[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York: a romp through time and space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

One of the many buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. What’s inside, nobody knows!

I’m not an expert on New York City. I don’t pretend to be and if nothing else, this blog has proved that I’m nowhere close to even having a cursory knowledge on how this city works. That being said, I still usually feel like I have a grasp on where I am, what I’m doing, and what to expect. It seems important to have your wits about you in this town, especially when you’re showing your friend around the city trying to convince her not to move. If you’ve been keeping up with this feature, you’ll know that my recent attempts to get my friend Kate to not move to Boston have fallen short. So perhaps it was time to switch things up. Perhaps it was time to try a place I knew very little about, always seemed shrouded in mystery to me, and was actually the venue for a mutual friend’s birthday. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about spending an afternoon with Kate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The first time I became aware of the Navy Yard, I was looking at a map of Brooklyn. “I’m not a service member, so this doesn’t apply to me,” and I kept scanning the map for a beach or a bar, because I’m a bum. The second time I took note of the Navy Yard I was in a late night cab when we took a route I’d never taken before. We passed the Navy Yard and I saw a sandwich board advertising coffee. “I guess even sailors need caffeine,” I thought, and I had the cab driver drop me off at a beach or a bar. More recently I finally got a more realistic picture of what the Navy Yard is from someone who would actually know, someone in their 70’s who’s seen all of the exciting (?) changes take place at “The Yard.” He told me how there was a winery, some shops, businesses, ya know, your classic case of Navy Yard repurposing. “Sorry, sir, you must be confused. It’s called the NAVY YARD. Keyword there is NAVY. Sea men don’t drink wine except on Fleet Week.” I then got a long history lesson on the relationship between service members and self medication, PTSD, and veterans affairs. Depressing stuff. This is all to say there was an air of mystery surrounding the Navy Yard. So with the opportunity to attend our friend Claire’s birthday party at the Navy Yard, I thought discovering the secrets of the Yard together may be the perfect way to convince Kate to stay in Brooklyn.

Hey, this place doesn’t look like it’s shrouded in mystery and sadness at all! There’s a swing!

The first step in securing entry to the Navy Yard was to reserve a ticket to the winery that was on the roof of one of their buildings. Claire sent us all links to an Eventbrite page with specific times we would be allowed to visit. The mystery around the Navy Yard was growing more and more…mysterious. I’ve only used Eventbrite for events such as Grilled Cheese tastings or mandatory work trainings. Never to visit a former shipbuilding yard to get sloshed. With our confirmation emails in hand, Kate and I arrived at the Navy Yard, truly unsure what to expect. We were met by a driveway, a single gate that was meant to keep cars out (but honestly if you were determined you could totally bust through it), little to no sign of human life, and a security box that we were told we had to use to scan our reservation. We stood around it, looking probably like a couple of cavemen who had just recently become unfrozen, the ways of the modern world causing our brains to melt and leak out of our nostrils. Out of nowhere a woman appeared. “Going to Rooftop Reds? You’re good.” And as suddenly as she appeared, she vanished. I’m fairly certain she was a sea ghost.

Walking the Yard only further cemented my theory that this place was lousy with sea ghosts. While there was a huge factory style building every two feet, there was pretty much no human beings in sight. Clearly, all the sea ghosts were hiding and would only make themselves known when we found ourselves in a pickle. We had a building number in our confirmation email and when we finally found building 275, we wandered around trying to find a door. A sea ghost appeared and showed us an appropriate entrance and we were on our way to get wine drunk with some sea ghosts. And Claire.

Corn holin’ in a former shipbuilding yard, classic birthday party shit

When we reached Rooftop Reds it was like we passed through a portal into a different place and time: a spacious, hipster winery in no way resembling the abandoned warehouse feel of the rest of the Navy Yard. No sea ghosts here, just real people and real grapes and real vines! Despite the fact that we had to reserve a spot ahead of time, I could count the number of other guests on my hands. So, around 10. It’s rare to be in a place in New York City that is large and sprawling and also not overrun with people. We met up with Claire and the rest of the birthday party for wine tastings, more wine, some corn hole, some talk of the World Cup, and some talk of food. That’s when the sea ghosts among us made themselves known. The bartender knew without us even really needing to tell her that we wanted to order pizza, and without a moment’s hesitation presented us with a menu from a local pizzeria that would deliver all the way to the roof. It wasn’t long after that when another sea ghost came over to tell us all about the fun activities offered at Rooftop Reds, almost like she knew how confused we were by the space we were in. They had sunset yoga, birthday parties, baby showers, box socials, you name it, they would host it. Say what you will about sea ghosts, they’re helpful and have a wealth of information. But they really do appear and disappear at the drop of a dime.

Wines that were assuredly poured by a sea ghost

With our wine successfully drunken and our pizza successfully delivered and eaten, we decided it was time to check out what else the Navy Yard had to offer. The only problem was that everything seemed closed and there were no sea ghosts present on our way out. So we decided to go to the King’s County Distillery, located right before the exit from the Yard into the real world. Who knew if time stood still on the other side of that exit. What if time sped up and everyone we know and love was now 60 years older? Or dead? Or 2 hours older, the amount of time we had spent at the winery? We weren’t ready to find out, so we ducked into the distillery to avoid the inevitable.

Kate and Claire, blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the outside world

Advertised as the oldest whiskey distillery in New York City, would you be surprised if I told you it was founded in 2010? Because it was. Nothing about the Yard makes sense. Time truly is a flat circle. The building the distillery is housed in has kept its old school charm, with chipping paint, weird layouts, secret books, and plants! The bottles of whiskey look like they’re still being produced in the Prohibition Era, but the cocktail list is straight up 2018 Brooklyn. I reiterate, time is a flat circle. After ordering our cocktails and finding a tiny table amongst the foliage, we set up shop, pulled up the World Cup game on my phone (because time apparently hadn’t stood still), and drank our whiskey drinks surrounded by hipsters, old buildings, and probably a bunch of sea ghosts. At the end of the game, we moved to the backyard area, which we all decided wasn’t as romantically trapped between multiple eras as the inside.

Our little green area at the distillery. Not pictured: our cocktails. Actually pictured: our coffees and waters that we brought from home because you have to make sure you’re awake and hydrated while stumbling through a potential portal into another dimension

Finally we left the Yard and I looked to Kate for answers. Would she stay in the city? Did I finally do it? What year is it? It was a confusion that all of us felt, and when I looked in the rear view mirror as we pulled away from the Navy Yard, I saw a sea ghost tip his cap at me approvingly. He mouthed out the words, “You’ll never truly understand this place,” and then disappeared in a cloud of bubbles. I again searched Kate’s face for answers. But she was looking up car rentals to Boston. Maybe next time I’ll find us an excursion that feels a bit more solidly placed in this time period. Or maybe I’ll continue failing.

For a brief moment, Kate almost fused with the walls of Kings County Distillery. The Yard will make you do mysterious things

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York: Root, root, root for the away team

Four years ago this summer was the first time I ever even noticed or paid attention to the FIFA World Cup. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to being an American, I am my most American around soccer as I don’t watch it and only did when America was making a pretty good effort at the World Cup in Brazil. Of course, the USA didn’t make it to the final that time around, but the enthusiasm to see as many games as possible in as many bars as possible had built inside me, and I was eager to get another shot at it four years later, which would of course be this summer. Flash forward to present day and the US didn’t even make it to the World Cup at all, I made a bracket with little to no information and I’m doing very poorly, and my support of America overall has hit an all-time low. Like “researching how to get a foreign passport” low and “writing a blog about what’s great in New York City to trick myself into thinking being in the US is okay” kinda low. That’s how I feel about this country I call home.

But it wasn’t just about me and my feelings for this country anymore, it was also about Kate, my friend who I’m trying to convince not to leave New York City. If you’ve been keeping up with my recent posts, you’ll know that I’m slowly hemorrhaging friends in this city as they all move to greener pastures, literally and figuratively, and the thought of losing one more friend to the great expanse that is America outside of my little bubble was too much to bear. I had to spring into action and convince her to stay, which up to this point I have failed at. Thinking back to my summer of World Cup viewing parties at Brazilian bars, or watching the final on a TV that was set up on the boardwalk on the Rockaways, I knew that I might have finally come up with a plan to make her stay. There was nothing quite as fun as everyone stopping, holding their breath, and watching some penalty kicks over a beer. It’s so rare when a group of people come together like that in this city, so maybe that’s what Kate has been yearning for.

The most fun I had during the last World Cup was going to a venue where there was a fervor for one particular team. Watching Germany play in a beer hall. Watching Brazil play at a Brazilian owned bar. Watching America play on my phone in a McDonalds. I had to find a bar and a game that would capture that magic of rooting for the home team despite our home team being at, well, home and not in Russia this time. The great thing about New York City, and I may blow all of your minds with this, but it’s referred to as a melting pot of cultures. There are people from all over the world, meaning there are people cheering for countries all over the world. Unfortunately by the time Kate and I were ready and able to see a game, all that was left were European countries in the World Cup. I have no problem with Europe, I’ve been many times, we’re chill, but I kinda wanted to go to a Mexican taqueria to watch a game. Instead, our best bet was watching the England vs. Sweden quarter final on Saturday, July 7th. I knew of an English pub that is always showing Premier League games that’s also conveniently located off the G (Hey, remember when I exclusively talked about places along the G line? I’ll get back to those posts again soon, I promise), so early one Saturday morning, I headed over to Black Swan on Bedford Ave to get my beer and soccer on with Kate.


6 screens….WITH SOUND!!!!

The game started at 10:00 am, but knowing that it was a big game and that there would be a lot of people vying for seats, my goal was to get there at 9:30 latest. At 9:45, my boyfriend and I strolled in to an already packed bar, all seats taken, limited standing room only. Kate was on her way, but I was worried that my inability to get my shit together in a timely fashion would tarnish her viewing experience and thus, her New York City living experience. Fortunately for me, I’ve already managed to do a lot of damage in that department, so ruining an activity that she already wasn’t into would just be par for the course. I tried to text her just to warn her that it was packed, last chance to turn around if she didn’t feel like standing for the next two hours and straining to see the TV, but because it was so crowded I had no service and my text never sent. A couple minutes into the game, Kate walked in and claimed some floor space next to us, ready to hunker down and watch sport.

