chickarina: the melissa kirsch blog




Archive for the 'NYC' Category

Eggs! Get Their Due With James Beard Award Nomination

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Yay! The Breakfast Manifesto, New York magazine’s breakfast extravaganza to which I contributed the piece on eggs has been nominated for a James Beard Award.

I love eggs. I love that the whole cholesterol/fat stigma they used to bear has been proven inaccurate. I love a hard-boiled egg more than maybe any other food. I love a farm-fresh egg and yes there is a difference between the supermarket eggs and the greenmarket ones, in taste and nutrition. If I had anything approaching a green thumb, I’d move to upstate New York and be and be a farmer and raise chickens. Maybe.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Yes, I know. Where have I been?

1. France

2. Greece

3. Thinking

Not doing much of 3 in 1 & 2 but today, jogging because it’s not cold, for four blessed days at least not cold, it is over 70 and the horrid grayness abated, while jogging I did think okay, Melissa, come on, you can post something short on the blog each day. We will get more involved as the weeks go on, because there’s a lot to talk about, but oh right:

4. Writing

That’s important, 4. 3 led to 4, as it does if you’re lucky. If I’m lucky.

Don’t call me “your friend,” I am not your friend. Don’t call me folks. Don’t tell me that calling Sarah Palin stupid is sexist. Speaking of which, who can explain the new Genius function on iTunes to me? It does seem vaguely genius, but I’ve only created one Genius playlist. It’s probably the most depressing playlist on earth as I told it to start with a Colin Hay song and it dug up 25 Songs to Sob To.

5. Sobbing

Which inhibits 4, of course, but 4 is a good stay against 5. Not that much of 5, but, you know, tomorrow’s another day.

I think this is a good start. To being back. And to say to the readership, the wild & raging readership of Girl’s Guide and beyond, that I’m fast at work. Watch this space.

This karaoke bar called Sing Sing was actually like a prison.

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Everyone sat around the small bar and didn’t look at each other. They sang strange, obscure songs in warbly, coked-up voices and no one performed for anyone else. No one smiled or laughed or hit a wrong note to be funny. It was like prison in that everyone seemed to know each other but not by choice. The No Exit Karaoke Bar. A begrudging acknowledgment that there were other people there but they would get no attention, this was a night to be endured, like every night to be endured. Twenty people in a karaoke bar, the same people every single night they had probably sung every song in that catalog. There was no joy.

When our number, Total Eclipse of the Heart, finally came up, after about one billion years of solitude in a crowded bar, Derick and I got the two mikes and belted. We caterwauled. There were two extra verses that don’t exist in the real song. It was like “Turn around, bright eyes, Every now and then there’s an adorable little boy and now he’s grown up to be a man. Turn around….” What? We sang it anyway. We went for drama. As much as we could in a room full of stoics. I’d forgotten Derick is a real rock and roll singer, rock and roll star, so he could actually harmonize but I was wailing so hoarsely that his sophisticated stylings were mostly lost. The crowd didn’t love us. The crowd was possibly secretly handcuffed to its stools with its jaws wired shut.

Earlier, we ate hamburgers at the Sunburnt Pig that had beets, eggs, pineapple and bacon on them. That’s where we first heard the Bonnie Tyler classic on the sound system and decided it was important that we go sing (sing) karaoke. They also played “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry which damn I still love, that’s a love song, it’s so damn earnest I love it . I had a big crush on SP in that video, singing to Sherrie on the steps of like a courthouse (?), so deeply yearning and passionate and then flinging himself around a stairwell, squinting a lot with pain, the exquisite pain of ardor and Sherry and the world too much with him. I also looked a little like Steve Perry when I was a child so I think there was something there–long stringy black hair, middle part…I felt like we were kind of meant for each other. I think I need to find that video.

Dear Springtime, You Matter

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

The work is coming very slowly, refracted, refractory. I hear my name like it’s coming through water. I left the blank page and went uptown.

I looked up “refractory” after I typed it because I didn’t want to confuse it with “refectory.” OS X’s Oxford American Dictionary offers the example his refractory pony. I love this.

I hadn’t been to the Cloisters before. Almost one year ago Ben & I rode bikes over the George Washington Bridge and back and then went to Fort Tryon Park. It’s one of those memories that’s still very present, I see the day crisply, it felt like leaving New York. I wanted to get away from this and go to that.

Really I wanted my own cloister. The Cloisters themselves are lovely, but they’re a museum, and filled with people, babies, shovers. The atrophy of experience: digital cameras trained on pietas, dry fountains, unicorn tapestries. There is a terrace that wraps around the building from which you can see the Hudson and I guess New Jersey. I was looking for quiet. I found it in the Heather Garden of the park outside.

