Filed under: Photos
Hoping today will be an example of patience, vigor and generosity, throughout Brooklyn, NYC, Jamaica and all others in the wake of Hurricane Sandy . . .
My thoughts are with my family, friends and sanga members.
October 30, 2012
Oooh! The heat is threatenin’ our very lives today. . .
If I don’t get some AC, I’m-a-gonna melt away . . .
Woo Hoo, 104º in Manhattan today, the RealFeel® temperature is 115º. I’m sitting in relative comfort in a Starbucks at 51st & Broadway watching people stumble by. If there is a good day to be in the tourist-choked Theater District, 116º day is the day.
It’s funny to me how the media is freaking out about a little heat. Hey guys! It’s summer! But they report it as if it has never happened before when actually it happened about, I don’t know, eleven to thirteen months ago. Do we really need the Daily News to have sweaty people plastered on the front page? At least The Times put the story below the fold.
In a few months we will be all bitching about the cold. I’m heading back in the pool!
July 22, 2011
I’m starting this post with a few photos. I’ll add the drama later….
I love this angle!
As close as you can get . . .
Sunset from The Castle - June 18, 2011
From The Castle's yard - June 19, 2011
Another stunner from The Castle - June 24, 2011
Lovely sunset from Kuyaba - June 23, 2011
July 11, 2011
Harry Kalas 1936-2009
I will never pretend to be a huge baseball fan, but one of the charms of living in Philadelphia all those years was hearing Harry Kalas calling a Phillies game. A lot will be written and said over the next few weeks as those more knowledgeable than I wax eloquent on his accomplishments. Even the most casual Phillies fan like myself knew the greatness we were in the midst of. It’s hard to describe in text what the man could do with a microphone, scroll down a few posts and play the clip of Harry calling last year’s World Series, or just go to YouTube and search his name.
Goodbye Harry, rest in peace.
April 14, 2009
I can’t believe I missed the West Indian Day Parade last year! I don’t remember what I did instead, but if I’d gone I would have remembered what I did, since I did this, and it would have been awesome, but then I’d be comparing this year to last year which may or may not have impacted what a wonderful time I had today. But I digress…
I’ve been living in Brooklyn a little over a year now, and in that time I’ve taken two trips to Negril. Today at the West Indian Day Parade I felt like I’d taken trip number three.
All along Eastern Parkway stretching eastward from Prospect Park’s Grand Army Plaza to Utica Avenue deep in the heart of Crown Heights Brooklyn, a stronghold of Caribbean culture since the 60′s, the massive parade and street fair held sway. It was as much Carnivale as a NYC Parade, hundreds of food stalls, craft booths and t-shirt sellers lined both sides of the two-mile long route.
I hopped a #3 train from Atlantic Ave to the Franklin Ave. As soon as the train doors opened the sweet smell of food on the grill hit me, so I followed my nose. I went right for the first Jerk Chicken stand I saw, the old woman’s lilting Jamaica patois like music drew me in. I ordered a small portion of well prepared nicely spiced Jerk Chicken. I forwent the extra packaging, I knew it wasn’t going to last long, and the lid, fork and bag would just be a waste.
I began walking through the crowd eating my chicken, the spice cleared my head and I began to realize the enormity of this event. As far as I could see a sea of people, food being served and eaten, thousands of colorful flags from all the West Indian countries fluttered in the soft breeze of this perfect sunny day.
I may not be the most objective correspondent but the crowd seemed to be at least half Jamaican, or at least dressed in Jamaican flags and Jamaican colors. There was a good contingent of Haitians, and Trinis as well as Guyanans, Barbatons, and Grenadans. The food was amazing, everything you could think of. Some from organized food trucks run by the myriad local Caribbean restaurants in the area, to small family-run concerns with Grandma doing the cooking and the kids higgling for customers.
I had my main lunch, after the above mentioned Jerk Chicken, a Curry Chicken Patty, and a half frozen bottle of water, at rough looking food stand run by a group of would-be rastas. They were disorganized, a bit overwhelmed, and their spray-painted sign read Rasta-I-tal, but they had genuine smiles and seemed to be the real deal (Reshay who served me was in Portmore this time last year). I got the Curried Goat with rice and peas. It was fresh, meaty, good portion and was spot on! I gave them a card and told them I was going to write about them. I also told them to open a restaurant. They had that intangible something that turns good food into a great meal.
The heroes of the day were the usual suspects: Bob Marley, Haile Selassie, Martin Luther King and Malcolm-X, but supplanting them all was Barack Obama, it was all about Obama, you’d think he was running for President or something. Even Chucky Schumer’s entourage were sporting “Obama is the Answer” t-shirts. I didn’t wear my Obama shirt, nor did I wear my Bob Marley shirt. I don’t like being “that guy.” There were penty of “those guys” around. It’s funny how silly wannabe white-boy dreads look in such situations.
The music was loud, we were all having a good time, I didn’t see any trouble, but New York’s Finest were out in force. I walked from Franklin Ave. up to Utica Ave where the parade started and I ran into a Police created coral with no throughway, so I went into the subway and went back into the thick of things at Nostrand Ave, but on the other side of the Parkway. This time I walked back towards The Brooklun Museum and Prospect Park. Soon I was standing at Grand Arch at Grand Army Plaza looking back at the parade.
September 1, 2008
The next day started early for me. Well before dawn I walked cool damp Castle grounds. I love his place! I love the gentle slosh of the Sea emanating from the Blue Cave, the cool salty breeze in my hair, the sun lightening the edges of the eastern sky, and of course, the steaming mug of Jamaican coffee in my hand. Did I say I love this place?
Since retirement, Dad has gotten used to sleeping in, and for me in Negril, sleeping in is about six-thirty in the morning. I’m not sure when he actually rose since clocks are not on my vacation agenda, but by mid-morning we were hungry, and I had Dad all jazzed up for an authentic Jamaican Breakfast.
I always enjoy Selina’s so I figured we’d head down to her place for breakfast. We hitÂ a road in a route taxi, andÂ my Dad was great, he just rolled with the punches all week long, open to everything. We got to talking to our fellow travelers about Jamaican Breakfast, and one of the guys named Lionel told us he had a cousin with a real authentic Rastafarian Breakfast Joint directly on the beach.
“I’m a tour guide!” exclaimed Lionel, but when the other guys in the car laughed when he said it, he knew the jig was up.
Of course the afore-mentioned restaurant seemed too good to be true, but what the hell, these guys had a good positive vibe and I said, “Sounds great! Take us there!” Dad seemed a bit trepidatious.
We passed Travellers and Shields and pulled into a small overgrown drive just before Bar-B-Barn. From where we parked, we couldn’t see the beach, or the road, and Dad was expecting us to be robbed at any minute, but I could hear the surf close by. We followed our new friends up a grass covered path and in seconds Seven Mile Beach appeared before us. I looked over to Dad as he stood wide-eyed at the impossibly beautiful sea of blueness. We were so taken by the scene that we didn’t notice the big Rastaman setting up a table for us.
