Entries from February 1, 2011 - February 28, 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

The Emerald Pub @9:45 pm

Okay, time to get back in the saddle, well, in this case bar stool, and hit a bar. I’ve decided on most Sunday night’s here at MAD, I’ll go check out a bar. I was going to revisit a place from the 365 Bar list, but my co-pilot , Al Rizo from those days informed me that the bar where they shot the bar scene in “After Hours” is still opening and is called the Emerald Pub. Since we’re in the middle of watching that film, I thought I’d go check it out and see if it looks the same two decades later. I just hope I get home!

I decided to take a cab there. I worked some overtime last week, so I thought I'd travel in style tonight.

Okay, it's about a block away. Wow, it's really deserted out tonight. I guess everyone's home watching the Oscars.

And here we are, the Emerald Pub. I should've taken a shot of the building so we could compare it to the movie, but like an idiot I forgot to. Oh well, it pretty much looks the same, trust me.

The bar itself looks pretty much the same as the movie. It's nice and dark in here, nice pick Al!

John Heard's not bartending tonight, but Pat was and here he serves up an ice-cold Budweiser.

Back in the saddle again. Cheers!

And there's the register that John Heard kicked the shit out of in the movie. Pat told me it's the same one and people come in and take pictures of it all the time.

As you can see, it's a well-stocked bar.

Some of the beers on tap.

It was a slow night and the only other person at the bar was Jason, who was enjoying a beer.

The Oscar's were on at the bar and here's Pat watching somebody thank someone. I don't know who it is. I guess I need to go to the movies more and stop watching old ones at home.

A long shot of the candle-lit bar.

There's another bar in back. No need for another bartender back here on such a slow night.

Here's an appropriate painting on the wall for Oscar night. Bogey, Marilyn, James Dean and Elvis.

This side of the bar has changed a little since After Hours.

A shot of the bar from the left side.

Fire! (That felt good!)

Okay, one look out the window and it's time to go home. I just hope I don't pull a Paul Hackett and spend all night trying to get there.

Luckily, life doesn't imitate the movies in this case. There was a cab waiting right outside the bar. Goodnight everybody and we'll see you tomorrow after dark.

The Emerald Pub has a reputation for being a non-pretentious place in a part of town where, sadly, red velvet ropes rule. Thankfully they live up to their reputation. They’ve been on the block since 1972 and it’s a dark bar lit up by candles and the walls are brick. There’s a bar up front and one in the back and it’s got a dive bar meets lounge atmosphere. The bartenders and patrons are friendly, so check your attitude at the door.

They have a decent beer selection and of course there’s Guinness on tap. If you’re a vodka lover they offer 30 different selections. Happy Hour runs from 12 pm to 8 pm with half priced drinks. That’s right, an eight hour happy hour, so if you’ve been bounced out of your job in these tough times, here’s a good place to work on your resume and enjoy your unemployment check, all at the same time.

On St. Patrick’s Day there’s a live Irish band and free corned beef sandwiches, but good luck getting through the door. And if it’s after dark, good luck getting home!

The Emerald Pub
308 Spring St. (@Renwick St.)


Tonight's the night.

Thanks for the suggestion, Al! Co-pilot art by "Boris."



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Paul’s Da Burger Joint @9:30 pm
East Village

Live from New York, it’s Cheeseburger Saturday Night! Starring Paul’s Da Burger Joint and featuring the ready for prime beef player, Marty Wombacher. Ladies and gentlemen...Paul’s Da Burger Joint!

Okay, it's a little chilly out, but I thought I'd walk over to Paul's, so here we go, out into the night.

Here's Union Square Park. Even though it's cold out, there's still some people hanging out here. When the weather gets warmer, this place is packed on a Saturday night.

99 miles to philly. This place has great cheesesteak sandwiches. I'll have to stop in and get one soon, it's been a while since I've been here.

Here's Julian who was getting ready to make some deliveries on this chilly Saturday night.

And here we are at Paul's. I've been here in the past a few times, but I have to give credit to MAD commenter Tim "Clacky" Clack for suggesting the place. He took a picture of the place when he was here last year and sent it to me and suggested I go here on a Cheeseburger Saturday Night. Thanks for the suggestion, Clacky and I suggest you all check out Tim's entertaining blog, Tales From the Bunt's Side.

We'll see about that!

Now that's a burger Wimpy would be proud of.

Wow, the place is packed, not a table to be had and there's a line out the door.

But I spy a seat at the counter, let's go snag it.

There's two cooks working the burger grill and they are really busy. Here's one...

And here's the other. I'm not even going to try to get their name's, it'll be enough of a challenge to place an order up here. I've sat at the counter before in here and when it's crowded it's tough to get your order in. There's just one guy who'll take it and he's running the cash register, answering the phone and ignoring everyone at the counter. It's kind of a sport to get your order in.

The burgers are steam cooked at the grill here by placing metal pans over the ground sirloin.

I was seated next to this sign. I made sure not to cross the line, there was only one waitress on duty and she didn't seem to be in a very good mood.

And some orders are up. So far I've been here five minutes and haven't gotten the register guy's attention.

Finally I made eye contact with the register guy and screamed out, "Give me a Soul Burger, medium with cheddar cheese and an order of onion rings and a Budweiser."

Here's some of the other burgers up on the wall. There's 20 different varieties to be had here.

