Category: Friends

Never gonna give you up

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | All Things, Friends, Sports

I’d promised myself at least one more trip out to Shea before the Mets move on to the nearly complete Citi Field next season, so when SYB offered up a last minute invitation to the watch the boys in blue, I was there.

Tonight: the second home game of the season, number 2 in a 3-game series against the Phillies. (The Mets fell in Tuesday afternoon’s home opener, 5-2. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one feeling nostalgic for the dingy ugliness of Shea; the day before, two Mets fans were arrested after they kicked a stadium seat to pieces and attempted to smuggle out the “souvenirs” under their shirts. (The Post, in its inimitable way, referred to the bumbling pair as “sit-for-brains fan ‘vandals’.”)

The weather during these early season games can be iffy, and I arrived at Willets Point on a chilly, damp night just in time for the Mets’ 6-run third inning. The thundering cheers, which I could hear from the subway platform, continued as I climbed my way up, up, up to the upper deck nosebleeds to meet my friends, JL and the brothers B.

We huddled under the Mets fleece blanket as best we could as the cold and damp settled into our bones; at some point it actually began drizzling lightly, forcing us to move even farther back and up to seek shelter under the overhang. Not nearly enough precipitation to interrupt play, but enough to make us a little unhappy as we shivered in our seats. We (all of us except HYB) were determined, though, to stick it out at least until the 8th Inning Sing-A-Long.

The week before, the Mets had asked fans to vote on the song which would be used for the Shea sing-a-long. Calls to write in Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” were circulated wildly, and when the voting concluded on April 7, the so-cheesy-it’s-awesome 80s dance song was the overwhelming winner with over 5 million votes. That’s the power of the Internets!

Team officials, though, were having none of the Rickrolling. Citing some loophole language in the online contest rules that the final poll tally would only “help decide” the song to be used, they decided instead to pick a winner based upon in-stadium reaction during the first six home games. Inherently flawed methodology aside — applause-o-meter? adjustments for game attendance? — I take issue with the Mets deciding to undermine the results of the democratic voting method, and their subsequent qualifying of the massive write-in as an “Internet attack.” As a conciliatory gesture, Astley’s tune was the first of the songs to be auditioned. It was booed — heartily! — making it highly unlikely that the song will ever be heard at Shea again. Ah well.

Eighth inning came around, and the first (and probably best) of the runoff songs started up: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Granted, it’s a lot more Dirty Jerz than New York, but would we rather have say, the theme song from “Friends”?! Good grief!

We did our part, belting out the blue-collar plight of Tommy and Gina at the tops of our lungs. Um, I don’t think this is how “Whoa” is spelled… is it?

Most of the online options were pretty horrid so in the end we were left with five song choices, none particularly inspiring. In addition to “Livin’ on a Prayer,” the stadium will be trying out The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

Oh, and the Amazins won, 8-2 — the first of what we hope will be many wins this swan song season at Shea. Check out the rest of the game flickr set here.

incidentally, why isn’t Google commemorating Cinco de Mayo with a festive homepage logo? Is Dennis Hwang on vacation?

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Le brunch in Bay Ridge

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends

With warm weather just around the corner, we found ourselves back in Bay Ridge for brunch.

LC suggested Saint Germain, a très French bistro on Third Avenue, which had received some good word of mouth from the locals. The location has been home to a series of French bistros, beginning in 1999 with Le ZaZou, to Provence en Boite (which relocated to Smith Street in Carroll Gardens) before hitting upon its current incarnation. The cozy restaurant is a popular brunch spot — no wonder: the prix fixe is an excellent value, offering choice of entrée, coffee or tea, plus orange juice or Lorina sparkling pink lemonade, and a fancy dessert, all for $16.95. Our party of four waited about twenty minutes for a table, which gave us plenty of time to consider the myriad pastry options in the glass display case up front, and to ponder what exactly goes into Saint Germain’s specialty “Brigitte Bardot” cocktail. (Answer: lemon vodka, triple sec, and that sparkling pink lemonade. What, no St-Germain?)

For better or worse, our experience felt truly Parisian: beyond leisurely, the service ranged from benignly neglectful to maddeningly slow. After making our selections from the brunch menu (the usual egg dishes, croque monsieur, crêpes, French toast, croissanwiches), we waited another twenty minutes for someone to take our order. The entrées, when they came, were quite good, though I would have enjoyed my Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict more with the cup of coffee I ordered… which did not come despite two requests. (Each time we asked for our drinks, the waitress would cheerily respond, “Sure!” and continue merrily along, unfazed.)

When at last we got our coffees and teas with dessert (pictured below, my apple pastry and HH’s chocolate mousse dome), they came poured into too-hot-to-handle glass tumblers. No explanation or apology given, but we deduced that the kitchen must have run out of their usual white cups, though I noticed about half a dozen used ones sitting on yet-to-be-cleared tables around us.

On the bright side, the slow service gave us plenty of time to catch up. Back on the sunny streets after our two hour brunch, we noticed an inordinate amount of bright green gear on the livelier than usual crowds spilling out of the Irish pubs. When we passed a group of kilted bagpipers, we knew something was up.

It seems we’d just missed the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a procession which began at St. Patrick’s R.C. Church (not Cathedral) and proceeded along (Brooklyn’s) Fifth Avenue to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica. Beleaguered Kings County DA Charles “Joe” Hynes served as Grand Marshal for the post-St. Patrick’s Day tradition, which began in 1994.

Next up: Bay Ridge’s 17th of May Norwegian Day Parade, which will be held this year on Sunday, May 18.

Back at DK’s home, after reruns of “Mythbusters” and the “Hawaii” episode of the Travel Channel’s 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, we amused ourselves with a spontaneous digital cable version of “Name That Tune.” The years may pass, but some songs are just seared in our memories.

Elsewhere in BK… Flickr preview: Greenpoint weekend (April 12-13, 2008)

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Natural histories and inconvenient truths

Saturday, March 29th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

Visits to the American Museum of Natural History always bring back memories of my elementary school field trips, and the anticipation I’d feel — still feel — upon entering the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda with its towering Barosaurus, the world’s tallest freestanding mount of a dinosaur.

Herd of African elephants inside the Akeley Hall of African Mammals, and the start of our walk through the museum’s 28 meticulously detailed dioramas:

The refurbished Milstein Hall of Ocean Life:

Below, the 94-foot blue whale, under which I remember gathering with my young classmates for lunches of whale-shaped nuggets and french fries. Chicken, not fish, nuggets — though I suppose the latter wouldn’t necessarily make more sense… since as any fifth grader can tell you: whales are mammals.

These days, the area beneath the iconic life-size fiberglass model is fitted with benches for screening films. And on some nights, lucky 8-12 years olds set up sleeping bags on the floor here, as part of the AMNH’s sleepover program, which was reinstated last year after a two-decade hiatus in response to the renewed interest generated by the otherwise unredeemable 2006 film, A Night at the Museum.

The adjacent Hall of Biodiversity, which opened in 1998, features my favorite diorama in the museum: the walk-through Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest. We spent a few minutes there, but with time running short — we even had to skip the popular Saurischian dinosaur hall — there was time for just a peek inside the Planetarium.

Every longtime couple seems to have a sweet story of how they met, though most of the time the reality, like life, is slightly imperfect. At AP and SH’s home later that night for a cocktail fundraiser to benefit the Sunnyside CSA — yes, Sunnyside again! — I was reminded once more of the importance of having people in our lives who have known us through the years. In addition to providing considerable comforts and joys, they serve as a collective memory bank… and keep us honest in front of others and with ourselves.

Happy Earth Day!

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