Tag Archives: New York

Chosen Books: Drinking at the Movies — Posted to Heeb Magazine on 09/22/10

Drinking at the Movies is Julia Wertz’s graphic memoir that tracks the year she moved from her beloved San Francisco to the mean streets of New York City.

Drinking offers no surprises when it comes to describing  the qualms of New York city living.  We’ve heard it all before: substandard housing, loneliness, poverty and—spoiler alert— the necessity of ‘drinking.’

While the subject matter is pretty commonplace, Wertz’s storytelling method is refreshingly brazen and told in a gruff, yet girly, take no prisoners voice. Everyday, ahem, functions, from pooping (“Oof, I’m so full, I’m gonna give birth to a burrito through my asshole.”) to getting mugged (“Listen motherfucker if you even try to mug me I’ll rip off your face and ride into the sunset on a unicorn made of your skin!”) are described in the kind of humorous, “brush that dirt of your shoulder” toughness that could only belong to a real New Yorker…even though she actually isn’t one.

Speaking of which, another thing Wertz ‘isn’t’ is sober.

With the rare ability to step outside “reality,” through her drawings, Wertz capably describes her brother’s drug addiction, her alcoholic proclivities and her stepfather’s cancer, without getting into too much self pity.

Still, Drinking is occasionally lacking in depth or subtlety. And while you might not expect the author of The Fart Party to be the source of overly mature intellectual stimulation, even readers with the most immature senses of humor will think, “I get it, you drink whiskey, dress like a shlub, poop, and have accidents.”

Drinking at the Movies, blunt and immature as it may be, like soft core, has its moments of mild pleasure.

Random House

192 p.

$15

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Unchosen Pickles: Horman’s Authentic New York Deli Pickle — Posted to Heeb Magazine on 08/23/10

To some Philly denizens, a New York visit means Broadway shows and MoMA but to this connoisseur of sour it means pickles.  When I heard that Horman’s, a new authentic pickle maker, had started a line of pickles for retail, I had no choice but to grab a jar and give them a try.

Despite the natural salt bloat, my excitement quickly deflated after I bit into the first pickle, a standard kosher dill.

The crunch? Pretty good. Solid enough that it doesn’t fall apart in your mouth, yielding enough that it doesn’t hurt your gums to chew on it.

The taste? The let down. Instead of the mouth-numbing tang of a righteous brine pickle I met the bummer of a vinegar pickle.

If you are unsure of the difference, brine pickles take a lot more time and have a whole lot of lactic acid bacteria giving them the kicking sour bite you want. Vinegar pickles, on the other hand, are easier and cheaper to produce but are much more mild, a little sweeter and less flavorful.

Now as far as vinegar pickles are concerned, these are not bad. While their kosher dills are lacking in flavor, their several specialty pickles, like spicy and mustard, definitely boost the flavor profile.

Look, if you are looking for the real, New York shit, Horman’s “Authentic New York Deli Pickle” is just not going to deliver. If you are looking for a substitute on your sandwich for Vlasic, these are definitely where it’s at.  In other words, I give Horman’s a solid ‘Meh.’

Chosen Books: The Thieves of Manhattan — Posted to Heeb Magazine on 07/20/10

In The Thieves of Manhattan, Adam Langer expresses the duality of New York City.  He shows us a New York full of failed artists and the ultra-affluent as well as a New York full of con men and intrigue.

Thieves follows timid, small-time writer/barista Ian Minot as he tries to join the upper echelon of the literary world. But, when his hot girlfriend dumps him, Minot teams up with a shady figure named Jed Roth. Minot leaves his simple world of failure and enters a world of double-crosses, gun-battles, hideouts and kidnappings, all for the pursuit of the literary dream.

Basically the whiny bitch of a protagonist slowly grows a pair.

But since Langer is a writer writing about writers writing, he quickly takes the literary (meta-literary?) angle too seriously. Langer, also the author of Crossing California, fills the pages with superfluous and odd references. Some of them work, like referring to traveling cross-country as “kerouacking” or to thick plastic frames as “franzens.” Others, to put it mildly, make no fucking sense, like referring to dollars as “daisies” because in The Great Gatsby Jay Gatsby says that Daisy Buchanan’s voice is “full of money,” or calling a dress a “golightly” because in Breakfast at Tiffany’s Holly Golightly likes wearing cocktail dresses. What? How is that obvious?

These gratuitous references don’t ruin the story; they really seem to just be a way for Langer to prove to his parents that his English degree was helpful after all.