The Tale of Not-Homeless-Joe

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The spot of destiny.

DISCLAIMER: Quoted statements are my best attempt at recounting the conversation. It’s a general gist rather than a verbatim account. Note that “……” is being used to represent drunken pauses in speech and/or gibberish.

A few days ago I went down to Chelsea Pier to do some writing. I had picked up a delicious bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich along the way and proceeded to take it out. For whatever reason, I just had a feeling that someone would ask for some.

The young man in front of me was on his feet by the time I took my second bite. He was heavily intoxicated, swaying as he stood, and slurring every word.

“Heeeeyyyy man, where….. are you from? Like….. what nationality?”

“Oh, well, I’m Italian, Norwegian, German and Irish.”

He looked surprised and pretended to look interested as he eyed my bacon, egg, and cheese wrap with every word. I was a fat man with hunger crankiness. I didn’t want to share. Yet, I could tell he wanted a bite of the sandwich real bad. Screw it. I gave him half.

I asked him his name. “Joe” he said with his mouth full of food.

“No shit,” I replied “my names Joe too!”

He gave me a look along the lines of “are you fucking with me?” and then asked me to join him near his stuff 5 feet away. Part of me thought I should pass but for whatever reason I took him up on the offer.

My initial thought was that Joe was homeless. Nope. Probably not. He had two cell phones, Beats by Dre, new Adidas, and a nice bike. He wasn’t homeless. He was just some faded hipster kid. Oh well.

Not-Homeless-Joe was (henceforth known as NHJ) was a light-skinned black man, mid-late 20’s, about 6’2, and maybe 200 pounds. He had his hair in a top knot with half of it busting out and going rogue. He wore a v-neck tank top that showed his “Black King” chest tattoo.

“So what have you been doing today NHJ?”

“Ahhhh.. haha…. you know man…. drinking… TEQUILAAAA.. smoking some weeeeed hahaha.”

“Oh nice, you’re having a good morning.”

“I got a joint man…. you tryna…. buuuuurrrn?”

I told him thank you but no. There was a park security car about 15 feet away. Along with a woman and a baby 10 feet away.

“Where are you from NHJ?”

“Alaaaaaakazaaaaaam”

“Where’s that at?”

“New Jersey.”

“No shit? I’m from Jersey too man! I was raised in Union county.”

“OH YEAH?!”

He yelled this a few times in a joking/mocking manner until I responded with my own:

“OHHHH YEAAAHHH!”

He gave me another look of incredulity. As if I was the one messing with him. Ha. Okay NHJ. Our talk mostly consisted of him talking about random shit and me trying to follow.

“Joe, you…… you know who I love?”

“Nah, NHJ, who?”

“Fat chicks. I love em. They need love, they’re the best, you know? Gimme a fat chick any day.”

He also expressed his attraction towards a nearby 60+ yr old woman multiple times. Throughout the conversation his headphones were on the ground blasting Lil Jon.

“What are you listening to NHJ?”

“Lil Jon…. you know I saw this mother fucker at Avenue… you been to Avenue?… I saw him at Avenue. He’s in a suit and tie and shit looking all professional…. I asked him if he wanted to smoke and he looks at me like I’m some fuckin’ weirdo.

“Aw that’s too bad man. Was it a good show?”

“It was… aaaaiiight. I almost died trying to keep up to this song though.”

His headphones are playing “Shots”.

“You tried to keep up with every shot?”

“Fuck yeahhhh man!!”

NHJ seems like a good guy. I don’t get the vibe that he’s out to hurt anyone, beyond himself maybe. He was just looking for  a good time. Throughout the conversation he would stand up. He’d begin to slowly shuffle in place like he’s dancing but too drunk to move fast. Then he’d yell a random word a few times and sit down.

He expressed that he was into comedy and liked to do stand-up. NHJ claimed he was working on a show for Adult Swim. I’m not sure if that meant he wanted to pitch Adult Swim or if he was claiming he had a contract. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, explain the concept to me but said it was half cartoons and half real people.

Towards the end of our time together NHJ began singing about “doodoo”. For the life of me I can’t remember his exact phrasing but it was pretty funny. He sang a doodoo song to the baby nearby. Clearly, someone that could relate to the subject matter. NHJ stood up and started doing a little shuffle while singing about doodoo….