It's too jammed to do any meet and greet photos in here. Here's the view from my counter stool.

Knick knacks and signs hang above the tables on the wall.

There's plenty of attitude in here, the register man said I couldn't take his picture and that he'd charge me a dollar for everyone I took in here. I'm hoping he was kidding, or this could be a big bill.

One of the cook's takes an order, I'm tired just watching these guys.

Some buns waiting to be burgerized.

And look, it's Elvis! Sorry Elvis, I didn't see a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich on the menu.


And here's the burger and onion rings. Whenever I've ordered from the counter here, I've never gotten the burger I order. I ordered the Soul Burger, but just got a plain burger. I'm not going to send it back though, because I'm starving and don't want to wait for another one. I just loaded this one up with mustard and it was delicious without any toppings. So all is well.

Walking home I came across a protest at the Continental Bar. The owner has been accused of racial bigotry by not allowing certain people through the door. His defense is a dress code that isn't visible anywhere at the bar. You can read more about it at the fine EV Grieve blog.

I have to admit while I was there, everyone in line got admitted. Of course the only people I saw in line were what appeared to be white bridge and tunnel yobbos.

This gentleman was taking photos for the Liberation News.

His name's Eddie and the fact that it says, "5 Shots of Anything," at the top of this photo is a happy accident. I'd like to say I framed it that way, but I just lucked out as usual. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

In the last couple years there’s been an explosion of burger joints opening up in New York City. Paul’s has beat them all by a couple of decades. Owner Paul Koval opened the doors to Paul’s Palace in 1989. The name has changed since then, but everything else remains the same. Your eyeballs get assaulted before your taste buds do in this burger emporium. Kitch and kaboodle hang from the walls and ceilings, intermingling with signs reminding you that they’re not Burger King. The tables are covered with red and black checkered table cloths and there’s a pot of pickles at every one. There’s also counter seating up front, where you can watch the kitchen and the burger cookers in action. If you do sit at the counter and it’s busy, prepare to be aggressive when you order, or you might be sitting there till closing time and never get served.

While Paul’s boast’s that it’s home to the “best burger in NYC,” there’s a lot more to the menu than just burgers.
There’s 24 hot and cold sandwiches on the menu including: Italian Sausage Hero, served with pepper and onions; Tuna Melt; Chicken Filet and a  Fried Egg Sandwich. Also on the extensive menu are Chopped Steak, Turkey and Fried Chicken platters and 16 varieties of omelettes.

Now, onto the signature dish, Paul’s burgers.
They have 20 different kinds of burgers including: a Bacon Cheeseburger, Monterey Jack Cheeseburger, Mushroom Burger and a Soul Burger which is a bacon burger cheeseburger with ham and fried onions. I ordered the Soul Burger, but ended up with just a plain burger and while I can’t say it’s the absolute best burger I’ve had in New York, it’s right up there at the top of the list. Expect some attitude when you come in here from the staff, but remember, it’s all done in good humor...most of the time.

Paul’s Da Burger Joint
131 Second Ave. (Near St. Marks Place)

Further reading: New York Magazine, Village Voice, BCNY and Grub Street.


S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday Midnight Movie—“After Hours” @12:07 am
My Apartment/Chelsea

I had a conversation last week with MAD commenter (and former 365 bars copilot) Al last week and among the subjects that came up was the movie After Hours. After Hours came out in 1985 and it’s directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s a weird movie and a friend  of mine has said that when he watches it, it makes him feel like there’s bugs crawling under his skin and I couldn’t agree more. All of us have had nights where you just can’t seem to get home, but it never gets as bad as it does for Paul Hackett. You’ll see what I mean as the MAD Friday Night Midnight Movie rolls. Lights, camera...internet!

Okay, last week I was able to cut out huge chunks of Glengarry Glen Ross and still tell the story. I can't do that with After Hours, so we'll have to do it in sections. Stay tuned next Friday for part 2. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark. And while we're on the topic of movies, listen to The Secret Weapon on Woody Radio with movie lines inserted between songs, lots of fun and great tunes! Songs by "Boris" movie lines by Gidget! The show runs today from 10 am to 5 pm. Stream it live here: The Secret Weapon.


I’m gonna wait, way in the midnight hour
That’s when my love begins to shine.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Walking Home After Work/Mr. Bard @12:20 am

 A lot of people have dogs in New York. And most of these people live in apartments, so they must walk their dogs. You see people out at all hours walking their pooches, so I thought I’d try and get some after dark photos of New Yorker’s out and about walking the dog.

Okay, full disclosure here. While it sounds like the introduction to these are written right before I walk out the door of my night job, a lot of times I write them in advance. I had the dogwalker idea last night and wrote the introduction today before I came in to work. Well, it turns out I had to work late and it's after midnight, I'm beat after working over 12 hours and it's rainy and shitty out here. But that's the beauty of this blog as opposed to the 365. A year ago I would've had to go to a bar and whooped it up and while that sounds like fun, it's not when you feel like shit, which is precisely how I feel right now. So I've decided to snap a few photos on my way home and then write a story for this in lieu of a lot of photos. Since tonight I was going to take pictures of pets, I think I'll write about the only pet I had during my adult life. But first, a few photos.

Holy shitballs, I almost stepped in this! That would've freaked me out.

