Austin: A Journey Told In Gifs

I’m known for being hyperbolic.

Gin isn’t a delicious beverage served with tonic. It is a life-giving elixir and the only thing capable of making you feel civilized when your world has been torn asunder.

Bruce Springsteen isn’t a talented musician with an enduring career so much as he is my surrogate heartbeat and progenitor of this immigrant’s America loving soul.

So, it makes sense that my trip to Austin last month was the greatest goddamn thing I have EVER done.

I love Austin. I love Austin so much that I would never want to move there and ruin it.

I’ll visit. I’ll spend ALL my money, I will eat enough tacos to kill a burro but I will not move there. Y’all don’t need my bullshit.

So, first thing people do when they go to Austin?


God, Karen! You’re so stupid! You don’t go to Taco Bell when you’re in Austin. You go everywhere else. I ate migas tacos, grilled queso fresco, fried avocado tacos, bean tacos, roasted vegetable tacos and fried portabella mushroom tacos – all doused in amazing hot sauce.

And now, the Mexican food in South Florida doesn’t hold up and I miss Taco Deli’s Salsa Dona more fervently than I have ever missed any family member, friend or lover.


Oh and also?

You GUYS. Their fucking grocery store sells hot fresh tortillas. And the sweet little abuelita making them? Just GIVES you one to taste and smiles at you encouragingly when you eat it (as abuelitas are wont to do) and it is just straight magic.



Less douchebags per capita than Coachella, less smelly than Bonnaroo and less terrifying than Burning Man – Austin City Limits is just like heaven….but with better food.

Seeing your favorite new band live is like going on a first date. You’re excited but nervous and there’s this underlying fear that it’s going to suck.


Luckily, The Gaslight Anthem were the best first date I’ve ever had. They played a great selection of tracks from all of their albums, their stage patter would have made Springsteen proud and I cannot wait to see them again.

The Replacements played Alex Chilton and I did this:


I’ve always thought of Eddie Vedder as this serious elder statesman of rock and roll, you know? He’s the fiery, impassioned soul who scribbled pro-life messages on his arm during an MTV Unplugged performance and routinely speaks out about politics.

I expected him to be a couple of notches below Neil Young on the ‘Go Fuck Yourself’ Meter but


Dude drank a bottle of wine onstage, cracked jokes and invited everyone to an afterparty at the sound guy’s house.


Outkast opened with B.O.B. and closed with The Whole World and I got to hear my favorite, favorite Outkast line.

Eminem and Skrillex also performed but


That aside, I spent the entire festival feeling like this:


Everyone in Austin was super chill and friendly. The service was among the best I’ve ever had in my life (looking at you, Frank!) and people were just wonderful. Except the two broads who hit on my boyfriend right in front of me.


Yeah. That is not OK. I will find you and I will ruin your credit.

I saw the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue.


I did this:


I also explored a cave, hung out with cute puppies and great people, bruised, blistered and bloodied my feet (and kept going) and fell in City Love once again.

Austin has officially become my favorite city in the United States and I highly recommend that everyone take a trip there at least once in their lives. The residents are interested and interesting. They care. Oh God, they give so many fucks – about their music, about their food, about their history, about the world we live in. They’re kind and they’re warm and they want to come and hang out. Just don’t move there, bro. I mean, shit. It’s on a t-shirt and everything.

Oh and just because I feel it’s kinda necessary


Put Me On A Plane, Fly Me To Anywhere Or, Wanderlust

I have a problem.

If we’re being honest – I have many problems:

– my interminable pottymouth (sorry, Mom)
– the fact NBC canceled Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip after a single season (No, I’m still not over it and as stoked as I am for Newsroom, I will forever lament the loss of Danny Tripp)
– knowing that funneling copious amounts of cheese into my gaping maw will not result in a body like Doutzen Kroes.

Straight men and gay women – I KNOW. And you’re welcome.

But my problem right now is a serious case of wanderlust.

Dana introduced me to the term a few years ago. It means a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world and I have got it bad.

During the past month, I’ve researched (shockingly expensive) trips to the Masai Mara wildlife preserve in Kenya, Uluru in Australia, Yellowstone, Denali and Yosemite.

Let me explain something – I hate nature.

Hate it.

It smells funny, it’s difficult to navigate, the terrain usually sucks, there’s all this weather to contend with and let’s face it — the chance of me being mauled to death by some frenzied animal is much greater out in the middle of nowhere than it is in the Philly suburbs.

