Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mulberry Jam

My little corner of heaven is the back patio/veranda area of the basement palace that I've painstakingly beautified over the past two years. Especially in the summer, when I've been known to take a beer and the newest InStyle to the Ikea cafe table and hang with my flora and fauna. We're incredibly lucky to have this urban oasis, with its heartily blooming impatience and coterie of woodland friends (cardinals, orioles, pizza-eating squirrels).

Last year was the first year we rolled out the red carpet, and with the exception of a day about two weeks into the metamorphosed outside area when the neighbors (*cough* Amanda Hesser & Tad Friend *cough*) decided to take down a 100 year old shade tree for no reason, the summer went relatively smoothly and I took every opportunity to enjoy the patio.This year is different, however, in that for some reason, a mulberry tree that hasn't borne fruit for the past decade decided to get all swoll up pregnant and RAIN DOWN MULBERRIES EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY FOR TWO WEEKS.

When I say "rain down," I do not mean the gentle dropping of berries at elongated intervals. I mean torrential downpour of strains of berries both over- and under-ripened. The underripe berries are hard and hurt when they pelt uncovered human skin and unhatted heads. The overripe berries make a definitive splat onto the astroturf. They are impossible to sweep up, and thus, a fine film of mulberry jam now covers the ground. Mourning doves poke at the seeds. Bees come by to get drunk on the nectar. The sun ferments the juice. Flies are now getting in on the action. It stinks and it's sticky under my feet.

But still I sweep.

I'm frankly surprised that the cookie- and pizza-eating squirrels who like to run back and forth on the brick wall haven't stopped by the buffet. I wouldn't mind them coming around to clear out the mess, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.

Of course, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right? So I've decided I'm going to sweep up the next batch and put them on Craigslist. Some New York City whack job will take them off my hands. Why not make some money while I'm at it?

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Margaret, Are You Grieving?

There were two bathrooms; one red, one blue, both graffitied to the rafters. Arbitrarily, the blue one was inferior though both were equally disgusting. I’d heard that over time that these bathrooms saw every possible life scenario play out within their 3’x3’ spaces. From breakup to marriage proposal, you imagine it, it happened. Hell, in the early days of dating, my husband and I would steal into one or the other for a make-out session in the wee hours of the morning. I’m certain that at least one baby has been conceived within those stalls.

The bathrooms were not the only province of surreptitious lovemaking: an alcove off the cellar with a wraparound couch was aptly named Fingerbang Corner after one report too many of...well, you know. This wasn’t the only cozy nook in the place but it certainly was the darkest. In the back, teeny cocktail tables paired with mismatched chairs were sprinkled about the room. Low lighting emitted from antique lamps reminiscent of a New Orleans brothel. The overall effect was one of intimacy and tattered cool--it was a place you wanted to hang out.

Up front, the main bar stretched from the entrance halfway through the room. It had been made by hand of repurposed wood and sat about 16 stools, 20 on a busy night. Its smaller twin--a rail just wide enough to hold a beer--hung on the brick wall directly behind and sat another dozen. An impressive array of booze lined shelves behind the bar. Self-concocted drink specials were scribbled onto a blackboard: the Mitchellada: a shout-out to a bartender alumnus, or the Serenity, made fittingly with Firefly vodka. Though one could get delivery from just about any restaurant in Cobble Hill, there was no food served, save an array of Utz potato chips hanging over the cash register. On a weekend night, space was often at a premium. This was a standing-up bar, a sidle up to the bar-bar, a real bar.

It was a place where if you were to drop by there’d be a good chance of running into someone you knew. The happy hour crowd. The late night set. And the bartenders, each as singular as a snowflake. Some people would pop in and out multiple times a night, others you wouldn’t see for months on end. I had a knack for being able to sense ahead of time if Winnick, Quinny or an illicit dog would show up on any given night (last Thursday I pulled a hat trick and correctly predicted all three would appear). In a life full of inconsistency, it was comforting to know you could come in almost any time and see Rainbow sitting in the window nook having his High Life poured for him into a pint glass.

