Friday, June 30, 2006

The meek shall inherit the week (30 June 2006)

Hey, I'm Tiki Chris, and I administer four blogs: ontoLondon, Rapa Nui News, Tiki Chris, and WePlanYourTrip. Each Friday, I hope to provide a weekly review of what I've posted. If a particular blog interests you, keep in mind that I’ve been blogging since well before this past week. You may want to take a look through the archives of any blog that interests you.

Hiya.

I managed to eek out a few blog posts this week, including the following:

A very timely photograph taken by Emilia near our flat (ontoLondon blog),
A slide show from the Sheep Drive (ontoLondon blog), and
A piece from a monthly column I write for a paper back in Jersey (Tiki Chris blog).


Have a great weekend,
Tiki Chris


ontoLondon
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Sheep Drive slide show
WEEKLY PHOTO: (30 June 2006)


Rapa Nui News
http://www.rapanuinews.blogspot.com/
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New Paris museum features items from Rapa Nui



Tiki Chris
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Goodbye chili cheese fries


WePlanYourTrip
http://www.weplanyourtrip.blogspot.com/
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MySpace dream destination results

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goodbye chili cheese fries

Back in May, I started writing what has become a monthy column for the TriCity News, an alternative newspaper focusing on the arts, culture, and politics in eastern Monmouth County - where I lived before moving to London. The column, published every third Thursday of the month, examines what it's like to be an expat American living in London. It's an honor and a pleasure to write for the TriCity News, a paper that I loved reading while living in the TriCity area. My first piece, "Goodbye chili cheese fries," was originally published in the May 18, 2006 edition of The TriCity News. Enjoy.

Goodbye chili cheese fries
copyright Chris Osburn 2006

To get the gist of this report all you need to know is that my wife, Emilia, and I have recently moved to London from West Long Branch. It would probably also help to know that I've lived in London before (from 2001-2003). However, unlike last time which was a temporary gig with a leaving date in mind, this time might just be for the long haul. It's certainly great to be back in "the Smoke" – still, leaving my home on the Shore was hard, as I found out during my last few weeks in Jersey:

Okay, so now that my move to London is imminent, I'm finding that many otherwise taken for granted aspects of my life here on the Jersey Shore to be radiating quite the rosy hue. Of course, I'm speaking figuratively of all sorts of little things and not literally of the pollution-enriched sunsets over Sandy Hook Bay.

Also, since this overseas move is really on (I've got a week left in this country), I've been making sure to treat myself to one last taste of my favorite local cuisines. In the past week or so, I've hit the local pizza place (Attilio's in West Long Branch is my fave), the local bagel place (Bagel Oven in Red Bank please!), plus a few other eateries that I'll really miss having in my near proximity. There's the humble Far East Taste in Eatontown, where Richard, the owner, often greets diners with tales of the fresh fish he personally caught that day - and how he plans to personally prepare it.

Moby's in Highlands, too, (with views of the Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook Drawbridge, and the Atlantic, not to mention its raw bar, excellent lobster, steamers, and fried clams) has almost been a summer weekend standard for the past few years.

And then, there are all those great places in Asbury Park: the elegant and refined Harrison with its "urban fare," the comfort food dream spot Chat & Nibble, and Taka with its absolutely scrumptious Japanese menu and gorgeous decor.

Not to be unmentioned is, perhaps, my favorite AP eatery: Tides, a Bistro-by-the-Sea. I don't so much love this place for its food (which is good), or its decor (which is okay), or even for its excellent location (right on the boardwalk with gigantic windows that get so much sunlight that sunglasses come in handy) ... but for its off-kilter vibe. The place is just bizarre. For example, d'ever have a waiter jonesing for a cigarette to the point of begging you for it - and then 10 minutes later, completely forgetting he'd asked you and that you'd told him that you didn't have any cigarettes, begging yet again? More so, d'ever have a waiter (different from the nicotine craving one) take five minutes to share with you a monologue about how "lazy" he is - while the whole time you're wondering "when is this guy gonna take my order?" Or how about this one: d'ever have your coffee mug filled and just after taking one sip, have someone waiting to refill it immediately. Now, it might be one thing if I were describing some divey diner in east bumble but, this is "bistro-by-the-sea" for crying out loud! Tides has the feel of a first date with a stranger on acid (and I sincerely appreciate their efforts for that very fact).

