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The life-changing poem about life that you have never read

23 Sep

When I was young and still had a lifetime of, “when I was young,” stories ahead of me, I noticed an old, brown book with a deteriorated binding, decrepit pages and to my endless delight, chapter upon chapter of poetry.

Obscure, reputed and the line that lies therein between, it was a treasure worth one thousand times its weight in wonder.  I opened to a random page and found a poem that after my first read, became the poem that I liked more than any short text in the world.  Within a short minute of intent, fascinated repetition, I had it memorised.

I still do and I most likely always will.  I carried it with me always from that day (it fell out of the book when I opened to it) until the binder in which I had carefully secured it, was stolen years later, along with my precious page.

When my life is going well, when it is going poorly and when I just need to be reminded that life is there to live, I think back to this:

When all the world is young, lad,
  And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
  And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
  And round the world away!
Young blood must have its course, lad,
  And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
  And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
  And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
  The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there,
  You loved when all was young.
-Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
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Feature: Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island 2012

21 Aug

Thousands grabbed their waistcoats, donned their seersucker suits and held onto their hats as the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party hit Governors Island yesterday.

Tickets were available at the front or by prior acquisition online.  VIP tickets included a small three course meal and unlimited alcoholic, but only alcoholic, beverages.  Segregated, but equally long lines were also available for those who laid out the extra few dollars.

Many songs circa 1920 were performed by Michael Aranella and his Dreamland Orchestra, including The Sheik of Araby and Cole Porter’s classic, Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love.

Vintage shops, hat shops and various other vendors came out to peddle their wares, creating an overall prodigious marketplace for the antique or retro-style connoisseur.

Though some guests appeared minutely cautious to perfect their roaring twenties retro threads, some toned it down a touch.  Some guests who stood out in appearance included a rather ponderous tranny-flapper and a group who brought along vintage dishes and cutlery, wooden chairs and a fold-out wooden picnic table.

In attendance were not only local residents, but visitors from Germany, London, Atlanta and various other locations.

Among the guests were Elle, , and Sara residents of London, Philadelphia and Atlanta respectively, who are currently in college in Ohio and felt that the event absolutely lived up to their expectations.  “We got a late start today, but we finally got here and it was definitely worth it.” Sara confided after the three tipped a young boy dressed as a “newsie,” who agreed to pose with them in a photo.

Though the event was confined to a rather small section of Governor’s Island, those who were not in attendance could not help staring if not laughing at the archaic characters in attendance.

Their laughter, however was cut short when they saw the tired,  poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of the teeming shore, these, the homeless, tempest-tost, the several thousand lined up to the ferry door.

Local Review: Prospect Park Gelato-Caramello

13 Jul

The question everyone is afraid to ask: What is gelato? The answer: An ambiguous sort of ice cream [generally] with lower butterfat content.

To properly examine this shop, let us first examine the area. Is this a place that will remind you of where you used to go with your friends after school years ago? No. Is this a place where everybody knows your name and there is always a smiling face; the dairy version of, “Cheers,” if you will? No.

Is this a place with snotty hipsters who over-enunciate all the wrong parts of words in a poor attempt to sound like they are not ordering from a store with all American speaking clientele and employees? Yes.

If you are uncomfortable with pretense, then you will have nothing against this store, it is a wonderful place with wonderful and friendly people behind the counter. The consumers, however, as in many adjoining establishments, are filled with pretense- among other things. You will hear people order “pawna coTTAH,” instead of, “panna cotta.” You will hear people order, “cho-koe-lawT,” instead of, “chocolate,” and you will hear people order “jay-lah-toe,” instead of, “gelato.”*

That being said and not to minimilise the discomfort of hipsters pretending that the trip through the storefront having turned them into Italian natives and transported them to Naples; the place is absolutely terrific.

The flavours are made in-store and are unique and delicious. There are classics like mint chip and chocolate as well as other more unique ones such as tiramisu, toblerone and even olive oil and corn, all made with authentic ingredients.

The ordering process consists of choosing the size desired upfront at the counter and then following the person behind the desk down to where the ice cream is to choose your flavours.