Yet despite the overabundance of familiar faces, newcomers would always say they felt welcome. More than one person used ‘Cheers’ as an analogy. It was indeed a place where everybody knows your name, but where you similarly could be left undisturbed if you chose to spend your time reading rather than socializing. Sometimes after work I would sit at one of the corner stools facing the picture window sipping a Six Point and looking out at the passing dogs, their leashed owners trailing behind them, wistfully peering into the bar.

First and third Mondays were devoted to Pub Quiz, when Marcus or Moo would take to the mic, quizzing us with 50 questions devoted to myriad subjects. The top team could win a decent purse and second and third place would get at least some of their tab covered. Where else could one drop in for two hours to have a few drinks and be amused by trivia in such categories as Dead or Canadian? or Bodega Price is Right? I always felt smart and Brooklyney quiz nights; proud of my neighborhood and the cleverness of my friends. I belonged here. These were my people.

When I think about the bar I honestly cannot imagine a more satisfactory place to spend my free time. But regrettably, our time is up.


Situated on a lonely stretch of Atlantic Avenue leading to the East River, Last Exit was named after one of Hubert Selby Jr.’s seminal novels and sits appropriately close to an off-ramp of the BQE. When Julie, John and Joe opened it was the only option in the neighborhood; today it’s a crowded field. One night, we patrons sat around wondering about our next move, each suggestion quickly shot down. Roebling: too sterile. Floyd’s: too douchey. Long Island Bar: too fussy. Montero’s: too weird. What we needed, we decided, was somewhere in between. Unfortunately, that place was about to close its doors.

I suppose we should’ve seen it coming. So much change in the neighborhood: some in the name of gentrification, most under the guise of greed. Heraclitus said that “the only constant in life is change.” Over the course of its 16 years, change certainly came to the bar. Some of the cocktail tables were replaced by larger linoleum kitchen tables I last remember seeing in my grandmother’s house. Fingerbang Corner made way for a video game and a photo booth where drunken patrons (and employees) documented their time. And just about a month ago, the sacred plaster bust of Michael Jackson that had sat high above the bar for years suddenly fell from its perch, shattering into a million pieces. Perhaps it was a sign.

And so the last days came quickly upon us. The goodbye party was suitably loud, sweaty, sloppy and sticky. There was an unlawful amount of persons jammed from entrance to back door, and by midnight many of the old-timers sat smoking and open-containering on the bar’s doorstep while they waited for the youngsters to grow tired of the place. Bacchus must’ve been on duty that night, for we received no visits from law enforcement about the illegal party on the veranda, not even a drive-by. I relaxed my no-fly rule on tequila shots and joined Julie and some regulars in a toast. Somehow I wound up wearing two candy necklaces. Around three, Marcus and I stumbled home up Henry Street for the last time, a misty silence enveloping the walk.


On Sunday a few come by and pay final respects. The filth of the previous evening is magically washed away by a vat of Pine Sol. I notice that everything is pretty much still intact: the penny wall, Sparky the Devil, the action figures, the Clown Lamp, the tea candles, the booze. The handcrafted wooden sign still hangs over the entrance, though now missing its arrow. I speculate about what the place will look like with its innards scrubbed, but Sic warns me that it would be too depressing to imagine. We try to make merry, but by 7:30 we’re ready to go. We finish our Shiners and hug and kiss our way out of the bar. From the street I hear the baseline of ‘What is Love’ thumping from within. It’s a ridiculous song to be the last you hear when walking away from a place you’d spent so many hours, that you’ll never step into again.

We head to dinner. I lie to myself that I’ll be back next week, that I’ll hug Julie’s mass of curly hair hello Monday at quiz, that we’ll all keep in touch, find a new bar, a new place for us to reune. But of course there’s a little part of me that doesn’t want to. My time at Last Exit was too precious. The memory of it needs to be locked away so that down the road a piece--once my heart has mended--I can look back without tears and wonder at the miracle of this place that, by some strange twist of fate, we all found together.

1Spring and Fall, Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My Dream Christmas Party

Oh. My. God.  It's been over a year since I've posted? I am so so so sad.  It's been so long, in fact, that the fucking interface has changed.  Lovely.  Well, here's a new one for you and I'll try to do this more often.  Resolution for 2013 and all that.

