03/31/2014

The Very Long Goodbye, Part 3

by Matthew Hawkins

Time for part three of my survey of 2014 thus far, a chunk of time that was originally supposed to be my final days in the Big Apple, but a Canadian immigration officer felt otherwise, as mentioned in part one. And in case you missed, here’s part two.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, hanging with friends, this time in another part of Williamsburg. At the pinball bar, with my Greenpoint pinball/anime/video game connection, aka Kyle and Noah

Not a bad place, though it pales in comparison to the Sunshine Laundromat, as depicted in part one. At least it wasn’t too far from the skee ball bar. They have leagues there, and one of them has a bear…

Around this time was when my quest to complete my canzo had intensified. But as previously reported, I left the Bronx on that chilly Friday night completely empty handed. So afterwards I met my pal Dustin in Brooklyn for a drink. And this is the stuff you see when walking to the L train 4 in the morning…

When Earl Madness heard I was leaving, he wanted to take my portrait. Here we are on my roof, freezing our asses off…

Eventually it was time for my big going away party, which was organized by Joe with some help from Dave and Jason. Credit goes to Joe for not just the awesome party invite, but who have long championed the idea of a FORT90CON for ages…

Unfortunately Early Madness, who was going to be the unofficial photographer, couldn’t make the shindig cuz the bf was sick. And I was too busy yucking it up to take pictures, but there’s at least this one with myself and Sweet Rot…

… Joe, Dave, and Jason did an amazing job of rounding up a sizable contingency of peopleI’ve come to know during my time in the Big Apple, and for that I’m sincerely grateful. I definitely felt loved that night! Though the Swedish guy who tried to murder me a couple years ago wasn’t there, and was a tad bit bummed about his no show. Oh well. And my biggest regret was how I basically blew it with my farewell speech; wasn’t prepared and was drunk at the time. Then again, given how I’m still here, guess it’s a moot point. So moving on!

But that wasn’t it for me; was still in NYC for another two weeks. Was originally supposed to head out shortly after the party, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned these past couple of weeks and months, and it’s immigrating to another country is a very lengthy process. So that just meant more one on one time with b-fries, like Dave Mauro; here we are enjoying the first nice day weather-wise in NYC (it would snow again, like two days later), by having lunch outside at Shake Shack…

Decided to swing by Chinatown, one of my favorite haunts when I first came to New York, just once more. Sadly, the place is a former shell of itself…

At least J&L, the last vestige of the glory days, as far as gaming is concerned, is still kicking it…

You can learn about the so called glory days in FORT90ZINE #2

The underground mall is also a ghost town. The gaming shop no longer exists, along with the bootleg anime shop, plus there’s just one toy and model boutique left. At least you can still get cell phone straps…

Along with Totoro thigh highs…

Yet there’s still life in Chinatown; decided to check out Chinatown Fair 2.0, and I have to say, it’s the spirit of the original is stronger than ever…

In addition to favorite eateries, also made sure to swing by watering holes as much as possible. Here’s a view from my favorite seat, all the way in the back, at the best dive bar in Manhattan, Spanky & Darla’s…

And the outside of my fave sake bar on the island, which is also the best izakya you’ll find outside of Tokyo (and I’ve had plenty of peeps who actually hail from Japan who can vouch for that statement)…

Here’s my one last drink with Colleen. Before heading back to my place to watch the excellent GLOW documentary on Netflix and play some import PlayStation games. And before I found out that I’d be sticking around for a bit longer, hence why we’d end up seeing each other again not long after…

And here we have, bar none, the best damn Indian restaurant in all of New York City. You know such a place is good when there’s literally 27 cabs parked outside. And again, this was supposed to my last taste of the place, but I’ve been back twice already since…

I’ve been in Washington Heights for 6 and half years, and it’s been great for the most part, though like virtually all parts of the city, gentrification is making its way and ruining things. Case in point: my go to Puerto Rican rice and beans joint recently closed and in its place is this forthcoming abomination…

At least the local library is kicking it…

As already noted in part two, my pending departure date was the motivation I needed to check out things that had long been on my radar. Like Two-Bit’s, and gotta say, I’d much rather rub elbows with eccentric Lower East Siders than hipster douchebags in Billyburg. Sorry fans of Barcade…

