Friday, November 28, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): Slainte

Slainte Bar & Lounge
304 Bowery (between Bleecker & Houston)
Tel: 212 253 7030

The EV and the LES aren't really the first nabes to consider when going to watch games; it's not really inherent as much as other areas are of Manhattan. I think that's a pretty agreeable statement, but correct me if I'm wrong. I would like to write up Phebe's and Blue Seats but I do have a soft spot for Slainte, a spacious affair also on Bowery but a little farther south, close to Houston.

I don't think Slainte is even the first bar to consider; they don't really have food and drink specials when it comes to games (although it's advertised). They do have the Ticket, and plenty of TVs by the bar as well as the large projection screen in the back by the tables. More of a place to watch European football (they play Irish sessions every Sunday other than NFL season), their menu is fairly tasty with the usual Irish specials like bangers and mash along with other savory dishes and pub fare. The brunch special is just for food - you're not going to be doing all you can drink here, but whether it's English or Irish it feels satisfying like a real meal during the 1 o'clock. The beer tends to hover around 6 bucks a pint which feels expensive after a couple so you might fare better with a similarly priced mixed drink.

With the cider on tap, there's plenty of room to walk about here, and the bar is long and slightly winding. It's a wide space and that's what I always enjoyed about the place, it gives a sense of "room to breathe" and the vibe is decidedly (unless it's soccer time) no bullshit. I enjoy going here on a Saturday night as well, so I would recommend this bar for those intentions on top of going to a game on Sunday afternoon. The brick walls and Gaelic writing add to the flavor and the TVs are large and well placed along the bar (even though the front high tables get no love really in terms of the view).

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not Doing Anything Dec. 6th? Visit the Winter Craft Fair!

Staying local is always a fun and refreshing thing to consider when connecting with your environment; just because it's winter there's no shortage of stuff. Throw on your jacket Saturday December 6th and head over to the Winter Craft Fair at the Brooklyn Friends School at 375 Pearl Street between Willoughby and The Marriott (one block east of Adams). You can take the A,C,F to Jay Street/Borough Hall, or the 2,3,4,5,R to Court Street Borough Hall.

From the website:

"Brooklyn Friends School, 375 Pearl Street in downtown Brooklyn, holds its 29th annual Winter Craft Fair on Saturday, Dec. 6 from 10 am to 5 pm. While the main event features 45 local artisans selling unique holiday gifts, the Fair offers locally produced food, carnival games, a book fair, and all-day entertainment for children and families. Best of all, proceeds benefit the Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School academic enrichment program for children at PS 307 and PS 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It will run during the entire day from 10am to 5pm.

From top to bottom, the school building, just around the corner from the Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge Hotel, will be a winter wonderland of giving and sharing. Children from ages 2 to 12 will enjoy bouncing rides, face-painting, and carnival games, spend time learning about and producing old-fashioned holiday crafts, and help build life-size paper Gingerbread girls and boys.

There will be strolling singers and a student jazz band performing throughout the day, and a professional photographer's booth will be set up for holiday-themed portraits. From cupcake decorating to composting and karate demonstrations, there will be fun activities for all.

Winter wreaths and plants, fresh from the Canarsie market, will be on sale, and there will be a special section for craft projects created by Brooklyn Friends School's youngest children. Childcare is available so that parents have opportunities to survey the vast array of fresh, local and inspired crafts and gifts from quiltmakers, potters, jewelers, needlework artisans, and apparel designers."

For more information please visit and click on Craft Fair Central where you can see a list of vendors and activities for the whole family. Part of the proceeds will go to Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School. Here's the map below:

View Larger Map

We're on Metro NY!

A little bit of self-centered fun; I was informed by Yelp admin that a Review of the Day in the 11/21 edition of Metro NY would feature a KCB review of Arthur's Tavern. You can visit Arthur's Tavern on the web at

Not only that, KCB is grateful to even be on the same page as a favorite program on the great NYC TV (oh how I envy), Cool In Your Code! Oh and Paris Hilton....I guess.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Ireland House Loves: Kings

No, we're not talking about that somewhat fun game if you have a game group of kids (a good friend Kyle Sharp, one of his buddies from Albany, Dickie, has the best rule ever to play if you get the chance: Have everyone say their last word twice. Example: "I think it's your turn turn." Amazing).

