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April 30, 2007

Flicks: The Conversation

Hackman’s Harry Caul is a precursor to the role he played in “Enemy of the State,” right down to the abandoned warehouse headquarters. The details may be different, but the newer movie's Brill obviously channeled Harry Caul as a grumpy old man.

Throughout The Conversation, Caul embodies haunted loneliness. In the middle of a party, he’s all by himself. Every scene displays a new angle to the barriers Harry has raised between him and the world, his girlfriend, his partner, everyone. He’s afraid to open up to anyone, to trust anyone. Then in one scene and each subsequent scene that solitary life is justified.

The party was the decisive moment. As soon as he let’s down his guard, he’s punished for it. He opens up his fortress, literally and figuratively, allowing others in. From then on he gets his teeth kicked in at every turn. His jealous colleague badgers and humiliates him. Everyone he allows himself to trust betrays him, including those he wants to save.

In the end, he destroys nearly everything of value to him in order to regain the security he once had.

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Graffiti of the Day: Dalva

Dalva, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Miami Beach, Florida, 2006.

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IMG_5623, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Gothamist picked up this shot for their story on the 2 transit workers killed in the last week. I took it when we were heading out to the Brooklyn Half Marathon a couple weeks back.

Photo of the Day: Tea Time

Tea, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Orangery, Hyde Park, London. 2004.

April 29, 2007

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon, the first in a series

After wandering through Williamsburg for a bit, we (I) decided to sit and chill at Spike Hill even though I was here last night with Eric. Tammi's drinking wine and reading the paper, I'm clacking away at the laptop and drinking beer.

I had a rather large bottle of the Hitachino Red Rice accidentally. It's not any sort of red you'd expect to have. There's a sweetness to it that reminds me most of the robutussin I took when I was a kid. That's not to say it's bad, just that the flavor takes some getting used to.

Next up is Moorehouse's Black Cat, "A refreshing black ale brewed with the finest English malt and hops." The color is black right through. You can barely see through it. The malts are much more prominent than the hops, with a flavor like a Newcastle, but stronger.

What could improve an afternoon like this? Oysters. Apparently Spike Hill has a raw bar now. Word. Or not. The Oysters were remarkably bland. Even a bunch of toppings couldn't help these oysters out. sad sad...

Duck Eggs

I bought Duck Eggs. Tee hee! I'm psyched. I got half a dozen from Bedford Cheese Shop after Brunch at Dressler.

The idea of cooking Duck Eggs has been in my head for the last couple of weeks. I saw a recipe in Olive, a British cooking magazine. The recipe just called for soft-boiling the egg and sticking long sticks of toast in. It's a variation on a British breakfast staple. It gave me the idea of making a regular breakfast with Duck Eggs. I'm really curious about how scrambled duck eggs are going to taste, or maybe fried over easy. The only time I've eaten them has been at Casa Mono. They're rich and wonderful.

I'll be sure to report on them next weekend.

Brunch at Dressler

Brunch at Dressler:

Tammi and I had Brunch at Dressler in South Williamsburg this afternoon. Dressler is the high-end branch of the Dumont Empire. A co-worker of hers had recommended it and swore that the Fried Chicken was the best he'd ever tasted. I don't know about that, but we had a great meal.

Honestly, the part of the meal that was the most memorable was the two homemade doughnut holes that were about of their baked goods special. They were incredible. Like the doghnuts at Bob's Donuts in San Francisco, they were real doughnuts, which you just don't find in too many places anymore. It actually made me a little angry that you can't get real doughnuts that aren't mass produced anymore. They're just so good. Almost immediately afterwards, I was a little relieved. I'd weigh 500 pounds if I had real doughnuts like these readily available.

The chicken was very good. It had a breading that was crispy and thick, substantial without being heavy. The mild seasoning flavored the skin with a light herbiness. A giant biscuit, the size of Tammi's face came on the side. It was flaky and fluffy. Tammi had an omelette with roasted red peppers, spinach and goat cheese. She loved it. She also got a giant pile of bacon as a side.

We were happily surprised to find that the place wasn't packed. We had tried to get reservations for dinner last night, just to find nothing available until 9:30 and even then it would have been 3 of us squeezed into a two top. I love the space. A month ago, we went for a heathenly Good Friday dinner at Peter Luger's with friends. Tammi and I had a round at Dressler while waiting for everyone. That was the first time we had been there. It's a beautiful space. There's ridiculously ornate metalwork throughout with cute little details everywhere. It's like staring into a Where's Waldo made of iron. All that makes the space beautiful and swanky. It just begs for a special occasion to come and celebrate.

It's definitely worth many return trips. The next time we go for brunch, I'm going to try the Benedict, which is what you'd expect, but with hickory smoked ham and a buttermilk biscuit in place of the canadian bacon and english muffin. I'd really love to taste that biscuit soaked with yummy soft-cooked yolks and hollandaise sauce.


Graffiti of the Day: Suicidal Thoughts

IMG_2939, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Bowery & Spring Street, SoHo/Nolita, NYC.

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Bars: dba

dba, NYC

I'm writing this at the bar at dba. I don't get over here so much these days. Maybe that'll change as the weather warms up. They've got a nice garden in the back that draws as many people in the summer as their phenomenal beer selection. Inside and out, dba is a good place to hang out and linger. They have wifi and it's really easy to pass a lazy afternoon poking at the laptop of a couple beers. Or sitting at the bar listening in on the conversations. It's a bar with regulars and a sense of familiarity.

Like the original Blind Tiger, dba was a beer bar before there was a huge market for beer bars. It doesn't make a thing about it, it just is. They've got 16 taps and 5 tall chalkboards listing the many bottle selections on hand. And there are 3 cask engines for the hand drawn aficionados. The board with the tap listing also notes the date on which the keg was tapped. That's a pretty nice touch. I should have paid attention to that when I ordered the Kelso Chocolate Lager. It was tapped almost a month ago, which might account for the off taste. It was definitely not the chocolate lager I had had before.

