Non-Airconditioned Train Cars

The scene is much like the set up to a bad joke. It’s late at night, you’ve been waiting on the platform for half an hour, you’re tired, hungry, maybe drunk, possibly sobering up, but certainly in desperate need of a toilet. A train finally arrives. All the cars are packed save one in the middle. Why not take that one, you think. However, the moment you walk into the car and take your seat it becomes abundantly clear why it was empty: there is no air conditioning. So there you are—sweating bullets, your body begging you for rest, and alone in a car with a crazy old lady and maybe a homeless person, but chances are even the panhandlers have moved towards the air conditioning. You have a choice to make. Do yo want to sit, sleep for a few stops, or stand in the air conditioning. The choice is obvious: move to the other car, right? But you’re already sitting, you’re already tired and dozing off, so you stay. It’s always a mistake.

The right choice is always, always, always no matter what, to go towards the air conditioning, because there are three or four certainties in life: Death, taxes, the inevitable crime of passion, and the fact that New York subways in the summer are on the short list of things that can make you want to end your life by jumping in front of an incoming  train, or paying someone to wring your neck before you even go into the station.

The convenience of the empty seats in the hotter-than-the-devil’s-dick train car force you into the awkward position of making a choice that is inherently bad for you. And for everyone else, for that matter,  because this experience makes you all the more likely to kill the person who left the milk out earlier that morning, or slap someone else’s kid on your way home. The empty seats offer false hope and only the illusion of satisfaction by making you think that maybe sitting will allow you to tolerate the heat. But just like last tuesday when you got shafted by the F train and just like next monday when the D train gives you a proverbial kick to the groin by pulling a fast one on you, it’s always the wrong choice to sit down instead of stand in the cold. Not only that, but you’re pissed and edgy.

So please, next time the third car is mysteriously and suspiciously empty, don’t even go in, don’t put yourself in the position of having to choose. Just swallow your pride and your hopeful pragmatism and avoid the empty car. You know it’s the right thing to do. Like helping an old lady cross the street. Or donating your eggs to that nice gay couple.

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Suggestions (we care what you think, kind of)/Twitter

If any of you have any suggestions for anything you would like to seen reviewed, drop us a line at, and we’ll see if it’s worth our time.

Oh, and you can also follow us on Twitter.

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Top 5 New York Pizza

Even in a city like New York, nine out of ten times, walking into a pizza parlor is a mistake. Either the cheese has coagulated, undergone rigor mortis, and begun to wrinkle like a scrotum, or there is too much bread, the sauce is too sweet, or the whole slice is entirely too hot and takes off the top layer of your pallet, leaving it much like an aging socialite’s  face after a botched  chemical peel. Of course, however, there is the pizza that set the famous and impossible standard for all New York slices. It just takes some time, and a lot of trial-and-error to find it. God knows, to compile this list we had to eat a lot of bad pizza.

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Alden Indy Boot

Just because you’re not actually Indiana Jones (That’s Dr. Jones, to you), doesn’t mean you won’t encounter hard times. And just because you haven’t sipped from Jesus’ goblet or seen one man rip another’s heart out, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear the same shoes as someone who has. Luckily, Alden–the maker of the original 405 boot preferred by Harrison Ford–has decided to re-release the Indy Boot in its original state.

The dark brown shoes look just as rugged and as indestructibly cool as they do in the movies. The boots also succeed where a great deal of outdoor and hiking footwear has fallen short;  they maintain a surprisingly sleek silhouette and don’t flag you as a granola-munching backpacker if you wear them inside or with jeans. They join ruggedly dangerous outdoorsy style with a practical, urban feel. They keep outdoorsmen safe in the city and protect toes from bike-messengers and closing subway doors as well as they protect professors like Dr. Indiana Jones from snakes.

The Indy Boots let the world know that you live a normal life, but sometimes have to shift gears and fly off to Africa in a heartbeat and kick some serious ass. Be careful however–completing the outfit with a safari shirt, a fedora, and a whip won’t make you more like Indiana Jones; you’ll probably only end up looking like an impersonator heading to a nine-year-old’s birthday party.

