My Creations, Places I like

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Where Brooklyn At?

                                        (Background music)

                     Yea I'm out that Brooklyn, now I'm down in TriBeCa

right next to Deniro, but I'll be hood forever

I'm the new Sinatra, and... since I made it here
I can make it anywhere, yea, they love me everywhere
I used to cop in Harlem, all of my Dominicano's
right there up on Broadway, pull me back to that McDonald's
Took it to my stashbox, 560 State St.
catch me in the kitchen like a Simmons with them Pastry's
Cruisin' down 8th St., off white Lexus
drivin' so slow, but BK is from Texas
Me, I'm out that Bed-Stuy, home of that boy Biggie
now I live on Billboard and I brought my boys with me
Say what's up to Ty-Ty, still sippin' mai tai's
sittin' courtside, Knicks & Nets give me high five

    It was 2009 when Jay-Z's much anticipated Blueprint III permeated into our mainstream culture. Universally adopted by frat bros, preppies, jocks, skater punks, and quiet types, Jay's Empire State of Mind quickly became the anthem of the summer. The flow of the song meshed perfectly against a vibrant piano backdrop and breathtaking chorus lead by Alica Keys. Listening to the lyrics, Jay describes his current success as he drives down Broadway in a luxury sedan. For Jay, the song was a nod to the city that transformed him from a hustler selling drugs in the housing projects of Brooklyn to a multi-platinum recording artist, CEO, and business tycoon. As my friends and I would cruise down our own Broadway with windows down and speakers blaring, the song meant so much more than just another rags-to-riches story. For a brief moment in time the song made you feel as if you were going to make it in this world whether you lived in the bright lights of NYC or upstate; whether you were rich or poor, black or white, or anything in between. It was a song for the youth because we had the whole world ahead of us...

    It had been five and a half decades since Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, Danny McDevitt, got Dee Fondy to ground out in the ninth before the dodgers skipped town for LA (I am no Baseball aficionado, I had to look that up...) Over half a century went by as the citizens of Brooklyn watched teams flourish in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and across the river in New Jersey. Fast forward to present day where Jay-Z recently finished christening the brand new Barclays Center with a series of concerts spanning eight nights (yes I said eight) that helped usher in a new era of professional sports for the city of Brooklyn. While the Nets were transitioning from New Jersey to their new home in Brooklyn, team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov had this to say about the new stadium:

"Not everyone, in their lifetime, gets to witness a project that changes the face and the destiny of the city," Nets owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov told news reporters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday. "Maybe those who were at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, they could say it. We saw a symbol being born, and I do believe that we're all the lucky witnesses to such an event, because Barclays Center arena is so much more than just a building.
"It will be the place where everything is happening and everyone is welcome. If you are from Brooklyn or Manhattan, from Miami or Moscow, Barclays Center will be the heart of Brooklyn."

    Say what you want about Jay's whopping less than one percent stake in the team, but you cannot deny that his brand is doing tremendous things for the new look Nets. He revamped the logo giving it attitude, and his music can often be heard blaring from the stadium's speakers during timeouts and halftime. You see for Jay, the this new arena is more than just "bricks and mortars" in the same way that his Empire State of Mind track was more than just another summertime anthem in the eyes of many listeners. The Barclay's Center was the perfect way to give back to the city that had made him so famous over the years. You're probably wondering by now what any of this has to do with me or this blog. Well this past weekend I took a trip down to the city to hang with my bro Brett Fuller to watch St. John's play in the new state of the art facility. This is that Story.

    It was around six o'clock on Tuesday evening when I got the call from Fuller telling me to come down to the city. "You gotta get down here", Fuller said over the phone as I left my table in Farq hall to hear the call better. "We can take a train into the city early, grab food, booze, and catch the game", he continued. Fuller was trying to sell me on the idea real hard, but little did he know I had already made up my mind the moment he said, "come into the city Saturday". It was settled, and after a ridiculous "onsie" party the night before (I was dressed as the marshmallow man from Ghost Busters...I can't make this stuff up) I was poised to drive down to queens with nothing but the shirt on my back. Still recovering from the night before I drove down to Bayside to chill with Fuller, Zack Morris, AC Slater, and the rest of the Saved by the Bell gang (I forever am in love with Kelly Kapowski by the way)

    After a quick tour of the apartment Fuller and I were well on our way to the city to show the people of Brooklyn how true Saratogians boogie down. We got off the train at Penn Station, and immediately noticed that something was wrong. Almost everyone in the station, and on the streets outside were dressed as Santa. Did we miss something?

    Initially I thought it was a "flashmob" and if you've ever had a grueling hangover you know that "flashmobs" are not something I'm trying to be a part of. "Ohhh, I think today is 'Santacon'", fuller explained. "Everyone dresses as Santa and just gets hammered all day...which means any bar we try to go to is gonna be packed!" Great, just what we needed. A bar chalk full of obnoxious Santas. If I wanted to go see some drunken asshole dressed as Santa I would go sit on his lap at the mall...