Not to call out any other overrated, underachieving establishments similar in neighbourhood and demographic, don’t think I mean say, Blue Marble Ice Cream, for example; but this place offers a punchcard which entitles you to free ice cream after 9 purchases, they will not refuse to take your order because they want to close early, a pint of gelato costs less than one minuscule soft serve and one root beer float with a single paltry scoop of vanilla ice cream and there seems to never be a big crowd.

The interior is clean and as mentioned before, but is worth emphasis, the staff are polite, friendly, cheerful and willing to deal with annoying clientele and difficult orders. Orders are expediently delivered to the customer in quite ample portions. All in all, despite any claims that convenience must be sacrificed for quality or vice-versa, this place proves that overall efficiency and quality can be succinctly combined to merge great experience and terrific products.

The Caffe Crunch and the Panna Cotta gelato are specifically worth mention. Caffe Crunch is not that much different than coffee ice cream, the true distinction is in the “crunch.” Bits of delicious hard toffee coated in chocolate embedded sporadically within the ice cream, which is inexplicably exciting when one starts out with the belief that they just made the mistake of getting some plain old coffee ice cream.

The Panna Cotta is creamy and sweet, as may be expected; if you ask about it, the misinformed staff behind the counter will tell you that “panna cotta is an Italian pastry and they make it into a gelato like this.” This is not true, panna cotta is more similar to a custard, pudding or flan than a pastry and the consistency of the gelato is very much like a very well made custard, not too sweet, not chunky, just smooth, sweet and pleasant.

Overall, food industry experiences are subjective, one may love this place or not, but the odds are that anyone who dislikes one thing about it can find another two that they like. A clean and friendly atmosphere, with beautifully arranged confections and a taste that is worth the markup from Carvel or Baskin Robbins, Caramello is a great place to satisfy your hunger for human flesh. Or ice cream. Or gelato. Whatever. Same thing.

*To anyone who reads this and says, “that’s so cool, that’s what I do!” Here is what comes to mind to most people who are not you: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/digital-shorts/video/enchilada/1353699/

Lyrics Unavailable Anywhere Else on the Web- Lenny Bruce: All Alone

20 Jun

Lenny Bruce was a complex individual.  He was stubborn, idealistic, ambitious and intelligent.

He was not so much a comedian as a philosopher.  Bruce’s “cynical,” irony, his tendency to challenge social restrictions and his political satire all influenced dozens of future comics and led to drastic changes in the way society viewed words, ideas and hypocrisy.

A catalyst for social reform, Bruce was constantly at odds with the government over his use of obscenity.  He was arrested for using terminology in reference to oral sex several times, which was at the time a misdemeanor in the state of California.

Like many men with strong passion and principle, Bruce suffered his share of heartbreak, leading him to write this funny, but melancholy little tune.

I personally spent the time transcribing the lyrics as they were not on any lyric sites.

Sung:
Oh what joy to be all alone
I’m happy alone don’t you see
I’ve convinced you–

Eh, I don’t wanna get so dramatic about it, you’re better off alone man, I gotta–
That’s it I’m gonna get a whole bunch of new suits
You know I’ve had the same dumb suit for ten years
You walk into her closet, you can’t even breathe
That’s it I’ll get a whole bunch of suits, I’ll get a chick that likes to hang out
I’ll have little vodka parties
That’s it vodka parties swing it up all good–
Get a chick who likes to drink
Boy my wife sure used to look good standing up against the sink
She’s the lowest though
I really put her down
No– No, I really miss her
I don’t want some sharp chick that can quote Kerouac and walk with poise
I just want to hear my old lady say, “get up and fix the sink, it’s still making noise”

Sung:
All alone
All alone
Like a nearsighted dog, where’s the bone?
Aw but it’s better-to be alone.
No more taking out the garbage, hear her yacking on the phone-
I gave her everything, even my mother’s ring
But to me she was so petty
Sometimes I wish that she were dead–

But it’d probably take her 2 hours to get ready-

When she’s old!

