hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

never can say good-bye

Days 13 & 14: New York City and Philadelphia

over the mountains and down the thruway

Days 11 & 12:
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
Ramsey, NJ

Holiday Highlights:
  • I gave my Grandmother the new Jens Lekman CD, and she LOVES it.
  • Hilarious stress-induced kitchen banter.
  • Lots and lots of wine.
  • Loving my family and all that stuff.
  • Ridiculous amounts of amazing food.
  • The best Christmas gift I've gotten in at least four years: a sweet record player! Proof that moving away makes your parents love you more. Oh, small doses.

a few of my favorite things

I guess I'm of the fortunate few who absolutely love where they grew up. Each time I come home, I find myself increasingly appreciative of the refreshing familiarity of it all. It's the kind of town where you'll likely run into someone you know each time you leave the house, and I guess that's a factor that drove me to larger ponds, so to speak, but the Cheers-effect does warm your heart a little when you're not used to it. I ran into my neighbor Chris the other day at The Bistro whom I hadn't seen in at least ten years. Impromptu reunions add a nice little accent to the holidays and are inevitably common place in a town like NP thats main commerce area encompasses only about 5 city blocks.

While I'm surely biased with sentimentality, some of my favorite places of all time are New Paltz staples, which I've definitely been taking advantage of as frequently as possible in this short stay home. The following are the best of the best, in my book.

Bacchus - By far the best selection of brews in town and a very calm setting. It's like a little cabin for drunkards.
The Bistro - I can't even count how many mornings I've spent waiting for a table. No regrets. My favorites are the Tofu Tomorrow and The Hurricane. Amazing.
Rhino Records - I used to peruse the used section weekly after cashing my paycheck from my high school job at TCBY. I can still waste hours in there, so many treasures to be found.
Hokkaido - Aside from the sushi I had in St. Thomas, this may be the most consistently amazing sushi I've experienced yet.
Artcraft Camera - After bringing prints to two different shops in Austin that were unable to fulfill my request in a timely and cost-effective manner, artcraft got my shit done right in an hour. Love them. I've been there everyday since I got home.

where the heart is

Days 9 & 10

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Days 7 & 8: Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut

The delirium was thick and even our impressions of Salad Fingers weren't enough to save us from our exhaustion. It felt like smooth sailing as I drove from Maryland through Delaware and skirted Philadelphia following Interstate 95 until it merged with the Jersey Turnpike. But the traffic around NYC leading towards the George Washington Bridge was horrible as usual. I distracted myself by taking pictures of the snow blanketing the city.

If you couldn't tell from the shitty quality of recently posted pictures, I never was able to fix my digital. It's dead. So, I've been relying on my cell phone camera and my old Pentax. I have no idea how old the film is or how many times it's been exposed to freezing temperatures throughout the trip, so who knows, these blurred cell shots may be the only photos from the trip.

Haggard from the weary road, I ended up staying at Kate's mom's house in Ridgefield last night and delayed my arrival to New Paltz another day. Kate's house is suitably built into a mountain ridge in a valley surrounding a lake. I awoke this morning to a majestic mountainous view and a deer frolicking about outside the kitchen window while I poured my coffee. It was truly the icing on the cake. Real talk. It was beautiful.

Now I'm home in New Paltz. I feel as though I've accomplished something by driving this whole way, but it's probably more like proving something. To whom - I'm not sure. I do feel that I have a keener sense of proximity and geography, but that's not much of an accomplishment. I guess it's more the fun and excitement that comes with traveling on your own terms. I'm no Sal Paradise, but I assure you it's been a wild ride.

when plans fail, blaze new trails

Days 5 & 6: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland

My first impression of Charleston, SC is that it's undeniably picturesque and quaint. It seems very touristy and fairly yuppie, but the silver lining is a funky little beach town vibe. Although borderline pretentious, it was a refreshing blast of civilization after driving endless highways through empty fields interrupted only by standardized shopping centers with chain restaurants, wal-marts and the like.

Walking around in the downtown Market Area, all I could think of was socioeconomic demographics in accordance with geographic schemes. I don't even know how to properly word the terminology, but I'm running on empty, so I trust you get the gist. Watching shoppers mingle and weave their way from shop to shop, I couldn't help but think of all the money being circulated. It's a huge contrast from the desolate Bible belt that we drove through.

All in all, Charleston was a blast and Kate and I slipped into socialite mode as we wined and dined ourselves at some of the cities finest offerings: Pane E Vino, Gaulart and Maliclet Cafe, and Chai's Tapas Lounge. They were all amazing with their own unique pleasures, but Chai's was my favorite with the sampling and then the sake.