They've got a sister bar out in New Orleans on Frenchman Street that I've been to a couple times.
See earlier posts here and here.

41 First Ave.
Between 2nd and 3rd Street
New York, NY 10003


Photo of the Day: Barcelona Boardwalk

Barcelona, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

New Year's Eve, Barcelona, Spain. 2002.

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April 28, 2007

Bars: Black Star Bar

FKA Black Star

I miss Black Star.

For me and Eric, along with a bunch of our friends, it was 'our' bar back when. Our 'local' - except neither of us actually lived over there.

It's gone now. They closed up in January '04 after the landlord outpriced them. The people who took over turned into a crappy place called Kabin that has giant plasma screens and no soul. I walked in once and it all just seemed wrong.

Kim g put me on to that place for her birthday. Maybe in 2001?

On Friday nights, Garfield the DJ played some great music. I must have run up to his booth dozens of times to ask for the names of songs he was playing. Every now and then I'll come across a page in a notebook with a drunken scrawl, "take me to the mardi gras - bob james" or some other such classic sample that I first heard at Black Star.

They packed them in on Saturday nights. Even with the lounge in the back room open, it was jammed. But we knew the staff, so we could always get a good spot.

On weeknights, after work it wasn't nearly so busy. Usually there were no more than a dozen of us there sitting at the bar hanging out with the bartenders and bullshitting. Thinking back to that, I understand the appeal of social clubs and lodges for old men.

To this day, I've never found a bar I felt as at home in. Blind Tiger got pretty close, until they closed. I'm holding out hope for the new place, but so far it's just too crowded. Black Star is pretty much the standard to which I judge nearly every other bar.


Graffiti of the Day: Back of the Truck

IMG_6420, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


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The Bar List

Behind the Bar

There are hundreds if not thousands of bars in New York. Now, I do go to a lot of bars, but I've barely scratched the surface. I have, however, gone to enough that I sometimes lose track of spots that I enjoyed.

Every now and again, people ask for bar recommendations or I have to come up with a place for, say, my 30th birthday party - which I still haven't done. It would be incredibly useful to have a receptacle for my impressions of the bars I've been to.

Following mikeoliver.org's mission statement of 'holding on to things Mike Oliver will forget...' I've decided to use the blog for just such a thing.

So, begins a new feature. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on bars and boozing.
Expect a few quotes from my brooklyn record posts too. These won't all be reviews as much as (semi-)organized notes.

I'll break down the categories for your searching enjoyment. For all bars click here.

Let me know what I missed in the comments.


Photo of the Day: Fireworks

IMG_4222, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

April 27, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: FFK Octopus

IMG_9831, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Cooking: Slow Honey Roasted Belly of Pork

While I was locked up in the house with my swollen face, I worked with some of the meat I picked up at this new supermarket. For whatever reason, despite the warming weather, I'm still all about braising. I found this recipe on Australia's ABC web site.

It came out with a crispy skin and a sweet, meltingly tender flesh. I would (and probably will) make it again.
The copied recipe after the jump. Note that the measurements are in the metric system.

Slow Honey Roasted Belly of Pork

Chef: Roger Bayley
Roger Bayley's "Recipe of the Week" is featured on Mark Vale's Morning Show Wednesdays after 10.30.

Serves 4

Degree of difficulty: Low

You need:

1.3 Kg pork belly, boned
5 large onions, sliced
1 teaspoon crushed white peppercorns
3 tablespoons honey
20mls Olive oil
1-tablespoon coarse sea salt
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 180C

Score the pork belly rind with a sharp knife1cm apart. Place the sliced onions in a roasting tray and sit the pork belly, rind side up, on top. Trickle with a little olive oil and lightly press on the crushed white peppercorns and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour.

After the first hour, remove from the oven and baste any fat and juices over. If the onions are dry, then add a few tablespoons of water to the pan. Continue to cook for a further 1½ hours basting every 15-20 minutes.

The honey can now be poured over the belly and the oven temperature increased to 200C. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes, basting every 5-10 minutes. As the honey becomes hotter, it will start to caramelise and leave a rich golden glaze over the pork.

Once cooked and tender, remove the belly from the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

While the pork is resting, heat the pan on the stove with the onions and add 2 tablespoons of water. This will lift any residue from the pan and create moist cooking liquor for serving.

Last Updated: 30/09/2003 11:27:00 AM AEST

Photo of the Day: Spikes

Spikes, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

April 26, 2007


While I was out of the office for my jacked up mouth, I decided to take the opportunity to find a better supermarket in the area. I had heard about a Western Beef not so far away and was intrigued. The Western Beef in the Meatpacking district is one of the best meat markets I know of. I headed over there just to find that it was a dump, not worth the trouble.

In the process, I found another place Food Dimensions- just past the place selling live poultry (that's for another day) - that was gigantic. It's huge and stocks latin ingredients I've never seen anywhere else, like canned cactus and puerto rican sausage.

Even better It's got an immense meat market with a full butcher shop. I'll definitely be heading back there.


On Tuesday, I had a wisdom tooth removed. I wasn't too concerned about it beforehand because the last wisdom teeth I had removed came out fine. I didn't even need to take the painkillers they prescribed me.

What I hadn't really thought about was that it was almost 11 years ago when I had the two back right teeth taken out. I was 19 and apparently too dumb to feel pain. That's no longer a problem.

Initially, I figured that I'd be fine and maybe I'd ditch out of work for a bit and get a couple hours' downtime. I got as far a Bryant Park, about 4 blocks away. I took some pictures at the NYPL and in the park. I was considering walking over to Times Square when my novocaine started fading. The aching in the left side of my mouth signaled that maybe I should fill that prescription for Codeine.

