Month: October 2015

The Great Sushi Debate of New York

Apologies to my 3 readers because I am going to break character and jump up on my soapbox (so I can be normal height) for a minute. Up here we have some classic debates and arguments; naked painted women in Times Square, composting in apartments and single family dwellings, toasted or untoasted bagels, but now sushi? The department of Health is demanding that all sushi chefs wear gloves while preparing RTE (ready to eat) foods. The DOH went so far to close East Village’s Sushi Dojo run by critically acclaimed chef David Bouhadana for violating the no glove rule. Bouhadana isn’t taking this lying down and is being joined by other sushi restaurants and fighting the DOH as this rule was repealed in California a couple years back.

Being that I have a very good working knowledge of Institutional Foodservice I think this glove rule is absurd. Yes, a rubber glove does protect the worker from the food but do you know how many times I have seen a kitchen worker cross contaminate food wearing gloves? It is all about washing your hands but the DOH doesn’t see it like that. Personally, I am against gloves because it gives you a false sense of security and unless you have a cut on your hand who gives a feck if the guy in the kitchen is preparing my food with a clean glove or just recently washed hands?

Sushi is an art and you need that ‘touch’ to form the rice, filet the meat and let’s be honest folks, it is raw fucking seafood! Secondly, the sushi chefs aren’t grilling burgers here, they are fileting poisonous fish and serving it to those who wish to pay over 100 bucks a roll and guess what? They haven’t killed anyone yet so hey DOH, why not go look for rat droppings or pink slime in the ice machine. Lastly, they already have warnings plastered on the walls against eating raw shellfish and that pregnant women shouldn’t eat it. Why don’t you worry about something more important and let the sushi gods work their craft.

*gets down off my soapbox

These Department of Health guys need to stop jacking with something they don’t know anything about.

I mean seriously, when they have a safety notice about eating something then you really can’t bitch if you get sick.

What you are shocked that I would share the same view as my man crush.

Seriously, the next time you cook a meal from start to finish, count the number of times you wash your hands. I can almost promise that you washed your hands maybe twice and that was after handled raw chicken that had more steroids in it than the WWE.

Have a good weekend and please go order a Philly roll or a crunch tuna roll.

Halloween in NYC and the Upper East Side

To say that the ole Pagan holiday is big up here is an understatement.  Walk around the Upper East Side and I see that the town homes are big on decorating up here as well. Plans for the weekend right now are undecided except for a celebratory dinner at Red Rooster in Harlem and some drinks with friends. The West Village’s Halloween parade is always a prime destination here but considering it is Saturday night, the time change and I need good ju-ju…..I think multiple drinks will take its place. I will report later but here is what is going on in the Upper East Side.

IMG_9321Nope this isn’t a decoration, this is someone’s gargoyle looking down on 75th street

IMG_9322Considering that Pumpkins are 99 cents a pound up here we opted to drink beer instead of getting a jack-o-lantern

IMG_9323As seen on 76th street

IMG_9324This little joker scares the crap out of people texting and walking past their townhome

IMG_9326This one takes the cake, this is like the neighbor who lived in South Bluffs and did it up for Christmas!

IMG_9327Like I said, they go all out!

IMG_9328I can see my favorite Hotel in Belize doing something like this

IMG_9330I met the owner and asked if anyone ‘borrows’ the heads, he said that he used to have a problem but his neighbors keep an eye on his decorations.

IMG_9331Not even the street trees are safe.

IMG_9332Here is another decoration on 73rd by my favorite cigar place

IMG_9341Even my favorite Bar on 63rd street gets into the decoration

IMG_9344As seen on 68th

IMG_9385On my walk home from the subway

IMG_9386Got to love their decorating

IMG_9387Here is another one I see on the way home

IMG_2740Pictures from last year’s Village Halloween Parade

IMG_2739We will make it down there one of these years

I don’t doubt that my former upstairs neighbors will be doing it up big this weekend.

Be there in 45 minutes to an hour – traveling by NYC Mass Transit

Back in Memphis we used to joke that it took only 15 minutes to get from point A to point B by car. Seriously, you needed to get to the airport from downtown – 15 minutes. Needed to head across the bridge to grab a 30 pack of beer at Walgreens from South Bluffs – 15 minutes. When we moved up here we were told by a couple friends that your normal travel window went from 15 minutes to roughly 45 minutes to an hour. This applies not only to driving/riding in a car/cab/uber but also to taking mass transit busses/subways/light rail trains. I here to tell you that I have tried this theory out and it stands true. My current job requires me to travel to LaGuardia Airport and the easiest and cheapest way is via the MTA buses. To get to work I grab the M15 n/b bus to 125th & 2nd Ave in Spanish Harlem and then transfer to the M60 Select Bus to LGA. Door to door is roughly an hour. I have made it in 35 minutes on a lucky day and also got delayed by traffic for an 1.5 hour trip.  Thankfully because of my OCD practices I always give myself 15 minutes so <knock wood> I haven’t been caught late.

