New York City, baby.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Movie That Makes You Contemplate Your Existence Award


A long time ago, we had anointed the final installment of The Matrix as the winner of this coveted award. Premature perhaps? Well, not quite as bad as the strategic electoral map we created to show how Howard Dean could topple George Bush in 2004. Hint: Florida was key.

Speaking of Dr. LoVermont, you wanna hear The Scream. You should have stood outside the Battery Park movie theater as all us Matrix junkies exited the trilogy's conclusion.

As for other movies that held the promise of going somewhere, Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation dissapointed overall. Of course, we’re the only weirdos who hold this opinion; not only does that reconfirm our “true outsider status” but it also reconfirms that so-called smart people “no shit.”

Come on, folks. This is the movie that taught you something about the human condition? We were left unmoved by this self-assured tale about two people with nothing in common but actually, hang on, something in common. It was old saw Creative Writing Class clichés served on a delicately hypnotic plate.

For those looking for a truly smart portrayal of modern disassociation, a better movie to see is the little Sundance gem called Melvin Goes To Dinner. It did what maybe no other movie did in 2003: capture a moment.

Think of it as a My Dinner With Andre for the contemporary late 20’s/early 30’s set -- highly educated, losing their mind. It’s worth seeing just for the brilliant Jack Black cameo.

While we applaud director Steve Odenkirk for reminding us that a low-budget film of ideas can triumph over expensive CGI effects, we give our Movie That Makes You Contemplate Your Existence Award to American Wedding.

The true star of this pants-pisser of a movie was Stifler. He's a throwback to Zen-like madmen of yore -- such as the classic Ace Ventura. They have much to teach us if we choose to listen.

After the film's lame opening sequence involving a failed hummer-under-the-table joke, deep concern grew rapidly. But then the character of Stifler showed up and the flatlining movie sprang to life. We were suddenly sent barreling off a cliff of laughs with the smirking fratboy delivering one genius line after the other.

A review written in Australia's official urban culture online magazine is titled: Too Much Stifler, Not Enough Story. And we always thought the Aussies "got it". Now we're not so sure.

Too much Stifler? Come on, mates, it's Stifler who turns this barely-worth-renting movie into a cult classic. The movie sucks when he isn't on the screen. Thank God, this is not often.

Lost in Translation was applauded for it's sad wisdom. Stifler, aka The Stifmeister, declaring loudly in the middle of a store “I just want to hang out with my wang out, I want to rock out with my c*&k out” -- that's sad wisdom.

Such words eloquently expressed the sentiments of many of those who felt stuck in a dull, not-terribly-satisfying, Copolla-filled world.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Paradise Hotel

If we had a friend who worked for Time Out, we know what she would write as our lead:

This show makes about as much sense as Eric Benet cheating on flawless beauty Halle Barry. But it's so much fun - who cares?

Well, girls who write for Time Out can be right occasionally. (Not to self: check dictionary for word less strong than occasionally.)

So why was Paradise Hotel so bizarrely satisfying? Sure, we were drawn to the fact it wasn't weighed down by that silly thing known as logic. But we think the main reason we found it so oddly pleasurable was the riveting collection of participants Just-A-Little-Too -Insane-For-Blind Date.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Best Restaurant To Commit Suicide During Your Meal

'ino (Bedford St.)

Looking to "off yourself"? What better place to do it than this critic's darling/vino-decorated hell?

What's better than overpriced panini sandwiches that you have to "convince" yourself are great? Try eating them trapped cozily beside a grating whitebread nitwit.

The Yak-Pak carrying East-Coast-Valley-Schrew went on and on, offering her sensitive "guy pal" her STRONG opinions on this girl and that girl and work and this guy and work.

Here's a sample of her repetitive, annoying monologues that were drilled into our cranium: "She goes and then he goes and then... you know what I mean... and she's tight with Annie Mercado who... you know what I mean... and I can't believe she did this and had the nerve to do that and..." Ahhhh!

