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Note to the NY
Times: Stop Copying Me!

A few months back, if you recall, I wrote an article entitled "The 'New' New York/Giuliani Suck My Dick," which was about the massive gentrification everywhere, the changing face of Manhattan, the "No Tolerance" policies carried out by the police (resulting in me having to go to court for having an open container of beer), etc. A few weeks later, the New York Times ran an article on the cover of its Sunday Magazine called "Giuliani's 'New' New York," which was about, essentially, the same things. I read the article with curiosity, but put it out of mind. A coincidence, no doubt. Or was it? For just the other day another article appeared in that particular paper, the "Gray Lady" as it is known in some circles, which was about the possibility of a Starbucks opening up in Williamsburg, and the ramifications this would have brought about. You may remember that last month I wrote about the same exact shit. Another coincidence? Are the reporters of the New York Times and I simply on the same writerly wavelength, attune to the same newsworthy rhythms, subject to the same journalistic frequencies?

Perhaps. But it did strike me as strange, particularly in this last example, being that the stories are so closely related. Very few people knew about the Starbucks opening here, and even fewer people, aside from the residents of Williamsburg, would seem to care. Why would the readers of the New York Times give a shit about that? Do they hold Williamsburg up to the same standards that we do? Do all of those Upper-Eastsiders and Wechesterers live vicariously through us, routing for us, hoping that we can keep out the corporations and the chains so that there will be at least ONE PLACE that isn't commercialized? I really fucking doubt it. So why the story?

Could it be that there is someone at the paper who's a little "out of the loop," as they say, who "doesn't know what's going on," as the lingo goes, who's, I don't know, "mildly retarded?" And could this person, instead of doing his own research, conducting his own investigations, putting out his own feelers, be getting his story ideas from yours truly? Once again, I don't know. But if this is the case, chances are the individual in question is reading this right now. So to that person, I have this to say: Cut it out. Otherwise, I will have no choice but to deal with you personally. I will make your life a living hell. I will crank call you at all hours; I will seduce your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/ whatever; I will find out where you live and come over in the middle of the night and sit at the end of your bed until you wake up in a fright, terrified, asking, "who are you? What are you doing here?" and I will simply laugh at you. And this will just be the beginning. You have no idea what I am capable of. For I don't like to be plagiarized. I will not sit around and let some gigantic dillhole conglomerate steal my ideas, even if it is the New York fucking Times. Do we understand each other? Good.

Of course, I have no proof, and now that the "cat's out of the bag" as they say on the street, it's doubtful I'll be copied again. Even so, if you see anything in this or future columns mysteriously resurface in THAT paper, then we'll know for sure.

Local Developments/Four Bars and a Restaurant

First off, I'm happy to report that my dry spell - brief as it was - is officially over. Yes, I got laid (thank you all for your letters of support, by the way. They really meant a lot). Now that's a story I wouldn't mind seeing in the New York Times: "Williamsburg Sex Columnist Scores," or something along those lines. How about it Mr. Plagiarist? I'll even start the thing for you: "Russ Josephs, the well-respected writer of Sex in the Sub-City, has finally done it. Ending the ironic notion of the sex columnist who wasn't having sex, and despite great odds, he has managed to put his penis into an actual vagina. And apparently more than once." For that I'd even pose for a picture.

(Speaking of pictures, if you check out the June issue of New York Magazine, in their article: "The Greatest Places to Party in New York" or something gay like that, you'll see a picture of me at the top of the page, looking like a total dork.)

On a different note, I have a lot to report on the latest developments in the burg. Recently there have been a plethora of new businesses opening up, all of which I will tell you about. Be advised, however, that this is an extremely opinionated guide, so take that into consideration if you go - or don't go - to any of these places.

Rain. I never thought this place was ever going to open, as for months I'd walk by and see little to no progress on what was once a dilapidated storefront. But it did, magically, and the opening party was swamped (due in large part to the open bar). The set-up is sleek and attractive without being TOO sleek and attractive, and the bartenders are genuinely friendly and seem like they actually know how to mix and pour drinks. But by far the best feature is the backyard patio, which has picnic-type tables setup, so you can sit outside and drink and smoke like you should be able to during the summer. This feature, coupled with the prime location (just across the street from the mini-mall), will probably keep this place awash with customers for some time to come.