In the grass on the hill I read the The Last Life by Claire Messud, and the gears slowed. I didn’t have any expectations for clarity. Vague hopes that The Project (there’s always a project, but this time it’s a large looming one) would crystallize or stand down or make a tenuous promise to stop confounding, but I read and looked at the river and thought some about my block, where I would have been had I not caught the train.

Something broke. I had one of the tiny Field Notes books with me and things started to make sense. I diagrammed ideas, wrote myself notes for later concerning the manageability of the work in case I was seized by anything resembling doubt masquerading as procrastination.

Oh! The last time I scribbled about museum-going, Lynn & I went to the Dia:Beacon in the Hudson Valley. I took these pictures on our trip, which I’m honored to report are featured in the latest issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, accompanying Lawrence Wechsler’s (one of my favorite writers) article on Robert Irwin. You can’t see the photos on the VQR site, but you should consider checking out the hard copy for Wechsler’s always riveting prose. Here are the photos:

Now I’ve got spring fever. I’m a mess of allergies and sunlight and already mourning summer’s passing. This winter was kind of the pits. Better things are drawn to summer, they want to happen then. When I finished a perfect 70-degree run last weekend, Lance Armstrong’s voice came eerily on via my Nike+ iPod thingy and congratulated me on my longest run to date. Which is not true, since I’ve only had this gadget for about a year or so and I just recently allowed it to talk to me. Am I inclined to run farther to win Lance’s love again? Yes. Yes I am. Why am I so easily seduced?

I think it’s spring. The construction has abated, the days are long and therefore manageable. There is enough space in them for coffee on the corner and walking to the cleaners in Gramercy and getting A Moveable Feast from the library and seeing a movie about people who won’t feel whole until they’re paralyzed. Yeah, I saw that movie, Quid Pro Quo, tonight. Nick Stahl is aging strangely but attractively. Vera Farmiga is several varieties of troubling. The movie’s got some moments. But then it’s got some moments and you’re just like who greenlit that.

Days wide and warm, in which I wander listening to back episodes of the Fresh Air podcast. Springtime, you count. I will wear a daisy in my hair.

New York Times Correction Tally on Heston Obituary Now Officially Farcical

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Okay, far be it from me to obsessively follow the fascinating twists and turns of a dead actor’s constantly changing obituary, but come on, New York Times. Now it’s just embarrassing.

From today’s corrections:

An obituary on April 7 and in some copies on April 6 about the actor Charlton Heston misstated the year he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, as well as other aspects of his life.

1. He enlisted in 1942, not 1944.
2. He served in the Aleutian Islands about two years, not three.
3. And he and his wife, the former Lydia Clarke, an actress, spent less than one year, not several seasons, at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Theater in Asheville, N.C., which they founded after the war.

These three additional corrections (you’ll recall there were about five published in the days following his death) wouldn’t be as bewildering if not for the original crapped up report. But now, two weeks later, they’re issuing more corrections? These tiny details, we can all agree, are not as crucial as when the Times got Heston’s name and age wrong, but nonetheless, they leave the paper with even more egg on its face (and its readership even more stymied).

I now imagine the New York Times obituaries are written kind of like Mad-Libs - you know, you fill in blanks like “Proper Name,” “Name of Movie Character,” “Number of Years Served in Aleutian Islands,” and end up with a mildly entertaining but usually totally unintelligible story.

Previously: New York Times Violates (At Least) Ten Commandments of Journalism in Reporting Charlton Heston’s Death

Total Thai Overwhelmsion

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

What on earth is going on with Second Avenue? I usually reserve my neighborhood codger persona for whinging about how crazy loud and invasive the Cooper Square Hotel Hostel is. But the situation with Thai restaurants on Second has just gotten bananas and I can’t sit in silence any longer.

Okay, forgive this totally-specific-to-my-neighborhood post in advance but I need to discuss something.

For a million years, Thailand Cafe has flourished — or rather existed — on Second between 5th and 6th Streets. It got a weird clubland makeover last year and a sans-serif logo that was a lot better than its green dragon-lady signs of yore, but still Thai.

East Village Thai, which you’d think from it’s creepy awning would suck but is actually terrific (I usually default to the Gang Massaman) is at Second Avenue and 7th Street.

Sea Thai is decent but kind of insane if you eat in there on the weekend, on Second between 4th and 5th Streets.

Holy Basil, while not next door, bears mentioning as it is yet another Thai restaurant, and has been rattling around forever at spitting distance: Second between 9th & 10th Streets.

So that’s a lot of Thai in a few block radius.

