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A (Food) Tour of Flushing, NY Pt 2

Dessert time

After we ate our fill, it was time for dessert and the Frenchman’s daughter was in the mood for some shave ice.

So, we walked over to a joint called Flower and Dessert and got something there.

I told the ladies that they should probably just order one single one because I knew it was gonna be HUGE but they ended up ordering two because everything looked so good.

Can’t really blame them AND I also got to have some so it was really win-win.

Still, even with the five of us, there was still a ton left from the two dishes we got.

While they were delicious, I gotta say, I was a tad disappointed that it was really just shaved ice cream and not the classic shave ice that I grew up eating while in Asia.

By this point, we were all pretty beat – after all, we’d been eating for close to three hours straight.

But the Frenchman’s wife wanted to stop by Soy Bean Chan for some sweet dessert tofu to take home.

Of course, I had to have some as well.

Shoulda taken a pic of Soy Bean Chan’s place, which is a small tofu stall and then also a florist shop. It’s essentially about 100 feet from that woman holding the tray below.

We went back to the mall where we parked the car and the ladies all went shopping while the Frenchman and I went to Gong Cha and had a lightly sweetened peach green tea.

Me: You want something?
Him: No thanks, I’m totally sugared out.
Me: Even if it’s lightly sweetened?
Him: Nope. Completely sugared out.

I get it.

I don’t usually consume anywhere close the amount of carbs I consumed that day.

After alla that, he and I went to the ridonk huge Skyfoods Asian supermarket at the mall – the ladies took over where we were at the tea shop – and I stocked up on a buncha things like fresh lychee and tofu.

Although I did skip getting any frog legs.

Afterward, we piled into the car and drove past Willets Point to head home.

Me: If you came here 10 years ago, you’d see what it was like in Queens/NYC 100 years ago, because it was the last place in the five boroughs that didn’t have paved roads or a sewer system.
Her: How come?
Me: This was all salt-of-the-earth Queens people that ran automobile shops and junkyards here. The soil was super contaminated so they didn’t bother to develop it for years.

They only started developing it in earnest in 2018.

In any case, the Frenchman was nice enough to drive us alla way back to our pad, which was totally in the opposite direction of where he needed to be.

Me: That was super cool of him – door-to-door service!
Her: Absolutely, they’re great. (pause) It’s barely 5PM but I just wanna go to bed.
Me: But…we still gotta eat dinner, though…

Location: Dive 75 with a pretty lady
Mood: more injured and annoyed
Music: We can make it if we try (Spotify)
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A (Food) Tour of Flushing, NY Pt 1

Eating our way through Flushing, Queens

The Frenchman and I were chatting the other day about maybe heading to Flushing for some food.

Him: Sunday? Interestingly, I will have a car from the previous day’s rental.
Me: What I’m reading is that you’re offering us a ride. We accept. Thank you.
Him: If you come to us first! But sure.
Me: I was mostly joking but…heck yeah.

So, early on Sunday morning, the Firecracker and I found ourselves on the Upper East Side, where the Frenchman and his family gave us a lift to my childhood stomping grounds.

It was mainly a food tour and, honestly, no Flushing Food Tour worth its salt doesn’t have White Bear as part of it.

So, that’s where we started.

We got the classic Number 6, which looks spicy but isn’t really at all.

Unlike other dumpling spots that pan-fry, these guys use super thin dough and boil them so they’re much more delicate.

After that, the Frenchman’s kid wanted something to drink, as did the Firecracker, so we went to TenRen Tea for that.

Me: When I was a kid, this place was mainly known as a traditional Chinese medicine shop but now it’s known more by the kids for their bubble tea.
Her: Oh, I want a Thai Iced Tea then.

After that, we went to the World Mall Food Court where everyone got something different.

The Firecracker wanted Taiwanese food, while I went with a teriyaki chix dish…

…while the Frenchman and his family got noodles and more dumplings.