Holy smokes...oh wait, I used that last night...never mind. Let's move on.

Ha! Good luck getting a cab on a night like this! Glad I live within walking distance.

What am I drinkin'? You talkin' to me?

Well, let's go in to this deli and I'll show you exactly what I'm drinking.

THIS is what I'm drinking. Oh, and thanks for asking!

Okay, a couple soggy blocks and I'll go home and write my story. This is another thing I like about this blog, I get to write more. I didn't write much last year doing the 365 blog, because I was so beat all the time, so it's nice to write some short stories again. The tale will be right below this when I finish it. Till then, goodnight everybody and I'll see you tomorrow after dark.

Mr. Bard

Growing up my family had a variety of dogs as pets, but since I’ve been on my own, I only had one pet. It was a bird I named, Mr. Bard. He was a green and grey cockatiel and a great little pet and friend. I bought him from a woman in 1988 who was a friend of a friend. She raised birds to sell as pets and I bought the cockatiel from her. I named the bird, Mr. Bard, after a neighbor we had when I was about five-years-old.

We moved to Louisvile, Kentucky when I was five and there was an old guy who lived across the street. He was retired and loved to work in his yard and garden. He had white hair and kind of looked like the guy who played Perry White on the old Superman show. My older brother Jim and I used to go and help him garden and do yard work. He had Parkinson’s disease and he was in a constant state of shakiness and this fascinated my brother and I. I remember once eating some corn with a spoon and shaking it all over my plate. After watching me do this repeatedly I remember my mom asking me what I was doing.

“I’m playing a game called, “Mr. Bard,” I explained.

I remember my mom laughing and telling me that it wasn’t funny all at the same time. I think that’s  when I first discovered sick humor and I’ve always appreciated Mr. Bard for allowing me to laugh at the dark moments of life. So I thought it was the perfect name for my new bird.

We settled in well together. I bought him a huge cage and all kinds of toys and things to eat. And that first night I discovered that we had one thing in common, we both loved beer!

After I got him settled in to his cage, I took him back out and walked him around my apartment and showed him around. The cool thing about Mr. Bard was that the woman I bought him from hand-trained him, so he wouldn’t fly around when he was out of his cage. He loved to ride on my shoulder, pirate style when I was walking around, but if I was sitting in a chair or reading a magazine or book lying down, he’d just walk around, either on me or nearby. It was kind of like having a tiny little feathered dog. The first night I had him I went to the refrigerator and popped open a can of Budweiser. The popping noise intrigued him and he walked down my arm and up to my wrist and was looking at the can. I took a sip brought it back down and he stuck his beak into the rim and lapped up a little of the beer. I swear by the end of the night and after about eight beers, he was kind of staggering, so I put him in his cage and put a sheet over it and let him sleep it off.

I got up the next morning, took off the sheet and he was sitting there on his swing. He woke up, looked around and immediately swooped down to his water and took a nice long drink. I think he had cotton mouth. After he was done drinking he started chirping like crazy and I took him out of his cage and let him ride around on my shoulder.

The next day I had to go to work. I worked the third shift back then and had to be to work at 11:00 pm. I didn’t want to put the sheet on the cage, because I wanted him to have the same hours as me, so I left the lights on and put him in his cage and when I put on my jacket he must’ve sensed I was leaving and he went nuts. He was hanging on to the side of his cage and he started squawking like crazy. He did this the day before when I left, but I was hoping he’d get used to being alone, it didn’t look like this was the case.

“Shut up, I’ll be back in about nine hours,” I said to him.

He just kept going nuts, so I walked out of my apartment and locked the door. I stood there and he continued to sqawk and caw for over five minutes. I had to go to work, but I was afraid if he kept that up all night my neighbors would start to complain.

I went to work that night and got back home around 7:30 in the morning. I lived on the second floor and as soon as I opened up the door I could hear him squawking.

“Fuck,” I said to myself and ran up the stairs. I opened the door to his cage, threw it open and he was hanging in the same spot as when I left him. He was making all kinds of noise, I ran to his cage and threw open the door and stuck my hand in and he hopped on my finger.

“You gotta knock this shit off, I’m going to get complaints and then I’ll have to throw your ass out of here,” I told him. He didn’t seem the slight bit fazed, so I went and got a beer. I swear when I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the can, he let out a happy chirp. This bird brain was already a booze-hound! The two of us drank beer and I watched the Today Show and listened to some music. About one in the afternoon, both of us were half-stewed and tired. I put him in his cage, put a sheet over it, turned out the lights and went to bed. That evening I got up, ate dinner and fucked around till it was time to go to work. I was hoping Mr. Bard wouldn’t pitch a fit again, but the same fucking thing happened.

This time he knew for sure I was leaving so he battled me on going back into his cage. He flew away from me and landed up on a light hanging from the ceiling. He was staring down at me and I know he was thinking, “Tough luck asshole, I can fly and you can’t.”

I could’ve had his wings clipped, but he liked to fly around the apartment occasionally and I thought that would be an unnatural and mean thing to do to him. I didn’t want him flying around loose when I was gone though. There’d be bird shit all over the apartment when I got home. Then I thought of a way to trick him.