And, of course, there's the Windmill in West End where I recently had a near religious experience while chowing down on a hotdog with some chili cheese fries. Man, it was really delicious.

Living in the TriCities area ensures easy access to great pizza and bagels. When last I lived in London, I took it upon myself to seek out pizza and bagels that suited my Jersey-fied taste buds. Of course, pizza and bagels can be found in London ... but my endeavor for premium quality ultimately proved fruitless. I remain open to the possibility of some day finding a perfect pie or bagel in London, but I admit that I am a dubious.

Now don't get me wrong. London's a fine place for a foodie to settle (especially if one has the means to travel about the rest of Europe). Very soon after my plane touches down, I will be at my favorite curry house in Brixton, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Shoreditch, my favorite ... (you get the picture). And I'm already anticipating opportunities to visit gourmet destinations outside London, such as San Sebastian, Napoli, and, of course, Paris, as well as other equally edible towns that are less renown for their local fare. Edinburgh (one of my all time favorite restaurants is here) and Budapest readily come to mind. Still, I will miss the yummy-ness of the Jersey Shore.

Another aspect to TriCity eatin' that I will miss is how seriously folks take ordering their food. Jersey's the alone place I've ever lived were bagels, pizzas, and hot dogs are asked to be well-done (which is how I've learned to best appreciate these treats). Perhaps, people make such requests elsewhere in the world, but Jersey's where I heard it first.



Friday, June 23, 2006

Another week bites the dust (Friday 23 June 2006)

Hey, I'm Tiki Chris, and I administer four blogs: ontoLondon, Rapa Nui News, Tiki Chris, and WePlanYourTrip. Each Friday, I hope to provide a weekly review of what I've posted. If a particular blog interests you, keep in mind that I’ve been blogging since well before this past week. You may want to take a look through the archives of any blog that interests you.

Aloooha!

Another busy week here in London full of all sorts of bloggable happenings, just not enough time to blog about them.

Highlight of the week? Feeling secure in my masculinity, I got me a man bag:
http://tikichris.blogspot.com/2006/06/me-and-my-man-bag.html

Have a great weekend,
Tiki Chris


ontoLondon
http://www.ontoLondon.com
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How was the sheep drive?


Rapa Nui News
http://www.rapanuinews.blogspot.com/
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New book parallels Rapa Nui with history of planet



Tiki Chris
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Me and my man bag


WePlanYourTrip
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MySpace dream destination results

Monday, June 19, 2006

Me and my man bag

Before the move to London, I lived in the ‘burbs for about three years. While there, I got real accustomed to relying on my car. I’m not talking about the convenience of owning a vehicle to get around as I pleased. In fact, I’m quite content to leave the driving to public transport and the rare taxi, and to get back in the habit of walking most places. What I got so used to – and now dearly miss – was simply having a car for tossing in and stowing my crap.

Now that I’m back to being a pedestrian, I gotta carry all that potentially necessary stuff on my person … and it’s a hassle. What’s especially a hassle is toting round a pocketful of coins, which is inevitable when dealing with British currency. I mean, if I buy something for just a few quid or less, and pay with a £10 or £20 bill, I gotta deal with all those heavy coins in my front pocket – pockets already filled with keys, wallet, travel card, mobile phone, etc. I don’t like full pockets. I feel like it makes me look goofier than I probably already do. Besides, stuffing my hands in empty pockets is one of those little comforts in life for me.

Last time I lived in London, I was working on my Masters, so I seemed to always have my backpack slung over my shoulder. So, I just threw everything in there. These days, taking a backpack with my every time I need to step out, just won’t cut it. A backpack often gets in the way and, on warm days, leaves me with a sweaty back and underarms.

So, I went to Muji and purchased a small three-compartment bag with a shoulder strap. Plain and black, it’s sort of like a camera bag only a little thinner and broader. Yeah, I bought a man bag … hardly a degree away from a purse. Everything I need to carry round with me fits in it and it hangs from my shoulder without taking up too much space. No more digging through jeans’ pocket for 50p, I got me a readily accessible man bag.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Not so weekly update (Friday 16 June 2006)

Hey, I'm Tiki Chris, and I administer four blogs: ontoLondon, Rapa Nui News, Tiki Chris, and WePlanYourTrip. Each Friday, I hope to provide a weekly review of what I've posted. If a particular blog interests you, keep in mind that I’ve been blogging since well before this past week. You may want to take a look through the archives of any blog that interests you.