Now, I’d been meaning to upgrade my scanner for a while and my brother told me that he gave my mom a high-end Epson FF-640 that she wasn’t using so my mom swung by to drop that off with me.

Wish I took a picture with her, but I forgot.

Her: I put it in this red roller for you. Make sure you don’t forget it!
Me: I promise I won’t!
Her: (later) Did you forget it?
Me: (laughing) I’m 51! I didn’t forget it!

Once a parent, always a parent, I suppose.

I’ll wrap this up in the next entry.

Also, I’m super hungry again.

Location: earlier today, a dive bar with a pineapple cider
Mood: still injured
Music: wish that I could be a kid in the summer (Spotify)
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I’m the healthiest unhealthy person

Proving my point

Me: Did you grow up with a Good Humor or Mr. Softie?
Her: Neither. Just some guy in truck selling ice cream.
Me: That sounds like a child abduction plot.
Her: (rolling eyes) It was just a guy in a white truck.
Me: You’re kinda proving my point here.

It’s been so hot around here lately that I don’t want to really do anything but that’s not fair for the Firecracker, who’s young and wants to actually go out and enjoy life.

Me? I’m loathe to leave the pad unless strictly required.

We were gonna go on another cruise, or even head to Taiwan for the summer but stuff happened to change our plans, which is a post for another time.

So, like I said in my last entry, we compromise by just getting drinks and food around the way.

Ergo, we’ve been hitting up different bars in the hood, including our usual place for frozen drinks with umbrellas…

…local Chinese joint with awesome happy hours…

…and fried carbs.

Plus, a bar with great burgers and games.

All-in-all, it’s not a bad way to spend a summer – hot chick, great air conditioning, and greasy bar food.

Her: Burgers aren’t really my thing.
Me: God, the kid and I love burgers. I could eat them every day. Well, I supposed I’d have to balance it out with a salad every other day.
Her: I’m glad you recognize that.
Me: Yeah. I’m the healthiest unhealthy person you know.

Location: My childhood neighborhood with the Firecracker and the Frenchman and his family
Mood: injured
Music: don’t know why sometimes we seem so apart (Spotify)
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Crawdads, and…

…fish that tastes like chicken

The kid’s been away for a little while and I miss him terribly.

But it does mean that I have time to do things that are generally too low-priority to actually do – like really check out the new H-Mart that opened a few blocks from my pad.

This is the exciting middle-aged life I live.

Her: I have to give it to Asians for creating a better soup spoon.
Me: I’ve always felt that – glad you agree.

Although not everything was a winner.

Her: OK, explain that to me?
Me: Not sure if I can. It looks like it’s a fish cake, that states like hot/spicy chicken, in the shape of a hot dog, packaged in a plastic cylinder.
Her: Yep, that’s what I got as well.

And the Firecracker and I got to do things around the hood, like have beer and wings over by my local dive bar.

Me: I think I was 24 years old when I first came here. The wings got a lot more expensive but it’s also a lot nicer now.
Her: That’s cool, that you have places that you regularly go to after all these years.

Oh, and also check out things like concerts – I found another video that I forgot to put up last week from the Matchbox 20 concert.

Of course, I’m still counting the days until the kid comes back.

Me: So, what did you do today?
Him: I went swimming in the creek! And do you know what I saw?
Me: No, what?
Him: Crawdads! They’re like little lobsters.
Me: (laughing) I’m not unaware. Don’t let them pinch you.
Him: (seriously) Oh, definitely.

Location: shooting more videos for Scenic Fights
Mood: tired
Music: Maybe it’s time to come home (Spotify)
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Back on the West Side

Fireworks for the Firecracker

Me: When I was a kid, ice cream was like two dollars.
Her: That was like 50 years ago!
Me: I wasn’t getting ice cream when I was one year old!
Her: Fine, that was 40 years ago.
Me: Still, 40 years in a long time.
Her: Yeah – 40 years ago, you were your dad’s remote control.