We left Charleston later than planned and never made it to NYC as we'd hoped. I guess a fourteen hour drive was a bit ambitious. Even with an additional driver, Katie, we were fried by DC. Instead of hitting the Upper East Side, we stayed at Katie's brother's frat house at the University of Maryland. The massive house felt more like a municipal building. While 37 undergrads usually fill the house, there were only a few stragglers there for our stay. Lucky for us, the boys didn't exemplify the stereotypical frat boy persona. It was more Revenge of The Nerds than Animal House.

Maryland provided our first Magic Hat indulgence. I was actually beyond excited. Magic Hat is of course my favorite beer manufacturer, and being as it's brewed in Burlington ,VT it's not available in the south. It breaks my heart, but I'll be sure to stock up on the trip back to TX. When Kate read her first bottle cap aloud, "when plans fail, blaze new trails," we laughed and all agreed that was definitely the theme of the day. We quickly made ourselves at home in this most unlikely of places. It was by far the most ridiculous scenario of our trip thus far.

When in Rome

Days 3 & 4: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina

We spent Sunday night in Columbus, MS on an air force base with my friend Tiffany, her husband Chris, and their newborn. It was a fairly quick drive from New Orleans and Kate and I entertained one another with silly songs and horrible puns. Picture it as not so much Thelma and Louise, but more like the Sweeney Sisters. Real talk.

It's interesting to travel through these places and spend a day in the life. We all get so wrapped up in our own day to day, and the exposure is a reminder of the different paths, options, whathaveyou. Expectedly, the air force creates an extremely structured lifestyle. I can totally understand and respect it, but I'm too far removed from that scene to relate. So many normalities are things I've never even thought of. I haven't reached a point in my life where I have a plan that encompasses more than a year span, which I think is suitable being as I have no one depending on me or to be responsible for.

Tiffany wouldn't show me the possible fate of my tattoo, but told me all the horrific details of childbirth no one else has. Real talk. It was really interesting to ask her my dumb questions about pregnancy, childbirth and rearing, and the details of being an air force wife. I think I would become a stir crazy maniac, but it's obviously not my path. Tiffany on the other hand, amazes me with her selflessness.

Monday was a big driving day from Columbus, Mississippi to Charleston, South Carolina. The cultural differences between the two places make a bland sandwich stuffed with Baptist Churches and industrial parks. Real talk. For breakfast we ate at a diner right off base made out of three trailers pushed together, and for dinner a fancy pants Italian restaurant in Charleston.

Some things I've learned

  • Directionals are useless from MS to SC
  • Ask for bottled water at KFC and you'll receive a blank stare
  • Don't tell Kate when you have to pee

"I didn't know managers strangled people."

Days 1 & 2: New Orleans

I felt like a train wreck when I got in last night, but pulled it together and persevered. In the long tradition of the adventures of Kate and Jessica, the night resulted in all sorts of unexpected hilarity. I brought a charming four-pack of holiday beers and decided one should be consumed at each of the four stops homeward bound. Appropriately, we kicked things off with the "Warm Welcome." Deeee-licious.

While a Nor'easter may be dumping a foot and a half on New York this weekend (on top of the 8-inches my parents told me about yesterday) it was in the mid-70s and beautiful today in New Orleans. I'm sort of excited to see the difference driving in and back through the different weather patterns. I can't wait to see snow, especially of such epic proportions.

I realized that this is my third visit to New Orleans since May and I'm beginning to feel acclimated and familiar with it all. It has way more of a small town feel than you might assume, and parts/places feel completely frozen in time, which is often enchanting though sometimes scary. I much prefer that my visits are on par with the locals rather than the madness of Bourbon Street and all the tourist insanity. Last night we went to the Balcony Bar uptown on Magazine Street, and tonight we're going to some African restaurant and will likely end up on our favorite balcony overlooking Frenchman Street.

Mama, I'm comin' home

Sneak Preview: JUNO

Tonight I went to a sneak preview of Juno at Barton Creek's AMC theater. I've been crushing on Michael Cera's subtle charm and comedic timing since Arrested Development, and featuring The Moldy Peaches' on the movie's trailer sold me tenfold. However, I did get a little uneasy at the thought of everyone and their brother playfully singing along to Kimya Dawson and Adam Green's offbeat, "Anyone Else But You," but these things happen.

After waiting on line for about an hour, we were the last emitted into the theater. Leah and Kristy snagged the handicapped seats in the fifth row, while I found an empty spot in the second. The place was packed and as we waited for the film technician to cue up the movie after a rocky false-start, I found myself chatting and comparing complimentary t-shirts with the lady next to me.

