Famous People

One Year Ago Tomorrow – We Lost A Great Traveler

I recall it like it was yesterday. The first text came from GrainbinGirl at like 7:AM (6:AM Memphis Time) then the next came from Pepe. “Anthony Bourdain was gone and by his own hand.” *Disclaimer – I have lost many a good friend and family member by their own hand. This post is not in any way shape or form trying to speak of this horrible disease. Sadly it takes too many good people*

Best Friends

So the loss of Antony Bourdain has bothered me for a while. Now that I have just finished up on a whirlwind tour with Shawna (yeah, I am serious when I use real names) I miss him even more.

Tunisa

For this post I plan on speaking about some of Tony’s quotes that I hold dear to my heart.  His friend Jose Andres said it best in his latest book in the tribute;

To our friend Anthony Bourdain, who spent his life planting seeds

That man put a bunch of seeds in my head and I owe it to him to make them grow and experience some of what he got to see. Let’s be honest….the Cock Sucker had the best life in the world and I am so grateful that I can try to do as much as I can!!! Enough with the chatter. Here are my favorite Bourdain Quotes in no sequential order and some notes;

  • “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.” – Loved my trip to a small town in Switzerland. You don’t get the same experience in the larger towns. Here I was just an American who couldn’t speak French and didn’t know I needed to bring a bag.
  • “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”Or if you are 49 years old do this and load up on the ADVIL! I am not going to lie, the travel I did to see Shawna was tough but I look back and loved every minute of it!
  • “The journey is part of the experience — an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.”I landed at Heathrow exhausted but figured out the Tube Schedule, walked my ass through the rain and got to the hotel. I could have wimped out and paid a King’s Ransom for a Black Car but what is the point if you aren’t going to see and experience Rush Hour into London on a Friday?
  • “I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m also a big believer that you are never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”This was 100% Barcelona! I only had a list from The Notorious NFG but it was going to be a total wing it. I love that town. I want to go back and I want to go back now.  
  • “Drink heavily with locals whenever possible.”No Comment
  • “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.” – Loved our visit with English Mike & Ellie as well as our visit with The Tour Agent and Curly Sue in Switzerland. I know that our paths will cross again and when it does. I plan on picking up from where we left off.
  • “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”It is very well documented that I smoke cigars, drink alcohol on occasion, and need a cholesterol pill. Sure, I try to keep myself leaning towards the cleaner side of life but what’s the point of living if you can’t slide down butt naked on a sheet of ice. Yes, I ordered the damn goose liver and I loved it!
  • “I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”I am hoping she never reads this but I so disagree with Z-Squared and her guerrilla vacation tactics. I love her to death and will be that “3AM phone call guy to come bury a body” guy but I can’t vacation with her. Let that shit roll off the back.

And will I finish with this one. I will always have the deepest respect and love for Ernie and Lynn Mellor for giving an out of work carnie a job.

  • “Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” – Nothing is better than standing over a hot smoker busting balls and or discussing life. I am always appreciate of the visits with the Asian Fireman in Woodlawn.

So, if you have not figured out by my already 900 words this is telling you to go out and explore. It doesn’t have to be in a different country. It can be in a different part of your home town.

All you have to do is be friendly, be respectful and always be humble.

How cool would it be if you were having a lunch on this beach?

Rest in peace Tony. I am still pissed I didn’t get to drink with you at Billy Mark but that is more for a selfish reason.

To honor you I will try to see as much of this world as you did.

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Geranium and I had a blast this past weekend. Hope you did too. Pictures from this past weekend

22 years of marriage on Saturday, Momma got home on Thursday, and we had a 3 day weekend – Maya and I were happy! This is going to be more of a Friday Picture post. That being said;

We went to EWR to meet Momma when she got off the plane. Maya was pissed naturally!
Congrats to the Lady Killer on graduating from St. Dominic School for Boys.
Made some MoJo Coffee for Momma on Saturday with her new Keurig
Went into the city on Saturday to get some shirts. I was nice and didn’t curse anyone!
Two cuties right there!
Brilliant – The bar we frequent on occasion in Dekalb Food Market is a stroller destination for the families nearby. I always wondered why they had kids movies on the TV. The tables are full of the kids in highchairs and they are glued into the monitors with headphones on linked via Tunity. The parents are getting their drink on happy as clams. Like I said – Fucking Brilliant because not a child was screaming!
Holy Shit! I feel pretty good about myself considering I am the same age!

