Staten Island’s Freshkills Park was once the world’s largest landfill. That’s right - just down the river. That little plop of land. Tarnishing, to this day, the borough’s image and reputation.
But since the landfill closed in 2001, something has been happening on the island. Something has been starting in the park. Something is rising from the ashes, from the dregs, from the waste. It’s been coming alive, if you will.
Actually, it has been given a new life. It is being converted into what its been called all along: a park.
“The planet’s greatest act of ecological atonement.”
All 2,200 acres are being converted into a place of sound, mindful, sustainable “landscape architecture” and wildlife.
“There will be composting toilets and “rain gardens” to capture water for use in irrigation. Hundreds of acres of meadows will be sown with native grass and wildflower seeds. Goats will graze on invasive plant species like phragmites. And educational and cultural programs will emphasize sustainability. Four enormous waste mounds, built up over 53 years, will be transformed…Scores of wooden birdhouses have been put out to attract swallows, while a visitors’ center, soon to open, features a scruffy roof garden. Every so often, a pipe juts from the grass-covered landscape, part of a subterranean infrastructure that is harvesting methane gas produced by the decomposing waste; the gas is sold to heat homes on Staten Island.”
The regeneration, metamorphosis, rebirth, won’t be complete until 2018, but the wheels are already in motion. Changes are taking place all about. Opening events will even begin in the coming weeks.
Everyone join me in a round of applause.
This is lovely.
Quotes and original story from the New York Times.
The funniest essay I’ve read in quite some time. Courtesy of McSweeney’s, David Eggers’ hilarious publishing house and literary website. Please enjoy, as much as I did. And pass it along. And enjoy your motherfucking fall, motherfuckers.
It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.
by Colin Nissan
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I’m about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it’s gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.
I may even throw some multi-colored leaves into the mix, all haphazard like a crisp October breeze just blew through and fucked that shit up. Then I’m going to get to work on making a beautiful fucking gourd necklace for myself. People are going to be like, “Aren’t those gourds straining your neck?” And I’m just going to thread another gourd onto my necklace without breaking their gaze and quietly reply, “It’s fall, fuckfaces. You’re either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you’re not.”
Carving orange pumpkins sounds like a pretty fitting way to ring in the season. You know what else does? Performing an all-gourd reenactment of an episode of Diff’rent Strokes—specifically the one when Arnold and Dudley experience a disturbing brush with sexual molestation. Well, this shit just got real, didn’t it? Felonies and gourds have one very important commonality: they’re both extremely fucking real. Sorry if that’s upsetting, but I’m not doing you any favors by shielding you from this anymore.
The next thing I’m going to do is carve one of the longer gourds into a perfect replica of the Mayflower as a shout-out to our Pilgrim forefathers. Then I’m going to do lines of blow off its hull with a hooker. Why? Because it’s not summer, it’s not winter, and it’s not spring. Grab a calendar and pull your fucking heads out of your asses; it’s fall, fuckers.
Have you ever been in an Italian deli with salamis hanging from their ceiling? Well then you’re going to fucking love my house. Just look where you’re walking or you’ll get KO’d by the gauntlet of misshapen, zucchini-descendant bastards swinging from above. And when you do, you’re going to hear a very loud, very stereotypical Italian laugh coming from me. Consider yourself warned.
For now, all I plan to do is to throw on a flannel shirt, some tattered overalls, and a floppy fucking hat and stand in the middle of a cornfield for a few days. The first crow that tries to land on me is going to get his avian ass bitch-slapped all the way back to summer.
Welcome to autumn, fuckheads!
After all these years, you’re still quite the looker! Love you.
So I can’t write a full review for Maialino because here’s what would happen: I’d get carried away. Like I always do. When talking about restaurants. And food. Especially when talking about Maialino. I rave to the point that no one even listens to my ravings anymore. Because they just assume I’m being sensational.
And okay. So what. Maybe I am. But only because Maialino is just that. Sensational. In all its elements. In all its glory. It jazzes all your senses.
Sight? Well 1) its part of the Gramercy Park Hotel, a boutique dream of art and design and luxury. Check out the Rose Bar for strange modern art, the perfect velvet armchair, a beautiful and gigantic pool table, and a stellar dirty martini while you wait for your table. 2) there are those little atmospheric things, like lighting (for brunch, bay windows to the street and adjacent park allow just the right amount of morning light to seep in. it will inspire a craving for their ricotta pancakes and fresh squeezed orange juice. and for dinner, the combination of dark wooden beams and wicker-shaded bare bulbs makes the trattoria just dim enough for your attention to pique, your other senses to heighten) and decor (old italy - checkered table clothes, waist apron donning wait staff, simple art, rustic furniture - meets swanky, sharp and new).
Smell? Well, it is an Italian restaurant, but alas, as you’d imagine, this sense is firing off like a field of land mines. What with the charcuterie bar, and the formaggio bar, and the dessert bar, and the bar bar. And all around you, tables of beautiful, happy people are pouring out generous glasses of red wine…reaching into buttery baskets of focaccia…fork-and-spooning colorful, steamy, savory bowls of pasta…carving up the maialino platter for two (suckling pig, served browned and crispy and alone on a silver tray).
