Take The Jump

Does it scare the shit out of you? Will it keep you up at night if you don’t do it? Is it the opposite of the safe option?

You’re standing atop a 50 foot rock, looking into a body of water that will easily swallow you up in your entirety, hardly even being displaced when you plop in. You’re thinking- holy shit am I really going to do this? But here’s the problem, you’re thinking too much. Sometimes you have to close your eyes and leap out into the unknown. It comes down to your gut feeling and only you know what’s best. 

You’ll be just fine. 

I decided on a Wednesday, packed up my stuff on a Thursday and started my journey on a Friday. I left the comfort of a place filled with people I love and moved to a place where I can count the people I know on one hand. Why? Because there’s too much to see. Because it will be there when I get back. Because it’s scary.

The first time I ever made it out to Rainbow Falls it was pitch black at 10 at night. I couldn’t see the pool of water below me and as I made my way up the backside of the rock, I could feel it in each step. It’d be far easier to stop, turn back and watch from afar. My parents would say don’t do that. Why risk it? What’s the point? 

Next thing I know, I’m swimming back to shore, thinking damn, that was the best thing I did all summer. Do I have time to go again?

So what I’m trying to say is: take the jump, or consider it, at least. 

Links

Steve Fugate- Trail Therapy

Lauren McCullaogh- The Not Dying Girl  (The last story on the page)

Bigfoot Country

In the Tape Deck

UGK- International Players Anthem

One More Note On Food - Uncle Steve

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A few years back my uncle Steve, one of my favorite people of all time, was in a work accident when he fainted and hit his head on his desk. He made it out surprisingly ok, despite banging up his head pretty damn well. The only thing was he woke up and couldn’t taste anything. He went to the doctor, who said it was actually pretty common and that his taste might come back, but then again it might not. 

For most people, life would go on seemingly unaffected, but for Steve this was something different. You see, Steve is a lover of all foods. And when I say a lover, I’d say that upwards of 30% (Edit: 50-60%) of what Steve and I talk about is food. And I mean that with the utmost respect.

As you can imagine this accident broke his heart. But he didn’t sit around and wail about his misfortune, he went right back out and continued in his food passion, as if nothing had changed. He’ll tell me about the burger spot I have to try and then I’ll call him up and tell him my thoughts on the patty, the bun, and the fries. This stuff is no joke and we’ll discuss it in detail. 

I hold this hope that his taste will someday return on a random morning and that it will stay until he gets old. Because when you get old, taste starts to decline anyways.*

Since you, in all likelihood have perfect taste and sense of smell, go out and enjoy the hell out of that dish in front of you. 

Whatever it is, be the most buttery biscuit topped with gravy and fried chicken or a mundane meal of eggs you’d rather share under the table with your pet dog. Taste it for Steve. 

* Judging by the way my grandpa puts salt on everything.

Sunset Stories

I moved to the Sunset and didn’t think much of it. It was far out and away from the city and for all intensive purposes, a trek to get to. My cousin, who I was moving in with, told me it was a half hour to the city, which turned out to be an ambitious time frame. I was told that San Francisco was the single city in the country that had lower rent near the beach because it was so cold and foggy all the time. I believed it too. 

It took me a week or two to realize just how close I now live to the ocean. With plenty of time on my hands, I’d make my way down to the beach before sunset. Just in time to see hoards of surfers running across the highway, trying to catch the days final rays. Taking off my socks just past the great highway, I’d prepare for the cold sensation of my toes hitting the sand then the freezing cold water. image

Sun’s running away

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Can’t cage a tree

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Vicente St

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Ocean Beach

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Winding Road

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City on the hill

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Victory lap

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Standing at attention

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Feeling the breeze

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The Great Gnar

As for me, It’s just fine being an observer. Taking the time to reflect on the day just spent and the one coming up. Looking out for Jelly Fish and crabs and wondering where I can go to get a crab pot, so I can come back with dinner. Every step comes with another sand dollar. I try to stay in between the lines of some heavy tractor that left it’s imprint on the beach. But permanence on the beach lasts right until the tide washes it all away. I hang out until the cold becomes too much and then start back up the hill. 

