It Up

Jon May Talk Turkey But He Can Back It Up

The smell of that great Thanksgiving dinner seeped into the den and living room and the womenfolk and Jon W beckoned us all to enjoy their culinary creations.  Actually, Jon did an excellent job with his kitchen creations from his presentation of the turkey to his Potatoes au Gratin, we were all very impressed.  The meal started off though as usual, with Camille’s huge tray of ziti incorporating 5 lbs of pasta and god knows how much cheese.

Thatsa Lotta Ziti-a

In the midst of all of that eating the conversation was extremely lively and probably not very conducive to digestion.  There was a lengthy decision about circumcisions and I’m not exactly where it came from.  Well, I have some idea, but we never really established whether we were thankful for them or not.  We just knew they had to be done right and at no point should the moyle employ the use of their mouth.  Don’t ask.

Once the hilarity  took a hiatus and our pants felt ready to burst from Brisket, Turkey, Sweet Potato Pie, and a variety of delicious sides  it was time to retire to both the living room and den where we tried to stay awake while catching the tail end of the Cowboys-Raiders debacle.

We fought off the Z’s long enough to make it to dessert.  While I can’t say I was hungry, I didn’t shy away from the sweetest portion of the evening.  A couple of slices of Banana chocolate chip cake, some apple pie, and some ice cream found it’s way into my belly and threatened to turn me into a colossal blob all before the clock struck December.  There’d be plenty more holiday eating where that came from.  I’d have to pace myself.

Once the feast came to an end we sat around for a bit more before heading home, watching the absolute embarrassment that was the first quarter of the Giants-Broncos matchup. From there it was down the street and back home to watch the rest of the Giants emphatic statement game in which they stated they’d be avoiding the playoffs this season.  In addition to signaling the end of the Giants season, the game clock striking zero made clear that it was just about time to doze off.

The next morning I awoke in Rockland well aware that soon enough I’d be back in Brooklyn.  I had forgotten to take care of a few vital pieces of laundry and rushed to it.  Eventually, I hit the road with my mother and Irwin.  Irwin stopped by the courthouse in Downtown Manhattan to take some photos for a speech he is giving or a class he is teaching or something.  We made it back to Brooklyn a little after 2 and then got some food at Press 195 before I saw them off and relaxed for rather quiet Friday evening of watching Netflix.  I watched Autofocus that evening…which I expected to be better.  It was decent though.

Saturday was none too exciting.  I tried to go for a run to work off some of the calories I’d amassed on Thursday and from Friday’s leftovers…but was met with little success as I felt weighed down and had to bail early about 3/4 of a mile into my run.  The rest of the day was of medium excitement.  I was hoping to get to see Maureen while she was in town and thought I would up until the later portion of the evening when Basset notified me they’d remain in Long Island.  I ended up making a last minute change of plans and meeting up with Reva and Marisa and Union Hall for an effortless evening of enjoyable chatter.

Sunday brought about more caloric intake.  The occasion of which was a post-thanksgiving leftover bonanza and Jayvalyn’s apartment.  I mustered the effort to make some cornbread and headed over at around 2:30pm.  Kishore, Morwin, Suli, Lauren, Rich, Lina, and Andy were also on hand for the good time gorge-athon.

Morwin Prepping For Some Old-Fashioned Beverages

Morwin served as mixologist and rustled up some Old Fashions for the crowd, while Jason made some Turkey sliders with Cranberry BBQ sauce and some Cranberry Jello-y things.  Kishore brought Indian food.  I don’t remember who else brought what…but the mission to stuff our stomachs was accomplished yet again.  Prior to dessert it was the same old story of immobilization brought on by over-eating.

Lauren Laughs About Turkey Sliders...Or Something Else

Cranberry Jello-y Thingies

This immobilization was further supplemented once the delicious pies made an appearance.  Two pumpkin pies, Tokyo bananas, and some other goodies made sure I’d be walking off something later.  But before that happened we watched some a new episode of Family Guy and some showtime series called Party Down.  It was okay…but nothing too special.

Food Coma Victims

Once the viewings were over, it was time to waddle on back home and be comfortable with the fact that an extra layer of fat would be keeping me warm for the winter.

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A Race For Film’s Sake

Posted by evankessler on November 25, 2009

This past week several friends got together to race against time for the sake of a film.  For three straight days from Thursday to Saturday; Jason S, Morwin, Suli, Andy S, and myself (with a few brief appearances by Rich M) put on our creative thinking caps to hash out a script and ultimately engage in yet another labor of artistic love…if you could call it that.  The meetings of Thursday and Friday were wrought with much tension as we came to bat for the scripts that some of us had individually written.  There were semantic arguments, discussions over location possibilities, and debate over the structure necessary to create hilarity.  In the end, the resultant product was “The Magazine Thief.”

While in all honesty, I was not in love with the script or idea for the film; I have to say that I was more than delighted to take part in the process of making it.  Ever since the Chris Cartwheel experiment I’ve grown quite fond of showing off my lackluster acting skills and I am even quite delighted to take direction.  I find that having experience in production makes all the difference when understanding where a director is coming from in reference to the constant need to redo scenes from all angles. I always relish the chance to make one take better than the last.

Andy, Suli, and Morwin On Set

While everyone’s acting skills, as always, exceeded expectation, the person who continues to impress me the most is Jason.  Not only was he fantastic in April’s “Light’s Camera Cartwheel with Chris Cartwheel” as a crazed customer, but this guy knows a thing or two about makeup as well.  Given certain wrinkles in our script, we were going to need an old man.  Having had some experience with cosmetic prosthesis,  Jason went to the store and then proceeded to spend 2 hours applying it to himself.  In the end, we had an old man.

Jason In Preparation

Old Jason

In addition to Jason’s acting and makeup skills, Andy deserves a lot of praise for his directorial and editing abilities (and dealing with the old woman who wouldn’t leave us alone and stuck her finger in his butt-crack), not to mention his openness to suggestion.  Between efficiently churning out all of the scenes on location and putting all of it together and making it flow, you couldn’t have asked for a more competent head of production.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy’s semi-hired gun Taylor who did a great job lighting and shooting the last couple of scenes we shot.

Andycam

Ahmad Getting Into Score Mode

Ajay Writing A Little Ditty

Ajay WRiting A Little Ditty

Out of all of the projects we’ve done together, this certainly had the most professional feel, from the wireless lav mics down to the HD quality, not to mention Rich’s graphics and the fact that Ahmad and Ajay continued to produce some of the best score music and theme songs possible.  It gives me much hope that our next film will be even better and we’ll eventually win one of these things, though I think we can do much better than winning some “Film Racing” contest.  I think we need to strike out on our own and just start filming webisodes of something.  Waiting months for someone to give us a contest to enter seems like a waste of talent and time.

We’ll see what comes to pass in the future, but we’re still dealing with the present right now…and at present what we’re dealing with the film we made this weekend.  So without any further ado, Geniot Films presents “The Magazine Thief”:

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31 With A Bullet

Posted by evankessler on November 12, 2009

One week ago, the moderately sized house/person that Susan and Steve built (on a cold winter night in 1978) and eventually named Evan, celebrated the dawn of his 31st year on this earth. This person, me,  didn’t immediately tear the roof off the 2nd year of my 3rd decade on this earth.  Rather, I had a modest drinkapalooza at High Dive in Park Slope with a few select friends who were able to make Wednesday night one for alcohol and old age induced merriment. Several days later, I held an even bigger event to more officially ring in the new year, so to speak.

The days in between the two jubilees of insobriety were not marked by boredom.  Well, Thursday was largely marked by the resultant cruel apparatus of the night before known as “the hangover.” Having soldiered on through the pain I was able to pick myself up by my party bootstraps for a not-so-selfish celebration in honor of the 31st year of one Kate H, taking place at Prospect Heights own Soda Bar on Friday evening. The night air was relatively warm and the friendly vibes put out by the birthday girl and familiar faces of Jason, Deirdre, Marty, Goody, Chris, Cyrus, Alice and a few other friends certainly went a long way towards making my wagon feel welcome.

It had felt like too long of a time since I had been together with this motley bunch of collegiate comrades and an even longer time since I hadn’t felt so deterred by the confines of Soda Bar.  Occasionally I’ve enjoyed a few of my summer sojourns to this popular space, but lately the subpar service and the particular party atmosphere hadn’t piqued my fancy.  Everything felt AOK though as it seemed our crew had a handle on half of the backroom and the waitress that relieved our original server seemed to be on point.

The evening quickly progressed through a flurry of Blue Point Toasted Lager as we transitioned from Happy Hour revelry to late evening bacchanalia.  I wish I could recount the contents of most of the conversations but really it was just a healthy dose of hilarity and happiness to be with one another.  A night with friends that had to end.  I ended my evening sometime in the day’s 23rd hour…sufficiently full of what should maybe be termed the lager of laughter.