“Okay, fuck it, I won’t go to work, let’s see how you like it when I run out of bird food and I can’t afford to buy anymore for you to eat,” I said to him taking off my jacket and throwing it on the couch. He perked up a little when I did that. Then I went to the kitchen and opened up the refrigerator and walked out with a can of beer. He saw the can and flew right down to my arm. I grabbed him and put him in his cage and he went nuts and did the hanging on the side bit while squawking up a storm. This happened every night and the couple that lived next door never complained. I was amazed, but relieved.

I had had Mr. Bard for about two weeks when I ran into Caroline, one half of the couple who lived next door to me. I didn’t see her or her husband Robert very often because we kept different hours. They were early-risers and I think went to bed between 10 pm and midnight, so we were on opposite clocks. They were kind of straight-laced people, but we got along fine. I didn’t have people over a lot, but if I did I always told them to knock on the door if it was too loud and they never did. Anyway, it was a Saturday night around nine in the evening and I was leaving to go meet some friends. Mr. Bard was going through his squawking routine as I locked the door.

“Hey, stranger, when do I get to meet your bird?” A voice rang out in the hallway. It was Caroline and she was carrying a bag of groceries.

I said hi and then said, “I hope his squawking isn’t driving you two nuts, he goes crazy when I leave, he doesn’t like to be alone,” I explained as she set the bag on the ground.

She laughed and said, “It’s the nuttiest thing, we can hear him chirping when you leave, but as soon as you’re out of the building he stops. Then in the morning about five minutes before you come home, he starts up again. Somehow he knows the time of morning when you come home.”

“That little fucker,” I said, “I was actually worried it was bugging the shit out of you guys, but you were being nice and not saying anything about it. I was also worried about him and that he was hanging on the side of his cage going nuts for nine hours every night!”

Caroline laughed and said, “Believe me, if he did that all through the night, you’d have heard from us. We’re always up at night when you leave and when he starts his morning thing, we’re having our coffee, It makes us laugh.”

I always thought that it was nuts that he knew when I was coming home. We settled in nicely together and he was a great pet and beer drinking buddy. But five years later I decided to move to New York. There is a way to have a bird sent somewhere, but cockatiels are indoor birds and they can easily catch a cold if outside and that leads to pneumonia and that’s how a lot of them die. Plus my apartment in New York was tiny and there was no way to fit the huge cage in there. It would be too much of a hassle to have him there, I hated to think about giving him away, but the only other alternative was to take him to a vet and have him take that last flight into the sky via a lethal injection, and there was no way I was doing that.

I had some resumes being printed at a local print shop and I went to go pick them up. I knew the manager, Don and told him about the move to New York. I also told him about the Mr. Bard situation. This caught his interest.

“My dad lives out in the country and he’s got about six birds, all in different cages,” Don told me. “He might want it, are you giving him away?”

This sounded perfect. I told him I was not only giving him away, but his dad could have the cage for free. I told him I had paid over a 70 bucks for it, but I wanted it to go with Mr. Bard. Don said his dad would be real interested. Then I told Don he was hand-trained and you could keep him out of his cage. That did it. Don said his dad always wanted a bird that you could let out of his cage, he told me to hang on and he called him right then and there. Don talked to him and when he hung up he said his dad would take Mr. Bard.

Two months later I was about a week away from moving and Don drove out to my apartment. The day had come, it was time to take Mr. Bard to his new home. I had bought a little cage for him to travel in. Don had a pickup truck and we could put his large cage in the back. I had his food and toys packed up in a grocery bag. Don came in and took the cage and the bag out to the truck. Then he came back to my place.

“Okay, we better go,” Don said.

“Fuck, he’s going to flip out when I put him in there,” I told Don as I walked over to the tiny cage. After a bit of a struggle I got Mr. Bard into the cage and he was going nuts thrashing around and making noises like I never heard him make. I put a towel over the cage to cover him up. In the five years I had him, he had never left my apartment. This was going to be like taking him to a new world. And so far he wasn’t happy.

“Let’s go,” I said to Don, “this isn’t going to be a good day.”

And it wasn’t. Don’s dad lived out in the sticks and it took us around 45 minutes to get there, with Mr. Bard going batshit crazy the whole way. I was really afraid he was going to hurt himself. Finally we got there. I took Mr. Bard inside, met Don’s dad and immediately took Mr. Bard out of the cage. He flew up to my shoulder and was hiding behind my head. He made a huffing noise when he was scared and he was huffing and shaking. I put my hand up and he instinctively climbed up on it. I brought him around and was petting the top of his head. He always loved that.

“This is your new home, Mr. Bard, you’re going to love it here,” I told him as he settled down. After a few minutes of looking around, he stopped shaking and seemed to be okay. Then Don, his dad and I took him into the room where the other birds were in cages. When we got in there I took Mr. Bard up to a cage that housed two love birds and they chirped when they saw him. I wish I had a film of Mr. Bard looking at them. He turned his head sideways and looked at them like he was thinking, “Who the fuck is this?”

We stayed about an hour and Mr. Bard really took to Don’s dad. I instructed his dad on how to put his finger touching Mr. Bard’s claws and he’d hop on. I showed him how to pet the top of his head and Mr. Bard looked like he was enjoying all the attention. Every now and again he’d fly over to me as if to say, “Where the fuck is the beer in this joint?”