Like with anything, there is always an exception to the rule. Exception Rule #1 – On the weekends the subway lines could be delayed/not running due to scheduled maintenance. This will really screw you up because if you forgot that a particular line isn’t running then yo ass is running late.

This past weekend I put a trip to see my Asian Fireman and his family to test; 

Started the clock when we hit the lobby

 Closest subway station to our house is at 68th & Lexington so we zig-zag the blocks on green lights to get there.

 Heading west on 70th street

 Crossing 2nd Ave @ 70th and here is our 86% completed 2nd Avenue Subway station. When completed, our walking commute will be cut in half. *Stop laughing J.M., M.L., D.S., J.L., & B.M. It will get completed before we all die, the Mayor told me so!

 Here is our station at the corner of 68th & Lexington Ave closest to Hunter College

 Took is 12 minutes to walk to the subway station. Granted this will go longer in rain, swamp ass heat or snow

 Thankfully this station is a one horse station (only one line) so today we need to head to 125th street & Lex to catch Metro North Light Rail

But you said that only the 6 train stops at this station, this says that the 4 & 5 trains stop here too? Did I mention the weekend exception earlier?

On the weekends the 4 & 5 trains run local so a normal 15 minute ride is taking more like 30 minutes

 We get to the Metro North Harlem station at 125th & Lexington and wait on our light rail train

 So far we are at 45 minutes, I am kinda glad that I factored in those 15 minutes.

 This can get tricky because if you don’t know the end destination you can end up on a train that is running express and you would bypass your stop.

 This is why I love those Mass Transit apps. It takes the guesswork out of this.

 All aboard the choo choo! Right on time!

 Metro North trains are nice and have comfy seats. Here it was pretty packed as Fordham was playing a home football game and the alumni were heading to the campus. I bit my tongue as these folks had just enough time to get to the stadium and not tailgate.

 18 minutes later we are in Woodlawn located in the Bronx and start walking to the Asian Fireman’s residence.

 Walking down Webster Ave

 And we have arrived!

 Like I said, it takes an hour! I ridden in a car to the same residence and with traffic it took 45 minutes.

*Editors Note – We were able to get to the Garment District from Woodlawn later that evening in under 40 minutes. Go figure!

Karma; Cause, Effect and the Illusion of Fate with One of The West Memphis 3

Yes you read that correctly and if you are older than 40 and living in Memphis during that time you probably remember it very well. Mrs. CBT and I attended a talk with Damien Echols and Sensei T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki of the New York Buddhist Church at the Rubin Museum of Art on the Lower West Side. I will be honest, I didn’t know what to expect and freely admit that I was one of those who immediately crucified the West Memphis 3 because they ‘looked’ guilty. Now some 20 years later, I am in the same room with a man who spent half of his life incarcerated unjustly. Let me type that again, Damien Echols spent half of his fucking life in jail and was let go with not so much as a “my bad” from the State of Arkansas. One would expect that there would be a little bit of hatred or resentment but that is not the case.

The Talk was a back and forth on the topic of Karma, Damien explained how middle pillar meditation saved his life while in prison and how he was able to meet his wife Lori. Damien gave the example of Karma as “The exhaust fumes from Angels” in that one night on death row he was in unbelievable pain and during meditation the angles were able to break through all of his pain and his hate and saved his life. Sensei Nakagaki was equally impressive and was able to give insight on how he viewed Karma from an Eastern Religion prospective. I have to tell you, I was very impressed by Damien. When asked if he would do it all over again he said yes in that he was able to meet his wife, learn Buddhist meditation and become a better person. He admitted that he had a crappy family life, a 9th grade education and when he left prison was broken man and everything frightened him.  Again, he spent half of his life in jail but to listen to him speak, had the calmness of a person who lives a normal life. I really learned a lot that night and confirmed my belief in Karma.

I look forward to reading his books. Like I said I was very impressed.

IMG_9374His books are “Life after Death” and “Yours for Eternity”

IMG_9373He spoke with a calmness and was very thankful for us attending

IMG_9375Yep we got to meet him

Not to shabby by the Trumpets in our first 90 days, The Pope, SNL, and now Damien Echols. Thank you Damien for the nice words and for the picture.