The Ireland House is one of my favorite places from NYU, and in fact, probably in the city. It's a hub bub of older Irishmen and Irish-Americans and a few students peppered in. They hold events all the time from concerts to readings to lectures, it's incredibly informative and interesting and they try as hard as possible to really explore both stereotypes and the misunderstood notions while celebrating the more fun aspects of Irish culture.

They had a screening of Kings tonight, a heavily nominated Irish Film and Television Award winner from last year that never made it to the States with any impact. The most notable star is Colm Meaney, and the film is mostly in Gaelic which is wonderful, with some English peppered in.

The film concerns 5 immigrants from Connemara, young lads who travel to London in search of more opportunity in labor work. The picture mostly takes place in 2007 where they gather in a pub to celebrate and toast one of their own who was killed in a subway "accident." The story is almost stagnantly told through overcooked flashbacks filmed like a flashback from Cold Case or something. Only until the end do you really get a sense of where the heart of the matter lies, and it's a very uneven piece, but notable for several things. The biggest problem is adapting from a play, it's not quite as cinematic as it could have been, and the dialogue is heavy handed and a bit bland at times. While the characters become heated and then calm back down numerous times, which can reflect how conversations work in real life, but the shifts are awkward here.

First off, Colm Meaney, even though a lot of people know him from Star Trek, he is an amazing actor with a huge range. He's one of those actors with incredible conviction, and when he does comedy, it's even more fun to watch him at work. The way he pulls his chin in, which I think is almost a signature move, always denotes some sort of intense thought, and he's somewhat miles ahead of the rest of the actors in the film.

I think the best thing about the film is it's treatment of alcohol and its relationship to the characters in the film. Sure it's blatant, but by the end, you kind of see how the film provokes, however simply, the notion that its not the drink that's the problem, it's actually a horrible band-aid for some who have become rife with despair and isolation as an immigrant, and for others, it's something to escape but comes back to this theme of the Irish immigrant psyche of denial and victimization that ebbs and flows with whiskey and beer.

The film I don't think presents drinking as a stereotype; but rather, it dissects drinking as a focused conflict for Jackie, the deceased character, and Mairtin, a somewhat unhappily married man who has given up drinking but it has distanced him from his friends and he still fights with his wife over it.

For Jackie, who perishes in front of a subway train, he goes sober only to loose his life. He chooses a clean path and yet, is the one who goes first. His scant little dialogue concerns his disconnect, and maybe drinking brings him closer or in effect farther away from his emotional problems. It's a fine line. He gives up this vice of alcoholism in hopes that he'll become better after not being considered for a job by Meaney's character Joe, who has since become a successful construction businessman. Joe doesn't hire any Irishmen in his crews; possibly because the fear of too much drinking, but also a possible rejection of his own background. His questions are harsher and more real after his sobriety, about how he has lost his specific Irish identity, which used to be diverse but under the English lens he's just "Irish", which happens when you are generalized as an immigrant. His desire to go back home is not an easy decision, neither is it for Git and Jap, because they have been away for so long, their lives have matured in a way that they can neither help nor be too proud of, and that's the thing they must improve on, not a romanticized ideal of how things used to be. They are trapped.

Mairtin, who tries to go sober like Jackie and follow his example, becomes more burdened at home due to his wife's not trusting of his ability to do so. Presenting two sober characters who in fact emotionally are unhappy is an interesting thing to do; it can say that drinking is not the problem, rather it's the other oppressive things. But at the same time, looking at the causes of such alcoholism among the Irish at the time in London, is it a way out, a blissful solution to those problems that has manifested itself as a misconstrued stereotype? By presenting drinking as a conflict of interest and self-awareness, the film just lets the characters drink, or not drink, in a natural state; they don't drink because they are Irish, they drink because being Irish in that situation oftentimes is in the context of an uphill battle. The drinking can, however, mirror this idea of denial in their psyche; that their problems can be tossed away for a little while, or that this is a crutch that is necessary to keep going. There's a lot to work with here I think, beyond the film's initial and very stiff boundaries. Alcohol is part of a cycle that never seems to break, especially for Jap and Git, the heaviest drinkers of the clan at present. That is very relevant to the Irish condition and culture that has perpetuated from so many years of oppression and opposition and strife. Jackie was left behind; it wasn't the fact that he did or didn't drink; it was that his disconnect from his friends, either through unemployment, poor direction, alcoholism, or geographical disconnect with his father, Michil, pushed him as an immigrant into a hopeless, endless well.