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A Single Man

Perhaps I would have had a higher opinion of this film had I not started it with the assumption that Tom Ford’s poor aesthetic sensibilities in fashion would transfer over to film. How can you trust a man who goes four shirt-buttons down and stands slightly askance, forward, hands behind his back with a wry smile that says yes, you are right, I am bearing down on my bowels right now. But if there is anything for which I hold out even an ounce of hope, it is that something artful can be made in this period of time. While this may be a bold statement, let’s remember that last summer 9 was released—a musical remake of 8 1/2. So in a time when Fellini is too complicated and needs to be jazzed up with Dame Judy and song-and-dance numbers, it’s not entirely unreasonable to become discouraged or disillusioned.

My first assumption is that Tom Ford stayed up all night watching Mad Men and thought that he should make that again, only with gay English professors instead of advertising agents. I had a nagging feeling about 45 minutes into the film that it had not yet started, and was still simply a collage of neurotic habits and tantrums. That is to say, halfway through, there was still no substance. Colin Firth—who was absolutely delightful in Love Actually—was more than proficient at being weary, and detached from the world. However, I promised myself that if he turned his head towards the ceiling and shut his eyes one more time, I would plant a bullet in my skull. Also unnecessary: close-up shots of batting eyelashes followed by flashbacks. Okay, we get it, thanks, eyes, symbolism, great, that’s really deep, man.

There are always some consequence to letting Tom Ford into film. The same way 007’s suits were best left to Saville Row and real tailors, movies are best left to real directors. It seems that many people confuse portrayals of angst, hurt, and maladjustment as profundity. It is a film that lacks structure, order, meaning, depth, or even a story. Depression on it’s own, is not a story. A man walking through the streets buying bullets is not a story on its own. And if Tom Ford felt the need to introduce a Hispanic James Dean figure for 5 minutes, there better be a damn good reason. There wasn’t. Well, aside from Ford’s fancy for Latin men in tight shirts. On top of that, this film plugs Tanqueray, and you know how we feel about Tanqueray. So, instead:

  1. Watch Mad Men, read Aldous Huxley and drink a Cosmopolitan at the same time.
  2. Become disillusioned with your own life and contemplate suicide.
  3. Take it off your Queue. Or change the Channel. I don’t know.

Also, for your entertainment, here are a few photos of Tom Ford in his signature pose, as described above.

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The Astroland Cyclone

There are too few experiences in life that leave one actually, genuinely changed. One of them is, without a doubt, riding the Coney Island Cyclone on one’s own. Objectively the ride seems unsafe. It’s the oldest roller-coaster in the world, it’s made of wood, there is a lot of rust on the few remaining metal pieces, the structure creaks in the wind, the cars are dilapidated and are made entirely of hard metal. There are a thousand reasons not to get on line.

When it first begins moving, the ride seems surprisingly safe—it’s dark, the gears are working smoothly. But then there is an ascent. The car rises until you can see no track or carnival, or even beach but only water. The only thing that goes through your mind is that you’re staring into the abyss, that this is the infinite plane, the eternal, the unending, still rising profound that Nietzsche tells us to stare into before it finally stares back into us. It’s a moment of Romantic sublimity, enough to make you feel like Shelley or Byron standing on the edge of a rocky cliff before the raging ocean. You know, Roll on, thou dark and deep blue ocean—that sort of thing.

Then the car stalls for a moment. It crashes down. You are thrown to the side, your back is twisted, your legs are flying into the air, and you are falling at 90°. You realize that raising you legs even an inch higher could knock you off, and that you are, in fact, and perhaps for the first time ever, holding onto something for dear life. It is terrifying. It does not relent. Again, and again, it tortures you, and even when you think it’s over, there is still one fall after another. Not to mention that raising your hands in the air as you might at Six Flags will cause you to lose them—the beams on the ride hang low. Very, very low.