By the time I got to the pharmacist by my office, not 10 blocks away, the pain had built up significantly, even though my mouth was still numb.

The extraction wasn't so big a deal. When I first sat down, the dentist glanced in my mouth. I saw him go in with a mirror and something else. I didn't know what it was, but it was sharp. He poked me gums thre or four times. I thought it was one of those scraping tools until I tasted an unpleasant, yet familiar flavor. I couldn't place it at first, it was bitter and metallic. Then, as I gradually started to lose feeling in that area, I realized he had started numbing me before I even knew what was going on.

From there it was pretty straight forward. The actual extraction didn't take more than 10 minutes. He gripped the tooth, yanked on it, and twisted it. He reassured me that the crunching sound was just the root cracking. Nothing to be worried about.

That was it. When he was done, he commented on that fact that he had taken a little bone out too, but that it was nothing to worry about. I kept my eyes closed pretty tight when the whole suturing operation needed to be done. That's the sort of thing I prefer not to see. Ok, I had my eyes closed the whole time. I didn't really want to see any of it. When I walked out, I was still so chocked full of numbing wonderfulness that I thought I was fine. I called Tammi and told her it was fine. I complained that it all went too quickly and that I'd have to go to work sooner than I wanted to. Which was sort of true.

After I got my drugs, I swung by the office briefly. I let everyone know that I was in no condition to do any work and I bailed. Not really the sort of afternoon off I had hoped for.

I popped one of the codeine pills while I was still there. The pain was increasing and the numbness was still not even half way gone. I don't like taking pills. Drugs in general sort of bother me. I never remember to take medicine I'm supposed to take. And 'controlled substances' like codeine in particular freak me out. I get my buzz from booze, I prefer to leave it at that. So when the codeine didn';t help, I was quite annoyed.

I tried to sleep, but I couldn't even open my mouth without an agonizing pain emanating from my mouth. After my aunt suggested taking another pill, since I am bigger than the average patient, I didn't argue. I popped another and went to sleep.

I didn't really need more after that. I took another before going to bed that night, just to try to sleep through the night. I still woke up a few times. So much for Codeine. I'm not impressed.

Graffiti of the Day: Subversion

IMG_0035, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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Photo of the Day: The Woolworth building, reflected

The Woolworth Building, NYC.

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April 25, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Big Brother's watching

IMG_0479, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Obey Giant Sticker, San Francisco. 2007.

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Photo of the Day: The Struggle

Police, Dog, Student, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Civil Rights Memorial Park, Birmingham, Alabama. 2004.

April 24, 2007

Habana Outpost to Re-Open

Fort Greene's "eco-eatery," artisan marketplace, and summer hangout spot, Habana Outpost has announced that it will open for its third season on Saturday, May 12th. Since the spacious restaurant first launched two years ago, summer in Brooklyn has come to mean lounging with friends over grilled corn, Cuban sandwiches, and smoothies from a bike-powered blender, all while listening to the DJ spin jams all afternoon.

The Outpost is an extension of the popular Cafe Habana in NoLita. It sets itself apart from the original by embracing the virtues of Brooklyn: Unlike the tight quarters of the cafe, Habana Outpost sprawls across an open outdoor space. Even the kitchen is outside, housed in a big red truck in the corner. Throughout the summer they use the space for movies, parties and even fashion shows. Expect more of the same this summer, starting with an opening day blowout.

Habana Outpost 757 Fulton St. at So. Portland. 718-858-9500.

- clay williams

Photo by ultraclay!

Graffiti of the Day: faile on wood

faile, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Near the West Side Railyards, Midtown West, NYC.

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Photo of the Day: Feeling the Music

IMG_2528, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans. 2005.

April 23, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: I Space Invade NY II

IMG_1522, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Brooklyn Bridge, NY.

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Spring is Here

I hope.

I'm sitting out at one of my favorite summer perches on Bleeker St in the village. It went up to 86 degrees today. I spent most of that time stuck in the office, but I'm out now, which is all that matters.

This weekend was pretty great. We went to the first bbq of the season Saturday evening I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in way too long. I have a couple shots on flickr, but sadly none of our hosts, who were juggling hosting and parenting duties.

Then Sunday, Tammi ran a race, where she once again broke a personal record, breaking the 10 minute mile - after running 8 miles the day before. She's incredible.

I ditched out this time and spent the morning shopping in the neighborhood. (I bought groceries, including many braising meats. Suddenly the weather is less accommodating to such things. I suspect half of it will end up in the freezer tonight.)

In the afternoon we went to Carroll Gardens and hung out in the garden at PJ Hanley's drinking beer with Tammi and her knitting friends from work.

I'm completely ready to spend the next several months like this. It's supposed to cool down for the rest of the week, but so long as we're out of the cold, wet, 8 inches of rain in 36 hours woods, I'll take it for now.


Dispatches from the Shuttle Zone


This weekend the neighborhood saw it's third weekend without A train service.

(I think the MTA does this sort of thing periodically to show us how poor service could be. )

Anyone trying to get from Utica Ave (where we are) to Jay street or anywhere between has to take a shuttle bus, braving crowds of hundreds of other passengers. You don't quite realize how many people fit on a subway train until you try to fit them on a bus. It just doesn't work.

We've detoured and worked around in order to avoid taking the shuttle buses, but this weekend there was no other way.

Shockingly, the MTA actually had their stuff together. There was an army of fluorescent-vest-clad minions doing everything they could to let everyone know where they were going. They yelled "EXPRESS TO JAY" and "ONE STOP TO JAY" and "THIS BUS ONLY GOES TO JAY STREET" over and over again. They chanted and gestured and pointed.

This didn't stop people from running off of the bus at the last minute saying, "This _only_ stops at Jay?" and wandering around bitching that they didn't know which bus to take.

People are dumb.

