It is fitting that NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA and MASHA ALEKHINA of PUSSY RIOT are arriving in NYC for Wednesday’s AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL benefit concert at the BARCLAYS CENTER, as the eyes of the world are on Sochi, Russia for Friday’s kickoff of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were released from Russian prisons under Kremlin amnesty days before Christmas, after nearly two years of imprisonment following a punk-rock infused protest against Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church staged inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. As Putin now stands proudly over his Olympic spectacle on the coast of the Black Sea, it is widely speculated that the recent release of Pussy Riot was not a humanitarian gesture, but merely an effort to mitigate negative attitudes toward Russia throughout the Western world in the weeks leading up to the Olympics.
In 1980, The United States led a formal boycott against the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union invasion in Afghanistan. However, as we participate in the 2014 Olympics in post-Cold War era Sochi, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that Russia’s president is currently imprisoning its citizens for protest that is deemed “blasphemous,” or “undermining to the moral fabric of Russia,” as Putin claimed in the case of Pussy Riot. Additionally, Putin has been an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, and while he maintains that gay people are welcome in Sochi, he has implored them to “leave the children alone,” citing recent Kremlin legislation prohibiting “homosexual propaganda.”
Without a communist bogeyman to rally against, all we can do in the face of homophobia, censorship, and political imprisonment is turn to America’s favorite form of resistance…rock music. At the Barclays Center on Wednesday, Pussy Riot will be joined by artists such as LAURYN HILL, IMAGINE DRAGONS, CAKE, COLD WAR KIDS, and others to benefit AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, an organization that supports those who are unjustly imprisoned throughout the world, for its first mega-concert since 1988. This will be big and fun (and expensive for the good seats), and you can rock out to an eclectic musical lineup while supporting a worthwhile cause.
The following evening, Thursday, February 6th, brings the opportunity to join Nadya and Masha of Pussy Riot at another event on a much more intimate scale, as they will be the guests of honor at a cocktail reception fundraiser for THE VOICE PROJECT at THE SPOTTED PIG in the West Village. This event, for which you can reserve your spot for a $300 donation per person or $500 per couple, will be hosted by SEAN ONO LENNON, KIM GORDON (of Sonic Youth), QUESTLOVE (of The Roots), actors, MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL and PETER SARSGAARD, and Spotted Pig Co-Owner, KEN FRIEDMAN. The event takes place from 7pm-10pm, and it will feature cocktails, fine hors d’oeuvres from the heralded kitchen of APRIL BLOOMFIELD, and hopefully a music performance or two. Proceeds from this event benefit THE VOICE PROJECT, a Non-Governmental Organization founded by ANNA GABRIEL (daughter of Peter Gabriel), that uses music to promote social change and human rights advocacy throughout the world. For the high rollers, $1000 per person or $1500 per couple buys VIP status, which includes a private meeting with Pussy Riot during the first hour of the event…a small price to get in on the ground floor of the future revolution!
The very young and upwardly mobile alt rock outfit, THE DISTRICTS, played a show on Thursday night at the new Williamsburg venue, BABY’S ALL RIGHT, to celebrate this week’s release of their self-titled EP on FAT POSSUM RECORDS. This quartet of recent high school graduates hails from Lititz, Pennsylvania, deep in the heart of Lancaster’s Amish country, and they are beginning to making a lot of noise on the scene on a national level. I caught them accidentally on the penultimate show of 2013 at Brooklyn Bowl when they opened for label mates, THE FELICE BROTHERS, and I found myself immediately engaged by the band’s raw energy and staccato explosiveness. Apparently, so did most of the sold out crowd, as evidenced by a rare period of attentiveness from an audience for an opening band they didn’t come to see and probably never heard before.
With none of the four band members presumably even old enough to order a drink at the venue, THE DISTRICTS are poised for much success ahead. Oxford, Mississippi based indie label, FAT POSSUM RECORDS, which signed THE DISTRICTS in November, has been a springboard label for many emerging artists turned industry superstars, most notably THE BLACK KEYS, who released three albums with the label, beginning with their sophomore release, “Thickfreakness,” which arguably identified the band’s sound for the masses. FAT POSSUM has also been home to many established artists, such as BAND OF HORSES, ANDREW BIRD, and SPIRITUALIZED, as well as newer bands on the rise like CAVEMAN, HEARTLESS BASTARDS and YOUTH LAGOON.