Links

Being Blind

In the Tape Deck

Nick Drake 

 

Point Reyes in Winter

My man JK flew south with the ducks from the Oregon cold, so we made up some loose plans “to go see something and do something.” I won’t say “adventure” here because JK has a peculiar and very narrow definition of adventure and hates when it gets abused. If you are confused I can give you a few parameters to his definition: 

  1. One must be in the woods without a map
  2. One must have no technological advances besides a fire-starter
  3. You must have no destination 

In all reality his guidelines are less dramatic but JK was giving me shit about it nonetheless. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but JK’s good friend and mentor Cool W was hanging around the same parts of Northern California, something highly unexpected but exciting. What I know about Cool W is he likes to kick back with a bottle of Wild Turkey and shoot the breeze and after a day spent hiking out at Point Reyes, that’s exactly what we did. image

Sandy

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Taking off the moon boots

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Parts Unknown

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Fire Trail 

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Sun’s going down

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JK and I made our way with Neil Young on the tape deck. I was telling him a story about how when Young finished Harvest, he took David Crosby out on a rowboat in his backyard lake. Harvest played in “real life surround sound” with the left side audio belting from one barn and the right side audio belting from another. We walked the beach and JK dove right into the geologic patterns, tectonic plates and shifting sands of Point Reyes. All making me think, damn, you don’t have to be in a classroom to do some serious learning. In fact, geology comes to life when seen in real time. 

When we finished our day hike through a fire trail loop we headed out to meet Cool W. 

When these two get together, you really have to watch out. W on the left is telling dirty jokes, to the point at which JK says Cool W you have got to cool out. Cool W says man, what we all need to do is laugh a little bit more. 

In the tape-deck

John Martyn- Over The Hill

Elliott Smith- Trouble 

Links

Society of Elegant Persons

Good Day Blimp 

Good Eats NYC

My family talks a lot about food. It often gets to the point where we’ll be eating one meal and talking about the one coming up a day later. I suppose it all started with Grandpa Joe. As long as I can remember he has been passionate in the way he talked about food. He talked about my grandmas esteemed Matzah Balls, like he was being paid to do so. We’d have a family dinner and he’d drop a line something to the tune of, “You know grandma’s Matzah Balls were so light they could damn near fly away.” This was one of the ways grandpa showed his affection. 

Early on in my NYC experience, my buddy and roommate Josh wrote a hand scribbled list that quickly became my gold standard for hole in the wall heaven. As I made my way through New York City, finding these highly recommended and often well disguised food establishments, I tried to capture these plates in all their majesty. Some were disgustingly greasy, some delicately sweet, and others well worth forgetting. 

Here’s a fixed course of some of my favorite food shots from NYC. I hope your mouth waters over the pizza and that you try to imagine the flavor of cereal milk infused soft serve, but fail. You won’t be able to comprehend how delightful this 5$ plate of noodles truly came to be, unless you try it for yourself. I’ll make no reservations, THIS IS TO MAKE YOU JEALOUS. 

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Read more to find out if this is real life?

Read More

As Good As It Gets

Every so often it hits me. Sometimes at a Shabbat dinner, sometimes while scrolling through photos of the past few years and most always after developing a new roll of film. Sometimes it’s a Neil Young song that transports me to that spot overlooking the Rim of the World with a few of my closest friends in this world. Like, damn those times were good. Then it’s the track on Mona Bone Jakon that teleports me to the world of Harold and Maude, a world more fit for exploration, with no room for the stale or old. It’s a sentimental feeling that some would dismiss as soft. But they’re so far off it’s not worth your time, or mine. 

When I scroll back through my photos, I find flicks of my grandpa back when he was younger and stronger.  We were out at a burger shop, trying this wildly fat and greasy burger that had a “cheese skirt.” I remember how much grandpa loved it and how sick the burger made me. I’ll never forget Gramps walking back to the car with a shit-eating grin on his face, like he had conquered the world. At the time I figured it was due to his out-eating his grandkids, something he took great pride in, but that wasn’t it. It was because for him this was everything. He was with his grandkids and life was an adventure. 

