Friday, April 30, 2010

Croissants?: "It's not inedible."

Now is perhaps a good time to talk about Pizza Policy. Because pizza changed in status long ago from "weird ethnic snack" to "American Death Cult child fuel" there is no need for me to eat at every single deli slinging burnt slices in this filthy Gomorrah of ours. However, sometimes I go pizza eating with an inspired comrade like Saint Stark who commands that we give every place an equal chance. Normally, the way I distinguish from Deli's What Serve Pizza that I go to and those that I don't is according to how they identify themselves. When I search the internet phonebook for "pizza" or "pizzeria," does this deli come up? If so, I will give them a shot, because once they claim the name, they need to be praised or shamed. But if not, I will generally veer away from the sorts of incidental and avoidable places that are probably serving frozen pies and are likely not acolytes of Her, the Great Pizzaola, or in touch with the Art of the Slice.

This "Croissants" place, though, was too weird looking to pass up. There is a certain pervasive strangeness to Times Square that Giuliani was never able to whitewash and clean up no matter how hard he tried. Despite the fact that Show World has been whittled down to a shadow of its former self and Times Square at large has become a corporate theme park like Baltimore's Inner Harbor or South Street in Philly, that piece of land is like a fucking Weirdo Vortex and that is unavoidable.

Anyway, despite looking like a cool shithole, this place is actually just an overpriced tourist trap. $3.20 for one of the worst slices I've ever had. Jeff said this slice was "not inedible, but certainly not good in any way." The texture of the dough was horrifying. I actually just got an email from Jeff's friend Tony Shenton in which he described to me his perfect slice and he says, "I don't care for cakey crust." The dough on this slice was dense and thick in a really unpleasant way. Biting into it felt like a shitty biscuit. The slice had no sauce and the cheese was like plastic. Oh, and it was $3.20.


I didn't write down where this place was and I can't find it on the internet map. I think it was on Broadway near like, 45th St, but seriously, if this review made you want to find this hellhole, fucking just go to the Dungeon and get flogged instead.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bravo Pizza: "It is now sunset over Jerusalem."

Oh it feels good to be back home. Bravo Pizza is only a few doors down from Cafe Metro, but it may as well be worlds apart. If you want to take a trip that mirrors Dante's journey from Purgatory to Paradise, just travel between Cafe Metro and Bravo Pizza in that order. Bravo Pizza is a truly weird zone and a clue into the running undercurrent of bizarre shit that flows beneath any transitory urban environment. Any bustling transit hub that is not even remotely residential has a whole secret underbelly of weirdos hanging around running smalltime scams and picking at the crumbs. Bravo Pizza seems to be like, a magnetic draw for the weirder elements hanging around near Grand Central. Maybe they even used to hang out IN Grand Central before the Army showed up and never left after 9/11.

Bravo Pizza looks AWESOME inside. It is really dim and cramped and there are neon lights running along the baseboards of the walls and flanking the pressed-tin ceilings. And there are hell of mirrors so you can totally spy on everyone else while you eat.

This slice was just barely above average. It was cooked fairly well, but wasn't crunchy enough, the ingredients were ultimately way too crappy to be good. But compared to all the other crap that Jeff and I ate that day, this slice place could've been DiFara's. What's that old line Tom Waits sings in Singapore? "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Which is probably not true anymore since I saw a blind kid on the news using echolocation to play hockey on rollerblades.


Bravo Pizza - $2.50
6 East 42nd Street (5th & Madison)
New York, NY 10017

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What does the racist legislation in Arizona have to do with pizza?

For anyone following me on twitter, you've already seen this old Public Enemy video I "tweeted" a couple days ago, but maybe you didn't necessarily get the cryptic meaning behind it. Anyway, here's Public Enemy's "By The Time I Get To Arizona":