After about an hour it was time to go. Mr. Bard was sitting on Don’s dad’s shoulder, and I thanked Don’s dad and said goodbye to Mr. Bard. As Don and I walked to the door, Mr. Bard flew over to my shoulder.

“No, you’re staying here, Mr. Bard,” I said to him and walked back to Don’s dad, who took him again.

I told his dad to pet his head and turn around so I could leave. They turned around but Mr. Bard got loose and soon was back on my shoulder. He let out a chirp as if to say, “What the fuck is going on here?” Jesus, this was like leaving a kid at the orphanage and then trying to leave while he’s tugging on your pant leg.

“I’m going to have to put him in his cage,” I said walking over to his cage in the corner of the room where we set it up. Immediately he started squawking and I said to him, “Look, I gotta go, you’re going to like it here, I promise.” I put him in his cage and he jumped up on his swing and he just looked at me. I was amazed he wasn’t going nuts. Maybe it was because Don’s dad was there and there were the other birds, he wasn’t alone. Maybe he sensed I really had to leave him there.

“Bye Mr. Bard,” I said and Don and I walked out the door to his pickup truck. We got in and started down the road.

“That wasn’t easy, was it?” Don asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I told him and turned on the radio.

Two weeks later I was living in New York. I had job interviews scheduled at People magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Plus I had already scored a freelance writing assignment with a weekly paper called, NY Weekly. I was feeling good about things and decided to call Don to see how Mr. Bard was doing. I had called him before I left and found out the first two days he was there he was kind of listless and wasn’t eating. Then on the third day he was eating and Don’s dad was having a blast with him. I was glad his dad was taking him out of the cage a lot. I didn’t want to give him to someone that would leave him in the cage for a long period of time.

I talked to Don and had to laugh at what he told me. He said Mr. Bard had developed a morning ritual at his dad’s house. Every morning Don’s dad would let Mr. Bard out of his cage and Mr. Bard would fly to the top of the other bird cages, where the birds couldn’t fly free and would stand on top, chirping and stretching out his wings as if to say, “Hey Motherfuckers, I’m free and you’re not!”

Ha ha ha! I loved it. Mr. Bard was the king of the fucking hill! Then he told me one more thing.

“My dad changed his name,” Don revealed to me. “He hated the name Mr. Bard.”

I have to admit, I was a little pissed off.

“But that’s the name he answers to, he won’t know another name,” I said to Don.

“No, he answers to the new name too,”  Don said. It sounded like he was stifling laughter.

I didn’t think that was possible. It would be like giving a new name to a dog who’s answered to the same name for over five years.

“So what’s his new name?” I asked flatly.

Don laughed and said, “Marty.”

Ha ha ha! That was perfect. Marty is close enough sounding to Bard, that Mr. Bard probably didn’t notice the difference. He became a Marty and I became a New Yorker. Sometimes thing work out in life and this was one of those times.

Further reading: Biscuits and Bath, Three Dog Knight, Downtown Pets and Mr. Bard.


And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn't it good, Norwegian wood.




Bonus Art By Jaws!

Jaws sent in this piece of art to accompany his story/comment. Thanks, Jaws!

Little Avian Sociopath by Jaws.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Food Cart Nightshift Workers @9:30 pm
Various Locations Midtown Manhattan

Every Wednesday I’m going to be going somewhere and taking photos of people working the night shift.

Food trucks have become all the rage these days.
Mobile kitchens roam the town selling everything from burgers to steaks to tacos to (of course) cupcakes. They have Twitter and facebook accounts and update constantly to let the hungry masses know which corner the restaurant on wheels will be parked and for how long. However, before the food truck, there was the street vendor selling food from a cart. Usually simple fare, like hot dogs, sausages, meat skewers and pretzels. These vendors are still out there and I thought I’d go out and get some shots of them before the food trucks run them over and put them out of business. I hope you’re hungry!

Okay, one block away from work and we've found a nighttime cart already.

It's a Halal food cart. A lot of late-night carts are Halal vendors. Remember our 53rd and 3rd friend?

And here's the fellow inside of the cart. I ordered a hotdog from him.

And he flew into action. He's got a grill in here, this isn't your average New York dirty water dog.

And a liberal dose of mustard seals the deal. He almost put ketchup on it, but luckily I stopped him in the nick of time. Ketchup does not belong on a hotdog.

And there you go, a perfectly cooked, New York street dog. Delicious!

This woman waved at me as I took a picture of her and her cart.

She was a very nice Russian woman and she happily served me up a pretzel.

Here's a loaded Sabrett cart. I'm not hungry after the hotdog and pretzil, but let's see who's manning this food cart.

He was a nice guy waiting for customers on a chilly evening.

Okay, let's go down the block and see who we can find.

It's the Nuts 4 Nuts man!

Here he is, displaying a bag of his product. Pretty nuts, huh?

That cart has an electric sign on top of it. Let's go check it out.

Pretty fancy, let's see who's manning this food cart.

There's a lot of choices here, foodwise. I kind of wish I wouldn't have filled up earlier.

There's no one in here though. An empty cart.

Hey, here he is, he was taking a break outside of his cart. He told me business was a little slow tonight. Hopefully it'll pick up when it warms up outside.

Speaking of warming up, I was freezing, so it's time to head homeward bound. We'll go down 7th Avenue.

Graffiti on a window on 7th Avenue.

Holy smokes!

Look, it's a station wagon with a thyroid problem.