Like a bear. Dear God, the bears. They run, they climb trees, they swim and one swipe of a paw could end your life. If the zombie apocalypse happens and it infects the bears, we are beyond fucked.

Also, walking is way more fun when there’s pavement, buildings and swarthy dudes hawking falafel from a cart every ten blocks.

But I’ve had this itch lately be out in the middle of it. Big sky and an endless canopy of stars. Bison grazing on plains. Red rocks and canyons. Trees like Atlas, holding up the heavens.

Obviously, I’ve lost my mind but that’s what wanderlust does to you. It makes you a little nuts, a little itchy, a little restless…which is a little worrisome when you’re prone to these characteristics in the first place.

Unfortunately, this kind of travel isn’t in my immediate future so for right now – I’ll have to satiate my jones by devouring National Geographic Magazine, spending lots of quality time reading Sending Postcards (all the recent posts on Morocco are making me want to pull a Penny Lane like you would not believe) and dreaming of hopping on a plane and flying to anywhere that’ll take me.

It’s Been A Summer, Or Summer 2010 – A Recap

Happy (almost) Labor Day! It’s the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of fall.

Bloggers across the country seem stoked about this — the Pumpkin Spice Latte makes a triumphant return at Starbucks, the weather starts getting nippier, hoodies are pulled out from hibernation and everyone’s all in a tizz about seeing the colors change.

Everyone except for me. ‘Cause you know what? I hate fall.

Fine, Fine. I don’t hate fall. I mean, apple cider is delicious, I am all about the start of fall television and Thanksgiving? My favorite holiday ever (Let’s get together every year and eat tons of carbs? Give me the address and do you like cornbread?) but fall means cold weather and as a girl raised in South Florida, I’m a firm believer than anything below 65 is essentially inhospitable for human life (Esteban – I’m right there with you, brother).

Cold weather is awful. Your skin gets dry and ashy, your hair gets staticky, your lips get chapped, you have to wear multiple layers of clothing and you can no longer sit outside with a good book, close your eyes towards the sun and think that all is good in your life. And the produce sucks. You know how hard is it to find cheap mangos, raspberries and avocado in winter? Oh and you can’t wear flip-flops everywhere. What the hell’s that all about?

Yes, summer can be unbearably hot and you spend your time battling mosquitos, sweat and frizzy hair but I feel like I accomplish more in the summer. That being said, here’s a recap of Summer 2010:


– I’m still an Office Gal Friday, squirreling away those ducats to get to L.A. We moved offices and now, my life is filled with free Wawa coffee. In comparison to the non-potable dreck at my last office, it’s like drinking 90 proof Ambrosia.

– Wedding plans are still on indefinite hiatus. If we spend the cash we have now, we could probably afford to throw a small affair but you know what? There are smarter ways to spend that money than on an open bar and flowers – like a down payment for a house, moving cross country or buying a really expensive but really comfortable couch.

– I learned a valuable lesson in couch shopping. If you see it and fall in love with it, buy it immediately. Otherwise, you’ll go back to Macy’s, learn that the couch has not only been sold but the model has been discontinued and pout for the remainder of the evening. And by evening, I mean your entire life.

– I also (finally) learned how to apply liquid eyeliner. Granted, it’s the idiot-proof kind that resembles a Sharpie but hey – baby steps.

– I belly-flopped onto asphalt while walking Ryely, resulting in a bloody nose, a scraped-up arm and a seriously wicked bruised knee.

Pop Culture:

Movies: Like everyone else in the Northern hemisphere, my two favorite movies of the summer were Inception and Toy Story 3. I also loved Never Sleep Again, a six hour documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street series that Augs and I watch in one sitting.

I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona way too many times this summer and decided that I need to reconfigure my life so that I’m an upper class New Yorker who gets to run away to Spain. I’ll keep you posted and let you know how that turns out.

Books: I’m in the process of reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and have come the conclusion that I was gypped in AP US History. I bought Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield and loved it. It’s not nearly as devastating as Love is a Mixtape, but great writing nonetheless. Also highly recommended — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Especially if you dig comic books in any capacity. I also read Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I wasn’t a huge fan, but it was a decent read. Do love the music from the Broadway show, though — Defying Gravity is a great song.