Saturday morning saw the dawn of big things.  I was hours away from my night to shine, but I wasn’t ready to rally until sufficiently later on.  A majority of my morning and afternoon were spent lazing around.  Perhaps I got some lunch or made myself a snack .  I zoned out on college football that I wasn’t quite interested in.  It wasn’t my actual birthday, so I didn’t feel the responsibility to make the daytime portion into something memorable.  I may have gone for a run though.  Who can remember these things days later…oh yeah…usually me.

In any case, I thought that despite it not being my actual special day I might as well have an especially filling dinner.  Andrew M accompanied me to La Taq.  He didn’t eat anything but I took in a hearty helping of Enchilada while he sipped a few beers and nipped at some chips.  We made small talk about the evening expectations and headed back to the old abode where we killed time til the evening festivities at the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill watering hole known as Rope.

Basset was watching The Godfather in her room and Andrew and I watched along for a bit before we got briefly ensconced in a conversation about how great “Comedy Tom Hanks” is.  This led to us looking up the rap music video from the 1987 film adaptation of Dragnet entitled “City of Crime” featuring Hanks and Dan Aykroyd (which my brother and I used to love).  Really priceless stuff.  Watch below, I think you’ll agree.  Notice Comedy Hanks in his high pitched comedy voice.

Soon after Hanks/Godfatherfest ’09, our apartment had new visitors.  Former roommate Jenny C was on hand with her brother Eric who was visiting from I think North Carolina.  Eric immediately launched into movie talk with Andrew, effortlessly gliding into the social dynamic and snapping photos along the way.

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Me and Jenny C-A

Jenny, Eric, Andrew, and Laura all got started with a few brews before heading out, but preferring to not get too soused in celebration early, I took a pass opting for Green Tea.  However, when the clock passed 9pm I was ready to take a car to the town of funville that resembled a bar spelled R-O-P-E.

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Bassett, Andrew and I at Rope

Arriving at Rope just before 9:30pm we were greeted by Matt F slinging drinks along with a few friends from the previous night lined up at the far end bellied up to the bar.  Katey, Jason and Marty had all made it on the early side and I was delighted to see them.  Between the several of us already at the bar we established a few good spots to call our bar basecamp and work out of there all night, but by the end we had established that anyway.

From the moment we arrived a steady steam of friends flowed in.  Robert and Megan came bearing gifts from Jennie who couldn’t make it due to being under the weather.  However, she did provide an absolutely delicious chocolate cake to go with a bevy of cupcakes.  Bassett also supplied a host of delicious homemade treats and a delicious cake.  It was certainly the “sweetest” birthday on record.  I was pretty sure by the time I had sampled all of the chocolatey goodness I’d have to leave with a stomach ache and end the party.

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Bassett's Dinosauriffic Cake!

Luckily that did happen and I was able to share plenty of drinks and plenty of good times with friends.  From Marie who praised me for wearing my “cute boy sweater” but criticized me for wearing a red undershirt (along with Robert) to Reva who had the misfortune of being repeatedly hit on by other drunken cohorts.  Rich, Lina, Suli, Kishore, Ajay, Arby, Rebecca, Marisa, Bess, Deena, Summer G and many many more.  Holy crap there were a lot of people to talk to and I think I talked to all of them at some point.

I didn’t think I’d have the wherewithal to make it through an entire evening but as the bar closed down myself, Marty and CS were still standing…and were pretty hungry.  We closed the evening out at the Purity Diner where I happily inhaled a grilled cheese with tomato, bacon, and a side of fries before heading home to sleep til my Sunday was solely utilized for the good lord’s restful intentions.

‘Twas an excellent celebratory birthday weekend…one that I unfortunately do not have enough pictures of.  I certainly remember having plenty of photos taken of me…so kindly hand them over.  I want more memories.

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Let’s Get Hallowed!

Posted by evankessler on November 3, 2009

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One of These Pumpkins Is Mine...Can You Guess Which One?

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.

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Kishore As Guy In A Shirt

Homemade Skeleton Girl

Homemade Skeleton Girl

OG and A Mustachioed Fellow

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.

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Jes Rips Hearts on Halloween And Dresses Like A Zombie on Valentine's Day

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.

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Play Andrea Off Keyboard Cat

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Side View of The Slug

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.

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Jes Consoles Me After Separating My Atria From My Ventricles

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.

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Think Globally, Wed Locally

Posted by evankessler on October 6, 2009

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The merry peal of wedding bells echoed along the tree-lined streets and off the distinguished brownstone facades of Park Slope this past weekend.  Friday night brought the long awaited nuptials of my good friends Matt and Jenny.  As far as I’m concerned, Matt and Jenny have been married since I’ve known them, which is to say I don’t know anything other than them existing as a couple.  They’re also one of the more pleasant couples to be around  as they’ve never given an off that overly attached vibe.  While they complete each other, they’re also equally as wonderful in an individual sense.  I suppose that last fact makes their union even more charmed, as you couldn’t wish a better mate for two lovelier people.

I remember the day several months back at Rope in Fort Greene when Matt announced to me and Arby his honorable intentions.  He was so sure of himself and so excited to be reaching this grown up chapter in his life.  It was as if he developed tunnel vision staring directly at his wedding day, knowing exactly what it would be like down to every last detail on the wedding ring.

I was a little taken aback by the short span of their engagement since usually you get more time to digest these stages, but I suppose when a couple has been together as long as the couple in question, throwing a year in between calling yourself engaged or husband and wife is just additional time best left for other things.

As I walked towards the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on an absolutely beautiful Friday evening in the fall, I had the feeling that I was walking into a storybook.  The perfect couple, the perfect place on a perfect night.  Unfortunately, I forgot to pick the perfect place to enter the ceremonial grounds.

Minutes before shipping myself off to the wedding site, I had been offered a ride with Arby, Megan, Robert and Courtney to the grounds.  I declined figuring it was the perfect night to walk and I’d really only have to walk between five to ten minutes down the road.  Passing by the Grand Army Arch and Brooklyn Public Library along Eastern Parkway, I came to the entrance of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  There were several ticket windows open.  I walked up to one of them and notified the worker that I was there for the wedding.  The worker waved me in neglecting to tell me that the wedding was on an entirely different side of the park.  I spent the next ten minutes or so aimlessly wandering the premises trying to figure out where everyone was.  Part of me figured that I must be early, while the other part of me knew that I was a long way from witnessing any wedded bliss.

After a spate of back and forth calls with Arby, I came to the realization that I had used an entrance on another side of the Garden.  I quickly reversed field leaving from whence I came and walking a shorter distance than expected to the Washington Avenue entrance to the brilliantly welcoming garden grounds.  Upon my entry I was immediately directed to the whereabouts of the reception.  I was ensured that I was in the correct place when Jeff G emerged from the area where the ceremony would be taking place with a brief flash of the finger guns.

Just like that I was immersed in a sea of friendly faces dressed to the nines for the special occasion.  Arby, Robert, Courtney, Abbi, Zak, Emma, Andrew P, Alix, and many others were enjoying their first sweet taste of wedding bliss as shaped by a champagne flute.  Rather than jump directly into the land of alcoholic indulgence I decided to pace myself with a splash of sparkling water.  I didn’t want to get myself in trouble too early.  It had been a few days since I’d tempted a rise in my blood alcohol content on account of an illness the result of either a 48 hour bug or food poisoning seemingly kicked only  minutes before departure.

Somewhere during my glass of Pellegrino the wedding planner beckoned the guests t0 please take their seats as Matt’s bandmate Rich coolly played some Steely Dan songs throughout the process of getting everyone situated.  Arby and I took to the back row as we had many times before in Music industry classes back in Syracuse University, though this time we were not armed with pencils and crosswords, just a desire to not be too front and center.

The wedding party entry seemed to happen rather fast.  Matt seemed to cruise non chalantly down to the wonderful willow tree reserved as scenic mark of matrimony, the “I do” spot if you will (and you will).  Next came Marie (from what I can recall), the maid of honor and Jenny with her father to give her away.

Here Comes The Bride

Here Comes The Bride

Lovely Setting For A Wedding

Lovely Setting For A Wedding

Doing the officiating was their friend Dan, who though not a religious minister of any sort had gone through the necessary pains to be ordained and have authority invested in him by the state of New York.  Dan read from a thankfully non-religious, but nonetheless lovely nuptial script, though a good deal of his dialogue and the couple’s mimicry of his orders got lost in the sounds of whipping autumn wind through the trees.  Adding to the proceedings, Matt’s sister Brooke read a poem, as did Jeff G.  Jeff’s poem struck me funny as it was mostly romantic, but the first line of “now you are mine” was read in almost a terroristic sense, like a film villain declaring that he’s finally got his arch nemesis exactly where he wants him.

The Newlyweds Make Their Way Up The Aisle As Man and Wife

The Newlyweds Make Their Way Up The Aisle As Man and Wife

Nothing, however, could mar the setting and the reason we were there though as two excellent people that I think the world of ultimately tethered themselves to one another with the bond of marriage.  Once that was done, all bets were off.  It was time to celebrate.

