Thursday, May 29, 2008

SOMETHING ABOUT BUSSES


I'm stuck on a bus, so: a random bus thought. All over Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, there are these mini-busses called Dolla Dolla (named for their cheapness, I guess). They're everywhere and they all are customized and painted in wild colors and given evocative names like "Super-Man" and "Bridgestone" and "I Love Tokyo." When I was there this summer I saw some with heroic & bad ass names, some just odd. But the one I liked best was called simply "Part of Life." Could there be a more no-bullshit name for a bus? Sardine-can-stuffed Dolla Dollas in dusty Dar or air-conditioned, wi-fi-equipped on leafy Rt 25, that's all a bus ever is to anybody: a part of life.

WAY OUT EAST


Been out on the North Fork of Long Island for the last few days, holed up in a friend's empty house in Orient. In full Reclusive Writer Mode: walking in circles, talking to nobody but myself, skipping rocks on a short pebbly beach, blasting the same Thelonious Monk album (Monk's Dream) over and over, eating my friend's kids' ice cream bars and drinking tumblers of Wild Turkey & Diet Coke (note: I am doing this ironically; don't try this at home). My friend's friend lent me a giant supertanker of an old Mercedes to get me to the market to buy more ice cream bars. It goes zero to 20 in just under a minute & when it's rolling it ain't gonna stop for nothing. It is the best. I love it out here. Wish I was doing this all summer. I have more tennis balls to practice serving and more Herzog-like letters to compose in my brain. Alas I am headed back to the city today. Actually writing this from the bus. A bus w/ wi-fi. Which is all you need to know about this bus.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

HOW TO


Tokyu Hands Dept. Store, Shinjuku, Tokyo. (1.1.07)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

STILL BRIDGE CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS




Happy 125th birthday to the Brooklyn Bridge. Yesterday, to join the birthday celebrations (and because I am fat and cheap) I walked across the bridge. It's still a spectacular thing—up-close and from either approach—but it's impossible to imagine what it must have looked like to those on the ground as it was rising up out of the river to become the highest point in the city skyline other than the needlelike spire of Trinity Church downtown, linking the two cities for the first time. Read David McCullough's biography of the bridge and its builders, The Great Bridge. If a book about a bridge can be moving and thrilling this one is. The Roeblings' stone and steel wonder was opened to the public on May 24 1883 to general citywide joy and pandemonium. Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland were there. Brooklyn's mayor Seth Low proclaimed "Not one shall see it and not feel prouder to be a man." One hundred and fifty thousand people walked across the day it opened; 163,500 a few days later. The Sun quoted a policeman: "It seems to me as if the people have got the bridge craze." One other thing: Everyone who crossed in those first days paid a toll of one penny. I paid nothing. Adjusting for inflation that means I saved one billion dollars.

Friday, May 23, 2008

HALL OF FAME OF PORK (III)


Lecherones, Huarocondo, Peru. This little town is outside Cuzco and is justly famous for its crispy-salty-juicy roast suckling pig. The guy posing next to the pork is Manuel, my excellent guide along the Ancascocha trail that extends from the Pomatales Canyon up into the Huayanay range and intersects the Inca Trail on its way to Machu Picchu. (1.28.05)

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THE WEST COAST IS NICE




I'm back in NYC now after the west coast whirlwind. Had lots of fun, saw friends, ate good things. That's COULTON up there in Santa Monica, holding an ice coffee purchased at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf where we saw Al Pacino. I went to Coffee Beans all over town but never saw Pacino again. That's the power of Coulton. Coulton played a great show with Paul & Storm at the House of Blues. Thanks for letting us party like (soft) rock stars in the green room. I am sorry I drank your third-to-last beer. Stein and I played tennis in Griffith Park. The bacon is at the Chateau Marmont and it is peppery and it is good (if maybe not Hall of Fame of Pork good). My old and newlywedded friend Chris Browne lives in LA. That's him with Chaffin and Jeana in the parking lot outside the restaurant where we celebrated the Mrs. Janice Browne's birthday, though she is not visible here. Nobody is really visible come to think of it. The guy with the pizza is my friend Joel Baecker who operates an excellent mobile wood-oven pizza operation up around Petaluma. More on that later but you can check it/him out HERE.

Monday, May 19, 2008

HALL OF FAME OF PORK (II)


Savory smoked-pork strudel. Restaurant Pretzhof. Tulve, Alto Adige, Italy. 2/2/08.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

HALL OF FAME OF PORK (I)


My friend Mr. MARTIN wrote a great guest post over at EatingAsia about the babi guling from Ibu Oka in Ubud, Bali. I truly have no idea what any of those words mean and it is possible he just made them up. But it all looks and sounds delicious, makes me hungry, and inspired me to post some images and notes on Great Pork Things I Have Eaten. First in the series: the almost pornographically juicy rosso tonkatsu from Hirata Bokujyou, Tokyo. (More on Tokyo eats HERE and HERE)

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HODGMAN DECLARES CANADA "PERFECT"


Hodgman seems to be in Canada and is saying NICE THINGS about this mysterious giant, the "Brooklyn of the Americas." While I can't agree with his assessment, there are some pretty & good things about our northerly neighbor. I was up there last August working on stories and had a great time. Above, hiking at altitude in the beautiful Adamants mountain range, British Columbia. Canadian Mountain Holidays runs these heli-hiking trips. They are the best. This is a good way to be healthy, ride on helicopters and eat cookies.

I also wrote about the restaurant scene in Quebec City, which is celebrating its 400th year and has much to recommend it. I didn't get to mention the greasy 2am poutine. I will mention it now: It is fucking good.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mahatma Mensch


Randomly: Mani Bhavan, Gandhi's residence, Bombay. 11.1.07

SFO - LAX


Left: San Francisco sidewalk, yesterday; Right: West Hollywood street sign, today.

