Friday, December 19, 2003 at 11:08:17 (EST)

Waiting for a signal or a sound
After another band practice in which we began work on what will no doubt be yet another soon-to-be #1 hit, we went to visit M's friend at the Stonehome Wine Bar, which appeared magically overnight last month in the neighborhood. I have never been certain how wine bars stay in business in the West Village, let alone Ft Greene, but this place seemed to be doing a brisk business in wine sales. Also quite popular was slices of red velvet cake, presumably from the much-heralded Cake Man down the street. We bought a bottle of Zinfandel (which is a red wine not to be confused with the unholy White Zin) and tried to figure out if Hanukah started that night or Friday night. We never came to any conclusion, but decided to characterize the wine indulgence as somehow Hanukah-related. My calendar says today is the first day of Hanukah. So is it after sundown tonight, or is today the first full day of the festival of lights? I'm a bad nonpracticing halfjew. Santa probably has me on the 'heretical' list already.

Anyway, back to the wine bar. It was a nice place, still a bit premature for the neighborhood, but there were plenty of people there, most of whom were probably not drinking the second-cheapest wine on the menu like us. I love wine, but it'd take a lot to convert me to wine bars all the time. This place does have some beer, including Schneider-Weisse, which seems to be gaining in popularity in these parts. And well it should! I think the next step in specialty bar evolution should be the all-wheat beer bar.

My plans for the weekend now include seeing that damn Lord of the Rings movie (nobody told me it's like 4 friggin hours long!), finishing my pathetic Christmas shopping, going to Freddy's to sign the petition, and finally seeing TV on the Radio, this time at The Hook, another new place that recently showed up.

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Thursday, December 18, 2003 at 12:46:15 (EST)

Have yourself a self-serving little Christmas
I'm sick of Christmas shopping. It's a huge waste of time. Unless your friends were to be so presumptuous as to give you a list of what they wanted, you end up wandering all over town, staring at baubles and tchotchkes, trying to imagine who might benefit from owning it. It's at these times you wish your friends were that presumptuous. Then at least you could just go get the damn thing and go home, instead of finding yourself in the Pottery Barn wishing you had a cyanide tablet.

If that's the way to go, let's take it one step further. Instead of buying presents for other people, everybody should go out and buy themselves a present, on their friends' behalf. How much you buy would be up to you to determine. How good were you this year? How much do your friends like you? If they were buying you presents, how much stuff would they get for you? Then act accordingly. On Christmas morning, your friends would call to ask if you bought yourself anything good, and you could reply, "Oh yeah, I'm taking care of myself very nicely this year."

So I'll get the ball rolling. This year, nobody get me anything. I've got me covered. In fact, I already bought myself a bunch of cool stuff. Of course, when I bought it, I thought I was gonna give it to other people, only to later realize the only person in my circle who would want it was moi. So I'm eliminating the middleman!

Hmm, I guess this sounds a little off-center for the whole "Christmas Spirit" thing. Okay, everybody gets scotch and cigarettes again this year! Merry Xmas.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003 at 17:38:05 (EST)

There's only one thing wrong

When the smoking ban came upon us, it was especially frustrating to me because I knew the people who would be the most affected by it would be the least able to do anything about it. All my favorite dive bars would be forced to follow suit, even if not one person there supported the ban. But I suppose that's the nature of living in a society ruled by laws instead of by reason. And even though the ban fundamentally changed the personalities of my favorite watering holes, at least they're still there.

If this stadium gets built, they're gonna tear down Freddy's, one of the best bars in a 2-mile radius from my house. In my previous post about the stadium, I don't think I stressed how bad this would be. Like, for everybody. Everywhere. It would totally and completely suck. Why we should have to worry about the loss of this fine establishment so soon after losing our smoking privileges is beyond me. Why is my little corner of the world so put-upon? Anyway, Freddy's is also the place we figured our band would premiere, if only we could round out our set. Even if the worst occurs, we'll still probably play there. The stadium wouldn't be done before 2006, so there's probably some time before the wrecking ball shows up. But dammit, it's one little bar in this huge city, and they wanna drop a big ugly stadium on it! If this thing passes, my one last hope is that they somehow build around Freddy's. It's right on the corner, they could do that, right?

I was just looking at their site and realized they have my old review posted on their Reviews page! See how much I love that place?

Also here's a message, possibly authored by the guy who runs this site, about the situation:

If you are still on the fence about the proposed plan to bring the NJ Nets basketball team to Brooklyn, here's a fact about the plan to consider.

By eminent domain, the developer's plan will evict tenants, demolish buildings, and generally redefine a large portion of the neighborhood known as Prospect Heights. Instead of small businesses and homes, this area will be rife with luxury apartments and parking garages. The neighborhood as we know it will change.

According to the map of the plan design, the area to be demolished will include our beloved Freddy's bar. The plan can be viewed here:

It clearly shows that the block of 6th Avenue & Dean Street is part of the proposed stadium block.

There is a citizen's petition against the stadium plan that can be signed. Copies are available at Freddy's and at Maha's, which is a small gourmet food shop located on 6th Ave, right up the block from Freddy's.

There is also a website of neighborhood people who are monitoring the issue:

Please forward this to anyone you know who loves and frequents Freddy's, who loves Prospect Heights, or who is generally opposed to corporate plans to take over neighborhoods.

Spread the word!