It still took me a while to morph into celebration mode.  Still feeling a bit uneasy about my physical state I first cautiously nipped at the hors d’oeuvres with ginger ale in hand before upping the ante to champagne.  Caution thrown into the wind, and the wind certainly blowing the night got off to a more relaxed than rollicking start.  After moving the festivities to the lovely reception room the food was delivered in rapid fire succession in the midst of a few speeches and first dances.  Matt didn’t let his first dance with his new bride go by without one of his trademark leg kicks. That was followed by the best man speech delivered by Pete and a Maid of Honor speech delivered by Marie.

First Dance Pre Leg Kick

First Dance Pre Leg Kick

Just after the former and before the latter I was making a comment to slight bag of nerves that was Marie as she was about to get up to give her speech.  While erratically grabbing my champagne glass I managed to fumble my drink sending a wave of bubbly over my face and some splashing on the soon to be speaking maid of honor.  The entire absurdity of the brief happening seemed to loosen Marie up and pave the way for a more than memorable speech.  Not to shine a light on my clumsiness, but I was glad I could help.

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Jenny Dances With Her Dad

Matt As Mama's Boy

Matt As Mama's Boy

After a good period of culinary fulfillment featuring the likes of Cornish Game Hen  conversation with my stellar tablemates  about the artistic musical format known as the LP gave way to an all out 80’s dance party, with a few classic oldies thrown in for good measure.  The youthful contingent jumped onto the dancefloor and made sure the evening was a lively one.  I assume Matt had a big hand in putting the music playlist together because there was not a bad song in the lot.  Megan and I had a nice, yet mournful slow dance moment as we paid tribute to the fallen Patrick Swayze during Unchained Melody.

Marie and Aleks in the Throes of Dance Party 2009!

Marie and Aleks in the Throes of Dance Party 2009!

One unfortunate hiccup befell the party during this jolly portion of the evening.  Marie notified the crowd that the karaoke guy that had been secured for the post-reception entertainment had to cancel due to a death in the family.  While we understood, we were also extremely disappointed.

Negative news aside, there was a welcome break from the frenetic dance pace as  Matt helped answer the somewhat existential question of…”if you have a band…and you get married, does your band play at the wedding?”  The answer…Yes.  Matt and his bandmates in Mahogany took to the floor and banged out several stellar songs much to the delight of the audience.  Ever the showman, he groom did his share of on his knees writhing so as to ensure the audience that this indeed was still  his day.

Mahogany: All Dressed Up

Mahogany: All Dressed Up

While Mahogany’s performance seemed to spell the near end of the festivities the party was to rage on downstairs at Union Hall.  Splitting several cars to the bar on Union Street, we all met ready to continue our merrymaking ways, but with little in the way of organized entertainment.  While Karaoke would’ve given us our second wind, the party without it seemed to be a futile slog through the evening save for an extremely lovely tribute to the couple Arby edited together that we were able to show on the screen of the venue.

Having refrained from hardcore boozing for a large portion of the night, I wasn’t quite where everyone was.  People were very tipsy to say the least.  I could tell the night was winding down solely on the lack of balance displayed by some of the revellers.  This was the sign of a successful wedding.  Smiling faces and a worrisome wobble.  The night would soon come to an end and I wandered the few blocks home after a pleasant evening experiencing another blissful union.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t so eventful.  I ditched out on a baby shower on Saturday on account of feeling under the weather and I watched football Sunday.  I didn’t feel like I missed anything either.  Nothing would’ve compared to such a perfect Friday evening.

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Birthdays, Baby Pickpockets and Brunches, Oh My!

Posted by evankessler on October 2, 2009

My apologies for bringing you this weekend recap on the cusp of the next weekend.   I’ve been a tad bit ill this week and thus have left most of my wholly irrelevant personal blogging duties at the mercy of my aching bones and all too unhappy stomach.  Despite a few lingering effects I’m pledging to press on with the task at hand through occasional fluid replenishing breaks to tell you just how packed with activity this past weekend was.

Then let’s get right to it shall we?  Indeed we shall.  After somewhat of a mentally grating week the specter of a little Hakuna Matata (it means no worries) time seemed to linger in the distance until the clock read oh, I don’t know, 6:45 pm on Friday.  All dressed up with someplace to go, I traveled from Point A in Park Slope to  Point B, a.k.a Blossom, a Vegan restaurant in the Chelsea area of Manhattan with a pit stop at Flight 151 to meet up with Arby, Jeff, and Alix along the way.  My only previous experience with the herbivore’s and synthetic carnivore’s dilemma was a semi-disastrous one which left me jonesin’ for a burger.  Though seeing as said previous restaurant seemed to get the Vegan lashing of disapproval, I came into my Blossom experience with an open mind.

Elegant Table Settings

Elegant Table Settings

More importantly than the intake of pseudo-food, was the reason we were gathered together at this lovely space in Chelsea.  We were celebrating the 30th year of our beloved Marie L who like a Communist dictator handing out propaganda A)Is always there for us and B)Always has  the best interest of her friends and colleagues in mind and C)Does not intern minorities at special “camps” know matter what you may have heard.

Thanks to stellar planning by Robert, all the right people were on hand for a loving tribute to dear leader.  There were affectionate recollections, admiring speeches, many heartfelt toasts, and plenty of wine imbibed as we dined the night away.  While I’d sooner dine on upholstery foam than order Seitan again, the food was probably the least vital part to the evening, though my ravioli appetizers and the birthday cake were quite good.

Fake Steak

Fake Steak

Contemplating A Wish Worthy of 30 Years

Contemplating A Wish Worthy of 30 Years

Not all of those who participated in the birthday dinner continued to dance the evening away.  A fairly generous contingent of us ended up taking their evening’s back to Park Slope’s Royale.  Matt, Jenny, Courtney, Arby and I hopped a cab back from Chelsea and first stopped at Commonwealth, which was our original plan of attack.  There we met up with Pete R before heading over to the more lively bar across the street.  The birthday girl, accompanied by Abbi, Robert, and others were enjoying the dance music while I rustled myself up a High Life.  When I went to the dance area I noticed a weird Egyptian themed birthday party going on.

Courtney, Marie, and Jenny on the Danceflo' (though not exactly dancing)

Courtney, Marie, and Jenny on the Danceflo' (though not exactly dancing)

Later on while hanging outside with the smokers we became entrenched in a strange conversation with a female Brit from said party, who was quick to point out my Judaic ancestry.  It was a little odd and led to a confusing conversation which Matt took as semi-offensive and I took as a misguided attempt at drunken flirting with two guys standing outside. Either way, the night would soon draw to it’s logical end as alcohol, white people, and cutting a rug most certainly do mix…but they often combine to create exhaustion and embarrassment.

Saturday morning I awoke with no immediate plans, but upon checking my email I noticed Kayvalyn had sent out some feelers to see if anyone felt like going to the Ft. Greene Flea Market.  Normally one to keep my Saturday afternoon for lazier dealings, I instead threw caution into the wind and decided to join her, Jason,  her cousin Ruthie and her husband George at the outdoor market for an afternoon of commerce or at least browsing.

When I arrived at the market site a little after 1pm, I noticed everyone waiting on line at the mexican food vendor.  Originally, I wasn’t feeling super hungry, but once asked if I wanted anything I felt a rush of non-existent peer pressure to partake in culinary delight.  Jason and Kayvalyn looked to be getting Flautas, which seemed to be really huge.  To counteract the hugeness of their choice and to be more in keeping with my hunger level, I decided to order a quesadilla, because those things are never that big when I get them.  It’s a good thing I had plenty of room in my stomach though, because when Jason emerged from the front of the line with what he told me was a quesadilla, my eyes nearly shot out of my head like something out of a Looney Tune.  This “quesadilla” needed two paper plates to encompass it’s massiveness.  Originally intimidated, I settled down and got on with the task of destroying my midday meal.

Kayvalyn Goes For The Corn

Kayvalyn Goes For The Corn

In the midst of our mexican fiesta mode,  as sauces were dripping from our folded tortillas to the concrete below, we were met by Andrea, Enisha, Summer, and her friend Hermano.  Once our feasts were done, we decided to take a walk through the crowd of knick knacks, wearibles, and edibles.  I ran into my Syracuse friend Josh M. (who I would run into again days later) and had a lengthy discussion about work and general life stuff before I decided to catch up with everyone else.  We were also joined in our wanderings by Kishore.

I didn’t end up buying anything save for some extremely rich and tasty Earl Grey hot chocolate, but other than that, it was just a great day to be outside.  Not everyone was so spendthrift as Jayvalyn ended up purchasing a lamp -type thing that we would eventually leave at Kishore’s before heading our separate ways.

After a brief trip home to make sure my roommate’s cats were fed, the next order of the late afternoon/early evening was an uncharacteristic trip uptown.  My old roommate Matt from the Bleecker St. days was in town for his girlfriend’s doctorate program graduation party and despite me having never met her, invited me to come along anyway.

