Monday, December 13, 2010

New Brunswick, the place

A Travel Story: New Brunswick, NJ

Nearly equidistant between Philadelphia and Manhattan, New Jersey's 'hub city' demands to not be overshadowed. Nearly a modest six square-miles in size, New Brunswick is packed with a culture all of it's own.

This uniqueness in style is reflected by the multiple, large demographics that populate the city.

Since much of the city thrives on the health care industry and Rutgers University, the city itself is hence, largely influenced by the transient person's lifestyle. This means pulsing work hours and a calmer night time.

With that, the city nearly separates itself: the Rutgers-centric, college-minded part of town; the ritzier 'down town' area near the more expensive restaurants and law firms; and the 'locals' side, dominated greatly nowadays, by the blue-collared Hispanic community.

Each faceted section offers it's own type of food, entertainment and characters.

Rah- rah! Go R U!

The school itself, is a sight to be seen. Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the still in-use Old Queens building, a relic and a central point on campus.

Nearby on College Avenue, the huge open grass field in Voorhees Mall displays additional old-style school buildings around it's perimeter and serves as a fantastic spot for a shady summer picnic.

"Every year, student organizations set-up a week-long camping celebration on this field," says Rutgers alum, Alvin Lee. "It's called Tent State and I've seen great art and live bands in previous years there."

The Zimmerli Art Museum is also located at Voorhees Mall.

If sports are your more thing, you are in luck. For one, the football culture seems to become bigger and more loyal with every new school year. You can catch the 'scarlet fever' with a quick shuttle ride to the stadium, minutes north on Route 18.

The Rutgers University campus is actually the recognized birthplace of intercollegiate football, hosting the first game versus Princeton in November of 1869. (And winning that game, might I add.)

For lunch, or for breakfast, lunch and dinner rather, try a Food TV-acclaimed 'fat sandwich.' Located in an adjacent Rutgers parking lot, "the grease trucks" will fry you up a cornucopia of junk food on a submarine roll, for under six bucks.

George Street: the talk of the town and the best place to paint it red

"The arts and theater district is a big part of this area- in New Brunswick, in general," explains Alexandra Lawler, a citizen of seven years and Rutgers alum.

The State Theater and the George Street Playhouse have a rotating list of intriguing, world-class theatrical performances. Most recently, the Marvelettes rocked the city.

Leave in stitches from George Street's famous comedy club, the Stress Factory. With serious drink specials, you'll sit feet from famous comics like Damon Wayans and Jim Florentine.

After a show or gig, impress your date by bringing them to one of down-town's up-scale restaurants.

Hotoke, on George, is the spot for a creative sashimi roll and some tropical cocktails. Down the block is the Harvest Moon brewery and restaurant; slightly creative American food with a rotating delicious beer list, brewed on the premises.

For extremely lavish dining, dress to impress at Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant, where Chef Chuck pairs fine cuisine with over 60 different types of wines.

Another option is the four-star rated The Frog and the Peach restaurant. It is located within a short walk from the Hyatt hotel, the city's most luxurious place to stay.

However, if you're on a budget, you'd probably want to walk to the other side of town...

A ten minute walk to French street and you're in a gourmand's heaven

This area is where the majority of the local people live. Heavily influenced by the hispanic community, you'll most undoubtedly find better mexican cuisine anywhere.

A local favorite, right off French street is Cinco de Mayo, where a $4.99 burrito can serve as two meals-especially, if you indulge in the complementary fresh tortilla chips coupled with various traditional home-made mexican salsas.

"This is the best mexican food in the world," says Chris Fahris, a freelancing journalist and Rutgers alum. "A notebook and a 'Cinco' burrito is how I get most of my writing done. Even at like two A.M.!"

Similarly, Costa Chica, Noa Noa and Quisaqueya are other popular nearby authentic Mexican restaurants. To say which is better is up for debate. Each one does it with a hint of their own style and flavors.

An additional benefit is that, on this side of town, most restaurants are B.Y.O.B. So pair up your tasty dish with a glass of wine or perhaps, a Negra Modelo.

Stock up on booze at the Hub Liquors, located at the corner of Harvey and French. A staple in the city for decades, this little bar has a package good section that will fill all of your tipsy-inducing needs. Plus, it's open most nights until 2 A.M.

"Eat. Drink. Dance. Laugh. Stay."- The slogan of

And quite an accurate slogan it is. It truly is all here. Regardless of what brings you into town, harmoniously, the diverse populace would agree; it's an excellent stop for a one-off night's out and a wonderful place to call home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Living Room Deems Ideal Venue for a Local Music Show

In an evening of psychedelic music performances, some of New Brunswick's most esteemed experimental musical artists came together for an intimate living room show, last Friday. 'Weirdo'-music heavyweights, Kevin "2673" Winter, Tonio Hubilla, David Sutton and Kate McGonigle, among others shared the living room floor, performing for roughly fourty droning, but happy show-goers. The large open room's high ceilings created a natural reverberation, adding depth to each sound and multiplying the wavy, pulsating feel of each tone, proving that a living room is in fact, a better alternative than a basement.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Local Musicians Freak-Out in My Living Room

Kevin Winter (l) and David Sutton (r) join sonic forces in an impromptu experimental noise-music performance, in my New Brunswick, NJ living room. (Photo:

The atmosphere of a local New Brunswick D.I.Y. music show last Friday became quite weird, quite quickly. As planned however, the free show hosted in my living room luckily, spotlighted a few of the greater New Brunswick's most talented experimental music artists, a genre popularly-unpopular and generally unpalatable to the ears of most listeners who are newly exposed to it.


