Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Restrepo at the Angelika

Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington followed an American platoon as it attempted to tame Afghanistan’s remote Korangal Valley in 2007–2008. The results are an okay book, War, and an excellent documentary, Restrepo.

At a recent sold-out screening, Sgt. Brendan C. O’Byrne, one of the soldiers featured in the film, was asked what he’d like to see happen as a result of the movie, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. “I want people to know that [the soldiers] are heroes . . . to know what the guys are going through.” The use of tense is interesting, as the United States pulled out of Korangal in April. “Personally I’m happy no one has to die there [any more],” O’Byrne noted.

Junger and Hetherington capture the soldiers’ anguish, boredom, brotherhood, excitement, and fear. Footage taken at Restrepo, a 15-man outpost in the valley, is interspersed with interviews conducted post-deployment. Just a few minutes into the movie, an IED explodes --- no one dies, but all are jarred. Volunteering for the army doesn’t make the prospect of being killed while in it any easier. A soldier asks the filmmakers to give him a few minutes as he tries to describe an ambush, in which several people were killed and wounded. He has no words, but a muscle twitching near his eye says much.

What the movie doesn’t portray are politics, either the governments’ or the soldiers. It doesn’t show the bloody gruesomeness that resulted from almost daily altercations, in which the weaponry would get hot enough to melt, nor are we shown the enemy. Some viewers will leave the theater wishing they’d seen everything the soldiers saw; others will leave feeling thankful for having seen 90 minutes’ worth, grateful to those who have seen or will see it all.

Photo: thanks

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cinnamon

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We're always happy to welcome a new Indian restaurant to the neighborhood, in this case one with such a fierce lunch buffet. Cinnamon offers the standard curries, both veg (spinach, cauliflower, chickpea) and non (goat, lamb, chicken), with two types of rice, biryani and jasmine. Naan arrives tableside, but we preferred the fry bread, an oft-replenished jumble of squishy, monochromatic cartoon characters.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

African Burial Ground

African Burial Ground Monument

In 1991, construction workers discovered that the spot carefully chosen as the setting for a federal office building was actually a burial ground used by Africans and African Americans from 1626 to the late 1700s. After much controversy, the National Park Service took over the site, which now consists of a large granite sculpture, with running water and symbols from various African cultures. Its center has a scalloped design that lists a few known facts of those buried there, all likely enslaved, most killed by malnutrition, violence, or punishment.

Many remains were removed, and many artifacts are now preserved in a nearby museum. What we found most moving were the slight grass-covered mounds, punctuated with dried bunches of flowers, tiny tokens meant to honor all the unnamed, unremembered people who helped create our city.

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

African Burial Ground Monument

Isosceles

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Yes, there really is always room for pie, especially when the pie in question is a peak-season cherry chocolate or a buttery apple-and-salted-caramel.

Cherry and chocolate tart, Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Apple and salted caramel pie, Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Monday, June 21, 2010

D*Face and D. Ginandes on Clinton Street

D*Face

D*Face

D*Face

D*Face

Currently on view on the Lower East Side: two versions of portraiture, colorful mix-and-match pranksters by D*Face and plaintive miens by Damon Ginandes.

D. Ginandes

D. Ginandes

D. Ginandes

D. Ginandes

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crepes du Nord

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Crepes du Nord, in the Financial District, positions itself as a Franco-Scandinavian fusion restaurant. We get the French part, and there were plenty of Swedish accoutrements on display, including the waitstaff, but we never really figured out how a shrimp-and-avocado crepe or a prosciutto crepe with ricotta and arugula checked the Nordic box. But once the food came, we weren't motivated to inquire about the patrimony of the ingredients. We just wolfed it down, though of course we managed to save room for dessert --- a Nutella and berry crepe with vanilla bean ice cream. Wherever it's from, we'll have seconds.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Snug Harbor

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In the nineteenth century, local sailors could look forward to spending their autumn years amidst the sylvan confines of Snug Harbor. Today, New Yorkers get to enjoy those same lush and peaceful grounds --- including the magnificent Chinese Scholar's Garden --- and the only decks you have to man are those on the Staten Island Ferry.

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The Light at the End

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Burmese Food Fair

Another weekend, another excellent food extravaganza in Queens. Thanks to Eat to Blog and Eating in Translation, we spent Sunday at the Burmese Food Fair and Fundraiser, sampling a samosa salad with cabbage in broth (salty and warming), shan noodles with chicken (spicy and tomatoy), a Burmese style pancake (full of whole grains, almonds, and coconut shavings), grass jelly soda (bitter and gelatinous), coconut noodles with chicken (unctuous and rich), cassava cake (like sweeter, softer parmesean cheese), and banana cake (the dark pink color belied the fruity taste). More than $14,000 was raised for Myanmar's orphaned and impoverished.

We're now taking suggestions for this weekend . . .

Burmese Food Fair

Assorted Pig Internals, Burmese Food Fair

Samosa salad, Burmese Food Fair

Shan noodles with chicken, Burmese Food Fair

Burmese pancake with coconut and almonds, Burmese Food Fair

Grass jelly drink, Burmese Food Fair

Coconut noodles, Burmese Food Fair

Cassava cake, Burmese Food Fair

Banana cake, Burmese Food Fair

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