I told her how my boyfriend was an avid soccer fan and how he could enlighten us as to how the game worked and who all the players were. Kate stared at me for a solid few seconds and then said, “I used to play soccer, pretty competitively, for years. I know soccer.” She apparently was the goalie. A running theme through all of these posts is that I don’t do my research, and yet again, I had not. I just figured she must not know soccer because who does. She does. And my boyfriend does. Most of my family does. Everyone in Black Swan does. I don’t. I learn just enough to watch the game I’m watching and then immediately forget it so I can save that space in my brain for imagining what my cat’s birth was like. Was it in a field, or an alley? Did his mother howl in pain? How messy was it? What’s it mean to be off sides in soccer? Were there multiple cats in the litter?


Kate’s face when she’s about to tell you that she used to be a goalie

I decided for Kate’s viewing pleasure, and probably for everyone there’s viewing pleasure, I would keep my questioning to a low roar. I was thoroughly enjoying my morning beer and how clever I felt that I could tell which team was wearing which color by looking at the scoreboard on the upper left of the TV, when about 30 minutes in England scored a goal! The place went wild, people screaming, some of us taking out our phones to take pictures of the chaotic celebration. “Are you taking pictures for a blog, too?!” I screamed. I didn’t scream that, but can you imagine if I did? The man sitting in front of us was perhaps the biggest England soccer stan of them all. Every once in a while he would break out into song, hoping the rest of the bar would chime in, usually they wouldn’t. “Pickford is on FIRE!” he would yell at no one in particular. Pickford is, as I learned that morning, the goalie of the English team. The Kate of England, if you will.

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The excitement following the first goal, and perhaps another blogger in our midst?!

At the halfway point England was up by one and the energy in the bar was high. I was hoping that perhaps someone would want to step outside for a smoke because smoking is big in England. Then maybe we could snag some seats and enjoy the rest of the game over a full English breakfast. Alas, only a few people moved from their seats to go to the bathroom and made it abundantly clear that they were coming back and no one was to sit where they were sitting. Our fate was sealed the minute I decided to try a new face moisturizing routine that morning forcing us to be late. We would have to endure the second half standing. And so we did.

Only a few minutes in to the second half and England scored their second goal. While everyone in the bar was losing their goddamn minds, Kate told me that her coach always said that being up 2-0 is the most dangerous lead to have. I could not tell you why, but for some reason that shook me to my core. It felt like election night 2016. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of England not winning because we were in an English bar so it had to happen, but what if they fucked this up and there was a surprise Swedish victory late in the game? How could we go on with the rest of our day knowing that the man who so loved Pickford would be crushed under the weight of England’s defeat? I didn’t realize how much I needed England to win until that moment, surrounded by people all cheering for the same team. It was then I realized I’d probably be very susceptible to joining a cult. I also had seen “Wild, Wild Country” only a few months ago and was very upset at how much my own wardrobe looked like the Rajneshee’s, so my closeness to cult life has been heavily weighing on my mind lately.

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No one else seemed to be inside their heads as much as I was…

Well, dear reader, this was almost a week ago so I think you know how it turned out. Amidst jeers from the crowd in Black Swan for Sweden to “go fuck itself” and “I like Ikea, but fuck you Sweden!” the dangerous score of 2-0 held for the rest of the game and England defeated Sweden in the quarter final. When the final whistle was blown, the bar went nuts, and my favorite patron began singing “It’s coming home…”

This also being almost a week ago, we now know that it is not in fact coming home, because England lost to Croatia in the semi final. I worry about the man sitting in front of me at that bar, I worry about Pickford, I worry about the USA, and I worry about the sanitary conditions of the location of my cat’s birth. I also worry about losing my friends to the outside world, the one beyond the five boroughs. Hoping she was riding the high from that mornings win, Kate would have a change of heart and perhaps think that New York City was in fact now Old York City and now a part of England. I mean, fuck, that would be amazing. But Kate knew better and turned to me and said, “You know you can watch the World Cup and root for teams literally anywhere?” I guess it is one of the few events that the whole world comes together for and celebrates. Then why aren’t we in it? Oh that’s right, we suck in so many ways these days. I’m moving to Old York City, I guess you would just call it York. But I can’t because of passport and visa restrictions! ARGH! I guess I’ll stay, even if everyone else won’t.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York: coming to terms with the Museum of Sex

After many failed attempts to convince my friend Kate not to move out of New York City, I most recently tried once more, perhaps somewhat misguidedly, at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan. Filled with obscene and sometimes disturbing images and exhibits, it’s a place a 17 year-old boy would probably love and a grown woman would have many mixed feelings about, but mainly upset. If I’ve learned anything from my previous missions with Kate, it’s that the potential for things to go wrong and to push her further away is high. How could a museum where one of the main exhibits focused on an artist many have called a “perverted monster” possibly send my feminist friend to another state?

The Museum of Sex, site of much self-discovery

The last and only other time I had been to the Museum of Sex was roughly 11 years ago. At the time it seemed somewhat rebellious to be surrounded by old timey sex machines and graphic mangas with girls covered in ejaculate. I was legally an adult then, mentally still a child. But with time comes maturity. Maybe. When I got to the Museum of Sex this time around, I waited for Kate and our friend in the gift shop where I found emoji vibrators. “Aww, these are cute,” I thought, and took a picture. Is this what being a mature woman in her 30’s looks like? Looking at the other clientele in the gift shop, it was about what you’d expect; some NYU students who probably thought it would be “a real gas” (that’s how the youth speak) to go to a museum all about fucking, some couples who were probably trying to spice things up, a few tourists with huge cameras strapped around their necks, and after Kate and our friend Casey arrived, there was also us. Where we fit into this group is hard to say. I guess you could classify us under “group of friends who are 33% sure they’re moving to another city.”

Kate blending in with the art, unsure as to why I thought this might be a good idea

Our first glimpse of the actual museum was the exhibit “The Incomplete Araki,” which took us on an uncensored tour of the works of the aforementioned “perverted monster,” Nobuyoshi Araki. A floor plus filled with images of women naked, bound and gagged, hanging upside from ceilings with ropes cutting into parts of their bodies definitely seems has a place in the age of the #MeToo movement. But it’s the wrong place. You walk into the room and they pose the question “Is he a genius or demented?” and I’m landing on demented. The descriptions of him repeatedly coming close to or actually crossing the line with the subjects of his photographs only further confirmed that this guy was gross. We spent the bulk of our time in this exhibit making disgusted faces, looking for pictures of cats (because for some reason those were also sprinkled in there), and trying to find the exit. This was not going to make Kate stay. It may make her leave the country. We had to move on to another exhibit if we wanted to salvage the evening.

Life imitating art, when will I be featured in this museum? I’m better than Araki, BELIEVE THAT

Where the Araki exhibit was on one side of the #MeToo spectrum, the next exhibit, “NSFW: The Female Gaze,” was on the complete other end. It’s as if the museum itself grew a conscience and knew it had to atone for its sins of putting cute cat pictures in close proximity to pictures of women being subjected to torture for the benefit of a man’s “art.” NSFW was pictures of sexuality from the female-identifying perspective, which meant one of the porns was about a woman masturbating to a fantasy about a guy she sat next to at a bus stop. Ya know, real mature lady stuff. At least I think it is because as I mentioned, the juries still out on whether or not I’m a mature lady. I thought that perhaps this exhibit would tip the scales back in my favor of persuading Kate to stay, especially since it was so femme-focused, but the last exhibit had left us all feeling a little bit drained. One of the major draws of the museum was getting to jump in the room full of inflatable boobies, so I figured it might be time to high tail it over there. Maybe if I could get Kate bouncing around soon she might come around, but it was on our way to locate the titty jumping palace that we were distracted by two words: “Animal Sex”

A truly inspiring and fascinating story found on the walls of the animal sex exhibit

What would you do? Truthfully, faced with the choice between models of fake animals fornicating or bouncing around a room of fake breasts, which would you choose? A real Sophie’s Choice. There’s a model of a dolphin with their dolphin dick in another dolphin’s blow hole, the dolphin’s take on a blow job! Some animals having three ways! An article on the wall titled “Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck!” I KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO AND IT’S CHECK OUT ANIMAL SEX. Walking around the room, trying to guess if the measurements given for each animal in the exhibit was its height or its genitalia length, realizing that it was definitely 100% their height, and then watching a video of a turtle having sex with a staircase, we knew we made the right choice. “I saved the trip!” I thought, as we watched the turtle almost come to climax. Then a second part of the turtle’s penis in the video appeared and it’s vague reminiscence to an alien made us all a little queasy. Time to jump in boobs, that’ll settle the stomach.

Kate and Casey bouncing amongst the areolas, in technicolor!

We got to the boob room, possibly among the last bouncers of the day. It cost an extra few dollars, but it was worth it to try to turn this day around and prove once and for all that New York was worth staying in. After securing all our valuables and loose change, meaning leaving everything aside from the clothes on our backs with a man we just met outside, we entered the bouncy booby zone. The music immediately switched to heavy metal and I could feel rage coursing through my veins. “This is for the woman who had a rope so tightly tied around her body for some Araki’s shitty photography, she probably couldn’t pee properly for a month!” I thought, throwing myself at a breast mounted on the wall. “This is for objectifying women for centuries making an exhibit about female bodies and sexuality from a female perspective seem like a new and revolutionary idea!” I screamed internally as I dropped all my weight onto a half inflated boob. “This is for the cats who are too close to the torture and for the turtle penis that was too close to the staircase!” and I bounced back and forth between too tata’s like a ping pong ball being hit back and forth on a table. After releasing our rage, we all tried unsuccessfully to shoot each other off the floor boobs. This all makes perfect sense to me, although it might not to you. Here’s a video for clarity.

We overstayed our welcome amongst the walls of inflatable breasts, but we needed to, and only some of us got the squirts afterward. Poring over the books of giant penises in the gift shop, Kate and I both looked at each other in horror. I don’t think that I had convinced her to stay with this visit, but I think we both learned a thing or two about ourselves. And that is that we ARE mature women and we’re not 17 year-old boys. And then we got tacos.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York: In search of the perfect slice

As a quick refresher if you’re reading this feature for the first time, I’m currently on a quest to convince my friends who are all threatening to leave New York City to stay. My subject thus far has been my friend Kate, as her threats of moving away are the most pressing. Now that we’re on the same page, let me tell you the tale of one rainy Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn.

