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Archive for the ‘Outside’ Category

The owners of Red, White and Bubbly, Park Slope’s wine destination, are trying to meet all of my needs – not just by fueling my alcoholism, but by fueling my love of all things Brooklyn.

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That’s right! We, as a borough, now have our very own wine company…in a manner of speaking, I suppose. If you want to be technical about it, the grapes are grown, fermented, mixed and bottled in California. But the guy who designed the label totally lives in Brooklyn! And the only place it is currently sold is in Brooklyn. So that’s close enough, right?

I tried the “Feliz Red” last night. I wasn’t crazy about it, but it might have been that it just doesn’t pair well with a black bean burger and garlic scrapes. Or it could be that I just wasn’t doing it right. The instructions say to “celebrate a day well lived” with it, but I was actually just watching The OC and painting my toe nails. The owners of Brooklyn Wine Co. & Red, White and Bubbly feel different, of course. They said to the Brooklyn Paper, “it’s not so much that we create a good wine, but that we create a fantastic wine. And if we’re going to put our names on a bottle of wine, we want it to knock your socks off.”

It’s true that my socks were off, but that was because of the pedicure…or was it?

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I heard lots about David Bowie’s High Line festival, certainly. But I didn’t actually know what High Line is – where the money from the hip, hot, exciting events was going.

The High Line is a 1.5 mile elevated railway that runs along the West Side of Manhattan.

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Isn’t it pretty?

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It will be made into a public park.

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I’d like to see it for myself.

Here’s a map of where it actually lies in Manhattan.

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Happy June! Even though we aren’t in school anymore our biological clocks are still wound up so that when the summer sun hits us, we are ready to party! And hang out! Outside!

To help you out, here are some of the schedules that I will be checking on all summer:

Rooftop Films – I haven’t heard of any of the movies, so this is a guaranteed hipster hot spot. Bonus, we get to watch movies on top of the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus!

South Street Seaport – Tonight there are some Pitchfork faves I’ve never heard, but it will probably be a good time! August 17 features The National, while July 19 showcases BrooklynSkeptic fave Ruben Studdard!! 10 bonus points if we see Ryan Seacrest and Teri Hatcher there.

Union Pool Parties – Williamsburg venue. August 12 see Ted Leo & The Thermals.

Celebrate Brooklyn! – Season starts out with the Neville Brothers on June 12. On June 16 take your 7th grade girlfriend to see Joan Osborne. On June 22 Ralph Stanley will be there, who I remember because I bought his CD for my parents after “Oh Brother Where Art Thou.” July 12 see some Irish stepdancing. August 9 see the Big Sleep and the Hold Steady. Yay Brooklyn!

Hudson River Park – Rumble on the River, River Flicks, Moondance, and Blues BBQ! Hudson River Park has a bunch of stuff going on. June 21 see outdoor boxing on the waterfront (that’s the rumble part). August 1 see Stripes (that’s the flicks part). July 15 break out the saddle shoes you bought during the craze in the 90s and swing all nigth with George Gee and the Jump, Jive, and Wailers! (that’s the Moondance part) August 19 eat BBQ and listen to the blues. I don’t know which part that is.

Central Park Summerstage – Apples in Stereo on June 16, Wyclef Jean July 8, Cafe Tacuba July 14, Decemberists and Grizzly Bear July 16, Human Giant (what what homegrown!) and Demitri Martin (reckles, now’s your chance!) July 19, Neko Chase July 20, Rufus Wainright August 19 (busy summer for you, reckles)! Whew, it’s not a bad line-up.

River to River – A veritable buttload of things going on all over Manhattan including Puerto Rican Power, Nuremberg: Nazis Facing Their Crimes, New York Review of Science Fiction, Annual Vintage Police Car Show, American Ballroom Theater’s Dancing Classrooms Colors of the Rainbow Team Match Grand Finals (johnbaptisedme, we’re there), Martha Wainwright (big summer for that fam), New Pornographers July 4, Spoon July 11, Battles & Deerhunter August 31. And a whole buttload more. You can bet your patootie.

