Author Archives: thatnewyorker

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A Bit of Brooklyn to Bite into

In the mystical land of Brooklyn, there lie many foreign and exotic kinds of food and drink. These delicacies are sought after by the bravest of adventurers for one does not simply walk into Brooklyn. The land is separated by a vast uncharted sea and populated by Brooklnites, a strange tribe of people who have great influence on what is fashionable in the civilized world. For those who manage to make a successful voyage to Brooklyn unharmed, its treasures are there for the taking. For those who can’t brave the journey, there is The Brooklyneer.

All joking aside, it’s more than just a little bit silly to make bar themed after another borough, especially one that can be reached within 30 minutes using the subway. The Brooklyneer, located on 220 West Houston St, is a Brooklyn themed bar. In many ways, the place feels like it might be something you’d find in the Universal Studios theme park. However, once you get past the gimmicky nature of the place, there lays a pretty decent place to chill. The interior design is interesting. It is reminiscent of some of the many chic bars you’d find in Williamsburg and they went so far as to even use some of the wood that is from the Coney Island boardwalk.

Depending on the night you go, you could either be listening to a DJ playing club hits or listening to very relaxing smooth music. The first time I visited The Brooklyneer, I was dismayed because the kitchen was closed at the time. Between 1 and 4am the chefs get off of work and the place becomes a full-fledged bar complete with singles trying to hook up. The two chicks I was with pointed out that although the music supported dancing, the space did not and I agreed. The cozy space was not meant for partying à la Ke$ha, however, this was the Saturday night crowd and I suppose they were trying to accommodate for that.

I came back the next night, a Sunday night. Now the atmosphere had changed quite a bit. Things were slow and low key. It was so slow in fact that the bartender, Dylan was happy to personally serve me. Dylan with his French mustache and interesting attire had the appearance of a Williamsburg hipster. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a job requirement or if he dressed like he did all the time.

Welcome to Brooklyn

For my first course, I ordered the Sunset Park sliders. My tongue was first greeted by fresh, oven toasted bread that was warm and soft. As I bit deeper, the tender, moist pulled pork and ham said hello in the juiciest way imaginable. The warm melted gruyere arrived between my tongue and the meats and gave everyone a nice big group hug. Then the spicy mayo showed up and lit its fireworks inside my mouth turning up the heat quite a bit. I finished it off with the crisp cucumber slice that the sliders come with. It was simple and fresh and although it did take a while to arrive at my table after I ordered it, it was well worth the wait.

The Sunset Park slider

I had to make sure that the quality was consistent across the menu so after finishing the sliders, I ordered a chili dog which just happened to also be the special that night. Like before, the order took a bit of time to arrive and like before, the bread was fresh, soft, oven toasted and the veggies were so green, you’d think they had a garden in the back. This time around the meat was a different kind of animal literally and figuratively, they use oven-toasted Mile-End all beef hotdogs. While some dogs can only play dead, what I bit into knew more tricks than there are sex positions in the Kama Sutra.

The Chili Dog

To drink, I ordered the house lager, named The Brooklyneer. It’s the cheapest drink on the menu and for an interesting reason, it’s brewed in Pennsylvania. Unlike the food, the drink isn’t anything special. It isn’t terrible by any means but it also doesn’t stand out. If you just want to have something to wash your food down and get a bit tipsy at the same time, it does the job well enough. Connoisseurs of alcoholic beverages most likely will order many of the other quality drinks on the menu though.

The Brooklyneer is a nice little spot for those who are too lazy to travel across Brooklyn to find the best eats. Though the theme is a gimmick, the food and friendly service are not.

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 5 Comments

Tengo hambre, dame Quimbombo

Normally, I’d say Quimbombó tastes great but in this particular case, I say Quimbombó sounds wonderful. The former Quimbombó is a Latino gumbo, the latter a Cuban musical group specializing in Son Cubano. This group performed at the BAMCafé in my borough of Brooklyn to celebrate the citywide ¡Si Cuba! Festival.

The inside of BAMCafé is a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare. Every square inch of the already cozy space was occupied by a body. The air is dense as dozens of people patiently draw their breaths in anticipation for the performance. Downstairs the situation was even worse. Scores of poor, unfortunate souls waited there as if trapped in purgatory, unable to ascend the café’s escalator into its crowded heaven.

Though I’ve never had the pleasure of listening to this group perform before, when they hit the stage I was greeted by very familiar sounds. Son Cubano is a relative to Salsa, a musical style I’m quite familiar with. When they played, percussion of African origins filled the air. It resonated throughout the walls and into the body like a stylishly rhythmic heartbeat. This clearly African beat melds with the Spanish guitar and lyrics reflecting a society established by Spaniards centuries ago; a meeting of two very different cultures that invigorates. You needn’t take my word for it; one glance at the audience would tell you all you need to know. Excitement and passion replaces the discomfort. Hips undulate rhythmically, feet shift side to side despite the lack of space and even those who don’t know how to move like a Latino, move their bodies to the beat anyway. Yes, this is Son Cubano. All it needed was some more brass and it would be just like the very same music I grew up listening to. Of course, this doesn’t surprise me, both Cubans and Puerto Ricans are the result of the melding of Spaniard, Taíno and African peoples.