Having seen so many clips and commercials for the movie with it's campaign at it's peak, I was a little worried it would be a disappointment. There were certainly parts when I found Juno (Ellen Page) abrasive and obnoxious, but it balanced out in the scheme of it all. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't. Immediate reactions are as follows:

  1. I laughed and may or may not have teared up a couple times.
  2. I anticipate a decent soundtrack. I heard Astrud Gilberto, Buddy Holly, Belle & Sebastian, and of course Kimya Dawson with and without Adam Green (the other vocal half of The Moldy Peaches).
  3. Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) might be the new Lloyd Dobbler. Michael Cera is hilarious. How can you not love him?


Clark and Michael

Basically, I recommend you avoid any further promotional clips and insight to the film and just go see it before it is tainted by overexposure.

* * *

Listening to The Moldy Peaches is like going to a liberal arts college. I feel like their music is the anticipated or glorified version of late nights and drunken dorm room sing-a-longs, the same experiences that introduced me to them in the first place. Their bare-minimum songs are laced with raw and often inappropriate sentiment, but softened by dreamy acoustics and gentle lyrical delivery. I find the fragile balance really heartwarming and accessible. Plus back in the good ol' days at MCLA my best friends' band (Red Clay Trio) would cover "Lucky Number Nine," and "Who's Got the Crack," so I'll always be reminded of the easy livin' of those glory days.

The Moldy Peaches:

Nothing Came Out

Steak for Chicken

Ghosts are Good Company

Downloading Porn with Davo

Who's Got the Crack

Lucky Number Nine


Red Clay Trio:

Hey Yeah

Norbert's Addiction

Toxic Fumes

Red Meat


Kimya Dawson:

Loose Lips

I have to say, the way she wraps her delicate voice around these harsh and pressing issues creates something really unique and spectacular.

sunday recharge

This & That:

I know I totally flaked on recapping that last week of my August/September trip east, and I was working on it earlier this week, but find myself all sorts of scatterbrained. My goal is to write something up before this next venture. However, I'm leaving Friday and have a shit ton to do in preparation, so I don't know. Christmas card writing owns me right now.

While it may be nearly 80 degrees outside, INSIDE my house looks like a cozy little winter cottage! Oh, escapism. This house was beginning to frustrate me, which I find happens after a few months, but with the holiday adornment, I've fallen back in love with all the it's quirky charms. We bought the most beautiful Christmas tree yesterday, and I don't know exactly what it is about driving with a tree strapped to the roof of my car, but I like it.

Vinosity 2008. I'm campaigning for a new Saturday tasting tradition. Tastings are from 3pm-5pm, and I highly recommend. Plus they have a food menu each week to accompany the tasting selection. I'm a big fan, especially given the close proximity. I can pretend I live in a city where people walk everywhere.

Paris, Je T'aime. As the year dwindles to an end and "Best of" compilations are sure to dominate and invade media outlets, I'm trying to think of what I've seen this year and what has resonated with me the most. I guess with me, the offbeat usually hits the hardest, and as far as that goes, Paris, Je T'aime is the first to come to mind. Mainly because of the format. It consists of 18 short films by 21 different directors. With the increasing cultural emphasis on instant gratification and short, to the point entertainment, this collection of vignettes delivers. I like the idea of collaborative interpretations on one idea. The film's trailer really just makes me crave another viewing.

The interpretation that I found the most compelling, or that resonates with me the most considering I saw this in the Spring, is True. I like the differences between the couple, and that even without subtitles it's clear what is being expressed.

current obsessions:

Feist - We're all in the Dance

Liz Phair - Supernova

Lykke Li - Everybody But Me

Black Kids - Hurricane Jane

Bango - Geninha

The Turtles - You Showed Me

Soko - I'll Kill Her

Oh, and Coltrane Motion just released an amazing Bruce cover of "I'm Going Down," which is currently only on their myspace. Lame, yes. But worth checking out. I'm loving it.

I'm kind of throwing up this overloaded post since I don't know how much I'll post during the trip. A lot is riding on whether or not I get my camera fixed. If I do, I'd guess it will be mainly photojournalism style. In which case I may just post to fotki. We'll see.

"Acha acha acha"

About a year ago, maybe even two, I picked up a bargain bin Christmas cartoon compilation for like a dollar. I regarded it mainly as a joke, and it blurred in with the rest of my DVD collection. Perhaps it should have stayed on that shelf, but last night my curiosity prompted a viewing.

In all honesty, the shit is bananas. I'm not really sure children should watch any of the cartoons in the collection. It wasn't anything I had ever heard of or seen before. I wonder why and how I ever even stumbled upon it. The obscure vintage selections (1930s & 40s) are filled with inappropriate stereotypes, especially "The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives," (I'm not even kidding) and "Santa's Surprise."

"The Snow Man, " was definitely the most epic piece. It's fucking weird, but it makes me curious. I mean, did someone once perceive this to be a good little holiday film for children? No way. My analytical brain tells me there's something more, but maybe I just want there to be more. I feel like it should offer some political undertones of the 1940's. Is it a terrible man made tyrant or just a big scary snowman?

