Wednesday, August 27, 2008

View from the Whitestone Bridge, New York City

I took this shot from my parents' minivan as they drove to Boston for the first time in five years and three months, last weekend.

I grew up just beyond the left extremity of the frame in the Queens neighborhood of College Point. In this shot we've got some gravel barges coming down the East River and a freight train crossing the Hell Gate Bridge in the background. LaGuardia is just out of site beyond Riker's Island.

From ages 14-17 I commuted to Regis High School in Manhattan, buried in the Upper East Side skyline behind the Hell Gate Bridge.

The repeated journey from one edge of this frame to the other and back is basically what my entire life is about.

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Drinking Advice from Long-Lost BFF

"Bob, as my best fuckin' friend of 25 years, I have to tell you: get fuckin' Crystal Light and vodka. You go to the store and get fuckin' Crystal Light--anyone sees you getting it, says something, punch them right in the fuckin' mouth. Get Crystal Light Lemonade and vodka. It's like five fuckin' calories and you get fuckin' hammered."

--CK, via telephone, August 27, 2008. Almost exact quote.

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Change of Seasons?

Is it not summer anymore in Boston, or is it just sleight of nature? Every year when it becomes cool outside, it reminds me of all the pleasures and anxieties I faced my first autumn here, back in 1999. There's part of me that knows it will probably be ninety degrees again in late September, but there's also the part of me that fears the winter. At least we have variety and the emotions inspired by it.

On a related note, the perfect thing to be listening to while looking backward and forward at the same time is WFUV. This amazing radio station, based at Fordham U in the Bronx, astounds me for two simple reasons. One: it is a live creation generated by a handful of talented DJs. Two: the music they play is perfectly crafted, performed, and recorded. If you've read this far, you must check it out.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Dignity Hunt XX: Morbidly Obese Employees Advertising Pizza and Ice Cream, Lexington, N.C.

A&M Grill, Mebane, N.C. (From NCBBQII Pt VI: The Westward Quest to Lexington)

Nestled away in a tiny mill-town that's slowly being claimed by migrant Hispanic workers, A&M grill is a strange place. On a Saturday afternoon, its dining room was largely devoid of humans but teeming with flies. The barbecue here has a strong smoky flavor that seems strangely unaccentuated by the thick, peppery red sauce slathered on top.

This place was closed during NCBBQI in 2006, so we had to stop back in this past June. As always, click on the thumbnails for larger images.

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Magnetic Proselytizing

Mebane, N.C.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paradise and Lunch

Every American citizen should have to own a copy of Ry Cooder's Paradise and Lunch. I listen to it about three times per day when I'm home. It's just that good. It makes me wonder how anyone could have been talented enough to create it.

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From NCBBQII Pt 5: Dillard's Bar-B-Q, Durham, NC

Full set on Flickr.

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From NCBBQII Pt 5: Dillard's Sign, North Side

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From NCBBQII Pt 5: Twin Meals at Dillard's

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From NCBBQII Pt 5: Dillard's Barbecue

Full set on Flickr

That's supposedly South Carolina-style barbecue--it's yellow because of a heavy dosage of either mustard or mustard flour. Dillard's definitely provides service with a smile and a full array of sides. Their unusually spherical hushpuppies taste almost like donut holes.

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family in boston. homebound for a while. many, many new photos and ideas coming soon.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Five Weeks

In the past five weeks, I've been to Portland, Maine (2 days), home (45 min), Edmonton, Alberta (3 days), home (2 days), Bloomington, IN (3 days), home (2 days), NY (4 days), home (2 days), Miami (2 days), home (2 days), Philadelphia (3 days), NY (x days), and now what?

How does anyone expect me to keep doing this? How do I expect anything from myself? Why am I still in a groundlessly good mood? Where am I sleeping tonight?


Monday, August 18, 2008

Philly, Continued: DiNic's Italian BBQ

I was in for quite a surprise today when I walked into Downtown Philly's Reading Market for lunch. When I saw a stall advertising brisket and pulled pork, I figured it was some type of northern, gas-cooked, imitation barbecue. That was going to be good enough for a quick lunch. What I found was something very different: a new-to-me style of barbecue true to both American and Italian American traditions.

Fifteen minutes on line were worth it. Though the meat at DiNic's is definitely gas cooked, it's tender as hell. Stacks of cooked shoulders and brisket line the counter, waiting for the knife. Here, it's not so much the flavor of hickory coals that give the meat its flavor, but the Italian accoutrements. Both beef and pork sandwiches get a splash of a thin "gravy," which had more than a hint of apple cider vinegar. I also had them throw on some of the options. Upon request, the sandwich maker lined my sub roll with slices of sharp provolone. I also got roasted green peppers and "greens" (choice of broccoli rabe or spinach--I always get the rabe). The buttery garlic flavor of the rabe soaked right into the chopped pork shoulder.