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Kate outside of one of the pizza bang bang visits, either contemplating her decision to move to Boston or her decision to allow me to take her all over New York City in a failed attempt to get her not to move

When people think New York City, they think of a lot of things: yellow taxis, summer smelling like hot garbage, pigeons with deformed extremities, bagels, etc. Something that almost everyone can agree on is that there is nothing that defines New York City quite like the perfect slice of pizza. That and the hysteria that surrounds something that has been deemed otherworldly, resulting in flocks of people lining up for it for hours (see: cronut). So armed with that knowledge, I decided to find a place that was the intersection of both of these: a slice of pizza so good that we would have to wait to taste it for hours. What’s more New York than that? Maybe if a pigeon missing half a wing and several toes flew into the pizza place while we were all waiting and shat all over the dough? It does somehow feel like a perfect metaphor for life in New York; you wait really long for some huge payoff, everyone cramped together fighting for the same thing, hoping they get it next, only to have it destroyed at the last second by an interloper. But alas, that part didn’t happen!

Our pizza bang bang (as all of my journeys with Kate have ended up becoming bang bangs) started at DiFara Pizza, located in Midwood, Brooklyn. I’ve long heard tales of it being the best pizza in the city, although somewhat far afield from the hustle and bustle of the Sbarro’s in Times Square (And yes, that is a reference to Sbarro’s being Michael Scott’s favorite slice of New York pizza from “The Office.” I watch seasons 1-4 pretty consistently now that “30 Rock” isn’t on Netflix anymore. So there’s a peak behind the curtain at my home life, I hope you’re happy. I regret letting you into that part of my life). This is all to say that if you’re a strap-hanger like myself, getting to DiFara’s can be a bit of a journey which is part of the reason I had never been. However, if I learned anything from dragging Kate out into the ass-end of Astoria in my last post, it’s that I learned nothing so why not drag her way the fuck out into Brooklyn. Of course, it being nowhere near anything I’m familiar with, I showed up late. Getting out of the Q at Avenue J, we saw an unassuming looking pizza place that looked maybe like it was closed, maybe was actually a place called MD Kitchen, and maybe a shoe and watch repair place. All of these I can only assume are meant to deter and distract those who weren’t quite ready for what’s been referred to as “legendary” by Anthony Bourdain and “far away” by me earlier in this post. It was in fact open and packed to the gills with people, so we joined the crowd.

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Hi, what are you?

A vaguely amorphous line seemed to have formed in the small pizzeria, so confirming with the guy in front of us that he was in line, we got in back of it and waited. And waited. And waited. The frantic energy from the kitchen scurrying to get out orders was transferring to some of the customers. And by some, I mainly mean me. Other people started to form in line behind us, but we seemed to be making no progress and had at this point been there for 20 minutes without moving. It seemed like no one was even ordering, yet somehow the place was chock a block full of people and pizzas were being churned out left and right. The math didn’t make sense to me, and I say this as someone who minored in Japanese. I could feel Kate questioning why I thought this slice, this wait, this possible shoe and watch repair place would be what swayed her into staying behind in New York. I had to act somehow, so skipping the man in front of us who I initially asked about the line, I asked the people directly in front of him. “Excuse me, are you guys in line?” “Oh no, we already ordered a long time ago.” The guy in front of us turned back to me and gave me a look as if to say, “Can you believe this?! This whole time we’ve been waiting in a non-existent line behind people who have already ordered!” I could believe it. You know why? Because you told me you were standing in line to order, so I lined up behind you. That’s why I can believe it.

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Do you understand the ordering protocol is this place, because I don’t

Once we had cracked the case of the not moving line, we made our way to where it looked like they were potentially taking orders. We weren’t looking for a full pizza pie, again this was to be an afternoon pizza bang bang, there just simply isn’t enough room in the human body. So we were opting for slices. Kate and my boyfriend left it up to me to order our slices, after all, this was my idea and it was my cross to bear. Even though the man who told us there was a line had led us astray before, I wanted to be polite and let him order first since he was clearly there before us. But sometimes politeness doesn’t get you ahead in life. For example, this time. Because I stood behind him, watching him timidly raise a finger, then put it down, continuing to not order. I made a mental note to myself, if he didn’t order in the next five minutes, I was going to let my inner New Yorker out, get assertive, jump to another part of the counter, and order before him. I was about ready to scream to Kate and my boyfriend to just order if they get the chance, and fuck this guy in front of us because it’s been an hour, when I realized someone I went to High School with was directly in front of Kate. You should know that Kate had been saying my name loudly at different intervals for probably 15 minutes at this point. You should also know that I have a somewhat unique name and there was no way that this person didn’t hear my name said and also see me. However, without ever once making eye contact, we both carried on with the rest of our respective visits to DiFara’s not acknowledging the other person. And those are truly the best interactions in New York City. I know you, I have nothing against you, never thought you were a bad person, but I’m in no mood for small talk right now, I’m hardly in the mood to wait for this pizza and I haven’t even ordered it yet. If for no other reason, people should stay in New York City because it’s the best city to avoid people even in small, cramped spaces.

Just when I was about to give up on all of it, the man in front of me ordered a slice. The guy taking the orders wasn’t sure how long it would be because he didn’t know when they would make their next slice pie. “I want three slices if that’ll make it easier,” I immediately interjected. “I also want a slice,” said a woman behind me. This is the only way any of us wanted to associate with each other at this point, to help each other out in our quest for pizza. The guy taking our order scribbled all of our names with the number of slices we wanted haphazardly onto a legal pad. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the way the names were jotted down. And that very nicely lined up to our experience at DiFara’s thus far. We then spent the next hour plus of our wait for our slices alternating between standing outside and trying to stay dry from the rain, and watching the madness unfold inside the pizza place.

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Kate takes in the “behind the counter” scene, starring old man DiFara

We watched as the younger employees, possibly sons of the owner, rushed to take phone orders, get the dough ready, cut the basil onto the finished pies, try to decipher the legal pad of orders. There seemed to be an easier way to streamline the whole process but that would definitely feel out of place here. The draw of this place was the complete anarchy that preceded the “best slice in New York.” Would all of this craziness somehow come together in a way that would make Kate want to stay? Was it all so ridiculous that she would laugh and say, “Huh, I kinda get it now.” At one point, someone came in with a camera and loudly said, “I come here every five years to take a picture of the old man and make sure he isn’t dead.” Then he took pictures of an old man making pizzas behind the counter and left without ordering anything. Looking at the old man, unfazed by the insanity happening around him, I thought that maybe that’s what happens when you stay in New York forever. He seemed at peace, happy to knead some dough, sprinkle on some ingredients, and throw the pies into the oven, even if sometimes he kinda missed and closed the oven door on the pizza so part of it was hanging outside. Hey, no two pies are alike! I liked the cut of old man DiFara’s jib, and thought if I could channel some of his low key energy, maybe I could transfer it onto Kate and she’d decide to stay. But I may have already been too late as Kate was starting to play a game in which we all guessed how much longer we’d have to wait. We were all wrong. It took longer than all of us predicted. None of us could be as chill as old man DiFara, and truthfully that isn’t even his name. It’s Domenico DeMarco, and the name “DiFara” was apparently given to the pizza place by his lawyer in 1959 when he did a classic mashup between DeMarco’s last name and his then business partner Farina. Having been there for almost 60 years, DeMarco still hand-makes every pizza to this day. Would the story of an immigrant from Italy making his way to being one of most popular pizza places in a city full of world class pizza pull at Kate’s heartstrings, making her realize that despite the sometimes endless slog of bullshit that New York throws at you, occasionally it churns out the classic story of the American dream being realized? The answer is no, because stories like that don’t exist anymore and New York City is ridiculously expensive. Old man DiFara having a big break in a pizza saturated city, all while writing orders at random on a legal pad wouldn’t succeed today. A pigeon would shit on his legal pad and then he wouldn’t be able to afford his rent and would be forced out and turned into a Starbucks before he even really got off the ground.

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Old man DiFara, née Domenico DeMarco, puts a pie into the oven, potentially closing the door onto one side of it

We finally got our slices, eating them on the street while ordering a cab to go to our next pizza place. It was, despite all that waiting and all that realization of a New York that just no longer is, a fucking delicious slice of pizza. I looked to Kate hoping to see the overly cooked thin crust and the olive oil dripping down her chin would translate to a need to stay in New York and eat all the pizza, but instead she just bluntly said, “Yeah, that is really good.” And we got in our cab to go to the next place, L & B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst.

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Thank you, pizza! I love you!

L & B’s offers a much different pizza experience. For one, this pizza used to be sold out of a horse drawn wagon in the 1930’s and 40’s. Then over time it turned into a sit down pizzeria in the 50’s, which is where we went. The horse that used to sell the L & B pizza’s I’m pretty sure died more than 50 years ago. So right from the get go, we’ve got a story involving a horse and a big dining room with seats that we can sit in immediately, two major differences from DiFara’s. You would think the differences would end there, but no! L & B’s famous pizza is a Sicilian pie. And if you aren’t well versed on pizza styles because you’re more of a Domino’s pizza tracker kinda gal, a Sicilian pizza is the one that’s square. I’m not typically a Sicilian fan, but this is not your typical Sicilian. It’s a little bit sweet, it’s crust is fluffy and doughy and perfect, and someone once got murdered over the sauce recipe. If your pizza’s history doesn’t include a horse and a murder, are you even really making pizza?

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The storied Sicilian pie of L & B Spumoni Gardens

I told most of L & B’s story to Kate on our cab ride over, highlighting the fact that we wouldn’t have to wait. “I don’t really like Sicilian pizza,” she said. There are things I need to research before I drag Kate to these places, and those things are me simply asking her if she likes the things I’m taking her to. I will not learn my lesson. We got to L & B’s and were seated immediately and had our pizza in front of us about 8 minutes after we walked in the door. And yes, I ordered for her and made her get the Sicilian pizza because THAT’S WHY WE WERE THERE. I barely looked up to see her reaction because I was too busy audibly moaning with every bite I took. When I finally came up for air, it was clear that Kate liked it, but in the way that one is impressed with something they don’t actually like, but respect why other people might like it. Looking around the dining room, which very much had a small town feel, like a place parents bring their children after their softball team loses to make them feel better, or a place where you might see someone who looks like Rider Strong but 100% is not Rider Strong, but also a place where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a mob boss talking to a hit man in a corner booth, Kate asked, “How do you find these places?”

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Kate and a Rider Strong looking man in blue


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A child who probably just lost some sporting match because they ate too many mashed potatoes

Between DiFara’s and L & B’s, these were two places that on the surface seemed very random. But they’re old school Brooklyn institutions that are touted as some of the best pizza in New York. If you spend enough time in this city, you hear about these places that aren’t so hidden gems. You’re not a Michael Scott eating Sbarro’s in Times Square anymore. So maybe you should stay Kate? Or is the literal and proverbial wait for the ultimate New York slice just too long and you’re running the risk of a pigeon coming in and shitting on your dreams/pizza?

