Archives – August, 2009

Writing Practice Redux

Sitting here with my fab new netbook I miss my pen and paper. The computer is great for writing the thing you plan to write, like the plan to rewrite my essay, but when there’s no plan I find myself missing the meandering of pen on muted vanilla page. So unimportant, so much room for error and mispunctuated expediance, but here in the world of 64 fonts, back space and the character map, I feel limited. It’s like the first few weeks after I moved from dollar store composition book to sleek elastically held Moleskin. “Look at beautiful paper with it’s delecate lines, surely this is nothing to be scribbled on!” After a while I got over myself and was back in writing practice full swing.

Maybe it has something to do with my horrible typing skills. Writing on paper is a tactile experience, free flowing thought to words without the editing inherant in my slow typing. I want transfer to typing completely, that’s my goal. It’s not because I bought this cool new toy, that’s a cart and horse issue, I actually bought this cool new toy because I wanted to affect this transition. Using a computer, a wordpress blog and Google everything promises to make the writing process much more efficient. Writing on paper, re-writing, re-writing again, typing into a computer, posting, editing, re-posting, yada, yada, yada, is a pretty tedious process, and to ever expect this writing gig to go beyond hobby status something has to give.

So with the help of the comfy coffee houses of Brooklyn (I’m at Has Beans right now), I will be working through this. I apologize in advance for any schlocky prose you may encounter.


Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment August 29, 2009

Negril Trip All New! Again!

The countdown is on! I love the pre-trip angst, the packing list, the scampering around looking for that one thing you can’t find anywhere.

I haven’t really gotten started. I’m usually 90% packed by now, shirts starched and boxed, new travel sized toiletries stacked up. I did buy a new big bag. Since 9/11 I don’t bother with a carry-on. Actually it wasn’t 9/11, it was the liquids ban, which was just silly. The liquid bombers are in prison, but that doesn’t stop the geniuses at the TSA for keeping the barn door closed. And I’m eying a good sturdy pair of Birkenstock’s for all that walking I plan to do.

Mom and Dad are coming along this time, which should be a lot of fun. I was hoping the Kid would come too, but she couldn’t carve a week out of her busy schedule. We got a great rate from Air Jamaica and we got the parents a fancy room at The Castle. This is Dad’s second Negril trip, but it’s been a long time since Mom has taken the rustic route. It’s always so much fun taking a newbie to Negril. I get to do all the touristy things that I love to do but don’t bother doing when in town with more seasoned Negrillers.

Normally I have a very loose schedule, but on the Mom & Dad trip I’ll have to at least sketch out a thumbnail. I’m sure Mom will love Rick’s Cafe, and likewise a nice shady beach day at Half Moon, though we may have to tone down the Black River Safari trip a little. Maybe I’ll send Mom and Dad out alone for a romantic sunset cruise with Famous Vincent.

Well I’m going to Target to start checking off my list. I’ll be posting the packing list about ten days out…

Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment August 19, 2009

The Worst Restaurant in Brooklyn

I should know better. Tuesday is the worst night to walk into a restaurant in Brooklyn, or anywhere else for that matter. But my schedule has been so screwy lately I didn’t think about what day it was until after I was committed.

The St. Claire Restaurant, is a diner on the corner of Smith and Atlantic in what I guess is technically still Boreum Hill though I think the trendy realtors like to call it BoCoCa (I’m not even going in to it.) I’d been by it a hundred times, it always looked clean, well lit, and as I reflect in this moment; empty.

I was on an aimless journey, I’d missed the early start time for a film I’d only marginally wanted to see and I hadn’t eaten, so I hopped off the bus and wandered into the St. Claire. My goal was to get my standard grilled chicken over a salad, though splurging on the special was a possibility.

Completely empty at 6:45PM. I must be an idiot, but still I nodded blankly as the busdude waved his arm expansively saying, “Anywhere you’d like sir.” I took aim on a booth opposite the counter, plopped down and reached for my book. It took several seconds to realize my ass was wet, then my arms, then slowly I awakened to the fact that this clue-dog let me sit at the one seat in the entire empty damned restaurant with the AC vent leaking on it.

Over in the next booth now, the menu and the iced tea came out without incident. To be completely honest it was pretty damned good iced tea. It hit that iced tea sweet spot, not too icy, not too tea-y. I forewent my usual salad mainly because they all had stupid names and I wasn’t in the mood to decipher the Smith Street Special or the Brooklyn Classic’s ingredients. I ordered the meatloaf special. It’s a diner, I’m from Jersey, and the Tuesday Night Special is Meatloaf served with soup or salad, potato and vegetable, how could I go wrong?

