Cheeseburger Gothic

New York wrap up.

Posted February 11, 2009 by John Birmingham
I'm almost done here. In half an hour I'll step out for dinner, heading up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle. I ate there with Betsy my publisher the other night and was impressed enough to want to go back. That's always been my way when travelling. If I find a place I lke I will visit a few times to fix it in my memory for future reference.

Today was culture day on Planet Birmo. I walked up to Central Park for a bit a wander and some happy snaps, exiting near the New York Historical Society, which had a civil exhibition focusing on Grant and Lee. It was quite fascinating and gave me an idea for a column later this week. From there I cut back across the Park to the Met, where a I spent a couple of hours browsing the art. I particularly dug the Classical and the Medieval galleries.

The street in front of the Met was crowded with starving artists selling their wares so I picked up a hand painted piece for Anna's room. Thomas got a pencil sharpener fashioned in the shape of a cannon from the Historical Society. Jane got an Obama doll (she scored some Kate Spade shoes yesterday) and for me, an ice cube tray with Titanic and 'berg shaped cubes.

I meandered down Fifth Avenue for a while, occasionally stopping to shoot pics of any buildings that took my fancy. I'm kind of a fanboy for neoclassical architecture and this part of New York has plenty. Eventually the residential blocks gave way to the shopping district, where I'd been on Monday and where I thought I'd scored a bowl of split pea 'n ham from the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. Turned out to be a franchise outlet, but the soup was still great and the staff were non frightening. For anyone passing through, this place was just across the street from the New York Public Library, where I was most impressed with the combo of Roman Grandeur and civic virtue.

We seem to be working backwards here, so I guess Sunday was all about touring around with Murph and Trinity before they flew out. I had some things I needed to do at Comicon but caught up with them for an early lunch at the Carnegie Deli. My driver had told me on arrival in NYC that I had no choice but go there for the pastrami on rye, and not being one to disobey a limo driver, I insisted that we did.

Here is the result.

Apart from the pastrami mountain I've eaten relatively modestly in New York. One curry feast with a former editor and two fine Italian meals at Gabriel's would constitute the extent of my calorific blowout. Apart from that, it was easier to just have fruit for breakfast and lunch. One of the very civilized things I have enjoyed about dining alone in the US is the unexpected friendliness of my fellow diners, especially when noshing away at the bar.

Indeed, I just got back from dinner at Gabriel's where I had a green leaf salad and beef ribs with polenta mash, which were all beautiful, but must enjoyable of all was the company of my fellow singeltons, in the first instance an African American freelance publicist for a bunch of off Broadway shows, in the second a German documentary maker who explained in great detail what she was shooting in New York, but I'm afraid it went in one ear and out the other. I do know she was off to see Placido Domingo sing at the Met, however. So good luck to her.

I started chatting with her because I was very much taken with the big bowl of gnocci and duck ragout she was eating. So much so I almost ordered it myself. But that sort of dish is very easy to score in Oz, whereas the thing with which I will credit premium American chefs is a reverence for the treatment of meat that is rare back home. Hence my choice of the beef rib tonight.

In the end though, I was here for Comicon, which was amazing simply because of the sheer mass of geekdom gathered in one place. It was almost oppressive. No, bugger that. It was oppressive. I have some great photos, both mine and Craig's,which I will publish when I can get wordpress and flickr to start talking again, but for now I'll just say that it felt at times there were more geeks and weirdos gathered together in the convetion hall than you could find in all of the antipodes.

42 Responses to ‘New York wrap up.’

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Crikey that's one helluva sammich! My missus loved New York - her scond favourite city she reckons. But like you JB she was wary of American servings of food - she too would have fruit etc. for brekky, buy some immense sandwich at lunch, eat half and likely have the rest for dinner!

Good thing it's now lunchtime, I'm off out for a meaty sandwich.

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yankeedog ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Yeah, that serving size would be about right. You and Mrs Bondiboy had the right idea, rationing out the big feeds. Best way to go. Even I do that when possible. Two meals for the price of one.

Hope you enjoyed the Apple and none of the Yank 'burgers scared you too badly.

Liking your souvenir swag there-good job going full metal tourist! It's all right though-if I ever get to Australia I'm looking for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pencil sharpener or the Opera House paperweight.

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Moko mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't forget my Statue of Liberty sharpener.

Love to check it out one day. Unfortunately I feel the only I will is if I manage to swim that last 3 K's undetected to shore.

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Domestic Daze mumbles...

Posted February 11, 2009
Warning: Do not view that picture on a full stomach. How many is that supposed to feed? A family of four or something?

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Pass me a 'Quick Eaze', pronto.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
nice.

I like a cubic yard of beef on bread

I assume that greeen thing was only for scale or garnish.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't. Forget. To. Eat. A. Thin. Crust. New. York. Style. Cheese. Pizza. Before. You. Go.

capiche?