We've got two more weekends of this nonsense. Once it's all done, I hope my commute gets faster. The trains have been crawling through the areas where the track work is being done.

Photo of the Day: Lights

IMG_7857 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Sanitation Depot, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2006.

April 22, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: House of PlasmaSlug

IMG_1794, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

11 Spring Street, Nolita, NYC

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Photo of the Day: A Foggy Night in Williamsburg

Brooklyn, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After last year's Good Friday feast at Peter Luger.

April 21, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Orange Truck

truck, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Greenwich Village, NYC.

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Photo of the Day: Ominous

IMG_4314, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

New York City, 2007

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April 20, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: White Zombie

White Zombie, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Wrona. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2006.

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Solomon's Porch: An Eclectic Neighborhood Eatery

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Solomon's Porch

If you find yourself in in Bed-Stuy this weekend, stop in at Solomon's Porch, a café, performance space and neighborhood gathering spot: It's a solid choice for good food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

The menu offers food as varied as Moroccan Chicken Skewers and a Lamb and Black Bean Chili, as well as pub-food staples like Buffalo Wings, Calamari and Hamburgers. The burger isn't worth the time it takes to cook, but the wings are terrific, fried crisp and doused with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. My only complaint is that they serve too few of them in an order. Conversely, the Chicken Skewers were bigger than we had expected. The two skewers each carry three juicy chunks of rosemary scented chicken.
After the jump: what to drink with your poultry.

Photo by ultraclay!.

The beer and wine list stands out in the neighborhood: Where most bodegas don't even stock anything more exotic than a Heineken, they serve Duvel, a Belgian Trappist Ale similar to Chimay. The list is small, but contains unexpected quality.

The staff is friendly and relaxed, you should be, too. Fair warning: if you want to eat and run, you may be frustrated. Very little is quick at Solomon's Porch; it's a place to enjoy the company of friends, to listen to a performance or to tap away at a laptop. Plan to linger and lounge and you will have a great time.

And about those performances: They're as eclectic as the crowd (which comprises couples in their 60's, twentysomethings wearing college sweats, and artsy bohemians rocking faux-hawks alike). Musical offerings range from a weekly DJ who deftly mixes the soulful house with Radiohead to a Haitian folk singer to touring european soul singers.

307 Stuyvesant Ave., Bed-Stuy; (718) 919-8001

-clay williams

Flicks: The Candidate

Clearly, I’m a product of my time. Post-Iran-Contra, post-Whitewater, post-Bush II, nothing that happened in The Candidate surprised me. In fact, the entire point of the movie was nearly too subtle for me to notice. Redford plays a big ‘L’ Liberal lawyer, defender of the little guy and so on who gets drafted into an election no one thinks he’d win. The focus of the film is how he gradually sacrifices some of his ideals to fit into the sound bites and commercials. He disgusts himself with every step away from who he was and periodically bursts with the outrage that motivated him in the first place. All his angst seems vaguely ridiculous in a time when one has to resort to platitudes and doubletalk before they can get enough signatures to enter an election, much less win it.

At the time it was probably the equivalent of Primary Colors, these days, it’s just a trite reminder of the world we live in. Redford’s character agrees with the critique that advertising for political office should have higher standards that advertising for detergent. They say that a candidate is not just another product to be sold like underarm deodorant. I don’t think anyone has seriously considered that argument in decades.

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Photo of the Day: Cashing Out

Cashing Out, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Madame X, NYC.

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April 19, 2007

Hartford: Bin 228

Bin 228 is an Italian inspired wine bar in Hartford. Last week I had dinner with Eli, a friend from college. I liked it enough to go back last night, when I returned to CT. I had heard about it a while back, but didn't know how extensive the food selection was, so I never bothered to go. I'm glad I finally made it.

The menu is made up of small plate antipasti and panini with a few larger dishes. Last week we had some panini and charcuterie along with some bruschetta. The flavors were all familiar. Prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and basil, spicy meats with hot peppers and cheese and so on. They even had a bruschetta made with parmesan, asparagus and truffle oil, reminiscent of the truffled egg toast at 'ino and 'inoteca back home. It wasn't nearly the transcendental experience, but then few things are.

That's sort of how I felt about the whole menu. It was all very good, but then it's not hard to put meat and/or cheese on bread. This week I went for something more complicated. One of the specials was Wild Boar on parpardelle. I had just been ogling some game meats online, so I couldn't turn it down. The server described it as almost like a beef stroganoff in composition. The meat was braised and served in shreds and chunks on the pasta. The sauce tasted of sweet gaminess. In the end, it was much heavier than what I had planned on eating, but it was well worth it.

Last week we drank a Tuscan Merlot we were recommended by the waiter. I ordered some more of that to start off. I don't know much about Merlot and I've never seen Sideways, so I have no preconceptions about it as a wine. I've never really gotten a hang of Italian wines. I've had good ones, but I can never really track which ones they are. I just need to pay more attention. I usually just ask for a rec. One day I'll just have to go to Italy myself and learn first hand. In any case, the wine was everything I wanted. It was a little more tannic than most wine I have, but it balanced out very well.

I think this place is going to have to move up on my list of places to grab lunch while waiting for the train from now on. The portions are very well suited to a snack as well as dinner.

Bin 228
228 Pearl Street
Hartford, Connecticut

Pitying Fools Since 1984

Pitying Fools Since 1984, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Colonia, Uruguay, 2006.

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Photo of the Day: Skate Practice

In the park, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Central Park, NYC.

April 18, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: WK Interact

IMG_9886, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

WK Interact, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2006.

This was one of the many pieces that went up around New York in the run-up to the Wooster on Spring project.

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Apologies for so few posts lately. I'm a little overextended these days.

Everyday I see something I need to unpack or put away or set up. But by the time I get home I'm wiped out. The last two days I got home early and cooked dinner, which took a while. I did get some things unpacked, like my spices. It's been such a pain trying to cook when I didn't know where anything was.