It was relatively easy to get to the site of the party up on 90th street on the west side from Park Slope.  All I had to do was jump on the 2-3 train and coast up to about 72nd before switching to the one train.  That’s just what I did, but by the time I had switched to the one train I was pressed up in tight quarters holding my self upright by asserting my grip on the bar above.  When the subway pulled into 86th street I had to fight my way through a crowd to make it through the door as Tom Waits’ “Step Right Up” blared into my ears via my iPod.  As I passed a baby stroller I noticed that my headphones had become entangled on said stroller and I worked to pry them loose. After managing to do so, I emerged onto the platform with no music blaring into my ears on account of the disconnect that had occured while entangled.  I reached into my pocket to reestablish contact between my headphones and my musical lifeline when I noticed that something may be missing, though I wasn’t completely sure.  Rather than take the chance that my iPod was in my pocket and I just hadn’t managed to fish it out yet, I hopped back on the train to make sure it hadn’t fallen.

The first place my eyes went to was the ground.  There was nothing there.  And then my quickly scanned the people to see if there was any acknowledgement of my loss, and then finally to the stroller with which had previously complicated my escape.  That’s when I saw it.  The baby in the stroller was playing with an iPod.  It was an odd site.  If the iPod had fallen out of my pocket the way I was leaving, it didn’t seem feasible that the thing coudl just fall ever so gently into this baby’s hands.  The part that I found most suspicious was that the child’s parents had not reacted to the fact that their baby was now brandishing 80GB of sweet tunes spanning the last 5 or 6 decades in it’s hands.  They just went about their business of staring into their own laps.  Their lack of interest was confusing.  Maybe the baby was playing with their iPod and mine was still somewhere on the floor.  I felt the brief sting of indecision and quickly tossed it aside snatching the iPod from the child’s hands and narrowly escaping through the closing doors.  I’d never felt as though I had stolen anything from a baby before, but there was something ever-so odd and wrong about grabbing something from a stroller-bound child.  As I made a phantom-like exit from the car, a lone “wow” hung up in the air from a fellow straphanger who had apparently been taking in the entire scene but felt none too compelled to alert me of the goings on.  Maybe he was in on it with the parents.  Maybe they had trained their baby to pick shiny objects out of people’s pockets hence the lack of response.

Relieved to have come to the rescue of music collection, I slipped my player out of the casing to make sure it was indeed mine.  But as I glanced down to check the song now playing, I noticed a cut on my finger.  I’m not sure what this swift action caused me to brush up against, but the whole odd sequence of events and the subsequent bloody finger lent an ominous air to the night, like something described by a certain Phil Collins song.

Mysterious goings on or not, I had made it to my destination. I stopped at a local Duane Reade to pick up some beers and subsequently be chatted up by a manager who wanted to talk to me about the Brooklyn Cyclones for ten minutes.  That’s the whole problem with wearing clothing, if you don’t stick with solid colors or simple designs something on a shirt or a hat my spark a conversation you don’t want to have.  So let this be a lesson to you.  If you’re going to be so bold as to wear a shirt or hat with a logo, be prepared to have a relevant conversation even if you don’t want to.

Once I had procured some budweiser and paid for it…I made my way up to the Matt’s girlfriend’s party spot.  After a few knocks I just sucked it up and opened the door.  There were no familiar faces and I was briefly introduced to a few people whose names would basically elude me for the remainder of my stay, though it didn’t prevent me from having enjoyable conversations with them. It was good to see Matt and excellent to meet his girlfriend who seemed like a total sweetheart.  Coincidentally, this has to be the first time I’ve ever used the words “total” and “sweetheart” together in the history of this site.  I stuck around for a few hours catching up with Matt and making inane yet enjoyable conversation about how much time one could go between drinks in the span of one night.  I had a brunch to go to the next morning and didn’t want to overdo it on the alcohol end.

My trip back to Park Slope was without incident, but when I arrived home I called Jason and Kayvalyn to see what they were up to.  Earlier in the day I told them that I might catch up with them when I got back if they were doing something.  Lo and behold they were.

Despite my previous stance on the evening’s alcohol intake I wound up at our friend Erika’s sister Siska’s apartment party Along with most of the folks from the flea market stint other familiar faces on hand included Ahmerika, and Liv, to go along with plenty of new, fun people enjoy a few beers and laughs, to go along with unsavory odors  invading via the bathroom.  I’m not sure how long we hung out there, but we eventually ended up at Soda Bar where we were met by Andrea’s roommate and her friend Pete.  After one beer there and several food orders, the night was called.

Sunday morning began necessarily early.  My alarm went off at 10:30am .  I realized nothing required as much preparation as I was requiring of myself on this particular morning that had been reserved for a special brunch in honor of Matt and Jenny’s wedding, which would be taking place less than a week later.  After making a wake up call to Arby I sat around for a few before showering, freshening up, and dressing up for the lovely event.  The only negative about the brunch at Best Man Pete’s apartment building, was that the Giants were scheduled to play at 1pm and this event was in direct conflict.

Arby and I attempted to split from the Slope around 11:30, but were delayed twice due to our foolish contention that we might be able to get champagne in Brooklyn prior to hopping on the train.  It took our brains too long to realize that every liquor store was closed until Noon by law.  Eventually, this popped into our umbrella-protected heads and we just headed for the Subway.

Once getting out of the train on Chambers street we  peered down unfamiliar streets searching for liquor stores.  Before we found one Arby and I were stopped by young tourist girls looking to be directed to Little Italy.  One of the girls noticed that Arby was carrying a lavender umbrella and asked if he wanted to trade.  Despite the fact that she was carrying an accessory of much higher quality, she made the switch and Arby had gained a more masculine and certainly more able umbrella in the process.

We weren’t the first ones to the brunch party, but we certainly weren’t the last.  That honor fell to Marie, but that was fine.  Anyone enjoying their birthday week deserves a force field from scorn.  And really, there’s really no scorn necessary in being a little late for brunch on account of crappy train service.  With everyone on hand a tasty bagel brunch complete with mimosas, cranberry scones, chocolate cake, and fruit salad began.  It went on for about a half hour before the focus changed from food to Football.  Seeing as a large portion of the revelers were men, and one of the ladies was a big Giants fan, we turned the room into a home theater of sport.

Brunch In Motion

Brunch In Motion

Seeing as we weren’t in Pete’s apartment, but in a room reserved in the building, we couldn’t stay and watch the game forever.  The room reservation ran out at 3pm which prompted us to go on a hunt for the perfect sports bar.  We found that perfect sports bar to be Warren 77.  We sat through the end of the Giant blowout of Tampa Bay and the Jet win over Miami, and probably most of the first half of the doubleheader game before everyone started to split.  The party moved on with Matt, Arby, and Chris V…but rather than rage on through the night, I capped off my afternoon with a burger and headed home to atone for my sins with a stomach full of grade A beef that would have to last me through to the next evening.

Posted in Weekend Recap | Leave a Comment »

The Sound of Sirens

Posted by evankessler on July 21, 2009

Hello EvanKessler.com readers, my old friends.  I’ve come to blog for you again.  Because a weekend slowly fading from the sands of time is still fresh in the back of my memory, I thought it was high time I brought it back to life in all of it’s fruitless glory.  I’ll beging where I usually begin, that elusive friday evening that we work all week to get to only to see it fade away so often in a drunken haze, the blink of an eye or the twitch of an involuntary muscle fiber.

This past weekend began like so many others, with  the celebration of the anniversary of a friend’s emergence from the womb.  There were more than two lives to commemorate on this evening and so it was undoubtedly going to be unsatisfying on some level.  I find those evenings with more than one event that seems of an obligatory nature to always leave something to be desired.  I always feel as though I missed something by leaving the other and that the 2nd event is joined at a point in progress where you’ve ultimately missed the momentum. Such is the story of my Friday evening.

I arrived at Musical Box on Avenue B between 13th and 14th street shortly after 7pm.  I had called Suli 15 minutes prior to my arrival to see if he was at the bar in which he would be celebrating his birthday.  Despite his email that had notified us to show up at 7pm he would not be on time.  Perhaps, this was wise as the bar would not open for another half hour, much to the chagrin of myself and the other two revellers who, like me, were not really in the mindset to appear fashionably late.  Jason S, Jes P and I stood outside future party central making pleasant conversation and peppering the same lewd joke whenever a passerby was close enough to possibly be eavesdropping.  I don’t quite remember what we were saying, but I think the general content involved “inserting penises” somewhere.

About five minutes prior to the doors opening, the belated birthday boy arrived on the scene.  After ordering up a round of drinks, rather than enjoy the spaciousness of the empty bar, we made ourselves cozy in the back left corner at a couch that had been reserved for the specific purpose of accommodating our company.    It felt a little odd having all of that free roaming space behind us, but we liked it just fine.