THE DISTRICTS appeal to me in the same way that I enjoy the recordings of bands like COLD WAR KIDS and DELTA SPIRIT. These are all bands that feature a certain brand of strangled male lead vocals that evoke a sense of desperation and loss of control, which I happen to find particularly appealing and inspiring in today’s indie rock sound. It’s like the sound of someone who is singing while on the verge of jumping off a cliff. While Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids and Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez both consistently pull this off in the studio, particularly on their earlier releases, neither band brings the energy and passion to their live performances to the extent that this young band seems to have already demonstrated. Lead vocalist/guitarist, ROB GROTE, appears almost to be in a trance while performing, channeling lyrical phrases from the deepest part of his inner soul as the band routinely fluctuates from quiet and melodic to loud and frenetic within the course of a single song.
The EP takes remastered versions of the three strongest tracks from the band’s self-released 2012 debut album, “Telephone,” and bookends them with two new songs, “Rocking Chair,” a rollicking ode to the (childhood?) days gone by and “Stay Open,” which maintains the band’s signature style while somehow echoing the influence of QUEEN. The three remastered songs, “Lyla,” “Long Distance,” and “Funeral Beds,” however, will be the radio hit singles that catapult this band into the mainstream.
THE DISTRICTS have a full length album in the works, and they are set to tour in support of Austin, TX pop rock outfit, WHITE DENIM, including a return to NYC with a show at WEBSTER HALL on February 28th. They are already booked for early slots in great company in May at both the BOSTON CALLING FESTIVAL and THE SHAKY KNEES FESTIVAL in Atlanta, where you can see them alongside Cold War Kids and draw your own conclusions. Grote and his bandmates have moved from Amish country to a house in Philadelphia that they share. It’s a small move for a young band, but from the looks of things, it is just a stop on the road to the rest of the world.
I don’t usually go out of my way for Ramen, but I like it when it’s good. Toothsome pulled noodles in a rich broth with hearty protein and greens, and maybe a poached egg make for a very satisfying and comforting meal. Given the popularity of Japanese Ramen noodles and their relatively low price point, the places that do Ramen well are tend to be packed with enthusiasts at peak hours.
I love going to Ippudo, but only at off times such as late afternoon or just before closing, as I have never met a bowl of noodles that is worth waiting hours for. I applied the same principle to my visit to CHUKO in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. I had no expectations of this place, but passed through one rainy afternoon to find much more than I bargained for.
My first impression was that the decor was a less successful reappropriation of Momofuku Noodle Bar’s design sensibility. Blonde wood with a mix of tables and bar seating and a sleek, modern look, but less interesting and more ordinary than David Chang’s East Village flagship. Truthfully, as much as I love Momofuku, I rarely order the ramen there in favor of Chang’s creatively crafted small plates that change daily. Chang’s ramen is very good, albeit a bit salty for my liking, but I’d rather spend my time there devouring roasted rice cakes and pork buns as well as the latest seafood or offal focused creation du jour.
Once I got past the Momo-faux-ku decor and made my selections from the concise and appealing menu, I kept my eyes only on the food that was set before me. Based on my experience with the Shrimp Bun, I would be excited to try any bun that comes out of this kitchen. If shrimp buns are your thing, look no further than Chuko, as this one blows away both the Momofuku and Ippudo versions.
But the main event here is the ramen. While I’m not generally a fan of what we have come to know as Miso soup, I opted for the Miso based Ramen as opposed to the Soy or Kimchi based alternatives. This broth was so rich and delicious that as deep as my bowl was I did not want it to ever end. With low expectations from my choice to go with the vegetarian option over the undoubtedly heartier pork based version, I was astounded by how deeply flavorful this soup was. With perfectly cooked noodles and a wide assortment of market vegetables, this bowl of ramen may be the best thing $13 has bought me to eat all year. Word on the street is that the Pork Bone ramen special is outstanding, and it beckons my return. I learned after the fact, as I am sharing it, that Chuko is the brainchild of three self proclaimed ramen “geeks” who hail from the kitchen of Morimoto. These guys mean business. They recently announced the future opening of BAR CHUKO across the street, which will be an Izakaya featuring yakitori, small plates and cocktails.