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Umm, I notice the blueberry cheesecake which was consumed AFTER the sandwich was not mentioned. I guess that was the fruit John mentioned. :) Never fear kids, Trinity got a shot of this NYC Cheesecake Monstrosity. I'll post it in a day or so.

Serving sizes in NYC were way above the call of duty. Trinity and I ate at Maxie's (where some of the food should be served with a side dish of insulin or AED devices) on Saturday night. A couple next to us from Turkey said the portions were huge and wondered if Americans always ate like that.

We assured them that the massive serving sizes at Maxie's were out of the ordinary, even in our eating experience.

I thought we ate heavy in the Midwest and if you go to someplace like Stroud's in KC, you'll get large portions. But not on the scale we saw at Maxie's.

As for eating fruit, which is what Trinity and I normally try to do during our more mundane lives, best to buy it at the market and prep it at home. In fact, this was our original battleplan but the leg injury prevented expeditions to the markets for that purpose.

As for the sandwich, I had a ham sandwich of the same size. It would have been a hamburger but we were told, "burger take twenty-five minutes."

Sheesh, you'd think they had to put a rivet in the cow in the back alley, butcher the meat and sear it with a bic lighter before bringing it in if it was going to take that long.

Lots to eat in that town. Lots.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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JdR has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Surely there's a column or several to be written about Comicon? Did you pick up some reading for the kids, or was it all about Watchmen??

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Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Argh... That's not EVEN a marbled rye. Where is the saurkraut? You might as well be eating at Burger King.

J.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 11, 2009
The hot kraut was on Trinity's hot dog.

When John and I were wandering the aisles, gawking at the figures, the weirdoes in costume, the comic books and the nervous pent up long frustrated sexual energy of the place, I finally blurted out this.

"Lord, it is a bit much. Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Birmo said. "It is."

I felt much better after that. I thought it was just me. Go googling around for the Comicon Light Saber Fight if you want to see just how over the top this was.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Hmmm yes, I'd of thought that in NYC you'd be able to get proper salt beef on rye with gerkins, obviously not. Oh vay gevalt!

I find it funny about the size of the portions when you consider that NYC was pretty out there with nouvelle cusine. Think i'll stick to half a crucified cow down in puerto madero.

Murph/JB were any of the butchered cow places there allowing English mustard?

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Did you guys manage to catch the excellent work of the Green Light Anti-Zombie Squad at Comic Con?

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Therbs asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Comicon will have provided plenty of material for the Geek blog no doubt.

That pastrami on rye brings back memories. Happy, beefy, memories.

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Guru Bob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
Looking at their website it seems that the owner knew you were coming and left early... it is supposed to be a 'must see' kind of place.

http://www.carnegiedeli.com/

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savo mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Geez, I'm not going to survive the food when I'm there this Fall. Thank goodness I've lost so much weight. I'll be able to get a running start.

By the way JB, what's that green penis doing on your plate?

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lostatlunch ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
not bad for a work trip.. the last pic on flikr... why so small.. she look, Um, interesting, in an insane way

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DrYobbo would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
I see pastrami. I see not rye.

I see coronary heart disease and bypass surgery.

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted February 11, 2009
YD, it was just the missus - I've never been to the States. I'd probably just make a total guts of myself!

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Big Bad Al swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
Mmmmmmm..... Meaty goodness...

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
Dr. Y

Can you expand on that to the music of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song?

"I see a coronary infarction.

I see a lipid count too high."

Murph, I thought the "hot kraut" was a perjorative term for last years Miss Germany, and that made me wonder what she was doing on Trinity's Hot Dog? And that led (naturally enough)to unspeakably disturbing things.

Love the museum & gallery work JB.

Pity you didn't catch the Gugenhiem gallery in NYC or Aerospace Museum in Washington DC. Ah well it's a good idea when travelling to leave something for next time.

Hmm, when's the Dubya fan fic page coming? I'm gestating an idea.

Could you ransom the remaining America by snatching up the Declaration of Independance or the Wright Bros' Kittyhawk?

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sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
all sounds great- have to say when I'm in the US for work I like erating at teh counter and peopel are always evry friendly. Comic con- better you've never been in one location that has so many epople with a Zombie survival plan.

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Ellie is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Damn, I want your glamorous author life. I like food and art so I think it would work out for me.

Cons are pretty awesome. I'm only a semi geek so I find it utterly fascinating to meet hardcore geeks - especially ones cosplaying as badass ninja dudes from anime.

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Michael Juge would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
Personally, I prefer to order my sandwich by the pound or foot depending on what region of the country I'm in. If you're planning to to a side trip to DC area for any reason like a book signing or something, kindly let us know.

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted February 12, 2009
Missed opportunity ... you shoulda' said, to the waitress, in your thickest accent, "You call that a sandwich? Now this is a sandwich."