Obviously, the organ scene is where I think he really shines.

The Big Christmas Road Trip

It looks like I'm taking off next Saturday! This is basically a huge realization for me considering the last two times I wrote out the date I had to stop myself from writing November. This is typically the way I approach my travels. I guess I just like the rush of a deadline.

I'm not sure which way we'll be making the visits, probably towards NY. There seems to be more time allowance.

the tentative breakdown:

Day 1: Austin, TX to New Orleans, LA
Day 2: New Orleans, LA to Columbus, MS
Day 3: Columbus, MS to Charleston, SC
4 Days to get to Connecticut / New York
5 Days home
5 Days to return to New Orleans for New Years
Day 18: Back in Austin

w/all stops = 37 hrs driving
w/o stops = 29 hrs driving
total round trip = 66.5 hrs driving

total mileage = 4,169

The Kinks - Father Christmas

Belle and Sebastian - Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying

Liz Phair - Strange Loop

POLL: Which Home Movies character is more ridiculous and amazing?

Home Movies is the most amazing thing to have ever happened to Adult Swim. No contest. BUT picking a favorite character, well, that could be a contest. To me the top contenders are 8 yr old film and candy enthusiast Jason Penopolis and the lovable misguided soccer coach John McGuirk.

Jason Penopolis

Coach McGuirk

It's hard to pick a favorite, as they are both so entertaining. Some days I think Jason is by far the greater entertainer of the two, and other times I cannot imagine anything funnier than Coach McGuirk. Obviously this is a serious dilemma.

time to get all warm and fuzzy

It's time to dream up gift ideas, write those cards, and drink your way through uncomfortable reunions and holiday work parties. Thank God it comes only once a year. But in all fairness the holidays are a good reminder to think of others, the world around us, and strive to make small steps in the right direction.

Charlie Brown Christmas


Here are a couple sites I've come across where you can easily help others without spending a dime or leaving your chair. What a wonderful contradiction of being slothful AND outgoing. I'm actually kind of addicted to the Free Rice vocabulary challenge.

Free Rice - For each word you define correctly, 20 grains of rice are donated to help end world hunger.

The Hunger Site, etc. - Each tab on the site has an equally important cause and allows you to prompt a donation to the cause simply by clicking on the site. You can also buy holiday gifts through this site.

I also find a lot of great gift ideas at Ten Thousand Villages, which also practices fair trade.

Holiday Favorites:

Beck - Little Drum Machine Boy

Charlie Brown Christmas - Linus & Lucy

Joni Mitchell - River

James Brown - Funky Christmas

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

RZA, hit me with that shit one time

About a month ago I came across Wu's new track, "Heart Gently Weeps." As a huge Beatles fan, I instantly fell in love the crossover. The shit caught me off guard and basically blew my mind. In addition to a new take on an old riff from, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the track features Erykah Badu, one of my favorite songstresses of all time. The version I had was rough and was tainted by the "this is a exclusive" sponsorship repeated throughout, which is the main reason I haven't posted about this previously and/or offered a download for the track. Thankfully, the wait paid off. It was in fact a demo and the album version, which is much more dynamic and polished has been leaked. Enjoy:

While the Wu-Tang conglomeration is typically overwhelming and I am usually turned off by overexposure, I have a soft spot for Wu-Tang, another reflection of my east coast roots. Back in high school, I'm pretty sure I played 36 Chambers until the cassette tape wore out. I'll always associate that album directly with my adolescence, learning to drive and experiencing that initial taste of self-sufficiency and freedom. I'll admit the picture of me driving around New Paltz's country roads in my old Camry bumping Wu-Tang is laughable, but I've always been smitten by creative lyricism and they bring it. Furthermore, I appreciate the way they use explicit language. They don't use it as a crutch to prove their edge, but rather as an accessory to help illustrate their rhymes. That's important when considering censorship issues and freedom of speech. I think Wu-Tang represent the intersection for street and conscious rappers.

I found this interview with RZA, who seems to be the puppet master of the group when it comes to logistics. I appreciate the insight, not only to the concept of the song, but especially the collaboration with Dhani Harrison (son of George) and the surprising bond between the two artists.

The representation RZA speaks of between the guitar and veins is a compelling metaphor, even though when watching his casual interview it's somewhat hard to take him completely seriously.

There's no doubt both Wu-Tang and The Beatles have had their issues with drugs especially in the context of their rock n' roll lifestyle. I recently found this video of John Lennon performing Cold Turkey, which feels appropriate to share here. The song is about his own struggle with heroin and the pains of detox.

(Check out that Wizard!)

