Category Archives: Gut Instinct : NY Press

Gut Instinct: Roll With It

Note: This is actually my final New York Press column. So long, fair newspaper.

New York is caught in the claws of lobster fever, the latest stop on the city’s food trend bus. One minute, folks are frothing over the latest Pat LaFrieda–blend burger. The next, everyone’s gone gaga for fried chicken or perhaps pizza with a crust as thin as my patience for dealing with fleeting fads.

As a grub and grog journalist, I’m duty bound to ID trends, then call bullshit the instant restaurants board the bandwagon. Food trucks and meatballs, methinks you’ve jumped the shark. Let me tell you, covering food trends can be a tedious, ceaseless merry-go-round. New York is unable to appreciate superlative standbys. “New” rules the urban roost, and the city’s old roosters barely merit a mention until they’re sentenced to the chopping block. May I sing you another Mars Bar requiem?
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Goodbye, Gut Instinct

The recent death of the New York Press marked the end of Mondays as I’ve known them. Allow me to explain:

I moved to New York City on Halloween weekend 2000, my sights set on, well, nothing. I did not relocate to this town to make it big in journalism. I came here because I was offered a free bedroom in Astoria, Queens. My only other option was moving back home with my parents in Ohio and sharing a bunk bed with my little brother. He sometimes snores.

In the beginning, I kept my journalism degree hidden in a drawer. Instead of trying to earn a living slinging words, I instead temped for fashion companies including Prada and Gucci, for whom I stood statue still in a hallway and informed customers that the elevator was out of service. At the end of my second day as a Gucci statue, my supervisor asked me how I liked the job. “I feel like I’m wasting my college degree,” I said, honesty getting in the way of ass kissing. I was not called back for a third day. Continue reading

Gut Instinct: Nom, Nom, Nom

Nom Wah Tea Parlor! Photo: The Lo-Down

Beside zombie clowns and working a full-time office job, few things frighten me as much as listening to a barber talk.

To me, being confined to a chair with scissors clacking and clippers whirring is a form of temporary imprisonment. It’s trusting your life, or at least your looks, to another human being. The arrangement sends my pulse into a frantic foxtrot. My unease is exacerbated by idle chitchat about the weather and whether or not I think the Yankees will win the World Series this year.

In standard social settings, it’s easy to flee inane chatter. Sure is hot outside, isn’t it? Yes, yes it is. Now I must be off to do that…thing. In a barber chair, you’re unable to escape conversation. Sure, chatty Cathys like my wife love spending time at a salon—girl talk!—but New York is a loud, maddening metropolis. Peace and quiet are rarely in stock. That’s why I get my hair cut in Manhattan’s Chinatown, where the barbers barely speak a lick of English. Continue reading

Gut Instinct: Love to Eat

Photo: Lauren Silberman. P.S. That’s the actual light-up dance floor at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge.

Barring a last-minute change of heart featuring a mad dash from the altar and into the backseat of a fast car bound westward, by the time you read this column I’ll be wed.

“About time,” I’m sure my mother is whispering under her breath. Of her three children, I’m the first to get hitched. She’s waited 33 long, patient years to celebrate an offspring’s nuptials or a grandchild. Since no baby Bernsteins are coming down the chute in 2011, I’m sure she savored our wedding like sweet nectar from a ripe summertime peach.

The food simile is apt, if a wee bit forced, given grub’s importance in my life. Continue reading

Gut Instinct: In a Peculiar State

Illustration: Hawk Krall/Serious Eats

As a native Ohioan, I’m a sworn enemy of all things Michigan. For those not reared in the Midwest this may seem like a quaint hate, a petty provincial battle played out in parts of the country where people say “pop” instead of “soda.”

That’s a monstrously mistaken assumption. The odium is real, and its birthplace is the college football field. Every fall, the Ohio State Buckeyes combat the University of Michigan Wolverines in a high-stakes gridiron battle. While the game can get downright nasty, it’s nothing compared to the airing of drunken, bareknuckled grievances between the respective squads’ fans. The animosity is akin to the bile that Yankees fans feel toward the Boston Red Sox, and there ain’t a olive branch big enough to effect peace.

But could grub and grog bridge the yawning divide? Continue reading

Gut Instinct: No Man’s Island

Behold! My sausage flag!

“You’re not wearing your flesh-colored bathing suit,” my fiancée told me last Sunday morn.

“It’s my birthday!” I said. She shook her head and narrowed her eyes as if my words were the noonday sun, a look I’ll have plenty of time to get used to over the ensuing, oh, 40 or 50 years. “Just because you’re turning 33 doesn’t mean that you should look like you’re nude. You blend into the sand.” Dear readers, that’s the point of wearing a scandalously short swimsuit the approximate color of a Caucasian. Continue reading

Gut Instinct: So Long, and Thanks for All the Tits

What a conflicting message! Much like my column!

It was not my intention to visit another bar that required me to insert dollar bills into the crevices of comely, tattooed lasses. But such are the peccadilloes one commits while answering a thorny question: How would you spend your last night in New York?

After dwelling in NYC for more than a decade, my friend Aaron and his wife were pulling up their tent stake and planting it in Denver. This news filled me with the sort of sadness best dulled by drinking cheap bourbon. Upon sobering up, I placed my emotions back inside the bottle and grabbed my rose-colored glasses. This was a positive change, a chance to start anew, perhaps purchase an affordable home and, more importantly, never again listen to an 8 a.m. subway preacher.

The night before his departure arrived. “Is anything on your New York bucket list?” I asked him, trying to figure out a going-away game plan. Continue reading