Tuesday, February 07, 2006

quality fare

On the day that I've worked out how to get my commute down to 30 minutes, I realise why so many carts selling food exist in New York. These carts are the metal box thingys that poor-looking blokes heft around the city, even when it's freezing outside.

They look about as high quality as a 3a.m. kebabhouse - very dodgy indeed. Contrary to all this though, there's always customers for these carts. Nevermind the rain, sleet or snow or penetrating wind - someone's always buying something from them. And now I know why.

They are ridiculously cheap. I just bought a large coffee (replete with napkins, condiments etc.) for a buck. 60 English pence. Large coffee.

OK, it was probably harvested by tortured, blind Columbian children and fires that roasted them fuelled by their dead bones but hey - it's coffee for a buck!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


The last few days have been busy. Basically, after work, I've been bombing to the God's arse of nowhere in New York state and New Jersey to find the Swedish megastore. Why? Cos I've got a new flat that's totally empty.

Anyway, I was standing outside in the Ikea carpark waiting for a bus, here at 9p.m. loaded down with bags wishing I had a car. It was about -5C and windy. And the middle of nowhere. With 40 mins til the next bus.

So this guy is the only person waiting with me. He's wearing a short coat, jeans and a beret. Hardly suitable attire for the biting cold. He's chainsmoking and looks a bit dishevelled. He asks the time politely and we get talking. He speaks with an incredibly gruff voice and a thick NY accent.

He has no shopping so I ask if he works at Ikea. Turns out that he does but for a temping firm who supply bodies. He has to work for them, for minimum wage since he's just come out of jail for assault. He was in a bar and some guy came at him with a pool cue, he says. He punched the guy, shattered his jaw and sent it up into this guy's brain. Luckily he this guy didn't die. At this point I'm mildly concerned but there's a cop car 20 metres away for some reason. Possibly keeping tabs on my new friend? I wonder.

Turns out though that he'd done Federal time before that and been in County jails. He really seemed an unlikely con though - very intelligent, articulate and extremely polite. He said he used to be a school teacher and said he lamented the fact that at over 25 years old, he could not get further education in prison and said how it cuts your support, friends, finances and family away from you. He said NJ was much harsher than NY (note to self: commit crimes in NY state if possible).

After some more chat, a youngish lass came and sat down at the bus stop whilst my new friend and I chatted, his every other word being "f_cking/f_cked/f_ckers", which I wasn't going to call him on. Anyway, as he was telling me how much money the DoC (Department of Corrections) makes per inmate per day cos they're leased out to AT&T call centres (!!!), she rather vigorously corrected him. "Blimey" I thought. Turns out she works in one of the prisons he had just been in! "How queer!" I thought.

She was pretty forthright and disagreed or undermined some of what the con was saying, which was bloody dumb/brave from where I was standing - this guy looked well hard and was obviously prone to a bit of slap and tick... punch. He was the epitome of good manners though, letting her talk over him repeatedly without getting even agitated.

Ikea's cool.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pappa Chubby

Last weekend Kate (the missus) and I went to "Atlantic Antic" (a street party) on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn mainly cos she used to live there and her old drinking buddies would be at the street party.

It was pretty cool - live music, tons of exotic food, oddballs (this is NY, after all) and so on. And then we sat down at Kate's old drinking hole for a pint to listen to some band. And what a band. "Pappa Chubby" was in town. Check the photos.

Pappa Chubby is a large chap, but a very talented and amusing large chap. I'm no Blues guru but the fat lad could play. He's the guy with the tatts playing lead. The two munchkin twin things are his daughters - they were brilliant. They just chomped corn on the cob and wore balloon hats all day. Most odd. Check the guitar strap with the middle finger extended and a peace sign - cool!

Not to mention that Pappa's not a bad drummer too. And the base guitarist is his wife. Cool as f_ck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Yes, tonight I played my first socher game for "Hudson FC". I couldn't remember the team name so I just shouted "come on the orange", "heads-up orange!" all match long. We play in an orange strip.

Here's my observations about SOCHER over the pond:
1. they all call the ref "Sir". "Oh COME ON Sir!". "Sir, that HAS to be a corner!". "Sir, sir, substitution please sir!". Hilarious.
2. they're bloody good. Higher level than I'm used to. I barely kept up.
3. they like fighting. There were 2 massive guys nearly duking it out on the pitch next to us and our centre-back was refrained from decking someone.
4. unlimited substitutions. We had no subs. The other team had 5. That made for a lot of running by our team since fresh legs kept on coming on.
5. At half time, everyone gets to suggest (politely and respectfully) 2 things that they think we could do better. Very "nice".
6. they don't swear. They must think I have Tourette's.
7. they fall over quite easily. I gave away a penalty. Whoops.

That is all for now, a post (with pics) of Pappa Chubby (blues guitarist I saw in a street fair) and his twin daughters coming soon...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ms Ripped T-shirt contest

Got a call from Montse (Spanish lass) to go for drink on Sunday, about 5p.m. Was feeling super-depressed but thought WTF. It was some restaurant called Felix so it wasn't going to be heroic drinking or owt.

Got there and the place was jammed. There was party/Summer music blasting, people drinking cocktails, dancing on tables. Not just one group - the whole fucking bar. People throwing napkins like confetti, all sorts.

Then there's a big cheer and this (very attractive) lass is taking her top off. The evening is evidently improving. Some bloke helps her out of her top, gives her a white "I LOVE NY" T-shirt and his beenie hat, both of which she dons, tucking her hair up into the cap. He then procedes to start cutting up the (tight) T with some dress scissors.

The bar's going mental as this guy, quite quickly, snip by snip makes a strappy dress out of the T... He's evidently really skilled. She looks great and totters off back to her mates. Big cheer. Then another lass gets up...

In total 6 well-fit lasses got up and had T's transformed into bikinis, crop tops, dresses, all sorts. Brilliant. What a tonic.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Father Frank

Was at a colleague's wedding party the other night (they got married in the UK and are on a multi-leg honeymoon) in some bar when this smelly old giffer walked in. "uh-oh, nutter" I thought.

But no. Well, smelly and old, yes. Unwelcome nutter, no.

It was Father Frank, a friend of the newlyweds and quite a few people there. He's a retired local Catholic priest that they'd somehow befriended. Amusingly, when asked what he wanted to drink, "wife beater" came back the reply. No ordinary priest then.

After about an hour and just after scoffing lots of cake, he got up, put on some priest-y robes and blessed the bar. And the doorframe. And the pooltable. And the floor. And everyone in the bar. Whilst doing this, he was sprinkling holy water on each item he blessed. I kid you not. It was ace.

Friday, April 08, 2005


I just had a right good laugh at lunch today. A laugh at the Americans' expense - the best kind of laugh there is.

I was in the excellent cafe at work when I spotted fish&chips on offer. Being a traditional Friday favourite of mine, I made a bee-line for it.

Only to find loads of Americans clamouring to load up on fish & crisps. Yes, the chef had interpreted "chips" the American way and baked up loads of freshly baked crisps, which the Americans were loading all over the fish. They were loving it! Fish&crisps - brilliant. Bless 'em.

Even better for me was that they were also serving "Steak fries" which are essentially potato wedges in the UK, and gravy!

So I had my cake (fish&chips) and ate it. And a laugh at the Americans' expense included for free. Excellent.