Antabuse For a New Generation

I thought it was a joke. Then I saw it in the Rite-Aid with my own two bb blues. I read the manufacturer’s warning. Still kinda think it’s a joke. Noted for being the first FDA-sanctioned diet drug to be sold over the counter, and for the highly entertaining “side effects” copy, Alli (pronounced ‘ally’) has taken the diet world by storm. Shit storm.

“It's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work,” warns the manufacturer.

Alli works by blocking the absorption of 25% of consumed fat, releasing that 25% straight into the wild, often without warning. Naturally, diet-desperate Americans are unflinchingly gobbling up the $60 bottles as quickly as pharmacists can stock them. “Not since the 1987 post- Julio Iglesias run on penicillin have we seen anything like this,” said pharmacist Bill Buttspray of the Duane Reade at First Avenue and E. 91st Street in Manhattan.

Not really. Dude’s name probably tipped you off, huh? But they are comparing it to the Cipro-hungry days of the post-9/11 anthrax scare.

The more cynical among us must wonder whether GlaxoSmithKline perhaps weighed the negative publicity they’d surely get from the graphic and hilarious warning label against Americans’ vast gullibility, and determined that if people will voluntarily walk around with barf breath, and surgically remove most of a properly functioning organ, leaving them covered with hanging, runny skin flaps (this term co-opted with permission), then what’s a little excremental explosion at the office?

“The courteous young boys on my son’s Little League team were more than happy to hold a tarp up while I stood behind it and changed my poopy pants,” said one happy customer. “The sight of dozens of tiny hands struggling to keep their grip on that tarp made me realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

Again. Totally made that up. But if you had any idea how hard I laughed when typing it, you’d forgive me for misleading you.

“They tell you to carry extra pants around with you,” she went on, “but they don’t mention the tarp. You’ll want the tarp.”

Lactose Intolerant

Pretty girl, huh? Well, you’re supposed to find her unattractive. Revolted by her enormity, in fact.

Brazilian ad agency Salles Chemistri has created a low-fat yogurt campaign featuring fattened subjects in iconic poses, inviting the observer to compare their size to that of the original scenes’ occupants, Mena Suvari, Sharon Stone, and Marilyn Monroe. (Click here to see the plumped up Stone and Monroe.) The tagline for each reads, Forget about it. Men's preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.

Am I that out of touch with the Brazilian beauty ideal, or is this an actionably faulty ad campaign? No offense to Mena, but the model above got it goin’ on. I’m not slamming the ad agency for being offensive (that’d be a full time job, and I got shit to do), but really, now. I do believe they missed the mark on this one.

Hola, Cambozola.

Generally, combining two fine consumables makes twice as much of a mediocre one. Blended Scotch. Brangelina. Cocaine and Comet.* But I have discovered the reason god invented combinations (aside from supporting the lagging Really Big Spoon industry). Cross Gorgonzola with Camembert and you get the soft, ripe divinity that is Cambozola.

Cambozola (which is the sound made when a drunk clown belches, coincidentally) hails from the region of Germany which also gave us that other fine cheesy comestible, Bavarian Beaver Cheese (second only to that of Venezuela). And dare I say this is way tastier. Deceptively mild at first bite, followed by sharp bursts of bleu. Follow this triple-cream cheese with a hunk of cherry pie only if you’re where you can safely allow your eyes to roll back into your head.

*No, Mom. I don’t do cocaine. Nor do I do Comet. How ‘bout a maid service for Christmas?
The Adipositivity Project: Trying to change attitudes about the aesthetic validity of big women, one fat fanny at a time.

To big asses and kickin' asses! ::clink::
You heard me. The new "order, pay, and get outta here" Shopsin's opens June 19th. Selling sandwiches and other walking fare, apparently. Essex Street Market, 120 Essex. Stall # 16. Tuesday through Saturday, 9am to 5. And the old menu's been preserved!

(On the website, that is.)

Et tu, McCoy's?

Went to a fancy Classical music concert the other night, where attendees were dripping in diamonds and dupioni. Nevertheless, the gentleman seated in front of us occupied himself during the slow parts by excavating earwax with the armtip of his eyeglasses. Just goes to show ya. Something.

Fortunately, we were full of beer.

Had some time to kill before showtime, and I wanted to show my beau McCoy’s in Hell’s Kitchen (768 Ninth Avenue, between 51st & 52nd). I remembered it as the classic gritty Irish bar. Last time I was there, we sat across from a built-in jukebox next to a family toasting the matriarch being sprung from the hospital. Sprung a bit early, I’m guessing, as she was still donning a hospital gown and bracelet, and was hooked to a rolling IV pole. This wholesome scene was then interrupted by a wobbly gentleman entering the bar, threatening its patrons by announcing he was toting a bomb in his backpack. The weary bartender sprung to action with the most customer-comforting command ever.

“Get ouuutta hee-uh.”

Bomb Dude muttered something about Barbie shoes and the Disney-controlled United States Congress, then left. Take that, Department of Homeland Security.