Music: It’s been all about The Gaslight Anthem, Big Star, Girl Talk, Chet Baker, the music from Once Again With Feeling and Tangerine by Led Zeppelin.

Television: I rediscovered Veronica Mars and you know what? If you consider yourself to have good taste in television and haven’t seen this show — you really need to do so.

I’ve also been on a pretty serious Joss Whedon kick lately. I finally saw Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog (loved it), read the script to Cabin In The Woods (what the what, Hollywood? Get your shit together and release this already!), have been watching Angel on TNT while getting ready for work in the mornings (so much better than watching those chuckleheads on Fox and Friends or Morning Joe on MSNBC — watching Mika and Joe is like going out to dinner with a couple on the verge of a really messy divorce) and I’ve been watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer in reverse order (season seven down to season one). I’m currently on Season Four and I love it more now than I did back when it was on television. Whedon really is a master of his craft and if I ever become a gazillionaire, one of my top priorities will be to fund everything he wants to do.

I watched one episode of The Wire and I wasn’t blown away. I get the feeling the show is a rolling boil and I need to stick with it before making any judgment calls.

Watched the first four episodes of Breaking Bad. So far, I love it and can’t wait to see how the rest of the show turns out. Also, Pinkman’s answering phone message? High comedy.

I’ve been touch-and-go about True Blood this season. Alcide is a welcome addition to the cast, but I wish they’d get back to storylines revolving around vampires interacting with the real world. The storyline involving the Fellowship of the Sun was awesome and I’d love to see more vampire politics butting up against human politics. Sam Trammell is one of the major reasons I’m still watching. That man makes a girl weak at the knees.

See? Long cool drink of water, that guy.


– Augs and I went to New York City for the Lost Weekend. I sat mere feet from Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia, saw a clip of the finale before anyone else, was interviewed for a Lost podcast, engaged in some eye flirting with Damon (dudes, he was totally looking at me), wandered around the Village and decided I wanted to move there, ate the best burgers (New York Burger Company needs to overthrow McDonalds in a bloodless coup and reign supreme for the next millennium), haggled for a purse, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, hung out with good friends and fell even more in love with the city so nice, they named it twice.

– I spent a week in West Palm Beach for quality time with the family. I ate entirely too much, watched the World Cup every day, took pictures, enjoyed being home and realized that I should totally live with my sister because she is awesome.

– Finally, Augs and I spent our anniversary in the namesake of my favorite Springsteen song – Atlantic City. Great song, less-than-stellar experience. My advice? Save your ducats and head to Vegas instead.


A delivery guy once told me, I am a, “fat girl in a little girl’s body.” He wasn’t wrong.

Gastronomic Discoveries:

+ Cold-brewed French Press iced coffee. I drank enough to induce cardiac arrest…in a mastodon.

+ Huevos Rancheros at Jones. The hell with cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. THIS is why the hungry masses should come to Philly. I want Stephen Starr and Jose Garces to form a domestic partnership and invite me over to their love nest every week for Sunday Dinner. That would be fabulous.

+ Vinho verde — a light, fresh Portuguese wine that’s perfect for dining al fresco on a balmy summer evening.

+ Maoz. I could easily eat myself into a coma here. Every corner needs a fast food falafel joint like this.

+ Mack and Manco’s. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and have ever gone ‘Down Da Shore’, you’ll understand the cult appeal of this pizza. Especially if you spent the summer eating crappy pizza and ranting about it. I ate half the slice in one bite. I assume this is because it was delicious and I am awesome.

+I’ve also been eating lots of Caprese-inspired dishes (I take tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mozzarella cheese and basil and combined it with a carb. Usually pasta or bread. Once or twice, I used croutons. Don’t judge) and a ridiculous amount of homemade popcorn. Here’s the best way to make it:

3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (I prefer white over yellow)
Brown Sugar
Cumin seeds
Cayenne pepper

Crank your burner way the eff up to heat the oil.
After a few minutes, add cumin seeds. They should sizzle and sputter upon impact.
Wait about two minutes and add the popcorn kernels.
Make sure all the kernels are coated with oil. Sprinkle with salt and brown sugar, cover with lid and shake.
Turn heat down to medium low and wait for the popping to stop. You’ve got to watch it like a hawk because otherwise, it will burn and then, your apartment will smell like dying.
Dump out into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cayenne.
Eat by the fistful while watching TV on DVD.