Go see the Fish Monger and the Butcher

Back when Memphis had family owned grocery stores going to the market was pretty easy and you got great service from them. Now days you are lucky to get a checkout person who isn’t on the phone or smacking their gum. Oh and good luck if you needed a pound of turkey sliced thin or a porterhouse steak cut thick because those jobs are diminishing at the local K-Roger. One craft that is very strong and thriving up here is the art of the local butcher or fish monger. I must come clean, when you think of a butcher or fish guy you would expect that their products would be a little more expensive than the stuff you can get in the case. That is not the case here because you can get a fully trimmed beef tenderloin or cleaned & de-boned fish filet and not have to shell out big bucks. This past weekend we visited the Chelsea Market and ventured into the fish market.  This joint was both impressive and intimidating because until you visit the market you don’t realize how little you know about the different species of fish.

IMG_9290Um excuse me sir, you got any Drum or Gar?

IMG_9289Fish Filet’s for days

IMG_9291Anyone want some shell fish or oysters? *Editors note – This place didn’t smell at all like you would expect and was clean

Have a good weekend, we have dinner plans with M.L. tonight and tomorrow we are going to a lecture by Damian Echols formally of the West Memphis 3. I will report back

Carbunkle Trumpet a fan of the Art World?

It is kind of strange to read that title isn’t it? Do you recall my post around Labor Day when we made a Trip to the Metropolitan Museum? We had said that if we were in town and didn’t have anything going on Friday afternoon then we would visit the museum and try to better ourselves. Believe it or not, this past Friday was the first Friday we had off since Labor Day that were able to go back to the museum. This visit we toured the French Impressionists and somehow ventured into the Middle Eastern art so that was a bonus. I have to come clean, I really dig it. The thought that I can walk 10 blocks and see some $hit that one would only see in movies or in books is so cool. Get over it if you are shaking your head right about now.

Now before you think that good ole CBT is trading in his clic reading glasses for some purple octagonal shaped glasses and a nerd suit forget about it! After spending an hour or so in the museum Mrs. Trumpet and I always head quickly to the bar to celebrate the weekend. On this trip we made it to the Met’s balcony for some red wine and symphony music. Again, we are not forgetting where we come from, the band didn’t know “Mustang Sally” or “Freebird” but they said they would get the sheet music for it.

 What’s the significance of this painting? This is Honoré Daumier from French Marseilles 1808-1879 painting appropriately named “The Drinkers by 1861” #hellokettle

 Sadly we did see the one that Thomas Crowne snagged for that sexy ginger Rene Russo

Imagine our surprise when we found out the wall murals that adorne the lobby of the Arlington Hotel are from this dude too!

 Pablo Picasso – Never heard of her

 Anybody think this should be a urinal?

 Here is Crete’s version of Larry, Curly, Moe, & Schimp

  Didn’t James Bond swim by this in “For Your Eyes Only”?

 Say hello to Goat Boy!

  Why is my favorite former Vet Tech & lover of San Pedro Belize and her parrot Cleo hanging on the wall in the Met?

 Art is hard folks.

Any friends who want to come see art like we do, give me a call.

Celebrity Sighting at SNL = Duck Hunting at the Peabody Hotel

*DISCLAIMER – If you are expecting to see a bunch of pictures from this past week’s SNL then you are going to be mad because we weren’t allowed to even bring our phones out of our pockets or risk ejection. That is cool with me, the show was great but let me tell you what the coolest thing we saw that night, the stage sets and tear down. First things first, you may be asking what is up with the title? You recall my previous post about meeting the cast of Hamilton? New Yorkers are not supposed to make a big deal when you see a celebrity on the streets or out and about, it’s the New York Code of ethics. However, I assure you that if I ever see Minnie Driver on the streets, you can bet your sweet arse that I will ask her for a selfie. To date, I have seen Chris Robinson formally from the Black Crowes walking down the street and I smoked a cigar with Jackson Browne a couple weeks back but that’s about it. Hope you saw the show because you could imagine how pumped I was that I got to be in the same room with Tracey Morgan, Alex Baldwin, Larry David, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, and Rickey Bobby’s own Jack McBrayer! Add to that all the other cast members of SNL and Loren Michaels and it was a good night to have tickets to the show.