Sadly, this place has gone the way of many great old NYC bars that’ve died. Or worse, those that’ve died, but haven’t yet fallen over. McHale’s, Terminal Bar, the original Siberia, The Village Idiot (yet another place I’ve seen a patron belly up to the bar wearing a fresh hospital bracelet). All gone. McCoy’s now boasts 10 big screen TVs, a less communal seating setup, and likely a more by-the-book response to terror threats. The juke’s still there, but my will to pump coin has gone.

We had two glass o’ Bass and headed for the show, where I spent much of my time pondering what shade of goo would shoot from Mr. Decorum-Free's head, once he successfully pierced his eardrum with his eyeglasses.

Revisiting the Buddha

After being assured I’d ordered all the wrong things, I gave Buddha BbeeQ on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side another spin. Crazy-glad I did. The much touted #7 was indeed the go-to selection. Ample and satisfying. The glass noodles were moist and flavorful, and the beef was smoky-sweet and tender. My companion’s chicken #7 was every bit as good. The sow’s ear type dumplings were big as my hand, tasty, but with too meager a drizzle of sauce atop. The spicy scallion pancakes were a pleasing orange color and curiously stood the is-it-still-edible-the-next-day test. Came with no sauce, though, so I’d order a side of toasted soy sesame sauce. After suggesting they start including some dipping sauce, of course. Together we can engineer some more reasonable service here, eh?

And again, the black sesame ice cream is to voluntarily perish for.

Let's Get Lost

This past weekend. We’d gotten two and a half appealing invitations, but begged off everything, opting to “let’s get lost,” Chet Baker style.

Let's get lost, lost in each other's arms
Let's get lost, let them send out alarms
And though they'll think us rather rude
Let's tell the world we're in that crazy mood

This plan produced one helluva romantic weekend of big, wet monkeylove, but by Sunday evening, I think the beau wished we’d gone to a cookout or two, so’s I’d stop singing and/or playing the Chet Baker song. (That “repeat one” function really isn’t meant for when company’s over.)

Cut to last night. 6:30. We’re sitting around in our undiepants, perusing take-out menus. The beau remembers a movie review he’d read in the Voice. Finds his copy and reads it to me. Then grouses ‘cause he really wanted to stay home. Again. But he shouldn’t’ve read that review to me.

By 8:30 we were showered, clothed, popcorned, and nestled into our seats at Film Forum to see Let’s Get Lost, a 1988 Bruce Weber documentary on the life, music, and steep demise of Jazz singer/trumpeter Chet Baker.

Unseen for 14 years, this newly restored print is drippingly lush in high-contrast black and white, with an infrared film glow and meticulous attention to light and shadow. The visuals could stand alone. The performances could stand alone. The camera-hungry superfluous satellite characters and unlikely staged scenes with curious cameos by Chris Isaak and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) are unfortunate, but once the smack and the interviews start flowing, your heart snaps in a hundred different places.

Included are many of his women and children, and his mother, her familial facial structure upholstered with wrinkles so deep and starkly lit, they appear to be the clearly marked chapters of a sad biography. After lightheartedly listing her son’s impressive musical achievements as a child, she’s asked, despite the trumpet and voice, was he still a disappointment as a son. The folds beneath her eyes tighten as she considers the unexpected question. A breathless silence precedes a heartbreaking answer.

Other show-stoppers include a plea for a disrespectful audience to pipe down for a best-ever take on Elvis Costello’s “Almost Blue,” and a Weber query near the end of the film, asking Baker what his favorite kind of high is. The wide openness of the question would surely lead one to sum up their life and loves. The joy of that perfect sustained note. The blissful pleasure of a woman’s love. The returned smile of one’s child. Baker’s answer? Speedball.

Never has a life so grim been so stunningly rendered. Runs through June 28th at Film Forum. Watch the trailer, listen to a Weber interview, and buy tickets here.

Banana Twinkies!

Don’t get your panties in a bunch. I don’t have ‘em yet. The above photo comes compliments of X-Entertainment, and depicts last year’s tie-ins to the film King Kong. But something ‘nana this way comes.

The sponge tubes launched in the ‘30s using banana cream, and Hostess has had a few limited releases since then, but this time it’s apparently for keeps. Odd, considering just a few short years ago they threatened to yank the whole Twinkie line. Remember that? The bastids.

Anywayzzz. I predict Banana Crème Twinkies will contain no actual banana or banana byproducts, and will taste like tinted chemical. And I will love them to the tune of an inch more to my hips.

Philly Food Court Follies

Yes, I know. We’re all busy stuffing dark chocolate M&Ms into our faces, banging on our TVs to dislodge the final scene of The Sopranos, and looking up our friends’ addresses on Google Street View, to see if we can spy them bumpin’ uglies with the drapes open. And others of us are sidelined with a fatigued right groin. Perhaps from the bumping of the uglies. But life is short, people. And there’s much to eat.