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

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Goodnight L & B’s! Goodnight pizza! Goodnight this blog post!

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York:

It was one of those perfect late spring, early summer nights. It wasn’t too hot, not too cold, not sunny, not too overcast, it wasn’t humid, and it hasn’t started to smell like hot garbage yet. It just existed, much like a penny on the sidewalk or when you pee every time you poop. It’s there, you might acknowledge it with a head nod or celebrate it with a triumphant fist pump, or you may not even notice it and just carry on with your day, taking complete advantage of something that for all you know may never come again. This was the perfect day to continue my quest in trying to convince my friend Kate to not move to Boston, but instead to stay in New York City. For loyal readers, you may remember that my first failed attempt led us to two dairy hot spots in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Big Gay Ice Cream and Milk Bar. If you haven’t read it, go back and read it, I may reference it a lot. I don’t know, mine is a very stream of consciousness style of writing. Our lactose heavy adventure ended with Kate not wanting to stay in the city and a group text about loose diarrhea. I had to come up with something REALLY good to convince Kate to stay this time. It was a beautiful night as I had already mentioned, a pee while you poop night, so I knew now was my chance. Kate works for a very popular beer distributor, for the sake of discretion let’s just call them Pamlowsugh Shrub, so she can get free beer at work pretty much whenever she wants. So I knew what I had to do. I assembled a posse and told Kate that we would be meeting at a beer hall in Queens that was really inconvenient for all parties involved, followed by a second beer hall in Brooklyn.

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Behind these storied walls and not-so-storied Citi bikes, lies the largest beer garden in New York City, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. A smarter woman would’ve taken pictures of the space behind the wall. I am not that woman

At promptly 15 minutes later than planned, roughly half of the posse gathered outside Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria. Kate was nowhere to be seen. So myself, Claire from our dairy diarrhea afternoon, and two of my friends who Kate doesn’t know, Andrew and Erica, made our way into the outdoor garden space to enjoy the beverage that, again, Kate can have at any time for free. It is incredibly hard to come by any space in New York City, which is why the outdoor space at Bohemian is pretty amazing. If you live in New York City, look at the size of your apartment really quick. Take a few seconds to feel bad about yourself, then shake it off. Now multiply the size of your apartment by a number that’s much higher than you would expect. That’s how big this outdoor beer garden is. I hope that paints a very clear picture for, because I can see it perfectly in my mind. It helps that I’ve been there. The four of us staked out a spot in what appeared to be an already pretty busy place. We got a space that seemed big enough for the stragglers in our party, until Andrew decided we needed to move to what was definitely a smaller space. This is all because, I later found out, Andrew needed to watch the Yankees game. Eyes on the prize, Andrew, we’re here to persuade a person you’ve never met not to move away, not to watch your favorite baseball team that you’ve been following since you were in diapers. Those of us that were still focused on the task at hand, ordering copious amounts of beer and eastern European sausage-cased meats, took to ordering pitchers of Blue Point, a true staple of any Czech and Slovak owned beer garden. Yes, this establishment has it’s roots in Czech culture, it’s even still owned and and managed by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria. What’s that, you may ask? Well, let me copy and paste from their website that it’s purpose is to “encourage, support and maintain Schools, Dramatics, Lectures and Libraries for Czech and Slovak children and children of Czech and Slovak parentage: to maintain a social home for people of Czech and Slovak ancestry, in which the Czech and Slovak cultures may be taught and blended with American traditions and culture.” Throughout the night at Bohemian, it became abundantly clear that they were doing just that.

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Wow, what artful composition of this photo of a bratwurst on bread. I truly have the eye of an artist.

Almost a full pitcher in, it became evident that two of our party was not going to make it to this beer garden and Kate was never going to make it at the time I suggested. Apparently when someone says they’re “free at 8pm near Union Square” that doesn’t translate to “I can be in Astoria at 8pm.” So we ordered more pitchers, some brats, and let the Czech and Slovak culture wash over us while we waited for Kate to grace us with her presence. When she finally arrived we squished together to make room for her while she pored over the list of beers, trying to figure out which may have been brewed by Pamlowsugh Shrub. The answer is probably all of them. They make a lot of beer. Have you figured out what the company is she works for? To quote Brittany Murphy, “I’ll never tell.” In our little corner of the garden, we exchanged stories of how we all connected (hint: it me!), Andrew continued to watch his Yankees game over our shoulders, and Kate ate the remnants of my brat. All in all, a truly Czech and Slovak outing, and our Long Island based beer coupled with eastern European brats definitely stayed true to their mission of blending their cultures with American cultures. Sure, I had led her astray in the past, but surely this experience is one that can only be had in New York City. It was then that someone ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams, a beer that you can not only get in pretty much every part of the United States, but is also based out of Boston. We didn’t need to remind her about Boston, this was a celebration of New York City, dammit! And of Czech and Slovak culture! And the intersection of the two! And how my friends from different parts of my life were intersecting! All of it, here together, in an inconvenient part of Queens! GET THIS BOSTON BEER OFF OF MY TINY SECTION OF THIS COMMUNAL TABLE!

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While Kate reaches for the Sam Adams, Claire has head on straight and moves it just out of reach. Andrew, however, has his own priorities, and they appear to be dipping a pickle in ketchup.

But we didn’t and we kept drinking it. Sometimes, you have to treat a pitcher of Sam Adams like a penny on a sidewalk and acknowledge it but then move on. We will not fist pump for this, but maybe if we don’t dwell on it, neither will Kate. Claire and I have a vested interest in keeping Kate here, so we did our best to distract her. “Here, finish my brat.” “Hey, tell me about your therapy.” “Whoa, what’s that over there? No really, what is that over there, there’s three DJ’s setting up.” And that last one wasn’t so much a distraction as it was an actual fact, as we watched three DJ’s set up on a stage by a small dance floor. Each DJ had a different colored booth and shirt. We all tried to guess what was about to occur and how did it relate to Czech and Slovak culture. Will this somehow turn into a lecture for Czech and Slovak children? Would each DJ simultaneously play a song over each other, creating a new sound profile the likes of which had never been heard before? Would this become a silent dance party where you would get a pair of headphones that you could match up to the DJ of your choice? It was obviously the last one.

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DJ Sandwich on the ones and twos #teamblue

It was a slow start for our DJs, as at first the dance floor was just made up of children beating each other with inflatable bats. The kids weren’t even wearing headphones. One DJ was casually eating a bodega sandwich, while another was very clearly feeling the beat he was laying down. Based off of their energy, I felt very in line with DJ sandwich. Slowly, millenials in headphones started filtering onto the dance floor. We could see which DJ they were listening to based on the colored lights on the side of their headphones, and we could also see when they got tired of whatever they were listening to and were able to switch to another color. But because the color of the station they were listening to was on their headphones outside of their field of vision, we weren’t sure if they new what color station they were supporting. Did the guy in the red headphones know that he was the odd man out dancing in a sea of blue headphones, or did he just think it odd that everyone else was doing hardcore EDM moves while he was listening to some chill reggae? Did the older man who wasn’t wearing any headphones at all, but was still dancing to silence among the crowd of ravers understand what a silent rave is? These are the questions that will haunt me forever. There was one question we could get the answer for: is this free? We found where they were handing out the headphones and asked how much it was, and after an attempt at selling us on the three different stations (reggae, 90’s and “EMD”), when we heard it was $15 we knew it was gonna be a hard pass. Also, EMD is not a thing. I suddenly understood why that man was dancing with no headphones. With a crash landing back to the reality of overpriced shit in New York City, we knew it was time to move on to our next beer hall. Andrew and Erica decided they had had enough, I guess maybe the Yankees game was over. Also Erica was running a race in the morning and the fact that she came out at all was a small feat. So, Kate, Claire and I squeezed into the back of a cab (because again, this place was not convenient for any of us!) and made our way to the next beer hall in Brooklyn. I had to figure out a way to salvage the night and convince Kate that New York was worth staying in, despite the overpriced silent rave and the drinks that were priced at all (have I mentioned that Kate can get beer for free?).

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Did I do a good job?

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No, she will not stay.

On the way there, we discussed all things magical about living in New York City, or at least that’s how I interpreted our conversation about sitting next to people on first dates. Never have I sat next to more people on first dates than I have in New York City. I was trying to mull over my next move to try to get Kate to stay, maybe there could be some way to stage sitting next to a first date and eavesdropping on all of their dumb ice breakers. I was getting worried that making her pay for something she could easily get for free, and then forcing her to take a cab to repeat it again at another place wasn’t the best move. I may have to manufacture a perfectly New York moment, like sitting next to a new couple while eating a hot dog at a baseball game. But wait, we basically just did that. “Everything’s fine then,” I thought, and we carried on with our plan and arrived at Radegast Hall and Biergarten in Williamsburg.

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Maybe we didn’t get any Czech beer at Bohemian, but we stayed true to the German heritage of Radegast and got ourselves a proper German Hofbrau, so back off haters.

Where Bohemian is an alarming large outdoor Czech and Slovak beer garden, Radegast is an indoor, still pretty large, German beer hall. Did you pick up on the key differences there? Because while normally those would be the things I would latch on to that would set these two establishments apart, this night the major differences were that they had a live DJ playing all your favorite Latin hits, followed by 90’s hits, followed by Whitney Houston. When it comes to living up to it’s reputation of being a melting pot, New York City really delivered in the form of these two beer gardens. No longer did we have to imagine what everyone was listening to, we could hear it LOUD AND PROUD. And while there wasn’t a space for dancing at Radegast, people were making one. Knowing that the last two of our party would soon be arriving, I ordered us a couple pitchers of Hofbrau, which, fun fact, was the first beer I ever drank in the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. Wow, how fascinating and worldly I am! I unfortunately had gotten ahead of myself. At this point, Kate just wanted to dance, Claire and I had pretty much had all the beer we wanted to drink, and I had forgotten that one of our friends joining us at Radegast didn’t like beer. The bulk of the pitchers I ordered fell on my boyfriends shoulders, and I’m happy to report he took on that responsibility and we (he) finished those beers. And when our non-beer drinking friend arrived we roasted that son of a bitch. And then we all danced in celebration around my boyfriend, who judging from his reaction may also want to move to Boston.

