23 September 2010

One Last NYC bit

So after a day full of meetings on Tuesday a few of us headed out for a quick drink right by our offices.

The first place we tried to go to was called Live Bait, which, for many reasons rung a bell in this feeble old mind of mine but I couldn't place where.  It's right on the south end of Madison Square Park and looking like it belonged on a pier in the ocean somewhere in Florida.
Very fitting that there's Coca-Cola logos on the sign by the way, but I digress.
It was literally heaving with people/youngsters/hipsters.  It's part BBQ and part Raw Bar which would have been fun but alas, the three of us 40-somethings decided to go somewhere we could sit and talk and we went around the block to a place called Almond's which was very nice, but that's not important right now.

It bugged me as to why LiVE bAit stuck in my head and so the minute I got back to my hotel room (which was the one that cost $492.10 per night before taxes thanks to the U.N. being in session....damn diplomats) I cranked up the Internets and started Googling my backside off.

Found loads of reviews, fan pages, etc., but it was on about page 4 of the Google Search that I found it.  Like the scene in cartoons where the skies part, the heavenly angels music plays and the lights shines down upon you there it was.

Yes, just upstairs from this jumpin' joint was where, in late 1972, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss had auditions for a lead guitarist for their band Wicked Lester which of course went on to become "You wanted the best, You GOT the best, KISS".  This is where Ace Frehley showed up and three weeks later, was in the band.

Love this and had to take a picture.

22 September 2010

Back in the New York Groove

Empire State Bldg viewed from Madison Square Park
Well, it's NOT been "many years since I was here" since I was here in February, but definitely "to the left and to the right, buildings towering to the sky". (ht to KISS)

I'm in NYC on business and before I came my curiosity was piqued on why my hotel room was $500 a night.  I even updated my FB status on the day I booked expressing my outrage but I knew when I booked that hotel rooms were very limited.  Until I landed here, I had no reason why even joking that since I was a week late for Fashion Week (cuz I gots no sense in dose matters) it surely had nothing to do with that.

Ahhh, the UN is in session!!  Yep, international diplomats with their Cadillac Escalades, NYPD escorts and loaded with knowledge that if they kill someone, they can leave our country without spending a minute in prison.  This morning I awake to find out that President Obama will be coming into town tonight both for a UN session and for a fundraiser.  So add to the Escalades, a few more fully-leaded limousines and a whole bunch of guys with their hands to their ears.

This IS what makes NYC the center of democracy and business!!

Last night while I was walking home from dinner with some of my co-workers I looked up between some buildings and saw that it was a full moon as well.  Perfect.  In spite of the wackiness going on in the city over near 44th and 1st things seem normal.

There are two really beautiful churches around the corner of 5th and 29th and I've walked by them for two consecutive nights, stopping to really take them in.  I'm not a very religious person anymore but I do believe in some higher spirit and power.

First is Marble Collegiate Reformed Church, which is where Norman Vincent Peale was a minister for a very long time.  In fact 29th there is called the Honorary Norman Vincent Peale Way.  You're immediately struck by the very well lit stained glass above the main entrance and how bright it shines at night.  It's intentional but it sure does make you stop, especially when it's butted up against a huge building right next door.  Also, last night I finally went right up to the wrought-iron fence and looked at the yellow ribbons that were tied on.  They commemorate all American victims of the Iraq War, which did give a moment of chill to the spine.  Thanks to Google and Wikipedia I've learned that both Liza Minelli and Lucille Ball were married there (in one of their many marriages between them).  Here's a nice shot of it thanks to Google Images.

The second church is literally right around the corner on 29th (b/w 5th and Madison) and is the Church of the Transfiguration, aka Little Church Around the Corner paying homage to the fact that, well, there's the one above which probably gets more visitors and famous people.  It's quaint and set back off the street almost as if there's a small garden in front of it. I would imagine back in the mid 1800's, it fit right in, but now with all the massive steel and cement, it's like this little refuge of peace.  Looks like it took favor with actors and artists back then too as other churches refused to allow them in.  Heck, if Jack McCoy from TV's Law & Order can get married there in real life, then it's gotta be a nice place too.  However, thanks to the Internets, I have now found out why its very garden-like.  There is a small burial ground on site which has about 60 people there, a fair amount of them actors/artists.  As recently as 2006 someone was entombed.  Okay here's a few pix (again not taken by me as it's nighttime when I'm walking by and cellphones only do a fair job.
So that's about it for now from NYC.  I really wanted to go to a restaurant called Hill Country because it looks like they literally move up here from Austin, Texas to do 'que right but I was over-ruled.  So much for my pull between my co-workers.  I bet if any of my Austin friends where here, it would have been a full-on fight to go there and see if they've captured the true Texas Hill Country flavor.  They have live music from Tue-Sat so they got that part right!!  There's always next time!

15 September 2010


Although the sign outside of Right Field doesn't get changed until the last day of the season, and frankly who knows if it will still be there next year as I heard the rooftop company who runs it is in bankruptcy, I will formally change the Anno Catuli on my blog to the next set of numbers since as of late Monday night with the Cincinnati win (ugh Dusty), the Cubs were eliminated from post season play.

Props to my buddy over at Aisle 424 who summed up the reaction to things around the ballpark by the fanbase this way.  Yep it seems we've cared more about a Toyota sign, moving the Harry Caray statue to outside the bleachers to make way for the Billy Williams statue which appropriately is in right, and a promotional noodle.  But this happens when, even before the year started, we knew the product on the field was going to be lacking.