As vague as the term 'experimental' can be, the boundaries for what defines this genre of music to be are similarly blurred. Usually dissonant in aesthetic, it does not always sound harsh and though most times lacking percussion and drums, some of the most popular artists involved with the genre use them. This night, a strong mix of the best locals shared the floor. One in particular, Kevin Winter, has gained a substantial international following throughout his nearly decade long career. 


Kevin Winter, who has a lengthy collection of self-releases and even a few funded by independently owned record labels, primarily under his moniker "2673", is truly a master of his kind. He has been personally accredited to and shared split-releases with both Kevin Drumm and Bill Nelson, both 'noise-gods' in their own rights. Often further described as 'drone' music, a 2673 recording is bound to provide deep auditory collages that subtly guide the listener on a flowing wave of bass tones that may or may not appear to originate from planet earth. 


Using a vintage synthesizer piano to create an initial sustaining note, he maintained the sound and manipulated it through various electronic effects processors and reverb-creating devices. The 'drone' refers to his music's unending quality as it seems to begin at an arbitrary point in time and travel relentlessly forward. Joining him on special occasion, a fellow 'weirdo' musician, Dave Sutton, who is most commonly seen holding an out-of-tune guitar in the wonderfully ear-challenging band Car Commercials, took role as copilot in the duo's cosmic journey through time and sound.


Sutton's control station included an amplified laptop which compiled a 'hand-recorded' collection of assorted sound clips, which included sounds from his television set and of him sleeping. He distorted his audio output through similar effects processors, guitar effects pedals and sound mixers. Together, the two artists collaborated in an impromptu, highly-cooperative sound performance.


"I really enjoyed the contrast between Kevin's analog synth drones and Dave's digitally processed samples," said Mike "K" Kryskowiak, a local in the 'noise' community, as both a supporter and musician. "Kevin's ability to extract violently hypnotic ear-puncturing drones in a totally body-numbing way is something I see so rarely that I'm glad I cancelled my plans to stay in all night and watch Star Trek to come out to see this... I mean that in a good way."


To some, their exchange may have seemed to be at random but from watching their collective concentration and intense focus while generating each electronic blip, squeal and crescendoed ripple, the sonic conversation appeared more deliberate and cohesive. 


"You could really tell where each (Winter and Sutton) was coming from, both with clear ideas... they almost seemed to try and 'one-up' one another, in a friendly manner," cited fellow noise-music heavyweight, Tonio Hubilla, who also performed that night with Kate McGonigle, under the name 'Hikkikomori'. Their set represented the lighter side of the 'noise' music spectrum, utilizing three sunshine-sounding air-powered organs with the help of a battery-powered droning box, which modestly mimicked a sitar. 

Their performance was equally impressive, even without amplification, though it's weirdness proved to be a bit too overwhelming for one person watching. 


"Do something! You've been playing the same note for twenty minutes," yelled the jean jacket with the cut-off sleeves wearing, long-haired stranger, quite audibly. On his way out the door, a final " something,"  triggered his disappearance for the remainder of the night and a collective chuckle amongst the rest who stayed.


"I was trying real hard to hold in my laughter," exclaimed "K". "Everyone was silently laughing together, even Kate and Tonio." 


This brand of music is exceptionally challenging to music fans who use attention spans that are capable, only of lasting the distance between drum-hits in sequence with scorching guitar solos.

Other bands on the bill were Bog Body, a dungeon-toned, noisy dark-blues driven band, and the all-girl Sparkle Shit, who nicely touch upon a combination of rock styles from the sloppy garage era of the 1960s through the noisy guitar trash of the '80s.

Also in closing spirits, neo-Americana folk phenom King Darves shared an intimate 1:30 a.m. 'night-cap' performance to a dozen and a half silent, couch-creepers. As if the living room's fifteen-foot ceilings had not served to be of a bonus sound advantage during the earlier, amplified acts, the room's openness added a natural reverb to Darves' baritone vocal melodies, as thick as Tennessee whiskey.

My house, nicknamed 'The Nicolas Cage' (to withhold actual address from pestering cops) hosts shows of this variety on a monthly to bi-monthly basis.


The shows are generally free, unless a suggested donation (given to touring musicians) is encouraged. If you are interested in attending, you can e-mail me at, ask through word-of-mouth around New Brunswick town, or keep your eyes out for a xeroxed flyer going around (or e-flyer via Facebook). 

To find out more about local New Brunswick experimental music or if you feel an urge to 'get weird' amongst other weirdos, come over next time!

SPECIAL NOTE: Also check out K's video journalism blog documenting many overlapping artists ("in a drunken and terse style") at HUBCITYNOISE.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First post

My rants, record/concert reviews, words of pseudo-intellect, untrained aesthetics, but mostly just music reviews.

And it is true, owning an iPhone does not (in fact) make you important. You look like a fool. Stop trying to emulate the people you see in public who use smartphones in their daily lives, becuase chances are, they're not important either.

That's all for now.