I just watched As Good As it Gets, yesterday. Jack Nicholson, an OCD and near-senile grump in the film, is in a therapy room full of people it’s safe to assume have some large problems. He smiles, heading out the door and asks “what if this is as good as it gets?” And I think he’s right. Looking back it’s always easy to label those days far gone as the glory days. But in my case, as is yours, these are the glory days and this is your not so subtle reminder to get out there, “scrape your knees” and find whatever it is that gives you stories to tell. 

So that’s the motto. More trouble. More photos. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. 

As always, so much love, daps and thanks.

- Mike

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In the tape-deck

Talking Heads- Mind 

Van Morrison- Astral Weeks

Links

Early Stones Photos 

Disappearing Cultures

Odell Lake

We meant to go to a place somewhere in Southern Oregon, but came across a giant road block. Not only had a tree fallen in the road, it was easy to see that the road ahead was snow covered. Since we were far too unprepared to do anything close to snow camping, switching gears was an easy call. 

In the trunk we had an 80 pound heavy duty raft made for white water, a $5 hammock and a bottle of Jim Beam. The lake we launched from had no white water, but that didn’t stop us. The oars proved difficult to use on this lake and as the sun began to set the slow and steady lake tide was pushing us increasingly far away from our campground. With an extra push, the gang all put down their beers for the time being and dug in deep. When a fishing boat pulled up next to us and asked if we needed a tug, we laughed it off, knowing how goofy our struggle must have looked to the outside world. 

Finally making it back to the site, we made sure to pull the last of the beers from the raft and considering they were sitting in nearly ice cold water, they passed our temp- inspection. 

That night we set up camp, made some s’mores and passed the Jim beam around the fire for double the warmth. 

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The road

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Hammock time for lil’ J

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Above the falls

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Woodsy Outhouse

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A little road block

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Big Will looking out at Diamond Peak

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Big Blue preparing for launch

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Shady grove

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Want some more?

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The gang

As expected, packing the 80 pound rafter was quite a pain in the ass. After taking it on the water it had become a 100 pound raft, so we did our best to fold it a few times and called it a day. 

Links: 

Facebook

Instagram

An Addicts Diary Pt 1

I suppose it all began last year around this time. Natalie invited me out on a quiet end of summer night. We strolled around and she casually invited me to an unassuming corner spot. When we walked in I didn’t think much of it, music playing and we ordered dessert, a few truffles some cookies and cereal milk soft serve. We sat down in a nook next door. When I tried the soft serve I looked up inquisitively. Wait. That can’t be real. So I had another taste. Natalie watched me and said, It’s good huh?

No it wasn’t good. This cereal flavored soft serve changed my life. And when people say it changed my life, they hardly ever mean it. Like that “hot dog” changed my life. Or that edamame was life changing. No not like that. This was different. 

So I left New York and went a year without it, thinking about it only to pass the time. But upon my return I had to go back. I waited a few weeks until I could no longer take it. I made it back to the same street corner on thirteenth street and second avenue, my mouth watering and my hands nearly shaking, and just as I figured, the soft serve was better than I remembered. I sat there and enjoyed it, but I couldn’t help thinking how great it would be to have this machine in my house so I could enjoy it at all hours of the day. How would it be to wake up in the morning to a fresh batch and then a small dessert cone after lunch and then whoa… Is this normal?

I went back the next day, knowing I was undeniably under the high power laser beam trance of the soft serve. 

My inability to describe the flavor is notable- but this won’t stop me from trying. This cereal milk soft serve was like eating a bowl of breakfast cereal in the morning, minus that sick gagging feeling you get after finishing all of the milk. None of those gross flakes at the bottom. Just pure goodness. The stuff is so finely filtered that it retains all the immaculate flavor but none of the sog. Something about the combination of sweet and salty. You know it when you taste it. 

Today my addiction reached a breaking point. I texted my cousin asking him if I should go get the soft serve for the third day in a row, knowing good and well he would say “why not?” And he did. As I walked to the counter to order, my senses doing their best to prepare for the experience surely imminent, the girl at the counter told me that they had run out of corn flakes. She laughed, knowing not the slightest of what it meant. What? I said. I did a double take. You must be kidding. This is the topping that completes the dessert, which adds the salt necessary to truly enhance the sweet cereal milk soft serve. I tried her again, making sure she fully understood the ramifications of this shortage. As she told me that she loved the cornflakes as well, my palms became sweaty and I naturally accused her of eating them. She said regardless, do you want it or not? She started swirling the soft serve before I could answer. I looked up shaking my head to make sure I was awake and I said yeah of course, because I simply couldn’t say no.