Lionel, who stood beaming as if he was a bit surprised by his new-found success as a tour guide, decided to talk, and talk, and then talked some more. He was entertaining at first, an amiable bloke to be sure, and he was even up front about having to hustle tourists to make a living.
I don’t know If the big Rastaman was actually his cousin Lionel, but Lionel seemed pretty nervous when he came by to give us fresh squeezed juices, or to update us on the progress of our meals.
The Jamaica Breakfasts arrived and I was impressed! They were bountiful and beautifully plated. The big Rasta-Chef explained everything and my Dad was rapt with attention. “Don’t eat too fast.” He admonished us. “We don’t use salt. We let the natural flavors come though the food. Please enjoy!”
This guy had a great touch, and the food was excellent. The Ackee was tender, and there were few bones in the Saltfish. The yam, the plantain and johnny cakes were as advertized, bland at first but the subtle flavors built as you enjoyed them.
I was so happy with the meal that I grossly over-tipped Lionel, which had the added pleasure of making him go away. I loved the guy, but we really wanted to eat in peace.
I guess I’d made up for the previous night’s hooker debacle. I really felt like the island-savvy son, and Dad really seemed to be enjoying himself.
We checked out the beach a while but there wasn’t much going on, and we were back at The Castle before noon. I walked over to the bodega for beer, water, ting and other assorted necessities to stock the fridge for the week, while Dad went to work on his Vince Flynn novel.
On my way back from the bodega I ran into sweet beautiful Petrona, who offered to move us from Deluxe 2 into Superior 12 which had a TV and A/C. Dad was happy with the move, and with the panoramic ocean view from the porch. You really can’t beat this place, you’re treated like family, the location is paramount, and the prices are so low you can’t understand how they stay in business.
Dad and I relaxed reading, taking short dips in the sea, and drinking Red Stripes. The place wasn’t crowded, but we did meet Angela from Nova Scotia that day. Orchid as she is known on the Negril.com Message Board. Dad had been to Nova Scotia with my Mom a few years back, and they seemed to hit it off pretty well. Angela was living large in the penthouse and was on an extendned and extending vacation, she may be still there.
Later in the afternoon Susan, the owner of The Castle, returned from her vacation. So where does someone who lives in Negril go for vacation? Brooklyn of course! Susan graciously invited Dad and I out for a lobster dinner at Erica’s Cafe.
Susan drove us in her little red car, Petrona joined us, and there was also a Canadian couple, who were long time Negril residents, and friends of Susan’s. We had a nice time, the food was excellent, and so was the conversation. We each had half a grilled lobster, and a nice portion of curried lobster with all the accoutrements. Dad and I peppered Susan with questions about the building and history of The Castle. There’s definitely a book in that story, maybe even a mini-series.
Being Saturday night we said our good-byes to our hostess and we hopped a taxi over to The Seastar In for some twisting by the pool. The road into Seastar seemed darker than usual on this moonless night, but everything brightened up as we turned into the driveway. The party was in full swing when we arrived, Rob, Lisa and Captain Rob were working the webcast, and I introduced my Dad to all the boardies logged in that night. The place was crowded, there seemed to be so few people in Negril, they must have all been at Seastar.
As we settled in with ice cold Red Stripes, there was some commotion in the pool area, some girl had gotten naked and jumped in. Henceforth she will be referred to as Nakid Girl, though her nakedness was relatively short lived. She spent most of her night stumbledancing to the reggae stylings of Rasta Ralphie, other than the few minutes we chatted about things metaphysical. She was very wasted but she was no dummy, and she seemed a bit over her head in whatever she was involved with, but for that night she had a grand time.
Dad was very impressed with Rasta Ralphie. The two of them were in the same basic age range, but old Ralphie had the physique of a much younger man. I’m sure is had something to do with his hyperactive stage persona. I tell you that man can rev up a crowd.
I had a nice time visiting with Rob, Crob and Lisa. Lisa was only a few days away from heading back to the frozen tundra of Winepeg Canada after six plus months in sunny Negril. She must not have stayed too long because it seems like she was back in a few weeks, but I’m sure for Rob it was an interminable absence.
We’d had a long day and I doubt we lasted much later than ten or eleven o’clock. Chris, the Seastar’s owner, had his driver take us back to The Castle with the added fun of sharing the ride with Nakid Girl.
More to come…
May 22, 2008
Upon hearing about Hands-On New York Day, a friend of mine said, “Ya know, that’s one of those things that when you hear about it you and think, ‘Hey I’d like to do something like that someday’, but you never actually do it.” And for a long time that was my position too. I’m not averse to doing this sort of thing, it’s just that such opportunities rarely cross my path at an opportune time, but in this case the stars aligned.
My roommate Chris was the Site Captain meaning he set-up and helped run the event. The hard work was done, so all I had to do was show up. Once I committed I got pretty excited, so I wrangled up some family, friends, and co-workers to help out. The Saturday before the event I had six definites with a few possibles waiting in the wings, but of course when the day came only two were able to make it. I didn’t care as they were the two I really wanted to spend the day with anyway.
And wow, what a special day it was! I had been so focused on the outcome that I hadn’t put a moments thought into the process, the actual doing of the thing. I expected a freshly painted fence, and a lunchroom with brightly painted murals. I didn’t plan on the camaraderie and sense of purpose seventy or so eager volunteers would engender. Very un-Zen of me I know.
The day was all about the process, the experience. The care and goodwill this disparate group of strangers put into beautifying this little elementary school in Brooklyn warmed the cockles of my heart. It was so much of a Coming Together my inner cynic was forced to do a double-take. Could it be there really are this many good people in the world? And this was only one of a hundred plus events that day; seventy-five hundred people fanned out across the city planting trees, fixing up schools, cleaning playgrounds, and generally doing good.
Did I mention it was really fun too? I’m no painter, but I painted for hours. Kristine and I did a lot of sky work, while Diana painted a super-hero elephant. The sky is important in mural painting, theres a lot of it, and the chances of screwing up are slight. Kristine and I also did about an hour of fence scraping, less glamorous than mural painting, but it had to be done. I was impressed how the crayola blue fence brightened up the whole school.
Im proud to have been a part of Hands-on New York Day. So proud in fact that this Thursday evening Im going to Borough Hall in Brooklyn for orientation on becoming a full-fledged member on NYCares, the umbrella organization which Hands-On New York Day is a part. My little crew is excited to do more volunteering, and as members there is literally something going on every day, so finding a monthly project to work on shouldn’t be tough.
I’d like to thank everyone who made this day possible; Christian for all his hard work, Kristine and Diana for making the day even more special, and every other person who worked at Public School 94 on April 12, 2008.
April 15, 2008
Appleton Estates is one of Jamaica’s oldest rum distilleries producing quality rums since 1749. Located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains and straddling the Black River, its a scenic seventy five mile drive from Negril, and almost the same distance from Montego Bay.