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival – Annie Hall June 18 (reckles, obv), Psycho August 18 (my dad, obv).

Movies with a View at Brooklyn Bridge Park – Princess Bride! Muppets Take Manhattan! Hair! West Side Story! It’s literally as if ninth grade me designed their summer schedule. Another cool thing about these films is that instead of preview, they show short films from local artists before the feature. Also, June 21-23 is the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Summer on the Hudson – July 7 see the 2nd Annual NYC Main Squeeze Accordian Festival! I can barely believe I missed the first annual, but you can bet I’ll be there this time. North by Northwest July 11, Caddyshack August 8 (not my fave, but I know a few people who like that sort of thing), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid August 22 (what a great one to watch outside!). Yeah! Not a bad line-up.

Socrates Sculpture Park – I’ve never been here, but their website is way artsy. Motorcycle Diaries July 19, and other things I’ve never heard of.

How’s that for extensive? You guys totally owe me.

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The Gowanus Lounge told me that Brooklyn Brewery might move into Smith & 5th!

I once made the trek out to the industrial boneyard that is W-burg to celebrate a fellow blogger’s b-day at the Brewery, and it was great. The only bad part was getting there. And getting back.

Yay beer gardens! I’m thirsty.

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Brooklyn Skeptic’s best bet for St. Patrick’s Day is MONSTER EIFFEL TOWER @ Trash Bar.

Saturday, March 17th
256 Grand Street, between Roebling & Driggs, Williamsburg
$7, doors at 8, free PBR from 8-9, M.E.T. plays at 10

And of course, as always, free tater tots!

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I’ve recently adopted a Tuesday evening tradition. Well, it’s only been two times now, so maybe it’s more of a Tuesday evening coincidence. It’s something in the spirit of Mardi Gras – revolting hedonism on a Tuesday. This event, which I like to call “Shotdogs,” has everything but the girls gone wild.

The evening starts out at Welcome to the Johnsons, a perfectly divey bar in the Lower East Side in Manhattan (yuck, I know). I’ve been going to this bar for several years now and was something of a regular when I lived in that hood. I was there for the summer when fruit flies had infested the limes and so there was always a fine film of bugs and bug-parts on every drink you ordered. That was when I developed an irrational fear of bar fruit. I’ve witnessed the replacement of the toilet that was once so covered in band stickers, you could hardly tell what you were supposed to do with it. The new one is collecting its own piss stained collection. I’ve been there for brawls between guys who look like they fell out of a Ramones show thirty years ago – replete with blood trickling from their self-pierced safety pin earring holes. Anyway, as pleasant as all that sounds, there is one reason above all that I have been a Welcome to the Johnsons fan for so long: $2 drinks during happy hour (from when you wake up till 9 PM). You must not tell anyone about this. It’s a secret.

At Welcome to the Johnsons, the drinking begins. First, $2 whiskey and gingers. Then the shots. Last night we did a Red Headed Slut, followed by the bartender’s own concoction, Dr. Nut. Then we continue on with the regular drinks. All the while, the conversation gracefully flits from one topic to the other, weaving in nearby patrons and their opinions of The Flaming Lips, March Madness, olive juice, etc.

cupcackeeIn order for the Shotdog participants to remain reasonable, we all have to eat dinner. Dinner is hotdogs from Dash. In my case, vegetarian chili dogs. In other cases, processed meat monstrosities, choked with bacon, Fritos and other wonderful things. But that’s not all. Then come the chips and salsa from Festival Mexican Restaurant (outside of which, some guy drunkenly peed behind a Pathfinder while everyone in the bar watched with horror and glee) and then cupcakes (including one for the bartender) from Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Please keep in mind, I skipped the gym to partake in this madness.

By 9:00, we are all sufficiently bloated and return home to watch American Idol while we mainline salad and try to rehydrate.