My friend Mimi Nguyen over at Threadbared, who wrote a pretty insightful essay on the matter earlier in the week just posted a statement from Chuck D and his wife, Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson that I'd like to repost as well:
Jan Brewer’s decision to sign the Arizona immigration bill into law is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen. The power that this law gives to police, to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented, brings racial profiling to a new low. Brewer’s actions and those of Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate are despicable, inexcusable, and endorse the all-out hate campaign that Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, and others have perpetrated upon immigrants for years. The people of Arizona who voted for this bill, as well as those who crafted it, demonstrate no regard for the humanity or contributions of Latino people. And for all of those who have chosen not to speak up, shame on you for silently endorsing this legislated hate.
In 1991 I wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The same politics I wrote about in “By the Time I Get to Arizona” are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people.
These actions must stop. I am issuing a call to action, urging my fellow musicians, artists, athletes, performers, and production companies to refuse to work in Arizona until officials not only overturn this bill, but recognize the human rights of immigrants. This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Superbowl to Pasadena in protest against Arizona’s refusal to recognize Dr. King. We all need to speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters being victimized in Arizona, because things are only getting worse. What they’re doing to immigrants is appalling, but it will be even more damning if we remain silent.”
There have been dozens of political occurrences since the inception of Slice Harvester that have literally made me feel like puking, but I've exercised some pretty difficult self-control in not making this website into a pulpit. That's not to say I don't sometimes sermonize, when it's relevant. I am an anarchist Jew from New York, we are an opinionated people. But I've refrained from posting things that don't somehow correlate to the pizza I'm reviewing. This is my first "purely political" post.

And I think that this disgusting legislation actually has serious bearing on the subject matter of Slice Harvester. My ethnic background is Jewish and Irish. As far as I know, none of my family was present in America earlier than about 100 years ago on the Irish side, and substantially less than that on the Jewish side. My father grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in Queens that my Jamaican best friend's mom currently lives in! This city and this country have a long history of being made more interesting, or at least kept in a state of constant growth and fluxuation, by the influx of new populations from new locales.

No matter how you slice it (ha!), the story of pizza is an immigrant tale, and continues to be. From 1895 when Gennaro Lombardi opened up his grocery store on Spring St, through the early 90s when Albanian immigrants fleeing the Kosovo War settled in New York and began opening pizzerias, to now, when many pizzerias are staffed almost entirely by folks from more Southern climes. Pizza is and always has been immigrant food. The strand of cheese between the native New Yorker's mouth and his slice of pizza can be thought of as a bridge connecting himself, and his family's history (seriously, who do you know from New York that's not like, third generation at most?) to that of the more recent immigrants making his food and to the entire history of New York City! Get with it, pizza is progressive.

And that's why any devotee to the Great Pizzaola or at least anyone with an affinity for a decent slice has an obligation to oppose this sort of racist legislation. It stands in the way of pizza progress, and it stands against every core value that every single slice upholds. Forget your obligation to your conscience, or your obligation to other human beings. Think of your obligation to pizza, and pizza's majestic history.

My friend Kate Wadkins recently twirted a link from her tworter to Arizona governor Jan Brewer's contact form. Go let her know that the pizza eaters of America will not stand for this sort of legislative intolerance.

Cafe Metro: "People who eat here probably don't even enjoy masturbating."

Oh, boy. What a horrid place. I'm starting to forget what I've just talked about drinking coffee with my friends and what I've talked about on this blog, so maybe this is a rehash. I joke about the Capitalist Death Culture and how it is sucking the joy out of our lives, but really, this place is disgusting. This place is like a math project some 7th grader is doing about "running a business" or something. Like, can you make this pizza place float on paper? Let's see how well you can balance a checkbook! You know what I'm trying to say? It's all about the bottom line. It's all about profit margins. There is no love in this business and no love in this food. This is a sham. This is food for people who hate food. Now I remember, I did talk about this. I am angry and ashamed to live in a culture that can suck the joy and pleasure out of anything. It is totally horrid. Fuck the American Death Cult that leads to places like Cafe Metro existing. And fuck Cafe Metro for perpetuating this rotten state of affairs. If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem. People owe it to themselves and each other to start enjoying their lives a little more. I am really mad right now.

This slice is better than this place would make it seem, but ultimately no good. The grease had a nice bite to it, and the cheese had a pleasant tang, but this bullshit slab of crap was a totally undercooked Dead Skin Mask atop some of the blandest dough I've ever had. Not to mention it cost $3.25 which is an affront to the Great Pizzaola. I haven't decided how many slices I'm giving this fucker, but I know it's getting one less than it would've on merit alone because of the ridiculous price. Fuck a bunch of this crap.


Cafe Metro - $3.25
14 East 42nd Street (5th & Madison)
New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

99¢ Fresh Pizza: "A little more phony."

As I mentioned in a previous post, in the Two Bros/99¢ Fresh feud, I tend to automatically side with 99¢ Fresh. I've been eating at their 9th Ave joint for like a decade, and to me, they are the crusty old New Yorker and Two Bros are the upstart new jack who read Please Kill Me a dozen times and just moved here and then wants to tell everyone what New York is all about. I don't know if that's so apt, but hopefully you know what I mean. Anyway, this pizza eating experience, coupled with that last one, really made me rethink my stance.