Then he says “Oh nooooo… It’s down my leg! It’s down my leg!” and giggles to himself. I look down and see a little turd pop out. Nope. Time to go. I’m out. Bad idea. Peace. I grab my stuff to go and NHJ started laughing.

“HAHA… Chill! Chillll, I’m kidding! I got you man…. I told you I do comedy! Pranks man!”

It wasn’t poop. It was a wood chip he had slid down his pants. NHJ, you got me.. You got me good with that one. 30 or 45 minutes had passed since we first started talking. While this was quite the interesting experience I felt it was time for me to head out and I gathered my things for real.

“Alright, I should get going. Thanks for the company. Take care of yourself NHJ!”

We shake hands and I head off down the pier. NHJ starts shouting after me.

“DAMN JOE, YOU GOT A STRONG HANDSHAKE. YOU MUST BE CRAZY AT JERKING OFF!”

With a furious masturbatory gesture and final yell of “CRAZY STRONG JERKIN”, he bid me farewell. That was the last I saw of Not-Homeless-Joe.

Delivery Review: M-Thai

index_r1_c4I love Thai food.  Well, I love most southeastern Asian cuisines. I used to be a delivery driver for a now closed Thai fusion restaurant. Each shift included a free meal. I ate the hell out of that free meal. Every. Damn. Night. Those were my glory days…

I’ve tried a few Thai places in the Chelsea area but they can be hit or miss. For example, my previous go to Thai restaurant was Spice. It has been inconsistent in both quality, presentation, and taste.

I’ve walked by M-Thai quite a few times and it almost always has a fair share of people in it. So, the other night I decided to give their delivery a shot. The food arrived in approximately a half hour, if that. Well done tiny delivery man. Well done.

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Thanks to Jameelah S. for your picture on Yelp

We stuck with our usual orders. Both because we are creatures of habit and because it’s delicious. We started with the fried “dancing” calamari with a spicy Thai chili sauce. We also split an order of chicken Pad Thai and chicken Pad See Ew (named Rice Noodles here). After tax and tip it came to about $36.

The fried “dancing” calamari did not dance. This was disappointing. The cook was perfect. The squid was crispy and had the right amount of tenderness, not chewiness, to it. The spicy chili sauce that comes with it was tasty but far from spicy. I had written down that it was “sweet” before looking at the menu to find the proper name for it.

The Pad Thai was on the sweeter side. This is far from a complaint in my book though I know some people may be turned off by it. I would have enjoyed a slightly better chicken-to-noodle ratio but I was satisfied nonetheless. Don’t mistake me, I demolished that Pad Thai. Which is why all the pictures in this post are taken from Yelp.. It had the perfect amount of ground peanuts and bean sprouts. I HATE too many peanuts, but I love me some bean sprouts.

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Thanks to Anon A. for your picture on Yelp

The Pad See Ew wasn’t my favorite at first. It was not bad by any means but I felt that it could use a bit more flavor too it. The noodles were a tad under cooked in my opinion. It was decent but could use a little pick me up. Like jazz hands or cocaine. I preferred the Pad Thai to the Pad See Ew but my partner was the of the opposite mindset. We had some Pad See Ew left overs and I have to say I enjoyed it significantly more the day after.

I was happy with the price point and the portion sizes. To compare, both noodle dishes would be smaller portions and cost $12 at Spice vs. $8.98 here. Lunch specials start at only $7.98 and include a small appetizer as well. Considering price point, speed of delivery, portion size and food quality I will be revisiting M-Thai. I think I found my new go to Thai place in the area. As long as the quality stays consistent anyway. If you’re craving Thai food and in the Chelsea area, M-Thai is worthy of your attention.

Restaurant Review: The Grey Dog

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Thanks to Brian A. on Yelp for the photo

After a lovely sunset walk along Chelsea Pier, my partner and I were craving some food. We figured we’d pass something on the way home. On and on we go until we reach 8th Ave and still haven’t found the right spot. We wandered around for a few more blocks. Then a few more. Just as we’re about to turn around and get the usual, we spot a sign for The Grey Dog on 16th St between 7th and 8th Ave.

The atmosphere is that of a chill coffee shop targeting a younger demo. You wait in line to place your order at the counter and are then free to grab any table you wish. Soon thereafter you will see a food runner wandering around trying to find you. He will be yelling your name in the feeblest of whispers.