It’s been a pretty good and productive summer. Got a little traveling in, got a lot of eating in and spent plenty of time outside, breathing in the daylight. It was pretty perfect and while I’m reluctant to let go, I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2010 has in store (but if it’s bitterly cold weather and SnOMG: The Redux? You can keep it. Seriously. Living on Hoth? Not cute and I’m well over it).

Atlantic City 2010, Or Bruce Springsteen Was Wrong.

Augs and I went to Atlantic City to celebrate our anniversary.

The two best parts of the trip?

The amazing bathroom at the hotel. It was the size of my bathroom and if I didn’t get all pruney, I would have spent the entire trip in the tub.

And the huevos rancheros I made when we got home. After eating this, I’m pretty sure I’ll never have to eat again. I think Jones has some serious competition.

I’m a big disciple of the church of Bruce Springsteen, but in this case? The Boss was wrong. There is no reason to put your make-up on or fix your hair up pretty. Because ACNJ? No great shakes.

Lost Weekend: NYC 2010

– Arrive in Tribeca. See Keanu Reeves hanging out on the street, gesticulating wildly while having a very passionate conversation. Wait for some idiot to scream out, “San Dimas High School Football Rules!” No-one does.

– Continue on to Midtown. Check in, realize we’re staying in a shoebox (albeit, a very conveniently located shoebox), grab a bite to eat at Schnipper’s and go wait in line.

– Meet a very nice guy who looks like a cross between Walton Goggins and Pete Dominick who has been waiting in front of the TimesCenter since 10:30 a.m. The show doesn’t start until 8:00 p.m. That’s some serious dedication, folks.

– Get interviewed for Lost community podcast.

– See Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (Darlton! DamCar!) enter the building!

– See Jorge Garcia enter the building!

– Think I see Ron Livingston five different times. Am wrong five different times.

– Augs thinks he sees Ron Livingston:

Jaime: Seriously? Where?
Dan: Never mind. It’s just a kid holding some pizza boxes.
Jaime (pointing at child on street): That kid? You thought that eight-year-old child was Ron Livingston?
Dan: I’m not wearing my glasses.
Jaime: I hate you.

– Finally get into the building and procure great seats – third row, just left of center.

– Damon Lindelof makes eyes at me.  Seriously — he was looking right at me. You know, kinda like how Insert-Name-of-Awesome-Rock-Star pointed right at you when you were sitting in Row ZZZ? Yeah. Just like that.

– Michael Emerson!!! Ben is on stage right now! Furiously condemn the Times Center’s ‘No Photography’ policy. Don’t they realize that some of us are bloggers?

– Leave the event fully stoked for the finale.

– Try to find decent bar to grab a drink. Get overwhelmed by tourists, so we decide to nip into the BBQ joint across the street from our hotel. Dan orders a Heineken and I order a Tom Collins. The very pretty, very Swedish and very blonde waitress looks at me like I’ve placed my order in conversational Sanskrit. She looks up the recipe in a cocktail rolodex and I am served a gin and soda water. No lemon, no nothing. Look, I realize that drunk businessmen are really eager to hand over their ducats to pretty blonde girls, but come on! I asked for a Tom Collins — it’s a pretty standard cocktail.

– Get back to the hotel and pass out.

– Wake up in the morning feelin’ like P.Diddy and manage to both freeze and scald my flesh while taking a shower. Am I an idiot? No. Apparently, our shower was designed by some sadistic plumber related to Jigsaw.

How the hell does this even work?

– Check into Hotel #2 — a nicer room, a bigger bed, a way less complicated shower and a pretty cool view from the 15th floor.

– Head south to escape the craziness that is Times Square/Midtown. Initially, it’s cool but after a while — the chaos just made my nerves ache. To get to Chelsea, we hit up the subway and I am once again reminded how much I love doing this. I grew up taking the Tube into the city and have decided to start squirreling away money for a trip back to London, this time with Augs in tow.

– Grab lunch at the New York Burger Company.

I am on a continual hunt for the world’s best veggie burger and the New York Burger Company makes a damn fine one. Not only that, but they serve it with sweet potato fries, tzatziki and offer a variety of glorious condiments such as maple djion mustard and curry ketchup (which I would drink by the gallon if it were socially acceptable to do so). Eating this takes me to my happy place.