But was the night of beers in both silence and cacophony enough to brainwash Kate into staying? It was not. It was like she peed when she pooped, she thought to herself, I do this all the time, I yearn for something more, and decided she wanted to pee while she pooped in Boston. I’ll keep trying.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York: A tale of two dairies at Big Gay Ice Cream and Milk Bar

Welcome to “[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York,” in which I try to show my friends and loved ones who are burned out by New York City living that there’s still a lot here worth staying for, and ultimately learn that I’m fighting a losing battle. In this first installment, I’m working on convincing my friend Kate, who’s very seriously threatening a move to Boston at the end of the summer, to stay in New York City because we have the best lactose this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Will she be convinced, or will I have to keep trying? Hold onto your toilet seats, because this is gonna be a wild journey of self discovery.

Being a big fan of their Salty Pimp ice cream cone and their social media presence in general, I follow Big Gay Ice Cream on Instagram, which is how I first learned of their Cheat-Ohs ice cream. As the name might suggest, it is in fact Cheet-Ohs flavored ice cream, coated in Cheet-Ohs dust. This misplaced “a” in the name for the cone is for “Ah, okay, I’ll guess I’ll try it.” It might also be to “Avoid copyright infringement and a lawsuit,” who knows. All of the videos on their Instagram of customers taking their first bite, followed by amazement and surprise at how it actually tasted good had me convinced I had to try it before it was taken off their menu. But would it be enough to convince Kate to stay in New York City? There was literally only one way to find out, so I met her and our friend Claire one Sunday afternoon to test out what sounded like a sure fire way to send Kate packing.

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Varying degrees of excitement between, Kate, chill stranger, and Claire

We decided on the Big Gay Ice Cream in the East Village, if only so we could get the full New York City experience of sitting in Tompkins Square Park while we ate. I personally think there is not a better distillation of what New York City has to offer than this relatively small park, as you can walk through it under five minutes, see a group of kids playing nicely at the playground, an old woman alone dancing to Whitney Houston, a man sitting at a bench across the path from her silently nodding to himself, a birthday party, some casual drug use, tourists, dogs sniffing butts (human and other), a man trying to sell you Air Heads out of a plastic bag, and a handful of generally depressed looking people. That’s New York! Why would you ever want to go anywhere else?! The three of us made our way to the tiny Big Gay Ice Cream, where we were greeted by the sign before even opening the door that the rumors were true, for a limited time only they were serving Cheat-Ohs ice cream. If Kate was hoping to get a more traditional cone, say their Dorothy cone with vanilla, dulce de leche, and crushed Nilla Wafers, I quickly shot that down. We were here for one reason, and one reason only. And that was to prove to Kate that Cheat-Ohs ice cream was worth sticking around for. And not only did Kate have to order it, we all did, and we all had to put on a brave face and say we liked it, because Kate had to stay. We ordered our cones and quickly head for the Little New York, Tompkins Square Park, so we could enjoy our ice cream while basking in whatever glory the park would bestow upon us.

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Things of note: it really was fucking Cheet-Ohs on that there ice cream cone and also looking how fun my nails were that day!

On the less than half a block walk to the park from Big Gay Ice Cream, Kate decided to finally tell Claire and I that she didn’t like Cheet-Ohs, especially Cheet-Ohs dust. This is information I probably should’ve sussed out before demanding she order the ice cream she did, but I do not like to do my research and I can’t be bothered to care. However, the prospects of this being the thing that tipped the scales in favor of her staying seemed low. We took our place on a bench across from a family who had clearly also just come from Big Gay Ice Cream. They all had relatively normal looking cones, so obviously were curious what our bright orange monstrosities were. They seemed slightly frightened, slightly amused when we told them. It was time for our first bites. Having spent some time in South Korea, where I would often spend my evenings browsing their 7-eleven offerings, I was immediately taken back to a cheese flavored popsicle I had from the freezer section all those years ago. The memories of eating cold, cheesy ice cream on a stick on the side of a road in Suwon all came rushing back to me. “Look at you now,” I thought, “Eating more cheesy ice cream in a somewhat dingy environment. Some things never change, huh old friend?” Again, all of this was said internally, to myself. The 7-eleven memories, coupled with the fact that I actually like Cheet-Ohs made for a wonderful, multi-sensory experience for me. Claire housed the whole thing in impressive fashion. Kate, however was unmoved.

Sitting there, wondering where I had failed her, we took in the park. We watched as a male pigeon aggressively courted a female pigeon right at our feet, and Kate remarked on how courtship in the animal kingdom is always uncomfortable to watch as a bystander. “It’s animal rape.” Nothing really makes a person want to stay living right where they are quite like feeling complicit to a crime while eating a food you’ve moments before declared that you didn’t like. It was up to the tourist family sitting across from us at the park to really turn this thing around.

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What an intriguing and artful shot of the remainings of Kate’s Cheat-Oh’s cone. Why yes, I did take it with portrait mode. What can I say, I’m an artist with a vision!

As if on cue, the youngest one of the family froze, a pained expression on her face. Everyone else tried to understand what could’ve possibly happened: an aneurysm? brain freeze? phantom pain? a phantom aneurysm? She gestured at her white sneakers where a single drop of chocolate had fallen and then she burst into hysterical tears. Her older sister poked fun at her, “Are you seriously crying because of your sneakers? They’re just sneakers.” “THEY’RE RUINED!” Everything feels so big and important when you’re 12, I guess. Just wait until you’re 30 and you’re no longer blind to the horrors that exist inside the pigeon community anymore. Thankfully, her hysteria shook Kate out of her doldrums, and I could sense potential to keep this day moving forward in a positive direction. Maybe if this delicious cheesy concoction was only enough to make Claire and I stay (even though we weren’t the ones with plans to leave the city), there was some other milky treat that could sway Kate. The key word there is “milky,” and after a brief discussion of what food based shows each of us had recently binged on Netflix, we decided to head to the Milk Bar in Williamsburg. Our TV viewing had intersected at me having recently watched all of Ugly Delicious, hosted by David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Kate having seen the episode of Chef’s Table about Milk Bar, the Momofuku offshoot. So we headed underground to Brooklyn to a place I’ve already covered in great detail in a previous post on Off the G, however never have I been there when the stakes were so high.

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A crack pie at Milk Bar, which I also tried to take in portrait mode, except I think it focused on Kate’s watch. My artistic vision has been RUINED, much like those girls shoes and possibly my efforts to convince Kate to stay! SHIT!

I knew I had to take a backseat on this one and let Kate decide what she wanted if there was any chance of her staying. I have pretty much at one point in my life had everything offered on the menu, including their cereal milk lattes, and since it was now bordering on late afternoon on a Sunday I knew it was high time for a boozy shake, aka a White Russian made with cereal milk ice cream. Kate stuck to a bagel bomb and a crack pie and Claire went with a Fancy coffee drink, which was also a boozy and sugary, but with the added benefit of coffee! There’s something odd about crack that just makes people addicted and asking for more, so I felt like I had finally accomplished something. Watching Kate enjoy every morsel of crack pie, I felt it safe to ask her if she would stay. The answer below may surprise you!

She said no. Claire had the brilliant idea to ask her what would actually make her stay, which, fuck why didn’t I think of that. So armed with a vague understanding of what Kate likes about New York City (views of the sunset from my roof while drinking beers and talking about Netflix and what it’s like to a be a woman), we did just that. In a lot of ways, I learned nothing. I have made zero plans to try to convince her to stay with things that may actually, ya know, convince her to stay. Instead I’m taking her to places only I’m interested in. In even more ways, I really didn’t learn anything because I got pretty epic dairy diarrhea. And as it turns out, we all did, which we discovered in a later group text that was supposed to just be about how I ended up watching the Chef’s Table episode on Milk Bar and Kate started watching Ugly Delicious. But as with all things, we ended up just talking about poop.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

Introducing “[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York”

While regularly scheduled Off the G posts are currently in the works, I’m excited to announce a new feature that at least for the time being will be appearing here on Off the G until ultimately I get discovered and make millions, and then I’ll buy a separate domain and a car. But until then, I’m introducing what I am calling: [I Don’t ] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York. “What in the actual fuck is that?” you may ask. Let’s work backwards and start with the name, which came to me in a fit of inspiration yesterday.

As all moments of revelation do, this one came while my bladder was ready to pop and I was out walking around in a public place in desperate need of a bathroom. I successfully found one in an old warehouse that was converted into an upscale mall with a grainery, a nice restaurant, a cafe, an expensive clothing boutique, and a gallery of NYC inspired art leading to the whiz palace. Ya know, typical Brooklyn shit. I passed a painting in which someone had printed “Love Letters From NY,” with the letters spaced weirdly and the margins on the left hand side. It made it difficult to interpret, made harder by the fact that I had to pee. “This isn’t an episode of Sex and the City, fuck you painting,” I thought to myself as I just barely made it to the toilet. Finally relieving myself, I could think clearly. I had a new “project” I was working on with no name yet. Maybe I could somehow re-work this painting’s message into one that actually resonates with people, and also loosely fits into the theme of my new posts.


Here’s how I would’ve painted it

You’re likely wondering what these new posts will be about. So let’s jump way back to before I even had this idea. I know I said we were working backwards, but we’re actually approaching this like an M. C. Escher painting- from a lot of different angles. Years ago, before Off the G was even in a twinkle in your father’s eye, I was talking to my best friend about what. the. fuck. we. were. doing. with. our. meaningless. lives. I talked a lot of talk and said, “I think maybe eventually I want to move to the west coast.” Without missing a beat, she broke into a one line song that she obviously wrote on the spot in which the only lyrics were, “Everyone who loves me leaves me.” This moment for some reason stuck with me, for one because did she just have that locked and loaded ready to sing to the next person who even daydreamed about leaving the city? For two because I didn’t move, but pretty much everyone else I know has or is very seriously threatening to. Except for Ms. “Everyone Who Loves Me Leaves Me,” but even she’s starting to murmur about leaving New York City. I will admit that between our initial talks about our futures and now, both her and I moved to South Korea. Thinking we were never coming back to New York City, I made a bucket list of things I wanted to try for the first time or officially say goodbye to in New York. Needless to say, we moved back and everyone who loved us left us, save for a few, and I started this blog.