Personally, I think Wu-Tang consistently keeps it tight. They always flow and pass the mic with highly amusing and often intellectual rhymes. Even with their street-life emphasis, they maintain a focus on reaching a higher level of awareness. From what I've heard, read and anticipate, 8 Diagrams is really going to hone in on that. I've read some really harsh reviews, but people need to realize that things change, artists grow and try new things. That's fucking real. Get over it. If you wanna hear old Wu listen to Forever or 36 Chambers. Right?

If you ask me, they're keepin' it straight sexy.


As if it's not enough that I had to legally become a resident of Texas today, this is what I get:

At least I'll remember it easily.

so wrong, it must be right

Snoop's new video for Sensual Seduction. Play that key-tar.

Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction Closed Captioned
Uploaded by Elodie-74

The opening scene is so tight. I love the "PLAY" display in the upper left and the shitty tracking to really emphasize the 80's soul/funk-iness. Hilarious.

Bobby D

I just saw Todd Haynes' new Dylan bio-influenced flick, I'm Not There. I'm definitely still wrapping my brain around some parts of the film and references. Immediate reactions are as follows:

  1. Cate Blanchett fucking nailed it.
  2. SO much symbolism. Very clever with clean editing and detailed cinematography.
  3. David Cross as Allen Ginsberg!? YES!!!! Thank you.
  4. Sort of confusing. There are six different actors portraying different aspects of Dylan's life and persona and the plot jumps around. I'll definitely have to see this again to catch all the references/representations.
  5. The two-disc soundtrack is IN CRED IBLE: Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), Cat Power, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Eddie Vedder, Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), The Hold Steady, AND The Million Dollar Bashers. Who, you ask? Well get this, apparently (I looked this up: The Million Dollar Bashers are a super-group "assembled by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and has Steve Shelley on drums, Television guitarist Tom Verlaine, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, guitarist Smokey Hormel, keyboardist John Medeski and Dylan bassist Tony Garnier." Like I said, incredible.

I really wanted to upload a song, but my account isn't working. Luckily I also found a stream of Stephen Malkmus and The Million Dollar Bashers covering the shit out of "Ballad of a Thin Man," also on Someone's doing a good job, it's clearly the instant favorite of the soundtrack. Medeski wails.

Sidebar: I've recently been listening to Pavement a lot. Sometimes it feels like your own interest in something strangely triggers a heightened popularity of that something. Obviously it's only a heightened awareness, but it still blows my mind a little. I love you, Stephen Malkmus.


When I saw Beirut perform at Emo's during SXSW last year, I felt my entire body melt at the first verse Zach Condon belted. I've pretty much been floored ever since (ba dum bumb). Granted, the initial awe may have dulled a little, but I'm genuinely impressed by what I perceive to be a balance of humility and talent. He's so comfortable. His appearance is that of a disheveled child but his performance that of a seasoned crooner. I love the melting pot feel in the layers of orchestration. I read this article months ago that I wish I could find to post, but basically I read about how he'd created and pieced together the layers himself for his first recordings and then had to find musicians to replicate the sound so he could tour. I think at first he bombed live, but he worked with the musicians and put emphasis on their sound being loud and messy. I find his approach unique in that it's melancholy and overwhelmingly beautiful. It just really hits me.

As I've previously stated, I'm always impressed when a song and video compliment one another and capture something new and exciting. I'm pretty sure I watched the video counterpart for "Elephant Gun" five times in a row in sheer awe of the beautiful mess. It's bazaar and brilliantly unafraid.

Another favorite, also directed by Alma Har'el, is for "Postcards From Italy." Right now, I cannot think of a video more heartfelt. It captures the essence of innocence in an honest portrayal without being cheesy. It's perfect. And it doesn't hurt that it's one of the most amazing songs I've ever heard.

those damn Scandinavians are amazing

It's not enough for them to be thisclose to being a totally green and sustainable society and have beautiful porcelain skin, they have to totally capitalize on being adorably quirky. It's no secret that I'm in love with Swedish pop music, and now look what they've done: a BEARD CAP. It's fucking incredible to think there might be a market capitalizing on being this uninhibited. This is a trend I would love to see catch on.

The Beard Cap, created by Vik Prjonsdottir
currently the only store stateside is in Brooklyn - Scandinavian Grace

warm blanket

It's officially the holiday season. That yearly blend of anxiety and excitement mixed with a refreshing cold front is provoking me to find comfort in sentimental details. Certain items, fabrics, movies, books, and albums are like a warm blanket and can substitute the absence of family and familiarity that can often leave me feeling somewhat displaced. My guilty pleasures and go-to vices have become increasingly evident to me these days as I find myself constantly meeting people and presenting myself to them whereas my friends from home saw the work in progress and are part of the context to which these habits all formed, right? I think so. I'm still interested in the cultural/geographical context to which this all may apply, but I'm not sure how to articulate or analyze that properly.