Of all the things I’ve done in my travels to Jamaica, by far the most touristy was the Appleton Estates Rum Tour. Don’t get me wrong, the Rum Tour was a blast, but it was almost comical. It was the stereotypical corporate or government tour, like one you would get visiting the Hoover Dam or The Crayola Crayon Factory.
The Appleton Estates Rum Tour is a popular day trip from most tourist areas in Jamaica. You begin seeing brochures as soon as you get off your plane. We hired a driver and made Appleton a part of a day trip. We began in late morning at Black River, a lunch of curried goat and jelly coconuts along Bamboo Alley, and then onto Appleton Estates by mid-afternoon.
“We’re walking; we’re walking; we’re stopping. Here is the cane press, in years past we had many such presses… yada, yada, yada… We’re walking; we’re walking…”
The guide was a good-looking Jamaican gent with that harmless cruise ship Jamaican accent, you know the one that doesn’t freak out white folks from Des Moines. His Appleton Estate Logo shirt was well starched, and there was a meticulous crease in his khaki slacks. I joke, but I have to give it to our guide, he was enthusiastic, informative and he hit his zingersÂ with perfect comic timing, even the donkey played along.
We saw sugarcane being juiced, walked past the distilling tanks, and stood in a massive warehouse holding thousands of aging rum barrels. We didn’t get to see the bottling line or anything like that. The tour was more a history of rum making in Jamaica.
We had to wait a while for our tour to begin, so we wasted no time hitting the Rum Punch. You’d expect it to be all juice with a bit of rum in a place like this, well not in Jamaica, the stuff was easily sixty percent rum. I’m not much of a rum guy, after a night with a bottle of 151 when I was seventeen, but I indulged and it definitely added to the fun.
A key enticement in the Appleton Estates Brochure is “A Complimentary Bottle of Rum,” and at the end of the tour everyone is given a 50ml airline bottle of “Appleton Special Jamaican Rum.” It was almost a punch line that everyone was expecting, and we all laughed as they ushered us into the gift shop. I bought a fancy bottle of 21 year old rum as a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law, and it was a great deal cheaper than other places in Jamaica.
If you do a daytrip in the area, it would be a shame to miss the Rum Tour, it’s a lot of fun, and you’ll get caught up in the moment. I wouldn’t say its a “must see,” and I doubt I’ll go there again, unless I wind up in Negril with my Dad, (He’d love this place) but I do recommend it.
January 25, 2007
The Black River Safari is located in the town of Black River which is about 50 miles east of Negril on highway A-2. The Black River empties into the Caribbean Sea at the town of Black River. Once a thriving sugar port, Black River is now a mecca of environmental tourism in Jamaica.
There are several ways to safari up the river, this article discusses a private tour with a local guide.
The people at your resort will be happy to arrange a driver for the day. A Black River Safari is usually paired with a tour of the south coast, a trip to one of the waterfalls, or to The Appleton Rum factory. This should cost you approximately $150US, and a decent tip. Make sure your driver knows you want a private tour on a small fishing boat.
A more adventurous mode of travel is the Route Taxi system, a low budget, but awesomely efficient system Jamaicans use to get around.
Here’s how you do it: Get to the Car Park next to the Negril Police Station and find a route taxi to Savanna-La-Mar. There will be a lot of guys trying to sell you a ride, but a true route taxi to Sav will cost about 100J. The first leg of your journey will take you to the Car Park in Sav where you will hop another taxi to Black River. This second leg will cost about 350J per person. Figuring the currency exchange; the trip to Black River equals $8-$9US each way.
From the Car Park in Black River, its a few minutes walk to the docks. Cross the bridge and look for a guide, usually a guide will find you. I ask aroundÂ for a guy named Rasta George. Rasta George is a colorful character who knows the Black River Morass like I know Philly. He’s well known, so seek him out, you won’t be disappointed. Tell him Vinny sent you.
Rasta George will have you wait at a restaurant right on the river where you can grab a beer or maybe an order of fries while he scares up a boat and pilot. In a few minutes Rasta George appears at the dock in a small fishing boat that seats about four travelers.
As soon as you’re off, you find yourself in a mangrove lined river, strewn with crocodiles and graceful water fowl. You get the feeling of being in a National Geographic documentary, the air is clean and clear, mountains ring the background, and an authentic Rastafarian narrates the program.
Occasionally you will see the big, covered, comfy and of course boring pontoon tourist boats lumbering up or down the river, each tourist cloaked in a green cloud of envy as they look at you’re intimate private tour.
You’ll come up close and personal with real crocodiles, though they seem pretty mellow the first one will get your attention. Take a lot of pictures, if you’re not careful you may get back to civilization sans photos.
Ask your tour guide to take you up the the little thatch roofed bar way up past “the bridge.” You pull up to a small rickety dock, near a clearing in the mangrove. In that clearing is a little bar, a wonderful place to relax for a while. Lie out on the rocks, take a swim in the croc laden river, or just chill with the locals.
It feels like your own secret little spot, like you’ve found something special, and you have. I was crushed when I found photos from others folks on the web showing the exact same place.
The boat ride back to town is done at high speed, and is exhilarating. I always tip the boat pilot who doesn’t say much during the trip. Then its back to Negril or on to another adventure. For a few bucks more Rasta George will take you to the Pelican Bar, a cool ramshackle bar out in the Caribbean on a sand bar. Another unique experience.
January 25, 2007
This isn’t a review of the sporadically funny show on F/X. Has anyone seen it?
Saturday was a sunny day in Philadelphia. I’d been doing a lot of writing on Philly lately, and I felt like I needed a spark, and I could think of nothing sparky-er than a day in Philly with Dolores.
We met up around noon, and went to Jon’s at 3rd and South for lunch. You gotta love a place that makes a quality Reuben. The decor is based around Larry Fine from the Three Stooges, legend has it that he was actually born on that site, though there is no Historical Marker.
Throughout the beautiful afternoon as we were perused the little shops on South Street, we kept noticing these girls dressed in pink frilly dresses, but with goth hair, makeup and those platform lace-up boots. Was this a new goth style? I took to calling them the Goldilocks Goths, and I would have been impressed, non-conformists actually not conforming, but there were three of them, so that idea was shot to hell.
We ended up at Fat Tuesday’s for beers and a few shots, time to add some spice to the afternoon. I tried to get Dolores to win some beads, but we hadn’t done that many shots, though she did have one alarming idea. She announced she was going to get her bellybutton pierced. I was very encouraging, thinking it would make an interesting story.
But, before any piercing was to be done we needed to feed the parking meter, so we headed the four blocks back to Headhouse Square.
Right in Headhouse Square we found a new place called Kildare’s, a good place for an afternoon drink. It was very comfortable, had a big oak bar, and there was even an old drunken guy mumbling at the end of the bar. Most importantly they had Guinness on tap, and it was Brilliant!
Our shot of the day was something called a Washington Apple, I think it was Crown Royal and Apple Schnapps. It was sweet and a little sour, and had a serious kick, we had many. We asked the bartender and a waitress where we could find a good belly piercer, there were plenty places all around, but since they were both fairly well pierced and tattooed, we thought they might have an in.
