Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I have my issues with New England from the rabid sports fans to the Ivy League snobbery to all the entitlement that comes with being rich white anglo saxon protestants. Coming from an Asian middle class family, I never quite understood the tweed blazer salmon pants penny loafers kit and could never quite relate to the guy dressed in the Ralph Lifshitz ads.
I think subconsciously I may have even tried to date into the culture, date into the American dream, to pique my curiousity. And it wasn't all bad: from the credit accounts at the Country Club & various restaurants to comp tickets to all sporting & theater events. Real life "Beamer, Benz or Bentley" issues. I enjoyed the lifestyle from the sidelines but playing croquet in the late afternoon over gin & tonics always seemed odd. It seemed like I was just the white girl "token" boyfriend. It wasn't the world I grew up in nor would it be something I would achieve to be a part of. Call it cynicism or misunderstanding, New England always understood for everything I wasn't about and I wanted nothing to ever do with it. I've been to New England many times from Newport to New Hampshire, but not without reservation & apprehension.
But as luck would have it one of my oldest & dearest friends, the inspiration for this here blog, Lee T, re-located from the sunny shores of Southern California to the gritty streets of Boston. I swallowed my NY pride and made plans to visit the Great White North with Jillian. Heading up to Boston would be a challenge as weekends are my busiest days. But as luck would have it I was granted a free weekend from work with bills paid & some change to make it up to see Lee & Kena Taft to finally see Boston from an insiders point of view. We were off.
During my many adventures up North, I have learned to forego Route 95 through Connecticut because of the traffic to take the incredibly scenic drive up the Merritt Parkway. But this trip I didn't want to take the Whitestone Bridge and subsequent tolls in fear of a ticket due to a well expired inspection sticker. So what on Mapquest explained would be a 3.5 hour drive took twice as long with gridlock traffic all the way through CT. Not Good. "Shoulda took the Merritt," I kept saying as my clutch leg statred to cramp through the Greenwich creep. We finally made it up to Boston 7 hours later. We were beat & starving, but the Tafts were gracious enough to shuttle us to a neighborhood Asian fusion restaurant, The Ginger Exchange.
We quickly tied one on after surviving mostly on rest stop snacks. All the stress from the drive and all my reservations being in New England were soon washed away with some tall cocktails. Managing the intricate menu was a huge task under the influence, so we just ordered a bit of everything. The Ginger Exchange is amazing in how they provide Chinese, Japanese, Thai & Korean meals all cooked & served with incredible quality. I was amazed. We had some Bao Bao, Bon Chon, Sushi, Edamami, Fresh Summer Rolls, Pad Thai, and my favorite Bulgogi Bibimbap.
We were stuffed to say the least, but I wish I had room for their Coconut Mango Roll: fresh mango wrapped in sweet coconut sticky rice & soy paper served with mango ice cream. Yum. Next trip for sure. Day 1 was a great success. A great meal can always wash off a bad drive. We retired with full stomachs after a short tour through downtown, but awoke to some serious breakfast pains. Go figure. We hit up a great local joint, The Neighborhood Restaurant.
A nice short walk from the Taft residence, The Neighborhood was opened in 1983 by a Borges family with a great menu of Portugese American fare. I ordered the Linguica (Portugese Sausage), 3 eggs, Fried Banana & Home Fries. So so good. The only shortcoming is that the restaurant only has shaded outdoor seating; which apparently stays open deep into the fall & onlys open the inside restaurant once the snow hits the ground. I sweat just thinking about it, so trying to enjoy a cup of coffee in the heat was difficult. But the great food & service clearly made up for sitting in a microwave. Peep the sun piercing through the vine roof helping to keep my food warm.
After some real "We Have To Chill Now" time, we finally made it out of Lee's cool comfortable crib to brave the late afternoon heat to pick up some well needed Starbucks & visit Steve over at Ready Amongst Willing aka RAW.
"RAW was founded on February 9, 2006 in Somerville, Massachusetts. The original intention of the brand was for two long time skateboarders and friends to make their ideas into tangible products that local supporters could be proud of using while skating the streets of Boston. In our first year, we grew to have a strong local following in the greater Boston area, and the brand started to be distributed outside of New England. In May of 2009, RAW opened it’s first retail/office space literally next door to where all of the original work on the brand was performed."
"...At RAW, we believe in working hard, taking care of the people who take care of us and skateboarding as a viable culture. All of the products we make, as well as those of the other brands we support in our stores, are a reflection of this philosophy. Our goal is to make this philosophy stay solid with those who have been exposed to our brand already and have it take root with new supporters so that the legitimacy of our culture grows with each generation…for skateboarding’s sake."
It was great to meet Steve, see the new space, & get a feel for the brand; "For Skaters by Skaters". They are not backed by some huge corporation, so you have to respect their efforts to develop their brand to where it is now. Big thanks to Steve for hooking up some product. Go to their online store and buy some shit. Gotta pick up their Jonah Miller Sandwich Deck Set for the wall. Fat boy pride.
We left the shop with plans to meet later for dinner & drinks and headed over to Davis Square for a late lunch at the historic Rosebud Diner est in 1941.
After a proper Turkey Club Lee & I leisurely toured a local art fest while the women did some damage at Buffalo Exchange. After a few hours touring downtown Boston, we finally ended up at Rudy's Cafe.
