Monthly Archives: October 2008

Daily Photo – Cracks In Sidewalks Leaves and Green

Cracks and green

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Daily Crack – Annabelle’s Bar/Restaurant in Red Hook

Jazz Bar and RestaurantAnnabelle\'s in Red Hook.

Jazz at Annabelle\'s.

A friend of mine told me about a perfect little “Cracks In Sidewalks” spot in Brooklyn.  It’s a jazz bar/ restaurant called “Annabelles.”  She told me it was in Red Hook and I had to go with her and check it out, so this Monday night I finally did.  Actually it was a bit of an adventure because I have to say I had never been to Red Hook before.

Red Hook is getting a lot of attention these days.  The big European furniture store IKEA opened up its first New York City store earlier this year and it is located on the water in Red Hook.

They actually set up a free ferry from Pier 11 in Manhattan to lure those of us who don’t own cars, which is the majority of the population, to their store.   Our plan was to take advantage of the ferry to get to Annabelle’s and then have a friend from Brooklyn with a car bring us back into the city.  Annabelle’s is conveniently located only about two blocks from where the ferry drops you off at IKEA.

Annabelle’s is this great bar/restaurant whose character you can start to sense as you approach its entrance.  There is a vibe you get and if you’re like me, you know you’re going to like it.  When I walked through the door, I was immediately charmed by the at home feeling of the place.  It felt worn, in a good way.   With its old mahogany bar and friendly bartender it projected a neighborly vibe, a place that I could frequent often with friends or feel comfortable entering solo.  I’m not certain how old the building is in which it is housed, but by the tiling on the floor I would have to say fairly old.  I liked the quality and character of the place, and if I wore a hat I could see hanging it there.

Monday night is a jazz jam night and it started off with a hired trio as the core band, keyboards, upright bass, and drums.  Later other horn players sat in and a woman on keyboards who was quite good.  Actually they were all good players.  Not having eaten dinner we decided to order some food.  When I got the menu it was much nicer then I had expected, not your typical bar food.  That’s when I learned that they share their kitchen with well-known Brooklyn chef Neil Ganic of “Petite Crevette” fame.  He actually owns the restaurant that is connected by way of kitchen to “Annabelle’s.”  His new restaurant is called “La Bouillabaisse.”

We ordered several things to share.  First came Oysters on the Half Shell, next a Beet salad with Goat Cheese, and after that, Mussels in White Wine Garlic Sauce.  It was more then plenty for two people as the portions were quite large and before taxes and tip it came to only about $34 total.   In New York I consider that a bargain, especially given the quality of the food and its terrific taste.  I also discovered a wonderful back garden area with a little pond that must be great in summer.

So if you’re looking for some place new to go, some place fun to discover, I suggest taking a trip to Red Hook and discovering Annabelle’s for yourself.  If you live in the city and don’t have a car, try timing it so you can take the ferry over and then a car service home.  The ferry gives you some spectacular views on the way over.  And if you have access to a car and live anywhere close by, make the field trip and enjoy not only a great meal and drink, but maybe some good music too.  I also hear that they are hosting a Halloween Costume Party tonight, so if you don’t have any plans, perhaps tonight is the night to make the trip?

For more information about Annabelle’s below is a link to their website and also their address and phone number.

44 Beard St.
Brooklyn, NY  11231
(718) 643-1500

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My Cats Tail – Lucy’s First Halloween

Trick or Treat.  Beautiful sweet Lucy’s first Halloween and she’s hoping to find a loving home as her treat.

Five months young and ready for adoption you can find this affectionate kitten at Downtown Veterinary Clinic on 9th Avenue and 19th Street in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.  Just call (212) 463-8705 and tell them you are interested in meeting Lucy.  I played with her the other day and she’s a sweetie pie!

Don\'t you want to adopt me?Please treat me to a loving home.

Beautiful black and white Lucy.  Meow!

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Daily Photo – Cracks In Sidewalks – Fallen Leaf

And a leaf falls.

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Daily Tune On – Tania Maria – It’s All In My Hands

“I love you.  Do you love me?”  That’s what I remember from my first Tania Maria concert.  This beautiful passionate Brazilian woman got on stage, sat down at her piano bench and began to call out to the audience, “I love you.  Do you love me,” repeating it several times.  I was hooked before she played her first chord.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you already know that I have a soft spot for Brazilian music and for hearing the Portuguese language being sung in a Brazilian accent.  There’s just something about it that is so beautiful, poetic, and romantic to me.  There is also fire and passion in the music of Tania Maria and I am drawn to it. I’d have to say in my estimation Tania Maria covers it all in her writing and performance.  She is beautiful, poetic, romantic, fiery, passionate, and a sensitive and expressive singer and keyboardist. The poetry of the songs she writes dance off the page and her deliverance makes it all come alive.  Whether she is playing a song that is upbeat or a ballad, it’s all in “her” hands, and heart.  A wonderful performer and a masterful pianist Tania Maria began playing music at the age of 7.  By the time she was 13, her father, a very good amateur musician, had her fronting a band.  Since then she has always been her own leader.