I’ve been eating much of it at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station of late. One of the busiest passenger rail facilities in the US, and not a bad place to kick it and wait for your train home to NYC. Across the street is the new Cira Centre that glitters, if you look at it right. Northbound trains take you past the riverfront scull crew houses strung with lights, and the deliciously whiney “TRENTON MAKES, THE WORLD TAKES” bridge sign in red neon. The 1930s station boasts a cavernous main concourse with stories-high windows and a dozen or so art deco chandeliers. A fully functioning shoeshine station and Old World wooden benches that vibrate when those seated on them fart. (If anyone knows whether others seated nearby can feel this, do let me know. Just… curious.) The most helpful homeless peeps you’ll ever wanna meet hang in this station. A massive marble special events room. The only event I’ve ever seen going on in there was late one night, two jugglers practicing. Big, gruesome statue of a winged angel dragging a dead railroad worker. And at the holidays, a giant, towering, fuck-you sized Christmas tree. Gotta love Philly.

The station’s food court selections are surprisingly feeble, though. Here’s the Pleasure Pie run-down, in no particular:

Auntie Anne’s – You’ll wanna take them up on their free sample before you plunk down three crispies for a lemonade more cloyingly sweet than a soft-focus puppy. Lemons is tart, Auntie!

Delilah’s Southern Café – Cryptically endorsed by Oprah, Delilah’s just can’t seem to get it right. The help is dim and every time I eat there, they’re out of something critical to the enjoyment of my meal. The idea is great, but their execution just misses the mark. The greens will be thick with a leathery sheen, wonderfully not overcooked, but also not very flavorful. The cornbread is sweet and cake-y, but over-baked. The fish cakes will be chunky and have a satisfying texture, but will be bland and dry. Choice of sauces? Hot sauce or nothin’. Ain’t Oprah never et her no real Southern cookin’? On a recent visit, I asked the counter girl what was good. “What did you have for lunch today?” “I didn’t eat lunch here.” Make something up, Girlfriend!

Bridgewater’s Pub – Serves wild boar and yak, but I recommend this really good walnutty, balsamic vinegary salad thing I’ve had twice, but I can recall neither the name of it, nor the ingredients of the salad. Neither can I recall why I’ve not had their yak burger. Sounds right up my alley. Maybe they were outta yak.

Asian Food Fair – A congealed looking steamer table along a major food court thoroughfare. I’ve never seen anyone actually eating the stuff. Just sayin’.

Bucks County Coffee – Completely addictive. Avoid, if you’re a broke-ass girl like me. Or be prepared to find your wallet a hundred bucks lighter at the end of the month. But oh, mercy.

Ben & Jerry’s – Never heard of Stephen Colbert. I asked twice.

McDonalds – The clock’s been wrong for years (ill-advised for a big city train station restaurant, I’d think) and to get an iced coffee, you’ll have to point, instruct, and throw the first few away. But it’s clean and spacious, and best of all… dollar doubles. Even though my meals are covered by an expense account, I often opt for the nostalgically-priced (now more than twice the price in some parts of Manhattan), reconstituted onion topped double cheeseburger. Sometimes you just need something soft and mindless. The McDonalds double cheeseburger is soft and mindless. It's like the Jay Leno of burgers.

Saladworks – I love this place. They have signature salads, some of which don’t make much sense, but I recommend building your own. Tasty dressings (including my low-brow fave, Thousand Island) and fresh ingredients, including pretty good sun-dried tomatoes and Buffalo chicken chunks. And they toss it using patented space age inversion technology. (They flip it a couple times.) This place is your best bet. Unless you wanna just get a cab to Tony Luke’s for a downright life-affirming Italian roast pork sandwich with provolone, sautéed broccoli rabe, and garlic breath for days.

And don’t forget to hit Faber News before boarding. Thee place to stock up on TastyKakes to take home to New York City, where demand is high (in my apartment, anyway) and availability is spotty.

Heads Up, Toronto Streetniks.

A bit last minute, but I’ve just learned of a can’t-miss reunion show this weekend at the Art of Jazz Festival. My favorite bespectacled hornpile The Shuffle Demons will be screeching the praises of cheese sandwiches and weed Saturday at noon in Toronto, and again next weekend, with two shows at the Rochester International Jazz Festival in Rochester, NY.

Always with the costumes, these guys. Hats and dark glasses. Loud Hawaiian shirts and big, painted suits. I like to imagine it’s to protect their daytime identities as scientists and CEOs and Richard Underhill. Or maybe they’re just hiding from bench warrants. Either way, do not miss this now-mostly-disbanded bop rap band, for as with life, future gigs are never guaranteed.

I haven’t been this jealous of Canadians since the first time I bit into a maple cream doughnut at Tim Horton’s.

Oh, no. Thank YOU, CD Baby.

Dear [Miss Pleasure Pie],

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to makesure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 1st.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


--Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby

Gotta love it when humor merges with bidness. CD Baby's got it all over the dry, "your shit's been shipped" messages sent by Amazon and the lot.

And the dude won't even capitalize his job title.