Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
There are a thousand and one "when I moved here..." stories involving some tale of late night lawlessness, creative freedom and the overwhelming abundance of Salsa music. There is always a sort of wistful look in the eye as the teller regales his or her listener with the opportunities the good 'ol days provided. I indulge in it sometimes myself. When a friend visits for the first time and inevitably comments on the hustle and bustle in this capital of young hip urbanity, I never fail to let them know it wasn't always so. That it used to be better. I talk about crack pipes and prostitutes and Cokies and how in my first week living here some poor girl got mugged at gunpoint in my building. I tell them about the Stinger Club and how Diner was the only place to eat on the Southside. I tell them about parties in abandoned buildings, artists and musicians and dogs and cats living together, the beer flowing like wine. And they look at me in wonder and regret that they too couldn't have been a part of such a culturally loose blip. Then one of my friends walks over and asks "hey, when did you move here?" and proceeds to tell my once-captive audience how they got here five years before that, and that was when it was really good... blah blah blah.
As far as I can tell, I am living in my own personal golden age. Granted, I feel like I've been living in my own personal golden age since I was 18. But really, now, this has got to be it, right? We're all still here, we're bringing our kids up together, we are surviving together and we have this weird little corner of a community. Pilgrim fits right into this narrative. Once the little surf shop that could, called Mollusk BK, it is now the medium sized surf shop that hopes, called Pilgrim Surf + Supply. And it is a mom and pop store in all the best ways. Pretty soon a little coffee shop will start up next door, opening in the wee surfy hours to give all us early risers that extra morning lift. Pretty soon they'll figure out where to project the surf films. Pretty soon my son will have his after school hangout.
Rad. The beer continues to flow like wine.
More here and here.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Oddly concordant with the conversation happening in the comments section here (it's own oddly sprouting animal.) Dora was a guy seemingly obsessed with authenticity and the concept infuses much of the resulting surfing cultural ethos. In many ways the whole thing is a lie; authenticity is such a dead end road, that is, if you are trying too consciously to travel it. To some that seems to be Dora's secret M.O. A life lived seeking the authentic while ignoring the conventions of anything so stultifying. In the end, setting up a paradigm of the authentic only works if one ditches it at first pragmatic chance.
This is likely one of those ones that has made the rounds. But I wasn't around for those rounds. I picked it up over at Reba Olive's joint, and she picked it up over at The Surfer's Path. And Nike funded it so there is some funky Nike stuff at the end there. But it is a nice piece. These sorts of pieces are nice.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
It is an uninteresting question. One that requires one to imagine an ocean that produces only one single wave, not a succession. Rendered riddle perhaps the answer might have something to do with a royal procession and a car crash. It is the worst time of year here in New York. I've only been around for a little bit of the winter, and the winter I have been here for has been unseasonably mild, yet I am still walking along the edge of soft depression. The wind blows, mussing the hairs of the uneven swells, my strength sapped by a faded light that makes the drive to the beach all the more foreboding. One does not, as so often assumed, dream of a vacation beach home for the summer months. Instead it is in the winter that one pines for refuge. And it isn't even some hot, anti-seasonal getaway that one yearns for. No, it is to immerse oneself even more into the wind, the cold, the chop but somehow getting oneself further into the darkness, closer to the sea, where the salvation is. It is curious that we've not made it happen yet. It is amazing that the motivation has not overtaken all obstacles. But such is our stubborn inertia. And here is a wonderful procession of music and waves.
via N. Sabich
via N. Sabich
Friday, February 24, 2012
When I've got a lot to do and when my back is really against the wall, three actions come very naturally: firstly, stop all pertinent productivity. Two: stop checking email. And C) do something else entirely. Frankly, that's what we have here. Three, maybe four really pressing projects, some strictish deadlines and I am composing an unnecessary, long-winded blog post. And so begins my thinly researched, at times churlish review of the local Williamsburg-Brooklyn-Mexican-Food-For-Lunch situation.
I ought to start by admitting I grew up, at least until my mid teens, eating only two sorts of Mexican food: Taco Time and Azteca. Both PNW Mexican food staples. Both likely lacking in that most prized pepper, authenticity. Luckily, I can fall back on eight years living in that lap of Mexican food luxury called California (Santa Barbara and San Francisco) and a further decade or more of hanging around North County San Diego, my wife's mother's incredible enchiladas and tamales and my wife's grandparent's inconsistent supply of homemade beans and rice. Besides the months (tabulated) spent south of the boarder doing things gringos do south of the boarder. These are my credentials.