Health is wealth...

But liquor is quicker. Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow after dark.

Eating from street vendor carts is a little like eating a buffets in delis around town. You’re kind of taking your stomach on a little bit of a joy ride that sometimes doesn’t end up quite so joyous. I’ve heard street vendors carts referred to as “roach coaches,” and the most disgusting thing I’ve ever witnessed was in Times Square, a long time ago. I can’t remember where I was going, this is years ago, I was probably headed to Show World to go watch the cum cleaners in action, but all of a sudden I realized I was starving. There was a food cart a few feet away, so I went over and ordered a hot dog from the guy. It was the middle of summer, hot and while the cart didn’t look like the cleanest thing in the world, I was starving so I tried to ignore the grime the cart was covered in. I asked him to put mustard on it, but I got a bonus. Right after he applied a liberal dose of mustard to the dog from a dirty, generic yellow squirt bottle, he sneezed. Directly on the hot dog. And then acting like nothing was wrong he spat out, “Buck and a quarter.” He was a big guy and he was holding the hot dog with one hand and held the other out for the money.

“But you sneezed on it,” I said in horror.

“You order, you pay,” the guy said in a clipped accent I didn’t recognize. Wherever he was from, I guess it’s okay to sneeze and serve.

“Forget it,” I said, raising my hands in defense and then turned to walk away. Seconds later and just a step away I felt something hit me in the back. I stopped looked down and saw a hotdog. He threw it at me. I looked up at him in the cart and he was giving me the finger. At least he didn’t hit me with the mustard side.

You have to love New York!

Further reading: The Vendy Awards, The New York Times, New York Magazine and Gourmet.


Dreaming is free.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fireside Chat @11:00 pm
My Apartment/Chelsea

As I wrote on Monday, one of the pleasures of doing this blog is I can do whatever I feel like doing, as long as it’s after dark. So I can go wherever I want and do the night’s post and then put it up the next day. And that includes my apartment, which will be nice for night’s like tonight. As I wrote yesterday, I had to go to work early today and this process is going to happen all week. Anyway, I’m really beat tonight and thought I’d just go home and make a fire and have a few beers and so that’s tonight’s destination and after hours journey. I’ll take some photos on my walk home and think about something to write about on my laptop while sitting in front of my fireplace.
And here we go. It's straight up 6th Avenue and then we're home.

Sandwiches, bagels and coffee, the holy trinity of delis.

Same caption as the last, just replace sandwiches and coffee for paninis and wraps.

In case you're wondering if this store is closing...

Just check out their other windows. Gee, this is just  a guess, but maybe you mismanaged yourself. You know, like maybe just puttting up one big sign saying you're closing as opposed to a thousand hand written ones all over your four windows.

Oh no, another one of these, let's just get home, I think the dollar pizza joints have officially outnumbered bedbugs at this point!

Ah, the log is in the fireplace and all is well. Let's fire it up.

There we go, now we're talking. Well, not yet, let me think of something to write about.

Tonight I thought I’d write about the very thing you’re on if you’re reading this: The internet. I have a love/hate relationship with the internet. What I love about it is the wealth of information that’s available to you at the tip of your fingers. Google didn’t even start up until 1998 and now I probably go there at least a dozen times a day. In fact I had to Google the word “Google” to see when it started. I was half afraid I’d turn to dust while doing that, but I survived.

For all the good the internet has done for the world, it’s also fucked a lot of shit up. Record stores are becoming a dying thing now because everyone downloads music on the internet, no one buys albums or CD’s anymore and it’s killing the thing that we knew as the record store. Going to the record store was a social thing. Even if you went alone, maybe you’d strike up a conversation with someone looking at the same record as you were, or you’d talk to the person behind the counter about the music they were playing in the store that you had never heard of. I had a conversation with two kids in a bar last year (where else) and they tried to tell me that going to the Apples iTunes store was the same thing as going to a record store. I told them it wasn’t a social thing to go to the iTunes store and they argued that it was, because you can leave comments and communicate that way. I gave up and went back to my beer.

And speaking of comments, that’s another thing that bugs me about the internet. It used to be if you wanted to sound off on something that was in the paper, you had to sit down and compose a letter to the editor of that paper. And then the editors of that paper would decide if they would run it or not. Doesn’t sound democratic? Well, that’s because newspaper editors are smarter than most of the people writing in to them. Most people read their news online now and almost every paper online has a comments button after every story. And you don’t have to leave your real name. This has turned every half-brained, drooling idiot out there into an instant critic and pundit and they now can have their inane and imbecilic thoughts plastered out there for millions of people to read. The only problem is a good portion of these nitwits don’t know how to spell. The New York Post’s gossip column ran an item today on Rosie O’Donnell breaking up wth her girlfriend. Someone who’s handle is “a2z” left this comment: “I lost 25 lbs All you need to do is think of being stuck that discusting beast. YOU EAT ALL YOU WANT THEN THROW THE FUC UP” I swear to God I didn’t alter that comment one bit. I was written up on somebody’s blog for my 365 bars blog last year and I was called an “alkaholic looser” in someone’s comment. Skary...I mean scary stuff!