Now, I don’t know if this particular evening’s activities can be approximated in our borough. I have a feeling that it is possible, but only in Williamsburg, where girls in leggings and guys in hoodies are a dime a dozen. The real issue here is that while the people at Johnsons and the people in Williamsburg are all disgusting hipsters, the ones at Johnsons are much skeezier. In my mind, this goes a long way. So, until an absurdly underpriced dive bar and an absurdly overpriced hot dog vendor move into my current hood, I think I’ll just keep hitting up the L.E.S for my shotdog fix.

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The Brooklyn Skeptic Brooklyn Brewery Taste Test 2007

In an effort to both bond with our fine borough and get totally soused, Brooklyn Skeptic gathered on Friday evening to painstakingly taste test seven varieties of Brooklyn Brewery beer.

Undisputed winner: Monster Ale
Undisputed loser: Our livers

Brooklyn Lager: We started our evening off with the cornerstone of the BB lineup, Brooklyn Lager. The general consensus is that it’s mad bitter. I mean, it’s bitter to the point that before I moved to Brooklyn, I thought the borough would be too intense for me because of this beer. Some suggested it’s “bitter like johnbaptisedme,” while johnbaptisedme suggested it is “bitter like Wynona Ryder, but delicious like Val Kilmer. Oh! Cheers to the new couple (according to pizappas – but her celebrity gossip is debatable). Either way, Brooklyn Lager is a total power couple from 12 years ago.” Other folks suggested it tastes like “street cred” and “tobacco,” which, apparently, taste excellent with tofu pups in a blanket.

East India Pale Ale: Immediately upon popping the cap off this bad boy, we noticed the little story on the Christmas-colored label. BB suggests that the IPA is responsible for colonialism in that it is the beer that enabled the British to get to India. This ideological bitterness overcame the bitterness of the beer itself. Nice touch. Otherwise, all parties agreed that the eIPA was flavorful, dynamic, fruity, perfumey and divine. It felt like it was just bouncing on the tongue.
Johnbaptisedme added: “I feel sick” and “DRUNR!” I think this means she felt sick and drunk. That happens to the best of us.

Let's go METSPennant Ale: This is Brooklyn Skeptic’s binge drinking beer of choice. It is mild and delicious, with a burst of versatile flavor. We agreed that it is not offensive to any palate, won’t turn anyone off to Brooklyn, but still tastes like a quality beer. The best comment here is that it “can be drunk in mass quantities if necessary.”
Turtle suggests that it is Brooklyn Brewery’s safety school. Agreed. Pizappas offered that it tastes like a beautiful day at the Mets game. This concerns me because I really don’t like the idea of her licking around Shea Stadium. Shit’s nasty.

Pilsner: The Pilsner was, by far, the crap-wad of the group. It was suggested that it’s name be changed to Bud Dark – uncharismatic, deserving of a can rather than a bottle. Upon sipping this beverage, Turtle declared it a “wussy, flowery foo foo dandy beer,” and then dashed it to the floor. I cried as it began to warp my hard wood. Get your mind out of the gutter. The discussion was ended abruptly by the hostess declaring, “the sooner we finish the Pilsner, the sooner we can move on to something good.”

Frothy BrewBrown Ale: This is a really delicious beer that pizappas, johnbaptisedme (who at this point in the tasting is completely out of the game) and I had the great fortune of sampling at the actual Brooklyn Brewery last fall. It was just as delicious in the bottle as on tap.
This is a dark, rich brew with hints of chocolate, coffee and burnt sugar. Pizappas, who is a long time Brown Ale enthusiast, commented that it had a nice mouth-feel – thick on the back of your tongue. Plainclothesman countered with “makes me drunk.”

mmm...chocolate...Black Chocolate Stout: By this time, all of the Skeptics were drunk as skunks, but we still had two high-alcohol-content beers ahead. All handwriting illegible. I’ll just abandon the narrative so you can get a good picture of what’s going on:
“Smells like liquor!”
“Tastes delicious and gets me waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasted.”
“Smells like delicious tar – like once the dinosaurs has gotten totally fucked up & hallucinating on the tar that would be the end of their species.”