I spent a couple hours this morning working on things, which has made me very late for work. I need a few days off to just catch up on things.

That's not going to happen soon though. I've got a trip up to CT tossed in my lap at the last minute, so I'm heading up there tonight.

Last week I grabbed dinner at a wine bar called bin 228, maybe I'll go back. They had good panini and a nice wine list

Hopefully, I'll have a little time to put together a piece for the record. Also on my to-do list is a listing in the right column of all my br posts. Their search feature leaves a lot to be desired, so I want to have it consolidated somewhere.

I've been writing this post on an extended commute. After already running late, the mta decided to help out by holding my train for 20 minutes at Lafayette. I finally got out and caught the Q at Atlantic. A few minutes ago I glanced up and saw the Brooklyn Bridge. I love it.

Ok, this post has officially become a ramble. When I started the blog, I decided to make a consious effort to avoid rambling and excessive bitching. So much for that.

I'll try not to do it again.


Photo of the Day: Lost in the crowd

Lost in the crowd, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Times Square, NYC.

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April 17, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Faro and Flower Face

IMG_0096, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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Photo of the Day: Ghost Ship

Photos, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

April 16, 2007

A Beautiful Day for the Half Marathon

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

This weekend the weather held out long enough for 4847 participants to run 13.1 miles from Coney Island to Prospect Park. Runners all gathered first thing Saturday morning to run the biggest race in the borough. There was a chill in the air at the beginning, but by the time they arrived in the park, everything had warmed up and crowds were out to cheer on the runners.

The photo above was taken on the boardwalk as runners finished mile 3. Those of us standing out there cheering them on bounced with the vibration of nearly 10,000 feet pounding on the wooden planks. See the rest of the photos of the race here

-clay williams

Graffiti of the Day: Sun is Shining

IMG_1016, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Wishful thinking, I suppose. The sun is definitely not shining. New York saw the highest rainfall on record yesterday. 7.5 inches fell in Central Park. Today the city is soggy.

April Showers and all that, I guess.

Photo of the Day: Helmets

London, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 15, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: The Tax Man

IMG_9573.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

D*Face, 11 Spring Street. December 2006.
- - - -

Happy Tax Day everyone. Enjoy your 2 day reprieve!

Go Tammi Go!

IMG_6126, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tammi ran one of her best races to date yesterday. She beat her time in last year's NY Half Marathon by nearly 45 minutes!!

Great job babe!

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Flicks: Escape from Alcatraz

I think I'm just not impressed with the prison movie genre. I enjoyed The Great Escape, but Escape from Alcatraz was all by the numbers as far as I could tell. In the first 30 minutes he meets the whole collection of prison misfits: The bully who wants to make Eastwood his bitch, the guy who keeps a strange pet, the wise old black guy, who doubles as the unjustly imprisoned, of course there's the evil warden, and the guy who loses his mind. It's all there. It was interesting seeing Eastwood, I haven't seen much of his old movies. He seethes and squints. He's a lot cleaner than in the westerns I've seen him in.

Maybe seeing the Shawshank Redemption first spoiled me. It probably stole more than a bit from Escape from Alcatraz. The digging in the cell, the character types, and the triumph over the warden's tyranny all show up in both.

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Photo of the Day: Bridge on the Seine

Paris, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 14, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Che Monroe

Che Monroe, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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The Breakfast of Champions

Nathan's, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Where else can I get a chili cheese dog at 8:30 in the morning? I had that wonderfully nutritious breakfast after cheering Tammi on the boardwalk in coney island. Now I'm on the train heading to borough park, to hit the halfway point before going to the finish line in prospect park.


Photo of the Day: Donald behind bars

Donald behind bars, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco. 2007.

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April 13, 2007

Cheer them on!

Cheer them on!, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Broolyn Half-Marathon is tomorrow morning. It starts in Coney Island and goes to Prospect Park. Tammi will be out there running, I'll be there to shoot and cheer.

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Graffiti of the Day: Paris Silhouette

IMG_9232, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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Habana Outpost to Re-open

The Kitchen, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

OOOOH! Habana Outpost announced it's re-opening for the season. I love this place. It is my defacto hangout spot for summer weekends. I love the music, the food, the vibe, the people. It's just about perfect. I can't wait.

Look out for a write up about Habana Outpost on The Brooklyn Record

Photo of the Day: Sibling Rivalry

IMG_0174, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Recoleta, Buenos Aires, 2006.

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April 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: REVS Williamsburg

REVS, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

REVS metalwork, across from the Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn, NY.

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Photo of the Day: Barcelona

Barcelona, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 11, 2007

Stonehome's Spring Wine Tasting Dinner

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Seasonal temperatures are (finally) in the forecast, which may mean that Spring is finally here. To celebrate, Stonehome Wine Bar in Fort Greene is hosting a wine tasting dinner on Wednesday, April 18th. The four-course feast will run you $70 but is a relative bargain when you consider what you get: Built around a set of primarily french wines, the menu includes wild salmon, lamb chops and Maine crab ravioli. Each item is paired with a particular wine from Burgundy, Bourdeax or the Loire Valley. Bring it on!

If you can't make it next week, another tasting dinner with a different menu is scheduled for early May, or come by another night and sample in-house chef John Gibson's new spring repertoire. The new menu replaces heavier winter faves like venison and brisket with skate wings, hanger steaks and lamb shanks. Rezzies are required for the tasting dinner but walk-ins are welcomed any other time.

Stonehome Wine Bar is located at 87 Lafayette Avenue, 718-624-9443.

- clay williams

Stonehome's Autumn Wine Picks [Brooklyn Record]

Graffiti of the Day: Classic COST

COST, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

SoHo, NY

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Photo of the Day: ESB Spire

IMG_5220.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 10, 2007


Dojo Closed, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, ''That used to be Munsey's'' or ''That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge.'' That before the Internet cafe plugged itself in, you got your shoes resoled in the mom-and-pop operation that used to be there. You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now."

-Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

I went down to St. Mark's Place during lunch last week. It was surreal. The place was unrecognizable.

Getting off the train at Astor Place, I wasn't surprised by the more egregious changes: the giant shiny condominium across from the cube, the Walgreens sign where Astor Wines used to be. Then in the corner of my eye, I saw a hole in the ground just down 3rd Ave. I don't remember what was there, but the absence was jarring.

I spent a lot of time on and around St. Mark's when I was a teenager. I ate veggie burgers(!) at Dojo with friends. I saw a graphical web browser for the first time at a place called the @ Café, which has been closed for easily 10 years.

In 2000, I went to the Black August concert at New Age Cabaret. The event moved at the last minute from Irving Plaza after venues around the city were intimidated by Giuliani's NYPD. They had a particular beef with Dead Prez and were more than willing to threaten anyone willing to allow them to perform. The owners of New Age Cabaret volunteered to host as a statement against the defacto censorship.

Now, there's a Super Cuts there. And a Chipotle and a CBGB's gift shop.
I was slightly reassured to find that the video game shop I went down there to visit is now a sex shop.

Change in New York is inevitable. We see it walk by it every day, but every now and again you step back and actually see it.

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Graffiti of the Day: Paper Chick

IMG_4414, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.

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Brooklyn On The Run

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

At 8 in the morning this coming Saturday, as many as 5000 runners—Brooklynites and otherwise—will gather on the boardwalk in Coney Island, braving the early morning chill off the water to run 13.1 miles through the borough of Kings. This is the Brooklyn Half Marathon, the third this year in the New York Road Runners Club's Grand Prix series of half marathons throughout the five boroughs.

The race begins with a lap to the end of the boardwalk and back. From there, runners will head down Ocean Parkway, passing through Sheepshead Bay, Bensonhurt, Midwood and Borough Park on the way to Prospect Park. In the park they run the last 4 miles to the finish line.

As of last week, 4857 people had signed up for the race. If you think you can handle it, the Road Runners club is accepting registration until Wednesday at 5pm. If you know you can't, come out and cheer on the runners. They need all the support they can get.

NYRR Half-Marathon Grand Prix: Brooklyn [New York Road Runners]

-clay williams

Photo by ultraclay!

Flicks: Rosemary's Baby

Now if more horror movies were like this, I'd probably be more interested in them. Technically, it isn’t even horror, I suppose. There’s barely any blood at all in the whole movie and the only use of ‘special effects’ – such as they were back then – were fairly brief if not subtle.

Mia Farrow’s Rosemary reminds me of Charlize Theron in The Devil’s Advocate. She’s gradually driven mad by everything around her. Rosemary wasn’t transplanted anywhere but into a new building, yet everything familiar is gone. She doesn’t see her friends anymore and people she shouldn’t trust are all around her.
Actually, that’s what’s most fascinating to me. Like the Zombie movies, the core of this story is that everyone is out to get you.

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Photo of the Day: Mortality

IMG_7210, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2006.
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April 9, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Behind Bars

IMG_0093, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Greenwich Village, NY

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Photo of the Day: dba New Orleans

IMG_7928, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans, 2004.

I've been going to dba in New York for years. When I found out they had a sister bar in New Orleans, I had to check it out the next time I went there.

The space is much bigger than the New York location, taking up two storefronts. The photo above is of on half of the space. To the right, there's a door to the other room which has a stage up for performances and the other side of the double bar.

The beer selection is exactly what I'd expect from dba: very extensive, and inclusive of many local beers. They get creative with the beer too. This is where I had my first "Dirty Ho," a beer cocktail mixing about 75% Hoegarden with a Framboise lambic. It's a pretty fantastic concoction, adding the fruit flavor of the lambic livens up the hoegarden, which in turn cuts the excess sweetness of the lambic.

The Frenchman Street strip of bars and restaurants sits just a few blocks outside the French Quarter, but is thankfully worlds away from the contrived excess of Bourbon Street. On my first trip to New Orleans, a friend who lived out there at the time took us to a couple of bars on Frenchman. It took me a couple trips before I could figure out how to get back there. It's a much more local scene so it totally bypasses the bead-throwing and nonsense found down the road. The strip runs about two or three blocks and it's full of music. Nearly every bar had some performance listed.

The last time I was at dba New Orleans, was two years ago. Tammi and I caught the Tony Dagradi Organ Trio performing with one of the Marsalis brothers on drums.

618 Frenchman Street,
New Orleans, LA. 70116

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[Updated 4.29.07. Added more info for The Bar List]

April 8, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Where's Osama?

IMG_1521, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hey, remember this guy? Once upon a time he was "Wanted: Dead or Alive." That was before we got tangled up in a toppling uninvolved governments and refereeing civil wars. Over 6 years later and all we've done is up their recruiting. Mission Accomplished.

Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn, NY.

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Photo of the Day: Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

London, 2005.

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April 7, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Gore b - Dos Passos

Gore b, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Gore b, Midtown, NY

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Photo of the Day: Palacio Real

Palacio Real, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Spanish Royal Palace.
Madrid, Spain, 2003.

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April 6, 2007

Restaurant Review: A Bistro

A Bistro lies stealthily just off Myrtle Avenue's strip of discount furniture and 99 cent stores. On a recent visit, I almost walked right by it. If not for the small chalkboard offering Crispy Frog's Leg, I would have missed it entirely.

The small restaurant, whose hard-to-google name is short for Abdoul's Bistro, is the domain of Senegalese chef Abdoul Gueye. His food is the inevitable fusion of West African flavors with colonial European influences, and dishes like plantain gnocchi balance out both sides very well: The texture is unmistakably gnocchi, but with the sweet flavor of ripe plantain.
After the jump: frogs' legs and wine pairings

The Crispy Frog's Leg special was a starter portion, with three drumsticks, breaded and deep fried. Despite the look, beneath the crispy crust, the soft, meaty flesh tasted more like fish than chicken.