We hit the street, stopped to drop a few more quarters in the meter, and headed to South 4th Street the home of several body modification shops. We were buzzed but not drunk as we entered No Ka Oi Tiki Tattoo and Body Piercing. We picked this particular place because it looked clean and there were a lot of people inside (the other shops were empty). Our piercer was friendly and professional, not to mention extremely modified and just a little scary. You have to be a bit leery of someone who sticks needles into people for fun and profit.
Unfortunately for me, though fortunately for the pierced among us, no one is allowed in the room while the procedure takes place. I was hoping to photograph the event for posterity, and also to tease and annoy Dolores as he jammed the giant needle in her belly button.
I was impressed, Dolores was one tough cookie! She didn’t scream or yell at all! I’m sure I would have fainted and caused a scene, but I don’t think there’s much of a chance I’ll ever be getting belly pierced.
To celebrate her newly perforated torsoÂ we hit Manny Brown’s a great little dive-ey bar around 5th and South, but we didn’t stay long. The piercing gave Dolores a burst of energy; I hope she doesn’t turn into one of those addicted to piercing people.
Later we browsed a few of these new Porno-Chic shops that seem to be popping up all over South Street. There have always been edgy shops going back to places like Zipperhead, where leather bondage-type apparel had been available for years, but it was more of a tourist thing, a place for teenage skater-boys to look and giggle like Beavis & Butthead.
Now the concept has gone mainstream, we went into several places, and any porn stigma was obviously gone. There were no old men in trench-coats here, only perky teens paying cash as not to alarm complacent parentals.
Next it was to the Wasabi House for a healthful sushi dinner, and then to Bridget Foy’s for drinks (yeah more drinks). Bridget Foy’s was excellent; I put it on my “dinner next time” list.
Overall it was a very good dining and drinking day, oh piercing too, and by the time I got home on Sunday, just before the Eagles game, my head was full of fresh ideas, time to get to work
September 10, 2006
I planned to spend the day in Philly, hang out, do some people watching, but I missed the damned train. Undeterred, I figured I’d grab the bus, and I was only steps from the stop when the southbound 55 bus roared passed me.
I was about to give up and hit the diner for a late breakfast when a northbound 55 crested the hill. Seeing it I thought, “Maybe I’ll go to the mall and buy a book,” and a minute later I was dropping my token.
The 55 bus runs from Olney Station in North Philly to the Willow Grove Park Mall (about a mile from my house), and once every hour or so, it continues 12 miles north to Doylestown, PA. I’d always heard Doylestown was a nice place with a cozy historic district, and since it was a bright sunny day, I decided to take a trip.
I de-bussed at State & Main. State & Main, how middle-America-ville can you get. The historic downtown was clean and well peopled at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning. Quaint shops and cafe style eateries lined the narrow streets. Historic houses remodeled into B&B’s sprouted shi-shi restaurants at street level. Well dressed suburbanites were window shopping, their kids eating ice cream on the warm summer day. Enough to make you puke, huh?
Doylestown was founded by the Doyle family in 1692 after receiving a land grant from Willy Penn himself. I felt an immediate kinship with the Irish founders until I read they were actually French, moving to Ireland during the Inquisition. I guess that was a pretty good move, the Inquisition never sounded like much fun.
It’s not all high-end boutiques, I browsed Siren Used Records (yes records) a wonderfully dusty place. Speaking of dust, on the next block was Bucks County Used & Old Books, a no-pressure place to wander about and loose yourself for an hour. There were also strategically placed coffee shops if you’re jones’in for the bean: Bucks County Coffee, Coffee & Cream, and Cafe America to name a few.
Over on East State Street is an art-house cinema; The County Theater. I’m not a big fan of that kind of stuff, but the art deco facade was striking. Around the corner sits Pane e Vino a laid-back Italian joint with outdoor seating, and on Printers Alley a place called Puck, located in the basement of some stuffy bank building. Puck is a funky little place, its sign is a arrow pointing to the basement steps, offering live music and good food.
Across from The County Theater is the Masonic Lodge. Built in 1840 the lodge is perfectly restored, well kept and oozing with evil (I read the DaVinci Code). Back on Main Street I stopped in The Other Side for a pint of Guinness. This was my kind of place, a comfortable neighborhood bar with Irish flavor, and this one had a white tablecloth bistro attached.
I can’t wait to try some of these restaurants. Paganini has a outdoor cafe fenced in with some kind of vine obscuring the patrons from the sidewalk. Slate Bleu is a date destination; a warm atmosphere with exposed brick and timbers, in a revamped circa 1864 building.
In the late 60′s and early 70′s the explosion of malls found Woolworth’s and the other American Main Street mainstays loosing-out to one-stop convenience. Lucky for the people of Bucks County, in the 90′s a few business and community leaders bought up those dying buildings, restored them, and saved them from the wrecking ball.
The cafe I wrote this in is the former William Doyl’s Tavern built in 1745, and was the original name for the area. Of course it’s now a Starbucks, really, it is. I’m reserving judgment though. Fifteen years ago there were plans to turn The Fountain House, as it was then known, it into a municipal parking lot, but now it stands proudly as a glittering jewel of post-millennial Americanism.
At three-thirty I hopped on the 55 bus back to Philly. Maybe next weekend I’ll hop on another bus and see where I end up.
August 13, 2006
â€œWhere can I get a nice Bikini?â€ Dee asked Mr. Brown Around Town.
â€œA really small one,â€ I chimed in hopefully.
â€œYes, Yes, I know a place for you,â€ of course he did, taxi drivers in Jamaica can get you anything you want, and a few minutes later we pulled into the craft market just past the airport.
Iâ€™d never been there before. The place seemed cleaner and sturdier than the bigger craft market near town. The older women working the booths didnâ€™t look very aggressive, and it being a holiday, I was hoping for some bargains. I immediately did what I always do when I go to one of these places. I bought a Red Stripe, and tried to look aloof. I also bought one for Mr. Brown, and a bottle of water for Dee.
The first couple booths didnâ€™t have any bikinis, but the third one did. A chubby Jamaican woman showed Dee several hand woven, very small bikinis. She picked a white one with a purple design on it, and asked to try it on. They both looked at me like, â€œWell, go outside while we do this!â€ I was a bit hurt. I grabbed a crocheted Rasta-Dread hat for my nephew and skulked out the door.
â€œSheâ€™s trying on bikinis.â€ I said to Mr. Brown as I perused the other stalls. I wasnâ€™t in a shopping mood, so I used my well-worn â€œIâ€™m not buying souvenirs till right before I leaveâ€ line. It worked pretty well, but I think the other women wanted some action since Dee was obviously buying from the other woman.
â€œViiiinnnnnyyyyâ€ Dee calls in her best alluring voice, â€œCome tell me what you thiii-iinnnk!â€
There are worse things in life than being the bikini approver. Dee was self-conscious about her weight, but her standards were overly high. At 115#â€™s sheâ€™s a hard-body, now at 122 she feels fat. She looked fantastic.