JSarah Shows Her Appreciation for Birthday Boy #1

JSarah Shows Her Appreciation for Birthday Boy #1

The crowd grew rather quickly, Ajay, Morwin, Kishore, Nicole P, Kayvalyn, Andrea, Joe D, JSarah, Erika G, Rich, Enisha, and really too many people to name.  It was a good mix of New York City, Rockland County, and parts unknown.  The conversation was flowing just as smoothly as a tap dispensing Guinness.  I made my way between several groups of people and was genuinely enjoying myself.  However, I could not stop looking at my watch.  I had told my friend Jenny back in Brooklyn that I would be at the party she was throwing  by 10 so that they could present Matt with the birthday cake.

So, despite having an enjoyable time at Musical Box, I said my goodbyes, and regrettably left early, ultimately missing out on the appearance on my friend Matt C who was up from DC for his own birthday.  The rain was pouring and I thought it might be tough to find a cab in the East Village because of it, but I had no trouble as the first yellow minivan I waved down promptly stopped in front of me.

I entered to find the 2Pac song “California Love” turned up to 11.  Thankfully, the driver saw fit to turn it down so that I could tell him where I was going.  The second he got the information though, it was back to busting eardrums.  It didn’t bother me that much originally as it is an enjoyably nostalgic tune.  The nostalgia did not stop there though as right after the song ended he played the same song again and at a similar level. Apparently he was fond for the events of 3 minutes before.   My first thought on the second “California Love” go around was that of identification.  I’ve played the same song twice in a row before because I liked.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the next three times he played the song.  All the way to Matt and Jenny’s house it was “California Love.”  Five straight times of the same song.  I thought I was being punked or in some weird twilight zone vignette. It was as if I wasn’t even in the car. This guy could not get enough of this song, but I could. I thought it was the more incredible cab rides I’d ever been privy to; just wholly unusual.

I was more than happy to escape into the receding dampness of the night.  I had the driver drop me off a full two blocks before the apartment, mostly because it was the only point I might get in a word edgewise before the next (or same) song started again.  I also thought I might find an open beer store, but to no avail.  I entered Matt and Jenny’s empty-handed, which felt somewhat shameful.  I hate showing up to a party without bringing anything.  That’s just wrong.  There was nothing I could do at that point though and I really had to pee anyway.  So, this one time, they’d have to let me off easy.

The crowd at Matt’s was fewer than I had expected.  Matt and Jenny always had pretty decent throngs of friends at their get togethers, but I guess the rain had cause many to balk at the proposal of a good time.  Pesky water.  In any case, the faces surronding me were familiar ones.  Zak, Emma, Marie, Abbi, Felecia, John, Robert, Matt’s bandmate Rich, and maybe someone I’m leaving out.

The party itself was very mellow, which was kind of a downer from the very lively scene I had been apart of prior.  I wasn’t unhappy to be there by any means, but it was a complete 180 from where I had been.  It sort of made me wished I had stayed where I was, but I was still glad to be celebrating Matt’s birthday with friends as well.  Sometimes fun and friendship can be a double-edged sword.

Soon after my arrival the cake was brought out.  It was similar to the one Jenny created for Marie’s birthday, except for the fact that it had not been fashioned into a volcano.  It was however, rich and delicious.

Matt Attempts To Put Out The Candles Blowdart Style

Matt Attempts To Put Out The Candles Blowdart Style

Post-cake the rest of the evening was spent blabbing in the backyard, feeling the stickyness of humidity and sprinkle of mist dance around our exposed skin.  Zak, Emma, Marie, and Abbi seemed to exit on the early side and the evening ended with some more light chatter from the host couple, Felecia, John, and Robert.  Everyone else eventually made their exit via car service and I walked home at what seemed like a reasonable hour seeing as the sky had cleared up considerably and it was strolling weather.

Saturday’s plan was a little bit iffy.  I had been planning on attending the Siren Festival on Coney Island not out of fondness for any of the acts, but more so out of my desire to relive the majesty of July 4th weekend.  Sure it was a markedly different event, but you can never go wrong with Nathan’s Famous, the boardwalk, and some quality music.

Out of all of the people I knew, I was probably the first to arrive.  My original plan was to get there by 1pm to see the Tiny Masters of Today, a band consisting of a 13 and 15 year old pair of siblings.  I had my interest piqued when I checked out their website.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get out of my apartment til close to 1pm forcing that plan immediately out the window.

By the time I arrived, The Blue Van was playing on the Stillwell Stage, but more important than that, there was no line at Nathan’s!  In past years at the Siren Festival I had usually experience up to half-hour waits at the Hot Dog haven.  Rather than wait around, it was go time.  I got myself a cheesedog and some fries in  a snap and wandered around the booths for a bit while the poor sound quality emanating from the 2nd stage aided in the background noise department.

After sampling some Coke Zero and Fuzion to help wash down my meal, I headed over to the Main stage where Mikachu & The Shapes were starting up.  There I ran into Jes P, her friends who were visiting, and Jason S. After standing around and watching Micachu for a few minutes, Jason and I more or less decided that they were not our thing.  We wandered back to the other stage and caught a little bit of Bear Hands’ set.

It was like a game of music festival badminton with Jason and I as shuttlecocks.  We’d sit for a few songs at the  Stillwell Stage and then get knocked back to the main stage.  After tiring of Bear Hands’ we moved back to main stage to catch Japandroid for a good bit before deciding to get a feel for The Oh Sees.  Unfortunately, by the time we got to the Stillwell stage for that, the band had finished.  Apparently they had only played a twenty minute set.

Frightened Rabbit at Siren Festival

Frightened Rabbit at Siren Festival

We had set a dizzying pace for ourselves in the early going, but that was calmed down after our disappointing last foray to Stillwell.  We caught up with Suli, Jes, Andrea, Andrea’s neighbor Jennifer, Rich, and Ajay (dressed ridiculously in a suit in 85 degree weather) to catch the Frightened Rabbit set, which was pretty decent.  When that part of the afternoon came to a close it was back to Nathan’s for the other’s to get their grub on.

Jes and Ajay: Two Faces in the Coney Island Crowd

Jes and Ajay: Two Faces in the Coney Island Crowd

During our time at Nathan’s, Andrea tried to relay the story of a great local Rochester commercial that apparently brought about the maximum level of unintentional comedy with it’s sung “tighten up” slogan.  We all looked at her like she was crazy, but eventually took it to be our own slogan for the afternoon.

We didn’t move from our perch at Nathan’s more or less until a little after 6pm when the Raveonettes were playing at the mainstage.  By the time we made it up there though the crowd was pretty backed up and the sound was not really concert quality where we were standing.  Several of our crew went to go on The Cyclone and a few of us waited it out. The Cyclone was kind of making me nervous all day.  While the bands were playing I kept noticing the rickety wooden nature of the structure every time the cars went over each track and seemed to shake the foundation a bit.  I was not getting on that thing. I’m not paying $8 for historic whiplash.

Beware The Cyclone

Beware The Cyclone

Once the Cyclone riders returned, we all made our way to our section of Brooklyn.  I rode the subway alone back to Park Slope having not ridden a bike.  We had made plans to meet up and hang out at Kishore’s after we regained our composure after a day roasting in the sun.  We were even going to barbecue.  I made my way over to Kishore’s having bought some sausage, chips, and beer; ready to grill.  When I got there I found out that everyone had bailed.  Oh well, Kishore, Patty, and I enjoyed the sausage, chips and beer, though we didn’t stay out too late.

Sunday was low key.    My ankle was bothering me a little bit from all of the pressure I had exerted on it by standing around and/or walking all day.  I’m so fragile.  I basically spent my final day of the weekend sweating and reading on the stoop.  Not the worst low note to bring things to a close.

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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 »

The San Francisco Treat

Posted by evankessler on June 18, 2009

IMG_0047

It’s been at least 8 years since I’ve indulged in a portion of Chicken Rice-a-Roni, but I had an odd craving for the entree accessory as my plane touched down at San Francisco Airport early afternoon on Thursday.  It had been a largely uncomfortable experience on my flight.  Either the seat in front of me didn’t  have much in the way of working mechanics or the guy in front of me was really heavy, because he did a good job leaning well past the upright and locked position before, during, and after takeoff.   I thought American Airlines had limited personal space, but my this journey via Delta took the proverbial cake.  Oh well, I guess I can’t complain.  To paraphrase Louis CK, the ability to travel via airplane is kind of a miracle.  I got the opportunity to fly in the air and 6 hours later I was somewhere else.  That somewhere else was a place I hadn’t been in around 24 years to see a friend I hadn’t seen in, well, several months.  All of that aside, I was near all sorts of interesting things, the San Andreas Fault being one of them.  I was secretly hoping to experience a low magnitude tremor, but was glad it didn’t strike the moment the landing gear made contact with the runway.

As I left the plane and headed towards the pickup gate, I was met by my old roommate and cue balled confidante, Sean M. Months prior whilst enjoying a beer in NYC my good friend and his wife had invited me out to their humble abode to take part in their major BBQ festivities during the 2nd weekend of June.  Who was I to turn them down?  Well, I was one broke Hebrew, but that didn’t stop me as I wielded my skymiles with panache and ultimately set foot on West Coast soil.  I was glad to be there and ready to take the Bay area by storm.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The View of The Golden Gate Bridge From Sean's Apt.