Which brings me to the whole point of what these posts will be. I know I’ve really circled the drain on this explanation, so thanks for joining me on this ride. What a journey! A friend, let’s call her Kate, recently told me she was moving to Boston. I heard my other friend’s song in my head, “Everyone who loves me leaves me.” Kate mentioned that there were a handful of things she wanted to do in New York City before officially making Boston her forever home, because I imagine like a kitten at a shelter, Boston will adopt her and be her family from now on, not the rough, cold streets of Brooklyn. “I’ll give you my old bucket list from when I moved to Korea and thought I’d never return,” I said in feigned excitement. Sure, leave, I don’t care, I have TONS of friends left here. Days past and I never sent her the bucket list. But I did send her a cryptic text message requesting her presence at a bar because I had an idea for some hot, juicy new ‘tent (short for content). “Hey, try this on for size: why don’t I take you to a bunch of uniquely New York places and write about them and try to convince you to stay!” And then I kept saying “unique New York” over and over again in my mind so I didn’t hear her reply, but it had to have been yes because we’ve already started! That’s right, folks! Starting every Friday, I’ll post about taking my friends who are threatening to leave me to places in New York City that might convince them to stay. The results may surprise you (she’s 100% not staying, she already knows where she’s living in Boston)! My first subject is Kate (oops, that’s her actual name), pictured below, unsure of the Cheat-Ohs soft serve ice cream cone I made her get at Big Gay Ice Cream. Yes, it is Cheet-Ohs flavored, with Cheet-Ohs dust, and yes their ice cream cone version had an “a” in it, so don’t come at me for misspelling it.


Here, Kate, put this junk food in your system and tell me you’d rather live in Boston

Our dairy fueled day (that ended with me crouching over a toilet, alone, wondering where all my friends had gone) will be the subject of the first post, DROPPING SUNDAY!!

[*confetti!! uproarious applause!!*]

Posts will regularly appear on Fridays, and if Kate decides that New York doesn’t love her anymore, don’t worry, I know plenty of other people who want to leave. What will we discover at the end of this? Is it possible that New York isn’t driving people away? I couldn’t help but wonder: is my insistence on talking about my BM’s regularly with friends new and old what really sends people running? Is it not I don’t love you anymore letters from New York, but I don’t love you anymore letters from my friends?

Let’s find out together!

“Universe Hello Signals”

Today I was excited to publish the first official post here on Off the G for my new side project that I have begun working on. However, yesterday when I was planning on putting together the final touches (which in my case means sitting down and writing the whole thing in one go from start for finish), I instead spent my free morning in throes of what could best be described as an existential crisis. After getting off the subway at my subway stop of Bedford-Nostrand, I exited the station only to be greeted by police, firemen, and a whole plethora of emergency vehicles, many of which I didn’t even know existed. They really dug deep to bring out all the cities rescuers for whatever was happening. From where I stood, it looked like it was something on my side of the street, maybe a fire on Clifton Place. I thought I would cross Nostrand Ave, walk on that side of the street toward Clifton, just so I could get a look at what was happening. Of course I was concerned, but I’m also human and curiosity was getting the best of me. After crossing Nostrand, I turned to walk towards Clifton, when I realized that I couldn’t turn to walk towards Clifton. I saw the back of a car jutting out of what looked like the store front of the coffee shop on the corner. Without giving myself time to process what I was looking at, I just loudly belted out, “HOLY SHIT.” I stood there for a second and then kept walking, because I’M NOT RUDE. But I wasn’t totally sure what I had seen was real. If that was what I thought it was, then that’s Civil Service Cafe, the cafe I go to almost everyday on my way to catch the G, and there was a Dodge Charger sticking out the front of it. It was like a scene from Spider Man 2, and you know what scene I’m talking about. Not the one where he puts her in a web and then climbs down and kisses her like a creep. The scene where a car goes through a cafe window. My brain could not reconcile this. So I called my boyfriend. It was about 9:30 in the morning, I knew he had probably walked by the same block on his way to work about an hour earlier. When he answered I wanted to ease my way into describing what I had just seen, making sure that if he saw it first he could give me his own firsthand account, and then I could jump in and say, “Yeah, what you said.”

“When you went to work this morning, were there a lot of firemen around the Bedford-Nostrand stop?” I asked.


“Okay, I think I just saw something crazy…”

After describing what I thought I saw and putting together a timeline, we figured whatever happened, did so sometime between 8:30 and 9:30. While talking to him, I decided I had to circle back, so after passing a few more cops on the parallel street to the accident, I turned back towards Nostrand, this time walking on a different street so I could approach from a different angle. And also so I wasn’t passing the same people who would label me a rubber necker. I stayed on the phone with my boyfriend the whole time I circled the scene like a buzzard. Then I finally rounded the corner and could see the accident once more. Holy shit had not been an appropriate response before. This was a holy fuck. I started talking to my boyfriend as if we shared the same set of eyes. “The bricks are gone!” a statement which made total sense to me because I could see that the car had not just plowed through the front window where there is seating, but it came in at an angle, blowing out the side window, too, which in turn took out part of the brick wall. I was not paying attention to my phone call so much anymore as I started turning to the people around me for answers. “Were there people inside?!” “What about the dog who lives in one of the above apartments?” “Is anyone hurt?” “What the fuck happened?” The answers ran the gamut: 2 people were seriously injured; one person said one of those injured at the very least had a broken leg; the cafe was open but not it wasn’t as busy as it could’ve been; someone overheard the driver saying he was hit, but that person didn’t believe it and rolled their eyes; no one had answers about the dog. The rescue workers weren’t sure if the building was structurally sound, which explained why everyone was just standing around, looking at it, talking on walkie-talkies and pacing back and forth.

I decided I had to head home, one: because I’M NOT RUDE and two: because I actually had a lot of shit to do and I was seriously eating into my time to do it by looking at a car through a cafe window. I didn’t care that I was walking by the cops I had walked by earlier when I was trying to be slick and circle around the block. I figured that someone passing them twice while talking on the phone was probably not on their radar as much as the vehicle that had jumped the curb into a business. I hung up the phone and attempted to get back on track with my day. But I couldn’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It.

At roughly the time the car went into the window injuring four people in the process, I was at a coffee shop in Brooklyn Heights. I had never been to this coffee shop, but I knew chances were that I would be back since it’s right by where I work, so when they offered me a punch card I figured I’d take one. I went to put it into my purse realizing I had no idea where my punch card for Civil Service Cafe was. I made a mental note to locate it when I got back to my apartment since I would be back on a schedule soon where it would make more sense for me to get coffee by my apartment. There has to be a term for when something you rarely give any thought to, like a cafe punch card, pops into your brain at the exact moment when something gigantic and relevant to that thing you suddenly thought of is happening miles away. Like the universe sending you a message. If there is a term for it, it’s probably German. And it probably means “Universe Hello Signal.” Another example of “Universe Hello Signal”: the day Billy Mays died, my OxyClean exploded and ruined one of my raincoats. This is a thing that happens all the time and we need to recognize all the “Universe Hello Signals” we encounter.

I know that I struggled with being able to focus on anything other than the car in Civil Service Cafe because I kept thinking of the people who were in there, the woman who was trapped under the car and had what sounds like an extremely broken leg that she may lose. I kept thinking of them because I could’ve been one of them. And it’s a very selfish way to view an accident like this, but it’s also a realistic and human one. It’s how you can feel empathy for those involved, because you can imagine yourself or someone you care about in their place. I was obsessively refreshing stories and Google searches and twitter feeds trying to get answers. How did this happen? Was everyone truly okay? Who was working? Did their paper goods order come in recently because I know for a while they just kept pouring their coffees into extra large cups and apologizing about the lack of lids, so I would have to sneak into Dunkin Donuts and just pilfer a lid or two.

When I wasn’t adequately satiated with online searches, I started texting anyone who I thought might have even a peripheral knowledge of Civil Service Cafe. Somehow texted someone who hadn’t heard about the accident yet felt as if I was creating new content on the matter for my brain to absorb. And even if you didn’t have a peripheral knowledge, if I had already texted you that morning, I just pretended we were still in the middle of a conversation, even if I hadn’t texted you in about an hour. “So yeah, I’ll let you know when I hear about that thing from an hour ago. Oh my god, so you’ll never believe this. I get coffee every morning, and the coffee shop I usually go to has A CAR THROUGH THE WINDOW. Crazy, right? Ok, I’ll get back to you soon about that other thing.”

I kept finding excuses to walk by the cafe, to read more hastily written articles that didn’t quite know the facts. Finally, I had to go to work. But at work I snuck more texts. My best friend had seen it on the news and was giving me lives updates. When I got out of work, I met my boyfriend who had walked by it again at 5:30. The car had finally been removed, the news was starting to sound a little bit more coherent. It seemed like there may have been at least two cars involved. Then another text sent me to another article that said the second driver who fled the scene had been arrested. And the final paragraph in the article left me questioning my whole day. “One violation was issued to the building owner for ‘a structure rendered non-compliant due to a motor vehicle impact.'” Am I reading that wrong, or does it seem like the building owner got a violation for his building getting hit by a car? How does a building avoid such a thing? I don’t get it. The world collapsed into chaos for me once more.

I was excited to possibly go to Civil Service Cafe to work on my new side project and reveal it for you today. Instead, this is what I have to offer you in it’s place for now, a shoddy retelling of how I saw my local cafe fucked up hopefully not beyond repair. I know that this accident didn’t happen to me, although I 100% framed this whole story as if it did. There are people who were injured and witnessed it and live above it and work there who will be impacted in a much more significant way than I ever will. But, I still wrote this thing and you still read so I guess…we’re both narcissists? I will be sharing my new project soon and be back to posting regular Off the G posts this month between bouts of mourning Civil Service Cafe, and hoping and helping for it’s swift recovery and return. Until then-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G


I was hoping to include a picture of Civil Service Cafe during happier times, but I realized I didn’t have one, because you don’t know you have a good thing until a car rams through it’s front window

Off Track: Marathon Sunday or “How I Lazily Made My Way to the Finish Line”

Everyone has that one story they told once to a captive audience, the story where as you’re telling it you make a mental note: “This is my go-to story. This is how I will save parties when there’s a lull. I’ll be a savior. Everyone will love me and I’ll always be invited to everything because I’m the most popular person here. Look at all my fans, eating up my personal stories like they’re some kind of…good food. I’m gonna be famous!” This is not one of those stories. It does, however, start with the same anecdote I start it with every time I tell and retell it. I entered the lottery for the New York City Marathon in 2013 thinking I would never win because I never win anything. Of course, just my luck, the only contest I win is one where I’m charged $200+, have to physically train for months, and then run 26.2 miles in a day. That was the anecdote right there. It got a mild chuckle the first time I said it and now I’ve been chasing that chuckle ever since! Today being Marathon Sunday in all the boroughs of New York City, and a long stretch of the marathon running along the G line, I thought it would be a fun lil’ jaunt down memory lane to talk about the first, and very likely last, New York City Marathon I ever ran.

