Monday, August 20, 2007

The Best BBQ in New York

I recently heard about the Hudson River Park BBQ and Blues Festival and made plans to spend a Sunday afternoon investigating. Now here is something I could really sink my teeth into, both musically and quite literally. I am a huge fan of the blues and an even bigger fan of some good BBQ. And having lived in a BBQ rich cities like Kansas City and Memphis, I feel like I have a good eye, and mouth for picking out some great BBQ.

I have to admit although it sounded cool - attending the festival served a larger purpose. You see, I am on a mission. I need to find the Best BBQ in New York. Since my arrival I have sampled a few places and I will review them below. From this point forward I will document and rate each BBQ experience until I have settled on the Best BBQ in New York. From this point forward, this mission will be known as... "The Quest for the Best."

To provide some continuity to this project I will rate each BBQ eatery on a scale of 1-5 in 3 key categories: Meat, Sauce, and Overall Experience. Let me catch you up on the competition so far:

1. Oklahoma Smoke House BBQ - (145th and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.)
Meat - 3
Sauce - 2
Overall - 2.5
The food was decent, sauce was quite watery, service was decent. It was their first day so I will give them some time and check it out once their process is ironed out.

2. Brother Jimmys Express (Grand Central Station)

Meat - 3.5
Sauce - 3
Overall - 3.5
I heard the actual location is better, but I was impressed with this Pulled Pork especially since it was found in Grand Central Station and is close to work.

3.Dinosaur BBQ - (@ the Hudson River Park Festival)
Meat - 4
Sauce - 3.5
Overall - 4
A great plate of food. Grabbed this platter with BBQ beans and cucumber and tomato salad. Sauce was right on.
(Here's a good look at some of the action from that slightly rainy, yet tasty Sunday afternoon.)
The search goes on.

A Night with the Yankees

Tonight the Yankees take on the Anaheim Angels. The game starts late, about 9:35 Eastern, since it is being played a few hours west in California. I start listening to the game on the radio after dinner as I often do. This is partially because I don't have a TV, but also because I enjoy it. Its old baby and in my mind - you ain't a fan if you can't sit down and listen to a game on the radio. I decide that tonight I need to stay awake and listen to the game til the bloody end. This decision leads me to another thought. Although I have been a Yankees fan for many years, this is my first year with the Yankees.

Admittedly, I moved here mid-season, in June and can't really say that I have been here an entire season. However, this season has seen its share of ups and downs and as the playoff races narrows I can feel myself getting sucked in even further. It's been a whirlwind of Yankee nostalgia for me the last few months, culminating recently with the passing of Phil Rizzuto. So I must apologize in advance to anyone that was already annoyed with my zeal for the Bronx Bombers because I think it is getting worse. If the Yankees make the World Series I might start pawning possessions, to get tickets.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hurry! Get the Camera

Friday night. Walking with my roommate to fetch her misplaced purse from a Mexcian food joint. I had just opened a beer, so whatever, I brought it with. We walked several blocks, topped a hill and then I demanded to sit down on the curb. So there we were, panting, thirsty and in possession of cold beer in a water bottle.

J: "Let me have a drink of that beer."
Me: "Hold on" (*drinking)

We're there maybe 15 seconds, a man is crossing the street and then loudly he begins laughing and saying:

"Hold on! Let me get my camera! I need a picture of _ this. Two, white people - sittin on the curb - in Harlem - gettin sloshed! It's a beautiful thing. I know Harlem is changed to see something like that."

Then we talked to the guy for a few minutes, drank some more beer and kept walking.

The purse was recovered, intact. I remind myself I am glad that I don't carry a purse.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Favela Rising

Low Library, Columbia University - Tonight I was able to attend a free screening of this film and it changed my outlook on life, music, culture, and Brazil. A great story about the power of music and the ability of one person, or a few persons, to make a change in our world. If you're into poetry, music, working for change, helping youth or making the world a better place, then make sure you check out this movie.

Buy the DVD!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oh... by the way

This one is for you readers out there living in somewhere besides New York. I came across some other basic things to know when in New York in a magazine called VICE. I had to basically quote the parts of the article I liked because I love the writing style infused with New York attitude and the advice is certainly true.Without further explanation, here are VICE's ideas on what you need to know:

Say "Excuse Me"
New Yorkers always say 'excuse me.' They realize that the person they bumped might be a crackhead with a carpet cutter that wants to cut your face from above your eyebrow straight down your chin. Not only should you say excuse me if you bump into someone, you should even turn back and put your arms out in a ready kind of " I'm here to stabilize you if you fall" way. This helps emphasize sincerity. It is not a pussy thing to do this by the way. It's more like a prison/biker show-of-respect thing that is actually tougher than blindly walking away.

Nobody Cares
Guess what? People in New York are over it. That doesn't mean they don't like stuff - it means that they don't give a shit why they like stuff. Don't come here and go, "Hey guys, this is a little embarrassing, but I love that Journey song 'Open Arms'! We'll just say "Big Whup, that song is pretty good."