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

The Twists and Turns of Lombard Street Off In The Distance

Sean and I made bee line for his apartment, a one bedroom with an absolutely breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard St amongst other things, in the North Beach section of town.  He quickly  informed me that he wouldn’t be able to immediately perform his hosting duties as he had to take his lovely wife Masharika for a haircut, which he would be on hand for for moral support.  I was none too put out by this, as I had some San Francisco plans on the horizon anyway.

First order of business, make a visit to my friends at OneRiot.  Funny thing was, the moment I got to Sean’s apartment, I sort of knew where I was going.  I had looked up the start point and the finish point on the map prior to going to California and already determined that I would take the scenic route.  All I had to do was walk up the hill on Sean’s block and walk down the other side to The Embarcadero and follow it Southeast, which was to say make a right when I got to it.  Then, when I got to Brannen St, all I had to do was make a right and I’d be pretty close.  Sounded easy enough.

No Hill Too Steep!

No Hill Too Steep! (Well It Wasn't That Steep Yet)

So with that I started up the steep hill, which may have been “Telegraph Hill” but I could’ve made that up.  All the while, I was making a few phone calls which ended up accompanied by heavy panting as my calves propelled my body toward the top.  When I reached the end of the road, I was met with even steeper stairs.  From afar the end of the road look as if it could have been the high point of the hill, but it was not so.  It was another couple of minutes of upward trajectory, before I found stairs going the opposite direction.  There seemed an endless array of stairs heading down prompting me to think they should’ve made an 70’s era show called “The Stairs of San Francisco” instead of “The Streets…”   As I walked downward through thills with the waterfront and The Bay Bridge in sight, I noticed that I was surrounded by residences.  These residences didn’t have driveways and were nestled in this scenic hilly region.  I wondered how much of a bitch it was for the people who lived there to move in or get large amounts of groceries inside on a given day.  Nonetheless, they were very attractive residences and probably quite pricey.

Behold, The Embarcadero!

Behold, The Embarcadero!

As I finally found my way down to the Embarcadero through Levi (of Blue Jeans fame) Plaza.  It kind of felt like I was roaming through a college quad.  After emerging through that area and hitting the road, I walked along the opposite sidewalk for a bit before crossing towards the piers. The Embarcadero was a wind tunnel of sorts.  I felt sort of nerdy liking the fact that I was walking along the “Embarcadero” since it was a word in one of my favorite songs.  I was listening to other things on my iPod but I couldn’t help feel cool thinking the lyrics, “dying on the banks of Embarcadero skies, I sat and watched you bleed.”  The view was rather nice and I enjoyed looking at the ocean and the piers.  I couldn’t imagine such harsh occurrences as Jeff Tweedy sang about happening there.

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

These Skies, I Find, Are None Too Daunting

Soon enough I came to the street where I thought the park where I was supposed to meet my OneRiot editor, Carmel.  Only, I for some reason thought the park would be a major deal right off of the Embarcadero.  I was a bit off.  After a few phone calls we finally straightened up the directions and we encountered for the first time, despite having known each other somewhat since 2007, in a little area by the name of South Park.

It was a bit of an odd encounter.  Not uncomfortable, just funny in the way that you have such an online rapport with someone and not really being sure what to expect of them in person.  That being said, she was perfectly lovely and inviting.  She invited me into our site’s office, which was actually a shared space between several sites with two desks allotted to our operation.  We sat and talked for a bit and had a few moments of awkward silence while she edited a post. Shortly after that it was off for a friendly drink at a pretty sweet bar called the 21st Amendment.  We enjoyed some more getting to know you even though I sort of already know you chatter and she picked up the tab as we indulged in some beer and tempura string beans.  Though, during our talk I received a call from Sean and I figured that Carmel might have to get back to work anyway.  So after our brief, yet lovely meeting, we said our goodbyes and I took off again down the city streets.

Sean instructed me to follow 3rd Street down and I would run into him.  I took his word for it and enjoyed my stroll down the scenic avenue.  I even ran into Sean’s wife with her freshly lopped locks (covered by a hat) going for a jog.  It seemed kind of funny to me that I could so easily run into someone like that.  Sure we weren’t far from their home, but I was starting to like this city.  It seemed pleasant enough.

On my way to encounter Sean I stopped to take a photo of a huge California flag swaying in the breeze, which just so happened to be in front of San Francisco’s tallest building.

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

Two Proud Flags Swaying In The Breeze

I know that because Sean told me just after I took the picture.  That’s where we ended running into him.  From there it was back to Sean’s hood for a drink.  His area was basically Little Italy, but it bordered on Washington Square and Greenwich St.  Funnily enough, when Sean and I lived together in NYC, we lived pretty close to those two things.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth.  That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

A Speedy Bald Blur Approacheth. That Speedy Bald Blur Be Named Sean.

Our first stop for a drink was the Columbus Cafe where the crowd gathered to watch the Magic-Lakers game.  The first thing I noticed at the bar though was a dude just hanging out there wearing a snuggie.  That seemed pretty stupid.  Other than that, I liked the vibe of the bar though and there was a 2 for 1 special, though I never got to use my #2 beer chip.  Sean stood there drinking our beer as we watched a little girl sing the national anthem.  A graphic flashedon the screen, “The Magic are 7-0 when ____ ____ Sings.”  For some reason we both thought this was hilarious.  Well, The Magic won the game so I guess it worked.

The next stop on my “just got into town” tour of SF was dinner at Capp’s Corner, a favorite old school family-style Italian joint of Sean’s.  We were met by a good deal of Sean’s family.  Sean’s parent’s were there, his relatives from Newcastle in England, and his godmother (also a Brit) joined us for some festive fare.  We were later joined by Sean’s brother Ian and Masharika.  I enjoyed my hearty dinner of Veal Milanese, Minestrone soup, and salad as well as the lively conversation.

After dinner Sean’s family went to catch a play next door and Sean, Masharika and I headed out to the Mission to meet up with Ian and catch a movie in Dolores Park.  First, we made a pitstop at a bodega for some beer before heading over.  With a fresh 12 pack of Modelo Especial in our hand we moseyed on over to the park and quickly found Sean’s brother Ian who was enjoying the company of his friends near the back of the crowd seated in front of a reasonably sized outdoor screen.  There were several blankets spread out over the expanse and our threesome was welcomed to the fray.  I sat next to another couple visiting from Manhattan and made some small talk about New York City before settling in with a drink and surveying the action.  Prior to the film starting they had a survey asking  “what would ‘Jew’ like to see?” in reference to the next film at the park.  It was the choice between two Woody Allen films, Zelig and Annie Hall.  I made my displeasure known to my immediate surroundings about the offensiveness of the obvious pun.  Ian and I did a little hooting and hollering, which I think was unheard in general.

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Sean & Mash Settling In At The Park

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Settling Down WIth an Icy Cool Modelo Especial

Soon enough, it was time for the movie to begin.  The film we were to take in was Sita Sings The Blues, the director’s animated personal interpretation of the Indian epic, The Ramayana, which unfortunately can’t get a wide release due to musical copyright issues. Prior to the film actually starting, the guy doing the intro who wasn’t the director talked about how the film personally affected him, which was kind of annoying since it seemed like the kind of discussion you have after you see a movie. None of us knew what he was talking about so hearing him drone on just seemed like an impediment to actually watching the movie.

When the movie finally began, I have to say, I found it to be clever and likeable.  Unfortunately, I also found the atmosphere of the park to be uncomfortable due to my ass on the uneven ground and the brisk wind sweeping through the premises.  There was an overwhelming sense of “brrrr” that alcohol couldn’t defend us against.  Despite enjoying the content of the film, the weather forced the hand dealt by our impatience and discomfort.

Just like that, after a few trips to the darkened port-a-potty, we were off to seek indoor refuge at a bar in the Mission.  I have no idea what bar it was where we chose to down a few, but I found the atmosphere to be rather pleasant.  We hung out with one of Ian and Sean’s mutual acquaintances for a brew or two.  I think her name was Nicole.  Once that was done we headed back to North Beach for a night cap at one of Sean’s favorite neighborhood joints, a classy lounge by the name of Tony Nik’s Cafe.

My memory of our time there is a little fuzzy.  I know there was an odd conversation with a female tourist from Cleveland, but the content of that conversation is not something that I could pull from my the depths of my cranium if I wanted to.  Sean maintained the next day that she had been hitting on us, to which I say, “good for us.”

The next morning I awoke feeling a tad bit hungover, but I didn’t fret, because the chalkboard on Sean’s bathroom wall alerted me that this was the Summer of Fun.  So I knew my slight pain would fade away and be overtaken by good feeling.