Now I know where Waldo does all his hiding
        Once we saw the line of Santas outside the pub selling ten cent wings we immediately knew option A was off the table. A few city blocks, and one Groupon purchase later, Fuller and I arrived at a place called High Heat--a pub with a food and drink combo that neither of us could deny. For twenty five bucks we each got pizza (Fuller opted for a burger instead), side, and a growler of our choosing. In the relm of NYC, this was a steal.

wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and ice cold beer....

    I chose Dark Horse's Sapient Trip Ale for the growler, mainly because it sounded badass. Much to our dismay, the beer was fairly difficult to get down (fairly), but we soldiered through it. I did a search on the "Google machine" for the beer because I was curious as to what others had to say. Here is my favorite review in a nutshell:

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 1/5   TASTE 3/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 6/20
watson1977 (1848) - The dub c, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 2, 2012
Pours a hazy amber/cider color with a thin white head...very chunky sediment throughout...doesnt look appetizing at all. Aroma is a bit wheaty...light spice. Flavor is spicy with clovey notes...some dusty fruit and faint bubblegum...still wheaty...not good. Mouthfeel is medium and silky with a stringent spicy finish.
    "Flavor is spicy with 'clovey notes'" Gimme a freaking break... guaranteed this jabroni doesn't even know what a clove is. Now I have come to expect this sort of shenanigans when it comes to ordering expensive wines at a fancy restaurant, but I never knew these people existed when dealing with beer. It makes me wonder, where does it stop? "Ahh yes, this soda has a nice high fructose syrup taste that really excites the pallet. I get aromas of wild cherry, and ester gum. And do I dare say....yellow dye # 5?" 

        On our sacred hajj to Brooklyn we bar hopped a few establishments before getting to the Barclays Center. When I say we "bar hopped a few establishments", I mean we walked in, bought a round, drank it, paid and left all within a span of three or four minutes. In an industry that thrives on customer turnover, we were the ideal patrons. Feeling nice and...toasty on a cold December's night, we finally made it to the arena.

    We arrived midway through the first quarter, and St. John's was up by six or so. Right in front of us was a group of inner city kids no older than eight or nine. There was so many of them they took up the entire row. They asked us if we were from Brooklyn so I made up a story that Brett was childhood friends with the star point guard D'Angelo Harrison. When the kids heard this their eyes widened. "You know D'Angelo Harrison?" the kids said with excitement. Brett looked at me as if to say "look what you've done here", but I continued with my story. They were so captivated that it would crush their little souls if I told them I made it  all up. There was no going back now.  I  do not remember any of their names except for the kid at the end who everyone referred to as "GG". When I asked what "GG" stood for he turned to us and explained how a bully in school calls him "goodie goodie". He put his head down. I felt bad, and so did Brett. Something had to be done here. "That's a bunch of crap, kid" I said to him. "You can't let bullies push you around like that." Fuller and I cheered him up by telling him to stand up to the school bully. "Next time you see him tell him you're not afraid of him. Tell him one day you will be bigger and stronger than he will ever be." The rest of his friends joined in, and finally GG cracked a smile. For the rest of the first half Fuller and I told the group of kids how to make it in the NBA one day. Although we were living vicariously through someone else's children, they were enjoying every minute of it. Fuller stressed the importance of developing a left hand, and I chimed in to say that when you get older nobody likes a ball hog.
    Before halftime the kids left, and we will never know how their lives turn out. Will "GG" finally stand up to the school bully? Will they take our advice and dedicate themselves towards their dreams of going to the NBA? We'll never know. I'd like to think that if they ever do make it, Fuller and I will at least get a signed jersey somehow; or maybe court side seats? Stranger things have happened...
    On the train ride back we both passed out like the nerdy kids at an eight grade sleep over. I awoke with the feeling that somehow we missed our stop. What followed was comedy gold:

Me: Brett. *taps shoulder* Brett...WAKE UP!
Fuller: *eyes open half way* "wh...what?"
Me: Wake up, I think we might miss the stop"
Fuller: "Nah, we still got a while to go..."
Me: *seeing the sign for Bayside* Noooo, we gotta get off now. This is Bayside, were gonna miss it!"
Fuller: *Now fully awake* "WHAT!?!? Oh shit!"

    The two of us raced off the train as the doors were closing. "Good thing you woke up when you did because  I have no idea where this train goes after my stop", Brett explained while we walked out of the station. "No man's land", I reply.
    The next morning I awoke to Brett standing over the futon I was sleeping on. Its weird how the mind can sense when someone his watching you sleep."You wanna grab breakfast?", he asked with a huge smile on his face. His eyes were glossed over, and his hair was poofed out like a crazy person...
    Inside the diner I noticed two things right from the start: the menu was GIGANTIC, and the orange juice was teeny tiny.

Nice OJ shooter, Fuller...

     "Hey does this OJ make my hands look big?" I laugh before telling him that the OJ makes everything about him look big. Andre the giant could have a small mouse in his hands and it still would not look as disproportionate. Laughing uncontrollably, I barely noticed how long it took for our food to arrive, but it didn't matter because we were engaging in one of my all time favorite pastimes: recapping the night before. The food arrived, and we stuffed our faces before I made the trek back to school. Ladies and Gentleman, THAT is how you conquer Brooklyn...