Sunday, March 30, 2008

End of an Era- The Rascal House

I can think of few things more identifiable with Jewish-American culture than the Jewish delicatessen. These public purveyors of gourmet Jewish (sometimes kosher, sometimes not so much) cuisine are a staple in the Jewish experience. Ever since I can remember, there were kosher dill pickles, corned-beef, rye bread, deli mustard, kosher salamis, bagels, white fish, lox, etc. around our house.
When the occasion called for a trip to the delicatessen for a family meal, there was always a very short list of favorites where I grew up in suburban Detroit. However, when our family made the annual trek from Detroit to Miami every year for our school's spring break vacation (usually by car- don't ask) there was only one answer- Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House.
In it's heyday, The Rascal House was THE place in Greater Miami for fine Jewish deli food. Their menu was super-extensive, everything from home-style brisket to the typical deli-combo sandwiches to soups to potato latkes to broiled fish. In the "snow bird" months (December through April) the place was so crowded that the lines literally wrapped around the block, hence the metal barricades and clear party-size organizational signs.
This was usually a full-blown family experience, often complete with impatient Jewish grandparents bossing around the uniformed wait-staff that had appeared to have worked there their whole lives. They were totally used to it, and part of the show.
I know that its just a restaurant, but this place is special to me (and many people like me that I have talked to about the House) for a few reasons besides just the food and character. First, to a Jewish person- or a person who grew up in or around a Jewish family- a Jewish deli, anywhere in the world, feels like home (whether its Katz's in NY, Canter's in LA or Steve's Deli in MI). I don't know exactly what it is, but something about being in a Jewish deli feels comfortable, instantly familiar, and safe. As soon as that pickle-and-mustard-and-corned beef smell hits your nostrils when you walk in, you feel like you are instantly at home (and if you don't know this unique smell by memory then you have never been to a real Jewish deli). I don't mean to make anyone feel excluded here who's not Jewish- on the contrary I have plenty of non-Jewish friends that enjoy pastrami and Jewish delis as much as or more than myself- but there is a certain intangible, almost spiritual connection for a Jewish person in a Jewish deli. Second, of course, this place held a lot of family memories for me in my childhood. Third, the Rascal House is an absolute time capsule in every way- it must have looked almost identical from the day it was opened in 1954 to the day it closed (today) 54 years later. It's a shame such a gem won't be preserved.
I was fortunate enough to be in Miami this weekend for some Winter Music Conference stuff, and this week I just happened to take a look on-line to see if there was any news about the Rascal House's rumored closing. Of course, as fate had it, I had a few days left to enjoy one last trip, take some photos, and say goodbye. (One trip with my partner LV turned into a second with our client DJ AM, because when he heard that LV and I went on Friday, AM demanded a chance to say goodbye on Saturday to the wonderful deli and relive some memories as well). I've always fantasized about owning one of the (pictured below, right) hand-crafted Rascal logo statues that once sat in the booth dividers between the counter area and the second dining room. So, I asked some folks that worked there whether they are selling some of the other random pieces of this sacred deli. It turns out that the Rascal statues were moved to Jerry's Famous Deli on Collins in South Beach a couple of years ago (Jerry's bought the Wolfie Cohen restaurants some time in the '90s), but for anyone that wants to buy one, they will gladly sell you one for $10,000. Also, tomorrow at 1 P.M. the doors of the restaurant will open to the public for a cash-only sale of various items therein, pre-priced at the owners' discretion of course. The glass wall panels with the Rascal logo on them (like the one above my head in the photo above) are going for $2,500. Fortunately, I had the foresight to lift a menu from there a few years back (with the aid of the ever-reliable Labelle). I'll scan it in and post it one day before it gets framed.
I'm super-glad that I got one last chance (well, two actually) to visit the House. But you could definitely feel a sense of sadness and despair in the establishment amongst the workers and patrons. The waitstaff wore forced smiles and the patrons were all snapping pictures like myself and walking around the room in a stunned disbelief remarking to each other "so sad" and "well, what are you gonna do?"

What, then, will become of this fantastic shell of a bygone era? They are going to build a 15-story mixed use office and retail center that will include an Epicure market, whatever that is. Whoop-dee-doo. So, if you ever happen to drive by on a balmy March day in Sunny Isles, Florida around Collins Blvd. and 172nd St., listen closely for the voice of the late, great Grandpa Marvin Rosenberg ordering the broiled white fish and french fries- and if they ain't hot, he's sendin' em back.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Knux "Cappuccino" (Remix)

Check out a flick of The Knux at SXSW in Austin at the Beauty Bar showcase with huge music fan, TV chef and party host Rachel Ray.

Now check out The Knux self-produced remix of their buzzing single "Cappuccino". Doesn't it remind you of a '93 Diamond D. remix? I love it.

I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday...

Below, I posted about the incredible burger at Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. As long as I've been going there the only bad part has been that it's a cash only business. So I had to hit the ATM pretty hard in order to cover the cost of steak perfection... Until NOW! I don't know what took me so long, but I finally got a Peter Luger's credit card. Just what I needed, now I can go eat more whenever I want without regards to cash-on-hand! It's like a gold card for fat guys... Yes, this is real. The place really has it's own credit cards.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mayor's Bad Day

I'm sure everyone is up-to-date on this now, but this isn't a very good day for The Hip-Hop Mayor nor the City of Detroit.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Head Wrestler

See more funny videos at CollegeHumor

I can't even write anything that really needs to be said. Just watch it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

iTunes Subscriptions?