Gueye's best known dish, the Senegalese Fried Chicken, is pan-fried and served with a spicy horseradish mustard sauce. Underneath it all is a small rice cake, moist and flavored with the juices of everything else on the plate, pulling the dish together perfectly.

The restaurant is small and unassuming, with a very spare decor inside and out. With space at a premium, it fills up very quickly and there is no waiting area. Or a bar, as A Bistro is BYOB. Luckily Thirst on Dekalb is just a couple blocks away. They know the drill and recommended some good bottles that went well with our meal. The service was mixed. The host doubles as the waiter, so it took a little while to get his attention. Yet, even with a full house and a one-man kitchen, our party of 6 was served very quickly.

Its size and location make A Bistro a bit of a challenge to get to, but the rewards are well worth it.

154 Carlton Ave. (between Myrtle & Willoughby Ave), Fort Greene; (718) 855-9455

-clay williams

Photo by ultraclay!

Graffiti of the Day: HELP! I'm Being Oppressed!

Photos, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY.

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Photo of the Day: General Strike, Paris

IMG_5258, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer 2003, Paris.

Ah, Paris. The Metro shut down, cops in full force and tear gas in the air.

My second trip to Paris happened to coincide with a general strike. It was all very fascinating. Shutdowns were scheduled and announced daily. Businessmen rollerbladed and rode motorcycles to work, and traffic was jammed everywhere. Thankfully, I stayed two blocks from Place de la Concorde, so walking everywhere was pretty convenient.

This was also a month or so before the notorious heatwave that killed thousands of elderly.

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April 5, 2007

DITC: Fantasy (Bad Boy Remix)

Yes, it's Mariah Carey, shut up. You know you remember it.
I only mention it for ODB's rhymes:
"Me and Mariah/ go back like babies and pacifiers/old dirt dog no liar/keep ya fantasy hot like fire!"

All rapped through the sloppy lisp of gold fronts.
Classic odb.


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LA: Summer X Games

IMG_8488 - Version 2

It's very funny that I've ended up going to the X Games for my job. I'm not much of a sports fan in general, but in particular, I've never paid any attention to 'Action sports.' Jumping giant ramps and doing death-defying flips on motorcycles always seemed profoundly stupid.

That said, it's really an amazing thing to see up close. I definitely got into it.

The craziest part of the whole event was the competition called "Big Air." It was a double ramp. These guys took a header off of the higher end, 8 stories high, going straight down.

They were supposed to hit that ramp, do a trick, land on the next ramp and do another trick. Fucking crazy. I got there days before everything started up. The skateboarders were already practicing.

They went through it over and over again. And the most ridiculous part is that they didn't make a single jump. For the first 3 days I was there, they fell every time. But they picked themselves up, hopped in the little go-kart and took the elevator back up to the top.

Profoundly stupid, but very persistent.

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Sometimes it Snows in April

IMG_3265.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This morning, I walked out the door to find gray skies and flurries falling.

I don't have anything good to say about this.

Graffiti of the Day: Shine!

IMG_5498, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, 2006.

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Flicks: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

I’ve been looking forward to this for a while. Newman and Redford are great together. I saw The Sting years ago and loved it. But this is different. The focus is on relationships much more than in The Sting. Redford and Newman are together in nearly every scene, which gives us more time to see them interact with to one another. Even in their gang, Butch and Sundance are the real team. It’s never said how they got together and it’s clear that there is much they don’t know about each other. But they trust each other and they have each other’s back to the end no matter how much they bitch. Their relationship is complicated, and that’s without the woman in between them.

Which brings me to the love triangle. From the bicycle scene in the beginning of the movie – which I remember seeing first in the Muppet Movie decades ago – it’s clear that Butch loves Etta easily as much as Sundance does. But never in the film does it become an issue. It lies beneath the surface the entire time, never boiling over. Etta loves them both and they both love her. And when the time comes, as it must, for the tragedy to end, she leaves because she doesn’t want to see either of them die.

Newman continues to play the cocky smart ass. It’s interesting to see how he carries on that personality from character to character. Yet it develops subtly. He’s certainly not the naïve young show off from The Hustler. Butch talks a lot of shit, but you can tell he knows it’s shit. He knows the life he’s leading will end badly, but he goes along with it to the end. It is much more Cool Hand Luke than Fast Eddie Felson. To the last moment he’s coming up with new ideas. They both know this is it, but what’s the point of dwelling on that?

The Music was a bit disorienting. Burt Baccarach’s score is surreal to hear in a Western. With the shots of wide-open spaces, deserts and mountains, one expects more dramatic music. Baccarach totally turns it around with a ‘contemporary’ soundtrack throughout.

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Photo of the Day: Left Bank, Paris

IMG_5499, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 4, 2007

Too Much TV

I OWN YOU, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

An unfortunate side-effect of spending all this time in the house unpacking and setting up has been a sharp increase in my TV consumption. We have cable in multiple rooms, which was a surprising decision to come from someone who claims to hate TV, but it made sense when dealing with the cable company.

It used to be that I'd spend the time listening to music or NPR, but lately, it's just been one show after another. Every hour I'll hit the DVR or On Demand looking for something else to have on in the background. It's almost hard to remember that a year or two ago all I had was fuzzy broadcast television that I barely ever watched.

I have to keep that in check. I always described my relationship with television as an addiction. I did my best to avoid it for years. Now that I'm 'on' it again, I'd like to keep it moderate.

It's very easy to do mindless tasks while watching TV, but reading and writing and anything that requires some focus is nearly impossible.