I’ve always had this weird desire burning in the deep far recesses of my brain to run a marathon. I was one of the worst runners on my high school cross-country and track teams, loved to watch TV and sit on the couch, recently battled cancer, ate like a 13-year-old boy whose parents were out of town for the weekend, and enjoyed a good alcoholic beverage or four. So you know, I was at peak physical fitness and totally thought entering my name in the lottery for the NYC marathon made a lot of sense. In my mind, I probably wouldn’t get in and if I did, well, I would cross that bridge when I’d get there. A few weeks after entering I received an email that said my name was selected and my debit card would be immediately charged a non-refundable entrance fee of over $200. So that bridge I would cross when I would get there – it was very quickly built, poorly I might add, over some white water rapids, and I would have to cross it or else it’s like, “Fuck, I just paid $200 for this dumbass bridge to cross this stupid ass marathon water, but I’m just gonna look at it and turn around and not even use the bridge. Shit.” I didn’t want that, so my fate was sealed. I began slowly crossing the bridge one very stubborn step at a time.

My first step was buying a training book meant for people who were couch potatoes trying to turn their lives around and not meld with their furniture. The obvious solution: running 26.2 miles. “Try to confuse us with an armchair as we run by you at mile 19!” was the tag line. It wasn’t, but that’s what I was thinking and what kept me going. While my training book offered tons of motivational words of wisdom from people who’ve done marathons before, trained using this method, or professional athletes, the only motivation I needed was from my friends, family, enemies, and strangers. I don’t meant that in a sappy way, I mean that in an antagonistic way, which was exactly what this Beyoncé loving, non-athlete needed, because “I twirl on my haters.” No one really took me seriously at first when I told them I was running a marathon. “You know that involves running, right?” “It’s not marathon viewings of Breaking Bad.” “How many times did you almost suffer from deep vein thrombosis last week from sitting in one place for too long staring into space?” The answer to that last question was always none because I love to give myself very amateur and painful massages. Really keeps the blood flowing. Once people started to believe me that I was really doing this, they started to actually believe in me. One friend admitted to me, “Yeah, you just…do things. If someone else said they were going to run a marathon, or quit their job, go on a cross country road trip, ‘figure it out,’ and then move to South Korea, I’d humor them, but wouldn’t believe them. But with you…you always seem to just do it.” And if you’re wondering, I did all those things (stories for another time). That’s the second time it clicked and became real to me. I was running a marathon. The first was when I checked my bank account and saw that yes, I am now officially broke, and the second was when my usually lovingly antagonistic support system became just plain old lovingly supportive. So now that people believed in me, I had to do it.

My training regimen told me to pick realistic goals that I could meet throughout the weeks leading up to the marathon. The first goal I set for myself was to run to my brothers apartment. It was six stops away from mine on the G at the time, so it felt far. The thing about living in the city and taking public transportation everywhere is your sense of how far away things truly are gets a little warped. I thought I wouldn’t be able to get there until week three of training if I was lucky. I got there on week one. It was like 2 miles away. Not that far in the marathon-sized scheme of things. I thought to myself, “Wow! I’m really meeting my #goals!” So I kept my goals low and continued to suck at training.

Because I kept my running #goals light and manageable, I decided to up the #goals ante in other departments. One goal: go ahead and order the chicken fingers and beer, but feel really guilty about it. Another goal: try to figure out by trial and error and many multiple purchases if your boobs were made to stuff into a sports bra. A third goal: determine that no, your boobs are pain and women are apparently not meant to do anything. Yet. Another. Goal: write an angry letter addressed simply to “the patriarchy.” Place it under your pillow and kiss it every night before bed. You can’t shake the feeling that this will feel important and timely at some future date, but your 2013 brain can’t understand why that is. Great marathon training #goal! More #goal: buy running shoes.

It finally got to the point where I had exhausted all possible “goals” that didn’t really have to do with running and had to focus on the running part of training. I was nearing 10 miles, the farthest I had ever run were I to achieve it. So I decided to make a new goal: try eating those weird goop-y pouches runners eat to give them energy. I tried. The chocolate flavor was gross and chalky and I almost threw up. I ran 10 miles. And not long after that I tripped while crossing the street in some platform sandals and injured the top of my foot.

It hurt to touch it, it hurt to bend it. With only a handful of weeks left, I saw my chances of completing my training and running the marathon slip away. I had been fundraising for Team in Training with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, if I didn’t run would all my backers think I was a bum, a zero, an F minus? I mean, sure, the money would still go to cancer research, but what about people paying attention to me while I ran? Why did I have to injure myself in the very unglamorous way of wearing impractical shoes because I thought they looked pretty? For fucks sake, on one of my training runs I ran a block and tripped over a cinder block and fell into the street and got all bloody and that only stopped me for the night because I had to go home and wash the cinder block out of my open wounds. What would become of the dreams I didn’t know I had? I decided to take a week to heal, look inward (sit and watch TV), and reflect (look at myself in the mirror and try out different hair-do’s).

After a week, and with only a few weeks left to train, I got back out there with several of my newfound goals (read: new purchases) in tow. I was now armed with a utility belt I could put disgusting goop into, along with pockets for water bottles. I had an arm band I could put my iPod into so I could listen to Beyoncé while I ran (yeah, I had an iPod. Let’s fight). Since it was now approaching November, I bought a headband to keep my ears warm while my hair was back. Look at me, ma, a well-outfitted runner. In the remaining weeks of my training I never ran more than 10 miles.

It was marathon week and the realization that I hadn’t even run the equivalent of a half marathon was sinking in. I got my registration packet with my number, some swag (yolo!), and a booklet with helpful marathon tips and info. I flipped to a random page, maybe 30 or so pages in, and read “some runners like to take baby aspirin to avoid sudden death.” I maintain to this day that if sudden death is a possibility while running the marathon and baby aspirin is the cure, that should’ve been in all caps, bold font on the cover of the information booklet. It also said to eat salt throughout the race and not switch up your routine from training. If you ate goop while training, eat goop during the race. So I heeded most of their advice. I bought some baby aspirin, I went to Pret a Manger and stole some salt packets, and marathon day I changed my routine completely.

The day of the race, I woke up early to catch a ferry to Staten Island where the marathon began. I had trained well…at setting realistic #goals, so I had set one for my marathon run: run hard enough to justify calling out sick from work the next day, but slow enough where I could still have the energy to celebrate with a beer or four at a bar afterward. That was what I was setting out to achieve, with my packets of salt and baby aspirin. At the base of the Verrazano Bridge, I remembered the tip “don’t switch up your routine.” Before running I had only ever had water and goop, but on marathon day they had set up stations with coffee and bagels and more swag. I also remembered one of those inspirational quotes in my training guide: “Listen to your body.” My body in that moment was saying, “You’re tired from getting up so early and bagels are delicious.” So I got a coffee and bagel. I was off to a great start. It was almost my scheduled start time, so I shed my top layer that I was leaving in a donation pile along with everyone else’s top layers they wouldn’t be running in. I had heard about writing your name on the shirt you were wearing during the marathon, which I had done the night before. Not really knowing what the purpose of it was, I wrote it on the back of my jersey, but as I approached the starting line, I noticed that everyone else’s names were written on their front. I quickly learned that it was so people along the marathon route could scream out your name as you ran towards them to keep you motivated and pumped. No one would be screaming out unless they knew me. A swing and a miss. I would have to dig down deep and hope people I knew would be along the route to cheer me on. I had told everyone to come, and the night before had a spaghetti party and people assured me they would be there, but what if they were distracted by a delicious looking brunch?

It was too late to dwell on it and looking up at the Verrazano it was the final time it really hit me: you’re fucking running the marathon. It was crowded and a slow start but it started. Running across the Verrazano, I put my headphones in, ready to listen to some music like I did while training. But before I could press play I heard someone scream my name behind me. “Oh, I guess people running the race will cheer me on,” I thought. Then someone ran right up next to me and someone I went to high school with was running alongside me, seeing my name on the back of my jersey. A swing and a…point. We started running together, I told him how my training had been going, our conversation took the logical turn of talking about Homeland, which at the time was still a relevant show (although going downhill quick) and pointing out that the terrorists all use Skype seemed like a fresh observation. I figured at some point he would take off in front of me, but we kept running together, catching up after years of not seeing each other. I told him to look out for my boyfriend who told me where he was going to be standing, holding a picture of our cat he hand printed from the computer. He was at the mile marker he said he would be at and every subsequent mile marker he said he would be at, winning MVP in the category of “cheer.” My newfound running mate and I compared notes about who would be there as support and where we expected to see them. At one point, we ran right by two of my friends from high school that were there to cheer me on, and my running friend said, “Wasn’t that [name redacted]?” I looked back, and there they were, scanning the crowd not realizing that I had just run by. I screamed their names and they waved, a little confused to see me running with someone they also knew but we hadn’t seen in years. All they could get out was: “You’re not supposed to be screaming our name, we’re supposed to be screaming yours!” Oops. Every few miles when I saw my boyfriend and the print out of our cat I would check in to see where other cheerleaders of mine were. My sister and brother and some friends and in-laws and strangers would be at this mile. This friend keeps missing me. So and so and such and such are by McCarren Park. Whenever I would get to them, just where my boyfriend said they would be, they would always be there screaming, singing, jumping, braying. Holding signs that ran the gamut from creative to…a print out of my cat. At one point I was looking at the spectators at the exact right moment and saw one of my friends running alongside me on the sidewalk. It was in Greenpoint and too packed to make it more than just a half of a block, but watching her frantically try to stay with me while timidly pushing people out of the way felt like a scene from a movie that doesn’t exist.

I passed Dough where I was hoping they would be handing out doughnut samples for the runners. I had been telling my high school running mate about the doughnut place for miles, I was really hoping they wouldn’t let me down. There weren’t free doughnut samples, which in hindsight was probably for the best. My new running companion cheered me up by remarking that there were so many people on the street handing out orange slices and gatorade and bananas it was like we were trick or treating, but for hours in the middle of the day in November. I really liked that idea and finally at mile 13.1, a half marathon distance, I turned to my new/old friend and told him he had to keep running ahead. This was the farthest I had ever run ever in my life. I hadn’t stopped once. I was mixing up my routine left right and center. I was latching onto this trick or treating theory like my life depended on it, I didn’t want to hold him back and the halfway point being a bridge I made the snap decision to walk all the bridges and run all the boroughs. He made sure I was okay and kept running. Then as soon as I set foot in Queens, I ran again.