Their assurances while having a long night of getting hammered are tossed aside because of the nature of Jackie's death, which is revealed to be a suicide. It throws almost everyone for a loop, and causes the breakdown of the evening's mostly festive nature. Jap, the most wildly up and down of the characters, does an impressive 180 by the end, and the title is brought up in the context that these men, now aging, could have been something, could have been Kings. How so, one asks, with so many faults among all of them? That affinity for the ideals of finding a better life didn't play out well for these characters at all.

Overall the film really plods along and the set ups are kind of uninspired; due to the theatricality of the dialogue, often the actors are caught more posturing than naturally carrying out the conversations. The Gaelic spoken is natural however; the sounds are great and helps to give a bit of color to the proceedings, but still the film could have been streamlined a little better and made better use of Jackie's ghost and the flashbacks. The language becomes a huge part of the film that was not in the all-English play; the idea of holding onto the native language among the group is essential to the spirit of these characters whether they reject it or embrace it, and throughout the film is a constant reminder of the best of what they represent to themselves and the bonds between each other. The different voices between Git, Jap, Joe, and somber Jackie are especially good to see.

If you want to check out more about Kings, go to IMDB or Amazon. Here's the trailer from YouTube:

For more on the Ireland House, go to their official site where they have an events calendar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bar Spotlight (Football Season Edition): The Hairy Monk - Sox In The City

The Hairy Monk
337 Third Avenue (corner of 25th Street)

In the next few spotlights, since we're in New York and there are certainly plenty of bars that pay respects to the Giants and Jets, there are many bars (including say Cody's or Kettle of Fish, which the Steelers play a prominent factor in their Sunday business in the former, and Packers fans can enjoy a cold Magners at the latter) that cater to the displaced fan. I've been trying to tap bars that don't have a particular fan base but are just good for all the games. However, certainly we can acknowledge a few bars that are particular to a team that doesn't play home games at the Meadowlands. Places like Calico Jacks/McFaddens, Town Tavern, Phebes, all of which I will hopefully profile over the coming weeks.

Again, I understand the UES has a lot of great sports bars; it's the only thing they have really. Going further south is like simply getting better; by the time you hit Gramercy you can enjoy what the east side above 14th street has to offer. The Hairy Monk is situated right on 3rd Ave. and 25th, and there's a lot to enjoy about this place....if you like red sox, are very patriotic, or have a bit of Celtic pride in ya. Since I have to admit I'm a huge Patriots fan, I'm starting off these team-specific places with HM because, well, it hits closer to home.

The worst thing about this bar is not really bad at all; New York fans who come to the bar usually get REALLY obnoxious and to tell you the truth, it pisses a lot of people off at the bar, including the staff, who are all Boston fans. It's one thing to root for your team, but to know that it's THE Boston bar in Manhattan, and yelling crap is just kinda silly. But nevertheless it's entertaining, just this past Thursday this dude was just fuming because of the suit-ish casual Jets fans who were standing on the chairs and being douches.

The Hairy Monk features Pats games, but having access to all the games they will switch a couple of the smaller TVs to other games especially divisional ones (there are some Dolphins and Jets fans who show up).

Anywho, so moving on to the specifics of the bar. It's not too roomy and on Sunday it's a really tough sell to grab any sort of space that has a good vantage point, but the TVs are well placed at the bar and across from it; there are two huge flat screens that fans huddle around. Paths to walk through are very few but most people are obliging. The tables section provides even less room but the projection screen gives those with less than perfect eyesight a huge canvas to watch the games on. It gets somewhat warm unless they throw the air conditioning on, and there is quite a bit of jostling for position. The blue, yellow, and woodsy colors give it a nice afternoon glow.

The bar itself is old timey and done up like a cozy tavern, some memorabilia, some pictures, and a hell of a lot of taps to choose a great pint of Newcastle or Sam Seasonal. They serve everything in the king's pints (imperial pints, or, in homage to Role Models, "venti") which makes for more beer but they also inflate the price to 6 bucks. Most of the staff is really nice (probably because I'm a Pats fan) although a little absent minded at times. Sundays are rough, they usually have two 'tenders working the bar but even that it's about 3 rows deep of pending orders. The digi jukebox isn't on for the games but you might want to throw on a couple of songs to pump up the crowd.

