Life In The Big City

So I was in the express checkout line at the Whole Foods on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this past Monday, Sept. 11th. At the time, there were two female cashiers working that line. The lady handling my checkout was explaining to the other cashier that she was relocating to another Whole Foods that was closer to her home in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

The other cashier seemed surprised that my cashier lived in Brooklyn, and told her that a pregnant woman had just been shot in Brownsville. My cashier paused for a moment, as she was ringing up my bananas, and quietly said that she knows about it. And then, after another pause, calmly said that it was her boyfriend who had shot the woman.

Pauses aside, she said this so matter-of-factly that I assumed she was joking, in that dark sense of humor that New Yorkers know so well. The other cashier appeared to be shocked, though, and unsure how to respond. I looked back at my cashier, who seemed dead serious as she collected my cash before turning to the other cashier and adding: “that’s why I’m careful not to make him mad.”

Needless to say, I walked out of there a bit shocked myself. In fact, I was so disturbed that, when I got home, I checked the news to see if a pregnant woman had indeed been shot in Brownsville. Sure enough, a pregnant 19-year-old had been shot there on Sunday, twice in the head. Fortunately, after a long surgery, she and her baby appear to be doing fine.

However, the article said that the police were still looking for the shooter. I thought that if I could help them at least identify the shooter’s girlfriend, that might help the cops identify the shooter and get him off the street before he shoots someone else in the head.

With that in mind, I tried using the New York Police Department’s online tip form, but it worked about as well as you’d expect an online government form to work. So I called their tip line (1-800-577-TIPS), which worked surprisingly well. The officer who answered my call listened to this entire story before thanking me and explaining that they have already identified the shooter but have yet to apprehend him.

I felt better, for at least trying to do my civic duty. Still, I remained a little unnerved, knowing that I just conducted business with someone who showed little concern about dating the kind of person who shoots a pregnant 19-year-old stranger in the head…twice. In a city of 8 million, though, I know that statistically this sort of thing must happen far more than any of us would like to realize. But then I started thinking about what kind of world one must live in where dating someone like that seems perfectly acceptable – as long as you are “careful not to make him mad.”

And then I ate one of my bananas, which was delicious.

Tasty Eats & Artistic Treats

MSEfall14Do you remember me blathering on about Madison Square Eats? Well the mini-food fest in the heart of New York City is back this September. You can get your grub on from 11 AM to 9 PM daily through Oct. 2. It’s located just off Madison Square Park, where Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 25th Street meet.

Brooklyn is Abuzz
Photoville has set up shop on Pier 5 in the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park. This celebration of the art of photography will be open from 4 to 10 PM on Thursdays and Fridays and 12 to 8 PM on Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 28. They’ll also have a Smorgasburg Beer Garden on site, so you can take a break from looking at all those amazing images and enjoy the picture-perfect view of the lower Manhattan skyline across the river.

The DUMBO Arts Festival is back as well. There’s so much to see and experience, and it’s a great excuse to wander around DUMBO. Exhibits, performances, and public displays will be held at various locations around the neighborhood from Sept. 26-28. It’s one of those events that reminds you why you love to live in New York City.

The annual Atlantic Antic will also be on Sept. 28. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, it’s the largest and most eclectic street festival in the city. Extending along Atlantic Avenue from the Barclays Center to the waterfront, there will be plenty of food and fun for the entire family from 12 to 6 PM.

Feeling Horny
Did you know there is a Festival of New Trumpet Music? Well, there is, and it sounds awesome. Running through Sept. 28, it will feature a number of concerts at various New York City venues. You can find details here.

And speaking of obscure celebrations of brass instruments, be sure to check out the Honk Festival. Running from Oct. 13-18, it’s billed as the 8th annual convergence of brass and percussion ensemble musicians from the US and Europe. Like the aforementioned FONT, HONK features concerts in various venues around the city.

At Madison Square Eats you can get a personal pie from Roberta's, one of the finest in the city, starting at $9.

At Madison Square Eats you can get a delicious personal pie from Roberta’s, one of the finest in the city, starting at $9. Great food at reasonable prices!

 

Pork Belly on a Stick

PorkBellStickI never thought I’d utter the phrase “I guess I’ll have to settle for the pork belly,” and with a tone of disappointment in my voice. But I did just that a few weeks back at Smorgasburg (the final DUMBO day, before it abandoned the Tobacco Warehouse for an empty lot down by Pier 5), when I was told by the grillmasters at Inglorivs Yakitorivs that they were out of giant lamb chops.

I don’t know who these Inglorivs Yakitorivs cats are, as it was the first time I spotted them at the Smorg (though I did run into them last weekend at Pier 5). And they lack the fundamental decency of a Web site, thinking Facebook and Twitter will do (my dead pony has a Facebook page…that shit tells me nothing). Empirical evidence tells me that they do grilled meats, preferably on skewers – except for those lamb chops (which, sadly, they didn’t have at Pier 5 either). And the name suggests a mix of Asian and/or Eastern European influences, perhaps with an appreciation for Tarantino’s later work.

But what I do know, for a fact, is that their pork belly on a stick is literally divine: godlike; characteristic of or befitting a deity. I wanted to go back for another, but I foolishly decided to play it cool, not wanting to expose my gluttony (which reminded me of that line from Hey Jude: “For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little less full of pork belly on a stick”).

Feeling a vast emptiness, I decided to Smorg again the following weekend, for the debut of the Pier 5 location, and try another pork belly skewer as well as one of those lamb chops. But Inglorivs Yakitorivs (a midfielder for the Hungarian national team in the early 50s?) was a no-show, so I had to settle for Maple Bacon on a stick from Landhaus, which was indeed delicious but like listening to a soloist when you were hoping for a symphony.

Inglorivs Yakitorivs also grills chicken innards, and appears to be fond of serving various chicken cartilages as well. But if you get a chance to sample the pork belly, I recommend it so highly that I’ll likely pass out due to a lack of oxygen. And if you get a chance to grab one of those lamb chops, please drop me a line to let me know how they are.

Di Fara Fetched

Like The Book of Mormon, I was totally underwhelmed with Di Fara’s Pizza. Could it also be a victim of expectations? No, I don’t think so.

DiFarFetchedEven if you remove factors like the filthy establishment (trash on the floor, trash on the tables, and the guy came out from behind the counter to remove the trash from the trash can only to set the bag on the floor next to it), the long-ass wait (I was told 20 minutes for a pie, at 3:17 PM on a Friday, but had to wait nearly an hour), and – above all – the ridiculous price ($5 per slice, $28 per pie…toppings not included), I don’t think it’s even on par with the likes of the legendary Patsy’s, Grimaldi’s, Lombardi’s, Totonno’s, or John’s.

Good? Yes. Different? An abundance of Parmesan does set it apart. But great? No. And certainly not at $5 per slice, or $28 per pie.

Di Fara’s strikes me as a case of something different being spun into something great. Then they start believing their own hype, and the next thing you know they are selling the stuff like it was the original cronut.

For me, the proof is in the taste. And even if you overcome all the many obstacles to tasting Di Fara’s pizza – from the wait to the price – it’s still a disappointment compared to the upper echelon of New York City’s pizzas.