Howdy folks,

With the arrival of our stuff from the States, moving into our new flat, good friends visiting, and the London Luau, I was too busy to write an update last week. Honestly, I was too busy to write much of anything. However, this week's not been as crazy as last, and I have managed to write a bit. Below is a list of what I've blogged since my last update.

For
more about how hectic and fun this past week or so has been, have a look at the following entry from the Tiki Chris blog:

http://tikichris.blogspot.com/2006/06/long-time-no-hear-from.html

Have a great weekend,
Tiki Chris


ontoLondon
http://www.ontoLondon.com
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Steve Earle, Mark Thomas and more at the Globe
This weekend is the London Luau!
Sheep to invade the City of London!


Rapa Nui News
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New Zealand Green Party co-leader speaks about the lesson of Rapa Nui

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tapes!

This morning commenced another day of unpacking boxes, moving random piles of things from one room to another, and arranging furniture. It was boring, lonely work and just the sort of thing that some rockin' music could have made (at least a little) more enjoyable. However, the PC et al were sneering from a cluttered corner, daring me to set them up, and the overwhelming majority of our CDs were stowed away in boxes ... and we ain't got no iPod yet.

That left a stack of Emilia's and my cassette tapes that for some reason got unpacked the first day we moved in. These relics probably haven't been listened to since the late 90's. But, I was tired of hearing the construction noises from outside, and the England v Trinidad and Tobago World Cup match wouldn't start until 5pm. So, I popped a tape into our boombox. Ahh.

First selection: a compilation of Joy Division's "Greatest Hits"

Joy Division is one of those bands that I've been listening to pretty consistently since I was probably twelve. Their music still holds up today. Heck, bands like Interpol and the Killers wouldn't even have a sound if it weren't for Joy Division. More relevant to my own experience this morning, lead singer, Ian Curtis, groaning "where will it end?" over and over on Lords of the Day gave me a good chuckle as I surveyed the mess that lay before me.

Now, I know Joy Division was a Manchester band, but being here in London listening to this cassette makes me harken back to my teenage days when I would purchase gobs of cassette tapes of UK artists. Often, I'd spend hours in my room listening ad naseum to the likes of the Smiths, the Cure, the Cult, Bauhaus, etc etc etc, thinking about how much cooler London and the UK must be than my hometown of Chickamauga, Georgia. Much of that pondering was just a bit of the-grass-is-always-greener syndrome, but whoduhthunk I'd eventually move here (twice!) as a thirty-something?

And then onto another tape. Ooh.

The Doors - LA Woman

Not just a stroll down Memory Lane anymore, listening to LA Woman was a full fledged hike. The tape (the actual, physical cassette along with its case and insert) has been through think and thin with me. I even think I was listening to it when I crashed my car at seventeen years old. Jim Morrison was my hero for the longest time. As with Joy Division (and possibly even more so), despite being decades old, the music is so frickin' solid.

After LA Woman, I started sorting through the stack for other gems. Interestingly, some music just sounds more right on cassette than other formats. A perfect example is A Message to Rudy by the Specials. For whatever reason, I hearing this taped version was better than hearing a CD or mp3 of the same song.

With all the necessary
downsizing Emilia and I did for this move, it was never an issue that these (and the many other) tapes would come with us. Not that we'll ever listen to them much or that they can't be replaced by more up-to-date formats. It's just that these things are such tangible representative of such intangible stuff ... memories. Just seeing a stack of them in a corner somewhere is a wonderful reminder of whom I once was and am today. In a week or so these relics will go on a shelf or in a box and we'll move on to other formats for our musical enjoyment. Until then ... I'll continue flipping over these bad boys.

Rock on,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Long time no hear from

Hey folks. No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I've just been busy.

Last Thursday, Emilia and I moved into our permanent residence, a warehouse conversion loft in Clerkenwell. So far, Clerkenwell appears to be a brilliant place to reside. We’re just up the street from what’s already one of my favorite restaurants, St. John, and the more I explore, the more I find cool pubs, streets, shops, etc. To be sure, there’ll be plenty of blog fodder within easy walking distance of our flat. Whoopee!

Thursday was also the day that all our stuff (enough to fill a 40-foot container) arrived from being shipped from New Jersey. It is soooo nice not living out of a suitcase anymore. The task of sorting through and organizing all this stuff (where does it all come from???) has been – and still is – daunting. Read Emilia’s blog for her take on moving into our flat.