So now you know what to do next time you are an hour along on your three hour wait to be seated at Ippudo. Jump on the subway and head for Prospect Heights. You can probably get to Chuko, eat, and get back to Ippudo before your name is called. Although the word is out on Chuko, and the wait time for dinner is beginning to rival its downtown Manhattan counterparts. Get on the train and pay Chuko a visit anyway. One could make the argument that the ramen is actually better.
CHUKO is located at 552 Vanderbilt Avenue at Dean Street, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn 718-576-6701 www.barchuko.com/
BROOKTOBER FEST TOMORROW! Pig Out and Party with J. RODDY WALSTON & THE BUSINESS
For those love to rock out and pig out, you may want to make your way over to the water’s edge at N.11th Street in Williamsburg tomorrow, Saturday, September 21st between the hours of 2pm and 10pm for the first annual BROOKTOBER FEST. Enjoy views of Manhattan, where no one is having nearly as much fun as you inevitably will be, while guzzling down some craft beers and pigging out on swine at a waterfront pig roast. If the pig roast isn’t enough of a mouthful, check out Cleveland, Tennessee based roots-rock outfit, J. RODDY WALSTON & THE BUSINESS. The raw, piano driven rockers will be headlining in support of their new release, ESSENTIAL TREMORS, on ATO Records. J. Roddy and the boys have been doing their thing for over a decade, and this new release is an exceptionally raucous good time. If you enjoy bands like The Black Keys and Drive By Truckers, you should not miss this show. There will be other local bands performing throughout the day, and DJ sets between the live music. Oh yeah, and admission is FREE for a 21 and over crowd. Just another day in Williamsburg…
THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON has been kind of quiet these days, and here’s why… BROOKLYN GLUTTON founder, ROB STRIEM, has had a few other responsibilities getting in the way of overeating and attending rock shows. I’m not usually one to mix business with pleasure, but here’s what’s been happening between meals…
Rob Striem has lived in New York his whole life, mostly in Brooklyn, and has built a prolific career over the past two decades in the film business. He began as an office production assistant where on his third day on the job, the locations manager needed help and Rob stepped up to the plate. The rest is history as they say, and Striem has now been credited on over 30 projects in New York. For the last 15 years, he has been a department head and manages location teams that range from 5 to 15 people.
Striem loves his work because, he says, “Every project is different. It is never boring. Every day is a new adventure and you never know what to expect. I think of looking at a location as though I am looking at it through a lens.” He especially loves working on feature films because he feels as if, “my efforts live on as a legacy for what I put into it. It’s interesting when a location ends up driving the story and results in presenting a situation that was not thought of originally.”
Very early in Striem’s career he worked on Trees Lounge, a film written and directed by Steve Buscemi that took place in a bar in Glendale, Queens. When Striem was scouting the location, the owner showed him the apartment where he lived upstairs over the bar. When Striem presented the option to Buscemi, the story was changed to make the main character actually live upstairs over that bar; illustrating how powerful a role a location can play in the process. Striem says, “It happens all the time and it is fun is when you can introduce reality into the creative.”
Rob Striem’s recent achievements have been Men in Black III, Side Effects, Non Stop and The Adjustment Bureau, all participants in the New York State Film Production Credit Program. He commented, “I remember when film production was fleeing to Canada. State tax credits have really attracted business back to New York.” For someone who enjoys working close to home, that is really important and Striem anticipates production volume greatly increasing over the coming years.
With the exception of Sex in the City, most of Striem’s work has been on feature films and he especially enjoys working on productions helmed by Steven Soderbergh. Having worked on four Soderbergh projects, he appreciates the minimalist approach of the filmmaker. On one project, The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh chose not to hire a production designer and instead relied on Striem to influence the look of the movie through location scouting. When Striem heard that Soderbergh would be directing all ten episodes of The Knick, he immediately accepted the position of location manager for the new HBO mini-series. The series is described as a look at the professional and personal lives of the staff of the Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 20th century, so Striem is in his element finding locations that can be turned back in time to 1901. Over the years, Striem has often been challenged to identify locations that can be believable as other places and time periods. While working on Across the Universe, a film about the Beatles directed by Julie Taymor, Striem was able to secure a three-block section of Rivington Street in Manhattan that was made to look like St. Marks Place in 1969 and a location in the Bronx that stood in for Detroit during the riots of the 1960’s. Similarly, Striem aided Barry Sonnenfeld in transforming Coney Island and other New York locations into 1969 for Men in Black III.