Although it seems unreasonable to have thought so after the ride stops, it feels like a near-death experience, which in small doses and at a distance from real death is exactly what everyone needs to get their own personal nonsense sorted out. It is the sort of thing that might have knocked the neurosis out of Woody Allen. The cyclone doesn’t teach you courage. It scares the crap out of you, and knocks some sense into you like a tough-love, Sicilian grandmother who doesn’t put up with American ideas on child abuse and teaching kids a lesson. It’s serious business. Also it’s $8 dollars, and dying is kind of scary. So it’s your call.

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The Beatles Love

At this point, it seems obvious to point out The Beatles “Love” has been the only thing in 40 years able to usurp Magical Mystery Tour from the throne of the worst Beatles album ever. And that’s probably because it wasn’t really a Beatles album at all.

What’s more shocking is that “Love” was produced by George Martin, who was the same man able to produce every other Beatles album, except for most of Let it Be, which admittedly was a disaster on its own. It seems as though Martin and a crack team of Beatle-ologists, as well as the two remaining living members of the band got into a room with a some safety scissors and all the original Beatles tapes and asked themselves what of this pretty priceless material they could cut, splice, reverse, and dub in order to end up with a bunch of tracks with the power to ruin perfectly good songs.

We’re probably going to get a lot of flak for this, because people probably think the album is pretty good. Well sure it’s good, especially if you’ve ever gotten drunk and wondered what it would sound like if the opening chord to Hard Day’s Night were transplanted in front of any number of their other songs, or if you’ve ever wondered whether mixing Tomorrow Never Knows and Within You Without You would actually produce the worst song in all of musical history. Then yes, if you’ve asked yourselves these questions then Love might be the album for you.

It was marketed as a new Beatles album, which, if one can actually, morally justify considering old songs blended together as new material, then sure, why not? Although we must admire the marketing genius that allowed Martin to understand how excited people would get over the idea of new material from a band that couldn’t possibly make anything new.

However, if there is any doubt that Love is, in fact, crap, keep in mind that  a Cirque de Soleil performance based on the music from the album had a nice run. So Instead of Love, here are better solutions:

  1. Listen to any, any other Beatles album
  2. Learn guitar, bass, and drums and re-record said albums in your basement on your own. Note: this might get tricky once you get to Revolver.
  3. Realize that John was wrong, that we really don’t need Love at all. And start Listening to heavy metal.
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The Beatles Anthology

It doesn’t exactly take a Freudian analyst to point out that behind peoples love of gossip magazines and behind-the-scenes documentaries lies their love of seeing stars makes gaffes, fall down, get hurt, but mostly, just mess up. And we like to see this because it reminds us that those closest to the supernatural are, after all, all too human. But our desire to find humanity in stars and idols isn’t limited to their failures. It is perhaps for this reason that The Beatles Anthology is such a valuable resource.

While it would be unfair to say that the sound of The Beatles is nearly as perfect as an orchestra playing the overture to Parsifal, it’s not far off to point out  that any Beatles track is a perfectly crafted, almost flawless pop song. Anthology gives a listener access to demos, rehearsals, jokes, argument, as well as the occasional dropped chord or slip of the finger during a bass maneuver. Anthology gives us access to the imperfection of the Beatles–a world one may never have imagined existed. Although The Beatles manage to make  such imperfections endearing more than anything else. Perhaps one could do without John’s joking around–the number of times he announces a title name of one of his own songs in a highly silly and accented voice is staggering, but this too reveals a certain insecurity.

There is, however, something undeniably charming about George strumming out “Something” on his own, and imitating the sound of drums and bass guitar between choruses with his voice to point out where everything might belong once the song is completed. More than that, however,  one of the most famous Beatles stories is when John came into the studio and strummed out Strawberry Fields Forever–which later became a highly-produced piece that required an orchestra. The other three were nothing short of blown away.  Best of all, that recording–the first time Strawberry Fields Forever was plucked out for the public (presumably) on Lennon’s Gibson J-160E–is on Anthology.