The food is ok for pub grub; the burgers are hit or miss, and the fish and chips are decent, but their appetizers like nachos and chicken fingers and mozz sticks are pretty good. And they serve a full Irish breakfast which can be fun if you're looking to power up the Sunday brunch (the weekend brunches are until 4:30pm and include 2 drinks). The most interesting thing is their fries; they aren't french fries but little potato wafers that are sometimes awesome, sometimes a bit bland (the shape isn't condusive to catching a sprinkling of salt).

For Sundays, they have a wings and Bud/Bud light draft special, basically if I remember correctly it's 3 wings for a dollar but you have to order at least 9. And you can do an all you can drink with the aforementioned pints for 5 or 6 bucks. But don't quote me on that because it's not listed really. Like I said, they have better stuff on tap so you might be swayed to drink something of a stronger caliber.

This has been famous for being a longstanding Boston bar; I think it's pretty ballsy to be so outright about it in a town where Boston is really put through the ringer on a lot of things, but they flaunt it and defend it strongly and I respect that. To me it's not about the food or drink, it's the communal aspect of gathering fans of an unpopular town to one place, and you always get that underdog feeling and at the same time, the warm feeling in the place is more palpable for it.

For more info, go to their official website: Hairy Monk Official Site

Or check out the reviews on Yelp: Hairy Monk On Yelp

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Slouch and KRTS @ Karma Lounge 11/13/08

Now while I do not have the background or know-how to put the music that Slouch and KRTS throw down in context, I do know a groove when I feel it, and both these guys have it in spades, as evidenced by the trip I took for an hour or so at Karma on Thursday (see video below of krts, horrible phone pictures to come soon). Karma's hookahs being longstanding and flavorful, I was in for a really cool show, and it certainly took the sting off of watching the Pats loose a heartbreaker to the Jets at the Hairy Monk...

There's something to be said for music that seamlessly weaves into life's nightlife soundtrack, especially in this city. I showed up a couple minutes into KRTS's show (I apologize for not being able to review the early sets on the bill), and he was already pumping into full swing with echoing old school breakdowns and pings here and there to get people's brains flowing. Several younger cougars were weaving their hips in and out of these landscapes but krts wasn't there to play nice. His LP Posing Flower has a more laid back collage of melodies and connected dots, but his set this time around pushed the barrier a little more, there was more force and sweatier funk to it. Once he found the groove he stuck to it, and it's a great formula: take a hip hop beat and throw expiremental electronica over it, making the listener work at it but at the same time keeping the mid-tempo bumpin' going. It's like going to a soul funk show but decidedly weirder as he builds you up and brings you back down and up again but with the noises of a machine and production rather than blaring horns and higher-power vocals. The beats were huge. By the end of Slouch's set, everything overheated and the speaker connection blew. The great thing is KRTS is also a showman when performing; sure musicians get into their work, but it's like he's attacking his set up like a hawk lasering in on the prey, it's pretty infectious.

And then I noticed something else, with Karma's vibe in terms of it's lighting and low-ceiling basement, coupled with Mr. Teoh's self-developed editing software to fully get the attention of my eyes with the VJ'ing (besides the girl across from me who was wearing pajama pants and a fanny pack, I guess we call that unique?), it felt like the brothel scene in Roger Dodger a little.

KRTS transitioned into DJ Slouch's set with no breaks and it was cool to see the change of pace but keeping a similar groove down. Slouch looks like a serious technician, a little less light and more somber than the KRTS set but no more or less for it. The music slowed down just a touch and pierced the show with a kind of cleanliness almost; if KRTS was the rambunctious kid who got everyone riled up, Slouch was the cool older brother who brought a different brand of funk. Should I pull out the Matt Dillon Mickey Rourke analogy in Rumble Fish? I dunno, but that's the second Mickey Rourke reference I've made in the past 24 hours. Slouch was a smooth operator with a sip occasionally from what looked like a whiskey on the rocks. Unfortunately for him, as I stated earlier, the connection was fried for half his set but he came back for the last minute strong. If you were dancing to his set, it's like you shouldn't be breaking a sweat because there's a constant flow that restrained and focused. Cool stuff.