My building is a little like Melrose Place, but not in a bad "Amanda is trying to kill me" way.  It's more like we all are of similar temperaments and senses of humor and stuff, and we're all about the same age span (mid-thirties to mid-forties) and we all are very friendly and get along, which is NOT THE NORM for New York.  It's not even the norm for Brooklyn.

Every year we have a couple building-wide shindigs: one for Halloween, a couple movies on the rooftop, July 4th, and Christmas.  And because we're all so in love with how clever we all are, these shindigs don't only comprise standing around and drinking and eating assorted nibblies, but engaging in serious competition across a number of categories PER PARTY.  Best ornament.  Scariest pumpkin carving.  Champion Christmas cookie. Dorkiest movie choice. We often tell stories that accompany our submissions and through that unabashedly pander to the lowest common denominator by spinning the most charming or tear-jerking yarn.  One year at the Christmas party there was a multimedia presentation, I shit you not.  This is the baseline we're working with, folks.

Sooooo, since we're all (1) completely aware of and familiar with all our eccentricities and the tacks we take in order to jockey to win, we bring in outside guests (judges) to help with the selection of winners.  Often it's friends of building people. But lately there's been talk about pulling people off the street; specifically the smattering of celebrities that live in Brooklyn Heights.  We have our pick of the following:

  • Paul Giamatti
  • Joe Lhota (late of the MTA)
  • The Guy on The Wire (not a main character)
  • Lena Dunham
  • Jemima Kirke (I kid you not - they both live within a block of each other and of us, and Adam Driver goes to my gym)
  • Bjork
  • Ana Gasteyer (although she's closer to DUMBO)
  • Nate Silver

I suspect a few might be curious enough to come. In fact, I think this is about how things would go down if we actually approached any of these people:

  • Paul Giamatti - would come, then get a whiff of how competitive and weird we are and leave in a huff
  • Joe Lhota (late of the MTA) - would send his regrets and ask for our vote
  • The Guy on The Wire (not a main character) - would come and eat all the nibblies
  • Jemima Kirke - would tell us to fuck off
  • Bjork - would stare at the inviter like they just grew another head, then walk away
  • Ana Gasteyer (although she's closer to DUMBO) - totally would come and have a ball
  • Nate Silver - would come and be into it then write about how the judging was statistically biased

Then Lena Dunham would come and not be a judge, but introduce another entire category and win every last prize.  We, the residents, would just sit there agog as she sweeps and leaves us in her dust.

And then we wouldn't ever have another party.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I've Got 99 Problems, but Delta Skymiles Ain't One.

I had zero luck with the bit of business travel I did last week, due to the mashup of summer thunderstorms + LaGuardia which = delays.  Not Delta's fault, but annoying nonetheless.

So imagine my surprise when I got 2,500 extra SkyMiles from Delta for my troubles!  They certainly didn't need to do that, so I sent them a note thanking them (I'm a big believer in customer service working both ways).

This next bit is a bit overboard, though.  Still, it's nice.  But if Delta really wants to get on my goodside, they can tell the Port Authority to CLEAN THEIR FUCKING BATHROOMS once and a while.


Dear Ms. Blue Eyes,

RE: Case Number 4309491

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the service provided while

traveling with us.  On behalf of Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection
carrier, Shuttle America, it was very nice to receive your email
complimenting the service you received and I sincerely apologize for the
inconvenience caused due to the delay of our flight.

Your thoughtfulness in writing means a great deal to us.  Our goal is to

surpass our customer's expectations every day.  We appreciate your kind
comments and will continue to work hard to provide superior service.  We
believe our employees are our most important assets, and I am happy to
learn that they exceeded your expectations.  Be assured we take our
commitment to serving you very seriously, and we will continue to work
hard to provide superior service

Additionally, I understand importance of your time and the trouble you

experienced when your travel was negatively impacted due to the delay of
our flight for weather-related conditions.  Your feelings are important
to us, and I have shared your comments with the responsible leadership

Ms. Blue Eyes, I want to thank you, again, for taking the time to write

regarding the service we provided.  Your future business as a SkyMiles
member is important to us, and I hope you will continue to choose Delta
for your air travel needs.