Throughout his career, Striem has had many occasions to make use of locations in Westchester, Nassau and Orange Counties. When working in these locations, he has always found it to be a great experience because the community gets caught up in the spectacle of filming. He says, “Many towns outside of the city provide a wide range of locations that can double for a variety of distant settings. There are lots of great locations and people like to work there.”
Lately, Rob Striem is also exceptionally busy on the home front with middle-of-the-night duty with his three-month-old son Parker and charting the ambition of his nine-year-old daughter, Marley. Marley recently made a video on her iPad with location usage that even amazed her veteran Dad, and signs indicate that she may be following in his footsteps.
AMERICANARAMA FESTIVAL - HOBOKEN, NJ - July 26, 2013
BOB DYLAN is joined by JEFF TWEEDY of Wilco, JIM JAMES of My Morning Jacket, and PETER WOLF of The J. Geils Band for a rendition of The Band’s legendary anthem, "THE WEIGHT."
This video is a BROOKLYN GLUTTON original. See and hear lots of great live rock performances through the eyes and ears of THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON on our exclusive YouTube channel, THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON VIDEO TUBE. There you will find a couple of other great moments from AMERICANARAMA, including the WILCO set finale,"ALL THE YOUNG DUDES"by Mott The Hoople led by their frontman, IAN HUNTER and featuring MY MORNING JACKET, WARREN HAYNES of the Allman Brothers and Govt Mule on guitar, and show opener, RYAN BINGHAM.
You will also find the historic companion piece to the video featured here, from the 2011 Wilco Solid Sound Festival, featuring another excellent performance of “THE WEIGHT,” in which WILCO joins THE LEVON HELM BAND. It is the channel’s most watched video.
As for Americanarama on the Pier in Hoboken, it was a lovely Friday night, the sound was actually very good, and all of the music was great. Wilco and MMJ sharing a bill would have been enough, but the addition of a rather inspired Bob Dylan set was a huge bonus, particularly when it yields a moment like the one captured here. As for the venue, as good as the views are of the NYC skyline, the venue suffered from inadequate food supply and a crappy beer selection.
If you had the forethought to grab a lobster roll from the LUKE’S LOBSTER truck on the way into the show, all would be fine and dandy, and you could even have topped it off with a hand scooped BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM cone. Or you could be like me and wait until the end of the Wilco set when you are starving, and eat the ice cream as an appetizer while waiting in line for an hour (well into the first half of the BOB DYLAN set) for a couple of serviceable pork tacos and some very salty and extremely messy chicken nachos. At this point, I could not even get a lousy 24 oz can of Coors Light to wash it down because they cut off beer sales at 9pm…and my Diet Coke was warm.
Good thing I mustered up the energy to make my way closer to the stage so as not to miss this great moment.
Sometimes great food can be found in unlikely places. DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE & DELI is buried amidst a sea of random storefronts on a bustling commercial block in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This is a busy spot less than a block from Fulton Street, on the outskirts of a residential community that is largely West Indian, African, and African American. This is an odd place for a Jewish deli, and this is an odd Jewish deli.
DAVID’S basically does three things and does them well…Brisket, Pastrami and Corned Beef (pictured below). Sure, you can get a burger or an omelet, or um, crab salad, but this place’s entire raison d’etre, is these three sandwiches. Rest assured, they are very good. Without any fanfare, these sandwiches contain warm, juicy, thinly sliced meat with just enough fat, that melts in your mouth. Get some nice cole slaw or potato salad, or an order of steak fries and a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda, and you’ve got an unexpected Jewish soul food feast in the heart of Brooklyn.
So what makes David’s so odd aside from its location? For starters, this a Jewish deli operated by Muslims. As it states on the front of the menu, David’s is open seven days a week, but closed from 12:30 until 2:00pm on Fridays for Muslim prayer service, after which the store re-opens until 9pm, and throughout the Jewish sabbath on Saturday, when a Kosher deli would ordinarily be closed. The truth is that Kosher and Halal dietary laws are quite similar, so as long as there’s no pork on the fork, Muslims and pastrami go together like Jews and falafel. The other advantage to a Halal deli is that David’s will make a Reuben by melting cheese on any sandwich, if you are into that sort of thing. This is decidedly not Kosher, but acceptable under Halal guidelines. Actually, it is worth noting that KATZ’S DELI also makes Reuben sandwiches, as Katz’s is neither Kosher nor Halal.