The excitement and desperation to see this band perform is well deserved.

Posted in music reviews | 9 Comments



Now back when I was young and dumb but thought of myself as the sharpest tool in the shed, I had a deep seated hatred of reggaeton. It was the new music genre of my people and although many will argue that originated elsewhere, it was undoubtedly popularized by Puerto Ricans. Yet, I hated it. The lyrics were dumb, every song used the same beat and it was only about one thing: sex. Oh how I would berate those who danced to it, those poor morons with terrible taste in music. These teenagers, these children, these peers of mine, how could they possibly enjoy that rubbish? And the dancing! How could my friends possibly enjoy having girls grinding on them…wait.

Well fortunately I grew up and saw the error of my ways. There is really good reason for why the music became so popular and why you can still hear it played in Latino-centric dance clubs and on Spanish radio stations. It’s the raw sexuality it exudes that gives it the appeal and raw sexuality is what many of us Latinos excel at for whatever reason (I blame the Spaniards). When I came to finally accept my fate as a papi chulo, as a Don Juan (you see the Spaniard connection?), as a vessel for the steamy Latin passion my culture and stereotypes in the media say that I possess, I found myself falling in love with reggaeton. No, it isn’t intellectually stimulating like say classical music nor does it require the technical skill of heavy metal and it certainly isn’t about real life issues like old school rap. It isn’t even as sentimental as more traditional Latino music but it does excel at one thing that no other genre can even come close to. Reggaeton makes both genders go into heat like horny dogs. It’s a primal return to our roots. Through reggaeton, you can become closer to our animal brethren. You can make like a bonobo [CAUTION: THIS LINK IS VERY EDUCATIONAL] and bump your sexy bits. The only real reason I hated it was because I thought the hypersexualization was immature and uncivilized.

Well, whether or not reggaeton appeals to you really depends on how conservative you are. As for me, I learned that being civilized is overrated.

Dame lo que quiero.

Posted in Music, Music Rant/ love song | 1 Comment

Hipster Chicks: The Music Video

Tamar Kali’s Pearl Remix is loud, in your face with an punk-rock beat sprinkled with a dash of traditional hip-hop. The video features hipster chicks doing what they do best: being hipster. I should probably listen to the song again since I have no idea what she was singing about.

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Hey kid, wanna do some Lotus?

First, lets get this out of the way, I’m not exactly very knowledgeable of Radiohead’s history or style. Now that you know this, let’s talk about one of their music videos, Lotus Flower. The music itself is enchanting, with a soft sweet lullaby like quality. It’s for easy listening, a song you can chill to. The video itself is simple, displaying the lead singer seemingly enjoying the psychoactive properties of the Lotus Flower he must have consumed before the cameras rolled.

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Baluchi’s is meat lover friendly

Normally I don’t eat at Indian restaurants. It isn’t because I’m a picky person or anything like that, it’s just because I usually don’t eat very often. I eat Latino food at home and if I do buy anything outside, it’s usually fast food from a local pizzeria or food cart. So when I arrived at Baluchi’s to dine with a group of students from class, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know that Indian food is spicy but that isn’t a problem to me at all. As for what I had to expect in terms of taste and texture, I had no clue.

Small, quaint with Indian décor, Baluchi’s certainly sets the tone, making you feel as if you traveled to the east though I was a little disappointed there was no Indian music playing. Well there wasn’t any music at all for that matter. Another disappointment came when I tried to order Tandoori Quail. Too often, I find that restaurants advertise an exotic meat on their menu and when you try to order it, it turns out they don’t have it. That’s what happened at Baluchi’s, when I went there. To be honest, I’m not going to fault them for it; I don’t think many New Yorkers regularly enjoy quail to begin with. I just make it a point to order the most exotic looking meal on the menu of any restaurant I go to, just to see if they actually have it. Usually they don’t. Noticing my disappointment, the waiter suggested another meal I might like. He suggested to me, the Combination Platter for my entrée.

The appetizer arrived quickly. I had ordered Boti Kebab which is a cube of lamb marinated, cooked in a clay oven. Sounds tasty, yes? Indeed it was. Often, the lamb I eat comes from street vendors and has a warm, bold flavor and a texture that varies from spongy to gritty. This is where Baluchi’s threw me off. The Boti felt like chicken. Though it was not some dry poultry but rather a meat overflowing with the warm and bold flavor I had expected along with a pleasant mild spiciness that won’t have your tongue causing house fires. The brown meat holds itself together well and requires some chewing before it goes down, each clamp of the jaw releasing saliva producing agents upon your tongue. Also there was a lemon, tomatoes, cucumbers and some kind of herb to go along with it. The plants weren’t bad but average; nothing special. That was just the appetizer.