I'm gonna say from now on that I think these places will have to be judged on a location by location basis, because the slices at each place are so disparate. I can't wait to get further downtown and see if Two Bros is equally as inconsistent from location to location. This slice was about as crummy as it looks, but totally satisfying in that weird way that total junk can be.

Speaking of junk food, last night a bi-weekly meeting I attend that usually meets in a park got rained out and we ended up meeting in a McDonald's. After sitting in there for like, fifteen minutes, I was like, "Fuck this, I'm getting a cheeseburger. Can't resist." Before last night, I hadn't eaten at McDonald's in like 3 years (since that fateful night me and Marcia were driving all night home from Asheville, NC, when I ended up doubled over in the fetal position in my back seat clutching my aching tummy). Unlike that night, I showed some restraint and didn't eat 5 cheeseburgers. But like that night, the next morning I woke up and there was a constellation of pain in my stomach that felt like it was revolving around a burning ember of suffering and bile. It was seriously the worst pain I've been in for years, probably since I last ate McDonald's. I had to go out early this morning and clean up the bar and I drank some seltzer with bitters, and a job that usually takes me 2 hours took me 3 because I was doubled over for most of it. Anyway, as if you guys didn't know, McDonald's is poison. Never forget.

Anyway this slice. I said, "this is decent enough for a dollar. I mean, it's not very good but I am not unhappy with it considering the price."
"Yeah, but you wouldn't mistake it for real pizza," Jeff began, "Like, if you paid $2 for it you'd be pissed."
And that's kind of where it's it with this slice. It's its own beast. In the realm of dollar slices, this one was slightly above average. It was a little floppy, but it was ultimately totally decent enough.

I got so worked up talking about McDonald's being poison I almost forgot the rating!

Objective Rating:

On the Dollar Slice Scale:

99¢ Fresh Pizza - $1.08
151 East 43rd Street (3rd & Lexington)
New York, NY 10017

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pizza Rustica: "I keep forgetting to put the titles in."

I had the pleasure, somewhat recently, of eating pizza with this guy Jeffrey Lewis, who sometimes comes over to my house when I'm not home to sit with my roommate and watch Geto Boys videos on youtube and talk about being geniuses. Despite having a couple mutual friends, Jeff and I had never met when he wrote me about Slice Harvester, and I was quick to invite him along to share some slices with me. He writes a comic book called Guff or Fuff or something (both, apparently), which I have admittedly never read, but he also makes records and they are some of the best records I've ever heard.

A few years ago I saw him play a show with my friend Kimya Dawson and was totally blown away by how well his songs captured the subtlety and nuance of being Completely Unsure of Yourself. It's like alchemy the way Jeff turns the crippling horror of living into rad music. One song that has especially resonated with me, and which I revisit quite frequently, is Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror, a mumbling diatribe that I think anyone who makes art of any kind should be able to relate to. Jeff articulates anxiety in a manner which I think is really impressive and especially powerful in that way where when you name something ambiguous and terrifying and describe it's parameters in certain terms, it's easier to grapple with. Monsters are less scary in the dark, or whatever, you know? Or like, maybe they're not even monsters at all. Maybe you're the monster, maaaaaan.

Despite looking like something out of La Strada from out front, Pizza Rustica was actually really boring inside. The clientele was a selection of greasy weirdos, so that was cool. No one seemed quite normal in there, but maybe that's just one of those things where no one actually is normal, or whatever. Like, maybe anyone can seem like a weirdo in a certain context, and maybe Pizza Rustica is the sort of place that makes everyone seem like a weirdo. So in that regard, maybe it's pretty cool.

But the pizza... oy gevalt! This pizza tastes like it has been frozen before. I'm just starting to put it together that this is a unified phenomenon that has happened on a number of slices, where a few factors work in conjunction to make a slice taste remarkably like Krazdale Brand Frozen Pizzas. It has something to do with a certain kind of mealiness in the dough, and cheese that is lumpy, rather than even. Like, cheese that falls apart in chunks as opposed to spreads and thins until it breaks like bubble gum. Jeff said that the cheese "hadn't really integrated with the rest of the slice." I would take that critique one step further and say that the cheese on this slice hadn't even really integrated with itself. To top it all off, the sauce was too sweet.


Pizza Rustica - $2.25
817 2nd Ave (btw. 43rd and 44th)
New York, NY 10017