The Firecracker wanted to see the fireworks display – she’s really into stuff like that – and it was back on the west side of Manhattan for the first time in a decade, so she convinced me to go with her.

I don’t like crowds and the last time I saw the fireworks near my pad was 12 years ago.

Me: You really wanna see this?
Her: Cm’on – fireworks for the Firecracker!
Me: Fiiinne.

We ended up sitting next to the nice couple from San Diego visiting their Ph.d candidate son at Columbia.

Originally, we didn’t think we’d have a good view, but it ended up being pretty good after all.

Her: Thanks for coming, I know it wasn’t your thing.
Me: That’s fine, you wanted to see them.
Her: Did you enjoy it?
Me: It was fine. I just came for the company.
Her: Aww, thanks Logan Lo.
Me: Anytime. (thinking) Maybe we’ll skip next year?
Her: We’ll see.

Location: shooting more videos for Scenic Fights
Mood: tired
Music: I hit the wall. Crash! Boom! Bang! That’s the call, that’s the game (Spotify)
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A Bohemian Dinner Rapsody

Not having an internal monologue

For some 18 months, I’d been trying to get a triple date lined up with Bryson and his wife, The Frenchman and his wife, and me and the Firecracker.

Bryson and the Frenchman were friends first, with the Frenchman being a white belt in BJJ when Bryson was a purple belt.

But, because life gets in the way, Bryson’s now a brown belt (4th level) but the Frenchman’s a black belt (5th level) and I’m still – laughably after over 20 years on-and-off – a blue (2nd level).

Like I said, life gets in the way.

Only found out through social media that they knew each other and, after we got together last time around, we’d been trying to do it again with no luck.

This past week, we’d finally arranged something – or so we thought.

Bryson: Hey guys I did not read the calendar right. We are [away next week after all]. We can do this Thursday or Friday.
Me: I’m putting this on your list.
Frenchman: Argh…that’s July 4th…sorry got a plan already.
Me: Is tomorrow out?
Bryson: We can do tomorrow.
Frenchman: Tomorrow 6:30-7pm would be the earliest.
Me: Wait, that works for us as well. 7PM tomorrow?
Frenchman: Oh, wow it’s happening.

So, after months of trying to plan something, we just randomly decided to meet up around the Frenchman’s pad within 24 hours.

The Firecracker suggested Bohemian Spirit as she knows I like Slavic food and the other fellas were game so off we went.

The Firecracker and I got there first.

Me: Oh man, this place is super cute.
Her: I figured you’d want to be able to take pics.
Me: (later, to waitress) Hey, do the chairs on the wall/ceiling mean something?
Waitress: (laughing) It means my boss was bored during COVID.

After a while, everyone else showed up.

While the Firecracker had met the Frenchman’s wife, Tess, before, and briefly met Bryson’s wife, Nikki, the two wives hadn’t met each other yet.

But, since everyone’s so chill, we all fell into a really easy conversation pretty quickly.

The food was killer to boot.

Me: Did you know that about 30% – or something – of people don’t have an internal monologue?
Frenchman: Wait, what does that mean? You have conversations with yourselves?
Firecracker: What? You don’t?
Me: You don’t talk to yourself?!
Nikki: I don’t talk to myself either.
Me: Whoa, is that 30%?
Firecracker: Your math is off.
Me: Asians are not known for their math skills.

Turns out that the Frenchman – and possibly Nikki but she was sitting farther from me – don’t have internal monologues.

Evidently, he thinks in images and concepts but doesn’t actually have a conversation with himself.

This was a pretty hot-button topic for us to end out the night but that’s more their story than mine, so I’ll stop here.

The Firecracker and I were stupid full, and she suggested that we walk home from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side.

Her: It’s just like a mile. We can do that easy.
Me: Fine, but you’ll have to protect me if someone attacks us.