There’s something precious about being privy to moments like these, and Anthology makes it possible. Then again Anthology also digs up Paul’s rendition of “Bésame Mucho”, in Spanish, because the French in “Michelle” just wasn’t bad enough. So in those regards, The Beatles Anthology still does have some drawbacks…

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Fender 1960′s Style Telecaster

There are few guitars as underrated as the Telecaster. The first time one sees it it looks silly, or even goofy–the body is awkwardly shaped, the pickups are different from one another, and let’s not even get started on the headstock. But it takes a few plays to realize how versatile the instrument truly is. Soon enough, it becomes clear why it was the choice instrument of Page, Richards, Dylan, and Muddy Waters. The 60’s style Telecaster comes in white, and has the old style bridge and tailpiece, as well as a fender rarity–a rosewood fretboard. The guitar’s sound reminds any player, almost immediately, why it served as the bridge between rock and blues for so long. The fretboard gives a sense of control and power, and stability while handling the instrument, whose shape lends itself to fast maneuvers and as well as looking like a straight up bad ass. The neck’s shape makes it easy to move from fret to fret. It’s sound makes it difficult not to hear Keith Richards curling out a fat, thick riff, and it’s even harder not to feel like Jimmy Page onstage during  BlowUp–rockin’ out and having a good time.

The Telecaster is a musician’s good, oldest friend, and while he or she may travel around, meet new people, jam on new instruments, take drugs, fall in love, in the end, the Tele waits lovingly for them to come back home. The moral of the story: Les Pauls, Jaguars, and Duo Jets might be great, but nothing and nobody can beat a telecaster, especially a throwback like this one.

The polish of the maple, and the color of the body, and the feel of the instrument itself  make any player feel ready to take names and kick down doors. I suppose it’s a Tele like this that reminds us why guitars are called axes.

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Tanqueray Gin

Perhaps you’re looking for a gin one night. You’ve only seen the small hipster poster ads for Hendrick’s covered in cucumber cut-outs and you know that Beefeater is what your parents and grandparents drink. Tanqueray advertisements are all over the city. The bottle is a cool shape and the glass is green–a rarity for non whiskey drinks. It looks like a fun time, so why not. Let’s Tanqueray, you think to yourself, or even jokingly mumble to your friends.

What you do not know is that a Tanqueray night is a mediocre night. Walking into a party with a bottle of Tanqueray looks nothing short of lame, and like you raided a stock-broker’s office cabinet during an internship interview. The gin has too much lemon peel, and too little flavor, leaving it a bland, sharp, citrusy substance. It’s more like vodka with a hint of gin than actual gin. It blends poorly with dry white vermouth, and simply flows or runs  off the top of it, which more or less defeats the purpose of gin altogether. It’s kind of like having a dog that will drop one in your living room but won’t lick its own ass. Tanqueray tastes so little like juniper that it tastes almost synthetic, and as though actual berries were not used to make it. It’s nearly bitter, and masks the taste of gin that all gin-heads love so much.

Tanqueray, in short, is a gin for those who do not like gin, or a starter gin for those not yet ready to handle a true London Dry. It’s half a gin, and can’t hold its own in a martini, or chilled over ice. It’s an impotent gin. So remember, while Hendricks might be too hip, albeit a fantastic tasting drink, and Beefeater might be just too reminiscent of pre-christmas dinners with your family, there are three key things to remember when trying to avoid a Tanqueray incident :

  1. Hendrick’s doesn’t need a line like “Let’s do the Hendricks,” or “Ain’t no party like a Hendricks party, ’cause a Hendricks party don’t stop,” because it stands on its own.
  2. Your parents have been drinking far longer than you have, and there is a reason why they choose Beefeater.
  3. James Bond drinks Gordon’s, and at 10 dollars a fifth, you can’t really go wrong–Pussy Galore and Ms. Moneypenney think so too.

So go ahead, 007, take a sip, and see what happens.

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