08.22.2018
Trust Fund
Bringing the backline

Apparently this is going to be Trust Fund's last album, which is a bummer because I feel like Trust Fund still has unexplored greatness in them. That's unfair actually; their Seems Unfair album is truly great. Really everything they've done is some shade of great, even if this one is a little paler than the others. But I still don't want them to stop. We'll see.

06.23.2016
Trust Fund
We have always lived in The Harolds

One day last summer, I went from having never heard of Trust Fund, to putting their Seems Unfair album near the top of my Best Of The Year list, and putting the band near the top of my Super Excited To Hear What They Do Next list. Awesome album, really smart power pop, fun and charming, well done, funny videos. They're good. Well What They Do Next didn't take long, because they just released this new, uh, album? Is it an album? What is an album anymore? It was only $1.49 on Bandcamp, and I can't help but feel that it's basically a series of demo recordings that would've been better off kept behind the scenes in preparation for their next real album, half song ideas, and half instrumental arrangement experiments (some woodwinds here, some mellotron there, some connective drones yonder). But I can't complain, because $1.49. The songs are nice though, and they're seriously on a roll in terms of knocking out sweet smart melodies—and I'm currently listening it to about the 5th time since last night. Still, just because it's so easy here in 2016 to release an "album," doesn't mean that you always should.

11.10.2015
Trust Fund
Seems Unfair

My personal Superchunk phase is well into its second year now, with no sign of stopping. I guess it's more of a 'power pop' phase, but really it's specifically about the kind of power pop that Superchunk and their ilk play—more Dinosaur Jr. than Cheap Trick, more Superdrag than Big Star. It's probably what's going to make Screaming Females' album my favorite of the year when the times comes in a couple months. And here's this new English band Trust Fund, who I never heard of until today, and who I probably would've ignored, had Pitchfork not thrown a Superchunk reference right in the teaser text. And even though they only gave it a 6.8, I think they're wrong, and it's at least a 7.2! Good hooks, good progressions, interesting singer that would fit in a late 90s Elephant 6 band, scuzzy Dino Jr. production that's maybe just a bit muddy for me, but whatever. They're good, they're positive, they've got personality, they're clearly having fun while not forgetting to write songs. This isn't necessarily the greatest album ever, but I'll bet they put out their own mini-classic sometime in the next year. This is fine for now. Super!


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03.16.2019 - by Steve
Lions and Tigers and SquaresManhattan
Detroit style pizza

I'm going to try to keep this short. Because there's so many levels to it that I'm just exhausted from it already, especially having just written a 30 page essay about black and white cookies. Here's what's up: Detroit-style pizza is a thing now. It's a thing. Do they really make pizza like this in Detroit? Because if you ask me, what's known as Detroit-style pizza is what Rocky Rococo has been making my entire life. Square pan, thick crust with butter-crispy edges, personal sized pizza. You can even find versions of it in this city called something like "Sicilian style" or "grandma style." Where did this Detroit thing come from? Are you from Detroit? Can you help me?

That said: Detroit style pizza is delicious. Lions and Tigers and Squares, a new little shop that's decided to kickstart the trend in Chelsea, does a fine job of making it. It's probably an insult to them for me to say I like Rocky Rococo better though. But that's okay; Rocky Rococo is the best. Have you been there lately? There's one left in Brooklyn Center. Check it out.

And I have to admit, despite my annoyance at this whole "Detroit" thing, Lions and Tigers and Squares is an extremely clever name. Think about it.

03.09.2019 - by Steve
Zabar's Manhattan
Black and white cookie

I'm here to talk about the black and white cookie. This post specifically says "Zabar's" on it, which is where I purchased and photographed this particular black and white cookie, but having eaten a handful of different cookies from various locations—from trashy deli to beloved contemporary bakery—I have thoughts on this style of cookie in a more general sense, and subsequently thoughts about New York City's cultivation of a unique and hyper-local cuisine. If you would allow me to elucidate? Thank you.

There are certain foods that have been used for decades as a shorthand for "New York." Hot dogs. Bagels. Pizza slices. Pastrami on rye. These are all still pretty apt choices, but it's also an old list. It's 2019, times change, a whole new crop of people have been living here long enough to become a part of it. There's still a clear family of foods that are not necessarily unique to this city, but are so ubiquitous here while remaining somewhat niche in other places, that they feel truly like part of the makeup of New York's ecosystem. The list as I see it:

1. Halal chicken on rice
2. Pizza slices (going nowhere)
3. Bacon egg and cheese sandwiches
4. Bagels (going nowhere)
5. Boar's Head deli meat sandwiches (Boar's Head feels like a fancy good brand at stores in Minnesota. Here it is literally everywhere. You can't not buy it. Even the shittiest scariest lamest bodegas serve Boar's Head without fail.)
6. Seltzer
7. Jamaican beef patties
8. Hot dogs (going nowhere, but seemingly overtaken by halal chicken on rice carts)
9. Pickles
10. Black and white cookies

The black and white cookie might be the least visible of the items on this list, yet it's still extremely New York. It was even part of a Seinfeld gag! I don't think I ever saw one for sale anywhere in the Twin Cities. Maybe possibly once or twice in little bakeries, but not really. Here they're almost always right there in the pastry rack, next to the chocolate chip cookies and muffins and cakes, and just as often are up on or near the front counter of random crummy delis and bodegas, pre-packaged from whatever food distributers make them. What surprised me most about the black and white cookie, though, is that's it's barely even a cookie! I bit in, expecting sort of a standard sugar cookie, or perhaps something like a snickerdoodle, but really they're practically cake! They're extremely soft, like a very thin cake; or like a very wide muffin top. The icing, as you can see, is half chocolate and half plain (or vanilla?). And that's it.

I've had 3 or 4 at this point, and while the quality of course varies on the quality of the bakery. I've had them pre-packaged from a deli, and I've had one from a artisanal bakery in Prospect Heights that was listed on one food blog as the best black and white cookie in Brooklyn. In general they're always tasty. But they're too big, the icing sometimes gets weirdly chemically and kinda gives me a headache. But they're always satisfying.

This specific cookie that's up there in the photograph (and listed as the title of this post!) is from Zabar's, a "famous" Upper West Side grocery store that is supposedly famous for the black and whites. All I can say is it was good. Maybe the best I've had? It was certainly better than the cheap deli ones, and I actually didn't like the aforementioned Prospect Heights one all that much. So I guess Zabar's is technically the best I've had. But mark my word I'm going to track down the true king of black and white cookies in this town.

(Oh, also Zabar's pastrami sandwich was incredibly mediocre. Not worth a post.)

(Oh, oh, and the new Vampire Weekend music video was filmed in Zabar's! And Jerry Seindfeld was in it! We've come full circle!)