I don't have any specific inside information on this unfortunately, but this story has some interesting information about the digital future of the music industry.
As I posted below, I am a firm believer in the subscription based model as the plausible solution for the music industry. While an iTunes based hard-drive iPod model, in my opinion, is not the final frontier, it's a big step in the right direction. Hopefully, Doug and Steve can see eye to eye on this one and make a deal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chocolate Surprise

I saw this disgusting idea of a candy bar at a CVS in Texas during SXSW. I'm sure you all know what Pop Rocks are... the fruity novelty candy launched in the 70's that pops in your mouth when the chemical composition of the crystals hits the H20 in your saliva. Zotz! Pops had a similar trick, but that inner substance fizzed, not popped. Anyway there was an urban myth about the kid Mikey from the Life cereal commercials ("Mikey likes it!) that says he died when he exploded from mixing Pop Rocks with Coke. It wasn't true, of course, as myself and every other silly kid actually tried the supposedly lethal combination and we all lived to grow out of our Members Only jackets. So, now its 2008, and Pop Rocks are still around. But they put them inside a chocolate bar. Fruity, popping candy mixed in with chocolate. Why? That sounds awful and gross and no I didn't buy one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Knux "Cappuccino" Video

I'm a little behind on posting this (50,000 views already) but we've been down at SXSW in Austin with The Knux killing the shows (all 4 of them). Check out the long awaited new video... Post on Austin trip coming soon with pics!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Whooliganz "Put Your Handz Up"

Check out the Young Alchemist, formerly known as Mudd Foot, in his better years!

Stuck On Repeat

My new Air Max '95s from my latest NikeID binge started arriving today. Like you care... But I'm pretty excited. Opening up the design capabilities like they did on this shoe along with the new color options really changes the game. For me...

Holy Sh*t!

From the tales of the most bizarre, I found this story published in the Detroit Free Press... 2 years? Seriously? Aside from all the other obvious problems with that, how just plain boring would that be? I can't imagine she had a television on the throne or even good magazines. Like, what do you do for that long unless you are comatose or catatonic? So weird...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Sign?

So, last night was Tracy McNew from Shady's birthday celebration (and you too Chris the Bull Operator). I may have had more adult beverages than necessary, and I walked outside my door with a hurt head to this...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Keep the Devil Down in the Hole

Season 5's finale of the best scripted drama to ever appear on television (yep, I said it) aired last night. This article from the Detroit Free Press is a pretty accurate description of the way that I feel about the show.
The only series that I've liked nearly as much on television (network and cable included) in the past 5 years (or more) was The Sopranos, of course. The finale of The Wire and the entire 5th season really proves what a difference it makes between having various writers work on a show over the course of several seasons versus the same writers on the show from day one through the end of the series. David Simon and crew (Simon wrote or co-wrote all 60 episodes, with partner Ed Burns co-writing 42 of those) deserve all the kudos imaginable for their portrayal of Baltimore's politics, media, dope dealers and police. What more satisfying an ending could one have hoped for in the last two episodes? I say the last 2 because that's how much it required to wrap everything up, and it was more like a two-part finale with a climax and following resolution. I've heard people complain about this or that regarding last nights finale, but face it: the only bad thing about the series is that it's over.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rap Songs for White People

My good friend Mike Saputo sent me this link to a very funny analysis of white people's Top 10 favorite rap songs.
I can really relate to this... not because I'm white, but because as an avid hip-hop fan since I was 11 or 12 years old (I'll date myself- that's 1982 or 1983 if you are counting), I've seen and paid attention to the whole gamut of white folks' reaction to it. It had (note had, because this is hardly as relevant these days) always amused me which rap songs the general, non-fan-of-the-whole-genre, public picked as their favorites. Especially back in high school, when I bought or got a dub of every (literally- every) rap album that was released, and people would say "oh, yeah, that's Paul, he likes rap music (insert the sound of some dumb-ass making a awful beat-boxing sound". Yes, yes I do like RAP MUSIC.

The list seems pretty good to me. I would add (for the older folks) Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5 "The Message" to the list of honorable mentions, as well as J.J. Fad's "Supersonic", Cypress Hill "Insane in the Brain", Luke "Doo-Doo Brown", and Hammer "Can't Touch This". I'll probably think of more later and update as well.
UPDATE: My additions for today are Run D.M.C. "It's Tricky"/"Walk This Way", Baha Men "Who Let the Dogs Out" and Eminem's "Lose Yourself".
DISCLAIMER: I don't support or subscribe to the stuff in the rest of the linked blog, I haven't even read the whole thing.

Bizzy Bone on Shade45

Last week, Bizzy Bone appeared on Sirius Satellite Radio's Shade45 on the All-Out Show. It's no secret thst Bizzy is a very eccentric man, and Rude Jude wanted to discuss specifics. Check out the entertaining clips below. (2 segments are in the same box).
"If you're sleepy, I give you my bed to sleep in."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Kosher Boy (Crank Dat)

The unemployment rate in this country is high. When people are unemployed, they have too much time on their hands. When people have too much time on their hands, sometimes they make things like this.

I'm not saying it doesn't have funny moments. But this is absolutely preposterous. In so many ways.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Peter Luger's Burger

Peter Luger's is the oldest steakhouse in New York City, first opening it's Brooklyn outpost in 1887. The steak at Luger's is simply unmatched at any place I've ever been in NYC. The place is an experience itself- old school waiters, no-nonsense appearance, simple menu ("we'll take the steak for 3, please!") and wooden tables and chairs. Not even table cloths. This spot is the goods.
I've been to Luger's for dinner many, many times. I'd always heard that their mythical burger is the best in the city as well, but I hadn't ever made the time to take the trip over the bridge during the week for lunch until a week ago last Friday. Let me tell you, it doesn't disappoint. Picture the best steak meat you've ever had ground into fine prime sirloin and cooked to perfection. I know I'm making you hungry... it's a must-do scenario. Don't bother with the ketchup- just a little spot of their incredible steak sauce is all you'll need.