Catch Slouch at Karma often, it's a great fit. You'll want to check out his E.P. Labor and his Travels. Find out more about him:
Slouch on MySpace
Slouch Official Site

For KRTS, to learn more visit his official site or MySpace or on YouTube.

And here they are, really nice guys, KRTS is saying, "here's my hand, take it" :

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rival Schools @ Mercury Lounge 11/06

Rival Schools I feel pretty much have a built in fan-base from the other famous bands that they are associated with, namely Quicksand and Gorilla Biscuits. The band can be overshadowed by the kind of superstar status that their members have attained being a productive part of not only one, but several influential bands in the hardcore scene. Walter Schriefels is not dissimilar to a Bob Nanna of Friction, Braid, and Hey Mercedes, even in that the last band mentioned is a bit lighter in sound and more melodic by nature as well as Rival Schools is.

So seeing them with a couple of co-workers who share a love for many of the same bands was a real treat; namely, I was hanging out with a couple of dudes who while only eclipsing my age by 4 or 5 years, were heavily involved or listening to music that I was growing up to only peripherally since I could not drive or go to shows and whatnot. It matters to them more to see a band like Rival Schools, and it's something I looked forward to even though ultimately I probably would prefer a band like Metroschifter.

The interesting thing tonight was that they opened for Bad Brains early on at 9pm at Irving, so naturally them being 45 minute over schedule was foreseen. I skipped the opening bands although I wished to have seen The King Left, as we had a couple drinks at Gawker while playing that Rock Band game and failing on Jane's Addiction and Sex Pistols of all bands, and then had to attend a farewell party to another co-worker at Bob Bar (or Bar Bob).

And then of course we got Bereket shawarmas (I apologize because I can't remember the particular name of the sandwich) and it was amazing. I didn't even want to go to the show. I just wanted another one because it was amazing. And delicious. Especially after many beers. Dan Williams thought the same thing, but Loni ra Berman skipped out. It was awesome Loni. There.

Rival Schools came on to the hope of new material (which is true) and a familiarity that the crowd had with the old standards, anticipation of a long hiatus building and the band's age shining through. There's is an undeniable Quicksand imprint, and both have a somewhat unique 90s sheen to them (even though Rival Schools was bigger around 2001) with hoarse vocals but a "grungier" (hate to use it but I guess it's the simplest way to describe it) feel than some of the other bands of the time I think. There's a patience and a slower pace almost; save some election talk there was little banter between songs and they pushed through most of United By Fate, their only officially released LP to date and a couple covers. Songs like "Travel By Telephone" and "Used For Glue" came back suddenly, but the audience really kept their cool; it's as if "hey this is what I came for, that's totally cool, and I'm possibly a bit old to be moshing". The atmosphere was energetic but not overwhelming, as if the fans were a bit nostalgic and were a bit frozen in the wake of songs that they probably hadn't heard live in a while. The new songs pushed a bit more pop and conventional but sounded fresh and pretty tight. It was an economic show, expected and very professional and definitely satisfying.

Rival Schools "Used for glue"

As always, Mercury is a great, low-ceiling affair but the temperature was kept at a moderate level until a pit started to develop during the last three songs or so and I got clocked in the chin and bit my tongue which caused a gnarly little abrasion for a day or two. They are one of those bands because of their pedigree and connections over the years, you may have been able to glance at all the ex-label people and the community that has supported them in their prime and now. It's a cool snapshot of mostly people who have gone on to do other things, or fans, like my co-workers, that may have moved beyond them at some point but got a great glimpse of a new record from an old dawg.

For more pictures and context, go to Brooklyn Vegan's post which graciously took an excerpt from this review: Brooklyn Vegan - Rival Schools & The King Left @ Mercury Lounge - pics

To see them on MySpace, click HERE.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Night Eve

"Well I'm here, and you're here, and it's true- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you're cool, and I'm cool, and it's true- there's a whole lot of walking to do
There's no fuss, and I trust, I trust you- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you're strong, and I can be too- there's a whole lot of walking to do
And you do, and I do- there's a whole lot of walking to do"

- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

It's such a monumental day coming, everyone in this country and around the world is watching. Only now, is there the feeling of affection for history created in the present. And it will be made, no matter who is elected. A defining moment? You bet.

Of course there's still the couple months downtime until next year, so kick back these holidays!