START SPREADING THE NEWS / NEW YORK NEW YORK! ITS A WONDERFUL TOWN (& STATEN ISLAND IS PRETTY GOOD TOO!)
(MOVIE PLANNING VIEWING: "SCHOOL OF ROCK", "STAYING ALIVE")
Chapter 1: Staten Island via Philly (but no Cheesesteak!)
Somehow whenever we go to New York, it is via Philadelphia. One of these days we will have to leave the terminal and actually see what the City of Brotherly Love is all about, but today is not that day. Today, Saturday 5 June, we are flying from Cleveland, Ohio, to Newark, New Jersey where our friend Barbara is looking after us for the week while we are on the east coast. Two tiny little plane jaunts (tiny plane and short flights) had us landing on time and Barb waiting outside the gate for us. It has been six years since we had last been to visit Barb and New York and we were up for some new and different experiences to the last few times we’d been in NYC. And starting us off on the new experiences, Barb took us to Englishtown in New Jersey where she helps out a friends barbeque truck who has a stall there. (Bubba’s Barbikyu www.thebubbas.com ). We met her friends and enjoyed some of their really delicious marinated pork skewers cooked on the grill while we wandered around Englishtown. The weather was unseasonably warm and muggy, in the high 80’sF (low 30’sC), as it has been for most of our trip so far, and a quick stroll around the stalls had us panting for the cool air conditioning of Barb’s car for the ride back to her place on Staten Island (via the liquor store for some margarita fixings!). It was nice to be out of hotels for a while and Barb’s hospitality was awesome.
Chapter 2: Digging In at the Dug Out with Soul Joel
Saturday afternoon we did some laundry, drank some margaritas as we got ready to head to the Dug Out to hear Soul Joel and his comedians doing a charity gig for puppies and kitties. But we needed to eat before then, and Barb took us to Denino’s Pizzeria and Tavern, (http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/deninos-pizzeria-and-tavern) which was named in the top 10 best pizza in all of New York State. We had their famous "MOR" pizza (meatball, onion and ricotta), and again, the pie was huge! Accompanied by jugs of beer and sangria, it was an awesome introduction for Justyn to the New York scene as this was his first visit to the Big Apple. Arriving a few minutes late to Soul Joel’s benefit at the Dug Out Bar, we were greeted by him on the mic introducing us to the crowd and announcing that we were Australians in America to ride 40 rollercoasters - I'm sure we confirmed their thinking that Aussie's are mad! We settled in with a jug of sangria and listened and laughed to the rest of his routine before he introduced the other comedians. It was a tough crowd tonight, and the bar had no airconditioning and people were waiting a while for their drinks and meals, so appealing to their funny side was a bit of an uphill battle... But to their credit, these guys gave it their all. We laughed along with everyone else and quite a few times on our own(!) but it was a really fun evening. The headliner for the show Yannis, does a few shows with Soul Joel and they had just finished a tour of the south. You can check out the Soul Joel weekly podcasts which can be downloaded for free from iTunes – just search for The Comedy Point or check out Joel’s website www.souljoelproductions.com or www.thecomedypoint.com. After the show, Barb had made some cupcakes for my birthday and we shared these as we celebrated our arrival in NYC with the rest of the locals at the bar for a few hours, making lots of new friends! One interesting item was the taxi system on Staten Island – you cannot hail a cab – you call and set the price and they come and pick you up. And our driver was very entertaining – a diehard Yankees fan (baseball) and gave us his opinion on everything from the baseball to the Football World Cup friendly between the USA and Australia to the politics of the US. Thoroughly enjoyable evening and a big thanks to Barb and Soul Joel for making our time here so much fun already. (FYI, avoid the martini’s at the Dug Out Bar – not good for the head the next day!)