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I feel you.

There is ample seating inside and a handful of tables on the sidewalk. I felt welcome and comfortable inside. The decor features beautiful brick walls, ample artwork, and old school lighting. The vibe is fun, relaxed, and inviting. The artwork features vintage photos of women with flowers exploding from their faces. The tables are old maps of the surrounding area. Also, there was a handsome husky mix laying out front. Probably not the Grey Dog the restaurant is named after but I appreciate their dog friendliness. Shout out for being a noble pup.

A sandwich with sweet potato fries(extra), fish tacos, two soda, plus tip set us back about $37.

Not quite cheap but not too shabby for the area. My partner got the Cubano sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. I was having trouble deciding between their three fish tacos. The fedora wearing young lady taking our order suggested the shrimp and jalapeno popper tacos.

Fish Tacos
Sorry I ate half of them before realizing I should take a picture

Bruh. These tacos tho. If you told me cheese, shrimp, and jalapeno were a good combo I wouldn’t have believed you. I have seen the light. Hallelujah! The flavor was unreal. Thank you fedora lady. The tacos have an insane combination of flavor. Sweet, salty, crunchy, and umami all in one. I have not yet eaten today as I write this. This was a bad idea.

As much as I loved the flavor of the tacos, I was left a little disappointed with the portion size. I didn’t pay attention to the shrimp-per-taco (or SPT) of each taco until the end. I noticed my last taco only had two shrimp and one popper. Hmm. Maybe that one was a fluke but regardless I’d enjoy larger tacos in place of the sub par side salad that came with it.

I can’t say that either of us enjoyed the Cubano sandwich much. It was just kinda bland. The pork was overcooked and on the dry side. It just seemed to have no flavor on its own. The sandwich was just… boring. Thank the food gods that she was smart enough to get sweet Cubano and sweet potato friespotato fries too.

Bruhbruh. Hands down the best sweet potato fries I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. A perfect combination of crispy outside with a soft gooey inside. Add a bit of salt to your liking and get ready to violate yourself while shoving them down your gullet.

All in all I enjoyed The Grey Dog and I’ll certainly be back. Their breakfast menu looks enticing. During the day I can see The Grey Dog being a nice quiet place to get some work done or study. It’s got the local cafe vibe down. I recommend checking this place out and enjoying good food with good people in a (relatively) quiet and cool atmosphere.

Skeleton Twins Review

The_Skeleton_Twins_posterSkeleton Twins: For when you want to feel emotionally confused. It stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as Maggie and Milo Dean, a pair of dysfunctional twins coping with childhood scars that continue to haunt them. Hader is a struggling actor living in L.A. and Wiig is a dental hygienist still living in their hometown in New York.

As children Maggie and Milo were seemingly inseparable but somewhere along the way they grew distant. Skeleton Twins is a heartfelt, at times frustrating, story of their reunion after a 10 year gap. Both of their characters can be wonderfully endearing. Bill Hader in particular really excels in his role as a gay man going through a recent breakup. His characters droll sense of humor seems to confuse or turn off those around him but it’s clear he has a big heart. It’s the “I got funny to cope with shit” story that I think many people are familiar with.

THE SKELETON TWINS, from left: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, 2014. ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection
THE SKELETON TWINS, from left: Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, 2014. ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

I feel conflicted about Wiig’s character. Though, that may just demonstrate how well she played her. Maggie is struggling to cope with the “perfect” life she has but never really planned on having. She’s married to, in her own words, a great guy played by Luke Wilson. Everything seems to be going well for them but she is clearly missing some kind of fulfillment.

The film explores childhood trauma as well as coming from a dysfunctional family. It opens with Wiig speculating to the audience that all their problems may have started with their father. The opening scene shows him as a faceless man behind a Dia de los Muertos skeleton mask. He is revisited throughout the film but always with an air of mystery about what happened. Their mother is briefly explored and played by Joanna Gleason.

Besides for a few lucky people, most families are familiar with loss, pain, or just bad shit happening to them. Then sometimes you encounter people who just never get a break. The families that have bad thing after bad thing follow them around forever. Skeleton Twins is the story of one of those families. At times it can be hard to root for the main characters. Yet, somehow I found myself still pulling for them by the end of the movie.

