Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rambling: Siren Music Festival, why you gotta be so free?

...One Siren too Many

Coney Island (is actually a peninsula). Home of Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, amusement parks (many of the rides are privately owned), the Brooklyn Cyclones (the minor league baseball team), and an immensely packed shoreline.

Coney Island is located in the southernmost part of Brooklyn; it is hard to imagine that it lives just over the water from Manhattan. Images of old movies with carnival scenes filled my head when I stepped off the train. Men yelling "step right up!" and women with tight ratty tank tops and countless tattoos were running carnival games. Have you ever noticed how small the hoop is for the basketball game one? I saw this poor guy miss and miss... Anyway, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow is still one of the most well-known acts around, and includes shocking! amazing! curious! performances by Insectovora, Donny Vomit, Serpentina, Heather Holliday, and Scott Baker,the Twisted Shockmeister. A blend of tinkling carnival music (you know what I'm talking about) and the sound of Broken Social Scene are still clashing in my head. The whole atmosphere reminded me of scenes from the book Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books 2006), or the movie Wild Hearts Can't be Broken, or even that scene in Big when he goes back to the carnival grounds to try and find the electronic fortune teller. There is just so much history.....

Last Saturday, Village Voice hosted the eighth annual free Siren Music Festival in Coney Island with the vicious heat in tow. Bands who appeared included STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS, BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE, ISLANDS, RA RA RIOT, THE HELIO SEQUENCE, BEACH HOUSE, TIMES NEW VIKING, JAGUAR LOVE, THE DODOS, ANNUALS, FILM SCHOOL, PARTS & LABOR, DRAGONS OF ZYNTH, and THESE ARE POWERS. If you check out the pics on Gothamist, you will see that this day was about more than the music. Fashion statements were made, and there were no rules to be broken. You name it, people wore it. Style staple of the day? Fedoras. Everywhere. As you can tell from the pic, I am a big fan. I can't take credit though, I borrowed this hat from David.

The train ride from Hoboken wasn't that bad, but my God. It was hot. I wore my bathing suit, and this turned out to be the best decision I've made in, i dunno, years. Above-- Steph and I drinking beers from Nathan's. This was our first stop before we got to the stages (there were two). In case you need refreshing, during the 2008 hot dog eating contest, the six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi was defeated by Joey Chestnut(I wonder if MTV will make a special on him next). They tied at 59 hot dogs in the new 10-minute time limit (it was changed this year from 12 minutes (quickly imagine what that would look like in your stomach), but Chestnut won after they had a five hot dog eat-off. I mean. Talk about rally on three.

After awhile Lance, Michelle, and David and I walked down to the beach. FYI. Port-a-potties are my least favorite thing to encounter in the heat. The beach offered a little relief. After we people-watched on the beach for awhile, David and I walked back to Nathan's, where we waited in the "Seafood" line for our fried frog legs, chili cheese fries, and beers. Yes, all food appropriate for hot weather. And, I must of thought I was going to die very soon, because as you can tell, I ate like it was my last meal. What can I say? Amusement parks do that to you. Oh, and I may, or may not have eaten a few bites of funnel cake too. So, once we got our "Seafood" (frogs are not seafood though...) Somehow we found a table, and I sat with the food while David waited in line for hot dogs.

He came back 31 minutes later. Apparently, the line was a tad long....
At the risk of sounding unoriginal, yes, the frog legs tasted like chicken. The one thing that was a little creepy was the tendon (?). I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it reminded me of eating a boiled shrimp --except I believe this is the intestinal tract of a shrimp, and this was a little more gummy and stringy. Tartar sauce covered the texture up nicely.

As I mentioned in the blog about my birthday weekend (refer to Clash of the Carbohydrates), hot dogs are indeed, amazing. So, if you want something a little more authentic (whatever that means) -- make the trek to Coney Island. Siren Music Festival turned out to be one of the best days I have spent in NY yet.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rambling:Italian Ices

...to Queens and Beyond

I will give you the short version. David is spending six weeks in Queens this summer at St. Johns. He just finished his two-year commitment with Teach for America, but he is still working for them this summer as a CMA. Basically, he is teaching the new teachers how to teach.