Tonight, I'm going to try to avoid turning on the TV at all.

Slow Cooker

Part of the kitchen 'booty' I've acquired in the move is a small slow cooker Tammi had. She'd never really used it. I've been wanting one for ages. I read a Bittman column about it a couple years ago, shortly after I discovered braising and realized that I had to have one. Now I do.

Yesterday I threw some seared short ribs, chopped chorizo, garlic, onions and what was left of a bottle of red wine from the other night in the slow cooker and left it. When I got home, it was ready to eat. Unfortunately, I had just stuffed myself at Fette Sau, so I was in no shape to eat it. Tammi had it for dinner went back for seconds. Sadly, I forgot to put it away and left it 'warming' for the next 20-odd hours, so it's ruined before I could dig in.

But, I made a point of picking up some pork belly from the supermarket in Koreatown. I'm going to season it up tonight and leave it cooking in a pork broth I made that's been waiting for just such an opportunity. Tomorrow night: Porky Goodness.

No New Commute

IMG_3257.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Taking the L into Manhattan turns out not to be as speedy as I had hoped. It took me just over an hour to get to work today. That's no good.

On the plus side, I did see these guys performing on the train.

Graffiti of the Day: Sunday Afternoon

Sunday Afternoon, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Sunday Afternoon

Kwame Monroe, aka Bear
Graffiti Exhibit
Brooklyn Museum, Summer 2006

Common Grounds on BR

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm writing again for the Brooklyn Record. In addition to my usual beer stories, I'll be doing the Bed-Stuy beat, as I explore the neighborhood more.

Yesterday, my piece on Common Grounds went up. I'm working on some more restaurant and bar reviews as well.

Also see my post on the weekend service changes on the A Train.

A New Commute?


The weekend service changes on the A brought my attention to an alternative way to get into Manhattan.

When the MTA recommended taking the L from Broadway Junction, it seemed like a pain, but a decent excuse to go to some of the bars in Williamsburg on the weekend. After doing it a few times, I realized it might not be such a bad way to get to work without the rush hour crowds.

Tammi went to work yesterday on the L and said she may stick with this method permanently. I'm going to have to give it a try myself soon.


Photo of the Day: A Slice of Paris

Paris, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As seen from the Eiffel Tower, Summer 2003.
As you may have noticed, it's "April in Paris" week here at ultraclay.com, all of this week's photos of the day are going to be shots from Paris. Enjoy.
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April 3, 2007

Fette Sau


Wow. It's all I can do to stay awake after gorging myself on meat and beer at Fette Sau. I managed to bypass the ridiculous crowds, by getting there around 5:30pm. By the time I left, the line had almost hit the door. The staff was friendly, with some good suggestions all around. I tried to get a taste of everything, which explains the meat coma creeping up on me as I make my way home.

I expect to have something on brookyln record written up in the next week. Watch here for a link.


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IMG_5506, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After spending the last 4 days unpacking and dealing with plumbers, electricians and cable guys, I'm taking s little downtime.

I'm spending the afternoon in Williamsburg. Not walking around, not looking for graffiti, just sitting on my ass and drinking beer. I'm hoping to eat some barbecue at Fette Sau, which just opened, whenever I finally get up. I tried to check it out a couple days ago, but it was packed.

Right now, I'm at Spike Hill, one of my favorite bars in Brooklyn. I find that weekday afternoons are the best times to go. The crowd is sparse and the vibe is relaxed.

The photo above is a reshoot. A year ago, I also had a day off and ended up at Spike Hill. I shot a similar photo of people sitting in the window. It was around when I first started seriously shooting. Expect a few more reshoots in the next few months.

Scotland Run

IMG_4661, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This is a little behind the times.
On Sunday Tammi ran in the Tartan Week Scottish Run in Central Park. It's a 10k. She ran her best time to date.

Congratulations babe!

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New Restaurant Alert: Common Grounds

(Originally Posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Common Grounds, a new coffee house in Bed-Stuy, opened in early March as the latest addition to the burgeoning Tompkins Avenue strip. I first heard about it when the owner of Ibo Landing, a block away, insisted that we go over and check it out. It was a chilly Sunday afternoon, and patrons in their church clothes warmed up with coffee, relaxing on the couches in the back to a soundtrack of gospel music.

When we walked in, the first thing we noticed was the aroma of freshly made Belgian waffles wafting through the air. The waffles are served hot off the griddle with crisp edges and a soft, fluffy middle. Common Grounds also serves panini sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries, but clearly the main attraction is the waffles, which come topped with maple syrup and butter, honey and walnuts, or fresh fruit. Personally, I'm waiting for the homemade ice cream, which will be available in coming weeks.

Also coming soon is a large outdoor seating area in the backyard, which should be ready by the summer.

Common Grounds is definitely a work in progress. As of last week, food was still served in aluminum trays and the folks behind the counter were still figuring out where everything was, so service was a little slow. Given how friendly and open the atmosphere is, it's definitely worth the wait while they work on the finishing touches.

376 Tomkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy; (718) 484-4368.
-clay williams

Photo by ultraclay!

Graffiti of the Day: Zoom!

zoom, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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Photo of the Day: Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Paris, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 2, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: The Mac Truck

IMG_8119, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Mac. The Mission, San Francisco, 2006.

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Photo of the Day: Sucre

IMG_7504, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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April 1, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Jesus Saves

Jesus Saves, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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Flicks: Touch of Evil

Conventional wisdom dictates that Charlton Heston did not appear in anything worth seeing other than The Planet of the Apes. Ok, I made that up. But it seems right. I can’t tell you what I’d give to see Heston, William Shatner and Keanu Reeves in a movie together. It would have a 10 page script and would be 5 hours long.

I’m going to try to ignore the brown face and the bad accents and focus on the rest of the movie...

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Photo of the Day: Recoleta Statue

IMG_7283, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2006.

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