Hope you have a good week folks. Be thankful that it is only 4 days. Oh and Geranium is leaving my ass to head to Seattle today as well. She gets back on Friday and she is going to meet me at Andi’s bar at Baker Street in the UES.

Jose Andres – Are we still keeping score @GrainbinGirl?

So my good friend GrainbinGirl and I share a little obsession together. We stalk the F out of chefs and try to garner seats at restaurants that are the talk of the town. Every January we kick ourselves that we did not attend the Caymen Cookout with all the celebrity chefs but in fairness the price tag does make that a hard trip to swallow. Please note that before we moved to New York she had a sizeable lead on me with regards to chef sightings. That immediately changed

When we moved to the UES it was actually her who figured out that Eric Ripert was one of my neighbors and right after that discovery I ran into him. No seriously, Monkey Head Maddy blind as a bat, actually walked right into him on E71st street. As you can imagine he was petrified that he hurt her and picked her up and petted her. Since then we dined at a couple really cool joints and I rubbed it in to her but not to be a complete dick I did get her a book from Ripert.

When I found out that Jose Andres was going to be signing his new book at his new joint in Hudson Yards I messaged the Murphranks to see if they wanted to join. This was right after my return from Barcelona and Mr. 3 First Names responded that I must have really enjoyed Spain since I was now “Everything Spain”. I booked the tickets and last night we headed down to Hudson Yards to check it out.

To say that Jose Andres is a huge celebrity is not an exaggeration. To say that Jose Andres is a humanitarian doesn’t scratch the surface. To allude that Jose Andres isn’t passionate about life and about food you must have never watched of Bourdain’s shows. And what I also love about him is that he is one of the only chefs in the world to currently be sued by a sitting US President. Yeah, he hates Trump as much as I do. Actually who carries a red wine on tap at his restaurant in Hudson Yards called “Democrat”? But of course Jose Andres does.

Adam Rapport from Bon Appetite was the moderator but was more of a “keep things on track” and the back and forth between Andres and Matt Goulding was hilarious. When I say that you really should have been there it is an understatement. I mean who else can total a rental car in Barcelona and say to the rental car employee who is having a come-apart “But I am Jose Andres and I must get to Madrid” and they are thanking him? Jose did mention Anthony Bourdain during one of the questions but I loved this comment the best;

“I am a vegetarian, I mean look at me. I am as big as a cow and I got this way from eating only vegetables.”

I am betting he isn’t tweeting FAKE NEWS or advising anyone not to show up to a congressional subpoena
Adam Rapport on the left, Jose Andres center and Matt Goulding on the right
He spoke to every person and took every selfie. My kind of a guy
Oh did I mention that Tom Colicchio the co-founder of Gramercy Tavern and a slew of other restaurants was there too?

And don’t worry GrainbinGirl. There is a FedEx delivery heading your way tomorrow. #RoboCares

April 29th – Is A HUGE Day In History

Not only is today Willie Hugh Nelson’s 86th birthday but today is also our Godchild Willimena Esmerelda’s 2nd Birthday! I remember it like it was yesterday. We were down in in the Dominican Republic drunk and RJ texted saying that W.E. arrived and things were good.

The irony is that W.E’s mother is a huge Willie Nelson fan much like myself so April 29th just seemed like a good day to be born. Come clean Mal-O-Rie, you were doing jumping jacks the night before telling her it was closing time weren’t you? Wait till the FedEx Ground guys deliver the 12 pc drum set and inflatable 2 story slip and slide to Bar 595 this afternoon.

If you don’t like Willie you can just kiss my ass!
She is stinking cute! Can’t wait to hang with her and her sisters this summer!

Happy Birthday Willie and Willimena Esmerelda!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2019

A while back Vivian asked if we wanted to get some tickets to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Barclays. *disclaimer – I really didn’t understand the question but considering it was 2 blocks from our studio I agreed.* When we got closer to the event I was kind of luke warm then I was on a subway and did a google of who was being inducted;

  • The Cure (never saw them live)
  • Def Leppard (saw them in the Mid South Coliseum when I was a child and the drummer had 2 arms)
  • Janet Jackson (I vaguely remember the wardrobe malfunction)
  • Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac show at BSMF many moons ago)
  • Radiohead (saw them at MSG 2 years ago, killer show)
  • Roxy Music (they broke up in 2011 so the answer was no)
  • The Zombies (Negative)

Holy Crap! I get to see Roxy Music, The Cure, Def Leppard, Stevie Nicks Solo and I don’t have to stand at an overpriced music festival in Palm Springs or New Orleans? Color me up Baby! Let me just say right now that (and I am not sure if it goes back to Cleveland next year) if you are a music fan then you need to do this! Sadly Radiohead and Janet didn’t play the event but HOLY FUCKING SHIT Stevie Nicks had Don Henley do a song with her. Then Harry Stiles (Still don’t know who he is or care) did the Tom Petty Duet with Stevie and it was killer.

