Category Archives: Good to know

The best music you’ve never heard #3

Support your local bar band

Some guys in Hamburg.
Courtesy Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Back in the day, Mr. Slattern used to play rockabilly guitar in all manner of disreputable bars in and around the city, and I won’t lie, I spent many happy hours on bar stools in those same venues tossing back cocktails and bopping the blues with his various bands, combos and ensembles. Before he moved on to other instruments and styles, my better (and more musical) half played with lots of ridiculously talented folks, such as front man, novelist and Han Solo lookalike Steve Szilagyi, the lovely Edith Frost, New Orleans’ own Lenny Zenith, and  Phil Hummer when he was backed by the Roadhouse Romeos. Though Steve has traded his guitar for a pen, the rest are still producing great music, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to investigate their websites and acquire their CDs.

Not convinced? Check out Phil Hummer. This video was shot in 1997 (not 77 as indicated) and features Mr. Slattern on guitar, which is why I chose it over more recent video of Phil and his current band, the White Falcons, though they are certainly churning out some mighty fine music down there in Nashville.

All these folks are worth listening to, as are thousands of musicians out gigging in your local bars, auditoriums and streets. There’s a world of live music just waiting to be discovered. Get out and give it a listen, why don’t ya’?

Happy Birthday, Mr. S! 


New Feature: The best music you’ve never heard

Meet Mark Geary


Living as I do in the Big Apple, and married as I am to the very musical Mr. Slattern, I get lots of chances to hear music from people far more talented, yet far less famous than the vast majority of middling “big names” currently cluttering up the airwaves with their mediocre wailing and warbling.

Now I’ve been inspired by the Sportsglutton’s Monday Morning Humor, which always hands me a laugh and really helps get my week started on the right rack. In that spirit, I’d like to share some of my musical discoveries in the coming weeks. For the moment I have to confine my media choices to video, but I am working with the WordPress gods to figure out how to share audio from my extensive iTunes library.

Anyways, for starters, I’d like to introduce those of you who are unfamiliar with him, to my favorite Irish singer/songwriter, the delightful Mark Geary. Pop a Guinness, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a comfy chair by the fire in a cozy Dublin bar. Ahhhh.


Christmas, Halloween and your birthday all at once!

That’s right, folks, Big Ang is coming to my neighborhood!

From 1 pm until….whenever!

Now, I have already come clean about my shameful addiction to the Mob Wives of Chicago. Unlike my pal Tom Wisk, however, I never got too interested in the original Mob Wives program, even though it takes place right here in New Yawk — well, Staten Island actually, but that counts. After all, it is one of the five boroughs, though not one you’d necessarily want to spend any time in, for reasons that become glaringly apparent the minute you step off the ferry or cross the mighty Verrazano. But I digress.

So today I was walking to the gym, musing about one thing and another, when the sight of this stopped me dead in my tracks. Now sadly I am going to be out of town the weekend of the big book tour, but I will certainly be sending someone to snap a photo and maybe even get a signed copy of Big Ang’s opus, “Bigger is Better.” The old town will never be the same. Sigh.

Now, for anyone who wants to attend (Tom?), it’s at 268 Court St in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn on October 13th, starting at 1 pm. I guarantee it will be a scene like nothing you have ever witnessed. Think Fellini. On acid.

Who’s game?

Poison for breakfast, lunch and dinner anyone?

And every snack in between if you’re peckish

Heart attack on a bun courtesy Two Chums

Though as a rule I prefer to take the path of least resistance when it comes to cooking, I am in no way an advocate of processed foods, TV dinners, boxed meals and the like. With the possible exception of pie crust from a box, I avoid prepared foods like the plague. And anyway, since I’ve handed over my eating plan to the fat police, there’s very little chance of dessert reappearing on my table. Ever.

Of course, it was not always so. Otherwise how would I have ended up in the offices of Dr. Feelbad, MD, nutritionist to the stars and scourge of the chubby? I’ll tell you how. A lifetime of very poor eating fueled by a serious sugar addiction and a bad case of denial. As a child of the Sixties, I started life on formula, which the pediatrician told my mother was better for babies than breast milk. More scientific, you know. I was not the only one. From there is was a short trip to a diet built on the miracle foods of the era — canned vegetables, processed meats, fruits in heavy syrup, “fortified” breakfast cereal and bread that never went stale to name but a few.

Stays crunchy! Tough to eat when you have to gum it though.

Now, my mother is a pretty fair cook and was even then, but convenience foods were supposed to be healthier. No bacteria, no spoilage, no risk. Of course, the news that smoking was actually harmful to your health had only just broken — after years of government statements that there was no evidence it was in any way bad for you. Inhaling lung bucketfuls of smoke all day instead of air? How could that be a problem?

So anyhow, I was well into my thirties and still eating Pillsbury crescent rolls, rice and salt mixes from a box and Hostess Zingers (a bedazzled Twinkie for those of you with more evolved palates). I was also taken in by the no fat diet craze of the 90s, wherein you could eat as many carbs as you wanted as long as there was no fat. Remember Snackwell cookies (are they still available)?  Oh no, those are no problem, I told myself as I stuffed the entire box into my gob and chased them with a big glass of skim milk. It’s like a health food!

I operated under these delusions for some time, like until a couple of years ago when Mr. Slattern discovered that it was sodium rather than heredity behind his high blood pressure and cholesterol. Since then we have eliminated salt and processed foods almost entirely from the family diet, and as as a result, Mr. S has safely eliminated all prescription medications from his diet. This was not so hard, but let me tell you getting the sugar monkey off my back has been.

Here’s what did it for me.

From the NY Times, 9-25-12. click the image to read the full article.

OK, not this exact article, but others on the same subject and in the same vein. In any case, may I strongly recommend you read it over? And if you’re looking for suggestions on how to cook without processed foods, here are a few posts from the archives. It’s not that hard, you know. I mean, I do it, for pity’s sake.

Salad: A bottom up approach
Easy fish stew
Beets: The uber tuber
Roast chicken
Easy poached salmon
Yogurt and almond breakfast parfait
One bowl meals

Really Starbucks? No lemons? At all?

So the other day I was slogging through Midtown and made a quick stop at one of the roughly ten thousand Starbucks that occupy every available Manhattan street corner. I have noticed that some blocks even feature two, and as it now stands there appears to be at least one Starbucks outpost for every bag-laden, Euro-wielding tourist in the metropolis on any given day. Honestly, the next thing you know, you’ll slip into the restroom to drain off that tall skinny triple mocha-chino chai latte only to find they’ve set up a coin operated Automat style coffee bar next to the sink. Imagine it: a sign featuring an earnest looking barista in a rainforest setting with a headline that reads “Now that you’re down a quart, why not top off the tank with a super fast vente latte* to go?”  *Gigante size only in our pitstop refill stations. You’d be like a hamster on a wheel, endlessly draining and refilling, never able to leave the Starbucks without risking a toileting accident or caffeine letdown. On the positive side, maybe they’d start referring to their employees as the pit crew.

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