What fools we were to have brunch in the West Village, fools for reading New York Magazine restaurant reviews, fools for believing the trendoids and "in-the-know" closet-transplants.

This pseudo-quiant place epitomizes the false downtown. May some indie "It" actress choke on an olive pit and sue the place for millions thus shutting it down.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The Botanica Memorial Award

B3 (Avenue B)

We raise a glass of lukewarm draft beer to the memory of Botanica, that dull, desperate bar on Houston Street deemed "Best Hetero Pickup Scene" in New York Press's annual Best of Manhattan issue eight years ago.

Sure, we checked it out. Ironically, of course. Ah... irony. The good old days.

The riddle of that wank-heavy bar's illogical win follows us to this day, but we're confident that one day -- in an opium den in South East Asia perhaps -- we'll finally meet the NY Press editor who ran the blurb and discover the Horrifying Truth.

Until then, we show honor by continuing the tradition of naming the "Best Hetero Pickup Scene."

This year's winner is "the downstairs" at B3. But only if you're into lithe, creamy girls looking to get Real World Vegas drunk while giving off that funky, snooty-sexual Alphabet City attitude.

If you're a fairly new arrival to the city, we hope we have given you what The New York Press gave us many years ago when we ourselves were young turks "searching for epicness."

See you in Thailand, kid.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


Nublu (Avenue C)

Magic hour is a moment in time. Or rather out of time. Late night. We mean real late night. You dig.

This year’s winner is that kid’s fort on Avenue C -- Nublu.

With its wood beam interior, European hostel-style bar, and a backyard conjured up by a rural New England spirit-ghost that got lost in the Lower East Side, it was the place to send the taxi after a night swimming through the usual suspects and the usual spots.

We could always depend on great music being played to get us in the flow -- some kind of Kravitz-before-he-was- too-Kravitz sound -- with even more fertile rhythms later in the evening so that even white boys from New England can appreciate the full wonders of magic hour.

For those curious, that uncanny similarity between their name and ours did not go unnoticed. Indeed, a point was tallied in the Trippy Signs row of our Excel spreadsheet.

The nature of magic hour and such, we are sure to discover it somewhere entirely new in 2004. And just like before, only when we take that trip to the rarest of places in the city -- nowhere -- will it be found.


Ryan Adams, Rock and Roll

We all have that hope when we’re broke; it’s based on the idea that you have to spend first for things to come your way rather than wait for things to come your way and then spend.

Bought the CD at an indie store where the concept of "a sale price" is completely foreign. Read the liner notes on the miserably long line in the Post Office.

When I got home I put it up real loud on the stereo and checked my email. No news. No breaks. Laid down and listened to the rest of it.

And things came my way.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Soho House (9th Avenue)

The Golden Room is the place you realize you were looking for once you are there. Not that this is a guarantee to happiness. But happiness is there if you can let the Good Part of your Brain take over.

You can mock the glamorous and privileged scenes of New York from the chiller, albeit completely sexless confines of some Lower East Side faux dive like Welcome To The Johnsons (Rivington St.) -- but only for so long. As Carl Jung said: "Even the smartest people need the strobe light and Beyonce every once in awhile."

We can admit -- depending on the company we are keeping -- that we wanted to run into 19-year-old (oh, bother said Pooh) heiress Amanda Hearst and not at KeyFoods (Avenue A).

Dubbed by Blubox as the next Paris Hilton, she exudes zeitgiest hottness courtesy of being daughter of Patty Hearst (techno-celebutante bastard child of sixties radicalism). We wanted a casual clubby path-crossing just for some harmless "not going anywhere" flirting. At least that's the interoffice memo going around signed Your Immature Past.

One of our better shots at "deepness through shallowness" came one autumn night in 2003 when we ended up, by way of a party hosted by natty Nolita clothier Duncan Quinn, at the Member’s Only bar at Soho House.

We're confident that this year we will get the required two members to nominate us for inclusion into the private club. Surely, Duncan is good for one.

But if you can go to the Golden Room anytime you want does it cease to be a Golden Room?

Friday, January 09, 2004


Lil' Frankie's (1st Ave.)

We've always felt that, for a man living in New York, there are few more essential skills than the ability to show his date a wonderful and pleasant dining experience. Here’s the catch: on
a Friday night at...hmm...eight pm.

We admit it: we still have yet to appreciate the pleasures of dining out at a hectic restaurant where getting a table involves a UN negotiator. And rarely have the company we kept been thrilled by this situation, so very common on the weekend in the Lower East Side and East Village.

Sometimes we love crowds, like when we're at a ballgame, but not when we're having a romantic dinner with the Blubox Intern.

If the downtown weekend dinner challenge wasn't hard enough, there's one more factor; we need to find this delicious and pleasing meal on a fixed income, while at the same time looking like we chose the spot for its 'funky vibe' and not because we are a 'cheap bastard'.

If you are trying to show that you're clued in, but actually have no clue at all, you take your sweetie to scorchingly hot Mermaid Inn (2nd Ave.) on a Friday night. But let's say you're one step above a putz or a show-off.

Than you're probably savvy enough to know that a few doors down is delectable, romantic, affordable Frank (2nd Ave.) . Sure bet, right?

In fact, you’re still one step behind because while Frank is great on -- say -- Wednesday and even Thursday, a metamorphosis takes place at this lovely Italian joint every weekend: it turns into hell.

For those who were truly attune to the forces of the East Village in 2003, they knew that the place where the universe was secretly serving up happiness every Friday night was Lil' Frankie's.

And when we're sitting by our wood-buring stove in Vermont when we're fifty-five, we're sure to reminisce about the days of better sexual stamina and sausage pizzas at our favorite weekend oasis, where the fear that a scary mob has overrun the eternally charming area evaporates like the steam from Lil' Frankie's awesome parchment-sealed salmon.

Thursday, January 08, 2004


Kings of Leon

We disrelish going into lousy-deal Kim’s Music and Video (St. Marks), but we had already traipsed half the East Village looking for a band we'd just heard of called My Morning Jacket.

We were ready to gamble on the group solely on a few reviews and that “feeling” we were getting. Scoff if you will, but going with that feeling before had drove us to such discoveries as Coldplay, The Verve, and David Grey.

We didn’t need to hear My Morning Jacket to play it fast and loose. Perhaps because we kept imagining they would sound like The Band meets The Flaming Lips -- and it was the search for this combination that kept us alive this past year. Naturally, Kim’s didn’t have it yet.

No way could we accept total buyer’s defeat. So we went to our back-up pick, the Kings Of Leon, because a music writer in a respectable British magazine called them the “Southern Strokes.” Of course, that's exactly the second album that Julian and the boys should have made.

Some bands sound fabulous after three vodka tonics in Lolita (Broome St.) but misfire badly when you play them alone in your bedroom. Such as Kings Of Leon.

Strangely, despite never playing them, we found ourselves raving about the Kings Of Leon to everyone from the cute bikerish bartendress at Welcome To The Johnson's (Rivington St.) to corporatey uptown friends looking for some help in the cool music department.

Did we say we were proud?

Many months later a friend finally burned the My Morning Jacket album for us. Pretty good shit. Kind of like, say, The Band meets The Flaming Lips.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004


Welcome to the first annual Blubox Awards!

First, a quick look back at how Blubox came to be.

Back in June, wandering the streets of the Lower East Side, Schiller's homemade tarter sauce drooling from his mouth, our good friend projectile-spewed his infected blog blood into our open wound.

The mutation was instant and the city suddenly had a new contaminate on its hands, one they'd never seen before. No ordinary virus, this one spread love through downtown New York, from Allen Street to 5th Avenue.

It's name: Blubox.

The elite blogging community has been on the run ever since. We even here Gawker built a bunker out of clippings from Page Six.

Speaking of zombie rage, reading all the year-end awards in magazines and newspapers with their outflow of delirious praise for chronically fashionable, yet not-amazing things sent our calm blue eyes into fiery beams of red.