Another thing that the internet is affecting is porn.
I’m not saying it’s ruining porn, it’s hard (no pun intended, okay pun intended somewhat) to ruin such a time-treasured part of our society, but I think there’s so much of it readily available in the privacy of your home or apartment that it’s making people numb to it. I was on a porn site a couple months ago...doing research of course, thanks for that excuse, Pete Townshend!, and you could click a button and see what the most watched video of that day was. Know what it was? Two obese women shitting into their hands and spreading it on each other. It was discusting...I mean disgusting. When that’s  the most popular video of the day, I think we’ve all seen a little too much porn.

The internet also takes a lot of the excitement out of porn.
I think we’ve all had that moment in the past when you’re renting, “Titty Titty Gang Bang” at the video store and your next door neighbor comes up to say hello. Awkward! But it led to the excitement of getting the tape. Now all you have to do is type in the word “porn” on Google and a whole universe of porn awaits you. The only trouble is, a lot of people these days don’t know how to spell porn.

Okay, I have to run. I haven’t checked my email in ten minutes. I’m way overdue.

Further reading: The Telegraph, NY Times and Hub Pages.


The sunshine bores the daylights outta me.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tad's Steaks  @8:23 pm
Herald Square

Most New Yorkers have eaten at Tad’s Steaks once...and then they never go back again. I think there’s four of them, all near Times Square, but they’re all kind of identical. There’s neon out front and usually there’s a long line consisting of tourists and local New Yorkers who are craving a steak, yet who’s address is a cardboard box three and a a half blocks away. When you get up to the front of the line, you can order your steak from a cook who if you’re lucky is in possession of about two thirds of the English language. Once your steak is cooked you’ll snake down the cafeteria-styled aisle as they throw on a baked potato (somehow they manage to make a baked potato greasy), onions, garlic bread and you can add items such as a saran-wrapped glass of wine (red or white, vintage 2011, poured from a screw-topped bottle) well aged desserts, limp salads and soda or beer. And then you can enjoy your dinner in the dining room which has the ambience of a grade school lunch room desperately in need of city-funding meets the day room from “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Can we have our A-1 sauce now, Nurse Ratched?

I haven’t eaten at a Tad’s for a long, long time.
I have to go to work early tomorrow (they want me in before the crack of noon, oh the inhumanity of it all!) so I’m going out earlier than usual for my after dark adventure and I thought I’d go out to eat, since I skipped my Sunday dinner yesterday and I’ve got the night off tonight due to Presiden’s' Day. And I’ve decided to go to Tad’s. Maybe I’ll get food poisoning and then I won’t feel guilty about calling in sick to work tomorrow.

I thought I'd splurge and take a taxi there since it's a holiday and I'm in a hurry to get it over with.

And we're off, into the night.

And here we are, Tad's on 34th street. There's one closer to Times Square, but I didn't feel like dealing with that madness tonight.

I have to confess, I do like the neon in the window.

Okay, time for Tad's!

There's always a line at Tad's and tonight is no exception.

I've decided to go with number 10, The Big Daddy. As long as we're here, might as well take the full ride!

And here's the chef for the evening.

As you can see, he's pleased to meat us.

The line of trays waiting for dinner to be served is queued up.

And now we're moving and the dance begins!

You can almost see the germs swimming around in the pools of water along the way.

And dinner is served. Those gloves make me wonder if this man doubles as a proctologist.

You have the option of adding some of these side dishes. I passed as I wasn't really sure what sort of food groups they fell into.

This section scared me as it looks empty except for a couple of deep fried bugs.

And to the left may I present Tad's leaning tower of plates.

At Tad's you can have your cake and eat it too, but I decided to pass as the frosting was pink and it scared me a little.

And here's the famous Saran-wrapped wine.

But if you'd rather have a bottle, here you go. And you don't even have to bother with a cork!

Personally, I'm only here for the beer. And they have 24 ounce bottles at Tad's! Gotta love that!

What, you expected a hostess at Tad's?

And here we are in the dining room. Luckily you don't have to hear the bad '80s rock that's being piped into this room.

I think I'll sit here.

And here's the dinner, still alive and kicking.

All done, is it too early to call in sick to work now?

Okay, out the door and home to raid the Rolaids vat. Goodnight everybody, see you tomorrow after dark.

Tad’s answers the age-old question: “It’s steak, how bad can it be?”

Tad's Steaks
152 West 34th Street (Near 7th Ave.)

Further reading: Chowhound, Midtown Lunch, The Hungover Gourmet and Citysearch.


I wish I never saw the sunshine, then maybe I wouldn’t mind the rain.


Bonus Photo From Lex.

If you followed the 365 blog, you'll probably remember my friend Lex. Well she recently had a holiday skiing weekend and sent in this photo. While it's not an after dark photo, I do appreciate her friends on the gondola's style. Here's the photo and the caption Lex sent in.

I had the honor of sharing the gondola with these two, and had to get their photo! Pete (on the right) and Jordan were enjoying a day off from their Adventure Tour Guide degree program. Thought you might approve of the way they spend their 15 minute ride to the top!



Monday, February 21, 2011

Wandering around @8:45 pm
Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village

One thing I like about this blog is I can do whatever the fuck I want to do. Some nights I may just wander around and take pictures and that’s the plan for this evening. I’m going to try and go to one bar a week, but I just am not in the mood tonight. It’s one of those nights I don’t feel like talking or being sociable, so maybe I’ll go to one tomorrow. This is what I love about this blog. If I don’t want to mingle with people I don’t have to. Do you know how many nights I didn’t want to go to a bar last year, but still had to drag my sorry ass to one and then be the motherfucking life of the goddamned party, I’m breaking out in sweats just thinking about it.