Check out

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Tuesday, December 16, 2003 at 11:51:09 (EST)

They can't take that away from me
I'm sorry, but sports are stupid. They garner way too much attention in a culture that would do better to focus on something either more artistic or more constructive. Normally, I don't care much about it, as I have forged a life that keeps pointless competition at arm's length. But now we all have to cope with this New Jersey Nets thing. Bruce Ratner wants to buy the Nets, bring them to Brooklyn, and drop them into a stadium he wants to build near downtown Brooklyn. Ooh boy! A professional sports team in Brooklyn! Yippee! Oh, this takes me back to the glory days of the Dodgers! Aw, bite me.

On the one hand, I could care less if some rich guy wants to throw his money around here; every other rich guy in town does it. And I hate to fall back on the NIMBY defense, but goddammit, Not In My Back Yard! The location of the stadium would be a few scant blocks from my house, something that in of itself is not wholly unacceptable to me. I'm not protesting this merely because of its proximity. And the center of the stadium will be on top of a train yard that should have been developed years ago. So, the hordes of people who can't get enough competitive ball-watching get to claim some affinity for a team from Jersey, some deserted block gets built up, and some rich guys (Jay-Z too!) get even richer. So what's the problem?

Well, first there's the usual zoning concerns. There hasn't been anything in that area in who-knows how long, so there will have to be massive efforts to deal with the incredible amounts of traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) such a complex is liable to generate. But what really bothers me is the effect it will have on the community. They tell us that it'll be great for the neighborhood, 'rejuvenating' the area with jobs and commerce. But it doesn't so much rejuvenate rather than replace a large chunk of space. Of course, everybody thinks the space that the stadium will occupy is just the train yard itself, which is pretty much an eyesore. If they were just building on that space, I don't think I'd mind it. But if you look at the site plan, you see that a much larger section is needed. Not only will it fill up the train yard space, it crosses Pacific Street all the way to Dean Street, obliterating, among other things, Freddy's Bar. The plans for parking take up even more space further east.

The worst part of this is it seems inevitable. Like a Wal-Mart opening in struggling rural towns, people automatically assume stadiums are good ideas without seeing the bigger picture. Ratner has done his homework, pushing the idea that Brooklyn's ego could really use a lift from having its own NBA-level team. Frank Gehry is the stadium's architect, giving the project a little art-world cred. Though I like Gehry's work, I still don't think it's worth it. I suppose if Frank Lloyd Wright had designed an abattoir for orphans it'd be a national treasure today.

Will we have any say over this at all? I know Letitia James is against it, so maybe there will be some organized opposition to this thing. But for now it seems this thing will go the way of the smoking ban, with people who are not necessarily for the idea ultimately supporting it, if only because it seems like a good idea for somebody. And like that ban, the whole mess wouldn't have happened if there wasn't some rich guy with a lot of influence who woke up one day and decided to screw with a bunch of people he doesn't even know.

If they really wanna put a stadium here, aren't there vast stretches of property that could be used that wouldn't destroy a community and cause enormous gridlock? There's tons of unused space in the old Navy Yards, not to mention the other outlying areas of Brooklyn. Isn't there some space in the Flatlands?

Posted By Jimmy Legs | Non-PermaLink

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Monday, December 15, 2003 at 15:11:40 (EST)

You could feed the world on my garbage dump
Foods that Pinky the Cat likes that she shouldn't:

  • cheese
  • pumpkin pie
  • black beans
  • cheesecake
  • scotch bonnet sauce
  • grits

Meanwhile, my other cats barely eat the cat food I dole out to them. Then of course, there's Mr. Bones, who favors apples for some reason. Why can't we all get on the same page here? There should be one food that all cats and all humans like. I mean, besides "Elegant Entrée."

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Monday, December 15, 2003 at 12:47:24 (EST)

All for me grog
I think the best gifts are evanescent. Especially in this town, where space is scarce, we do better to give and receive presents that don't take any up. I will probably be giving a lot of foodstuffs this holiday season, for instance. Everybody likes food, and then when you're done with it, nothing has to gather dust on a shelf. By this same logic, I am finally starting to think of cut flowers as something worthwhile for the first time. Time was, I never bought flowers simply because all they did was drop dead a few days later. I found it mildly depressing. But now it occurs to me that such a self-destructing gift might just fit the bill in a pinch.

Anyhow, my friends J&M gave me my consumable gift on Saturday, a walking tour of some of the more historic bars in Greenwich Village. The tour focused on four bars in the neighborhood, including Chumley's, The Kettle of Fish, The White Horse Tavern, and one other whose names escapes me. Of these, I had only been to the White Horse before, it being one of my all-time favorite bars in the area. We were by far the youngest people on the tour, which I found somehow heartening. It's always good to see the old folks out in the freezing cold, ready for some bar-hopping. The guide gave us lots of history while we trudged to each bar, then we downed a pint. After all that history we headed for the revisionist world of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, which proudly proclaims that it is technically considered an annex of Texas. Fair enough, that's as close to Texas as I pan on getting any time soon.

Later I met up with some other folks at 288, which I can only think of as Tom & Jerry's, due to all the bowls bearing that name stacked on their shelves. They were projecting Christmas videos on the wall, featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas. They didn't have the sound on, but just looking at the visuals you realize how superior it is to any of the recent Suessian nightmare adaptations foisted on us. Ted Geisel might have been better served if he specified in his will that nobody do anything with any of his characters after his death.

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Week of December 14-20, 2003

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