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personal

The history of Rum is the history of US

Why do I drink aged rum?

Liquor storefront in NYC

Consider this my ode to aged rum.

Merriam-Webster defines distillation as the process of purifying a liquid by successive evaporation and condensation.

Removal through fire and heat, if you will, of all that is not the essence of something.

  • Brandy is the purified essence of wine.
  • Whiskey is the purified essence of beer.*

And rum? Well, the French call traditional rum, ruhm industrial for a very particular reason.

Rum is made of industrial waste. It is the distilled essence of industrial waste, then.

It’s made from molasses, the waste byproduct of sugar manufacturing. It was the leftover, black soupy crap that gummed up the works of the sugar machines. An annoyance at best.

You couldn’t give the stuff away.

But people discovered that you could ferment it and distill it and get a drink so terrible that it could kill the devil himself, so they called it Kill-Devil.

Later, as all good marketers do, it was re-branded to Rum and it stuck.

Now the rum that most people drink is essentially like moonshine.

It’s only a step or two above the Kill-Devil stuff they made back in the day. However, if you took a barrel that was burned on the inside – to kill bacteria and germs – put rum in that barrel, and then put that barrel on a ship bound for distant lands, it becomes something more.

It ages. It mellows. It becomes the best version of itself.

Crack open a bottle of aged rum and it’s something completely different from its roots.

I drink aged rum because I like how it tastes. And because I imagine I’m a pirate. And because one can drink buckets of the stuff and not have a hangover.

But it’s also because it’s like finding your people.

You like someone initially because of some small connection but as you delve further, you find you’re more similar than different.

I like to think of aged rum like me: Thoroughly American – despite outward appearances – with a sense of history, descended from people no one wanted, bound for distant shores, rough and crude in my youth and better with time.

And, with time, I’m hoping I’ll be better still.

Glass of aged rum

*For some additional reading on rum, pick up a copy of  And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis – it was he who pointed out the Brandy/Whiskey/Rum distinction. Great book and it comes with rum recipes (!)

While you’re at it, pick up a bottle of Cruzan Single-Barrel Rum and have it on the rocks with a thick slice of orange that you partially squeezed into a whiskey glass.

If you close your eyes, you can just about imagine sunnier shores.

Location: about to run to the gym
Mood: finally rested
Music: if you’re right, you’ll agree, here’s coming a better version of me
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Tribes

We spend our lives looking for our people

Saint Clair Cemin's - Portrait of the Word Why -in Verdi Square
Said once that the people that you choose to hang around with are mirrors to some aspect of yourself.

If you are a boxer, chances are high that you have a lot of boxer friends; if you are pianist, chances are high that you have friends that are musicians. Trekkies know trekkies.

It’s because we connect with people on narrow lines and as we get to know them, we find that we have more connections or less connections than we originally thought.

If we have less, these people fade away; if we have more, we find ourselves more and more involved with their lives.

I think it goes:

  1. stranger
  2. acquaintance
  3. friend
  4. close friend
  5. tribe-member
  6. family

Somewhere, we end up cutting or tightening the relationships between 2 and 4. And we all know people that should have cut and tightened instead and we also know those that cut that shouldn’t have.

Ultimately, we spend our lives looking for our people – looking for others in our tribe. Sometimes it cuts along racial lines, sometimes, religious, and sometimes something else entirely.

It’s quite something when you find your people, your person, and your poison.

When you meet your people – even if it’s not said – there’s the thought, “Where have you been this whole time?”

Me: Have you ever heard this song?
Her: Are you kidding, I love that song!

Mood: sore
Music: You and I travel to the beat of a different drum
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5 Unique things to do in NYC – 2011

What does a native New Yorker do for fun?

Lincoln Center

People are always asking me for unique things to do in NYC. Dunno about unique but here’s what I do as a native NYCer when I get a moment or two:

1. Walk down Riverside Drive
On a clear day, take a walk down Riverside Park. It’s perfect in spring or fall – here’s when I did it in November 2009. There’s an entrance on 72nd and Riverside Drive. Start off by walking to the tip of the West Side Pier and pretend you’re on a ship. Afterwards, you can stroll all the way down to Union Square via the bike path (or bike, natch) and see some ruins of old NYC, the parks, and even the High Line if you want to step off for a bit. It’ll be the most relaxing part of your Manhattan trip.