Coordinator, Customer Care

Delta Air Lines


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Everything's Sunny in Toronto

Blue Eyes surprised me with a trip to Toronto for the Fourth of July weekend.  Last time I was there was in 1992 or 1993, for all of 48 hours, young, with no money.  I remember an overcast fall day, the CN Tower looming somewhere in the distance, and a place called the Moose Bar.  When we drove in from the airport, I was struck by the multitudes of gleaming new construction lining the lakefront.  There's been a hell of a lot of movement up north since I was last there.

Yet it's still so very Canada.  Waiting for a streetcar on King Street, we asked a couple passers-by if they knew how frequently the trolley came.

Helper 1: "Oh, it's a lot more frequent than the Queen Street streetcar."
Helper 2: "Yeah, that's true."
Helper 1: "Do you want me to look it up for you?"
Us: "No, that's not necessary."
Helper 1: "No, really, I can do it right here on my iPhone."
Us: "Truly not necessary."

And their version of razzing the opposing team (Phillies played the Jays) consisted of multiple iterations of the following:

"Hey Polanco!  You're a terrible player!"
"Yeah, you're horrible!"

A more creative quip came from a quartet of drunken twentysomethings that looked like they were members of the Royal Canadian Hacky Sack team.

"Victorino, why do you have double ear flaps [on your batting helmet]?  Look at the double ear flaps.  I hope you get hit in the ear!"

No shit, that is the worst of what we heard at the game.  Quite a welcome change from the usual "Asshole! Asshole!"

At The Keg, Canada's version of Houston's, we sat at the bar eating chicken wings and watching sports highlights.  A commercial came on the air for some show we'll call "Canada's Next Top Junior Philanthropist."  Blue Eyes and I reflected that the majority of new reality shows stateside are generally some variation of "America's Next Top Skank."

Speaking of, young Torontonian girls are an interesting crew, more like something you'd find in the outer boroughs of New York City (read: bridge and tunnel).  They like to dress up with the hotsy-totsy outfits (miniskirts up to their ass, stilettos that could give one a nose-bleed), even if they're only hanging out at a mid-level restaurant or on the roof of Wayne Gretsky's sports bar.  While lounging with my sweetie on an oversized couch I watched these girls struggle with general insecurity, outfit creep and complete lack of party etiquette (their noses were buried in their smartphones almost immediately).  Never have I felt so glad to be 41.

My favorite random thing was in the gift shop of the Hockey Hall of Fame.  I thumbed through the rotating shelf of personalized key rings because I'm always looking for a souvenir for any one of the strange-named children in my family.  I came across the usual suspects: Michael, Brandon, Doug.  I also found Claude and Rene.  It's the demographic after all.

Our hotel, the Sheraton City Center  -- whose decor was weirdly reminiscent of a Disney World hotel circa 1976 -- was across the street from a glass structure that housed both a TD Canada bank and a Starbucks.  And by "housed both" I mean it looked like the branch manager could reach behind him and pull his own cappuccino.  Starbanks, on dit.

By far, my favorite Canadaeque quirk could've been a PSA for your tax dollars at work: clean up after the Pride Parade.  When New York does the Pride Parade there are half a million people on Sixth Avenue for an hour and then a bunch of shit littering the street for days.  When Toronto does the Pride Parade, there are 1.2 million people for half the day not an errant paper to be found afterwards, like something out of fucking Burning Man.  Here's how it happens: at the end of the parade a fleet of street Zambonis follow the last float down Yonge, and following them are people sweeping the sidewalk. And those sidewalk sweepers are RUTHLESS. If you are hanging with your peeps afterwords trying to work out where to grab a brew, do NOT get in the way of the street sweepers.  They will sweep the trash through your group.  Now, that's how I would run my city.

If you go, be sure to Bixi all over town.  I experienced a sense of exhilaration I haven't really felt since I was about 12.  Until I woke up the next morning, of course.

And beware: Toronto is a lovely place to be in the summer months.  But the sun doesn't go down until about 9:30/10:00, which can make for a brutally hot day under the right conditions.  Somebody turn off the sun!

