Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fish Talez

Well it's almost the end of 2006, and I've done precious little navel-gazing so far. In fact, I'm done precious little posting of late, and I'll need to wait and see whether I can get my mojo back in 2007 or whether I'll be ever further seduced by the charms of being paid to write boring articles. What's the word I'm looking for? Oh that's right. HACK.

In the meantime, here's the promised, if not anticipated, review of top Asian fusion cuisine and possible sockpuppetry purveyor Picasso, on Fifth Avenue and Prospect.

The twist here is that it was Mrs. Cutesome that visited and not I, since I was back in the old country experiencing stomach cramps at the time. Take it away, milady:

"I went there the other day for take-out on the way back from the D train. Luscious Foods was closed, since it was after 8.30, but I had a yen for sushi. I ordered the spicy tuna roll, the yellowtail scallion, and maybe a salmon roll. I found the staff very nice [especially since on this occasion they were being staff and not pretending to be customers, non? - Snark Ed.]. They assembled my takeout order very quickly and packaged it nicely. The place was quiet and while I found the decor disconcerting, it is certainly a little bit more charming than Kiku's West elm stylings. I found the fish to be plentiful and tasty, and pretty much on a par with most mid-level places in the Slope. I think it will give Kiku, in particular, a run for its money.

As you can tell, I did not merely marry her for her outstanding (if to you hypothetical) beauty.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

When The Ship Goes Down...

Yeah, I'm about as bitter as Mr. Gowanus Lounge this morning. It's strangely fitting that I'm temporarily in London this morning, reporting in to HQ and preparing for Christmas at the relatives. Because it really is only from afar that one can comprehend just how misguided the Atlantic Yards is, and how badly the politicians that approved it yesterday got it wrong.

I am, and here's the standard opponent caveat here, a filthy dirty yuppie interloper, and an immigrant to boot, who's lived in the borough for a mere six years. I moved there for some very specific reasons, some of those for the hood's qualities, some for the defects that it lacked, and Manhattan has in abundance.

And it's important to mention Brooklyn's relationship with the rest of New York City, because the misrepresentation of this, and the exploitation of people's misunderstanding of it, is at the heart of the project's success.

Brooklyn is, variously, a dormitory settlement (scumbags like me), a dumping ground for corporate welfare schemes for connected Manhattan-dwelling developers (Bruce "Mad Ugly Building Inflicta" Ratner), a proud and noble metropolis in its own right (Marty, high people). But it also has a complex and respectful relationship with the wider city, a fact that the gang of vandals from downtown that approved the project chose to blithely disregard.

I remember reading, but can't be arsed to search for, an article in the times about the growing power of Park Slope liberals in city politics. That's bollocks right there. This nasty little deal was cooked up between Albany, the Manhattan real estate elite, and the morally bankrupt liberal/Democratic establishment in Brooklyn.

Very little in this deal to do with race, except as part of the project's PR strategy. Appropriating state funds for questionable development projects tends to transcend these lines. Same for quality of life. It's almost as if Bloomberg wants all the affluent parents to move to Scarsdale.

But we still have the three big lies. That the area is blighted (it isn't), that the project is going to be a force for economic development (it won't), and that there is no other plan (just because Ratner can't make the project work without all of the thievery doesn't mean a non welfare-baby can't).

The whole thing's depressingly old school. I keep expecting Rick James to strut out from somewhere and set Marty Markowitz' hair on fire with a spare crack pipe.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jingle Hells

I've been variously busy, drunk, sick, amazingly sick, and so sick I was doubled over in pain in the lavs of Doncaster station these last few weeks. So if you opened an utterly rotten restaurant in Brooklyn recently, then you got away with it. Bully for you. Not that there have not been shenanigans afoot in the Brooklyn hostelry "space". First, Picasso is busted for outrageous sockpuppetry on the Brooklynian message boards, and then, shortly before the start of my "ill" period, I dined at Flatbush Farm. Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Junket Joys

Looming Longhorn
Originally uploaded by Gringcorp.
I'm pretty close to completing my first ever press junket, after seven years as a reporter (I'm not counting free lunches here, though even those are pretty rare). And it's pitiful to report that getting wined and dined has left me rather well-disposed towards Texas. It becomes clearer that while Austin is a much more liberal city than, say, Houston, it's much more representative of the state than the eastern oil mecca.

While Houston, with its bland glass skyscrapers, hodge-podge of styles, easy oil money, and Southern outlook, is much more Republican, I'm prepared to admit that Texas is about a lot more than that. Whether I'd agree with one politician I interviewed, that the good politicians of the state are navigating a middle path between left and right wing crazies, is another matter. Read the platform of the Texas Republican Party here, and tell me how you think Texas defines crazy these days.

What's more interesting is that Texas really doesn't see its state as a precious resource to be preserved at all cost. There's a feeling that it still has plenty of room, plenty of water (at least around the centre), and plenty of opportunities for migrants. It was a rather strange experience to sit through a few days of wonky transport discussions and not hear the word "sustainable" once (sorta refreshing, too, I won't deny it).

Texas has had a fair bit of luck in attracting new businesses, and souls inclined to a low taxation and low regulation environment. The level of condescension towards the older states in the northeast is impressive, although you can't help but think that either a reckoning is due eventually, or that the state is feigning blissful ignorance of the consequences of its expansion.

Either way, following its progress from the badlands to young professionals' refuge of choice is going to be fascinating.

At bottom is a picture from a show I caught last night. A veeery trad blues show, all lengthy guitar and harmonica solos and husky-voiced vocalists. Pretty good way to pass the time on a Tuesday night on 6th street, since this seemed to be the only night of late that there was nothing on city wide. I'd missed Cannibal Corpse by a good five days, for instance.

Blues Exposition

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Nick Denton's media empire is showing some signs of creakiness right now. Multiple posts, repeats, a big RSS fiasco all round. The picture to your right is what my browser's crappy RSS reader was showing this morning when I got up. By way of illustration, I last checked them 5pm yesterday.

If such talk of "RSS" and "feeds" and "Safari sucks a$s" confuses you, please head here and here

Oy vey. I'll be out of town a few days, sampling Austin. I'll try and take some reasonable pictures, but in the mean time, here's my latest Sugarzine column, a long and reasonably well-argued collection of reviews linked - just - by a common theme. Could have done with a bit more care, but then it usually can. Surprisingly fun.

You have yourselves a gooooood time!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Secret Tell

So, probably my most irritating personal tic is my habit of repeatedly highlighting and unhighlighting text with a mouse as I read it. By all accounts its drives Mrs. Cutesome potty, and is one reason why we do not surf the web together, however much that would make for an even stronger marriage. But there has never really been a benefit that I could identify to go with this tic.

Until now. I uncovered secret numbers while idly going through this Slate article. What does that mean? It's enough to turn one into an RSS kabbalist.

And is the following a genuine Neckface? Who can tell? Have a good weekend.

Genuine Neckface