The other thing that makes David’s unusual for a deli of this variety is that the sandwiches can be ordered in three sizes, a feature that is unheard of in the realm of oversized and overstuffed Jewish delis, where the sandwiches are usually designed to bust your belly and your wallet. At David’s, any of the three meats can be ordered in a small, regular or large sandwich, and the only difference is volume. A regular sandwich contains about a half pound of meat, and costs $10 (the corned beef sandwich pictured is a ‘regular’). You can upsize that to 3/4 of a pound for $13 or you can order a dainty quarter pound sandwich for a mere $7. Combinations of any two meats will set you back $16, and the whopping “3 The Hard Way” is exactly what it sounds like, a combo of the three on one sandwich. Yes, the sandwich costs $23, but if you can successfully devour the entire thing in 9 minutes or less, your photo goes up on the David’s Brisket House Hall of Fame wall. As of this post, there only seem to be three members, so you could be the fourth inductee into this very elite club if you act fast and eat quickly.
This is certainly the best deli sandwich available in this neighborhood, but DAVID’S HOUSE OF BRISKET is not so much about the decor. Aside from the dangling cork board with photos of the nine minute sandwich hall of fame gluttons, there is a partially obscured view out the front window of other neighborhood storefronts and signage, the highlights of which are “100% Human Hair Wigs,” the “59 cent store,” “All Occasions Karaoke,” and ATM’s offering “$10 bills for 99 cents.” However, the only decorative item that really matters here is the banner listing the holy trinity of available sandwiches.
DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE opened a second location in Bay Ridge about a year ago with a slightly larger and more attractive seating area. Bay Ridge is an ethnically diverse neighborhood, where people from all walks of life can enjoy plentiful deli sandwiches in threes sizes. Nevertheless, Jewish or Muslim, Kosher or Halal, Bed Stuy or Bay Ridge…none of it matters except Brisket, Pastrami or Corned Beef; small, regular or large. All you really need is an appetite and some sense of how to find your way around Brooklyn. Vegetarians need not apply. Shalom and Assalamu alaikum from THE BROOKLYN GLUTTON!
DAVID’S BRISKET HOUSE is at 533 Nostrand Avenue in Bed Stuy; and at 7721 Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge.
On May 9, 1988, I had the unforgettable experience of seeing GUNS N’ ROSES play the Felt Forum, adjacent to Madison Square Garden (now known as “The Theater at MSG”).I was 16 years old, it was a school night, and AXL ROSE hit the stage about two hours late in notoriously predictable fashion, but eventually came out and rocked the place, exuding raw energy in the purest and most unbridled form that I had ever witnessed at the time.GNR was in its prime with the original lineup of Axl, Slash, Izzy , Duff, and Steven Adler on the heels of the worldwide success of Appetite for Destruction and their already ubiquitous follow up record, GN’R Lies (I call them ‘records,’ because that’s what they actually were).Everything about this band of Hollywood derelicts seemed authentic, from Axl explaining his lateness by bragging that he got drunk on an MTV shoot and spent the rest of the day passed out, to his announcement that they would be returning to play “upstairs” (at MSG) in August with Aerosmith, “unless we O.D. before then.”Even as a dopey adolescent, I had the sense that I was witnessing history, if for no reason other than the undeniable reality that these guys were on top of the world but clearly teetering on the edge.
25 years later, practically to the day, AXL ROSE and the latest incarnation of GUNS N’ ROSES played a last-minute, secret show on Thursday night (June 6) at BROOKLYN BOWL before an intimate crowd of 600 people, in advance of their headline gig on Saturday, June 8th at Governor’s Ball on Randall’s Island.Rose, the only original member of the band, now 51, is no longer the slinky, slender bad boy poster child for heroin chic, but instead he has become somewhat of a visual oddity in recent years, popping up on the internet balding and bloated, sometimes in corn row braids, frequently sporting a fu manchu mustache.Axl graced the Brooklyn Bowl stage on Thursday wearing a wide brimmed fedora and large aviator shades for the duration of the show, which when combined with a substantial amount of bling around his neck and hands, had the effect of what you might get if you crossed a contemporary Van Morrison with a pre-Rastafarian Snoop Dogg, the former of whom I’ve seen on numerous occasions at the Theater at MSG, and the latter of whom I’ve seen both at Randall’s Island and at Brooklyn Bowl, making the reference not only relevant, but informed.