So, last weekend I got to pretend like I was a freshman in college again. You know--stay in a dorm, get an student i.d., order pizza, sleep in a twin bed... I met David in Astoria around 7 on Friday and he came to pick me up in his new car, which he had just purchased hours prior to our meeting. Of course, it wasn't that simple. I told him I was in a "park," which, apparently my idea of a park has decreased substantially since I moved to NJ/NY, because I was really on a concrete slab. David, in fact, thought I was in the real park (these often include, I don't know...grass?), which was just across the street. This caused much confusion for both of us. His new car is very nice, but I couldn't help but burst out laughing when I saw the tinted windows. So tinted, they are illegal. haha. He was in no mood for my antics. We met several of his co-workers at the beer garden and ate bratwurst and drank delicious beer at picnic tables--this place is fantastic. Think Hofbrahaus in Munich.

We ran errands all day in Brooklyn, and ended the day at The Lemon Ice King of Corona. Talk about the food of summer. We both ordered two smalls a piece. David ordered coconut and raspberry, and I ordered pina colada and mint chocolate chip. This Italian ice was smooth and flavorful. It didn't get watery, it wasn't too sugary, and it had depth. mmm. Good way to end a Saturday in the summer. You can find these pictures on http://www.lightningfield.com/, the owner of the website takes pictures in and around New York.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rambling: Simmer in Summer

...Glaze Yourself in Sunshine

It's summer. My first summer as a 9-5er. Do I celebrate my employment? Sure. Do I love the fact that I live and work on the same block? Maybe. Am I a nostalgic mess for those summers of the past? Summers full of messy ice cream cones, drippy popsicles, and my God, Airheads at the pool? (the chewy long things, not the people)....1,ooo times, yes. Geez. I remember when I was little, my mother used to grab my ice cream cone and lick around the edges to "clean it up," since it would undoubtedly be dripping down my hands. I am lukewarm about adulthood.

Don't worry though. Adulthood has its perks. Take champagne on the beach. Now, that is something I couldn't do as a child. Take...oh. Well, that's it. Okay, moving on from that then. Really though, the beach is my place. Summer means the beach--no matter what age you are. For sure. I have countless memories of visiting my grandparents in Florida and going to Jacksonville Beach. I have just as many of my family and I going to the beach in North Carolina. Summer after summer. In NJ, the beach is not the beach. It is in fact, the shore, and it is the closest I have ever lived to any beach. This is a perk. I visited the Jersey Shore for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was fantastic. Steph, Kara, Carrie, and I piled into the car and in an hour, we were at Sea Girt. We drank champagne on the beach (which was not allowed. oops), and we momentarily forgot we were not on summer vacation.

I had been listening to Steph rave about the mini burgers and cheap seafood for weeks before I finally understood. As soon as the sky began to get cloudy, we packed up and headed to Parker House. It was already beginning to get busy when we arrived around 4 p.m., but we found a nice little spot downstairs. We ordered mini burgers and steak burgers for $1.75 a piece. The clams were .25 cents a piece. Observe the deliciousness... And then comes the best holiday of the year. Who doesn't love the 4th of July? It is the only holiday where all you are supposed to do is eat and hangout. Okay, so maybe this is all that is required of you on Thanksgiving, but seriously. Yay, Independence Day. The Edwardses' house (there has been much debate over how to make their last name plural...i.e. Carrie and Keaton), is about five blocks from mine in Hoboken, and we were all gathering there for eats and such. There was quite a spread, but this isn't everything...
Beware of watermelon. May contain vodka.
I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of fondant. It tastes fake-ish. Like gum. Like the when toothpaste hardens at the top of the tube. I know. I'm harsh. I think it's easier to manipulate than buttercream, and I suppose it won't melt in the heat. Apparently, I am taking a passionate stance on fondant. Who knew. I brought this cake home from Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken. I spent the previous morning in the bakery kitchen with Buddy Valastro, the master baker (there really should be another way to say that) -- this my friends, is a whole other story. However, notice the fondant stars. Yes, I cut those out myself. woo. I'm amazing. How patriotic.
Keaton went to a lot of trouble to get their backyard in shape. I believe there was even some "pruning" of trees. Or was it bushes? Their apartment is the one on the second level with the Christmas lights.
We watched the fireworks from Stevens Institute, which is on the Hudson in Hoboken. This is a blurry, but cool picture of Lower Manhattan - or it's the only one that turned out at all. The fireworks (according to the July 4th edition of The Times, all 75,000 lbs of them) were actually on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, so this is what we could see from where they were on the East River. When we were walking home we could see them from Midtown as well.