PS: We found the Moose Bar.  It's called the Loose Moose, and it's as douchey as ever.  But I love it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Top 10 Awesomest Things about Iowa City

10. Breakfast wings*.
9. Bats in the Octagonal Barn's belfrey during the wedding speeches.
8. Chorizo & egg tacos at the farmer's market.
7. Photos and stories of politicians visiting the Hamburg Inn during caucus time.
6. The fact that there are separate bars for "the writers" and "the poets".
5. The Hy-Vee on S. Gilbert.  You can seriously fit like 12 Key Foods in there!
4. How freaking hot it was -- ok, that was maybe not so awesome.
3. The very determined guy fiendishly mowing the Rosengreen's lawn during their wedding eve barbecue.
2. The girl who works at the bookstore with the Eustace Tilley tattoo on her bicep.

And the number one awesome thing about Iowa:

Blue Eyes walks in to get a fountain soda.  He jiggles his full drink a little when reaching for a cap, splashing some on his wrist.  A guy behind him in line -- a big, hulking guy who looks like he's either on, or trying out for Buckeye football -- reacts to this by saying "Oh no!  Here, let me get you some napkins!**"

*Really just wings for breakfast, but it gave me a great idea to open a wings only cafe with breakfast and dessert wings!

**Cut to two days later, when we arrive back in New York at LaGuardia.  I go to the ladies' room, and am greeted by pee all over the seat.  Point, counterpoint.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Stay tuned.

Uh, if you haven't figured it out after months of radio silence, we're on hiatus kids.  Sally needs to finish the damn book.

Be back soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not for the Lactose Intolerant

In preparation for our apartment building’s annual Christmas party, I spent last evening rifling through my recipes hoping to find just the right thing to tempt my fellow denizens and win top prize for Best Sweets.  While I was grabbing a cookie recipe that won me the Blue Ribbon at an office holiday party of yore, I spotted an old box I had snagged from my grandmother's house a couple years ago.  Never one to leave well enough alone, I opened it up figuring I might find an unusual dish that I could offer up for the Best Savory category.

The tin box is cream with red lettering on front that reads Abbott’s, a dairy local to Philadelphia.  Consequently, the focus of the recipes is any product originating from a cow’s udder.  Between the state of the card stock and my grandmother’s adolescent scrawl on the back of some of the cards, I'm pegging the recipe tin to date to the late ‘30s or early ‘40s.  Put these predominant factors together – recipes of a certain age + extreme lacto – and you can only imagine what delights I found inside.

Now I like milk.  I like cheese immensely.  Ice cream: come on.  Buttermilk even has its place in my palette, and cottage cheese is a lovely source of protein.  But the recipes that the chefs de cuisine at Abbott were offering up during the early third of the 20th century were so god-awfully disgusting, I felt the need to don an adult diaper as a precaution.

Intriguingly, the recipes are prefaced by a couple cards with quotes from various “authorities”, just in case you needed a little encouragement before heading down the dairy vortex.  Here's one, an endorsement of moo juice and argument for its contribution to the creation of a perfect race:

“The people who have made liberal use of milk as a food have, in contrast, attained greater size, greater longevity, and have been much more successful in rearing their young.  They have been much more aggressive than the non-milk using people, and have achieved much greater advancement in literature, science and art.”

Say, Dr. E.V. McCollum, is that right?  I don’t know if there’s empirical evidence to support this, but I’m guessing there are a number of math geniuses out there who were raised on Lactaid.  Just sayin’.
“The white race cannot survive without dairy products.”

How now, Herbert Hoover.  Just the white race?  Although I got a couple hits on Google, it's unlikely we’re going to find that one in Bartlett’s.  Still...
“Drink buttermilk and live to be 100 years old.  It's an old saying, carrying an important truth.  Drink lots of it, especially in the summer.”