STUCK IN MY HEAD


Eight days later & I am still saying "playa del coco." Make it stop please.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

HOW TO EAT A MORNING BUN II


Morning. Tartine. San Francisco. 5/14/08.

HOW TO EAT A MORNING BUN


This is the morning bun. This is the morning bun I ate this morning. It's from Tartine on Guerrero. It is a thing of complex beauty. Orange-sugary, at once sticky and gooey and crumbly, with near-caramelized edges and a heart of golden butter. There are two schools of thought about how to eat it. I am the dean of both schools. One: eat the edges first, pulling away each gooey-buttery outer ring at a time, moving around and inward, leaving the nearly-self–contained cylindrical center for last. This is the prized shot-glass of buttery nectar. Two: Eat the shot-glass-center first. Then move outward in any manner you like. How you eat this depends on your theories about delaying pleasure or your feelings that day about the likelihood of a bus veering off 18th St, smashing through the window and killing you where you stand (you will have at eaten the best part first). This is glass half-full, versus half-empty stuff, except that the glass is full of butter. I once ran into one of Tartine's owner at some food-industry party in New York and cornered them to talk about my feelings about the morning bun. This is akin to (I imagine) going to a swingers club and running into someone from the PTA who wants to talk about your kids. One other tip: get there early before they are gone. One final tip: Never eat two of these in a morning.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

SOME GOOD THINGS ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO


I've been eating a lot of pizza the last couple days but need to save that for an upcoming story. The parking and the microclimate crap still drive me crazy. But there are some good arguments for this city. Like donuts and sunsets and junky old 7-Up signs on corner delis and Hog Island oysters. A few others: My pal Bootsy, aka Matt Harput, and his rare, vintage and dead-stock Adidas, pristine Beetle and general life-advice. Go to HARPUTS.

Making coffee the expensive, halogen-powered, bamboo-paddled way at BLUE BOTTLE.

Solid sushi advice at SEBO.

COSTA RICAN BIRD MANIA

video
I mentioned the monkeys, but it was the birds that were really going ape shit. This doesn't really do justice to the aggressive aural overload of standing under this tree thick with the crazy birds. It was a wild, textured, LOUD sound. Set against the orange-purple sunset, it was how I imagine it'd feel to take acid and visit a pet store.

Monday, May 12, 2008

HELLO NEW (MOSTLY NON-IMAGINARY) PEOPLE


Big thanks to Blogger.com for naming this one of their BLOGS OF NOTE. Above: the big party for new Blogs of Note inductees. (Actually that's Paris, about a month ago. Seated dinner for two hundred at the Opera House. I wore a velvet dinner jacket. I have no idea what I was doing there but the champagne was good and plentiful.)

FROM THE FILES: WHICH PASTA LANE?


Three random signs from Bombay. The no pet litter sign is part of a series about street cleanliness. Also forbidden: washing your car in public. No spitting is from the train station. I still can't figure out what the illustration is meant to represent. And 3rd Pasta Lane? Whatever it is, I love it. (India. 10/07)

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MARTIAN SUNSET


Sunset on Playa del Coco. Once you start saying "Playa del Coco" it is very easy to keep saying it all day.

WHICH ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER ONES?


In search of a fourth. On a beach somewhere. 5/9/08.

Friday, May 09, 2008

TOMORROW'S HISTORY TODAY: THE PRESENT


Not sure who this guy is. But I like him. There were howler monkeys napping in the trees by the beach, their white balls hanging low like fuzzy dice from a rearview mirror. I didn't have the zoom lens (or heart) to capture them. Four Seasons Playa Papagayo, Costa Rica.

TRAINS OF THOUGHT


Sensitive. Amtrak, Union Station. Denver, CO.


Sensible. London Underground.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

SUNNY, BLURRY, BLEARY

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica. Landed last night, woke up to this. Bad picture taken from hotel w/ "Photo Booth" on the laptop, then emailed, slowly.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

IN AN AIRPORT THINKING OF DONUTS


Flying to Costa Rica today. In the Houston (pronounced like the restaurant) airport. SPEAKING OF DONUTS: The above is from Abu Dhabi this summer. Emerati are just like us.

They drink RC Cola in Dubai.

They have pork shops for non-muslims. Pork which is "ALWAYS FRESH, ALWAYS NEAR YOU"

MENU CLIFFHANGERS


Japantown, San Francisco 5/6/08

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

FRIENDS ON TV DEPT.


My old pal SHIHAB RATTANSI was until recently an anchor on CNN International. He was the one with the posh voice and nearly crushing air of seriousness & dignity. (Not to be confused with Richard Quest, that absurd meth-taking muppet that Mr. Martin and I have long been interested in/horrified by.) Over many years and across many continents, I've made a stupid habit of taking (or trying to take) pictures of myself watching Shihab on hotel room TVs. Shihab just moved to a new job working for Al Jazeera America, which somehow I don't think I'll get around to watching quite so often. So in tribute to his long service to wandering new-viewers, I have put together a little photo album.

Shihab fans and people who like pictures of people pointing at television sets, please point yourself to:
WATCHING SHIHAB: A GLOBAL GALLERY OF GRAVITAS

Undisclosed Location w/ HODGMAN


Hodgman rightly takes me to task for not updating this thing. Here we discuss the situation silently in an UNDISCLOSED LOCATION. All I can say is: those are not his real shoes. AND: I WILL POST MORE FREQUENTLY. OFTEN IN ALL CAPS.

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