Like I said previously, the show was great, Demi Lovato, yeah I know why my nephew likes her, she is smoking hot and can sing too but the stage sets are unbelievable. Studio 8H is probably as big as a basketball court and they pack that sucker with the 3 permanent stages, 5 cameras, 2 boom microphones, maybe 30 seats for audience to give it that ‘feel’ and the rest are stage sets that are about to be used. Oh and there are like 40 people running around the whole time too! It really is a thing of beauty watching them put the show together. Let me give you an example;

  • When they did the CNN Democratic debate, that was in front of the main stage with the band, then when it cut to commercial they pulled that down, and set up the interior of the 30 Rock spot which was to it’s right. Oh did I mention that all of this happened in 60 seconds? Yep folks, they set and tear down all that shit in 60 seconds.
  • The Family Feud Spot – That was pre-staged in front of the Musical Guest stage and then when that went away they moved that against the wall and tore down the tables and pulled them out of the room.
  • The Camel in the Brian Fellow’s spot – That was in front of the 30 Rock stage and yep that was a real live Camel. Yes  he indeed did move around during the spoof and it was hilarious.
  • The MTA Clock that you see in the beginning and end of the show – that is lowered from the ceiling and a boom camera gets the shot.
  • All in all there were 10 skits, 2 songs and let me tell you folks, it was amazing to watch.

So maybe we didn’t get to have our picture in front of the iconic “Grand Central” stage that everyone associates the show with but it was pretty cool.

snl_stage_seating_chartThe audience sits above the studio and let me tell you, thank God there are monitors all over to see the show because your view will always be obstructed. Doesn’t matter, we have it TiVo’d. FYI – we were sitting in the corner up by Stage B which was consolidated with stage A to make the 30 Rock spot. Yep I could have flicked a booger on Tina Fey as she was that close.

SNL StudioHere is another image of the studio, it isn’t very big at all and to watch them pull it off is worth the show.

5265159926_5c519b8ba8You have heard that “The camera adds 30 pounds to you”? Here the Camera makes you look like there is space for days. The main stage is pretty small but it gets the job done.

IMG_9294This is all that we have for a reminder from the show. They even took our tickets but that’s cool. The show kicked ass!

I am just glad that we had a host and a musical guest and it wasn’t The Donald who is guest hosting next show.

What did you think of the play Mrs. Lincoln?

Let’s just get this out in the open right now shall we folks. CBT would rather watch paint dry than sit through a play, musical or opera. It isn’t that I am a snob, it just isn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully Mrs. CBT is ok with it and doesn’t subject me to go because she knows I will hate it. Comedy shows or single person gigs, I am ok with but I guess it is my ADHD that I get distracted. It is cool because this is something that Mrs. Trumpet can do with M.L. or other girlfriends. Me, catch me in the bar during the show and we will meet up later.

Back when Baby Fine Hair was in town her aunt couldn’t make the trip so Mrs. CBT was able to bogart her ticket to two Broadway shows that they got tickets well in advance of the trip. One of the plays was the “Hottest Ticket Going” Hamilton. She loved it and according to her “I would go back each and every night because it was that good. This past week they had a CD release of the music and there was a ‘Meet and Greet’ with the cast with an autograph session after the Q & A. Since I was off on Friday, she begged asked me if I would go to it and get a CD for Baby Fine Hair’s mother and get her Playbill signed by the cast. I agreed to do it but let me tell you, I was in Theater Nerd Hell. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the theater folk but when you scream like a little girl when they say “Hamilton” you may have a problem. Add to that that the screams were from nelly guys, well you get the picture.

The Q & A was with Emmy and Tony award winning  Lin-Manuel Miranda the main character, author and writer of the play and he was good. He spoke from the heart and was pretty funny. He took questions from the audience and was a good sport. When it came time to get autographs you were to go down the line of the entire cast and get your CD signed. They were pretty emphatic that No Selfies, No other Memorabilia, and limit your comments because there were over 700 people in attendance. I make my way down the line and thank each cast member for doing this and I come up to Mr. Miranda. He looks me dead in the eyes and asks “So what part of the show did you like the most?” I am dumbfounded, I am thinking “The Stones on this guy” to ask what did you like best about his play? Sadly, I freeze and I start to break out into a cold sweat. My response; “Actually, I must come clean and tell you that I never saw the show but my wife loved it and her birthday was this past week and she really wanted a signed copy of the CD.” He laughed it off and said that I didn’t really look like knew what I was doing because I was so nonchalant about the autograph session and he told me to thank my wife for liking the show. I guess it was pretty evident I didn’t see the show because every other person in line was like “Oh My Gawd, It’s Hamilton!”

ham600Seriously GTS (Google That $hit)  ticket prices for Hamilton and you will be surprised what the going rate is for them. Hell it is cheaper to watch my 0-2 Cubs than go see a bunch of guys and gals singing about a past president.