Honestly, we’ve done a pretty good job unpacking and trying to make this flat our home. However, we’ve been too busy having an absolute blast to get very far along. Friday was the kickoff for the second annual London Luau, a three-day event hosted by Jamie Wilson and Anjy Cameron (collectively known as the London-based purveyors of exotic arts and tropical d├ęcor, Cheeky Tiki), for Tiki enthusiasts, from the UK and beyond, to share in their love of Polynesian Pop.

The Luau was wonderful, and in a way it seemed like a sort of homecoming: the main night of the Luau was at one of my all-time favorite spots in London (Trader Vic’s!), I got to catch up with some of my best friends here in the UK, and I got meet some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.

On the last night of the Luau, at Trailer Happiness (my new favorite cocktail bar in the world), I had the pleasure of drinking the most delicious Mai Tai I’ll probably ever have in my life … a Mai Tai that was possibly worth over $1000. Expect a full article and photos from the London Luau in the next issue of Tiki Magazine

… which leads me to the other cool thing I wanted to bring up. I think I’m going to start working for Tiki Magazine. Details haven’t been worked out yet, but I’ll be sure to clue y’all in as I find out more.

And in my spare time? Oh yeah, the World Cup is on!

Peace,

Monday, June 12, 2006

Coconut Wired Adventure #5








Coconut Wired Adventure #5: Like snap out of it

Click
here to listen to the sonic surf, tropical tunes and exotic ambiance of the latest Coconut Wired episode.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sunday sensory overload on Brick Lane

Emiana and I appear to have made a regular habit of roaming around Spitalfields on Sundays (along with what often seems like a gazillion other Londoners). Generally not one for shoving through massive crowds, I suppose I'm drawn to the area for the sensory overload: gobs of art on view, waft after waft of cooking aromas, all sorts of people selling all sorts of stuff.

In particular, we've taken to browsing around the Sunday (Up)Market in the old Truman Brewery, where earlier today, we sat down at Red Tent Ethiopian for some yummy injera (a spongey sort of pancake) rolled up and filled with yellow split peas, lentils and mixed veggies - with exceptionally hot chili sauce available for the adventurous.

Beyond what's regularly on offer, there are often bursts of randomness that always seem to happen. For example, leaving the (Up)Market and walking along Brick Lane - to the other side of the old brewery - we encountered an amplified three-piece band (guitar, bass, and turntablist) sitting on the roof of a small sedan with an open sunroof rolling down the street.

At the other end of the brewery, the Art Car Boot Fair was in few swing. With close to fifty pitches, special on-car and in-car art commissions, live DJ’s, performance, films, organic barbecue, a paella party, chilled drinks and 'a multitude of art wares spilling out of car boots,' the fair was a pleasant surprise with plenty to take in.

And then there were the not so seemly sights at the boot fair. An old timey peep show booth offered viewings for only 20p. 'Why not see what's to peep at?' I wondered, expecting to view something along the lines of vintage burlesque footage. Upon payment, the peep show guy gave me some headphones and told me to place my head beneath the hood and to look at the screen. While the schmaltzy Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin classic, Je Taime moi non plus, filled my ears, a rather grainy and unsavory scene from an vintage (presumably Dutch) film involving a woman and a German shepherd played out on the scene. Completely shocked and embarrassed, I popped my head out from the hood.

'What did you think?' the peep show guy asked.
'Um, that was ... interesting,' I responded.
'Spread the word,' he suggested as I walked away.

Spreading the word,

Friday, June 02, 2006

Week in review (Friday 2 June 2006)

Hey, I'm Tiki Chris, and I administer four blogs: ontoLondon, Rapa Nui News, Tiki Chris, and WePlanYourTrip. Each Friday, I hope to provide a weekly review of what I've posted. If a particular blog interests you, keep in mind that I’ve been blogging since well before this past week. You may want to take a look through the archives of any blog that interests you.

Another interesting week. I haven't posted as much as usual, but that's because we've got a couple of very good friends visiting from the States.

Highlight of the week? Check my
ontoLondon blog for a review of Soy Cuba as well as a for review of a great pub across the street from a great restaurant (also reviewed).

It's been a month since I moved back to London, and I've got a lot to say about that. Hopefully, I'll find the time next week.

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