(Note: Did you catch the clever wordplay in the above review? In case you missed it, it started with: "the place was swamped," or simply: "swamped," followed by: "pour," and then: "awash." Don't get it? It's because the bar is called Rain, which, like all of the above words, is water-related. Give yourself a pat on the back if you got all of them!)

A place that I hope won't stay afloat is North 6th, located on (guess what?) North 6th Street. Now, naming your place after the address was cool, when? Four years ago? Six years ago? But certainly not now, and certainly not here. While I have no idea who owns it, I have a strong suspicion it's an out-of-towner trying to bank on Williamsburg cred. First off, it has the appearance of a Manhattan club, including a "chill-out" room in the basement, a large front room with a bar, and a gargantuan backspace that's supposed to be a concert venue, complete with a miniature version of stadium seating. I went on opening night, and if the crowd is any indication - well-heeled types and people who seemed like they'd just come from Level X - this place is already over. Located right new to Galapagos - and I mean by like five feet - it reminded me of the way Starbucks and Barnes and Noble do business, setting up shop as close to their competition as possible, the goal being to steal all their customers and close them down. Hopefully, it will go the way of Sin-e - is that place even still around? I have no idea - and soon be nothing more than a distant memory.

I.V. Situated in an out-of-the-way location (South 5th and Havermeyer), I was intrigued by this place, particularly upon hearing of their "Heavy Metal/Rock Star Mondays," where from 9 to 11 you can drink all the Budweiser you want for five bucks. Last Monday I went out there, and was disappointed to find it practically empty. While there were a few devout rockers and metalheads about, loyally nodding their heads to Ozzy and Skid Row, there weren't enough to even fill all the bar stools, and the back section, which is quite large, was completely deserted. There was also something amiss about the place, some weird vibe that made it unwelcoming, which possibly had to do with all of the contradictions. While it's located on a crappy street a block from Broadway, and obviously caters to 80's rockers, the decor is very futuristic: space-age bathrooms reminiscent of Fun; shiny, reflective wall panels and floor-lighting; and a swanky lounge area with the kind of low tables and chairs you see in half the bars in Soho. I wish them luck, but I won't be going back.

Sardine Can. Never been there, but I've biked by and it looks nice inside (and empty). It has the appearance of more of a cafe than a bar, with lots of light and a decent amount of room, despite the name. They've apparently got beer there for three-dollars, which in and of itself is reason enough to make the trip.

Citara. Yes, we finally have our own Indian restaurant. Someone has taken my great idea, one which I've had for years now, and actually done something with it. Of course, I don't know shit about Indian food, and have no money to speak of to invest in such a restaurant; but all the same, I did consider opening one, as I'm sure many of you have. I mean, it was the only cuisine lacking in this town, and with all of the hipsters who you know would flock to the place, it seemed like a can't-lose situation. And so far, they seem to be doing well, so chances are they're "raking in the bucks," if you know what I'm saying, or "cleaning house," if you catch my drift. Whether this is deserved or not I don't know, as my own experience there was mixed. It's possible I was there on a bad night, but I found the food to be mediocre at best. The Malai Kofta, which in my opinion is the greatest dish on the planet, was tasteless and watery, and the portion sucked. Also, their version of a naan, which is one of the best things about going to an Indian restaurant, was nothing more than pita bread. Furthermore, even though the waitress said that the rice came free with the meal, she still charged us for it.

And that, right there, is the worst part of the place: the service. It's abominable. Every single person I know who's gone there has told me the same thing. In my case, it was simply getting overcharged and having to ask - repeatedly - for a cold beer, but in other instances it was much worse. When some friends of mine went there, after they were seated, they were essentially forgotten about. The waiter didn't come back to them until a half-hour later, by which time the kitchen had closed. The waiter had to then beg the cook to make their food, which he eventually did. When my friends finally managed to eat - an hour after their arrival - the only consolation they received was a free drink. Not drinks - drink. This, in my mind, is not how you run a restaurant.

Anyhow, that's all I've got for you. Tune in next week for the 411, as the kids say. I gotta bounce. Gotta dip. Got mad ho's to mack on, son. Na, na bitch don't be trippin, aight? Peace.

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | July 2001 | Issue 16
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