Month: July 2014

Wax Artifacts

I’m having a very difficult time writing about Afrika Bambaataa. Let’s say it’s writer’s block mixed with the pressure to not “f_ck it up.” What more can I say about a legend who has contributed so much to hip hop culture and music in general? The “Master of Records” had an impeccable ear for songs and sections of songs that would drive partygoers absolutely wild. I heard a lot about how he used tape to cover the labels of his record covers to prevent other DJs from finding out exactly what he was playing. I loved hearing about his ability to find funky sections of African records, children’s records, soundtracks, and other obscure or even commonplace records that people either overlooked or just never had access to before. Whenever I discover that sweet spot, a funky break on a record, I often think about Bambaataa.

Afrika Bambaataa recently donated his mammoth vinyl collection to Cornell University’s library. Before the 40,000 piece collection made its way upstate, Cornell archivist and curator  Johan Kugelberg linked up with gallery owner Gavin Brown to display the collection. While the collection was inventoried at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (620 Greenwich Street), the public was invited to view Bambaataa’s historic collection firsthand. DJs were invited to spin using the holy grail of records. Unfortunately, I missed the boat on this. The 40,000 pieces of hip hop history on wax are now permanent residents of Cornell. Luckily, my fellow DJ cousin told me about it in time to catch the tail end of this incredible exhibit. You’ll see what I experienced below. I was able to take a few pieces of his vinyl collection home with me. The doubles, which were not needed in the Cornell archive, were for sale at $5 a piece. The three records I purchased will forever hold sentimental value for me, even if they are not the break-laden records I was hoping to score.

My definition of hip hop is taking elements from many other spheres of music to make hip hop. Whether it be breakbeat, whether it be the groove and grunt of James Brown or the pickle-pop sounds of Kraftwerk or Yellow Magic Orchestra, hip hop is also part of what they call hip-house now, or trip hop, or even parts of drum n’ bass.

                        –Afrika Bambaataa

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The Yeast Trick

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Now that I’m inching very close to 40, drinking more than four beers in one sitting has become problematic. When I do consume more than my late 30’s maximum (Mom, I promise it’s not that often), I typically suffer from all of the following:

A) Getting up to urinate at least once in the middle of the night, especially if the drinking session was after 5:00 pm.  (Much to my wife’s chagrin, I now keep an empty bottle by the bed so I don’t have to walk all the way to the bathroom.)


B) Struggling to keep my eyes open.


C) Waking up with a serious case of dry mouth and a pounding headache.


When I read this Esquire article about Jim Koch (Sam Adams founder) and his secret method for drinking all night without getting drunk, I was instantly intrigued.  A lot of people have been discussing this article, but I know there are a few people who might have missed it. (This post is for you.)

In case you don’t care to read the entire Esquire article, here is the Jim Koch method in three simple steps:

1. Mix active yeast, such as Fleischmann’s dry yeast (sold in grocery stores), with yogurt.

2.  Consume one teaspoon of yeast per beer (right before drinking a pint)

3. Repeat before each beer.

How it works: The enzymes in the active dry yeast break down the alcohol in your stomach before it reaches your bloodstream. The process is similar to how your liver metabolizes alcohol.  As the article points out, Jim Koch says the trick will “mitigate – not eliminate – but mitigate the effects of alcohol!”

Putting the Koch Method to the test: This NPR article recently put the yeast trick to the test.

Here is what the study looked like…

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I won’t share the results.  Check out the graphs to see if science backs up Jim Koch’s claims.

Can I have a glass of water, please?




NYC Craft Beer Gems: Café D’Alsace

Posted on March 12, 2013 (post from the past) 

July 2014 Update: These hangouts rarely take place anymore. (Insert sad face Emoji here!)

After a night out with the fellas, one of us typically does a written recap of the night’s events and emails it out to the crew by Monday latest.  I was tasked with completing this past Friday’s recap, so I’ve decided to make it very public.  Don’t worry 9P crew, I’ll make sure it is SFW (safe for work). The 9P crew got its name from my old apartment number in Chelsea, Manhattan.  The studio apartment became the pre-game spot for a bunch of single dudes in their twenties.  Over the years, our taste in food and drink matured and every single one of us got married or engaged.  We went from drinking bottles of coconut flavored Bacardi and dining at Dallas BBQs to seeking out Innis & Gunn on tap and celebrating birthdays at French restaurants.  This story is about the grown up, married with children friends who wound up having a fantastic dinner at Café D’Alsace on the Upper East Side and discovered some incredible beers in the process. cafe 01
The story begins at a bar called Niles, right across from Madison Square Garden.  Niles and unbelievably the bar at T.G.I. Friday’s in Penn Station both became pre-game spots while I was living in Spain in 2005.  Upon my return to the States and before I was able to reclaim my Chelsea apartment, I would meet them at either location to kick off the night.  I wondered to myself, what happened while I was away?  How did Niles and Friday’s become the go-to spots?  It could be summed up like this… On Friday night, we were at Niles for less than one hour and the bartender comped us two rounds of Jameson.  Niles also gives free appetizers to its patrons at the bar on certain nights.  I could see why my close friend JB became a regular.  The bartenders at Niles certainly treat their frequent flyers quite well. Birthday dinner reservations were set for 6:45, so we jumped in a cab.  We surprisingly caught a cab with ease and raced towards the Upper East Side.  We were curious why Jay chose Café D’Alsace to celebrate his birthday.  When he arrived we found out he used the Findmytap App on his iPhone to locate his new favorite beer, Innis & Gunn.  We sat down to wait for Jay and ordered our first round of beer – Ommegang and Barrier Brewing Company’s collaboration Barrier Relief  IPA. They didn’t have Innis & Gunn on tap, but they had a very good selection on draught and a superb craft beer bottle list.  The beer list at Café D’Alsace is four pages long.  We ordered some very tasty appetizers: goat cheese tatin and tart flambee.  Our next round of beer was from SingleCut Beersmiths, the brand new brewery in Astoria, Queens (my place of birth).  Their Pacific NW “Dean” Mahogany Ale was a very good introduction to their line of beers.  It was an American Amber loaded with hops.  Café D’Alsace had Evil Twin’s Biscotti Break on tap!!!!  I was hoping to hold off on a round of that until after dinner.   cafe02
Dinner was served – We ate like kings.  All of our dishes were excellent.  (Burger, Merguez lamb sausages, duck and peppercorn sausages, & pesto linguini)  Although we were celebrating a birthday, we passed on the dessert.  The restaurant’s sommelier/Cicerone surprised us with four glasses of his very own Biere de Garde.  He has some close friends up at Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, NY and brewed up this special batch of the farmhouse ale for the restaurant.  I’m glad we declined dessert.  The Biere de Garde birthday toast was perfect.  We told the Cicerone that we were actually at the restaurant to have Innis & Gunn on draught, but were disappointed to see that the tap ran out.  In a few minutes, he came back with one bottle of Innis & Gunn that he dug up from the cellar.  It truly made Jay’s night and prompted me to do this write-up.  Café D’Alsace gets high marks for its food, remarkable craft beer selection, and impeccable service.  Café D’Alsace: 1695 2nd Avenue,  Manhattan, NY photo (3)
We didn’t wind up having Biscotti Break, but found a bottle of it at City Swiggers, located a few blocks away from Café D’Alsace.  That was the night-cap  to an amazing evening/night.  I made it home at exactly midnight.  How things have changed since the 9P days of our twenties.  Life is great!
Check out Café D’Alsace’s BeerMenus page. The bottle list is impressive: