829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Wishes

I want to wish everyone who visits 829 Southdrive a Merry Christmas
and a happy and healthy New Year.  This small group of bloggers
has become another family to me and I care for them dearly.  I look
forward to reading their work in the months and years to come. 
Travel safely, enjoy family and friends, and eat plenty of oysters.
And, oh yeah, Go Giants!  Beat Green Bay! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

NYC for the holidays

For years, my family and I have been going to NYC on a
Sunday, a week or two before Christmas.  Pictures in
front of the tree, lunch, and a show is usually the itinerary. 
Today was no different, but in some ways more
satisfying than the usual. 

Virtually on the steps of St. Patrick's, the Christmas spirit shined
through.  "Keep it moving, Buster.  Huh?  I mean don't walk.
There's no bus service here in December!  Happy Holidays!".

For many years, we would have lunch in the Sea Grill, right on
the edge of the skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza, and often at
a window table.  Great martinis, fish, and $22 for half a dozen
oysters.  This year we opted for something more blue-collar.
The line around the corner was a bit intimidating, but it moved
pretty quickly, and before we knew it we were inside and
enveloped in the controlled mayhem otherwise known as
Katz's delicatessen.  I am sooooo glad we went.  

Most restaurants bring bread and butter.  Here you get a plate of
pickles.  Don't fill up on the half-sours, Liv.  Leave room for the
chicken noodle soup. I had the green tomato pickles all to myself. 

Evidently, I didn't know from great pastrami until we came to the
birthplace.   Close to 3/4 of a pound of perfectly cooked, juicy,
somewhat smoky and peppery pastrami on Pechter's rye.
That's it.  My daughter saw someone else's sandwich being served
and quickly asked the waiter if she too could have, (cringe),
American cheese on hers as well.  Mustard is the only suggested
condiment for pastrami.  Katz's says you can ask for mayonnaise,
at your own peril. The matzo ball soup was obscene.  They claim:
"If the soup weren’t surrounding it, this matzo ball would float
away".  Huge ball of matzo and light as a feather.  Great broth too.  

Huge place.  Celebrity pictures on the wall.  I immediately felt at
home when I saw Soupy Sales.  Bill Clinton was here.  Who knew?
Harry met Sally here, and I met the best pastrami on earth.

This is the reason you don't have dessert at Katz's.  Il laboratorio
de gelato is right across the street.  Owned by the guy who started
Ciao Bella, this stuff is a notch or two better.  Coming from me,
that's saying alot.  I'm not so much a dessert person; I'd rather
have some more oysters while others are having Valhrona chocolate.
The yuzu sorbet was mind-blowing and I could taste it all the way
to the Orpheum Theatre.

I was at first skeptical when I heard we were going to see Stomp.
Wrong again.  Second row.....  Second row!   We could feel their
breaths, they were so close to us.  It was loud, raucous, and totally
captivating from start to finish.  Unlike productions we've seen
before, the theater was not hot and stuffy, the knee-room was
downright luxurious, and after an hour and three quarters with no
break, I didn't want the show to be over.  How's that for a review?

I'm already over the embarrassment in the swamps this afternoon.
This day was way too good to be ruined by a silly game.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


New Year's Day frostbite regatta, Long Island, NY, 1971.  I'm
standing there thinking how I'd rather be sitting on the couch
watching bowl games all day.  At least Dad had his hot buttered
rum in a thermos!

P.S.- Notice the custom boom vang.  After breaking two booms
with a bolt through the boom and a U-shaped bale attached to the
vang wire, Dad used an aluminum plate that spread the load over
about six inches, eliminating that pressure.

As of a few years ago, this penguin, #8839, was still being
campaigned on the Chesapeake out of Annapolis. The class
size has seriously dwindled, however.  It's a shame.

Monday, December 13, 2010


First a blackout during the Cowboys game.  Now, snow comes
through the roof before the Vikings game.  Am I superstitious?  No. 
But I kinda wonder what's behind all of this weird stuff.  You know,
the Vikings used to play outside in the cold where football is supposed
to be played. The Bud Grant era with Jim Marshall,  Carl Eller, Fran
Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman.  We would hopefully have already been
basking in the glow of a hard-fought victory played on a field of
permafrost for several hours by now, but I find myself hoping that
this change in plans will affect the Vikings more than my beloved
G-Men.  The game has been moved to Monday night, in Detroit,
indoors once again.  Has anyone checked the roof? 
Knock on wood.  And don't walk under that Ladder!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just Because

No idea why this song means something to me.  It just does.
I first loved the Three Dog Nights' rendition from their live
album in 1969, and then I got stuck in Traffic. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

King's Carol

After hearing all the cheesy Christmas songs in every
store and mall for the last few weeks, it's nice to come
home and listen to the real thing. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Old Schuylkill

First you have to row a little boat

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Old and New

Dwayne James Mitchell Jr., b.12/7/2010.
A date which will live in infamy.
Future grinder. And railmeat too.
He's flexing his muscles already.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Dominance from the git-go.  Donavan was mellow yellow.
Quite rightly.  You may not be able to tell, but it was really
cold today.  The lettuce in our salad was freezing 
while tailgating.  Salad you say? 

I've been a football fanatic since I was knee-high to,
well, I've never really been knee-high to anything.
Some folks like Futbol, others like baseball.  This
sport runs through my veins, and when I get cut,
I bleed Blue.  Today was the last homegame we
will attend in the regular season.  We feel
 blessed and lucky to have seen in person our
favorite team play this year, in their brand
 new stadium.  We've started a tradition that we
hope to carry on for a long time to come. 


Donovan McNabb, Clinton Portis, and Santana Moss arrived
early on Saturday to scope out the scene at the Meadowlands.
High atop Fraternity Rock, they looked west, only to find that the
Giants faithful had already begun lighting their charcoal and 
stoking their firepits in anticipation of Sunday's showdown.
The three agreed that there was no intelligence to be found here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trenton Style

One of New Jersey's finest, Richie Cole still
brings down the house.  I think one of his
biggest gigs was playing for Doc Severinsen 
in the Tonight Show Band for a bunch of years.
He's a gentle-hearted soul, and I'm fortunate
to know him.  One of his music teachers was Jim
Lauffer, father of my dear friend Pete. 
Pete happens to be playing piano in this clip.
He's an extraordinary musician in his own right.
Imagine the fun Pete and I have when he comes
sailing with me. Trenton Makes, the World Takes. 
 And I'm proud as hell to live close by.
This next clip is for Pete. Because
Innagoddadavida was too freakin long.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Boss at the Meadowlands

This TD pass to Kevin Boss late in the fourth quarter, coupled
with the loudest crowd noise I've encountered to date in Giants
Stadium, sealed the win against Jacksonville today.  We definitely
rattled their QB, and the defense eventually forced a fumble which
the G-men recovered to regain possession and run out the clock.

Oh, and the food was good too. 

Friday, November 26, 2010


I asked my brother to bring his guitar on Thanksgiving.
He brought his banjo instead.  That's cool.  I jokingly
requested the the classic (yawn) "smoke on the water".
My daughter immediately blurted, "I can do that!"
On a banjo?  Hans played the riff from "Lazy" instead. 

The kitchen is always the most crowded room, and yesterday
was no exception.  It's conversation central
and the hub of grub.  The big TV is just off to the right,
so it was easy to keep up on the football scores. 

Patti is non-stop before anyone arrives and still going
when we're all dragging ourselves to bed.  She really
is the consummate host.  How does she
remain looking so marvelous? 

Hors d'Oeuvres include a variety of artisanal cheeses
with assorted crackers, flatbreads and crisps.  There's
yellowfin tuna tartare with wasabi, chicken liver pate,
chunky salsa with scoopy chips, and two different
platters of crudite accompanied by hummus dip and a
ginger-miso dip as well.  Smoked whitefish spread is
available, as is pickled herring with beets, and a 
goat cheese log rolled in chopped nuts. 

Then came the clams casino.

The master of the house.  Mojo carves the first bird with surgical
precision while my father-in-law keeps said bird from slipping off
of the cutting board.  Mojo - he's already missing half a finger, so
be careful, wouldja?

The gravy simmers with giblets, necks, and the onions and herbs
that spent time inside of the turkeys while they roasted.  There is,
however, one secret that makes this gravy stand out from all others.

No rickety card tables here.  And seating assignments are delivered
by Price Waterhouse.  My cousin won't give up his method for
placement, but I can tell you the last time I sat next to my wife
was during the Reagan administration.

Hail, hail, the gang's all here, complete with the mad hurdle
over the coffee table to beat the timer.

From the upper left corner, clockwise:  Slow-cooked kale with
bacon, mashed rutabagas with thyme and clove essence,
 knob salad, cranberry relish, assorted chunks of dark meat (yum),
breast meat, stuffing, gravy, and yams with a pecan-coconut-
brown sugar crust. 

Mom's flaky-crust apple pie, Patti's cinnamon ice cream, and Aunt
Bev's chocolate pie.  Definitely not my plate, cause there's
no punkin pie on it!

Tim and Uncle Mojo on the man-porch.  I intentionally left out
the kids surrounding us who were bumming drags and sips.
We're all going to hell.

Evidence of a day well spent.  But most importantly, we spent it
with one another, like we do every last Thursday in November.
We have certain traditions that define us as a family, and we're
confident that the younger generations will carry those traditions
on. I can't imagine spending Thanksgiving any other way.
They are what keep me looking forward to Our Favorite Day.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

 I wish all of my friends a Happy Thanksgiving.  Travel safely
and enjoy being with the people who are most important to you.

Home Sweet Home

Manasquan, Metedeconk, Tenafly, Shabakunk.  That pretty
much covers it.  Brilliant

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Empty Garden

I ran marathons, sweated buckets, schmoozed endlessly, drank
with the best of them, and cooked for masses inside that building
for the past 25 years.  I've spoken with celebrities, educators,
legislators, deal-makers, money-takers, authors, world leaders,
prize-winners, athletes, a multitude of  parents, students, and 
pompous assholes, and mixed in with them all, everyday customers
 who in reality, kept us going for 91 years.  I'm still the dopey,
big, red-headed kid that first walked through the back kitchen
door and started peeling shallots my first day, back in
October 1985.   It's hard to believe there's nobody walking  
through those doors today.

I wasn't ready to leave