04.02.2018
Augie March
Bootikins

Once again, as is standard practice with me and this band over the last decade, Augie March has released an album completely under the radar. These guys basically don't exist outside Australia at this point, so any announcement of new music was probably contained in the southern hemisphere. But as also is standard practice with Augie March, this album is skillfully constructed and thoroughly enjoyable.

11.01.2014
Augie March
Havens Dumb

Here we have another new Augie March album, their first after a five year hiatus, that doesn't even have a US release, and will basically be ignored by everyone outside of Australia, but that is a beautiful, lovely, charming, accomplished piece of music making. It's not their best, and it does feel a bit like it's Augie March on auto-pilot, but these guys—well, their singer and songwriter Glenn Richards anyway—are so good at what they do that even their auto-pilot is worth at least a solid 8 for those of us keeping score.


(1)
04.13.2011
Augie March
Strange Bird

Here I am listening to to Augie March's Strange Bird, already seven years since I first heard it. And my opinion of it hasn't diminished one bit, my opinion being that it is magnificent. Yet in these seven years I haven't seen a single review, a single news story, or a single mention of Augie March on any of my usual online music haunts. Or Rolling Stone, or whatever. Kills me. Totally kills me. On the flipside, it seems that they're huge in Australia. To the point that Australian music writers decry them for selling out. Which blows my mind, because nobody in this hemisphere has even heard their name.

12.30.2009
Augie March
Watch Me Disappear

I worried, from the samples I heard a year ago, that this was going to be Augie March's nail-in-the-coffin album; they'd perhaps become a little big in their britches down in Australia, and are finally recording purely radio-friendly bullshit. And I was only half right. This whole album doesn't have nearly the soul or the humanity of Strange Bird (a perfect album, in my opinion, and one of my all time favorites), and every song could be played on the radio. Cities 97 maybe? But at the same time, it's a beautiful album. It's clear, too, that Glen Richards, the singer and songwriter, is an extremely talented musician. He writes smart, heartbreaking songs, and has a voice to match. I still think these guys should be a big deal over here in the US, and I'm really not sure why they aren't.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Captain James CrabhouseBaltimore
Steamed crabs

Ate a bunch of crabs. Had to tear their guts out and stuff. It was a primal experience and the crab tasted good. Got a little tired of it though.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Boog's BarbecueBaltimore
Barbecue pit beef

Camden Yards is a very important ballpark, in that it changed the way that every ballpark since has been designed and built (for better or worse, but I'll go ahead and say better). It's still a great place to watch a baseball game, and a charming piece of architecture, even if it's been copied and and bettered in many ways in ensuing years. I like Camden Yards.

Boog's Barbecue, found out in right field in the alley by the iconic warehouse, is in its own way a very important food stand. It's become tediously normal now, a stadium showcasing unique local foods and restaurants rather than simply offering hot dogs and nachos, but in the early 90s Boog's was one of the first. Every time a TV announcer talked about how beautiful Camden was, they'd always mention Boog's. Or laugh with each other about how "Boy I can't wait to get some B-B-Q before this game is done!" It became a thing.

Beyond that, I don't have a whole lot to say about Boog's, but it was actually pretty good. I was prepared to be fully underwhelmed, because that's usually how things work, but no, it was very satisfying. So go to Camden Yards, it's still great. And get some Boog's.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Luigi's DeliBaltimore
Meatball sub

We went to Baltimore. While in Baltimore we stayed in the former-working class, former-gay, now-still-kinda-gay-but-mostly-low-key-gentrified neighborhood of Hampden, which is very much defined at this point by its connection to John Waters. There's a lot of flamingos around. You'll see them.

Anyway, even though there were a handful of 'cool' and 'good' restaurants and eateries within close walking distance of our place, I found myself craving a meatball sub. This is silly, because I live in Brooklyn (did you know that?), where I'm constantly surrounded by meatball subs at all times of the day, but rarely get them. Thankfully one of the cool and good restaurants here in Hampden was an Italian deli called Luigi's, with a meatball sub right up on their menu.

Again, I will note, I currently live in Brooklyn. There is no shortage of Italian delis here, or at least regular delis purporting to be Italian delis. The fact that I used up one of my meals in Baltimore on an Italian deli is fully ridiculous. But wouldn't you know, I'll be damned, this was a very good deli—operated entirely by some very tatt'd up Baltimore weirdo punks—and a very very good meatball sub. Although "sub" is actually a misnomer; Luigi's makes a meatball chub. The meatballs were sauce were delicious and homemade and of course the stars of the show, but instead of the standard method of cutting the bread down the middle, hoagie style, the chub involves taking an entire loaf of bread, cutting it in half, and then digging out the inside of the loaf, bread-bowl style. They then stuff the hole with meatballs and sauce, and cork it closed with some of the leftover bread pieces. This sounds like a silly novelty, but I have to say, it made it way easier to eat than your standard meatball sub! No mess, no sloppy deteriorating bread. It was great! Brooklyn delis should take note.

06.22.2019 - by Steve
Roll N RoasterBrooklyn
Roast beef sandwich

If you follow me on any given social media platform, or perhaps on occasion even speak to me casually or professionally or otherwise, or maybe if you've sat in the same subway car or lingered within 100 feet of my open apartment windows in the last 3 weeks, you've probably heard me claim at least once that Roll N Roaster is the best restaurant in New York. Look, I know it's actually not. That's just hyperbole, ok? But what it is is a beautifully odd, oddly perfect, perfectly out-of-touch fast food institution in the equally out-of-touch deep Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. It's one of those rare places that genuinely feels like it's from another era—untouched, unchanged, balancing on a terrifying equilibrium since 1970 of being successful enough that they didn't have to reinvent the wheel, but not so successful that monied interests tried to harness its name. Yellow formica booths, golden bubble glass features, sign-painted menu boards—Don Draper could've eaten at this place. He would've hated it but his kids would've loved it, so he'd just let them eat while staring at the window and thinking about the ocean. I'd bet money that multiple movies and shows have filmed here. I'd tell you which ones, but I can't seem to find any info. But Anthony Bourdain filmed here, and probably swore.

Why Roll? Because they bake their own rolls. Why Roaster? Because they serve roast beef sandwiches (on the rolls). It's also somewhat kinda almost close to Coney Island, which has a roller coaster, so I think that must've been part of their thinking. But even closer by, just a mile north on the same road, is the ancient Brooklyn restaurant institution Brennan & Carr, which I wrote about a few months ago. I have to think that R'N'R's decision to go into roast beef was inspired by Brennan & Carr's famous roast beef, but they do a much better job. My sandwich was damn good, much more tender and fresh than B&C's, and even better than some of the sandwiches I've had at Minneapolis' own roast beef institutions of Wally's and Maverick's. I got it with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, which were actually (I think) homemade, and just as delicious. And root beer!

Roll N Roaster is not the best restaurant in New York City. But it's a true and rare gem, and I'm almost sad I discovered it because now for the rest of my life I'm going to have to worry about whether or not it's still around. 5 years from now, I'll see a rollercoaster on TV, and suddenly my mind will snap to "Oh shit, I hope Roll N Roaster is still around!". But some day it won't be, so you better go there next time you're here. Maybe just, like, go to Momofuku first.