2. Eat at John’s Pizzeria
Always tell everyone to try out John’s Pizzeria on W 44th Street. Everybody goes to Lombardi’s downtown cause that’s where American pizza was invented in 1897. That’s all fine but it’s kinda not worth it. The thing is, Lombardi had a buncha helpers who were named Grimaldi, Patsy, and John, amongst others. John set up shop, like the others, and John’s Pizza’s his flagship. The pizza’s the same in that’s it thin and great – not coal fired, though. But the thing about John’s Pizza’s that it’s in a converted cathedral. So try to get a seat in the main room and look up at the stained-glass ceilings. You can also have fun trying to figure out where the choir was. It’s cheap too; figure $50 for a pizza, two drinks and a salad. It’ll be the nicest pizza place you’ve ever been to. Two notes:

  • the mens rooms are tiny,
  • avoid any time 90 minutes before a Broadway show, place’s packed.

3. Step out at Solas
Back when I was single, was at Solas on East 9th practically every Thursday and Friday night. The best thing about the joint – beside the no cover charge – is that it’s essentially three different spots in one. The eastern part’s a regular bar; belly up, order yourself a Dark and Stormy and chat up the girlie next to you. The western part’s almost always has a DJ and a private party that you’re always able to crash and get down with your bad self (don’t be a douchebag if you do). That has a bar too. Finally, upstairs is a lounge area although they usually jack up the sound up there too. Oh, and there’s a bar there too. Love that joint. It’s the only thing I miss about being single.

4. Get a drink (with or without bubbles) in the Winter Garden
Despite the name, the summer’s the best time to head downtown to the World Financial Center / Winter Garden. There’s usually a lotta shows that’re free to see and you can get a Dark and Stormy here too or something else with bubbles in your drinks. Like mosta NYC, it’s not really cheap but it’s not crazy expensive. Good place for a fourth date or a nice night out.

5. Have lunch with real silverware and food you don’t have to unwrap for $7
Go eat at Curry Row – already wrote about it once here.

I’ll post more stuff to do in the city that’s not in guidebooks next year. If you have anything you like about the city, lemme know?

As for me, back to the grind…

———-

Regarding the usual nuthin, spent most of Thursday night in the hospital again. Just a lotta waiting around for doctors. Come so often to this emergency room that I should get some sorta rewards point.

———-

 

  • Check out the comments to reach other people’s thoughts on these sites (and maybe leave a thought of your own!).
  • Finally, if you enjoyed this entry, take a look at my usual blog about life in NYC or consider picking up my eBook thriller about organized crime in NYC, The Men Made of Stone; sold everywhere!

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
Location: Last week, a waiting room at Columbus Circle, again.
Mood: still worried
Music: maybe I’m on my knees
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Signal versus noise: My plans, my pad, my people, my poison, and my person

From my sis regarding my mom. Except for the Vietnamese and the fact nonea us were ever the valedictorian, it’s pretty accurate.

Find it oddly touching for reasons I can’t fully explain. Says Happy Mother’s Day better than anything I could write so let’s just leave it at that.

Brunch foor

Stayed over at my parents and then had brunch over at my old college buddy’s place downtown over the weekend. A report came out that said that the key to happiness is human relations – you can watch it here.

Sounds right to me, iron sharpens iron and all of that.

The bacon doesn’t hurt, either.


A business blog I read’s named Signal Vs. Noise. The name comes from an engineering phrase that differentiates between the amount of useful information being transmitted versus that which’s just useless noise.

People around me’re always telling me stuff. I could be a great ______ if only I ______.

The assumption is, of course, that I dunno what I’m doing, which’s a bit insulting in and of itself. Actually do have a plan and, despite unexpected calamities, have managed to stick to that plan.

Y’know the difference between strategy and tactics? A strategy’s the big goal (Capture or kill Osama bin Laden); tactics are how you attain that goal (conventional warfare or propaganda). People confuse the two all of time, which’s fine, except when they try to push their inability to differentiate upon me.

My tactics shift constantly, as they should, but my strategy never changes.

There’s this section in Made to Stick where the author talks about the Tapper Game. It’s comprised of two players; one’s a tapper that taps out a song on a table, and the other’s a listener that tries to figure out the song. Participants thought they’d get about 50% right; the actual number was less than 2%.

Why?

Cause the tapper, the one tapping out the song, already knew the song in his head and could “hear” it. The one listening to only the tapping couldn’t.