But now another Thai place, the very lamentably named Kurve, replete with weird Spirograph rainbow sign, is opening at Second Avenue and 5th Street. I will never get over that name. I will never get over the Cooper Square Diner that was there when I moved in and was lit solely by pink neon lights.

Then today I noticed ANOTHER THAI PLACE is opening in the old Bamboo House Chinese restaurant (where I saw a rat once) at Second Ave. and 6th Street. This time it’s Spice, which is kind of good, and the nearest branch is MILLIONS OF MILES AWAY on University Place and 10th Street. But wait. Aren’t Spice and Sea owned by the same people? Yes they are!

What is going on? I’m sure I even missed some Thai restaurants in this teensy radius. If I knew how to make a customized Google map, I’d do that. I like Thai food. I like to have Thai food options. But I have a bad feeling that someone’s not going to survive this situation. I fear it may be poor, Queer-Eyed Thailand Cafe. It’s right in the eye of the storm and it’s been having a weird identity crisis for a while.

This whole post is ridiculous and very “Area Woman Wonders Why There Are So Many Thai Restaurants In Neighborhood” but what are blogs for if not observational blather? I know. Selling awesome things.

This Week in New York Magazine

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I wrote about where to dispose of your old electronics in NYC.

You know it’s amazing how much time & toil can go into something like this. The amount of fact-finding research that goes into something so seemingly straightforward is never visible to the eye after it’s published. I’d venture it’s easier to write a long, expansive feature than it is to write a no-full-sentences chart.

The info is quite useful. I just saw an air conditioner on the street outside my apartment yesterday. I’ve become more of pious recycler since researching this. I wonder if I was subliminally influenced to use the word “pious” because I’ve been up since 6am and am on my second round of Morning Edition and they are going nuts over the Pope’s visit. And the airline merger. And taxes.

Dump Your Junk [NY Mag]

New York Times Violates (At Least) Ten Commandments of Journalism in Reporting Charlton Heston’s Death

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

So Charlton Heston, actor & gun-lover, died on Saturday night. The New York Times ran his obituary on Sunday, and since has had to issue a string of corrections that are so ridiculous that they make one wonder who on earth is driving the bus over there.

This ran today:

An obituary in some editions on Sunday and in some copies on Monday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his given name at birth. It was John Charles Carter, not Charlton Carter. The obituary also referred incorrectly to the character played by Orson Welles in the film “Touch of Evil,”€ in which Mr. Heston had a starring role. The character, Quinlan, is a police captain, not a sheriff. And a list of Mr. Heston’€™s films accompanying the obituary on Monday misstated the relationship between two characters in the film Midway,€ in which Mr. Heston played a Naval officer. The characters, the officer’s son and a woman of Japanese descent, are hoping to marry; they are not already married.

They misstated his name?

This is in addition to what ran shortly after the obit was published:

A front-page obituary and a headline in some editions on Sunday about the actor Charlton Heston misstated his age and the year of his birth. He was 84, not 83, and was born in 1923, not 1924.

Evidently Heston may have been lying about his age, but that’s really where the crack reporting force at the Times might have done a touch of sleuthing. Or fact-checking.

Obituaries of people of this stature are, as we all know by now, written years in advance, and updated periodically. And with every draft and update comes editing. I don’t know how far in advance this obit was written or how many times it was rewritten or appended or the lede was changed or whatever, but it was probably at least five times, if not more. (The guy had cancer in 1999, and in 2002 confirmed he “announced that he had received a diagnosis of neurological symptoms ‘consistent with Alzheimer’s disease.’”) And somehow in all of those edits, plus the certain re-editing before Sunday’s publication, they got his name and birthdate wrong, as well as numerous details about the films he was in.

I tend to believe the Times when they report the news, and certainly I don’t feel personally offended by the totally sloppy inaccuracies in this obit. But, as a reader of the paper, as well as a writer, I wonder about the priorities of the Times‘ newsroom. Were the writers more concerned with style than accuracy, leaving it to editors to check his work? Do editors think checking facts is beneath them? Did copy editors have no time to read over a 2,400-word piece?

There’s a pathetic irony in the kicker for the piece:

“You never get it right,” he said in a 1986 interview. “Never once was it the way I imagined it lying awake at 4 o’€™clock in the morning thinking about it the next day.” His goal remained, he said, “to get it right one time.’”

Oh, Barf.

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I missed this in the Times on January 20th.

Not all holdouts need to be skirted; some can actually be incorporated. That’s the approach being taken by the 21-story 145-room Cooper Square Hotel at East Fifth Street. A four-story brick tenement adjacent to the hotel — unlike three other buildings on the lot — is not being razed, because its tenants wouldn’t relocate.