Further, to really cut down on the fluff, I'll only review a few of the local spots, namely the ones that are within reach of my office on Wythe: La Superior, Cariño, L.A. Burrito, Taco Chulo, The Endless Summer Taco Truck, The Purple Taco Truck and La Esquina.
Further, more to make this go faster for me and my tight time frame rather than to make something properly definitive, I'll keep my reviews really, really short.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap. But somehow ok. I eat there sometimes. My wife has, on occasion ordered very prescriptive bean burritos from there. Which says something.
I've never actually eaten at Taco Chulo. But one of my co-workers was kind enough to order it for lunch on my behalf. Ok. Not great. Just ok. I wouldn't take my wife there. Ever.
The Endless Summer Taco Truck
Pretty good. however, they tend to not open until way after 1pm. One time wifey tried to borrow some hot sauce for her deli sandwich from them and they gave her a hard time. It was the same day our dog died and my wife, bless her soul, was in a fragile state and started crying. The guy gave her hot sauce.
The Purple Taco Truck
The smile you receive from the lady or gentleman in the truck when you place an order is worth the slight selection and the sometimes odd feeling in the stomach afterwards.
The hip Soho transplant is actually not bad at all. You just gotta get over that eyesore of a Wythe Diner sign and your natural aversion to the hip Soho transplant.
I don't care how pretty good the food is, how well priced the menu is or how well placed it is on a street map, the service is crap. It's like someone took the worst parts of international hipsterdom, taught them how to cook pretty well, price things sensibly and locate their business cannily but then told them to accentuate all the worst parts of international hipsterdom. It's maddening. I hate it there. I don't know how many bad experiences I've had with their snotty staff but it never pleases. It turns my stomach. It makes the food taste bad in my mouth. Just the other day I went there for lunch, "just this one last time" so I told myself, only to sit alone in an empty restaurant, alone, waiting for someone to take my order. For ten minutes. In an empty restaurant. I actually wrote this whole blog just to say how much I despise La Superior.
And to say how much I esteem...
By far the best Mexican food in the neighborhood. Bar none. West Coast family with proper Mexican bloodlines have come and gone, taking tales of culinary delight back with them. Wifey swears by them. The Boy swears by them. My oldest brother swears by them. Wifey's sister swears by them. I swear by them. I swear by them now. And they are kind, gentle, gracious and warm. And the food is out of this world. Go there.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Frankly, with some, when you come to the table you're already at a disadvantage. "New York?" their eyes narrow, their mouths pucker ever so slightly. "Aren't you a surfer?" they give you the one eye up and down, they turn their body slightly sideways, they physically manifest their newfound distrust in everything you have or ever will tell them. And for that agonizing moment, your insecurity gets the better of you. You even question yourself. Then all the stop gap checks, the emergency breakers kick in and your hackles rise a touch. Then a touch more. Then you are saying something fast and emotive, barfing out all the great reasons why a surfer would want to live in New York, your defensive spittle sidestepping all the reasons stuck behind your molars as to why it is terrible to be a surfer in New York. You talk faster and faster, extolling the virtues, waving the flag, blowing the psychic clarion call for all your fellow New York surfers to join you in the fight. "Send me your strength!" your astral projection simultaneously pleads to the spiritual vibes of your compatriots.
This morning, very early, Brandon came over to take class with my wife. In his hand, a literary gift. I love New York.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
In two weeks criss-crossing the confines of Gabon's capital, I came across exactly two surfboards, spotted exactly two surf industry t-shirts and saw exactly one improbably surfable heel high mush roller breaking in three feet of polluted estuary water. And the last day... the last day I happened across this in the window of a lingerie shop.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
I've scoured the environs of Libreville to find some sort of surfable craft, hell bent on riding the tone-nail high peelers that roll in from the Gulf of Guinea onto the welcoming beach breaks inside the Gabon Estuary. Mais, il ne devait pas etre. Until I wandered into a friend's warehouse-garage-shed thingy and spotted these two examples of astute craftsmanship tucked away behind all variety of crumbling francophone automotive gear and just around the corner of some equally crafted bacalao.
A few things I am glad I remembered, and wish I'd remembered with even more aplomb while packing for my short jaunt to Central Western Africa (or Tips for the Fellow Traveller):
1. That old chestnut "cotton kills" is mostly true.
2. Wool saves, even in heat.
3. T-shirts only make people think you're low-class. Pack button ups. You just look sharper.
4. On that note, always always pack a suit. You never know when it will help you get a bump up from economy class or when you'll need to meet the president of a country.
5. If Pele is around, have someone take your picture with him.