The downside to the show is that it is long. But then if you can say that you were in the same room as; Steven VanZant, Trent Reznor, David Byrne, Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, Brian May of Queen, Simon LeBon and John Taylor from Duran Duran and Harry Stiles it is bonus too. Sadly I didn’t get any great pics of the shows as it is a copyright infringement but here are the approved pics.

The tables are where the VIP’s sit but I don’t really think there is any dining going on. We by the way were sitting in a box centerfield thanks to American Express.
Stephanie Lynn Nicks killed it! She may be a robot when it comes to her show (she thought that Harry Stiles was in a different band) but she is the consummate performer.
Saw these boys over at MSG. I only know 3 songs but they had a great speech.
Oh David Byrne was inducting them into the hall. How fucking cool is that!
I only know of 5 songs these guys do (and 3 of them are on the Alex’s Tavern’s Juke Box but to say that I saw a reunited show just for the Hall of Fame. What you got boys? Have you see Roxy Music live?
Roxy Music put on a great show and sounded like they didn’t break up at all!
If you graduated from SAA, SDS, IC, MUS, Hutchison, or St. Mary’s you would have known who these boys were. Duran Duran!
Texted my father a pic of Silvio inducting the R&R HOF Singles groups and his comment was “He isn’t country is he?”
Saw the Robert Smith interview where he destroyed the reporter about being excited. I assure you readers that he was very humble when he was accepting the induction. Still scary as shit with that get up!
The Lead Up to Janet’s induction. We were under the impression she was going to perform.
Janet Jackson’s speech. Let’s just say that she was a tad off.
Did you know the lead singer of the Bangles is 60. I am kinda feeling old.
5 band performing means 5 monitor worlds. Plus the MC stuff and the BOH world. This was impressive to see from a birds eye view. “Robo to Allison or Harmony”
FYI – he was the only one who didn’t have a teleprompter for his induction of Def Leppard. Maybe he should tell 46-1 how to do this.
Rule #1 for being a Rock and Roll Band – Don’t get fat or lose your hair!

Like I said, it was a great night and I can’t wait to see how HBO does this show.

When in Red Hook Brooklyn…

Actually this isn’t a BBQ post because Hometown BBQ is located in the heart of Red Hook. Nor is this an Ikea post because Red Hook is where all of Manhattan goes to get their Swedish multi density fiberboard furniture.  Nope in Red Hook is a Fairways Grocery where one can get pretty much all that you need when formulating a grocery list. Due to space and size limitations lots of grocery stores can’t carry everything on your shopping list. Take our local Brooklyn Fare grocery store 3 blocks from our apartment. Great selection but we can’t get a lot of the ‘southern’ fare items due to space restrictions. Trust me when I say that I have been searching for dried Black Eyed Peas for weeks.

For you Non-NYC readers let me give you some comparisons. Fairways Grocery in terms of Memphis grocery stores; Remember the old Seessel’s then Schnucks Grocery Stores? Well add Charlies Meat Market Butcher and then Destin Seafood for fresh seafood. That is what Fairways Red Hook is for you Non-New York folks. Anyway after an hour visit to the grocery store I loaded up my “Old Lady” cart and decided that I needed to bring back lunch to Mary Louise and crew.

You may recall my post way back when we landed here back in August of 2015. As I walked out of Fairways I remembered Defonte’s Sandwich was here back when the Asian Fireman took us there. On that Saturday we were experiencing a wonderful Nor’Easter so I was looking forward to getting me a chicken cutlet Red Hook Sandwich. Trust me when I say that this Italian Sandwich Shop didn’t disappoint at all.

56235645640__7C6025D2-F9CD-483C-A29E-B39575373CC1Success! I got me some Black Eyed Peas. Now if I can get Glory Brand…

IMG_4558“What you need a menu? You can’t read the wall?”

IMG_4560The smells coming from this steam table can’t be described.