Those longtime residents will remain on the building’s top two floors, said Matthew Moss, a principal of the New York-based Peck Moss Hotel Group, the developer. But hotel offices will occupy its second floor and basement, while a library complete with fireplace will take up the 775-square-foot ground-floor space. Hotel guests will be able to reach it via the lobby.
Mr. Moss says he considers it an asset that guests in the $100 million hotel, which opens this summer, may peer down on a tenement roof where laundry is being hung out to dry.

“That’s the kind of thing people want to see,” he said.

You know what I like to see? I like to see slobbering construction workers loafing around on scaffolding smoking cigars and grunting, one inch from my window. Especially when I get out of the shower. I love seeing that. It’s so adorable.

New Year’s Resolution #2

Monday, December 24th, 2007

I resolve to keep better track of things that thrill me. Because (and you can quote me on this), if you don’t focus on what thrills you, you’re more likely to obsess over the stuff that’s annoying you and discover that you’re a bottomless well of complaint, irritation and woe.

  • The charming Cooper Square Hotel construction workers still screaming outside my window. I love you guys! You’re the best! Louder, please! Earlier, PLEASE! Should you catch a glimpse of me getting out of the shower, PLEASE WAVE! I sometimes forget you’re there! Pay lots of attention to me! That means whether I’m inside my apartment or on the street. Wherever I go, please acknowledge me!
  • My white noise machine. Like a fan, without the fan action. Should I happen to grow weary of the constant adoration of the construction crew, it helps.
  • Jens Lekman
  • My stuffed-up nose and head. I like when I wake up and realize I’ve been breathing through my mouth for four hours and have been dancing a pas de deux with strep all night. I also love when my snuffly head drips down to my throat and I feel like I’ve swallowed a hair. Would that this action continue all winter!
  • Fresh Direct! You guys! I don’t need soy sauce! Being out of absolutely every staple is adorable. Keep it up.

Hold on! It seems like I’m making a list of things that suck! Did you notice that too? A sarcastic list of things that suck! How did this happen? This is supposed to be a New Year’s Resolution. For self-improvement. Not a gripe session. MELISSA. Focus.

  • The varying styles of the teachers of spinning classes at the gym. The guy who is overly-concerned with what percentage of my heart rate I’m up to when I have no clue what he’s talking about. The guy on the headset who is so unintelligible that I just imagine he’s telling me I’m riding on a flat road through the countryside and to take it easy. The girl who is so bossy and dominatrixy that all I can think of is how spinning class is for masochists and, as a legitimate bike-rider, I should eschew all stationary bicycling because if not for the dim lights and loud music, it would be the saddest workout on earth.
  • Michael Cera. I saw Juno. I don’t think he’s ever played any other role but the one he perfected on Arrested Development, further honed in Superbad, and flaunted like a peacock in the totally irresistible Clark and Michael. And like everyone else on earth, I’m a total sucker for him/his shtick, which might possibly be his actual personality. I love him. I can bring myself to tears just thinking about that scene where Juno says “You’re like the coolest person I’ve ever met and you don’t even have to try” and he says “I try really hard, actually.”
  • The guy from the laundromat who offered to let me pay him $2 to dry my delicates on low instead of not putting them in the dryer at all, as I’d requested. I like when I pay you to use less energy. It just feels right.
  • Raspberry Soy Delicious bars. I had never seen them before, only the orange and chocolate ones. I got some last night at Whole Foods which was total madness but I had to go because hey Fresh Direct, thanks for nothing, I can’t make quiche without crusts. Why didn’t you order more crusts, FD? Why are your crusts a dollar more than Whole Foods? Why is your crate of clementines $2 more? Are you aware I could get my delicates dried on low for that difference? Revenons aux nos moutons. I now know that not only are Raspberry Soy Delicious bars DELICIOUS, that my cache of melted-then-refrozen-because-I-accidentally-left-freezer-open-a-little (it’s not my fault! that freezer has a really dumb, weak seal!) orange and chocolate Soy Delicious bars are GROSS. I can’t believe I have been living so long with these burnt, shriveled bars. EXTRA RESOLUTION WITHIN A RESOLUTION: I resolve to throw away that bad shrively Soy Delicious bars and to make sure my freezer is always always always shut.

And here I leave you. If you’ve gotten this far, I love you. If you didn’t get this far, well, we can use this place to talk about you, because you’ll never know. And if you’re reading this in a Christmas haze because you happened on this blog after receiving the Girl’s Guide for Christmas, I’ll sign your copy, too. Just email me.

Happy? Holidays!
Melissa