I have to wonder if there are other places that serve this kind of BBQ in Philly or if DiNic's is one-of-a-kind.

Speaking of Mid-Atlantic BBQ, the Amtrak magazine clued me in on the Baltimore Pit Beef. If you want to read about that, open Arrive Magazine here and use the TOC to open up to page 66.

Two cameraphone shots of DiNic's Italian pulled pork sub:

I may have to go back tomorrow with my real equipment.

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"willing to bet that this is just a phase"

quoth a colleague re: my being in a band.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

I am now

in Philly. My train died no less three times on the long way down (circuit breaker problems), and we were treated to sitting in the Hudson River tunnel in a total blackout for several minutes. This is summer travel week 5 of 5, and I'm in a pretty good mood.


Blue Line Yard and Shops, East Boston

April. I posted a few new aerials yesterday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

NCBBQII Part The Fourth: From Ayden to Beaufort and Back

It was still the first day of our trip, a Friday. We'd had unbelievable experiences driving from DC to B's and then down to Ayden. For the rest of the day, we explored the rural east, discovered a large industrial port complex in Morehead City, got some alright cue at Roland's in nearby Beaufort, then took a dip at Atlantic Beach. The sun was setting fast, so we rolled up the unlit backroads back to Greenville and discovered an unexpectedly vibrant bar scene there. The gin and beer were basically free, so I took full advantage.

Here are the best photos from this leg of the trip. Click a photo and you can see it larger on Flickr.

Guns, Knives & Tits

Barn Trio


Topless Barn

Christian Cream Donuts, New Bern, NC

Worship Him (Store) Near New Bern, NC

Beaufort, NC Fire Dept Ford C-Series Reserve Pumper

Beaufort, NC Fire Dept GMC Brigadier Pumper

Roland's BBQ, Beaufort, NC

Hushpuppies at Roland's BBQ
This is what hushpuppies are supposed to look like--not that crap you get at Redbones.

Roland's House BBQ Sauce, Beaufort, NC

Birds, Atlantic Beach, NC




Rob L at Quality Inn, Greenville

The next morning it was on to the Research Triangle for some South Carolina style 'cue, then on to Lexington for some of Lexington No. 1's famous product.

Stay tuned...

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John Mayer?

If you're bored on this Friday afternoon, consider reading my interview of John Mayer from April 2002. I thought it was so cool that we both got into music the same way.

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Dear friend-colleague people,

Thanks for your kind words and encouragement this week. I'll do everything I can to make sure that the blog and photostream continue to thrive! Drop a comment once in a while, if you can.

See you on the road...

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Monday, August 11, 2008

I hope this doesn't happen again tomorrow.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

27 Years STD-Free


Cambridge Police: Strong Douchebag Potential After Midnight

Officer in car on right tells me I'm violating "the wiretapping statute" by "videotaping" flashing lights. Officer standing behind me tells me I'm blocking traffic by not standing on the curb and in the already blocked street. "WE'RE MAKING ARRESTS!" Apparently it takes about a dozen douchebags in five crown vics and a wagon to arrest two more douchebags punching each other outside a frat bar. Waste of time, guys. Perhaps all douchebags involved should read up on the First Amendment.

If it's not a secure crime scene and it's in public view, it's fair game, with or without meritless intimidation.

All files I created at this scene, which was clearly under control, were images without audio or video. I normally respect the police, unless they act like douchebags.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Two Evenings on the Mississippi

Because I'm extremely stressed and am experiencing typical life conflicts, I'm uploading twenty pictures of Mississippi River traffic that I took in New Orleans this March. That was a good trip with what I'd call creatively used downtime. Between convention and dinner, I'd walk down to the riverwalk, buy an Abita draft in a plastic cup, and sit down with my camera. Just like my adolescent days in McNeill Park in Queens, though I wasn't a beer drinker then.

Go to the photoset for more detail.

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Looters WILL be shot, Take Two

Take One here.

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Flag of the Bywater, New Orleans

This old flag survived Katrina and who knows what else...

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Engine 9, New Orleans

From this past March.

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Infrastructure as Dual Citizen

While doing some planning for the three-musician songwriting summit to occur this weekend, it struck me that INFRASTRUCTURE could only be a New York and Boston band. It only makes sense; it's where the three of us are from. It's make or break time. No giving up and waiting for an easier opportunity.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sparkle and Fade

Every Boston band I've liked since college has done an album or two and vanished. First Meghan Toohey and her So-and-So's, and now The Spurs and The Snowleopards have gone dormant. Nothing from John Powhida's Rudds nor from his International Airport.

This is a bad sign.

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Most Productive Four Days Ever

And no blog posts to prove it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I still don't understand...

why Greyhound and its partial subsidiary, Bolt Bus, insist on crossing the Harlem River at 135th Street and then driving local streets through all of Manhattan to 34th or 42nd. The Chinatown buses use any combination of two East River crossings to shave off a lot of time.

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