The salad came out promptly. Upon serving the salad, my friendly, yet strangely stand-offish server asked what kind of dressing I wanted. I asked for italian. She said, “Creamy Italian?” and I wasn’t sure whether she was asking if that was OK, or if she was trying to warn me off. I smiled and nodded. I’ve spent most of my adult life smiling and nodding at attractive women I don’t understand, so I went with what works.

As soon as it hit the table I realized I’d made a poor dressing choice. The texture was off, different than any other salad dressing I’d here-to-fore encountered. A heaping jiggly blob of creamy detritus that seemed to be plotting an escape from the all too confining monkey dish. I approached with due caution. It was a slightly flavored mayonnaise with chunks of odd chunkiness throughout, confused and a little disturbed, I asked for oil and vinegar.

I pushed my empty salad bowl, dressing dish, and oil and vinegar caddy to the corner of the table when I was finished, where it sat.

My main course came out on two plates, steamy meatloaf slathered in gravy on the big one, and steamed broccoli and green beans on the other also hot and steamy. I was psyched to dig in, “they can’t screw up everything?” I thought. Oh naiveté.

I’ll start with the veggies. The broccoli was sitting somewhere dying before being conscripted for my order. It wasn’t terrible, but more Denny’s than I’m used to. To stay on the Denny’s kick, the green beans were standard Jolly Green Giant frozen flavorless. At least Denny’s used to soak them for days in some greasy sort of salty brine which was a flavor sensation all its own.

Now for the thick meat flavored substance they were pawning off as Meatloaf. Back in the day, and when I was a kid, and when I made Meatloaf in a diner, it was a signature dish. It is deceptively tough to create and sell a dish so common as the lowly meatloaf, because everyone’s Mom makes the best meatloaf ever! So it needs to be of quality and high standard, but with that something extra that makes it great without threatening anyone’s notion of mom’s pièce d’ résistance. A true balancing act.

Don’t worry, your Mothers have nothing to fear from The St. Claire. This meatloaf-ian mystery meat was almost worth eating just to discern what the hell it was, but between the grease, the furiously salty gelatinous glop that passed for gravy, and the hard bits, I was at a loss.

Dizzy with the MSG rush from the canned gravy-like substance, I stacked and pushed my plates next to the still there plates from the salad course, the empty water glass (plastic glass), the empty iced-tea glass (ditto plastic), and my flatware with my uncharacteristically linen napkin folded neatly atop the pile.

Finally after several bouts of the “obviously looking around for my server” head movements, she finally appeared from the one direction I wasn’t looking and startled the shit out of me. I asked for a refill on the iced tea. “How was it?” she asked with an accent of Ukrainian origin. I smiled and said, “The iced tea was great.”

After ten or fifteen minutes of relaxing, reading my book, and recovering from the salt shock, I got up to pay my bill. I was still the only person on the restaurant, though by then I knew why. I perused the bill as I walked to the very uninterested gum-chewing-reading-glasses-on-a-chain cashier, and laughed aloud as I saw that they charged me for the iced tea refill. My first instinct was to be annoyed but the iced tea was the only part of the meal that was worth paying for.

“How was everything Sir?” the very uninterested gum-chewing-reading-glasses-on-a-chain cashier asked in her droning way.

“Pretty terrible actually,” I said with a smile.

“Thank You.” she said not even registering my comment, or so cool that she didn’t want to give me an inch. I just kept smiling, by this time amused by the whole situation.

I walked over to the table and put my 20% tip on the table next to the festering pile of dirty dishes. It’s not her fault she works in the worst restaurant in Brooklyn, and I’m not the type to hold a grudge.

Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment August 11, 2009

Impermanence . . .

It’s like duh… We talk about it all the time, it’s a core tenet, so why are we so rocked by change? OK, maybe I need to get out of the third person. Why am I so rocked by change?

That’s the question. We get used to this or that, the trail clears, widens, and the rut deepens. It may sound apocalyptic but it’s not so dramatic, we do it with everything. Being habitual isn’t the problem, it’s our blind faith in these habits, the non-questioning life.

When a friend and mentor recently made a change, a change to further his practice, a positive change, I felt my clinging to the status quo rear up in my life. Such a simple thing.

I spent several days thinking, “This sucks!” even though I knew intellectually this was a positive move for all involved. “What an asshole I am,” I thought. So conditioned in what I like and what is familiar, it makes one reflect on forests and trees.

It also brings to light just what an expansive journey this life, this questioning life is, and how steep even are the foothills.

Vinny (~~)

Leave a Comment August 8, 2009

Recent Posts


Negril Links

Still More Links

Notes Book Club

Sorted by date

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
All the Light We Cannot See
The Martian
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Full Force and Effect
Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology
Starship Troopers
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible
The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave
If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit
Winter Moon: A Season of Zen Teachings
Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door
Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs
Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story

Vinny Bogan's favorite books »