I'm FREQUENTLY accused of being the "angry fan" but it's not anger people, it's reality.  Most of my close friends know that even at the height of the most recent Bears/Packers venom years (80's) I was realistic enough to know when we didn't have a team and humble enough to appreciate the years where we did.  ..and yeah, you friends of mine on the South Side know the same as well.

I know the Ricketts are solid "fans" and successful "businessmen" but putting the marriage of those two terms together is an extremely difficult challenge no matter how much money you have and how brilliant everyone thinks you are.

I think their lack of immediate baseball "corporate" knowledge has them clinging on to the Jim Hendry's of the world and unfortunately it's something the fanbase will have to tolerate for another year or so.

I just hope they don't drink the Kool-Aid so much so that they rely heavily on every single person around them right now.  Most of them are clinging on for dear life for their jobs.  They will 'yes' their way to the Ricketts on every decision and try to sell them their own version of what the future looks like.

If they are the shrewd business people they are, they WILL see through this and not sign anyone either in the corporation or on the field to very long term contracts right now INCLUDING the new Manager.  They need the flexibility to move quickly and not be hampered by tied up financials (which is exactly what they've inherited).  Time will tell, but I will keep the faith in them.

It's no secret I really wanted Mark Cuban to own the team and with that you get the fiery owner with all of its carnival show but he still hasn't delivered a championship in Dallas yet although he's been awfully close.  But fiery owners get shut down by the majority of others and find trouble in league matters.  Ditka (not an owners but fiery) found this out in New Orleans and over time Steinbrenner changed up his tactics to bring the Yankees back to success.

But if this is a eulogy of sorts on the 2010 season, I can't stand up there and say how bright and talented it was or how we will miss it so much it'll hurt our hearts or how it can never be replaced.  It stunk, I hated it and I'll be glad in 20-something days when its finally over.  Bury it, put it on a wood raft, set it on fire and send it out into the ocean.

"Year Two" already started (bet you forgot that 2010 was a new "Year One") when Lou stepped down.  We need positive action and momentum and we'll all be watching.

We have some form of football (ugh) and an almost entirely new Blackhawks team to look forward to.

09 September 2010

International Travel & Food Adventures, Part II

Well, unfortunately my last evening in the UK had me going down the burger route again.  The problem with staying at a hotel literally inside of Heathrow is that there's no where to go without spending a fortune on taxi fare, so alas, we ate here in the Sheraton Hotel.

I'm assuming that the custom-made burger craze (here), (here) and (here) is starting to gather some steam outside of the US, however the execution of that fails miserably amongst the business traveler hotels.
  1. I didn't get any choices, the "create your own" was already done on the menu and there were about three options in total.
  2. This concept fails when you have chuk-chuk the caveman burning the burger, the base of the creation, to it's miserable death back in the kitchen
That said it had the makings of a good idea especially if you are on the Atkins diet.  Burger, topped with a chicken breast, topped with bacon (English bacon, so basically Canadian Bacon), topped with cheese all on one of those Bap buns (see yesterday's post or click on link).  I took it upon myself to top it off with some brown sauce.

Sadly the burger was dense and medium well/dry as hell.  Everything on top of it was stellar.  How I was yearning for a Lamb Kofta burger again!

So anyway, I catch the shuttle bus into the Heathrow Terminal in three and a half hours and then it's breakfast inside the airport.  I have high hopes for that and will report back later.

08 September 2010

International Travel & Food Adventures

Although I'm in the midst of a 4-week travel hell tour of the world (only being outdone by friend Tom Paul who will earn airline status in a period of 4 weeks!!) the one thing I always love about traveling internationally is the chance to experience "new foods" or rather foods that I normally wouldn't see on an American menu and that tickle my fancy.

The last two nights have seen some fun choices which I'm happy to share with you.

Last night I had a starter called "Duck Pancakes".  I threw caution to the wind and didn't even ask what they were.  One could envision big American style pancakes with duck embedded but what arrived was really a 'build your own' taco/wrap with pulled duck breast meat, small pastry type 'shells' and a wonderful Hoisin sauce to dip them in.  The only knock was that the wrap was too doughy and broke up too easily once stuffed with the ducky goodness and dipped into the sauce.  All in all though, a really nice surprise and a good contrast to the typical Fish & Chips and mushy peas that I ordered.

Tonight, I tried a Lamb Kofta burger which was the bomb!!  It was a great re-purposing of what traditionally is a kabob.  The seasonings were done just right.  Normally a kofta has things like garlic, ginger and cardamom but I think I tasted some clove in there as well.  One of the drawbacks of it was that the bun was a really dense Bap bread.

Stupid me now has a phone that can take pictures but did I take one (of EITHER food)??  No, so here are two images, one of a Bap bun and one of Lamb Kofta.  You do the photoshopping in your head okay?

The frustrating thing about this is that when I get back stateside I end up having a craving for something like this and can't find it worth a lick.  This happened in 2004 when I had pleasure of eating a combination of two of my most favorite foods, Indian and Italian with a Chicken Tikka Pizza in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Call it a desperate cry for decent food when the local fare isn't that hot, but I've been talking about that pizza ever since!!
Can't wait to see what my final night brings for dinner!  Tomorrow I'm heading back to London as my flight home is ridiculously early in the morning on Friday.  London opens up many doors, unfortunately, I'm housed right next to Heathrow and so that'll limit anything of true quality, maybe...