Rudy's is as legit Mexican as it gets on the East Coast and a fraction of the cost of Rosa Mexicano's or Mama Mexico. They actually get it there. Mexican should be inexpensive family style food, not overpriced craze like you find in Manhattan. If I spoke better Spanish I would just start ordering from the late night Taco Trucks in the neighborhood, but I can barely understand the menu.
After some great food, a few drinks and some laughs, we learned that although Steve's gf was on the tail end of her double shift as manager of Rudy's, she has her Masters Degree in Social Work(?) and works an additional full time job. Impressed by her & Steve's incredible work ethic, it dawned on me what a being a Bostonite is really about. Although many flock to Boston for the fame, fortune & entitlement that an Ivy League Degree can provide; not unlike New York, there's a huge population of hard working blue collars that that help service their city who live & breathe their town as well as their sports teams. The New England sports pedigree speaks for itself. From the Sox to the Pats, Celtics & now Bruins all their teams have had recent championship wins. Yes, I will always have my Yanks & Giants but I'm not sure if I will ever see a Ranger or Knicks win; despite their deep payrolls.
I bleed Yankee Pinstripes all day, but I'm a sports fan first and a New York sports fan second. I understand what sports loyalty represents and what it feels like to win a championship as a true fan. I respect Papi, Manny, Nomar and all those who fought to help make their team win. Shit, both Sox veterans Roger Clemens & Johnny Damon amongst others were on the Yankees payroll at some point. Sports rivalries are what makes sports so fun. We don't exactly fill the Stadium when the Royals come to town, but every time Boston comes up to bat, it feels like a playoff game. Gotta love it.
After a late night night closing Rudy's and a short after party at the Costello residence we didn't quite get the early start like we planned (Sorry, Lee). After taking some time to clear the cobwebs we finally made it out and up to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.
After some well needed beach time, we toured the Nike & Converse outlets. Big thanks for the hook-up Taft. We closed out our trip at Lee's lunch spot, Stachey's for some football sized calzones & finished off our Boston meal tour at Christina's for some great homemade ice cream.
It was a hazy day but a great one. Took a smart pill and decided to leave late to pass any sort of traffic hiccup. It was nice to drive through the middle of the night to reflect on our trip. Although yes, I have had my share of experiences with Ma**holes, this wasn't one of them. Walking through Lee's part of town it was great to see mostly privately owned businesses and restaurants filled with local patrons; not the neighborhood homogenization that we experienceing here in NY: every other block it's the same GAP, Duane Reade, Boston Market on repeat. It was nice to get back that small town feel. We had a great time up in New England & hope to return soon. Big thanks to the Tafts & friends for their incredible hospitality. Love you guys.
Friday, July 22, 2011
"A Tribe Called Quest is one of my favorite groups of all time… in any genre of music. After seeing Michael Rapaport’s amazing documentary on the group (click here), I felt inspired to put together a special Tribe mix and this is the end result.
This is NOT a greatest hits mix. This mix is for the true Tribe fans only… the die-hards who know every lyric and remember every interlude.
I thought it would be cool to basically create the “lost” Tribe album… with all the rare songs, demos, limited-edition remixes, and collaborations you may have missed over the years. I hope when you enjoy this as much as I do, and hear some things you have never heard before."
Thursday, July 21, 2011
As with older assholes like myself Natas was a huge inspiration. No longer were we relegated to slappying curbs, doing beanplants off car bumpers & electrical boxes, and walking around on our hands. He showed us that you could ollie as high as your waist, so the possibilities were endless. Also as more and more coverage came out of him & Gonz, we learned that there was more to tricks than just ollie grabs and bs boardslides.
I picked up my first Natas while on vacation with a friend & his family to Virginia Beach. It was my first trip without my family and I couldn't have been more psyched. My buddy Scott Barbieri had a ramp in his yard and dreamed of skating Mt. Trashmore, so he convinced his parents to take us there. It was perfect- they got their beach on and we skated around town. He was part of the older crew and ripped tranny. I was part of the younger "street dudes" but could rock fakie to fakie ollie all day long. My one friend Frankie tried to show off and try an under coping early grab fs 540, slammed his head on the tranny and knocked himself out. We laughed of course, but then we took him home.
Anyways, we rolled up to the 17th Street Surf Shop and dudes were skating the curbs out front. Scott & I showed off our slappy + 43 skills to try and be down with the locals. The guys were pretty cool and took us across the street for the 2 for $1 7-11 Corn Dog deal. So good. We skated the long cherry red double sided curb in the parking lot. It was pretty cool bec there was a nice dirt bank on the other side so you could do feeble transfers. This one guy pulled a fridge carboard box from the back and proceeded to boost right over it. It f'n blew my mind, so I pulled the kid move and had to ask what his set-up was. It was an purple wood stain SMA Natas, Indys with alternating yellow & pink OJ II Freeze Streets. I was sold. I had to dump my hand-me-down Dogtown Scott Oster for the real deal. Although the shop guy was pushing me to pick up the new G&S Neil Blender, I wasn't having it. They had a natural wood stain Natas on the wall and orange SlimeBalls in the case. So sick. F'n loved that board. I blew most of the money I brought & had to live off that corn dog deal & fountain cokes for the week, but I didn't care. So stoked. Even after I came home, I had to keep getting it board after board. And as long as I kept my 4.0 GPA, it was all good. Nerd.