Saturday, December 27, 2008


A magnum of nice old champagne. Which has nothing to do with this except that someone was kind enough to share it at a friends birthday recently and I thought I'd commemorate it with a photo — that and the subject here is OLD STUFF. I've been bad about posting links to stories I've had out recently. So— some VERY LITTLE THINGS that have cropped up here and there over the last couple of months (none of which will age as well as the '61 Moet). Click dates for links.

GQ 8.08 "Provide anything but hookers and drugs" — and other advice from hotelier Klaus Ortlieb.

GQ 11.09 In defense of drinking on the job. The fact that I can't remember writing this is proof that if nothing else I occasionally follow my own advice.

GQ 1.09 Tips for running a great restaurant from the boys at Frasca in Boulder. OK, this one's not technically old yet but it will be soon!

DEPARTURES 12.08 A story about the Apple stores. In case you are just waking up from a coma.

From Best Life, brief telephone conversations with pretty ladies in which I ask them about what attracts them to other men.

Talking about Swedish rock and Bjorn Borg underwear in Stockholm in SPIN 7.08

Friday, December 05, 2008


It is with a heavy (though unclogged) heart that I must report that BLOCK ROOSTER FOOD has disappeared from Varick and Downing Sts. With it goes one of the great nomenclatural mysteries of the city. When I first moved to the neighborhood this was just a typical KFC-rip-off joint—Kasparov Fried Chicken or Kennebunkport Fried Chicken or something. One morning the familiar red-and-white awning was gone. In it's place, a sleek blue awning and bold re-branding: Block Rooster Food. How did they come up with it? What did it mean? I always meant to stop in and talk to them about it. Maybe pitch it as a story for Fast Company or something.

Q: Did you use a consultant for the name?
A: Yes, we have a friend and he has a thesaurus. We told him we wanted something that says basically "neighborhood chicken restaurant." You know, but more interesting, more jazzy. We considered "Area Poultry Chow" but it seemed ill considered to go from KFC to APC. "Local Avian Eatery" was very vowel-y and sounded like an illness. Then we hit on Block Rooster Food and it just sounded right.
Q: Can I really get thighs-and-fries for $2.50.
A: Yep.

So long BRF.


There is, however, some good news in chicken shack signage. The line about "moisturized chicken" disappeared a couple years ago from the awning of the Chester Fried on 23rd St. But I found another one where the strange, beautiful description still lives.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


An American friend working in India emailed me today to say that she'd noticed the Big Balloon Men of Bombay have returned. These are the guys you see in the streets of Colaba near the Gateway of India and the now-shuttered Taj, slapping their wares and shouting "Big balloon!" Under normal circumstances it is almost touchingly ludicrous except that after one minute you want to either run away or stay and help them figure out a better business plan than getting adult foreign tourists to buy giant balloons. Today it would be a welcome sight. Anyway, since I'm not there but home in New York, I thought I'd put up some more pictures. In case you missed it, read Suketu Mehta's solid op-ed in the New York Times about this resilient city.



With my hands. While I was thinking. So it's not procrastination. Not at all. It's keeping hands un-idle while brain is working. Later when it's time to type with my hands, my mind will be free to think about eating pretzels. Or something. But for sure it's not procrastination. (They taste pretty good for a first attempt. I am now eating while thinking.) Goodnight, imaginary readers.