IMG_9275Here is the director and main man, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Nice guy and he saw right through me.

At least I didn’t have to go to the store to get Momma’s tampons and they needed a price check.

Live from New York…..

Who older than 40 didn’t hear that each and every Saturday night growing up? For you youngsters, I am referring to the show Saturday Night Live. SNL was a huge at my house because it meant that I was able to beg my grandmother to stay up past the Love Boat, Fantasy Island and watch a show that was being filmed LIVE and from that foreign land of New York. Look at the alumni who graduated from Second City and SNL and see where they are now, that is a helluva group. Yes you can figure that I am a big fan of SNL. When momma and I moved up here, the first thing that I did after I located a good cigar joint was register for tickets for SNL and go into the lottery. Imagine the excitement when I get an email a couple weeks back saying I got two tickets to this weekends show. I mean, I have never seen it get that hard before (apologies to those who will have to drink a whole bottle of vodka to get that image out of their head) but I was seriously pumped! This weeks show promises to be a great one as we get to see the return of Tracey Morgan and Demi Lovato as the musical guest.

I am sure that I will post next week how it was, they were pretty emphatic that no cell camera’s were to be out but that might be during the show proper. Oh and yes, I am a bad Cubs fan because I am not going to try to buy tickets for the game Saturday but I promise to have the game on in my ear buds.  For some reason I have a feeling that I will be taking a 7 train out to Citi Field to overpay for some tickets for game 2 so don’t write me off yet, I got to do this SNL thing.

IMG_9263I am so pumped!

IMG_9262Talk about an alumni cast that kicked ass!

IMG_9265Oh yeah, it was cutting diamonds hard when I got that email.

IMG_9266We will see you Saturday Night Tracey!

IMG_9267Many thanks to my favorite smart @$$ lady barrister who told me that Demi Lovato was half a Lovato. Keep that up and I will send you to the ‘expensive’ wine bar when you need to get your religion on!

Have a good weekend.

Don’t venture past the first page

Back when I was a regular at The Monday Club we would try different joints each and every week. On occasion we would hit up a Vietnamese or an Asian cuisine restaurant to break things up from eating burgers or Mexican food. One of the groups favorite was a Pho joint on Poplar near the U of M campus. One of our visits my friend R.J. warns me “um CBT, stay on the first two pages of the menu.” I inquired why and he told me on previous visit that he ‘went exotic’ and ordered Pho from the back page. To properly quote him “there was an eyeball looking at me and I swear it had zip ties in the broth! Stay on the first two pages because those menu items are for us white folk.” I did pay ombridge.

New York if you haven’t noticed, has many different cultures living up here so naturally you have many different restaurants offering authentic cuisines. On a visit up to Spanish Harlem a couple weeks back I found a meat pie vendor similar to what I used to get in Belize. I don’t think the vendor was Belizean perchance but for 2 bucks he had a pretty tasty product and I didn’t get ‘boinked’! The term ‘boink’ was a term we used when we would order something against the beaten path (Zip Tie Pho for example) and it didn’t turn out well. Naturally the percentage of me getting boinked is going to be higher living up here but in my opinion, “life is too short to not try a new cusine or drink cheap wine!”

During my bus layover up at 125th and 2nd Avenue there is a Puerto Rican joint that has a line out the door each and every day. I have always been taught “you know you have a good ethnic food joint when the majority of customers are from their own heritage.” I had some time to kill on Monday since the busses were on holiday schedule so I ventured in. You recall in the movie “My Cousin Vinny” where they had ‘breakfast’ and ordered blind not knowing what they were getting into? Well at La Lechonera, they don’t speak a stich of English, or they were seriously fecking with me. I had to resort to the old “point and pray” so I picked some pork, rice and agreed to some type of a sauce that wasn’t too hot or too sweet.

The verdict? It was good, it was damn good! Seriously this stuff, I am a smoked pork snob, was off the fecking hook! I do realize that I may have nailed one Puerto Rican dish so it doesn’t that doesn’t mean we will be cooking up a whole hog on a Caja China roaster in Woodlawn anytime soon. Well not this season at least! So if you find yourself at the corner of 125 and 2nd avenue please give my amigos at La Lechonera a shout and tell them that pale faced gringo sent you.

Got to love the pig neon!

*points to what I think is pork, rice and pigeon peas and a fried dough thing*

I am such a Latin American foodie!

This was good!

I guess if you wanted a gluten free, vegetarian, Kosher meal they could give you a plate of ice…..