AHHH! Godzilla!Monster Ale:
Wins.

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I don’t think the word ethereal has ever been used in relation to a game where you lob large circular objects onto a court in an effort to knock other balls out of the way. However my point was not that Bocce is ugly. More that Bocce is, in a word, cute. Bocce is billiards’ cute indy-rock girlfriend who is a little more shy and less overtly sexy. Billiards, on the other hand, is slightly more out of one’s league (pun sooo intended). Billiards has a series of shiny, colorful balls and a beautiful green felt table with six evenly placed leather pockets. And you use a looonng, shiny, aerodynamic, wooden stick that you know you just want to wrap your hands around and….. Ahem. Chalk.

Anyway, again, bocce is definitely hot. Its balls just aren’t as polished.

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Bocce is, perhaps, the hottest game in the history of bar sports. It doesn’t have to hit you over the head with its overtly sexual equipment (cue, balls, holes, etc.) – it’s a demure game with dignity, class, and a regal aura. Sure it’s easy to look sexy while splayed out on a table, man-handling a huge stick. That’s some rookie shit. All of the sexiness in bocce emanates from a player alone on the court, the envy of the entire bar. That player in untouchable. And as we all know, the hottest person in the room is the one you can’t even get close to.

Where billiards is carnal, bocce is ethereal. Though your feet are on a court made of earth, your spirit hovers above near the pressed tin ceilings. Your body becomes a vessel for the, um, balls and thousands of years of Italian history course through your veins, like so many Brooklyn Lagers. If there is anything sexier than the spiritually superior and historically inclined, I don’t want to know what it is.

This sport is so fucking hot, even the pope plays.

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I am a pool player living in Brooklyn, and was recently introduced to the small world of bocce. Featured at a few bars in my neighborhood, some of my friends have recently taken an interest, and I have been more than happy to come along for the ride.

A lot has been said on this blog about the game of bocce. It’s been around for centuries. Charlemagne played it between orgies and fighting wars against the Saracens. Mussolini threw the balls around while drinking tea and reading Il Popolo D’Italia. I myself used to watch the old French men in my neighborhood stand around, chomping on cigars and getting their shoes dusty while playing the very similar game of petanque. And now it has gone so far as to reach the Brooklyn bar scene.

I enjoy playing bocce, even though I suck. And I have to say that of the two bars I have been two with bocce courts, they don’t fuck around. People seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and I have heard that leagues have been established and are quite popular. I know for a fact that one of the editors of this blog happens to be an avid bocce player. My question is this: does the concept of playing bocce in bars have any staying power? Will this catch on? Will bars start to sprout up all over the country with long, rectangular courts and large balls in every corner?

The answer, is no. And the reasons are simple. For starters, you have to have a pretty big establishment to host even one bocce court. Floyd already feels a little cramped with the one they have in there. Secondly, no one will ever pay for bocce. And this is for the simple, but incredibly stupid reason that there is too little involved in the sport. Would you honesly want to pay to throw little balls on the ground? No. Thirdly, and I am not denigrating the talent involved in playing this sport in the slightest, but it is not a sexy sport.

Pool, on the other hand, is a popular sport worldwide to pay for and play in bars. Men and women alike are drawn to the long phallic shape of the cue, and know that they don’t have the money to purchase a pool table of their own. You can pack a bunch of them into a room, and charge people two dollars a game to cross their fingers and hope that they can make that bank shot and look cool in front of the sexy person standing next to them. Why does this look cool? I’m not really sure. Ask Paul Newman.

Even if there are only two bars that I know of (although I’m assuming there are a few more) that have indoor bocce courts, I hope it stays that way. While it may not have the sex appeal of the aforementioned billiards, there is something comforting about sitting in a dimly lit bar, clutching a nicely poured micro-brewed beer and listening to the sweet cracking of two heavy, hard balls. I’ll always have pool, but it’s nice to know that there’s an alternative past-time in Brooklyn.

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