I guess sometimes the downside to moving around and meeting new people is the tiresome necessity of explaining myself. Sometimes I feel like my tendencies make me an outsider as I've found my niche through trial and error. I guess a lot of finding out who you are is about finding out who you are not. While I am a very extroverted person, I love winter hibernation. I don't necessarily like how long it lasts back east, stretching most years from November through March, but there is something to be said for the change of weather and it's effect on the human psyche.

"The moral influence of nature upon every individual is that amount of truth which it illustrates to him" - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Winter makes me want to wear corduroy, thermals, and scarfs. I find myself staying home and listening to Dylan and Springsteen heavily. I have a profound admiration for writers and they're both brilliant storytellers. They're two of my favorite lyricists by far and their representations are inevitably entwined with the great northeast, helping me feel at home no matter how far I've wandered.

brooklyn crews and microbrews

For some reason living in NYC has never appealed to me. I guess the convenience of it's proximity suited me fine for all my years out east. It was always easily accessible and I ventured in for field trips, broadway shows, holiday shopping, etc. To me, the thrill of going into the city is equal to the relief of leaving it. It's tiresome to me to live life with horse blinders on, which is the only way I function in NYC. BUT, if opportunity ever led me to the five boroughs I would probably call Brooklyn home. Although it's terribly trendy right now with the indie cultural explosion, I suppose it's fair to say I buy into the allure of rubbing elbows with the young and creative.

Predictably, NYC has become more of a novelty to me now that it's less accessible, so it was a real treat to visit Sarah and Joanna in Brooklyn after my week in Jersey with the fam. After picking up a rental just outside of Newark where the Budget Rep. ("That's Raheem with two E's") tried to sell me his version of the American Gangster tale after flirting out the fact that I'm a journalism major, I hopped into my Chevy Cobalt and drove northeast. I was making excellent time until I crossed into Manhattan and it took me at least twenty minutes to inch down Canal St. to the Manhattan Bridge and into Brooklyn. Sitting in traffic, I couldn't help but think of the day I borrowed money from my mother to take the train into the city with Coby to buy fake IDs on Canal. So legit.

canal street

I parked in front of Sarah and Joanna's building, a three story house broken into apartments. It was small and rough on the exterior, but quaint and full of character. They had moved in just days before my arrival and already suitably declared it the "slanty shanty." I plopped myself in their kitchen to decompress from the road and listen to Joanna recollect her Coney Island experience on the previous night. She was hilariously animated, impersonating crack heads and double fisting a Heineken along with her own coffee mud slush creation. I chugged down some water, brushed off my exhaustion and got ready to go to their friend's Brew-BQ in Williamsburg.

Sarah, Joanna and I all went to MCLA together, but somehow never really hung out. I don't really understand how that's possible in a school of 1,500 kids, so I blame ex-boyfriends and the unfortunate abundance of drama fueled cliques. Fortunately, by the powers of modern networking we've managed to stay intouch and marvel at one another's brilliance while kicking ourselves in the ass for not hanging out in the micro-universe of North Adams, MA.

We took the subway over and as I watched the tunnels blur by I considered whether I could ever live in NYC. I like the idea of city living, with all it's conveniences and public transportation. It seems much more sophisticated with such a beautiful skyline and that self-empowering effect of being an anonymous city-dweller. But I know I'd have to live in a picturesque area super close to a park to avoid claustrophobia and panic attacks, and that's just unrealistically expensive and not happening anytime soon. I guess that's why Philadelphia still has such a warm spot in my heart, it's much more tangible.

Williamsburg is like a little hipster mecca. I guess at one point it was super affordable and attracted young creative artist-types. It still has that aura, but to my understanding the prices are on par with Manhattan these days. The neighborhood is really cute and you can tell a lot of money goes into the upkeep to keep the details fine tuned.

There was a wonderful assortment of microbrews the guys had personally made, awesome shish kabobs, and bbq side dishes. All the ingredients for a good Labor Day, hands down. After drowning my liver in Bud Lite and the like in high school, I gained a reputation as a beer snob in college, and while finances have influenced me to keep it real so to speak, I can't help that I like good beer. Needless to say, I was really happy to taste and talk about their creations.

young and jaded, typically.

The weather is changing to a closer resemblance of November. I've been spending a lot of my days reading in bed with the windows open. It feels really refreshing. I'm reveling in the opportunity to layer up and breathe some crisp, cool air.

The change has also sparked the realization that Christmas is actually nearing, and being the anal retentive I am, I'm starting to plan my Christmas road trip to the tri-state region. The idea of going home for the holidays always summons warm sentiment and childhood flashbacks. Maybe not even of my actual childhood, but more like the Wonder Years. The concept of holidays and familiar comforts easily blurs my vision, distorting the truth and inevitable disappointments. I haven't lived at my parent's house much since high school, and I foolishly and perhaps selfishly, forget that while I've curbed some of my inherited habits, my family will remain stuck in their ways. I don't know why I'm still frustrated by their stubborn adherence.