IMG_4562Pretty Much every cast member of the Soprano’s has eaten here and left an autograph

IMG_4563Center of the pic, yep that is the cast with Christopher in the center.

IMG_4564Reminds me of the old pictures of Ronco Pasta

Sorry I have been busy with no posts last week. I was busy.

An Evening With David Byrne

Back in May when we were in the throws of our move to Brooklyn with WAY too much shit I recall seeing the two above tweets. AB is a professional concert goer and has seen many a good show. For her to make this revelation, well my interest was peaked. Now when I saw a similar tweet about the same show from JS, oh this got my full attention. Later in the day and I can’t recall who said it on Twitter but the comment “Top 5 Concert” was mentioned about the same show. Now that is a ballsy statement folks, you don’t normally have that strong of a review that many times about an outdoor Music Festival. Needless to say, I was on my iPhone googling his tour and found out that he would be playing in Brooklyn in mid September so I made note of it.

Mary Louise informed me about 6 weeks prior to show that she would be heading to Japan following our trip to St. Louis and wouldn’t be able to attend. I was bummed, I really wanted to see this show. A couple of days prior to our leaving for the weekend I was on the subway heading home listening to Pandora (how it works w/o not being hooked to internet the whole time, I don’t know) and a Talking Heads song came on. It was a sign so I texted The UES Russian and asked her if she would like to go to the show on a Monday. I booked the tickets, paid a kings ransom for the tickets but what the hell. You can’t take with you and when in doubt – You Buy The Fucking Concert Tickets!

Now here is where AB & JS are probably going to agree with me. There are really no proper words on how to explain the show to someone who hasn’t seen it. I know that is a Bullshit comment but I really can’t describe; The Energy, The Passion, The Strange, and The Music that went on this past Monday Night. They did have 2 hour 21 songs setlist as compared to BSMF but the energy that a 66 year old man puts into this show was unbelievable. Oh and they started this back in March and it is going to be a long tour too. David Byrne is a consummate artist and performer. After seeing this show on Monday night, Yes AB & JS – I agree with you 100% on your tweets.

Folks – If you missed it in Memphis, NOLA or all parts south, please pick out a city on the tour and go see it. Now I have failed to mention that the Kings Theater in East Flatbush is an unbelievable venue to see it. To explain it to my Memphians, think Orpheum but on Steroids. To see David Byrne in the Kings Theater – It was a Top 5 Concert Experience. Yep I went there too!

IMG_4277Opening the show with “Here”

IMG_4278Not a lot of fancy set creations here folks. It is just Music, Passion, and Energy being put on this stage.

IMG_4280This is what I was really impressed about this show was that all the music being produced on that stage came from the instruments that the band were carrying around. No sitting behind a 21pc drum set or keyboard for the Band. They carried their shit around and put on a choreographed show.

IMG_4281I am still in awe of this concert

IMG_4282I think we have a little bit of Elvis here with the drop light.

Thanks to the UES Russian for being my date and if you caught the show too I bet you can agree with me that David Byrne gets better with age.

Do this tonight! Don’t make me call your mother or punch you in the throat

Tonight is the “Memphis Style BBQ Edition”of Chopped Grill Masters. My good friend and owner of A Moveable Feast/Hog Wild BBQ Catering Company, Ernie Mellor, is competing against 3 other Pitmasters in a chance to win over 50K in prize money. The show comes on the Food Network and is 9 Eastern/8 Central Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

*Disclaimer – I don’t know any more than you do if he wins or loses. All I knew was when he came up to Manhattan back in early March.

Ernie Mellor ChoppedGet em Ernie! Do us proud!

Best of luck to him tomorrow. We will be cheering for you from Crime-Free Brooklyn.

In Memoriam – Anthony Bourdain

We all can recall what we were doing when we found out when Elvis Died. How about when we found out that Princess Diana was killed in the car crash. What about John-John Kennedy when he and his wife were killed in the plane crash? Well this past Friday I know what I was doing when I found out that Anthony Bourdain died. It was as I was getting ready to head out the door to head into the city and I got that text from my fellow chef stalker GrainBinGirl. 5 minutes later I got a text from Pepe with the same information.

First thoughts were – No way, not Bourdain. I clicked on the CNN link and the worst was confirmed. If you have ever read this worthless dribble of a blog you know that I have huge ass man crush on Bourdain. His writing, his stories, his love of exploring different cultures and naturally his love of food and drink were things that I envied. I read all of his books cover to cover. I binge watched No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown ad nauseum. When he went on tour I bought the damn tickets. Like I said, I loved that man and wanted to be just like him.