As I walked outside to sit in my usual resting place I realized how far I’d come to get to this point. I looked back at how my life has changed since I started eating the stuff and all I could think was, they had better have those corn flakes tomorrow. 

If You Can’t Take The Heat

Everything you’ve heard about New York City in the summertime is true. 

It’s hot, sure. Blazing just about everyday, then it starts to rain without dropping a degree. Then the sun comes back and makes you regret taking out your umbrella. 

There are giant alley-rats mulling through hot trash piles, next to homeless people sleeping. Black neighborhoods border Hassidic ones; Jewish Deli’s are neighbors to soul food restaurants. In Brooklyn fire hydrants run wild, spraying anything willing to cross its path. Scooters zoom past taxi’s and taxi’s run bikers off the road. Backpacks are sweat-sentences and if the subway car was any more jam packed it might stop running. 

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Mickey- D’s in Times Square

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Flushing Ave

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The road to Manhattan

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Painting

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Exploring Queens

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Somewhere in Brooklyn

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People waiting in line at the MET

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Brooklyn Grocery

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Like No Other Place In The World!

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Manhattan

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Taking a dip

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Lady Liberty

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Rooftop visions

New York is such an interesting place and yet I struggle to describe it anytime I’m asked. Typically I say, “For one New York has so much culture,” when I really mean for the first time in my life I lived next to black and puerto rican (non white) people.

I saw so much in my time there that it’s nearly impossible to talk about it as a whole. But it’s the little things that set it apart. Like the time I oversaw a hassidic man deleting over 100 Moshe’s from his Iphone on the subway. Or the time I watched a performance artist finish a song and then receive an offer to record at a studio in Soho. 

The food… well that’s another story. 

Links:

Instagram

A few of my favorite NY Websites:

Street Etiquette

Madbury Club 

Banksy in NY

Pies n Thighs

On my last day in New York I made my way out to Pies n Thighs, the highly preferred Fried Chicken spot (Shouts to Nick and Chelsea for introducing me). This time I had to wait an hour because they were catching up on the night’s chicken orders.

Let it be known that Pies n Thighs isn’t an ordinary fried chicken joint. The sandwich you want consists of two biscuits coated in butter. Inside is a chicken breast delivered from the heavens above, painted with the proper amount of a tangy buffalo sauce and a dash of honey on top of it all. What’s more, it’s messy, tricky to eat and entirely worth it. So if you do end up on this side of Bedford Ave, don’t be afraid to get a little dirty. 

On a side note…

One very real way for me to tell a place is one I need to visit is when my favorite rappers talk about it. Rappers, though not known as food critics, pride themselves on eating.. well.. the best food. Hence why you have the pen names Big Pun, Big L, Biggie - It’s suffice to say these guys don’t stop at one plate. 

Rick Ross for instance obsesses over Lobster Bisque. Mac Miller is a big fan of his grandma’s “famous” Kugel. But for Queens and Detroit rappers (respectively) Action Bronson and Danny Brown, Pies n Thighs hits the spot.

  1. Pies and Thighs on my mind all the timeroll the lime" - Action Bronson
  2. http://hiphopzilla.com/view/post:1265769#.UksrP2Sgm3M - Danny Brown

*If you didn’t know, prior to his rap career, Action Bronson was a Chef in NY and has more than a few online cooking lessons. **If you don’t know who Action Bronson is check out his mixtape Blue Chips- he’s a huge white red bearded Jewish man (“I’ve been wild since the rabbi snipped it”) who sounds like a cousin of Ghostface Killa. 

Now Pies n Thighs is just a taste of some of the culinary wonder in the city of NY. Also it’s one spot, I’m more willing to share because of it’s well known nature. For the more personal, hard to reach spots along the back alley’s of Canal St. and the Lower East Side, you might have to catch me in person. 

If you find yourself at Pies n Thighs, do your body a favor and walk it off at the nearby park.