Agenda-pushing much, U.S. Department of Agriculture?  Nothing says refreshing like buttermilk on a 100 degree day, especially back when ice came to your house via a delivery truck and there was no such thing as central air.  Imagine if Coors sold buttermilk instead of the horsepiss they call beer?  Picture the Silver Bullet as a rancid-tasting heavy cream beverage downed by cheerleaders and aspirational douchebags in one of their ubiquitous TV spots.  Ahhh...refreshing!
“A high place in the diet should be given to ice cream, iced puddings and frozen custards.  Their combination of sugar and fat gives them high nutritive value.”

Now, that's research I can get behind, Dr. Woods Hutchinson!

And now for the recipes themselves, there were far too many to catalog for one blog post, so I pulled some of the highlights.

Buttermilk stew:  doesn't that just say “home cooked meal” to you?  When I first read this I mis-read ‘invalid’ as ‘not valid’, which is much more apropos.

Chicken baked in milk.  Did anyone see last night’s episode of ‘The League’, when Ruxin creates a stink bomb from milk and raw chicken?  If you did, my issues with this recipe need no further explanation.  However, I did like this line: “A tough fowl is made tender and tasty if baked in milk.”  Well, this tough fowl is made tender and tasty if baked in bourbon.

Molded cheese salad:  Did you ever see one of those jokey books that catalog Fifties housewives and the Jello mold dishes they used to slaved over for holiday boozefests?  Take that conceit, blow it up 1,000 times and addict it to crack.  The mere mention of whipping the gelatine to the consistency of whipped cream is gross; folding cottage cheese and mayonnaise into that chiffon makes Buttermilk Stew sound like Filet Mignon.

And finally: A Surprise Salad.  Did your husband bring home the boss for dinner again without giving you the heads up?  Well, delight your guest with this cornucopia of whatever you can find in the liquor cabinet, such as olives, cornichons, maraschino cherries – hell, throw in some beer nuts while you’re at it.  Then cover with cottage cheese to obscure the ingredients.  As long as everyone’s so drunk they have trouble reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, no one will notice that they’re slowly being poisoned.  Serve on a bed of lettuce for an instant sheen of class.

Now I know where my grandmother got her wild idea for the déclassé Cream Cheese Balls she used to offer up during the holiday season (for the record, it’s cream cheese and horseradish rolled into balls, and dipped into chopped Lebanon bologna, a lunch meat popular in the Harrisburg to Philadelphia quarter).

As a self-professed dairy freak, the recipes in this box are a one-way ticket to veganism.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Insane Clown Makeup

Today I would like to talk about makeup.

If you're a fairly regular (or were a regular reader) of this blog, you'll know I don't usually feel the need to be all girly and direct conversation toward beauty products, like some girls' blogs do. I don't even wear that much makeup, actually, but that doesn't mean I don't like it. I like playing with it, I like leafing through InStyle Magazine's Best Products issue, I like wandering around Sephora and testing the merchandise. I may not make myself up every day like RuPaul, but I'm not exactly worshiping at the altar of Tilda Swinton either.

Here's what: I just got back from a two-day lunch hour fishing expedition for eyeliner. See, my current eyeliner is nearing the end of its life as an unwieldy nub that keeps getting lost in my makeup box. This is the eyeliner that I paid about $28 for at Henri Bendel's, $26 of which regularly migrates from my lash line and ends up a great smudge along the upper part of my lid. Laura Mercier has some nice products, but her eyeliner can kiss my ass.

Before I spent another monthly 401K contribution on a bunch of high end products that will wind up similarly annoying me, I did a little poking around on the interwebs to find some guidance in solving my predicament. I quickly realized my curse is not so much the vessel but a design flaw: Sally's got squinty eyes, which means my lash line naturally hits the top of my lids, unless I walk around with my eyes at half mast, which is a recipe for disaster for a variety of reasons. Thus, my lid architecture precludes me from using pencil liner.


Understandably, I started looking into liquid liner. Do you know how the higher end beauty companies gouge you on that shit? I couldn't find a solution for under $30, let alone $28. Under my new semi-self imposed austerity kick, I am done with shelling that much sausage for something I'm not convinced is that much of an improvement – I still look like I just rolled out of bed, no matter the time of day. So back to square one.

