06.12.2020
Armand Hammer
Shrines

About this time last year I was writing a glowing review of Billy Woods' Hiding Places. I was new to Woods, a Brooklyn rapper who's been quietly and anonymously (he doesn't share publicity photos, and he generally covers his face in videos) putting out a string of records and collaborations over the last decade, but after hearing just one song, I was sold. He's not the most exciting performer in the world, but he writes lyrics that will knock you flat. We're talking like Faulkner and McCarthy level wordsmithery, minimal and vital, all atop beats that hum with paranoid psychedelica. He's barely even a rapper; he's a poet with great taste in producers.

Armand Hammer is one of Woods' small handful of projects, along with another Brooklyn rapper Elucid. Remember all that probably overhyped praise I just wrote about Billy Woods? Well Elucid can keep up, verse for verse. The two share a profound outlook on the world, and the ability to find the words. Really all I want to do to review this stuff is to copy and paste line after line, but that seems kinda cheap. And maybe unlawful?

Anyway Shrines plays more or less like Hiding Places did, although with the addition of Elucid on every track, and a whole lot more guests, who all seem down with what Armand Hammer is doing. The music itself is a little more abstract, as are the lyrics, but it's just as gripping of a listen, from start to finish.

Plus the cover is a fucking crazy photo of a tiger in a Harlem apartment. They rap about it. They'll make you want to be that tiger.

09.03.2020 - by Steve
Gong chaBrooklyn
Bubble tea

This is the year I've gone fully headlong into icy milk-based drinks. Horchata, Thai iced tea, bubble teas of all sorts. If it's got milk and sugar and ice cubes, sign me the heck up. I even made homemade horchata, and it was great! I just didn't take a picture of it, so I'm making this post technically about Gong cha bubble tea.

That's all I really have to say though. Bye.

08.29.2020 - by Steve
Caleta 111Queens
Ceviche, chaufa, tamale

Caleta 111 is a little sliver of a Peruvian ceviche place in a little nothing Queens neighborhood underneath the elevated J tracks, and I had one of the best damn meals in a long time there.

I don't know anything about ceviche, and I honestly was a little tepid about going there to begin with. But it had been on our radar for a long time, and we happened to be close to this weird corner of Queens for the first time in a long time, so what the heck. But yeah. It was incredible, top to bottom. The ceviche, the chaufa (that Peruvian/Chinese fried rice, kinda like Chimborazo's, but sorry Chimborazo, this place has you beat), and even the pork tamale was better than most pork tamales I've ever had. Honestly the liquid that the ceviche sits in was so good I had to pick up the bowl and slurp up the last of it like I was a kid who just finished my Lucky Charms.

I'd say it's in the top 5 meals I've eaten here. Maybe top 3. Top 2? (Sorry, can't get it up to 1... those Olmsted scallops aren't likely to step aside for anybody.)