01.29.2019
Walter Martin
Reminisce Bar & Grill

God I hate when this happnes one of my favorite music guys Walter Martin who had my favorite album of a couple yaera a go released a new album in Frebruary of last year and I didn't even know about it and I missed a whole year of listening to it and it probably would've been in my top 10 because guess what it's super good but I just heard about it today and why didn't anyone etell me about it befor e now????

05.16.2016
Walter Martin
Arts + Leisure

I love this album. Everything about it. The short description is it’s the first official solo album from the of the keyboardist from The Walkmen, with some goofy songs about old paintings and a ramshackle, world music meets American folk feel. The long description is it’s a musical novella; an autobiographical memoir of a life of art—both making it and appreciating it—and growing old as a musician and artist, written with a literary attention to structure and detail, an honestly funny sense of both humor and pathos, and a keen ear for surprising couplets, performed with a small cast of musicians who are truly pros, but having fun and seemingly recording these perfect songs on a lark. This is music for musicians, lyrics for writers, fun, and funny, and filled with joy. But what really strikes me is (bear with me) that each song rolls out perfectly according to its own logic; there’s no cheating, no shortcuts. He sets up a world for each one, a palette, a mode, and never strays, leaving the surprises to be found in the content itself, rather than anything extraneous to the content, which does not exist in the world of the album. Does that make sense? It does to me. I also love that, despite this being a 21st century singer songwriter folk album, the best references I can make are Randy Newman, Burl Ives, and Harry Belafonte. And sure, also Vampire Weekend and maybe Pavement and, obviously, the Walkmen. It's pretty much perfect.

02.12.2019 - by Steve
Andrew's LuncheonetteBrooklyn
Cheeseburger

This is the best burger in Brooklyn until further notice. I want another one right now.

02.12.2019 - by Steve
Foxfire Mountain HouseThe Catskills
Flank steak

I've already typed a bunch about the Catskills being uncomfortably bougie and urbane given its status as a woodsy mountain getaway (see my Phoenicia Diner post below), so I won't do that here. I also won't do that here because it would make me a hypocrite. See, on our last night in town, we wanted to get a nice meal, and found this seemingly new boutique hotel restaurant called the Foxfire Mountain House, which was well reviewed, albeit by very few people. In fact, when we showed up, there were only 3 other people eating there, and the staff seemed genuinely surprised to see us. But let me just say: this entire meal was a wonderful fucking experience. The place was super charming (if a little interior-decorator-y), the cool guys running the place were extremely pleasant and decent, and the food was truly one of the best meals I've had in a while. Erin's in particular was mind blowing; a slow roasted pork rubbed in some sort of garam marsala maybe (it was slightly Moroccan, see also my Phoenicia Diner post below!), with a corn meal mash and some apples. It was out of this world.

So, yeah. I can't hate on the Catskills. They treated us right.

02.12.2019 - by Steve
Phoenicia DinerThe Catskills
Moroccan chicken sandwich

We took a mini-vacation up to the Catskills this weekend, and I have thoughts.

1. Holy cow the Catskills are close to New York City. And very pretty, to boot. For as much as you think of the city as this huge, gray, sweaty, uncaring block of concrete—which yes it is—you never really think of the fact that it's basically situated in a river valley at the foothills of mountains. When you're in the city, nature as you know it is basically confined to a rectangle in the middle of Manhattan. But even getting towards the outskirts of the Bronx, you can start to make out real hills, actual topography. Then once you pass Yonkers, you're basically in the forest. Sure the forest is hiding any number of dead and dying industrial towns and suburbs, but gosh it's lovely. And then in just about 2 or 3 hours, you're in the mountain wilderness. Or at least a relative wilderness, because:

2. Wow even the small towns are fairly dense. At least compared to my midwestern definition of a small town. Unless you're in the actual, government-protected wilderness, there isn't really any "free" space here. Not even the appearance of it. I figure people have been building and farming here since the fucking 17th century, so any bit of open space has generally been claimed and partitioned. Plus the fact that you're just a short drive north of 20 million people. Which then leads to:

3. Urbanity. You can "get away", but you can't get away. People in New York have money. And they like to open bakeries and eat at farm-to-table restaurants and teach yoga and acting classes. And they like to drive up to the Catskills. So, of those 20 million people, of course there are any number of entrepreneurial souls with money to burn who want to open bakeries and teach yoga in the Catskills. So in just about every town you drive through, you are never far away from the creature comforts of the city. Modernist AirBnbs, kombucha bars, pop-up fashion boutiques. And of course:

4. The Phoenicia Diner. This place pops up on nearly every Guide To The Catskills article, and Retreats From Brooklyn blogs, and probably Gweneth Paltrow's magazine. It's basically an old 60's roadside diner that has been carefully retrofitted to the needs of the Millennial. Cool minimalist logo, alcoholic milkshakes, kale. Think Hi Lo Diner but about two clicks cooler. But, hey, I like the Hi Lo Diner! A lot! And I like the Phoenicia Diner too! They do just enough to keep the real old diner charm to not turn it into some sort of bullshit faux-earnesty charade. I had a Moroccan-spiced chicken sandwich, and I have to say it was damn good. Fries were a little greasy and limp, but whatever. The chicken itself was seasoned nicely, and cooked perfectly considering it was grilled, which is often a dry disaster in any setting. And I guarantee every person eating there was on a road trip from Brooklyn. So shit, I'm guilty as anyone I guess.