Then she’s gonna be sorry
That’s it!
Like she’s young and swinging now and she can get a lot of guys but when she’s old–
I can see her about 20 years from now:

“How you doin’ Annie?
I haven’t seen you in a long time, you look pretty good baby
You’re still washing your hair with Dutch cleanser I see
Yeah, you’ve gained a few pounds-
What happened to your neck?
I heard you got married a few times
Me no, I’ve always stayed single
I’ve been investing in property
I’ve picked up a little place in Mexico, maybe you’ve heard of it–Acapulco
Where are you living, a furnished room?
That’s nice, you cook on the radiator, there’s paper drapes, sit in the lobby and watch television and all
That’s cool, yeah
Yeah that’s cool
You have the diner’s club you sign, you go first class in those joints, I know it”

Yeah that’s it
Her future spells a murky gloom
I’ll be rich and famous and she’ll be living in a furnished room-
But it’s gonna be too late
I wouldn’t hear her moan
I’ll be living in my Nardville mansion– Rich
… and all alone

Sung:
All alone
All alone
I’ll be rich
But so all alone

First Article on “Art and Culture Blog”

14 Jun

The following is a re-post of the first post containing actual content on the “Art and Culture” blog.  Read it here, follow the link, or do both, the latter is our preference.  At the very least it should give you an idea of what to expect from them.

http://artcultureblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/artwork-poem.html

This was written by a contributor who chooses to remain nameless to readers, it is a representation of his thoughts, feelings and dissonance as well as the dissonance of people and the conflict of the inner cynic versus what he calls, “the eternal optimist.”  It is entitled, “Ad Infinitum.”

Do what you like
Like what you do
This above all to thine own self be true

Some of us gamble
Some of us drink
Some of us smile
and those who don’t think

The heart is a thing
The heart is a place
The heart is a heartache
Just taking up space

Don’t do it for favors
Don’t do it for pay
Never be trusting
Or do more than you say

Find a teacher
Purchase a friend
Find yourself love
From now to the end

Vanities all
In future
In present
Never trust the perpetually pleasant

For all things there are time
For all people as well
Keep yourself thinking
For we make our own hell

Don’t worry about things
Money or items
Only happiness matters
Ad infinitum

How to: Make Coffee Infused Bourbon Whiskey

4 Jun

Back when we talked about How to Appreciate Scotch Whisky we explained that the difference between, “whiskey,” and “whisky,” was point of origin. Bourbon whiskey originates in Kentucky, hence the popularity of the, “Mint Julip,” a cocktail with Bourbon whiskey as the main ingredient.

Whiskey and alcohol in general are not commonly used as an alcohol to infuse, however, it is more than appropriate to pair with coffee and when you think about it, commonly is; whether you are thinking about Kahlua, Irish Coffee or any other alcohol and coffee based beverage.

What you will need to get started:

A bottle of bourbon whiskey, 750ml; do not use top shelf whiskey and do not use call whiskey. This means that it should be a medium price and quality whiskey; nothing special but not cheap enough to make you burp flames.

A jar or container with a tight seal, more than 750ml, the one pictured is Italian made, but does not create a water-tight seal.

High end whole coffee beans; the ones pictured are organic Mexican ones and are medium roast as bold may be overpowering. You can really use whatever coffee beans you are comfortable with, purchase from a market, coffee shop or organic store.

The original bottle or another in which you can store the finished product

Fine strainer

Step 1:
Rinse the container

Step 2:
Dry the container

Step 3:
Measure out approximately 1/2 cup of coffee beans and pour them into the container.

Step 4:
Pour in the whiskey. No particular method, just don’t spill.

Step 5:
Close container, shake gently and put in a place away from direct sun exposure or heat.

Step 6:
Leave for 1-5 days, shaking periodically, 3-5 times each day.

Step 7:
Pour contents through strainer or colander or tea infuser. Whatever your filter method.

I will be using a coffee filter and pouring it cup by cup into the storage container, but have not yet reached that point with the batch pictured, I just set it up about 4 minutes before I finished this how-to article.

Step 8:
Enjoy, put in a flask and gift to a friend, use for cooking/baking or do something else. Let us know how you used yours.

Coffee Infused Bourbon in the Making

UPDATE:
I used pretty strong whiskey, it turned very dark and got very aromatic already, so I strained it and re-bottled it [1 day after].
If anyone needs ideas for straining the bourbon, I used coffee filters and a cocktail shaker and then poured from the shaker into the original bottle. There were losses but it was only a couple of ounces or so. The infusion came out great though.

 

**Note: Coffee and bourbon both have a pH of about 5, this makes them acidic and something that you should be conscious of; especially those who suffer from hyperchlorosis, acid reflux etc.