Sound? Laughter, chatter, fork meeting knife, spoon scraping plate, finger lapping up a forgotten drop of sauce. Oh my god. Corks uncorking, espresso beans grinding. Pots and pans clanging about in the kitchen. Faint jazz playing softly in the background. Mmmm. Chef Nick Anderer describing a speciality dish to a lucky table nearby. The hostess apologizing to a group of down-looking hopefuls (she’s expecting a two hour wait). Corks uncorking, espresso beans grinding. The silence of that first bite. Mmm. Oh my god.
Touch? A friend’s fingertips as you both reach for the last piece of bread. (And having won that final slice…its flakey, plush, croissant-like consistency as you plunge it into a saucer of bright green olive oil.) Your fingertips wiping the cloth napkin that lies on your lap. Your fingertips on the thick single sheet of parchment used for the nightly-printed menu. Your fingertips strumming the table’s edge, unable to decide. Fingertips gripping the stem of your wine glass. That perfect pressure of a fork between your pointer and thumb. The rubbery consistency of your al dente, hand rolled spaghettini. Your fingertip swiping the belly of a bowl for that last (impossible to leave behind) drop of sauce. That perfect pressure of demitasse handle between your forefinger and thumb, pinky slicing the air as you down your nightcap espresso. The slump of the taxi seat as you slide in, headed home. The back of your friends sweater as you hug happily - contentedly - goodnight.
Taste? Use your imagination.
And, oh! - There. I’ve done it. Got carried away. Hate to say I told you so. But don’t judge.
…You will too.
Photo courtesy of Gramercy Park Hotel.
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now.” —
No. 22 by Mark Rothko
Last day as a twenty-two-year-old. Been a weird and wonderful year. Onto the next.
So last week, after a surprisingly eventful few days of head wounds, stitches, and ER visits, the roomies and I decided that the best (and only) cure for Friday Night Frankensteinia would be a cozy, boozy, delicious, late Italian dinner out and about in Lower Manhattan (Frankensteinia or not).
Yet herein lies a problem, having specific cravings and requests on this restaurant-riddled island: unless you’ve written down the name of every adorable cafe that you’ve passed on every forgettable New York City street, equipped with a detailed description of what exactly made it so adorable in the first place, you’ll likely never remember where or what or how ridiculously adorable all of those places actually were. And Googling ‘cozy restaurants in NYC’ doesn’t exactly pull up the kind of candle-lit, brick-lined, squeezed-in-tight places that we’re often looking for. So my advice to you is: create a list. Store it in a Google document - pull it up via smart phone or web browser in your time of need…to both consult and add to. (Believe me. I have one. It’s fabulous.)
Luckily though, this past Friday night, the aforementioned dining dilemma was sidestepped. My search was narrowed down via the ever-helpful Tasting Table, who published an article that very day about Little Italy’s San Gennaro Festival. Apparently, a trattoria by the name of Frankie’s Spuntino 17 was offering reinterpreted Italian street food. Okay…I was listening.
And Googling. And before I knew it, NYMag’s (my other ever-helpful NYC BFF) site was before my eyes, displaying grainy pictures of l’italiano restaurant of my dreams! We were going. We had to. I needed that pasta to heal my facial laceration, and my dignity, and by George, I was going to have it!
Frankie’s doesn’t take reservations, but that’s okay. Adds to the ambience. Only 24 seats, tin ceilings, exposed brick, tile and hardwood floors: the Clinton Street spuntino (or snack, or informal eatery, in Italian) is as cozy as cozy comes, with candles and wine bottles lining the walls, and intimate conversations between couples and friends taking place all around. The menu is small - no pizza or entrees here, my friends - and focuses heavily on their antipasti, speciality sandwiches and homemade pasta. And of course, there are desserts.
We split a hearty bottle of red - smokey, fruity, decent price - alongside crunchy homemade bread with bright green olive oil and the house antipasto platter ($16 for two cheeses, prosciutto, sopressata, olives, chili-broccoli rabe and roasted porcini mushrooms). We probably didn’t need to go much further, but we were nowhere near being ready to quit, so we moved onto our second course, or mi amore: pasta (linguini with blue crab claw, tomato, chili and basil - light, summery, a hint of heat - cavatelli with hot sausage and brown sage butter - simple, total comfort - and lastly, sweet potato and sage ravioli in parmesan broth - like none you’ve had before, savory, perfect for fall). Just-right portions, not drowning in butter or oil, determined to hit the spot. And it did.
But alas, we weren’t playing around. We went into this evening with the notion that this holiday and healing supper was going to go all the way. We’d found a keeper - why not test everything it had to offer? You know, to know whether or not to add it to that growing Google list. (And added it has been.) So we concluded just right - with a night cap of cappucinos, espresso, vanilla bean creme brule and ricotta cheesecake. Finally, with an empty house, we bid Frankie and his fabulous team buonanotte. We trotted home in our high heels, intoxicated not only by a good bottle of vino and a completely satisfying meal, but also by good conversation, good friends, and, of course, by the spirit and vigor that pulses through you on a Friday night out in this fabulous city.
Che buonissimo. Lo amo Nuova York!