Nevertheless, despite the weirdness of the visual, the Brooklyn crowd seemed pleasantly surprised by Axl’s vocal range and overall enthusiasm.Given his track record, those in attendance would have been justified in having low expectations and the legitimate fear that Rose might take their money, show up late and phone it in, assuming of course that he actually makes it to the venue.On the contrary, Axl Rose came to play and started reasonably on time, in fact (about 11:15 for an 11pm showtime).He sang for real, hit the high notes, remembered the words, and rocked as hard as ever, truthfully.
I wasn’t really sure what to make of Axl and his 8 man band of flashy rock star types during the opening song, “You’re Crazy,” which seemed to be slowed down considerably, with the lyrics somewhat garbled and perhaps vocally re-interpreted by Rose, a la Bob Dylan.Guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, was wearing a torn t-shirt bearing the slogan “My Wife Rocks,” and something about GUNS N’ ROSES, party of eight, brought about the immediate concern that this could amount to little more than a geriatric GNR tribute band fronted by the original singer, who may as well be someone else anyway.However, once the band picked up the energy after the opening song with their signature anthem, “Welcome to the Jungle,” it immediately came together.Axl began moving about the small stage, and it became apparent that his unmistakably shrill voice was very much intact.The band definitely looked the part, but also proved to be bona fide rock stars who knew what they were doing.The three guitarists DJ ASHBA, RICHARD FORTUS, and BUMBLEFOOT are all seasoned players well versed in the genre, and bassist, TOMMY STINSON, who was a founding member of THE REPLACEMENTS in 1979 at the age of 13, held it steady as the credible grownup, albeit a fish out of water.He was rewarded for his participation with the opportunity to play one of his own songs, “Motivation,” later in the set.
I believe that once the band got through the first song and became acclimated with the surroundings, they came to terms with the reality of the situation as well.They would be spending the next two hours in front of a small crowd of New Yorkers who may have been willing to shell out $150 to attend this happening, but they weren’t going to scream and fawn over a band that phoned it in.If anything, half of these people may have paid the money knowing full well that if their return didn’t come in the form of an awesome show, at least they’d have great stories to tell about the train wreck around the water cooler in the morning.Axl looked over the audience and exclaimed “I didn’t realize it was going to be THIS kind of a show.” At times, guitarist, DJ Ashba, looked out at the crowd incredulously as if bewildered by the absence of topless women or throngs of fist pumping devil horns.Welcome to the Jungle, boys.You are in Brooklyn now, and nobody is going to love you just for being you, so the choice is either to rock the house or wake up tomorrow with reports of mediocrity that will follow you across the river to Randall’s Island on Saturday.
Luckily, GNR rose to the occasion and belted out a 20 song set of almost every classic we could have wished for, with the exception of possibly “November Rain,” and “Patience,” which the band seemed to be planning for as they reached for the acoustic guitars during the encore, only to be discouraged by Axl, who apologized on more than one occasion for his lack of energy, as he was fighting nausea throughout the night after eating something nasty at a truck stop.He jokingly feigned a motion to vomit on several occasions, once over the front row of the crowd…not nearly as Rock and Roll a move as drinking all morning and spending the day passed out as he did in 1988.Nevertheless, if he didn’t bring his ailment to the attention of the crowd, no one would have noticed, because the energy that he displayed was more than anyone bargained for, and we would have probably attributed his frequent exits from the stage during guitar solos to eccentricity or addiction rather than incontinence brought about by food poisoning.Despite Axl not having the patience to sing “Patience,” the band still finished up strong, closing out the show with a high energy encore consisting of a cover of “The Seeker,” by The Who and a satisfying “Paradise City,” as seen in the video link below.