Skeleton Twins revisits some fears many of us shared while growing up. The fear of “peaking” in high film_skeletontwins-magschool and never reaching the potential you envisioned for yourself. The fear of being alone. The fear of pushing everyone away. The fear of being in your 30s(+/- accordingly) and still being lost and confused about your place in the world. The biggest strength to the film is that the characters are human. There is no pure “good” character to pull for. Everyone is damaged. Everyone has baggage. Everyone has a story. There’s bits and pieces of us all represented in this film.

Beyond looking how families can hurt each other it also looks at how they can help with healing. It shows the love and compassion that can be offered by those that spent their entire lives with you. If you’re looking for continuous SNL styled laughs, this isn’t the film for you. If you’re looking for a dark comical exploration of how f’d up people can be, then look no further. 3.75 out of 5.

Godzilla Review (Originally written May 2014)

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I’ll admit, I jumped on the Godzilla bandwagon.  I jumped on it real fast.  From the moment I heard that monstrous roar I was drooling.

It’s now 2:45 in the morning and I’ve just arrived home from seeing the movie.  What. A. Movie.

Alas, I don’t mean that in a good way.  Considering it’s a two hour long movie called “Godzilla” I went in assume Godzilla would be the main character.  Nope. Instead, the movie follows the family hijinks of Heisenberg and Kickass. Err… I mean Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Kickass goes on adventures of having the shit kicked out of him but never seeming like he’s in actual danger.

There were multiple scenes in the movie where I’d start to get pumped up.  “This is it.” I found myself thinking.  The impending monster apocalypse has arrived and is about to start in all its glory.  HERE IT COMES! OH MAN! Cut to new scene.  Huh?  Wait.  Godzilla.  Come back to me you majestic gorilla-whale.   Nope, that’s all the Godzilla for now.  Let’s go back to those silly little humans and their silly little plans that make little to no sense. Dammit.

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Fuck.

I kept finding myself thinking about another giant monster film that came out somewhat recently.  Yup, you guess it, Pacific Rim.  Now Pacific Rim may not be the greatest movie ever but it gave you what you came for.  Giant monster vs giant robot fights. I want to see my baby Gojira murder the hell out of some MUTOs.

When the movie started to approach its climax, and the monster bash was clearly about to begin in earnest, I started paying attention to how long Godzilla was on screen.  Approximately 10-15 minutes.  Perhaps 20-30 minutes in the entire movie.  These aren’t 20 action packed minutes either.  Roughly half the time Godzilla is on screen we’re either following his movements as he’s submerged underwater or seeing a super close up.

Perhaps you can tell I’m a bit upset.  I REALLY wanted this movie to be great.  To show that Americans could do Godzilla right.  Maybe this film is proof that we cannot do any such thing.  We can make a crappy romance story/family drama that occasionally features a giant monster destroying shit.  That’s about it.

While this film isn’t as bad as the 1998 predecessor, it certainly drops the ball.  Most of my gripes (pretty much all of my gripes) come from the lack of Godzilla in a movie called Godzilla.  If this film was called “Immortal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Lieutenant That Seems Really Well Versed In a Variety of Situations” it’d be a different  story.

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“You mean that’s all we see of Godzilla?”

Bryan Cranston, in his role of a distraught and grieving husband, is engaging and moving. Sadly, most of the other performances fall short. The only other human character I found myself enjoying was Dr. Ichiro Serizawa played by Ken Wantanabe AKA the actual Last Samurai. It seems like this genius scientist becomes increasingly dimwitted as the movie progresses. The writing for the female characters (Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, and Juliette Binoche) is practically nonexistent and mostly boils down to looks of shock. Godzilla has its flaws but the writing stands out as the biggest culprit.

I guess it all comes down to “Should I see this movie?”  It’s a tough call actually.  First you must ask yourself another question “Do I want to see this movie solely for Godzilla fucking shit up?”  If you answered yes to this question, you probably shouldn’t see this movie.  You will more than likely be disappointed.  The last 15-20 minutes are where the bulk of the action is found.  The other 100 minutes feel more like filler and a desperate attempt to make us care about people you don’t actually care about.  I give Godzilla 3 out of 5.  While not a bad movie in its own right, its biggest downfall is taking a beloved icon like Godzilla and essentially putting him in the background of his own movie.