Now he is gone and a huge hole is in the hearts of millions of people and his fans. I have read pretty much every tribute to him. Watched the CNN memoriam and it still is unbelievable that I won’t ever get a chance to drink a beer with him in one of the many dive bars here in the city. Much less watch him visit my hometown, do a show on it and probably say something that will probably piss off half of twitter. KC Jayhawk was very bitter when he did the show on Kansas City.

While reading some of the comments on twitter I recall someone saying that the best way to honor Bourdain was to act like him. Go visit an unfamiliar place, order something that you have never tried before, and ask a complete stranger about their life. I know that Tony probably didn’t agree with everyone that he met along his journey but he respected them, he got to hear their side of the story and he grew from it. This is what made his shows so fucking good.

IMG_3380Never in a million years would I imagine that I would see this tribute on “the pass” at Per Se.

IMG_3393I don’t know why I made it a point to swing by the shuttered Les Halles yesterday but I had to. Deep down I know that this probably pisses Bourdain off because he wasn’t a fan of fame but people need closure.

IMG_3394To read some of the notes is a testament to how much he was loved by all walks of life, cultures and people.

IMG_3395I could have spent hours reading these but the crowd was rather large today.

IMG_3396Lots of flowers and cards

IMG_3398It is impressive to say the least. Like Graceland or Morrison’s grave impressive

IMG_3399Puts a smile on my face seeing this tribute

IMG_3401All kinds of stuff being left for his memorial

This one is going to hurt for a while. Condolences to his family, his friends and his fans.

Thank you for calling Rao’s in East Harlem. Currently reservations for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 are closed. Thanks for calling……

Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me that a restaurant is booked for all of 2018? I mean I could probably get a table at Per Se or that Fish joint on 51st street if I asked nicely, aka….greased the reservation clerk. How in the world can a joint be booked? Welcome to New York and the “Who’s Who” of New York.  Now if you are scratching your heads wondering what I am talking about let me give you a back story.

According to their website Rao’s New York is a culinary national treasure. Widely acclaimed for its authentic, southern Neapolitan Italian cooking and its home-style family ambiance. Rao’s was honored with a Pinnacle Three Stars from New York Times Restaurant Critic Mimi Sheraton describing the cuisine as “exquisitely simple Italian cooking.”

The Joint opened in 1896 and is one of the countries oldest family owned and operated restaurant running in its original location. Handing down cherished Pellegrino and Rao Traditions as its main ingredients.

The list of regulars reads like the “who’s who” of New York cognoscenti, including Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Nicholas Pileggi and Danny Aiello. Legions of politicians, sports figures and matinee idols have jockeyed for a reservation. There, dining at Rao’s is a legendary experience so beloved that getting a seat is only possible if you are a regular and have, “table rights,” or if you’re lucky enough to be invited as a guest by someone who does. In Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to be our guest. From our family to yours, we invite you to sit back and relax while filling yourself with more than food. Cheers!

Sorry I hate to cut and paste so much I didn’t’ want to miss anything. What all that means is what the title of this worthless dribble of a post says – You ain’t getting in there for dinner. That is what is so funny about this place. It is only open Monday through Friday and is closed on the weekends. Who does that? Who can not be open on the weekends and still stay in business? Obviously the Pellegrino family is doing something right.

Now there are those who have gotten tables there. My cousin posted that she had dinner in this 10 table shoebox and I would love to hear the story. Even one of my fellow tour bus ticket sellers has boasted a bet with one of my contemporaries. Yep Amanda Astoria has made it clear that she will get a table (remember – we go in half for a table and I got the wine bill) when she found out that her main squeeze Jimmy Fallon has dined in one of the famous booths.

The guest list of those who “own” tables is pretty remarkable and I won’t spread rumors since you can GTS (Google That Shit) on your own. So who wants to go have drinks at the bar and see if we can get a table?

IMG_0884As you can see the place is very small and quaint. There is only one ‘deuce’ and the rest are either booths or larger tables.

IMG_0886Prosciutto and Peas – This is the dish that Frank and Ina cooked on her show one day. I can’t think of a better marriage.

IMG_0887Frank Pellegrino standing outside his namesake. Sadly Frank passed away this year but the business still runs under family ownership.

IMG_2287Snapped a pic the day I was up in that part of the world. Trust me when I say it is small.

So Muphranks – When are we going?