Ummm, of course you would have had to produce a larger sandwich. So, ummm, it wouldn't work. But, still, it would have been funny.

And speaking of geek fests ... one of the meccas has got to be DragonCon held here in Atlanta. Amazingly over the top.

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Matthew K puts forth...

Posted February 12, 2009
Ooh yeaaah! Only needs a touch of English mustard like Chaz says.

But.... that doesn't look like rye bread to me. Still looks fine though.

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Robert is gonna tell you...

Posted February 12, 2009
Excuse me. EXCUSE ME!! Hate to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals, but I dropped by Borders Books out here on the West Coast last night to buy WW, and damn if Borders doesn't have any copies and their computer sez the book ain't published yet (although I can buy it on audio, apparently).

So, is the book not available in the USA? Or is Borders just not planning to move that inventory? This is a WW WTF?

Thanks for any pointers, and allowing me to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 12, 2009
The book is available. For some reason Borders has it listed under some sort of pre-title like America Disappeared or some crap. I had to work to find it in their system a week or so ago during my KC recon to ensure that the book had arrived.

Best thing for it is to simply punch John Birmingham's name into the computer at Borders and then browse through until you find the book.

Further, at the Borders up North that I went to, the book was there but buried behind some paperbacks in the wrong part of the B section. Damned if I know WTF was going on but I pulled the books in line with Birmo's other AoT paperbacks so folks could find them.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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MickH mutters...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey!

Has anyone heard from Bangar recently?

I hope he wasn't mixed up in the fires.

I hope he's ok!

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Trinity asserts...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey John,

Trinity here.I wanted to sat that I read He died with a Felafel in his hand. That has to be the funniest thing I have ever read in my life.

Did that stuff really happen? Because all I can say is you really are lucky to be with us all today! :)

Oh, Murph helped me set up my own blog, I think he was tired of me looking over his shoulder when he was on his.

So come and see my new blog space. remember now it is still a work in progress.

Once more it was wonderful to meet you and Tarl and Craig. I plan on e-mailing Craig to see if he got home Ok.

Well, that's all.

With love & peace,

Trinity

P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one? Thanks! :)

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Chaz mutters...

Posted February 12, 2009
'P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one?' don't know who could have been spreading those rumors......

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Trinity: "Hello Neo."

Neo: "How do you know that name?"

Trinity: "I know a lot about you."

Neo: "Who are you?"

Trinity : "My name's Trinity."

Neo: "Trinity...THE Trinity? The one who hacked the IRS D-Base?

Trinity: "That was a long time ago."

Neo: "Jesus."

Trinity : "What?"

Neo: "I just thought...you were a guy."

Trinity: "Most guys do."

In all honesty, Trinity, I thought you were a guy, too - until just now. I must admit I am somewhat relieved - not that there would be anything wrong with it. I am not one of those Bible thumping fanatics. No siree Bob. I am very open minded. But I draw the line on marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I'm sorry, but that is just the way I feel.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted February 12, 2009
By god, that photo makes me hungry and I had a big lunch. Is that a whole dill pickle you got with that?

I fear any time I ever spent in NYC would be one long food tour. I can imagine worse things, but don't care to :)

Murph, sounds like your impressions of comicon are not unlike what I imagine mine would be. I see sudden realisations of "Well, sheesh".

Trinity, yes that stuff really happened, some of the folks here were there, for some of it. I didn't know Birmo back in the day but certainly saw a lot of the same stuff. Strange days, but a lot of good came of it IMHO

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Chaz, the rumors were spread elsewhere usually, not by the burgers. But is an ongoing joke of sorts.

Damian, yes, Comicon was one big, "These folks need a life."

It was a pretty good trip. More pics to follow at both blogs.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 13, 2009
Well Robert, there should be copies around. Some of them signed.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 13, 2009
Esquire reckons Felafel is the 33rd funniest book in it's latest edition here in the UK. I was just browsing the magazines in the supermarket - didn't buy it.

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Brian mutters...

Posted February 13, 2009
Yoh? Murph - Trinity's blog needs to on referenced here doncha think?

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 13, 2009
brian, agreed. Will do when I feel better. Caught gastritis here in KC. Down but not out.

Respects,

Murph

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NBlob reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
Murph, I don't know if it's a trade name or if it's marketed under the same name in the US of A, but I strongly recomend Immodium. It's like quick set concrete for the guts.

You'll still feel like a luke-warm bag 'o crap, but at least you dont have to make the dash to the porcelain every 3.5 minutes.

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deadcat mumbles...

Posted February 13, 2009
JB, I could find your email address. You might like this:

http://blog.wired.com/cars/2009/02/sweden-build-wo.html

Stealth Ships! Just like in your trilogy :)

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Murphy reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
NBob, yeah, I'll take some tomorrow.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 13, 2009
Wow, that would make a great cover line. 33rd Funniest Book Ever - Esquire.

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