That there’s, in my opinion, about 90% of what’s wrong with all human relationships. The stuff you hear in your head isn’t what the other guy hears. After a while, y’get tired of explaining stuff and either give up or continue to argue.

Am old enough to try and listen to other points of views and make my own decisions. But I’ve got a plan, a strategy, a song I hear in my own head. And I’ve got the results I wanted from these plans – my pad, my people, my poison, and my person. Which means that the song in my head is the right song for me.

And that’s the other thing, it’s my song.

It’s noise to you but signal to me.

Location: in front of my computer as always
Mood: irritated
Music: (the song in my head)

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Let it burn

Sometime we have let go of the old things we love to let in the new

A roof on fire in the big city.

 

Did you ever wonder why NYC’s, NYC? That is to say, how it became the biggest city in the world? Why not Boston, Philly, or DC?

In 1776, this massive fire occurred and pretty much wiped out the city as it was.

Afterward, the city made a decision in 1811 to set up the grid pattern we all know in NYC – doesn’t sound like much until you think that most everything past 14th street was forest.

Other places, like Boston, would have been like, “Well, there’s a tree where the road should go, and no one’s here anyway, so let’s just build a road around the tree.” But the plan said to cut down any tree and fill in any stream in the way of the streets – which most people thought of as insane and wasteful.

But cause they did that, the city grew in an orderly fashion and immigrants – like my folks – that couldn’t speak a lick of English could get around the city. So they came here.

Another one of my buddies called me today:

Me: What’s the dilly?
Him: Flipped the company. For $100M.
Me: Oh, NICE! Are you rich? More to the point, do you owe me money?
Him. “Yes,” and “no.”
Me: Wait – $100K or $100M?
Him: $100M.
Me: Do you need a manservant? I can be like Cato.
Him: That would be awesome. “I’m home!” WHAM!

He too had a hard life, as did Sheridan. Something about suffering makes y’want to succeed, to make things better.

Chris Rock once said that, “There’s something about being picked on that makes you work harder to make a reality where no body picks on you.”

It’s not true for everyone; some people that suffer stay broken. But the ones that get better – oftentimes – get a lot better. Bendy. The broken ones tend to get more broken.

If you’re the former, sing it with me – We don’t need no water, let the @#$@#$ burn…

 

Location: near Grand Central
Mood: ambitious
Music: she all fly But I can take the heat
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It’s personal

It’s just business was supposed to mean exactly the opposite of what it means

A metro station in Washington DC

 

Me: Man, it’s like 2Pac said, That’s just the way it is.
Heartgirl: But Logan, in the original song, he says, But don’t you believe them.

Told Koreanjohnny to read The Godfather cause he’s young enough and old enough to appreciate it. Read the book before I saw the movie so I looked at it differently.

While I loved the movie, Coppola made two changes to the story that always bothered me. The first one is that line everyone tells you right before they screw you at work or business or something: “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

But the truth of the line never made it to the movie; it happens in a conversation between Mike and his brother, Tom, who says that Mike’s taking it all too personally:

Tom, don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of s__t every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. If a bolt of lightning hit a friend of his the old man would take it personal. He took my going into the Marines personal. That’s what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal Like God. He knows every feather that falls from the tail of a sparrow or however the hell it goes? Right? And you know something? Accidents don’t happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.

 

Just over a year ago, I told you that we live in a Cliff’s Notes society – where we think we know something, but we don’t know the whole thing.

People always make excuses for screwing others over. But I like that last line: Accidents don’t happen to people who take accidents as a personal insult.

If they tell you otherwise, don’t you believe them, don’t let’s anybody kid you.

Man, it’s always personal to someone. That’s the truth of it.

Me: You’re right. I forgot.

Location: a large blue bed
Mood: awake
Music: Belief Makes things true Things like you

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personal

Grace and Mercy

Do you know the difference between Grace and Mercy?

Him: The fine is $2,000 a day for non-compliance.
Me: (coughing) You either gotta kill me and sell my body parts a nickel a shot, or we’ve gotta work something out.
Him: (laughing) We don’t have a department for that type of collection. (pause) I can give you two more days. Can you be in compliance by then?
Me: (nodding) Hell or high water.

Do y’know the difference between Grace and Mercy? They’re two sides of the same coin.

  • Grace is when you get the good things you don’t deserve.
  • Mercy is when you don’t get the bad things you do deserve.