Can’t remember the last time that I walked across the park at night.

It was nice.

Actually, the whole evening was nice.

I’d do it again. Although, hopefully, earlier than 18 months.

Location: at another bar, limiting myself to a single burger
Mood: hot
Music: Will you let me go? بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ! (Spotify)
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Hanging with Andy, Rob, and the Firecracker, Pt 2

Worth the trip

Both the Firecracker and I really enjoyed seeing Andy Grammer in concert, but the crowd was clearly mainly there for Matchbox Twenty.

Me?

Her: (after my fourth plate of food) You know there’s a concert going on?
Me: (in between bites) Didn’t notice.

Seriously, though, they were both excellent – if you can catch them both live, they’re worth the trip.

After the concert, we made our way home when I related to her an observation.

Me: I’m the only person of colour here!
Her: No, that’s not true. (pointing) There’s one, and there’s another…
Me: This is still the whitest concert I’ve ever been to.
Her: (laughing) You’ve never been to a Kid Rock concert.

No plans to see one either.

This was honestly one of the best concerts I’d ever been to because I really liked both the opening and main acts.

Me: I woulda seen both of them separately for that amount of money.
Her: Well, if nothing else, you ate that much in food. You had FIVE plates of food!
Me: Your jealousy is palpable.

We actually got back to the city somewhat early.

Me: Do you wanna get a drink?
Her: Sure!

So, we popped into the Emerald Inn for a quick cranberry and vodka (I was just starting to get sick).

Her: Did you have a good night?
Me: Andy Grammer, Matchbox Twenty, unlimited food, and a nightcap with a hot blonde to end the evening? I’d say so.
Her: (beaming) Same.

Location: about to have some Slavic food
Mood: less sick
Music: I’m hopeless, I’m bleeding and broken, though I’ve never spoken (Spotify)
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Hanging with Andy, Rob, and the Firecracker, Pt 1

Seeing a concert

Me: Can’t on Thursday. I’m catching Matchbox 20 with the Firecracker.
Brother: Matchbox 20? Shouldn’t they be at least Matchbox 50 by now?

The last major music concert I went to was 16 years ago with Alison at the Prudential Center, just a year after it first opened.

That’s because there aren’t a ton of artists I’d wanna see in exchange for the hassle of getting to and from a concert.

I’m fully embracing my inner crotchety-old-man.

When I first met the Firecracker, told her that Matchbox Twenty / Rob Thomas and Andy Grammer were the only people that I’d see but that list has grown somewhat to also include:

But that girl pays attention.

She told me that Andy Grammer was opening up for Matchbox Twenty at the Prudential Center the other day, and she got us tickets.

Her: AND…I got us seats with unlimited food!
Me: What?!
Her: Yup!

See, Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas’s Streetcorner Symphany was on repeat during my first breakup with the Reporter.

And after Alison got sick, his song Her Diamonds would always make me cry.

Ergo, I was super jazzed to see them both on this double-header.

So, last Thursday, we headed out to see him from Manhattan…

…but ended up taking the wrong PATH train in NJ, so we had to hitch an Uber.

Her: I don’t wanna miss Andy Grammer!
Me: (waving hand) Nah, they never start on time.

He started right on time.

Opens mouth. Inserts foot.

As soon as we walked in, we heard him playing Fine by Me, one of our favourite songs.

But, while the Firecracker was anxious to get seated to enjoy the concert, I had other priorities.

She wasn’t joking about the unlimited food.

Ended up getting five plates of food and four full cups of drinks before the night was over.

Six plates if you count that the Firecracker got us dessert at the end.

Andy: I’m like the golden retriever of music and I’m ok with that.

Anywho, getting back to the concert, I particularly like Andy Grammar, not just because I enjoy his music, but also because he and I seem to share a similar point of view when it comes to our art.

His music routinely gets criticized because its relentlessly upbeat.