â€œYou look fantastic!â€ I marveled.
â€œI love it!â€ she said spinning around, and headed for a wall of colorful sarongs.
The shopkeeper just smiled knowing she could name her price. I was happy Dee found something she liked, but her enthusiasm severely limited my haggling opportunities. So after overpaying by a good twenty-five percent, we were back on the road, and decided to stop for a snack.
â€œWho do you think has the best Jerk Chicken in Negril?â€ I asked Mr. Brown. â€œDo you mind stopping somewhere? Your choiceâ€¦â€
â€œOzzie the best,â€ Mr. Brown said matter-of-factly and pulled in front of the small store. Iâ€™d heard of Ozzieâ€™s, and many Negrilheads swear by it. I was open-minded.
Ozzieâ€™s was clean, and a cross-wind kept the small dining area cool. I ordered Tings and Jerk Chicken for the three of us, but they only had one order of chicken left, so it was Jerk Pork for Mr. Brown and me.
Every trip to Negril I award one place my â€œBest Jerkâ€ award. Ozzieâ€™s had quick service and the food was excellent (especially the pork), but I wasnâ€™t awarding anyone till I gave last tripâ€™s reigning champ â€œBest of the Westâ€ a shot.
By five oâ€™clock we were home at the Castle. I went inside to take a cool shower, while Dee made herself a cocktail and hit the deck chair to soak up the late afternoon sun in her new bikini. I must have dozed in the cool breeze, but was awakened by voices outside. I looked outside to see Dee napping where Iâ€™d left her.
The Castle must have been close to full occupancy, several couples had commandeered the yard chairs and lounges, and the people in the penthouse were having a sunset party. I walked over to Dee, stopping to say hello to our castle-mates. I sat on the edge of Deeâ€™s chair staring to the horizon.
â€œIâ€™d forgotten how beautiful it wasâ€¦â€ Dee said solemnly not seeming to notice the twenty people sharing the view. I pulled her foot onto my lap and massaged it absentmindedly.
â€œListen,â€ I said as the sun floated near the horizonâ€™s edge. A few moments pass, â€œSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, did you hear it?â€
â€œI must have missed it,â€ Dee giggled. â€œItâ€™s so beautiful here.â€
â€œYou fit right in.â€ I stated smoothly. â€œHow do you feel about a romantic seaside dinner, champagne and lobster?â€
â€œMmmm, sounds nice, is it close?â€ Dee cooed.
â€œJust a few doors down. Just past that point,â€ I said, pointing down the coastline. â€œGo get dolled up.â€
â€œI have something in mind. I need to take a shower first.â€ Dee said.
â€œYou just took a shower.â€
â€œIâ€˜m suddenly feeling dirty.â€
Dee rolled her eyes, and ran off to our cool stone room. I looked around and noticed the sunset watchers were mostly gone as was the sun, but the cloud dusted sky was still alive in pinks, corals and blues. It is really beautiful here.
I was shaken back to earth by the faint sound of our shower, I dashed inside.
Dinner at Xtabi
About an hour later Dee and I pulled up to Xtabi. A wonderful place, hundreds of small white Christmas lights draped all about, juxtaposed with leafy tropical plants. The rhythmic beat of the sea joined gentle island music playing on cheap scratchy speakers adding to the charm. Xtabi is a testament to rustic Caribbean elegance.
We walked to the bar and ordered two very dry martinisâ€”it was a martini kind of place. The bartender was well practiced, chilling the glasses, stirring vigorously and pouring properly. Unfortunately for Dee they had no olives, so she settled for a lime twist. Dee was beautiful, her loosely wrapped flower print dress defied gravity as she sipped her drink.
I asked the hostess for a table on the cliffâ€™s edge. She said it would be half and hour, but there were other tables ready. We decided to wait. The bar room was nearly full, though we were the alone at the bar. The staff was mellow here. The bartender didnâ€™t put on a show like many of his Negril colleagues, even the guests spoke in hushed tones.
Once at the table we ordered a bottle of champagne, grilled lobster and grilled red snapper. In no time our waiter returned with the bubbly, and popped the cork lavishly off the cliff into the abyss beyond. Dee couldnâ€™t understand why they didnâ€™t light up the cliff-side and the ocean below.
â€œThis is nice, but it would be so beautiful to see it lit up,â€ she said.
â€œI never thought of it, Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a good reason. Jamaicans donâ€™t seem too shy about making a buck.â€ I replied
â€œThe fish donâ€™t like light in the night-time,â€ the waiter said, responding to Deeâ€™s question. She still thought it bad marketing.
The food was very good. The natural, earthy taste of the impossibly fresh seafood called for slow eating, savoring every bite, cutting small pieces and chewing a bit longer. The side dishes of buttery callaloo and plantain added texture to complete the meal. Dee even wrapped up a few pieces of lobster to take with us.
â€œYouâ€™re breakfast,â€ Dee smiled as she handed her plate to the waiter.
â€œWoo Hoo!â€ I responded, currently stuffed but looking forward to cold morning lobster chunks.
We must have been the last dinner seating. We noticed the other diners sipping after dinner drinks, enjoying the starry night, so we ordered fruity frozen frou-frou drinks, and joined them. One of the guys a few tables away was playing astronomer, pointing out the various constellations. I have no idea how those ancient astronomers looked at the stars and saw crabs, warriors, bulls and virgins.
â€œSee thatâ€¦â€ I said to Dee pointing to a range of stars, â€œThatâ€™s the Bob Marley constellation. And over there, a Gianticus Splifficusâ€¦â€
Mr. Astronomer guy wasnâ€™t amused and thought I was busting his balls.
â€œAssholeâ€¦â€ was all I heard but there was more said. Dee put her hand to her mouth as if she was laughing in church
I laughed, â€œDude Iâ€™m just playing, relax.â€ I asked the waiter to fill their drinks, but the guy grabbed his date and stormed off.
â€œFucking Americans!â€ he grumbled as he passed us.
Now I donâ€™t usually like to be â€œThe Ugly Americanâ€, but in this case I was proud of the distiction.
I woke Tuesday morning with a big head. I stumbled for a bottle of wata and a packet of Excedrin. On my extensive packing list, hangover medicine is a high priority. I went outside and the sun was already up, taunting me. â€œHowâ€™s your head? Go get a cup of coffee. Go now, I havenâ€™t heated the sidewalks yet.â€
I headed across the foot-burning concrete. â€œLiarâ€ I grumbled as I retreated onto the grass. I didnâ€™t see Petrona sitting with some guests.
â€œHi Vinny, what did you say?â€ Petrona asked.
â€œha Ha, um, oh nothing. Just muttering, how are you today?â€ I said.
â€œOh Iâ€™m fine, how are you and your friend enjoying your stay?â€ Petrona asked, ever the hostess.
â€œWe love it! Having a great time! Hey Petrona do any restaurants deliver?â€ I asked.
â€œYes, Brown Sugar, do you need the number?â€ She replied.
