Friday, September 30, 2011

New York Aquarium, High Line, Rum House

Why yes, Empire State Building, you are more than welcome to have a sip of my g&t.
After spending a good part of the day on Coney Island's boardwalk and beach, we headed into the New York Aquarium. It was a great day to be there -- practically had the place to ourselves. I saw some seahorses there, and sharks. And some really odd fish that had both of their eyes one side of their face. They swim low and flat near the sand, flat like a pancake with their eyes on top rather than vertical like a sail with an eye on either side. Strange!

And I think one of their seals is magic. See if you can tell:

A couple of highlights the next day involved walking along the High Line -- an elevated train track turned elevated park and playground. It absolutely requires people relax and enjoy themselves up there, with places to sit everywhere -- chairs and lawns -- and tons of plants and trees. In some spots it's hard to believe you're above one of the busiest cities in the world rather than walking through a wooded backyard. My favorite part of the High Line is a fountain that is part of the sidewalk. Water streams across the top and people are allowed to walk through it. It was such a huge relief to pull of my socks and step into the cool, trickling water after a long day of walking the city streets! (Here's another story about its history.)

Enjoyed a night cap at a couple of places, including the La Quinta hotel. Doesn't sound terribly glamorous, but their outdoor rooftop bar has a stellar view of the Empire State Building.

Day after that we got burgers at P.J. Clarke's, I met my editor at CBS, and got drinks at Hotel Edison's Rum House. It was a chilly evening and the Rum House was a perfect place to get out of the wind. It's a cozy, dark bar that serves only drinks, no food. It's easy to linger there, especially when the live jazz begins.

The JC Hopkins trio played the night I was there. Have a listen, Chester!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Richard Branson, Joe Allen, and a Times Square Jumbo Tron

Our first stop on this trip was in Queens, where our favorite deli is located. We got there in time to see the longest sandwich I've ever seen -- it was 5 feet long.

Then this happened:
My mom met Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin empire. He was in a little bit of a hurry to make his segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but was nice enough to stop for a quick photo. Wish I had time to tell him I would be happy to be one of the first bloggers to be sent into space via his Galactic project.

Afterward, mom and I went to Joe Allen. It's our favorite place to drink Sidecars -- they make them with lemon juice, but are always happy to accommodate my request for lime juice instead.

And then, while walking through Times Square, we noticed we were on one of the jumbo trons.

Those waving, blurry figures are us.

So we waved to the masses before heading to Greenwich Village, where I stumbled upon Sockerbit, a brand new candy store that features sweets from Sweden. My sweet tooth got the best of me here, so I ended up getting a selection of goodies to bring back to the hotel.

Have a sweet day, Chester!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunsets and Shrieking on Coney Island

Visited Coney Island twice during our trip this year -- on September 14 and, when we found out the rides weren't in service that day, we went back on the 18th. No big deal. Not like it's a problem to have to visit a seaside amusement park twice in a week, is it?

Mom and I brought some Nathan's hotdogs to the boardwalk, had some lemonade, and flew kites on the beach (she brought them from a Dollar Store in MN). Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped in at the aquarium in time to see the penguins eat a late lunch. They're quite refined when it comes to dining -- they each waited their turn, ate a couple of fish, then moved out of the way for the next well-dressed fellow. Messy on their finish though -- look out. They shake their heads instead of wiping their beaks with napkins. I was expecting more manners from such refined dressers.

On the 18th, I saw a tweet from @NYCTBusStop about a special nostalgia train running limited stops from Times Square to 96th street. So our second trip to the beach was delayed a little while. What a wild ride! This train was originally in service beginning in 1917, had ceiling fans and we got to have the windows open. It was fun seeing people on the platform realize this was not a regular train. Mom cracked up some lady by shouting out the window, "What century is this?"

After that we rode the Wonder Wheel, and I got to the Cyclone in time to sit in the very first seat. This coaster is liable to break a person, so I figure I better ride it while I can. I had to shut the camera off after the first dive because, well, I needed both hands to hang on, dang it. My arm was sore for the rest of the trip.

Played on the beach until sunset, ate ice cream, and met my doppelganger -- Coney Island's very own Lola Staar. The rest of our trip consisted of eating and drinking, of course.

Will report more soon, Chester!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drinking Podcast and an Opening Gala

In front of the new Cowles Center. Photo by Bunny.

THE NEW COWLES CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS officially opened this weekend. Before opening to the public on Sunday, Bunny and I headed over on Saturday night for a preview gala. The last time I was there, I donned a hard hat. Read all about it here.

The dust has since cleared; the whole place is crisp and spacious. The theater itself really is a sweet jewelry box of a place. It's an incredibly intimate theater to see performances -- dance in particular. There doesn't appear to be a bad seat in the house.

BUNNY AND I WILL BE RECORDING THE VERY FIRST Bunny and Coco Get Smashed podcast soon, with special guest and documentary filmmaker Susan Marks. I can't wait! The name of the podcast has the same name as mine and Bunny's ebook. Bought it yet?

Susan Marks talks with John Waters
We'll tell drinking stories, review places to drink, and of course the hard stuff itself: al-kee-hal. We'll be interviewing filmmaker Susan Marks, whose documentary "Of Dolls and Murder" is having its Minnesota premier on September 28th at The Heights Theater. She shares the fascinating history of Frances Glessner Lee -- specifically her hobby of meticulously recreating murder scenes with homemade dolls and dollhouses. Susan interweaves this story with interviews and fascinating details of modern forensics. She even got John Waters to narrate it.

I'll be sure to let you know the moment the podcast is online.

ON THE LIST FOR THE COMING WEEK: I'll be reporting on my adventures in New York City. Coney Island. 21 Club. Oh -- and the continuing search for the best NY slice (my favorite pizza places keep disappearing).

Gotta love New York City, Chester.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dr. John, Chickens, and Eating Fun Food at the Minnesota State Fair

Let's start with a guessing game, shall we? What in the world do you think this is?
Another Minnesota State Fair has come and gone. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of attending the Great Minnesota Get-Together, it's a junk-food feeding frenzy. It's people-watching mania. There are live animals -- my favorite -- and there are fried ones (I do enjoy a good corn dog from time to time). There are block-long lines to try such food craziness as deep-fried cookie dough, sweet-corn flavored ice cream, honey-flavored ice cream, and deep-fried candy bars. I tried some of it -- the corn ice cream was good. And I tried ostrich, which tasted like a sweeter kind of hamburger. This year though, my favorite thing at the fair was visiting the goats and chickens. That photo up there by the way, is the belly of a tiny little goat.
Fell in love with this lady and wanted to take her home with me.

Ostrich, Fireworks, Sweet Corn Ice Cream!

I saw Dr. John perform at the Leinie Lodge.
I loved hearing some of his spookier New Orleans music live, like Walk On Gilded Splinters. It was the music Max and I were listening to as we drove into Louisiana, and New Orleans, in the middle of the night back in 2004.

Here's a slideshow of those chickens I mentioned:

And a video of a couple of them making noise:

Cockadoodledoo, Chester!