Her family was musical including her four sisters, but the other siblings opted to become professionals.  Maria started on that path too and actually went to Law School but her love of music was too strong and ultimately won out.  Surrounded by the sounds from her country, the samba, and popular music of Brazil, Maria absorbed these rhythms and styles and eventually fused them with her love of jazz.  Influenced by the likes of Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan and Bill Evans, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento, her music became a synthesis of all this and more.

Tania Maria released her first album, “Olha Quwm Chega,” in Brasil in 1971. Since then she has released 20 plus more.  In the late 70’s Maria decided to move to France, which turned out to be the ultimate jump start of her career as her audience expanded in the process.  It was during this time that Maria started to tour and it was on a tour in Australia that the singer/songwriter/keyboardist met famed jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd who made the connection for her with the jazz label Concord Records.  From there her career took off.  In the 90’s she moved from France to New York, but currently resides in France once again and continues to record, tour, and play.

Tania Maria has played at just about every famous jazz club and jazz festival in the world as well as many other prestigious venues, and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows throughout the world.  Maria is dear to many people’s hearts and is both a loved and well-respected musician around the globe.  And in answer to your question Tania, “Yes, I do love you!”  Your playing, performances, discs and songs over the years have brought me countless hours of joy and happiness.

To hear Tania Maria sing in English her song, “It’s All In My Hands,” simply click on the link below or cut and paste it into your browser.

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Daily Photo – Cracks In Sidewalks – Grass Cracks and Sand Two

Grass, Cracks and Sand Two.

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Daily Tune On – India.Arie Gets To “The Heart of the Matter”

I always loved the Don Henley song, “The Heart of the Matter.”    Then I heard India.Arie singing the Henley standard and I thought, “I might even like her arrangement better.”  Either way, it’s a great song and “The Heart of the Matter” is felt in each word that she sings.

India.Arie was born in Denver.  Her mother was a former singer on the Motown label and her father was an NBA basketball player.  As a child she was encouraged to play and sing and to learn multiple instruments.  When her parents divorced her mother moved the family to Atlanta (Arie also has a brother.)   But it wasn’t until Arie was at the Savannah College of Art and Design that things really started to take shape.  Arie started to play guitar and began to discover songwriting and her own voice as an artist.

In the late 90’s Arie helped to co-found the Atlanta based independent music collective, “Groovement” that started its own label named “Earth Share.”  A song that she recorded and put on a compilations reel unexpectedly jump-started the young artists career.  That one song led to her being asked to perform at the 1998 “Liltih Fair.”  Soon after she caught the attention of a scout from Universal/Motown, and the rest is history.

With a style that encompasses R&B, soul, jazz, hip hop and rock, India.Aria has fused together a sound that crosses over many borders and seems to erase the many boundaries that can confine each border.  Her first album “Acoustic Soul,” was released in 2001 and debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 Chart while coming in at number 3 on the “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.”  Nominated for a number of Grammy’s that year, it wasn’t until the release of her second album, “Voyage to India,” that she actually won her first Grammy.

It was four years later in 2006 when Arie released her third album, “Testimony Vol. 1 Life & Relationship,” that she sang the Don Henley classic, “The Heart of the Matter.”  Right now she has a new single out called “Beautiful Flower,” that is a song from her soon to be released upcoming album entitled, “Testimony Vol. 2 Love & Politics.”  That record is expected to come out in February 2009.

Below you’ll find a live recording of India.Arie singing “The Heart of the Matter” and “Umbrella” at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland.  To view this video either click on the link below, or cut and paste it into your browser.

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Daily Photo – Cracks In Sidewalks Primitive Sand and Green

Cracks of sand and green.

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Daily Crack – 5 State Fall Foliage Part 2

Lake George wearing red.

Look how I wear my fall colors.