It's hard to accept that the only person you can ever change is yourself, and even that's an exhaustive test in self-discipline. A friend of mine once told me that each characteristic is either in acceptance or rejection to that which we learn from our parents. I agree, though the awareness of this process is nearly impossible. My family is loud, stubborn and dramatic and I guess I've gone to great lengths to detach and break those habits. I'll probably always be loud and obnoxious, but I'm trying to take it easy with the theatrics.

I spent a week with my family while I was home in August/September. After the first week of the trip with weddings, birthdays and tri-state trekking, it seemed like family time would be a relaxing break. We paint such peaceful pictures in our dreams, I suppose. I don't know much about psychology, but it seems people go to exhaustive extremes in avoidance of communication. I know my compulsion to communicate clearly is born from my parent's dysfunction. That's obvious. I just don't understand why it's so hard for some people to be honest with themselves. My mother is an amazing and strong woman whom I watched spend the better part of two days sulking and picking fights with me. I expect that from my father, but not her. I can only assume her behavior was some warped defense strategy. I know it's hard on her that I'm so far away. It's hard for me too. But it seems like a terrible waste of time to throw a hissy-fit during the brief time I was able to spend home rather than embrace the opportunity. Sometimes we fall victim to such childish and destructive urges.

I'm trying to learn to be unaffected. Not so much indifferent, but to understand the flaws of humanity and not dwell in their occurrence. I used to try so hard to inspire change in my parent's behavior. I was full of self pity and couldn't understand their ignorance. When your young your world is so small and black and white. I guess the gray is built with age and experience. I see that fire now in my fifteen year old cousin. She's smart and cynical beyond her years. She hasn't got a clue, but she thinks she knows everything. I felt old and exhausted listening to her, thinking of the years I spent rattling off the same sad stories. It's not my place to tell her to stop fighting. I just wish she would embrace her childhood rather than dwell on her sorrows and worry about saving the world. I guess thats my own desire to revert. We always want what's beyond our reach. Maybe I should buy her a camera so she can turn her pain into art like every other teenage girl.

As a pseudo-depressed teenager I read a lot of Jim Carroll's poems after Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed him in The Basketball Diaries. I appreciate the balance of black and white, good and bad. Honesty. You have to have rain to see a rainbow.

Little Ode on St. Anne's Day

You're growing up
and rain sort of remains
on the branches of a tree
that will someday rule the earth.

and that's good
that there's rain
it clears the month
of your sorry rainbow expressions

and clears the streets
of the silent armies . . .

so we can dance

review, reaction, compulsion, whatever.

I went to see Sean Penn's cinematic interpretation of ‘Into the Wild’ tonight. The movie was a beautiful and evocative tragedy. I related to the boy’s explorative desires and rejection to follow the path his family expected of him as one suitable for himself. I believe in the necessity of adventure to gain the humbling and enlightening lessons that come from the experience of falling on your ass and building yourself back up. It was heartbreaking to watch the story of a boy so jaded and disturbed strive towards such extreme self-discipline and isolation.

Nevertheless, the movie was inspirational. It reminded me of my college studies in environmental literature, days spent at waterfalls in western Massachusetts and the first time I read excerpts from Henry Beston’s The Outermost House:

“Today’s civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.
…Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity.
…Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be the shadow of an attitude to Nature. A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a ritual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature’s inspiration.”

I agree that a man’s relationship with nature reflects infinite layers of his personality and moral substance. Stripped of materialistic comforts and societal routines we can test our true strengths and become something we never saw within us. Industrialization has restructured the Earth for understandable reasons, and with age we too often stop entertaining ourselves by venturing outdoors. We go to school, work, gyms, coffee shops, and boutiques and think ourselves civilized. We dress ourselves up in designer apparel to show our accomplishments.

Environmental awareness seems to be in season, which is a good thing albeit trendy. In this age of technology our social consciences tends to focus towards materialistic goals and monetary values, which fogs our appreciation of nature. This scene in ‘I Heart Huckabees’ brilliantly articulates a sickeningly familiar clash of values in modern society:

sunday recharge

I've been slacking here, big time. I had so much inspiration when I first returned from my trip. Everything was fresh and my mind was flooded with words, anecdotes, and emotions that were spilling out so vividly in my swirling thoughts. As always I've been ridiculously distracted with work, the detriment of financial crisis, irresponsible road trips, etc. Today is my first day to really focus in what feels like weeks, and may very well be. I kind of wish the weather would turn colder and more conducive to hibernation, but I suppose wintry weather won't help me focus just like cigarettes and coffee won't make me more of an intellect. Though it does paint a more convincing picture, doesn't it? I think I watch too many old movies.