Yet, I don’t have an issue with that because, what is life if not a tragedy fulla joy?

We can focus on the tragedy part or the joy part.

In any case, I just missed seeing Andy in concert a while ago with RE Mike a couplea years back, so this was a chance to finally get to see him perform.

He didn’t disappoint.

Her: Man, he’s so good, live!
Me: He really is! (getting up to get more food)
Her: You’re getting more food? You’re missing the entire concert.
Me: The food’s not gonna eat itself!

I’ll wrap this up in the next entry.

Location: sick at my desk
Mood: see above
Music: I know it’s hard to remember sometimes but you gotta keep your head up (Spotify)
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Another year done

Summer Vacation Begins

The weekend before his last week of school, I took him to hang out with Steele and the Surgeon at another trampoline park.

Went there mainly for the food.

Evidently, so did he.

Afterward, we ended up having ice cream by my old gym.

Him: Is that chocolate?!
Me: Maybe.
Him: Can I lick it?
Me: I guarantee you, it’ll be super gross.

The Firecracker was also dealing with the start of summer.

But this also meant her summer work party, which was held just two blocks from my pad.

Her: No one ate the wings, so…
Me: I’ll take care of it…them.

Also ordered a pina colada.

No umbrella, though.

Me: When we leave these doors, you won’t be coming back for…THREE…WHOLE…MONTHS!
Him: Here I go…I’m done!
Me: (laughing) Yes. One more year down.

The kid just finished another school year.

There’s something weird in our brains where years 1-20 seem to take forever, but then the same years 21-40 sprint by.

41-51 has been a blur.

The kid is growing up so fast and I can’t keep up.

Wish so much that I could slow things down.

I wish a lotta things.

On the last day of school, picked him up 20 minutes early to take him out to NJ for him to catch a flight and to start his summer.

Me: Man, I’m gonna miss you!
Him: (rolling eyes) It’s just gonna be a few weeks, papa.
Me: I know…but still.
Him: I’ll be back soon.
Me: OK.

Location: home, without the kid. It’s not the same
Mood: sick and a bit melancholy
Music: And it’s a circle, circling around again, it comes around again (Spotify)
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Meeting friends

My brain just glitched

Him: Hey! Any chance we could meet up a little earlier tomorrow? Say 10 vs 11?
Me: Sure!
Him: Perfect, see you then! I’ll be the gray-haired guy with the 6’ tall sixteen-year-old.

My buddy Danny came by with his kid the other day. He moved to Texas ages ago.

Don’t think I’ve seen him since this entry waaaay back in 2007, far before his daughter was born and before he had grey hair.

I gave them a quick tour of the Upper West Side before I had to run back for some zoom meetings.

Gotta say, I think about stopping this blog alla time but then I’m reminded how nice it is to have a place I can just remember things.

Me: His daughter really was six-foot tall.
Her: You know, one of these days, the kid and all his friends are gonna be taller than you.
Me: (…)
Her: (laughing) You ok?
Me: My brain just glitched.

Him: I’m glad we could meet up! And you’re right by my sister.
Me: It is the upper BEST side, after all. (stopping in the middle of the street) Hold on…
Him: Everything ok?
Me: Yeah. (pointing down) That’s a baseball imbedded into the street and thought it was interesting enough to take a pic of. (shrugging) It’s kinda what I do.

I’ve also been having some zoom classes for a physcian that lives in Pittsburg. He’s also a former boxer that’s gotten really into kali and reached out to me to see if we could do private zoom classes.

So, for the past few months, I’ve been teaching him here and there.

He randomly ended up like two blocks from my home the other day so we met up for a cuppa joe.

Whenever possible, I always try to make time for people if they’re willing to head up to where I am.

After all, I never know when – or even if – I’ll ever see them again.

Location: watching Rob and Andy sing in Newark
Mood: entertained
Music: If you would leave it’d be a crying shame (Spotify)
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