Next, it was time to feast upon the friendly waiter’s suggestion. Despite the fact that I was the last person to join the table and thus the last person to order, I surprisingly was the first one to receive his entrée. I liked that but did find it a bit strange until I saw the difference between my meal and the meals of my classmates. They had ordered food that was mostly non-meat. Now, I assume the waiter based his suggestion on my size and the enormous amount of masculinity I exude. I say this because as one of my fellow classmates pointed out to me when my plate landed on the table, it was just mainly meat. The combination platter is a large assortment of lamb, chicken and salmon. No rice, few vegetables, no herbivores allowed. Fortunately for my waiter, he was right on his assumption of me. Baluchi’s cooked animals do not disappoint. This lamb was prepared in a different style from my appetizer lamb. It was slightly sausage like in appearance with the soft, spongy texture I had expected earlier. The taste brought me back to familiar places. The fish, hot pink on the outside, was so tender; I had difficulty picking it up with my fork, it would fall to pieces. Once in my mouth, it unleashed bursts of tangy, salty goodness that tickles the tip of the tongue. The chicken filled up an impressive portion of the meal. A pretty shade of pink on the outside with a brilliant glowing white inside, the chicken doesn’t stand out much in terms of taste. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but it just doesn’t “wow” you. It tastes like chicken marinated with Indian spices. If you don’t know what to make of my vague description of it just keep this in mind: it’s satisfying but not exciting.

As I launched my meal into the event horizon of my mouth, I remembered something. I remembered that I was eating during Baluchi’s lunch special hours and that the entire meal is half off. Considering the quality of the meat that’s brought to the table, it’s incredible that you could spend just as much money on a single fulfilling entrée there as you would at McDonald’s which offers significantly lower quality food. This alone makes Baluchi’s worth visiting at least once. Other than price value, the food itself is great, at least on the carnivorous side of the menu.

Posted in Food, restaurant reviews | 1 Comment

Listening to LeBlanc

Author of Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc came to Baruch to talk about her book and experiences. Personally, I had not read the book beforehand nor had any idea what is about. Due to some personal business I had to take care of, I arrived fifteen minutes late to the event and ending up sitting all the way in the back of the room on the floor. I did pick up some of her thoughts on comedians and how hard they have it but most of what she said was lost on me

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Children of the Corn

The corn is everywhere

Corn, it’s all around us. It’s in the food we eat and the sweet beverages we drink. It’s in us, we are corn. Well whats wrong with that? Whats wrong with having most of our diet consist of corn? It’s a grain, isn’t it? Well, sure it is but like anything else, too much of a good thing is bad and in corn’s case, we’ve gone far beyond just a little too much.

Grab some processed packaged food you have in your home and just read the list of ingredients. Besides all of the multi-syllable ingredients you’d normally find, I’m sure you’d spot one interesting ingredient appearing consistently. That one ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. Ah corn syrup, a food manufacturer’s dream come true! It preserves the food, it sweetens it and best of all, it cheapens it! Using HFCS is a great way to manufacture food for the masses. Well, at least for the food companies, it is. For us, HFCS is nothing but fat-inducing, pure corn-sugar. It has no real nutritional value and just like real sugar, will cause a whole series of heath problems like diabetes and obesity when over-consumed. And it’s very easy to over-consume when so much of the mass produced food on the market is made with it.

With the evidence pointing more and more to HFCS as the reason for our nation’s obesity epidemic, you would think that their use would be more regulated. You’d think that sugary drinks and snacks containing it would no longer be sold to our children at schools. You would think that cereal companies that market to children would avoid cramming their products with so much of the syrup. You would think that HFCS would get the same treatment cigarettes do today in America. However, the progress made to cut out HFCS-containing products out of the system has been minimal at best. This does not bode well for our nation’s children who don’t see the danger that HFCS poses to their health. We are raising children of the corn. Expect the national health nightmare to come full circle before long.

Kids are getting fat.

Posted in Food, Food Rant / love song | 2 Comments

Cultural heart of hipster central.

Never judge a book by it's cover...