I'm polishing off my mid-afternoon pot of coffee, so let's see what happens. Wish me luck.

new crushes

The only thing better than an awesome new song is an equally amazing video.

I instantly became obsessed with Lykke Li. Swedish pop gets me every freaking time. Try to not love her, it's impossible. I don't know how much of her work is available in the states right now, but I'm fishing for it fo'sho.

Lykke Li - Little Bit

Liam Finn may be on the other side of the spectrum, appealing more to my inner hippie than the previous, but I'm totally feeling this video in all it's artsy fartsy whimsical glory. I'm a sucker for clean editing. Last night I dreamed I was taking polaroid photographs of trees and autumn leaves, I think this video leaked into my subconscious.

Liam Finn - Second Chance

75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.

It's fucking beautiful outside. I just made a 20 hr playlist for this weekends trip to New Orleans. Simple pleasures are so satisfying. There's nothing like a cool breeze on a warm day.

new paltz, ny

Just shy of a week into my travels east, I was fighting exhaustion and glad to be heading back to New York. The little micro-universe of New Paltz is as familiar and comforting to me as a worn in t-shirt. I was relieved to know my calendar allowed for a few nights back home and it was perfect timing. Of course I planned it that way.

Thursday night in New Paltz is synonymous with 80’s night. This dingy hippie bar called Oasis sits on-top of a club of sorts called Cabaloosa and on Thursday nights while a jam band grooves away upstairs Cab’s pumps out 80s tunes and new-age throw backs to a dance floor of sweaty hipsters. Two summers ago when I moved back to NP, 80s night was a weekly shit show and responsible for some of the most ridiculous and noteworthy nights imaginable. The setup provides for the perfect balance. The dim lights, goofy jam band and back patio smoke lounge make Oasis my favorite bar in town, not to mention the sake bar and 420-friendliness. A perfect refuge when the downstairs dance floor becomes too much of a hot mess.

When I tried to lure Jim and the boys out for 80s night he declined in light of Ryan’s birthday bash on Friday, claiming he was too old to pull a double header. I told him I was exhausted and planned to take it easy. He laughed at this idea and predicted that I would, “get way out of hand and have no voice on Friday.” That bet would certainly be consistent with my old habits and what New Paltz often makes of me, but this particular night didn’t involve a bottle of Jager in the bathroom or blunts on the back patio. Maybe I’m growing up and maybe some of that is from moving on.

Somehow I fended off exhaustion and pulled off the double header swimmingly. In the long tradition of 80s night Kate, Sarah and I tried to pregame as hard as possible. Our efforts were pretty pathetic which may be another sign of the onsets of aging, or more likely the aftermath of a long car ride back from Philly. We met Jess at the bar and had some quality lady-love dance party time before Tim and Richard (who were driving cross country from CA back to NH) got into town. Their arrival created an impromptu MCLA mini-reunion. We worked it out on the dance floor throwing every move in the book into the mix and laughing in delight at the scene. Hilarity ensued as we drank and danced ‘til four and then finished the night right with some authentic NY pizza.

It was a funny coincidence that our crew that night in New Paltz consisted mainly of my college friends who were all visiting from out of town. It's really humbling to me to feel the warmth of bringing friends together. It's the kind of sappy shit I get all worked up about. It's fucking beautiful.

The following night was a similar scenario. It started at Cliff’s house on Tricor. It was a full-blown backyard brodown. All the usual suspects were milling around with beer cans appropriately littering the yard. The birthday boy declared himself a drunken mess shortly after my late arrival to no one’s surprise, and I hammered through my Harpoons making new friends and catching up with the old.

I’m going to be sad when Cliff sells that house considering the staple it’s become in my circle of friends over the past couple of years. When I lived in my studio apartment down the road I think I spent just about every night of that first summer either walking towdards campus to drink beers in their backyard or host a similar affair in my small dwellings. That was a great summer.

Just like old times our staggering posse wandered down the middle of Tricor towards Oasis discreetly chugging our beers. Ryan assed out, too drunk to join us, but we made sure to continue the celebration in his honor. What I had anticipated to be an early night was far too enjoyable to pull myself away from. That’s the thing about visiting home I never know when I’m going to see these people again so it seems all the more necessary to make the most of each moment before it passes. So I did.

Leaving the northeast has been a huge challenge and an amazing adventure. I’ve been really fortunate to build a strong foundation for myself down here, but when it all boiled down and I confirmed my decision to relocate to Austin it was a matter of weighing fears. Was it scarier to go or to never know? Trying and failing would hurt, but living with a looming “what if” would haunt me for sure and probably result in a pathetic display of a mid-life crisis. So I might as well be shameless and irresponsible now while I can still disguise it as curious nobility.