Dress for Success?
Trust us, nobody gives a shit why you wear what you wear. It either looks good or it looks bad. It doesn't matter if you think a pair of lime green sweat pants is "hilarious." They either look like shit (more than likely) or they look amazing (not totally outside the realm of possibilities).

Way to go Vice! For more rules check out the previously posted Things to Know when in New York. More rules to come.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Becoming a Bleacher Creature

Sunday, 1:05 pm. The Bronx, NY. Went to the Yankees game against the Kansas City Royals. Ahh, the Royals - the lovable losers from the Midwest. Where I come from there are lots of Royals fans. Kansas City isn't that far away and they are the closest team around, so people support what they can. Plus their AAA club is in Omaha, my home town, so that scores them some fans too. So I guess by birth right I am supposed to be a fan of KC. However, I faced the truth long ago that the Royals suck, its not 1985 anymore.
The Yankees are my team. I have watched since I was a kid -- I revel at the opportunity to see the Bombers whoop up on a lowly team like Kansas City.

Bright sunny day. Seemed a lot cooler out on River Ave. We sat in the right field bleachers, the famous, or rather infamous, Section 39. Home of the Bleacher Creatures. There is a great book about these characters that call this section of the stadium home, Bleeding Pinstripes. It describes some of the more die hard Yankees fans and their traditions. Its worth a read for any Yanks fan.

Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera homered, Mussina pitched a solid six innings and Mariano sealed the deal. The Royals made it interesting, but never came that close. The Yankees record with Troy in attendance moves to 3 and 0.

Across the street the cranes are working to build the "New Yankee Stadium" set to open in 2009.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Rock the Bells

Walked the Triborough Bridge all the way out to Randall's Island for the Rock the Bells Music Festival. In the beginning we were 9, in the end our numbers would be fewer. The show started off good - we first checked out a group called Hangar 18. Then the rain started and we made our way to the main stage, found a good spot and set up shop. We were literally trying to box out our own space and maintain it.

At first the rain wasn't so bad. But then, it didn't quit for about 4 and a half hours. It actually seemed to let up, only to rain that much harder several times. Plus there was no where to sit down since it was basically and concrete and mud marsh land. I don't remember how many times I told myself - "You are too old for this shit!"

As a hip-hop fan I have to admit, I was exited about this show. I have been waiting my whole life - or at least since I was like 10 - to see some of these performers. One of the best performances of the day came from Rakim, aka "The God". One of the first rappers I ever heard and have never stopped liking. He was actually really good live, some hip-hop just isn't. There was this other crazy white boy near me, he knew every word and had the goofiest, yet sickest dance moves ever - it was great.

Other cool acts included Mos Def and Talib Kwali, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan (also a favorite of mine, Enter the 36 Chambers ? SICK!) and of course lets not forget the headliners, the group that everyone waited to see -- Rage Against the Machine! I have never seen them live before and it was f*ckin rockin. The crowd was frenzied and I was doing my best to hang with them. Check out this clip!

In the end, half our group left, or got lost, we're still not sure on that. We had to jump metal barriers to get out of the show and then still had to walk home after standing for 12 hours. My feet hurt, and they kinda still do. Here are some other pics too.
Public Enemy

Wu-Tang Clan

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Mets Win! ... And Harlem starts on fire!

It's been a busy week or so. At least I think that much time has gone by... it all sorta runs together sometimes. Had friends in town, did a bunch of stuff and spent the first half of this week recovering. I am certainly not the spring chicken anymore, the recovery process is prolonged now. Phew, So much happened - best if I tell it with some pictures.

Saturday noon, on our way to see the Amazin' New York Mets play the Washington Nationals at Shea Stadium in Queens. Everyone else had a ticket, but I found some guy and talked him into $8 for a seat behind home plate. All the other seats were in right field so that is where I sat, I never even went to the seat, but I am sure it was cool,(As I write this, I immediately regret that decision).

The game was perfect though, great day, we were in the shade and the game was exciting to watch. I love spending a day watching a game at the ballpark. I even had 2 hot dogs. Oh, and the Mets won. ______ Umm, sure. I guess it is alright, but you know - I bleed pinstripes and didn't care who won. I just kept wishing that we were on 161st ST in the Bronx.

Saturday night - Got of the train at 135th, thought it was really foggy and then realized that the fog was smoke. As we stood there the fire engines came roaring from all directions. The NYFD in action.

It was impressive how quick they got there, extended a ladder and jumped onto the roof. About the time that I was really starting to wonder if someone was in the apartment, the windows began to shatter. The firemen were chopping out every part of both windows, glass, frame, security bars -- everything. It all fell to the sidewalk from the 3rd story.

The hoses kicked on, more suited firemen kicked in the door on the ground level and went in. We watched a while longer, seemed like no one was home, it was under control. Tell you this ... THAT WOULD SUCK!! Coming home to your apartment, your one sanctuary, and it is all charred. Holiday Inn?

Sunday - The day of the big show. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that. Spent all day Sunday hittin up a concert on Randall's Island. Saw Rage Against the Machine, rocked out! That experience probably deserves a post all its own. To be continued...