All in all, GUNS N’ROSES gave the crowd what they wanted…an inspired set of classics in an intimate setting without any distracting antics or drama.Axl Rose left NYC feeling good about the state of GNR in its current place in history and affirmed that the classics still hold up.For BROOKLYN BOWL, it’s another one for the record books along with Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, M.I.A., Paul Simon, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and former President, Bill Clinton, all giants of our culture who have graced the stage at one point or another in the nearly four years since the intimate venue opened.It is the intimacy of the room and the relaxed vibe of the venue combined with the eager but unfazed Brooklyn audience that makes these events so special.When Axl Rose stepped out on stage on Thursday night, it was as if he were transported back to a time even before the Felt Forum show in 1988.The last time GNR played in Brooklyn, it was October 29, 1987, at the now defunct Heavy Metal club, L’AMOUR, before an even smaller audience than Thursday’s.I would love to hear a recording of the entire Brooklyn Bowl show, because my ears may have been deceiving me, but I thought I heard Axl say “it feels like we’re playing at L’Amours.”Whether he actually verbalized that reference or not, that is what I heard, and that is what it felt like to me.Unfortunately, I was 15 years old at the time of that show, and thwarted by the “16 and over” door policy.It may have taken Axl a whole 25 years to get back to Brooklyn, but I’m glad he made it, and I’m glad I was there to witness Rock and Roll history the second time around with Axl…albeit older, wiser, and undoubtedly fatter.
GUNS N’ ROSES perform Paradise City at Brooklyn Bowl 06/06/13
THE NEW JIMMY’S DINER: Greenpoint Expansion is Better Than Ever
Huevos con Grits, a spicy Bloody Mary, and a bottomless cup of Stumptown Hairbender hit the spot for brunch at the new JIMMY’S DINER on the corner of Franklin and Calyer in Greenpoint this Memorial Day weekend. This new outpost of the fittingly all-American eatery seemed like the perfect destination for the patriotic holiday weekend, illuminating the fact that it fills a conspicuous culinary void in the area. Not only has this North Brooklyn neighborhood been long overdue for a reliable diner with simple, delicious food and drinks, but this local favorite has also been in need of a second location now that it’s bursting at the seams at its tiny flagship storefront in Williamsburg, on Union Avenue, just across McCarren Park. The lines outside the original Jimmy’s have been particularly long lately, thanks in part to Guy Fieri’s Food TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” which recently featured chef/owner and Brooklyn native, JOSH COHEN, his wife and business partner, BLAIR PAPAGNI, and the little comfort food mecca they have created.
The new JIMMY’S DINER on the Greenpoint side is easily double if not triple the size of the original with a very similar menu featuring favorites such as Fried Chicken and Waffles, Pulled Pork Hash, a very good burger, and some main course salads plus first rate egg creams and milkshakes (with or without booze). The vibe is warm and cozy and everyone is smiling, from the attractive waitresses to the happy patrons.
The space formerly housed another venture by Cohen and Papagni known as CALYER, a well liked neighborhood restaurant featuring small plates of creative American fare. After a solid first year or so with NYC journeyman chef, Gabriel Moya in the kitchen, Moya’s departure to open his own place in Chicago followed by a few rotations of replacements ultimately resulted in the restaurant’s abrupt closing…only to re-open two short weeks later as JIMMY’S DINER, serving 9am to midnight daily.
This stealth transformation from the high concept to the simple and reliable seems to be something that Cohen & Papagni are becoming quite good at. Only weeks ago, the restaurant duo converted their sleek, modernist bar/restaurant, BELLWETHER across from the original JIMMY’S on Union Ave and Richardson Street, which closed its doors at the start of the year, into an unpretentious bar called OVER THE EIGHT, playing hard rock and serving excellent creative sandwiches and drink specials designed to get you loaded. Try the awesome “Turkey Dip,” topped with sauteed Brussel Sprouts, gravy and a fried Potato Croquette served with a bag of Zapp’s chips, along with an ice cold Tecate and a shot of decent tequila, and get change for your twenty. The bar menu seems to be expanding by the day, with a new small plates menu, taco nights, and brunch with sidewalk seating.
I’ve been speculating for a while that the high concept restaurant market in the area has become saturated, and that we are reaching a point where simplicity will prevail. These guys do simple exceptionally well, and as a result, the welcoming and satisfying restaurant that is the new JIMMY’S DINER has quickly found its place in this Greenpoint neighborhood, and the locals are flocking in droves. We, the residents of North Brooklyn are very lucky to have both JIMMY’S DINER locations close to home, and I would argue that every neighborhood in America should have one.