Everywhere you look it\'s fall.Saturday Continued, A Slight Detour:

As we drove out of Albany it started to rain, then it started to pour, visibility was not good but we were taking it all in stride as we knew Sunday was supposed to be a beautiful day.  Listening to music and enjoying our conversation, all of the sudden in the middle of our lane in front of us lay the entire wheel from a large tractor-trailer truck that had been ahead of us.  Going about 60 mph I knew there was nothing for us to do but crash.  It was so scary as we were in the left hand lane on Interstate 90 and there was traffic in the lanes next to us, and oncoming traffic coming in the other direction.  As we braced for the inevitable, hoping we wouldn’t get hurt or killed, my friend swerved a little to the left so only half the car would go over the wheel.  I could feel the car slanting as we went over the wheel full force.  The airbags deployed, the windshield cracked, and the wheel went under the belly of the car and me.  Then I felt us on the ground gliding forward, my friends hands still on the steering wheel, arms wrapped around the airbag, trying to keep the car from going over the divider.  We landed.  Able to unbuckle my safety belt as it was now cutting into me, and noticing the car was smoking, both of us miraculously uninjured we jumped out of the car afraid it would explode, into the torrential rain.  Unfortunately the car did not fare as well as us.  It was totaled.

The next four hours were surreal.  People stopped to see if we were OK.  Eventually we realized the car was not going to catch on fire.  We got inside to protect us from the rain but it did not protect us from the other traffic as our car was not completely out of the left hand lane but was not drivable either.  I was nervous and it was weird because there was no place safe for us to go until help arrived.  Eventually a State Troopers showed up and pulled up behind us with his flashing lights.  I felt much safer with him behind us.  About a half hour later a giant tow truck for the state showed up.  He towed the car and us too, to the Avis Rental office at the Albany airport.  We filled out reports and an hour later we were given a new car.  A bit shook up having realized just how lucky we were after listening to our own possible outcome scenarios, and those of strangers, we decided we should continue on our journey, enjoy the fact that we were in one piece and able to do so, and that’s what we did.

We arrived in Lake George in the early evening.  Being that it is not season, we knew we’d be able to find a room.  We drove a couple of times through the center of town eying the various accommodations and chose a place on the lake called “The Georgian,” that looked like it would be good for us.  Just happy to stop and lie down for a bit, it was what we needed most of all.  About an hour later we went to a place recommended to us called “George’s,” and ordered some nice seafood and wine.

The next morning it was just as beautiful as they predicted, hard to believe that the day before had been so rainy and messy.  Stepping outside our room I saw Lake George and the Adirondack’s for the first time.  I love arriving places in the dark and waking up to a beautiful surprise!  They say there is nothing like a New England Fall (see Lake George photo).  I don’t know if that is true but they are spectacular.  This time of year is really wonderful.  Although it is off season I suppose many others were there to check out the color’s too as the hotel seemed to be full.

Leaving the “Georgian,” we wanted to do a little walking around the lake to get a better view of things.  Being short on time we decided to do so near Ft. William Henry (photo above), an old fort that is on the Southern tip of Lake George and dates back to the French and Indian War in the late 1750’s.  Sometimes I forget how much of American history is so close by.  A little later we were driving and wanted to take the car on a ferry and cross over to Vermont, but the ferry was closed for the season.  While driving to the bridge we caught another old fort called, Fort Ticonderoga.  It too has a history dating back to the French and Indian War continuing through the Revolutionary War.

We spent most of the day in Vermont driving through the mountains, marveling in their countryside, buying gourds, little pumpkins, and maple syrup from farmers, me snapping lots of photos and all and all being good tourists.  Driving through Bennington we said our farewells to our beautiful fall day in Vermont.  Soon we crossed over into Massachusetts, later Connecticut, then New York and late Sunday night NYC.

So the title of this piece is “5 State Fall Foliage” and I’ve only mentioned 4 states.  The 5th state was New Jersey.  The way the states are shaped in parts and how they built the freeways, you sometimes have to leave NY to get back into NY.  Giving Jersey its due, their leaves were beautiful too.

It turned out to be a long two days.  It was really a three-day trip, especially given our accident.  But it was beautiful and come next fall if you get the chance, if you don’t live in the area, try to catch a New England fall.  Make reservations early as things get booked, and also perhaps go a little sooner then we did, although spectacular we were a little late ourselves particularly further north.  And if you’re looking to go to Lake George, I can recommend “The Georgian Resort.”  We didn’t eat there, but the rooms were nice and comfortable.

To find out more about the Lake George Adirondack area or tourism in Vermont either click on the links below or cut and paste them into your browser.

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Daily Photo – Cracks In Sidewalks, Weeding Out the Cracks

Cracks in sidewalks.

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