I filled two coffee mugs as Petrona went to get me the number. Then I headed back to the room, to deliver Deeâ€™s morning coffee. She was already in the shower, so I ordered breakfast.
Dee emerged from the room wearing only her new sarong. She drank her coffee and some OJ weâ€™d bought for screwdrivers. In a few minutes a girl with bags of food arrived. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly it came, and by how inexpensive it was, only 600J for two meals with fresh squeezed mango/orange juice. I tipped well, hoping to make an impression.
We had one American Breakfast, (bacon, eggs, and toast) plus an order of Callaloo and Saltfish with Johnny Cakes. It was good, a little salty, and Dee wasnâ€™t expecting bones in breakfast, but we polished it all off in record time. So quickly in fact that when the ownerâ€™s dogs came by we had nothing for them, but Dee had an idea.
â€œAre you guys hungry?â€ Dee asked while playing with the dogs, and before I could do anything she was feeding them my lobster chunks from last night!
â€œHey! They were mine!â€ I objected. The dogs were laughing as they walked away.
Dee walked over to refill her coffee, fighting to keep her sarong from falling off most of the trip.
I saw a man talking to Petrona, asking about Vinny. I looked over and made eye contact as he waved.
â€œHey Vinny!â€ He said as he came over. â€œVinny from Philly?â€
â€œThatâ€™s me,â€ I said.
â€œIâ€™m Cliff, Cardboard Box from the Negril.com board.â€ He held out his hand.
â€œHey Cardboard Box!â€ I said shaking his hand, just then Dee came back.
â€œYou must be Dee,â€ he stated, as he shook her hand. She was still fighting with her sarong.
We chatted awhile, taking about who was in town and where people were staying. Cardboard Box Cliff was a long time Negril visitor also from Pennsylvania, but he lives out in horse and buggy country.
â€œI see youâ€™re having trouble with your top, Iâ€™ll sit this way.â€ Cliff said gentlemanly as he sat on the half wall enclosing our patio, now facing away from Dee.
â€œThank You.â€ Dee said letting the sarong fall, â€œYou turn around too,â€ She said to me, getting back to her breakfast. I joined Cliff looking out to sea.
Cardboard Box Cliff soon headed on down the road, saying something about lunch at Jackieâ€™s on the Reef. I made a mental note, but I didnâ€™t really feel like doing much that day especially after finding a place that delivered.
Dee had gone inside to oil herself up for morning tanning, and I sat on our porch to read my book. A few minutes passed and she was out on her deck chair, falling into a morning routine. Suddenly my rented cell phone rang, the number didnâ€™t seem familiar, but I answered it.
â€œHi Vinny?â€ the voice said.
â€œYes, whoâ€™s this?â€ I asked.
â€œSara Champlin, the masseuse, we emailed last weekâ€¦â€ She said.
â€œOh Hi Sara, how are you? I forgot we made a tentative for Tuesday, are we still on?â€ I answered, Iâ€™d forgotten all about booking her.
â€œYes, we were set for Noon.â€
â€œWhat time is it now?â€
â€œDamn, can we reschedule for 2PM?â€ I asked.
â€œSure see you then!â€ She was very professional.
â€œGreat! Weâ€™ll see you at 2PM.â€ This lazy day was taking shape.
I walked over to Dee to tell her the news, and I was surprised to see her tanning sans top. I mean I wasnâ€™t objecting, I just wasnâ€™t expecting them, errâ€¦ I mean it.
â€œHey sexy, want a massage?â€ I asked in my smooth voice.
â€œNot by you!â€ She blurted out. She must have seen my face drop because she started laughing, â€œI didnâ€™t mean it that way.â€
â€œYouâ€™d better not. I have a masseuse scheduled for 2PMâ€ I said.
â€œMan or Woman?â€ She asked skeptically.
â€œA Jamaican guy with a foot long penis,â€ I said matter-of-factly.
â€œGreaaaat! OK, do me a favor then, go buy some bigger condoms. Your extra smalls wonâ€™t fit him.â€Â She thought she was just hilarious.
â€œBitch,â€ I said over her snorting laughter. â€œHer name is Sara, and she comes highly recommended. I made the appointment last week.â€
â€œAwesome! Is there any ice water dear?â€ She asked, regaining her composure.
â€œYes, Iâ€™ll be right back, my queen,â€ I replied dryly.
â€œYeeessssss, youâ€™re coming along nicely,â€ she said in her best Dr. Evil voice, raising a pinky to the corner of her mouth and all.
I retuned with her water and asked, â€œAm I just a pervert, or is every woman in this place topless right now?â€
â€œI know! Those girls from upstairs are down by the water,â€ Dee whispered.
I looked. â€œIâ€™m going for a dip!â€ I said, maybe a bit too loudly.
â€œShhhhh,â€ she giggled. â€œDid you notice all the men are sitting out too?â€
â€œYou love the attention.â€ I scoffed.
â€œNo I donâ€™t,â€ she lied.
â€œAah, let them look, even Iâ€™m having a hard time looking you in the eyes.â€
â€œYouâ€™re not doing a very good jobâ€¦ and, yes, you are a pervert!â€ She said giggling and covering up.
I looked up and noticed the Jamaican guy around the corner from us reading a book at his table, and the penthouse occupant was looking down shamelessly enjoying the view. I waved, he waved back. â€œIâ€™m getting the penthouse next time,â€ I greenly thought to myself.
â€œIâ€™m going to hit the ATM and the store, are you sure youâ€™re ok?â€ I asked.
â€œYeah, go now, how long will you be?â€ She asked putting her top back on.
â€œHalf hour max,â€ I replied
I really wasnâ€™t very motivated to leave. Some family and friends asked why I took so few pictures on this trip, I donâ€™t know how I answered exactly, but nothing would spoil the scene than a guy with a camera. I wasnâ€™t going to be â€œthatâ€ guy.
I walked over to Fuzzy who was manning the main gate and asked him where the closest ATM was. He told me the bodega across the way would change dollars or travelerâ€™s checks, but Iâ€™d get the best exchange rate from the ATM in town. Iâ€™d thought so, but how technology was spreading in Negril, I figured Iâ€™d ask. Fuzzy flagged me down a â€œgoodâ€ taxi, and in a few minutes I was at Scotia Bank. IÂ got some US, some J, and then walked over to the Hi-Lo to get some goodies.
Dee wanted some pretzels or chips, but Jamaicans have a different view of junk food. I purchased my very first Doritos in Jamaica, some Jackass Crackers, some sweet buns, beer, juices, a fifth of Absolut, and a $14.00 bottle of French champagne as a surprise. Big spender, dat Vinny!
Dee took a cool shower a few minutes before her massage. Sara arrived five minutes before 2PM, setting up as Dee toweled off. Sara was very professional, but there was a warmth, a spiritual energy around her that Dee keyed in on right way. They talked for a few minutes before deciding to do the massage on our patio. There was a cool breeze off the sea, and complete shade at that time of day.