A little more Googling revealed that L'Oreal has a nice product for around $10, which still seemed like too much for liquid liner, especially when one is subjected to the dingy lighting and apathetic customer service of Duane Reade in place of the aesthetic pleasure of a Sephora or Saks counter. After snorting at my prospects at the L'Oreal kiosk, I detoured to the cosmetic stands to see what they had available. Almay, Neutrogena, Maybelline and Cover Girl were all about the same price point; Rimmel was a little less. I passed by a couple brand names I had never heard of (and very possibly had grammatical errors in the display signage), finally landing in front of Wet-N-Wild, where I found, and promptly purchased their $2.99 liquid eyeliner product.

It got me thinking: When did we girls adopt the philosophy that the more expensive, the better the product?

There's something to be said that Maybelline Great Lash mascara is the #1 seller in the US, even among celebu-styletards. I remember getting by just fine on Wet-N-Wild from junior high to senior year in high school, when I was a little more flush from babysitting money than I had been in the past and the relative caché of Clinique curried favor. It just got worse from there. Once I started working, Clinique took a back seat to Lancôme, which took a back seat to the hipper Stila, which got completely annihilated by every other micro-product rollout.

My most egregious example of trading up is the assload of Laura Mercier I bought right before my wedding, a brand I had convinced myself was the best of the best. Six months later, I realize I was wrong; there's really nothing in the Mercier bundle that I couldn't have purchased at the fucking Walgreens on Royal Street the morning of the wedding. Now I'm stuck with an eye shadow trio I don't like, a foundation primer I don't use, a lip pencil that scratches and an eyeliner that winds up everywhere except where it belongs. Thank God I had the foresight not to buy the eyebrow gel.

After I got back to the office I decided I need to find a new model for my beauty product purchasing habits. I guess it just comes down to what am I not willing to downgrade? Eyeliner, shadow: expendable. Mascara: worth plunking down more money for the funky wand in Chanel's Inimitable brand. Blush: I like the Clinique cream stick. Concealer: Benefit's the only one that really masks that stubborn dark circle under my left eye. Foundation: whatevs. Lipgloss: I can't deviate from the poison ivy kiss of death formula special to the Buxom line.

So there you have it. I'll be experimenting this weekend with my Wet-N-Wild, probably getting inky brown stains all over my hands and clothing. If it's too difficult to apply, or I start foaming from the eye socket because the product's chemical makeup is akin to whatever's floating around the Gowanus, then I'll throw it out. It's only $2.99, after all!

One last thing: I have this fantasy running in my head that Wet-N-Wild, which has been around forever, started losing market share once the Urban Decays of the world started elbowing their way in. The company's response was not to move from the price point they had ruled for ages, but to start a new line at a higher price point. Same makeup, different name…and that name was MAC. Suckas!


If only that were true.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bobby Flay Cannot Aspic a Horse.

Blue Eyes & I went to Saratoga this weekend, where it proceeded to piss down rain the entire time. Fortunately, it was umbrella giveaway day (golf-size umbrellas, not those cocktail-quality jobs you buy on the street for $5). Double fortunately, the Hampton Inn ("the new hotel in town", as about 15 people informed us) gave us Club House reserve seating for FREE!

Bottom Line: win some, lose some. But there was an interesting incident in the Fourth Race.

We noticed Bobby Flay had a horse in the game, and it was a favorite. Naturally we both put money on it. 5 min before post, when the trumpeter started up and the horses marched by, I realized this horse had no chance of winning. First of all, both the jockey and the horse were dressed like school crossing guards -- all yellows and fluorescent orange. Secondly, it was wearing a blinders. Fine, if you have a horse that prefers to get a load of the grandstands or the people mowing the infield while it's running, but in the pouring rain? "That horse does not wear that hat in the pouring rain and win this race," quoth I.

I was right. It lost.

"Hey Bobby Flay," Blue Eyes and I imagined yelling, spotting Chef Flay waltzing around somewhere in midtown. "You and your crossing guard horse owe me $10 bucks!"

Then Blue Eyes wondered aloud if horse meat would suddenly make an appearance on the menu at Bar Americain. I proceed to roar with hysterical laughter.

Even better? The horses' names. It's Tea Time upset Triple Cream. And the cow ran away with the spoon.