How to Choose and Enjoy Scotch Whisky

26 May

Scotch Whisky [notice the spelling is distinct from, “Whiskey,” which denotes Irish Whiskey; American spelling varies] is by most accounts the most complex and suitable for whisky aficionados. Malt whiskey is made from malted barley, “Single malt,” is distinguishable from, “blended whisky,” in that it comes from one cask of one specific age, as opposed to being from several casks of varying ages.

Now that we have gone over the basic terminology, let’s move on, shall we?

Whisky is aged for a variety of reasons, in different types of wood barrels, for different periods of time; each barrel and recipe is meant to affect the after-product in its own distinctive fashion.

There is one deciding factor in choosing the greatest whiskey.

Taste.

Whatever be the case, what really matters in the end is, “does this meet your fancy?” If not, move on. If so, then add a bottle to your collection.

Fine whisky is like a fine movie, the more you partake of it, the more you notice about it and the more you realize how much you enjoy it.

It is important before the reader is turned into a complete snob, for him (or her) to understand some basic concepts: A) There is nothing wrong with enjoying inexpensive and even blended whisky. Just like cigars, as your taste matures, you may gravitate toward, “better,” ones. However, even if that never happens, your enjoyment of the product is more important than showing your affluence.

B) Beauty before age. It is what’s on the inside that counts. Your whisky could be older than Keith Richards and taste just as dry as he would and if that is not what you are into, why invest?

C) Converse to what we’ve been saying, there is also no point in being cheap. If you are going to have vices or hobbies, then you must be willing to invest, even if it is never necessary.

Trial and error is a great way to start, because if you have never tried it, then you do not know for what you are looking.

Whisky can be sweet, sharp, bitter, smooth, rough, peaty etc. The main things to look for when trying to appreciate whisky are the, “Nose,” or aroma; colour, palate, and finish. Feel free to use the mnemonic, “NCAPF,” if it helps you to remember these.

The colour is an obvious factor, but one should take adequate time examining it, as it can be very pleasant and add to the experience.

The nose is, to put it basely, smelling the whisky. Otherwise, it is to experience the whisky using one’s olfactory senses. Gently inhale through your nose, do not tense your face or snort quickly inward, move your cup in a circular motion and allow the aroma to travel to your nose, which should be 3-7.5 cm away from the glass.

Let us here note, you may add distilled or spring water to your whiskey if that is your preference, but this is generally done with cask strength whisky, specifically. Not all whiskey. Take care not to drown it, or I will find you.

There are different opinions on how much you sip to properly examine the palate, one medium sip, or quarter mouth-full should be a fine settling point. Gently roll it over your tongue and move it around in your mouth, being careful to remember that it is not Listerine and should not be used thus. Make a mental note of your impressions of the taste and then swallow. This whole process should not take more than 2-4 seconds.

Once swallowed, you are on the last step, the finish. What tastes or impressions has it left? Did it linger or leave an, “after-taste”?

Now that you are educated, time for the fun stuff, yeah?

Let’s go shopping.

“What is this? The Glenlivet 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve Barrel is so inexpensive and 15 years old, I could get it and impress my friends!”

If your friends know anything about whisky, they will not be impressed. If something is cheaper than a, “bottle of Jack,” there is probably a reason. There is nothing wrong with starting with something cheap, but when I see an “affluent” man who pretends to have knowledge of whisky and then starts boasting about his great collection of whisky, only to proceed to pull out a bottle of Grant’s and the aforementioned vintage; (true story) I shudder and feel the need to bite my tongue to keep it from being too honest.

Again, there is nothing wrong with trying those, or even enjoying them; but if you are going to be boastful, if you are going to put yourself and your collection on a pedestal, you had best be better to stand and deliver, so to speak.

Some suggestions, whether you like them or dislike them, (you will likely dislike at least 2) you are making progress in deciding your tastes:
Glenrothes
Laphroaig (I personally enjoy the 10 year old, cask strength* and non-cask)
Glenmorangie
Glenfarclas
and The Bowmore

I do not like all of these, but I do own a few of them, the others are listed for you to expand your horizons, as we have said, all tastes here are subjective.

*Cask strength whiskey is very strong and high in alcohol content. If you drink this straight, be prepared to drink like a Gael.

Great? Horrible? Try anything that you would suggest? Hate the world and want to yell at us for not understanding you? Comment and let us know.

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