I wasnâ€™t sure if I wanted a massage, but when I met Sara I decided to go for it. I took a shower, then a nap while Dee received her rubdown. I was in a very relaxed state as I climbed onto the table. I recommend Sara to anyone, not only did she manipulate well my sore muscles,Â she channeled my energy, and revived my spirit. It felt like meditating with another person steering. It was one of the deepest massages I ever recieved, amazing.
After saying good-bye to Sara, I plopped on the deck chair next to Dee. We laid there for a while, when I realized I was probably getting burned I went inside and napped till almost Sunset.
â€œWhere did this come from?â€ Dee asked, finding the champagne in the fridge.
â€œSurprise,â€ I said waking. â€œWhat are we doing for Dinner?â€
â€œLetâ€™s stay in,â€ she said finding the fresh bottle of Absolut in the freezer.
â€œFine with me, Iâ€™ll order from that place,â€ I said meaning Brown Sugar.
There was an awful lot of haze on the horizon that evening. Still, everyone was out to watch the sunset. I rolled a spliff, and Dee popped the champagne. We sat on our deck chairs to enjoy the show, but soon found ourselves mingling with fellow guests. Here-to-fore weÂ had only shared smiles and waves. It was nice to hang and talk with people, maybe all the bare flesh earlier that day brought us all closer together. I canâ€™t think of a better way for it to happen.
Our food arrived just as the sun set. We retired to our patio for a nice dinner of Jerk Chicken and Curried Goat. We added fruit juice to the champagne to extend it, but it still didnâ€™t last very long. So I switched to beer and ganja, and Dee got into the Vodka.
We moved the deck chairs to give us aÂ dance floor close to the cliff. Dee cranked up the specially burned CD sheâ€™d made for the trip. The CD weas a compilation of hits from the 80â€™s, and they were pretty horrible. The kind of horrible you find yourself dancing to at weddings. Journey, Styx and REO Speedwagon, not to mention one hit wonders like Maniac from Flashdance, and What a Feeling from Fame. Luckily there was no Michael Jackson.
As people came back from dinner or wherever, theyâ€™d stop by and hang with us a bitÂ before heading back to thier rooms. We had fun late into the night, until we realized all theÂ lights were out, and our music was much too loud, so we finally crashed.
Wednesday – Finding Nemo
I was up before dawn and went straight for the coffee, but I let myself fall back to sleep when the hangover hit. Dee all but fell out of bed, stumbling to get cold water from the fridge, she looked to see where the sun was.
â€œWant some Excedrin? Itâ€™s good shit.â€ I offered as I pulled myself onto my feet.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m fine. Iâ€™m missing sun, this is my last day.â€ She said absently.
â€œCool, Iâ€™ll find out about that boat ride,â€ recalling a foggy memory of a snorkeling conversation with that couple from Cleveland.
â€œAwesome! Letâ€™s take a dip.â€ She was already moving toward the door.
â€œDeal,â€ I said pulling on swim trunks.
The morning sun was bright, but not yet hot. We climbed down the stairs from the castleâ€™s base to the platform near the water. Without fanfare we both jumped in, well she jumped in without fanfare, I was a bit more tentative. Tuesday, Dee had been accosted by several pointy little fish who seemed hungry to her. I got a pretty good look at them, so I was charged with lookout duties, but the little creatures didnâ€™t show.
I climbed out of the water after a few minutes and began to videotape Dee swimming. It wasnâ€™t long before a family of teenage girls came down to snorkel along the cliff-face. One of the girls noticed a Puffer Fish in a little dent near the cave entrance. Everyone got excited, except the fish who stayed un-puffed.
â€œLook a Puffer Fish!â€ One of the girls called to her sisters. They all leaned over for a look.
Dee looked a little concerned, â€œUmâ€¦ Are they nice?â€
â€œYeah, itâ€™s only a Puffer Fish,â€ she said, the â€œduhâ€ was implied.
â€œOh, like in Finding Nemo,â€ Dee said.
â€œYeah!â€ several girls replied.
â€œI loved that movie!â€ Dee laughed, â€œLenny is my favorite.â€
Everyone laughed and the girls snorkeled away like they were fish themselves.
The water had brought us back to life, I went for coffee and Dee took a shower. I ran into Petrona and asked her if she knew a glass bottom boat and snorkeling guy. She made a call and put me on the phone with Famous Vincent. I told him we were looking to go somewhere between two and three that afternoon. He answered, predictably, with â€œNo Problem Mon.â€
I returned to find Dee sitting at our table smoking a spliff from last night. I handed her a steaming coffee mug.
â€œSnorkeling between two and three,â€ I told her, â€œthen we can do sunset at Rickâ€™s.â€
â€œCool, Sounds good,â€ She said, â€œthat will be fun.â€
â€œHe said you can sunbathe on the deck,â€ I added, â€œbut if his boat is as small as the ones weâ€™ve been seeing, I donâ€™t know where youâ€™re going to do it.â€
â€œItâ€™s ok Iâ€™m gonna lay out all morning,â€ She said sipping her coffee. â€œEww, this is too sweet.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry, Iâ€™ll get you another,â€ I offered.
â€œNo, Iâ€™ll do it, enjoy your book,â€ She popped up and walked across the mildly peopled yard wearing only bikini bottoms. I guess she figured everyone had already seen her, but still I was impressed with her liberation. Iâ€™m a big fan of the womanâ€™s movement, especially when Iâ€™m walking behind it.
She was almost back to the porch when the people from the penthouse met up with her. They came into our portico and we made our introductions. Scott and Deb were heading out to lunch and invited us along, but we told them we had planned to chill this morning.
Sitting down Dee was all giggles. â€œWhen I was laying out yesterday, that lady, Deb was lying out and said, â€˜I guess itâ€™s ok to go topless down here.â€™ With that she took her top off, and her boobs were gi-normous! I didn’t know where to look!â€ Dee blushed as she told the story. â€œI felt like a little girl next to her, I was, like, â€˜Iâ€™ll be going inside nowâ€¦â€™â€
â€œWow too bad I missed it, I mean, themâ€¦â€ I laughed. â€œMaybe she was hitting on you?â€
â€œSheâ€™s here with her husband, duhâ€ Dee scoffed with a little smirk.
â€œMaybe theyâ€™re swingers?â€ I replied, â€œShe totally wants you.â€
â€œIn your dreamsâ€¦â€ She sipped her coffee.
â€œI didnâ€™t bring it up.â€ I added, â€œMust be in your dreams.â€
â€œYouâ€™re such a jerk.â€ She pretended to storm off to her deck chair looking back with an impish smile.
- To be Continued
August 4, 2006
I know I’m supposed to be Vinny from Philly, but my job often causes me to worm my way into the Big Apple. Today is supposed to be the hottest day in NYC in 100 years, and somehow I ended up in the middle of the swelter-y-ing-ness-ism.
I’m in a Starbucks at 8th Ave betwixt 43rd and 44th Streets, it’s cool temperature-wise, relatively uncool as NYC coffee shops go. A pedesrian coffee shop one might say, not one I would normally get the urge to blog from, but any port in the proverbial storm.