Within the past few years, Williamsburg has become known as a kind of hipster central where all that is indie thrives so it’s no surprise that the only movie theater in the neighborhood just happens to be dedicated to independent film, Indiescreen. The area specific area the theater is located in isn’t much to write home about. It’s gritty, grimy and industrial. The graphitti lining the walls of the mildly dilapidated buildings devoted to housing products we use in our everyday live (like the Dominoes sugar factory that emanates an unusual smell) it reminds us of a history this city has mostly left behind, a history where gangs ruled this land without fear. Traveling here at night is definitely not for the overly cautious. It’s mostly empty, a kind of barren wasteland of industry. But then again, maybe I’m being too harsh of a judge; I’d have to experience the area during the daylight hours. Even the theater itself is nothing much to look at from the outside. In fact, if it was not for a relatively small sign on the outside corner, you might just walk right past it without ever thinking it was anymore more than a mere factory building or something. Once you’re past those front doors though, everything changes. The scenery is replaced with an edgy, modern design that stands in shocking contrast to the world outside of it. It’s as if you’ve stepped into a portal that warps you to some ritzy, artsy theater in Midtown. At the ticket booth resides a woman, blonde with an accent that I assume is British. Her name is Susan and she isn’t your typical ticket booth person. While you can tell that most ticket both workers are there just to do their jobs and nothing else, Susan gives off the feeling like she’s there for more than just to sell tickets. She really believes in the theater and what it could be. Besides bringing some extra culture to the most hip part of Brooklyn, she also sees it as a place where singles could hook up. “A lot of singles come here. After a film, they could grab a beer, go out in front and talk to others about what they just saw.” Oh, did I mention that this movie theater also has a bar? Not only that but it has a restaurant as well with a DJ booth overlooking the main floor. Sounds pretty cool, eh? Well unfortunately, despite how appealing the idea of having a movie and dinner all at the same place sounds, you won’t get to experience that here…at least not for now. The bar area of the theater is currently non-functional due to an apparent lack of alcohol license. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “At least there is still a restaurant to eat at, right?” Well, there was but in the words of Susan herself, “You can’t have a restaurant without alcohol”. The theater had the restaurant open before but unfortunately, there weren’t enough indie movie goers who wanted to sit down and eat a meal without getting a little buzzed. So they put the restaurant and bar activity on hiatus. Damn New York City’s alcohol laws!
It is no surprise that the curator, the artistic director of Indiescreen is Marco Ursino the very man who started Brooklyn Film Festival along with Susan Mackell and Mario Pegoraro in 1998. Yes, that Susan is the very same Susan manning the booth at Indiescreen. Coincidence? While the festival is meant to be a non-profit, the theater is meant to draw in some revenue. Both serve the function of exposing Brooklyn and beyond to avant-garde films of up and coming filmmakers. Fortunately, Indiescreen is still in its stages of infancy so despite not operating at 100%, it still has a lot of potential to draw in the indie crowd of Williamsburg. It just needs a bit more exposure.

because it may have a beautiful story to tell once you open it up.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment

Eternal guilt

Academy Award nominee, The Confession by Tanel Toom is not his first film and is not the first film he’s done with a Christian theme to it. Like an unprotected one night stand with a woman of questionable repute, the film evokes sense of apprehension and uncertainty. Like the eventual trip to the clinic, you pray and hope to dear god that the sins of that night will not haunt you but deep down you know in your heart they will one way or another.

I would imagine that most young middle-class Caucasian boys do not have much to worry about in their lives, especially those who live in sleepy, rural, Irish neighborhoods which one would expect to safeguard them from some the harsh realities of life, at least until they grow under and venture out into the world. Sam fits this description perfectly, so perfectly in fact that the biggest concern of his is the fact that he is too good. Because of his sinless nature, he worries that he will have nothing to confess to the priests of his church when the day of his first confession comes. As someone who was raised Catholic and attended a Catholic school like Sam, I can sympathise in some way with his desire. Unfortunately, for our protagonist Sam, he receives much more than he bargained for when his best friend devises a plan to give him something to confess about.

The plan? Play a prank on mean local farmer by dragging his scarecrow out into the road for him to drive over it. The prank, though slightly mischievous is harmless enough that Sam can have something to confess about without much guilt on his mind. However, when this little plan goes awry the entire tone of the film instantly changes from aloof to brooding and dark. We then see the true natures of the boys. Sam’s friend, Jacob shows a surprisingly lack of emotion. While he first came off as mildly mischievous, he at that moment became a sociopath to the viewer. How could he react like that? No shock, no remorse for the tragedy he inadvertently caused? On the inside I was I was screaming at the boys: DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, YOU CAN STILL FIX THIS! But no, Jacob’s solution to the mess? Walk away and never mention it again. A demeanor, cold as the winter night air to contrast with his fiery red hair. Sam’s agony penetrates the heart of the viewer. Jacob knows his friend, knows what he might do and in an effort to subdue Sam’s emotions another disaster occurs.

Two sins. Two mortal sins to weigh down our dear Sam for eternity.

Surprisingly, the film does not thematically match the other Oscar nominees all too well. None of the other nominees had any actual death and most of the others were more focused on the theme of love more than anything.

Posted in Independent Film, Oscar Shorts | Comments Off on Eternal guilt