So, no bar tonight, I think I’ll walk down towards Greenwich Village and see what’s happening.

Here I am, ready to go out outfitted in my recently purchased Jaws the Cabbie jersey. Check out the Jaws the Cabbie store here: Jaws the Cabbie Store.

I've wandered down towards Bleecker Street and thought we'd take a little tour of this fine street in Greenwich Village.

The walking man says, "Walk," so that's what we'll do.

And so, here we go. A journey of Bleecker Street begins.

Here's one of my favorite stops on Bleecker Street: Bleecker Street Records.

Here's Caleb who's manning the counter at the store.

A sight for sore eyes in this day of mp3's, a wall of vinyl records.

It's time for Regis...to retire, from what I've read in the papers lately.

Mick Jagger's first solo outing, the soundtrack to "Performance."


Here's the store's security cat. Hey, wake up fella!

Night time shoppers around an outside jewelry sales table.

That's one bold statement!

The Back Fence Bar. This place has been on the block for years, maybe I'll go here tomorrow night.

I had a late lunch of a grilled salami and swiss cheese sandwich on rye and it's giving me heartburn like crazy, so I'm stopping in here to get some Rolaids. Maybe I can get a shot of a deli man in my travels.

The Chinese deli man was shy and didn't want his picture taken, but Sammy, who was buying some bagels was happy to pose for the MAD camera.

Sammy told me he works two doors down here at the Trattoria restaurant.

Here's the legendary Bleecker Street nightclub, The Bitter End.

Tom Howes was having a cigarette outside. I had a nice conversation with Tom about New York, The Lovin' Spoonful and other topics. Tom's a singer, guitarist and writer who'll be performing here in a few weeks.

And they say there's no jobs in New York these days.

And they say there's no jobs in New York these days, part II, the search for a cook.

A shadowy portrait of Kari and Mike who were relaxing on a bench on Bleecker Street.

Guitars behind bars.

Racks of postcards on Bleecker Street.

Alfrey was decked out in a suit and tie and waiting for friends to show up on Bleecker Street.

I wonder if this place is any relation to Frank Booth?

The question here is, do you really want your teeth whitened by someone who can't spell, "guaranteed?"

This is one of the best pizza joints in New York City.

Hookah pipes in a window on Bleecker Street.

The biggest margarita in the world atop the Caliente Cab Co.

Eye spy.

This store has legs.

Okay, up Sixth Avenue and homeward bound.

Boy, there's just no escape from this shit! Goodnight everybody and see you tomorrow, after dark.

Bleecker St.
One of the chapters in my book, “99 Beers Off The Wall,” was spent on Bleecker St. Here’s the introduction to that chapter.

Yesterday’s scattered, all-over-the-city bar battles have left me fatigued and a true General Patton-like weariness has sunk into my battered body. My head aches, my eyes are reduced to sunken globes of a pinkish hue and my jeans stink of blood, sweat and beers. Today will be a more relaxed day as I plan to keep close to home by leisurely reviewing bars close by the homefront on Bleecker St., a mere pebble’s throw away.

The reason I chose Bleecker St., other than the fact that it’s close by, is because in my wild-eyed youth when I was in high school in the midwest town of Peoria, Illinois, my friends and I would pile in a couple of cars and park in a field on the outskirts of town where we’d proceed to get high on a variety of pills, powders, smoke and beer. When it was winter we’d sit in the beat up cars with the heaters on like they were our little apartments, stoned out of our gourds, jabbering, joking and being silly in a carefree way only a stoned 16-year-old can be. When it was an exceptionally clear night we tuned up and down the FM dial for a late night show called “Bleecker St.” The DJ/Emcee of the Bleecker St. show was one of those low-voiced, stoned/smooth talking DJ’s that emanated “cool” in the mid ’70s. He’d play music unknown and unheard of in Peoria, Illinois—the first time I ever heard The Velvet Underground was on “Bleecker St.”—and we’d get high, drink and listen intently to these new and wonderful sounds. We all wondered where this elusive Bleecker St. was until one night the stoned DJ, announced, “You’re listening to Bleecker St., here in New York City, maaan.” I remember trying to imagine what Bleecker St. and New York were like. Even my imagination stoked to the gills on pot, various pills and cheap cans of Blatz beer failed to conjure up the proper imagery, but I knew it was world’s away from sitting in a car in the middle of a field, stoned to the bone in Peoria, Illinois.

Most of the people I used to sit in cars and get high and drink cheap beer with are still in Peoria. The majority of them are married with kids, cars, jobs, house payments and lives steeped in the middle class world of midwest America. And as I consider my life of freelance writing, being single, working a goofy, responsibility-free night-shift job to pay my rent in New York City while I count the 56 bucks in my only pair of jeans, gather up my cigarettes and head out the door to drink 14 beers in 14 bars on Bleecker Street, I feel like the luckiest son of a bitch in the land.

Further reading: New York Songlines, Bleecker St. Bars on metromix and Wikipedia.


Thirty dollars pays your rent
On Bleecker Street.

(Not anymore, Paul, not anymore.)