Friends I had yet to see were right over the bridge in Queens. A co-worker who wasn’t even there for me spotted me, screamed in my face, took a video and sent it to everyone in our office. I drank a Gatorade, had some salt, kept trucking. None of this was normal. Crossing over into Manhattan, I had still yet to see my wife. Yeah, that’s right, I have a boyfriend and a wife. It’s 2017, get with the times. My boyfriend had met up with me soon after I crossed into Manhattan. “She’s at mile 19!” he screamed, already knowing what I was going to ask. I was nearing mile 19, my energy was fading a little, and suddenly I hear U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name,” and I saw my wife, flanked by two of our best friends who were actually married (my wife and I are not actually married. Again, it’s 2017. Keep up). I am so indifferent to U2 but something about having run 19 miles, finally seeing some of the best people in the world screaming my name and that power anthem guitar, I just started jumping up and down and ran so fast over to them and acted like a complete buffoon. It wasn’t smart, but it felt right in the moment.

After leaving them, I felt energized. A man in the marathon was eating a pizza while propelling himself forward with his feet while he sat in a wheelchair. None of this was normal. Some men were dressed like fire fighters. Writing my name on the back of my jersey, while at one point seemed like a rookie mistake, proved a stroke of unintended genius. Not only did I get to run with someone who essentially made it possible for me to break my own personal record by distracting me from my own limits, but other runners kept coming up to me during the race and asking if I knew the score. For awhile, I thought I was being pranked, akin with someone giving you too much tuna in a sandwich at a deli. What you might not know about me is that I also share a name with a city that apparently was playing some big sports match/game during the marathon. Thinking that I was showing pride in that city and cheering on “other sport,” I spent the second half of my race being asked every 15 minutes if I knew the score. I started just making it up. “4-72. Our boys or girls are really making a good show of it out there on that grass court. So many points in the goal hoop.”

I was closing in on Central Park, I saw my roommate who I didn’t think would be able to make it at mile 24. I heard my sister was running through the fields in Central Park trying to catch me after making bad public transportation choices (we all later joked that we no longer wanted to do the Amazing Race with her. But honestly, I’ll fucking do it with anyone). Everyone was convening near the finish line, my brother and sister in law being the closest to the actual finish as it was near impossible to get through for security reasons. I crossed the finish line, assessing my situation quickly. I decided that, yes, I can get beer, yes I am sore, I met my #goals. The sun set while I was trying to navigate my way through the exit from Central Park, what felt like an additional mile and a half. Because I had stopped moving and the sun was gone, my temperature dropped by leaps and bounds and I suddenly couldn’t feel my feet and hands. I knew my cheerleaders were somewhere close so I just started screaming names of people I had seen over the last 26.2 miles. I could hear people screaming my name in reply and eventually I just thought, fuck it, I just ran a marathon, and to quote Beyoncé, “I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I want,” and cut through the roped off corralling area and found my friends. We were looking for a bar to celebrate, I couldn’t feel my extremities, I was convinced my toenails had fallen off. None of this was normal, My sister in law was concerned when I asked if my hand was making a fist or not inside my gloves because I couldn’t feel them, so after finding a bar she located a local seller of those foot and hand heating pouches. She bought so many that I still have some and they’re probably expired and not good to keep around. Somehow, the fates aligned and we found the one bar that was a block away from the marathon, was virtually empty, and was playing almost exclusively Beyoncé. I got the feeling in all of my parts back, I still had all my toenails, and because you don’t run on your shoulders, I was able to pop my shoulders to the beat of all of Beyoncé’s hits. When the adrenaline wore off several hours later, I hobbled into a cab. I truly did it. I really was too sore to go to work the next day.

I have not run a marathon since then, but I set a new #goal for myself. I made it while running the marathon and seeing everyone along the way cheering on people they knew or didn’t know or just screaming indiscriminately at the heavens. I want to be one of those people (preferably one of them sitting down with a beer at a outdoor bar). Today’s marathon was the closest I ever got to reaching my goal, but seeing everyone run by, I was so overcome with inexplicable emotions that I had to remove myself before people asked me if I was okay, or more realistically if I was physically unwell. In short, I learned a lot from the marathon, but apparently I didn’t learn enough, because I’m re-entering the lottery. Fingers crossed I don’t win.

Grand Army: not the plaza

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Oooh boy, guys, we are about to get into it in graphic detail and you don’t even know yet!

  • Subway stop: Hoyt-Schermerhorn
  • Walk from subway: 3 minutes
  • Neighborhood: Downtown Brooklyn
  • Location: 336 State St on the corner of Hoyt St

If you’re familiar with my last post or my lifestyle in general, you know that I’m currently in a state of denial surrounding my ability (or lack thereof) to eat oysters without getting violently ill. The oysters I consume vary in many respects: the origin of the oysters (west coast, east coast, ice bucket on the side of the road), oyster preparation (raw, steamed, baked, shooter, mashed, spread, slapped), vessel out of which I consume my oysters (shell, glass, slab), and the location I slurp down those ocean boogers. The container that I blow my chunks into post oyster consumption also varies.

Once I ordered oyster sushi and hours later while at work with children I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and threw up in a bush, instructing the child I was caring for to politely “LOOK AWAY!” In South Korea I ate a bunch of oysters decorated with a cornucopia of accouterments. Later that night I made use of the underappreciated drain in the middle of the bathroom floor that allows the whole bathroom to turn into a shower. What a fun and useful feature in my time of need! In the sake of full disclosure, that night I had also eaten what roughly translates to “chicken butthole,” so that could’ve been the culprit in that scenario. Smearing an oyster pâté on some toast in Dublin saw me an hour later hurling into my boyfriend’s empty pint glass at a pub. After eating an oyster atop a bowl of noodles in Portland, I upchucked into a metal pot in my friend’s apartment throughout the night. The sound…was deafening. I can still hear it to this day. It haunts me, and it doesn’t help that I’m currently listening to “Haunted” by Beyoncé completely by coincidence. All of these experiences have haunted me. It’s like…it’s where we go. It’s where we’ll be. I know if I’m haunting you, oysters, you MUST be haunting me.


“Where are you going with all of this and why did I just read about a bunch of times you spewed?” I’m going here, Grand Army, thanks for sticking with me so far. You’re a champ.

All of this is to say that on a recent visit to Grand Army in Downtown Brooklyn, one of my favorite places to get my dollar oyster on despite the risk I may be taking, I still got my traditional dozen oysters just for me. How did it turn out for me? You’ll just have to read to the end to find out! You might be wondering what makes the oysters at Grand Army a cut above the rest. Does the word “pastrami” mean anything to you? Sure, it’s a meat you might order on rye at a deli, but apparently it can also be a mignonette. And for those of you that don’t know what that is it’s the liquidy shit you put on raw oysters. LOOK IT UP, I’M NOT GOOGLE. I won’t judge you if you didn’t know what a mignonette is, I always want to call it a marionette which I know is a puppet, but something about the image of a teeny marionette dancing atop an oyster warms my cockles. But a mignonette is not that, and Grand Army is known for their outlandish, weird, and dare I say alarming mignonette concoctions, all served to you in little dropper pipette contraptions. On this most recent endeavor, you had your classic mignonette, some pastrami juice, pineapple (say what?! say yes!), and habanero, to name literally just a few.

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Speaking of liquids and quality segues, they’re also known for their cocktails. And it being Brooklyn, you can expect the standard paragraph long names for each of their tailor made cocktails. For example, on their fall cocktail list, you might find “Story of a Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was.” And when I say might find it, I mean you will. That is not the title of a book no one wants to read, it’s the name of a drink that people want to drink, with aquavit, lime cordial, scotch bonnet tincture, and pineapple juice. You have to wonder, are they using some of the same ingredients they use in their specialty mignonettes? Are they just pouring their mignonettes into a glass and adding booze? Can I volunteer myself as the guinea pig to try one of those drinks if they have yet to make one? I’ll even name it: “The Six Tiers of Mayan Peril as Witnessed by the Small Man.” See, I’m good at this. Hit me up, Grand Army, if you want me to name future drinks. Here’s a game, guess which of the following is a name I just made up and which are their drinks on the fall cocktail menu: “Bright Sun Brings it to Light,” “Donkey Cabbages,” “Daybreak in Sayulita,” “Young Uncle Kev’s,” and “Raging Fires within her Veins.” You can’t tell, can you? And I’ll never tell. Because cocktail names…are kinda bullshit. So if you find the names pretentious, that’s fine, we all do, just look at the ingredients and get over it because you’ll be drunk soon anyway.

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All of their fall cocktails were actually named and inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales, a fact I didn’t know when I took this picture, I just liked the pumpkins, gourds, and succulents happily co-existing.

When it comes to other offerings, they do have a menu with a selection of sea meats, including octopus, scallops, and the titular Grand Army, which is 24 oysters, shrimp, clams, crudo, and crab legs. Not for those of us who are suffering from a shellfish allergy and probably not for those of us who might have a mild to moderate shellfish allergy, but that won’t stop me. What will stop me is that I’ve never been there with more than one other person and that’s a butt ton of food and I’ve never ordered it. But it sounds delightful. They also have Sweet Potato Raviolo with oyster mushrooms, if you want to say the word “oysters” when ordering but can’t actually handle oysters. An old standby for me, however, is the bread and butter. Sounds lame, tastes delicious. Think of a huge hunk of bread, one you might expect an old grandma to sell you at a farmers market. A Strega Nona type, if you will. Are you with me so far? So let’s say Strega Nona slaps a hunk of bread on your plate. But that plate is SMOTHERED in seaweed butter. And I mean smothered. You almost forgot you were at a predominantly seafood based restaurant, looking at your Strega Nona bread, but they snuck that seaweed right under your nose and you’re eating it and you’re thinking to yourself, “Strega Nona, who? This is more like a bread and butter dish I would expect to serve to Neptune!” And you wouldn’t be wrong. Except that Strega Nona actually is a pasta witch whose town gets flooded with pasta. So the whole image I just painted for you is wrong, but again, I said a Strega Nona type. Also, pasta and bread are basically the same thing, tomato tomato.

strega nona

Strega Nona. I could see this bitch making me a loaf of bread, right?

Now that you have a full image in your head based completely on lies, lets circle back to the oysters. How did I fare?

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Bread and butter, and a “Lightning Crash on Jagged Rockshore” and “Dark Shadow of the Witch’s Capelet.” Just kidding, they’re two beers.

I made it. They were delicious. I’m going back to test my luck tonight. See you there, and as always-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

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B-B-B-B-BONUS OYSTER! This rum mignonette reinforces my theory that they use the same mignonettes in their cocktails…