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

The Fact That This Sign is In The Bathroom Just Speaks Volumes About Sean

At Sean’s behest I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios after which I stared blankly and wondered just what the day had in store.  Sean was leaving to pick up some essentials for the next day’s BBQ.  Just after finishing up with showertime, Masharika walked in and asked if I was up for breakfast.  Despite having just partaken in some cold oat O’s, I thought I could use some more sustenance to chase away the hangover blues. And just like that we were out the door to meet Masharika’s friends in town from DC at the Buena Vista down by Fisherman’s Wharf, a spot renowned for it’s Irish Coffee.

When we got there we were greeted by Tanaz, Janine, Danilo, the latter two of which I had met several months back at John’s Pizza in New York.  I was pretty much against drinking for awhile that day, but when everyone sat down and ordered a coffee drink that included alcohol I felt compelled to join in.  I ordered the Baileys Irish Cream Coffee as a tribute to my British friends. After taking our order the waitress returned with the coffees and as we pored over the menu joked that she’d be back in 20 minutes to take the rest of our order….at least she thought she was joking.  It may have taken longer than that as I was nearly out of water and my coffee drink was all but done when I finally got to order my cinnamon french toast.  By the time our food was brought out in a casual fashion, Masharika had made the decision to join her husband in running errands for the next few hours and our party of five had dwindled to four.

The food itself was utterly pedestrian.  My french toast came drenched in butter and was rather bland.  Everyone else seemed equally unimpressed.  Once we finished our meal the waitress took what seemed like another half hour to get our bill.  Once we got the bill, it took her another ten minutes to actually let us pay it.  As the spanish say, “Que riduculo!”

It was probably somewhere around 1pm when we finally got out of there and started heading back towards North Beach via the Wharf.  Janine, Danilo, Tanaz and I met up with their friend Anya with infant in tow and moseyed along the water taking in the view of Alcatraz and eventually the masses of  blubbery sea lions lazing about on wooden docks “ort ort-ing” and flapping about ’til their heart’s content.

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

Kings of The Sea Jungle...Or Something

At some point one of us received a phone call becking us back to the North Beach area to meet up with our hosts and partake in some delicious california style burrito deliciousness, but having just finished up some mediocre eats, we were not in a rush.  Instead we slowly made our way towards little Italy, stopping for some tasty Italian pastries along the way at a shop called Mara’s.  I stood in line wondering what to get, when a helpful woman seemed to appear out of nowhere and suggest a circular raspberry treat.  I couldn’t deny an out of the blue recommendation, so I indulged in fruity yet flaky goodness.

Italian Pastry Goodness

Italian Pastry Goodness

Once we all finished with our snacks we headed back up to Sean and Masha’s where we snagged a beer.  We were also met by their friends Mike and Barbara, whom I had also met in NY at some point during my tenure with Sean.  The next stop was Pancho Villa’s in the Mission district.

We pulled up to a spot in a seemingly questionable part of town with a playground and some rather sloppy folks hanging around it.  Regardless of the seedy characters hanging about, we floated right past them with the thought of burritos on the brain.  The entrance to Pancho Villa’s was graced with a security guard, and just inside a mariachi band belted out Mexican tunes to a lengthy line of hungry locals.  Despite the cafeteria-esque atmosphere, there was a feeling of overwhelming pleasantness that filled the air. Maybe it was the fact that we were about to indulge in some ultra-deliciousness.I ordered from the vast menu of burrito options.  One Chicken Burrito Especial.  Perfect.  I waited in line and got a Modelo to compliment my meal and sat down with the crew ready to taste a sublime San Francisco treat.

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

Pancho Villa's Chicken Burrito Especial: The Burrito of Champions

I was not at all disappointed.  Not only was this concoction pleasing to the palate, but it was wrapped with what could best be equated with German-style engineering.  This this was not leaking fluid.  It was an air-tight package that kept deliciousness in and drippage from seeping out.

Following our tasty outing, we took a brief walk through the seedier section of the mission only to realize that our parking meters were running out.  It didn’t really matter though as the group split up.  I went back to Sean’s and Mash’s place though and hung out as they readied their apartment for a big adult dinner with visiting friends. As they did, we enjoyed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and a Pittsburgh Penguin victory.

Slowly but surely people piled in.  There were some familiar faces as far as people who had visited back in Bleecker Street days.  There were also children, running about, wrestling, and ultimately learning lessons about how it’s not idea to bounce your head on the couch as it will sometimes throw you in a direction where you might ricochet off into a table.  That’s the magic of having kids around; you get to watch as they learn what not to do.

Dinner itself was absolutely delicious.  Despite having previous stuffed myself several hours before.  I took part in three carnitas and some tasty dessert.  This was not a good idea as I was also drinking at the time.  I didn’t feel nauseated or anything.  It just felt as though my body had been filled with meat and beer to it’s maximum capacity.

As the party filter out, a few of us were left standing.  Sean wanted to go out to the bars.  I wasn’t sure I had it in me since my stomach felt as though it could explode with further alchoholic endeavors, but seeing as I was in SF for the first time in 24 years, I went with the flow.

This Bavik's For Me!

This Bavik's For Me!

Our first stop of the night was a laid back lounge/bar called ChurchKey.  They had a great beer selection and a cozy upstairs.  I couldn’t help but feel out of the conversation.  I wasn’t out of my element or annoyed at the company.  I just couldn’t help but think how full I felt as I casually sipped my Bavik.  We didn’t have time to get comfortable at the first bar though, as soon after most folks finished their drink, the party raged on to bar #2.  Our next top was a club/bar called Mojito.

Upon entry, I immediately opted out of the alcohol sweepstakes, preferring to sip water and watch the slightly above average live hip-hop act performing.  The real performance to watch though was that of a particular white couple who were really grooving on the dancefloor.  I was transfixed and I’m pretty sure my friend Summer would’ve been too as she recently alerted me that she really enjoys watching white people dance.  With this display of robotic movement and arrhythmia, I could not blame her.

The night didn’t last much longer after that.  Two drinks into our stay at Mojito it was time to call it quits.  We were back at the homestead ready to say goodnight…for Saturday would be a big day.

When I woke up the next day wheels had already been turning at a feverish pace.  Sean and Masha were back and forth seemingly prepping for they huge BBQ in Krissy Field.  I slowly rose to an alert state and with my two hosts gone, setting up their station in the Park, I took a stroll down to Washington Square (the very same square where Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe as was jokingly repeated all weekend) to take in a bit of the North Beach Festival occurring there.  I wandered around the grounds a bit marvelling at the differences between East Coast and West Coast events.  Not that there were many, but there was a granola stand which seemed more West Coast hippie to me and a big featured food tent trumpeted their specialty of Garlic Crab Fries.  Interesting.

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I Guess Every City Has Their Thing

I took in some female singer’s performance and continued my direcitonless pacing kind of hoping I might run into someone I knew that I didn’t know lived in SF.  While that didn’t happen, I ran into Mash’s friend Anya and her son who were in the company of another friend named Cassie.  I sat with them awhile, but I had already put a call in to my friend Katie from back in my days at Ramapo.  We had plans to meet at the big Krissy Field BBQ.  Katie called and asked me when she should leave.  I told her the later of the two options as I had not yet begun my walk to the party site and Sean’s wife had said that it would take me 30 minutes.

At around 12:35, I headed out of the park towards another.  I went up Sean’s street, up the hill, down the hill, over Levi Plaza and out to the Embarcadero, just like two days before.  Instead of making a right however, I made a left in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I walked past the wharf feeling like I was almost where I needed to be.  I saw some greenery up ahead, but alas when I looked at the signs, I was not at Krissy Field.  I stopped into a store to ask a girl how far I was.  She had no idea where I was talking about and told me walking would take me another three hours.  This couldn’t be right.  I completely ignored her advice to take a taxi and stopped into the next store.  They told me it would take me another 20 minutes.  Ah…much better.  I was on the right track.

I kept walking towards the bridge, but it still seemed really far away.  Every time I thought I was there, it turned out I was not.  Fort Mason was not Krissy Field.  Further along Fort Mason was not Krissy field.  Then I came to an area that was covered in tents and seemed bustling with people.  I thought I must be just there.  Unfortunately, this was not Krissy Field just yet.  Rather it was the setting for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.  How long til I get there?  I called Sean, he told me I had another mile or two to go.  I was starting to think that the girl in the first store was right.  I worried about whether Katie was just standing in Krissy field wondering where the hell I was.

Not There Yet!

Not There Yet!

FInally, after jogging a bit, I came to the very beginning of Krissy Field.  I walked through some grass and came to a path and just as I did, my phone rang and I looked off in the distance and saw Katie standing there.  Wow, finding her was easy.  Apparently, she had just gotten there as well.  It had been several years since we had seen each other , but she didn’t look very different.  Maybe she did, but I think once you know someone, you kind of always do.  Just like that we were hanging out, though I was slightly distressed about finding the right place.  We were still able to do some valuable catching up on the way.