We're not going to get caught up in the mania for... well, where was the mania? People liked the Never Ending Story III, aka Lord Of The Rings. But while Saturday Night Fever helped spawn the disco craze, we have yet to see the Hobbit dance sweep the nation.

The hot indie movie this year was definitely Lost In Translation. After seeing it, we wished good pal Sofia had invited us to the cocktail party instead. We know she would have played fantastic music and the non-expressive crowd reflected against the moonlit balcony would have made us feel part of some beautifully defected species of late-twenties children.

As it were, Blubox only worked ourselves into a frenzy twice this year. First, with the premiere of Matrix Revolutions. Second, with the playoff battle between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Someone should have swapped endings.

Those "reasons for serious drinking" aside, there was a dependable supply of good stuff to choose from this year, from albums like My Morning Jacket to bars like Lit (2nd Ave.) to movies like Melvin Goes To Dinner.

Our friends didn't demand that we watch, read or listen to anything this year and that says something. About culture or our friends, were not sure.

We felt the need to leave the place we were much less than ever before. We enjoyed simple pleasures and found them all around.

We complained less and kept our refusal to read A Heartbreaking Work Of Genius up for another year. And we were happy that no one was doing what we wish we had done first.

Watching Rich Girls with my whole family, including my poor dad, signaled the elevation of reality television to where it belongs: essential cultural status.

The best of reality television in 2003: 1. Survivor Pearl Island 2. The Simple Life 3. The Joe Schmo Show.

Negligent casting award goes to Joe Millionaire 2, who picked an all-time dud named David, who ended up falling for a guarded, anesthetic-smiling sweetheart clearly focused on escaping her impovershed life in Estonia.

The downtown begged for us to explore its many charms; it was here the true beauty of 2003 could be found. We found it in a sweet-aroma Yonah Schimmel's (Houston St.) on a quiet Saturday afternoon and bringing the consummate Sunday football meal of Chicken Satay from Rice (Mott St.) over to our friend who has Tevo's place on Rivington Street.

Our categories were chosen by what we felt were essentials to living well in New York City. So here we go:


Paul's Boutique (Rivington St.)

This came down to a classic west side/east side battle.

In the West we have Doma (Perry St.), where we could partake in the cosmopolitan sport of deriding other cosmopolitans, those slightly more cartoonish in their boiled-wool sweaters, reading magazines covering the latest trends in industrial design, tacky enough to bring a laptop to a quaint cafe. When we were there we knew we weren't in Boston. That made us happy.

In the East we have Paul's Boutique, where we've spent more than a few mornings this past year recovering from a hangover by eating their kind craggy granola. One time we had the additional joy of watching two luscious French-Israeli girls enjoying eggs and cigarettes. And yet they couldn't have been smoking because of the ban. And yet this is how we remember it. Hence, the edge to Paul's Boutique.


Kill Bill Volume 1

Seeing Kill Bill in Austin, Texas made us hyperaware how it was one of those made-to-be-seen-in New York movies. You come back out on the street and suddenly there's a sky above you that wasn't there before and you're traveling through the city, a day to go before your flight back. But your first stop: Sounds (St. Marks) to buy the soundtrack.


'inoteca (Rivington St.)

Mermaid Inn (2nd Ave.) was number one in the BCS ranking. Too bad we always go with the AP Poll which voted 'inoteca number one. For those who think we have calculated wrongly, we break it down for you:

Location gets a 10 (name a better one). The Antipasto plates get a 10 (fifteen kinds of heavenly Italian cheeses and you don't have to trek over to decent, but wasteland-centered Otto (5th Ave.). Desserts get a 10 (the gelato cappuccino relaxes the tightest muscles.) Downstairs room gets a 10 (shames Il Bagatto's (2nd St.) subterranean stage with its Tuscan transport to tranquiloville.)

We agree that upstairs is joker heaven, but that's why you don't eat there. Lunch is also for those who wear bells on their shoes. Oh, and order the sparkling red wine to show your pals that you're more shockingly bad-ass than they thought.