I usually walk the 0.7 miles from my office to the Hoboken Train Station, it’s usually a nice walk, Hoboken is some kind of magnet for beautiful women, most of whom take the PATH train into NYC, but today I flagged down a cab, it was just too damned hot.
Once at the World Trade Center, I hopped on the wonderfully air-conditioned E Train which took me up to mid-town. The air in the NYC underground is stifling. Jeez! Luckily the place I was going to was about ten steps from the Subway entrance. I dropped off some parts to a colleague and walked half a block to perch here for a while.
My next move is to hop back on the E Train to 34th Street, (No–I’m not walking) and then hop a Yellow Train to Prince Street (Soho). I will then walk several steamy blocks to the Aroma Cafe to fix thier fingerprint software. I have fingerprint software fixing skills.
I survived; barely. It is still really freakin’ hot! The “Real Feel” tempature at 3:30PM was 116 degrees.
I took a different track to my appointment. I saw signs for the Yellow Line right at 44th Street, which is all a part of the 42nd Street Concourse. I didn’t realize how far I had to walk to get to the Yellow Line. From 44th and 8th to about 41st and 7th, but it was better than walking in the sun. Still I was in full body free sweat by the time I got on my train.
I took the Yellow R Train to Prince Street, and the train’s A/C was working well. I was still soaked when I got to Aroma Cafe at Greene and Houston (pronounced HOW-stun). They were busy so I locked my stinky sweaty self in the well cooled office for a couple hours. By the time I hit the street again, I felt pretty cool. I dropped down into the Subway at Broadway & Lafayette, another cool train to Penn Station, and right onto a departing PATH train back to Hoboken. I wasn’t too bad after all, but now I’m heading back to Philly!
August 2, 2006
I spent the last few days working in Philly. Center City, as we call it, is known for it’s historical edifi, it’sÂ public sculptures, The Art Museum, and the newÂ NationalÂ Constitution Center.Â But I love it for itÂ for the street food!
You’d expectÂ the “City of Neighborhoods” to have great restaurants, but the street vendors are amazing.Â In New York City you can get the famous “dirty water hot dog,” but in Philly you can get a meal.
Wednesday morning I got off the R2 Warminster at Suburban Station. I walked past the dozen or so shops in the station concourse, andÂ up to street level to visit Tom’s Lunch Cart. It was about 9AM and I hadn’t had breakfast. I waited patiently as a woman gave Tom strict orders on exactly how he was to prepare her, whatever it was. The gray haired Tom smiled and joked with her as he happily went about his work.
I’d only been there a few times, but Tom, and his wife, who was filling the beverage bin preparing for the lunch rush, both greeted me like an old friend. I ordered two eggs with scrapple and cheese on a roll with salt, pepper and hot sauce. My mouth watering as he efficiently prepared my food, I was shocked whenÂ my bill was only $2.75.
I paid him, said goodbye, and scurried across the street like a squirrel with an especially good acorn. I sat in the beautiful Love Park, and opened my “Heaven in a Bag.” Words just can’t describe the crispy, yet gooey scrappley yumminessÂ mixing gently withÂ egg and hot sauce on the world famous Amoroso Roll. A true culinary orgasm!
I went into an adjacent building, and did my work thing for half the day. At about 3PM I was walking back through the park thinking about lunch. Right there on 16th Street, between Market & JFK, there are several greatÂ food carts withÂ fantastic cheesesteaks, South Philly sausage, and evenÂ fruit salad if you’re feeling guilty.
Â I walked past them all to hit “The King of Falafel.” I don’t think he’s really a king, it’s the best falafel in Philly.
This time I got a falafel sandwich with baba ganouj. Insead of a pita they put it in a wrap-like thingy, much like the Jamiacan roti, some hot sauce; Woo Hoo, another great meal!
Check out the “Roach Coaches” next time you’re in Philly!
June 16, 2006
My daughter Kristine was born twenty years ago today! WOW!Â
I remember like it was yesterday! MeetingÂ Kris for the first time, I knew right away she was cool! Her mom was there too, making a lot of noise if I remember correctly, but I did most ofÂ the work. It’s stressful inÂ them delivery rooms!
I have to admit to getting a bit misty looking through her photos, I think I feel an ode coming on!
Kristine’s Twentieth Birthday Ode
O’ Kristine, O’ Kristine
O’ How I love thee
You looked like this when you were about three
Once such a cutie
You’ve grown into a beauty!
You play, You sing, You dance
OK, andÂ occasionally youÂ prance
Your look has changed year by year
But there were no facial piercings for Dad to fear
You work so hard, and you play the same
It amazes me how you win your game!
Although below you’re looking a tad bit lame, but I don’t mean to flame
So take today and try to chill,
I send you my love, my heart it does fill
Just think, in six months we’ll be back in Negril!!
Happy Birthday Kris!
May 14, 2006
It looked easy from the picture on the box. How hard could it be?
(L to R) Michael, Aidan, Priya, Uncle Vinny
May 1, 2006
I decided to turn the camera on the webcast last Wednesday night.
I took a few pictures of Rob, but my cheapo camera wasn’t very kind to his dashing expatriate good looks!
I was going for the “Hall of Mirrors” thing
August 24, 2005
It’s all about Selina’s!!
Nice family, great food and a Bloody Mary for breakfast. I ate breakfast at Selina’s three or four times this week. “The Big Nyam” a few hours before plane time kept me full till Philly!
The Best in the West
Late night Jerk Chicken Fix. I love the way they jam the bread in with the chicken so by the time you get back to your room it’s all warm and gooey and delicious!
Jenny’s on the West End
Great Food, Low Prices. Brown Stew 250J, Ackee & Saltfish 300J!
Chippewa Village and Buddah Grove
Good Pizza at Buddah Grove. Stop by and say hi to Rose for me! The resort was empty, but looked like a nice place!
I felt like I was adopted for an hour! Patties on a whole other level!
Damn! Now I’m hungry! I’m going out for a Cheesesteak!!
August 21, 2005
Ahhh the Negril Sunset!!
Smokey Joe’s Great Jerk Chicken!!
This is my kind of restaurant!!
A little “Rackspotting” on the beach!!
The Jungle!! Fun place, and the Jamaican girls seemed so friendly
More to Come . . .
August 20, 2005
Ok, Who wants to by this place?? Needs a likkle work
Back again at Surf & Talk, a great little place. Water, Ting and Really reliable DSL access.
Headed over to Selina’s to get some of her World Famous Coffee. I have to do this early so I can fit it all into my luggage!
Rob’s buddy Ken flagged me down on the way here and we cut a fair deal to the airport. I’ve been pretty good with taxis, spotting the route-taxi and paying standard fare. Even when they try to jam you for double it’s still only 50J. Which would have been a tip anyway.
Dreading packing my stuff. I hate the finality of it
I tried to lenthen my stay but it was either Saturday or Monday, not Sunday. So I’m headed out if town at 2ish.
Next post I’ll be statesitde!!
August 19, 2005