– Wander around Chelsea, The Village and the Flatiron District until my feet feel like they’re going to fall off and fall madly, completely in love with New York City. Also, realize that all a woman really needs in this world is a summer dress, flip-flops, sunglasses and a big-ass bag.

John Updike once said that a true New Yorker is one with a secret belief that, “people living anywhere else had to be, in some sense, kidding.” And I get that. Because honestly, if you’re living here? Why the hell would you ever want to be anywhere else?

– Encounter more people walking dogs that I ever have in my life. See a Boston Terrier puppy and almost suffer cardiac arrest due to its cuteness.

I didn’t get a picture of him, but this is basically what he looked like. Heart-stoppingly adorable.

– Head back to the hotel, collapse, eat burritos from Blockheads (Fail. What kind of asshole thinks cauliflower + burrito + naan bread makes any kind of sense at all?), watch Real Time with Bill Maher and gaze out the window in wide wonder. Holy shit, I love New York.

– Wake up and head to DUMBO for brunch at Bubby’s with friends. Eat a lot, laugh a lot and burn off brunch by walking on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I hate Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. It’s naff, annoying and hardly one of either artist’s best pieces of work. But, after a spending a few days in the city, I kinda get it. I mean, the song still sucks but I get the vibe. New York is an amazing city and I can’t wait until I get a chance to go back.

Oh yeah and Lost series finale tonight!!! Cannot. Wait.

Hell, I still love you, New York

Taxi!. Originally uploaded by Joep R.

The plan for NYC:

(Look, I realize the geography’s all off and will definitely be revising my itinerary with the help of Google Maps before I leave)

– Arrive in Midtown.
– Check in, caffeinate and grab a bite to eat.
– Wait in line at the Times Center for the NYT TimesTalks: Lost.
– Read, discuss theories and hopefully, meet awesome Lost fans.
– Spend quality time with Darlton and 300+ Lost fans. Get some damn questions answered and see a surprise guest or two (kinda looking in your direction here, JJ). Bubble over with excitement. Get even more stoked for the finale.
– Head back to the hotel, marvel at the fact that we were just part of a Lost Q&A and that we are, in fact, sleeping in a shoebox.
– Wake up, grab a bagel and coffee and head out to explore.
– Think I see Ron Livingston. Almost walk into lamp post.
– Head over to Tribeca to check out the Ghostbusters Firehouse. Witness Augs morph from 27-year-old man to eight year old child in a matter of seconds. Take pictures. Fall more in love with Augs, fall more in love with NYC.
– Stop every five minutes to take pictures.
– Grab iced coffee at Think Coffee. Realize that nothing will ever taste as good as cold-brewed iced coffee. Resolve to make iced coffee only using this method from now on.
– Drag Augs to Marc by Marc Jacobs. Buy presents. Become remarkably beloved for purchasing Marc Jacobs goodies for loved ones.
– Grab Compost Cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar. Resolve never to eat anything else except compost cookies ever again.
– Drag Augs to The Strand. Begrudgingly agree that I do not need to purchase metric ton of book. Warn him that he better start working out for next library book sale.
– Spend quality time in Washington Square Park.
– Procure veggie burgers/Indian food (Suggestions? I’m thinking New York City Burger Company for burgers, but would appreciate a recommendation for Indian).
– Wander around Manhattan. Take even more pictures. Try to convince Augs to move to the city.
– Think I see Ron Livingston. Again. Barely avoid collision with nice Midwestern family.
– Arrive at hotel. Collapse from sheer, blissed out exhaustion.
– Wake up, pack and check out.
– Head to Brooklyn for brunch with friends. Laugh, eat and take lots of pictures. Try to convince Augs we need to move to Brooklyn.
– Head to Lush to pick up solid perfume. Get overwhelmed by awesome products. Purchase stuff I don’t need.
– Swear up and down that I really do see Ron Livingston heading into Duane Reade. Realize I’m wrong. Again. Face much mockery from Augs. Tell him I’ll be sure to keep him on my Christmas card list when I’m Mrs. Livingston.
– Spot vendor selling fake Kate Spade/Birkin bags in Times Square. Haggle. Feel momentarily bad about purchasing counterfeit bag. Realize that cost of real Birkin is worth more than one’s life. Stop feeling bad and hand over cash to new best friend.
– Get on the bus and head back to PA, happy and totally excited for Lost series finale.