Been posting less these days – cause I’ve never been into ranty posts. I did call my brother about two days ago, though. Guess something in my voice worried him. Or maybe mom told him about my shaking. Dunno.

Today I was running around all morning, having one unpleasant meeting after another, before I finally made it to my office.

And there sat my brother.

He dropped everything and took the 7AM flight outta Florida. I was in the hood, thought I’d see you, he joked. Then he looked down for a moment and asked, You ok?

Outside, my three employees were working, my partner was in her office, and I had clients waiting. I said it before, the words that’ll make a grown man cry are, I’m on my way. Just showing up’s even better.

But a boss weeping in his office doesn’t do anyone any good. So instead, I coughed, cleared my throat, frowned and nodded. He got it.

Later that night he and his friend Kathy had dinner with my folks, laughed, and sang about two American kids growing up in this heartland on the road home.

Today I got mercy from a total stranger and grace from my earliest memory.

Yes, I said honestly, I’m ok, now.

Location: 22:00 yest, Rego Park
Mood: hopeful
Music: life goes on Long after the thrill of livin is gone

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personal

Eponine

We are all we know

The subway’s never empty. Unless you’re an insomniac. Then they’re empty a hellva lot.

———-

Thought about some of the people I’ve met recently and in the not-so-distant past. For some strange reason, I also thought of a girl I dated once. It’s the fall.

Part of the reason I think I liked her was because she said that every person that ever went out with her treated her like crap (I’m weird like that). When she told me that, I thought of Eponine from Les Mis.

The book’s a little different from the musical. In the book, there’s this one scene where she’s tossed a stale piece of bread. Starving, she pounces on it like a crazed animal. The hard bread hurts her teeth but she says that she knows the bread is good because it’s hard.

See, Eponine has no concept that there’s such a thing as bread that’s not rotten and not hard. It’s all she knows.

Tried to treat the ex nicely – never did find out if she she thought I did. Random, right?

As for me, well, my friends think I’m lucky because so many people enter and exit my Venn Diagram.

I’m not sure. You see, it’s all I know…

Location: 20:30, getting caught in some rain in Bayside
Mood: exhausted
Music: through the clouds Memories come rushing up to meet me now

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business personal

One at a time

I could handle it all, if it only was one at a time

(c) History Channel

 

At The Battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans arranged it so that, despite being vastly outnumbered, they only had to deal with the soldier directly in front of them. One at a time. The thousands of soldiers behind them just didn’t exist. Only the one in front of them.

Affiliate
Her: I’m not sure…
Me: Look, I’m not asking you to trust me. You don’t know me. I’m asking you to give me a chance. One chance. Let me show you what we can do.
Her: (thinking) I’ll send you two deals. Don’t %^$& them up.
Me: We won’t.

Contractor
Him: Why would I do that? I don’t even know you.
Me: Because, I’m young and I’m bright. And if you do this for me, a young and bright (if not altogether too trusting) guy in the world owes you a favor. Ask around, that means something.
Him: I can wait one more week.

Creditor
Him: It’s too late.
Me: If you do it that way, you’ll get $0.65 on the dollar. My way, it’ll take longer, but you’ll get 100%.
Him: (pause) I’ll see what I can do.

Repeat about 20 times a week for six weeks.

Just one massive, career-ending, financially-destructive catastrophe at a time, please.

One at a time.

Location: 12:08, 13:02, 14:24, 16:33: 17:02 – banks
Mood: exhausted
Music: you must be real far gone; you’re relating to a psychopath

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personal

Veterans Day 2007

Three Koreans were captured in Normandy fighting for the Nazis

Some of the first “Germans” captured in Normandy were three Koreans. They were captured by the Germans from the Russians, who captured them from the Japanese, who forced them to fight in the first place.

Crazy right? Fact is usually stranger than fiction. You know, unlike what you might have heard, the average age of men killed in Vietnam was 23 years old; in WWII, it was 26.

That sounds even crazier to me.

———-

Angry over a NATO issue, French President Charles de Gaulle is said to have demanded that all American troops leave French soil. President Lyndon B. Johnson responded, “Does that include the ones buried at Omaha Beach?”

It’s so easy to forget them, isn’t it?

Location: 17:00 yest, giving legal advice off West End Ave
Mood: drained
Music: I’m so tired but I can’t sleep