Sean had told me he was near the picnic house and we were near a picnic house, just not the right one.  Finally after a phone call or two, we straightened out that we had ten to fifteen minutes left to walk.  This wasn’t a huge bother as it was a nice time for more walk and talk catchup.  Finally though, we came to the end of our journey near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was about 2:15, and the party had been raging for an hour or so.  There was a huge crowd of people present, again, some people were familiar and some were not.  I indulged in the tasty but deadly Maddison Juice also known as Sean’s dad’s Sangria and we grabbed some food en route to finding a spot to sit on a hillside where nearby Sean’s friends were indulging in the game some call Cornhole.

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Katie and I Relax On Our Hillside Perch

Our View of Cornhole

Our View of Cornhole

My View of Katie

My View of Katie

That was pretty much our spot all afternoon.  We sat around talking about friends, dudes, broads, cities, families, jobs, pants, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and general whatnot; stopping only for refills and watermelon unknowingly soaked in vodka precariously placed  in reach of small children.  There were a few moments where we stopped and mingled with others, but our afternoon was more or less a two person operation.

Around 5pm the party started to disband and I pondered my next stop.   Katie nipped that in the bud though when she asked if I wanted to go with her to meet a sort of ex to get some pants back.  Just like that we were off walking down the road back to wherever we were walking.  I more or less had no concept of where we were.  We ended up at a place called Bar 821, with a bartender named Juan slinging drinks.  Conversation continued interrupted only by the appearance of her ex, whose name currently escapes me.  He stayed for a drink or two.  We had one more there before deciding to tie another on at the establishment next store, one Mini Bar SF.  It was there we ran into a few of Katie’s friends and I took a brief sojourn across the street for a slice of pizza before rejoining and ultimately going back to Bar 821 where we basically closed the place down.

From there I decided it would be best for me to head back to meet up with Sean, Masharika and the rest of the party across town.  I said a brief goodbye to Katie and  hopped in a cab.  I don’t quite recall where I met up with them but I know the name of the bar had a particularly feminine quality.  We stayed there for one beer, though they’d been there for  longer and had worked themselves into quite a drunken lather.  It wasn’t time to go home just yet as we made one more stop at a dancy joint near The Cannery for a bit more booze and to give some people the opportunity to shake what their mother gave them or deprived them of. It was a rather lively end to the evening, but it closed things out with a bang loud enough to make waking up the next morning an arduous task.

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

Mash...Semi-Shaking It

By the time I came to on Sunday, Sean and Mash were gone.  I was most distressed about Masharika’s absence as I knew she was meeting up with her friends for some early morning donuts….and not just any donuts. Her friends had heard about a place called Dynamo Donuts whose specialty was an artery clogging confection with maple flavor, apples, and bacon drizzled on like sprinkles.  We had discussed this two days before and I had completely missed out.  My heart is probably happy about that one, but my taste buds are still curious.

Seeing as I took my sweet ass time to actually face the world, Sean was back shortly after I got out of the shower and dressed.  He recommended that I go down to the AT&T Park to check out the stadium, but first we took a stroll through the North Beach festival yet again and I stopped for some tasty sustenance at Golden Boy Pizza.  By the time Sean got me down to the ballpark  the game had already started been in progress awhile, but he told me there was a spot in the outfield where fans could stand and watch the game for free.  I wasn’t sure what this meant, but I said I was game and Sean had to return a host of materials from the previous day’s party to the burbs an hour north, so I didn’t have much to do otherwise.

With that Sean dropped me off by the stadium and I slowly shimmied past the Giants Wall of Fame and statues of Juan Marichal and Willie Mays until I reached the famed McCovey cove where Roid Raging Barry Bonds belted several four-baggers.  I was glad to see several boats with flags showing their allegiance to their hometown team.  A few kayaks roamed the waters also hoping for a long fly ball to rightfield.  As I walked further along the water staring at plaques denoting team and individual (Bonds’) accomplishments, I came to a gated area with a security guard with fans inside.

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

A's And Giants Fans Alike Await Home Runs At McCovey Cove

This area was basically inside the right center/right field wall.  You could spit onto the warning track and if a ball rolled to the gate, you’d be at eye level with the outfielder assuming you were the same exact height.  The best part was, it was all free.  Not a ton of fans, but rather a pleasant few filed in to watch some of the game through the fence.  It was kind of enjoyable listening to the radio play by play being pumped through the speakers.  You really got the feeling that the San Francisco Giants really loved their fans to throw this pleasant enough bone to those who might not be able to afford going to the game.  They also had a concession stand open for people standing in this section.  It warmed the cockles of my baseball-loving heart.  I stood in this section for about three whole innings.  Never really getting a great view of the action, but I did see a few hits and a run score.

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

Giants Outfielder Nate Schierholtz Looks To Adjust His Wedgie

I took off heading into the 9th inning as the Giants were up by 6 and I didn’t want to get in the middle of fan-demonium upon a mass exodus from the stadium.  I wandered around the area unsure what to do.  I had been left no explicit directions as to where anything was.  After some unmotivated hanging around, I started zig zagging down 2nd and 3rd streets.

Eventually, I came to the Moscone Center.  I sat on a bench there for a few minutes unsure of what to do.  I flipped through the San Francisco Chronicle and then continued on. Walking along 3rd I came to a sign that said Yerba Buena Gardens.  I followed the arrow and came to an absolutely breathtaking little park area with a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. in the form of a waterfall sculpture adorned with quotes from the slain civil rights leader.

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

MLK Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens

I took it all in and then walked on through a passage I spied which brought me to the Contemporary Jewish Museum which I had seen advertised.  The museum had an impressive facade, but the only area open at the moment I arrived was the store.  I decided to go inside, but as a result of the recent Holocaust museum shooting I went through an extensive security check.  The store itself didn’t impress me much, but I was amused by the series of Jewish Baseball Cards, trumpeting the history of Jews in baseball. I think they were missing a few more prominent members of the tribe as I saw no mention of Sandy Koufax in the deck.

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Outside The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Once I realized I was none too curious about Hebrew curios and history books I made my way further through the alley and continued down the street.  I noticed I was surrounded by rather ritzy stores all of the sudden.  Sean had previously told me that the Union Square was full of upscale shops.  This made me figure that I was in said area so I ventured further in to look for the actual square.  Lo and behold, I happened upon the aforementioned area marked by an artistic heart rendering and a rather tall monument to Admiral Dewey which is blinding to the eyes when the sun is in full effect.

Approaching Union Square

Approaching Union Square

I did not stick around that region for too long.  I briefly lost my sense of direction though after stepping out of the square.  I regained my composure rather quickly though and continued back towards Sean’s apartment.  On my way though, I happened upon anothe curious sight walking down Kearney.  I looked to my left and noticed the street signs were mostly written in Chinese.  I thought I must be nearing Chinatown.  It was time for another detour.  And with that I took a stroll through Chinatown, ultimately culminated when I figured I had seen enough of the same tea shops and sword souvenirs.

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

Is This America Or China? Make Up Your Mind Chinatown!

I hung a left and headed back towards the avenue I had been on only to stumble upon another landmark; an alley formerly frequented by the beats that had since been renamed for Jack Kerouac.  This area housed the famed bar, Vesuvio and the City lights Bookstore.  These two stops were recommended to me by my good friend Jess I.

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

The Street Sign Says What It Has To

I felt my accidental sightseeing was nearly complete, but I did a little more street staggering, stopping to gaze briefly upon the beat museum and the row that housed houses of ill repute along my way back to Sean’s.

Billboards of Ill Repute

Billboards of Ill Repute

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

They've Got The Beat, But No Go Go's Albums

Finally, I walked back through North Beach street fair on my way back to Sean and Mash’s for dinner.  We enjoyed some tasty tacos and called it a weekend.  I hadn’t any desire to hit the town that night.  I was all worn out and ended up just watching Hannah and Her Sisters, under their “Free Movies On Demand” as they packed for an upcoming trip.

Monday morning I woke up bright and early.  Sean drove me to the BART and I took it all the way to the airport, where I caught my Delta flight all the way back to NYC.  The day didn’t end without a few whimpers though.  Upon landing at JFK Airport an hour early at 5:11, we proceeded to sit on the runway for two hours before making our way to the gate.  I understood the bad weather kept some planes from taking off, thus stopping us from having a gate to go to, but the Delta crew couldn’t have been more obnoxious about it.  They treated some of the passengers like petulant children.  Instead of asking them to please stay seated they announced that unbuckling your safety belt was “unacceptable.” When people questioned the crew about their connecting flights, which is usually well within reason, they chided the passengers and made an announcement to not bother them with their concerns because they had “no idea.”  While I remained patient, some people had to catch connections and they were treated very poorly.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such poor customer service.

In any case, when I finally got off the plane, it was quite a relief.  I felt bad for those who had missed flights, but I was glad to be back home.  I was also glad to have been gone for a few days as well.  San Francisco, I just may have left a piece of my heart on adrift in the wind blowing through those Embarcadero skies.

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