That evening was originally supposed to my final chance to hang with Joe & June, before finally making my exit. Highlights include dinner at some SoHo pizza joint where this totally ditzy broad spilled wine all over me and wasn’t the least bit apologetic. From there it was overpriced drinks at an underground Chinatown bar, which meant I was back before my trouble at the border had even materialized. Yet the main event was karaoke…

After a little bit of bar hopping, we eventually found ourselves at Biny, and I was legit pissed that I’d discover the greatest karaoke joint in all of New York City, right before leaving the city. Not only is the song selection massive, but the interface is a large touch driven screen with a fairly intuitive OS, plus so long as one has a drink, you can sing as many songs at the bar as you’d like, sans any per song charge…

Even better was how the staff and regulars were super awesome! Unfortunately, a bunch of bridge and tunnel dipsh*t motherf*ckers crashed the party and committed the worst cardinal sign one can commit at a karaoke joint; they booed our choice of songs, and that’s just something that you just don’t do. And you’re telling me that idiots from Long Island are NOT fans of Billy Joel? Thankfully the bartender and his buddies had our back.

One last pic, of Joe and I tear down the roof with our take on “We Don’t Need Another Hero”, from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (which Joe can recite, line for line, if you get him drunk enough)…

The rest of the weekend was simply taking care of things that needed be done before stepping on that plane. Wanted to fit in one last sojourn, out to Queens, to take one final set of pictures that seemed appropriate for one’s final hurrah of New York City. But the MTA basically said no to that idea (though at least I now have a second chance), which meant another opportunity to bitch online…

So instead, per Adam’s request, I took pictures of my toy shelves, before packing everything up…

Now this was what I thought was going to be my last official New York City meal. It might not look much, but trust me, it’s the best damn burrito you’ll find in the Big Apple (at El Rancho, near Times Square). I also chose Mexican cuz, despite Toronto’s many culinary wonders, tacos and burritos is not on that menu…

And once again, words of wisdom from Dannel

… It’s funny because it’s true; I’ve gained like 30 extra pounds from all the food I’ve been over indulging in. Actually, only 5 according to Wii Fit, which was kinda surprising. Anyways, because I was nearby, one last shot on New York, New York…

… Not! The following morning was when I flew up to Canada, and that afternoon, I flew back. Awkward! After all those heartfelt goodbyes and all. I felt like a major character on a sitcom that was being written off the show at least, but due to network executives not seeing the whole picture, I was dragged back in despite in making zero sense to the intended narrative. Or maybe cuz I’m such a popular character?

At any rate, Joe & June’s dog Lumi was happy to see her Uncle Matt once again. She’s totally in love with me, but unfortunately, that love is unrequited (hey, I’m a cat person, sorry) …

Because of my time extension, I figured I may as well go back to the plan A and revisit parts of the city, especially now that it was no longer a frozen hellhole. Like Washington Square Park…

There were also bars that I didn’t get the chance to hit before my first attempt at an exist, like at my fave tiki bar in Brooklyn, Zombie Hut…

Though my fave watering hole in that borough is easily Lucky 13 Saloon, aka the only non-douchey bar in Park Slope…

That pole is for dancing, go-go dancers to be exact, but that’s on Mondays and this was a Thursday…

There’s nothing like listening to old Rancid songs while watching old Van Damme flicks on a TV that’s hung next to a doll that has KISS make up, that’s for sure…

I’m also glad to have gotten the chance to take pics of my favorite bus stop ads at the moment…

On the aforementioned night of boozing, I got the drunk munchies, which is a thing that happens, and decided to finally check out Jum Mum on St. Mark’s. Can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on all these years…

As annoying as it is to have my new life in Toronto be postponed, there are some positives. Among other things, I’m able to get in a bit more packing, and while digging through the closet, I found an old box of bootleg anime from my days gone by. And because there is a bit point in which Netflix does become boring…

Everything I love about women, I learned from Goku…

So I caught the latest Muppet movie with Colleen. And I dug it! Even though her scenes were all cut, but at least they kept her around for the cardboard cut out adorning movie theaters…

At least she’s in better shape than Milton, this bear who also was cut from the movie, and whom we ran into later night, drunk off his ass…

By this point, spring had officially arrived, and I was elated to see my friendly neighborhood Pac-Man had not been painted over as previously feared. Turns out, he was just covered under ice the whole time…

I recently got myself a brand new 3DS XL, due to my inability to no longer deal with the original’s sh*t battery, plus the larger screen of the XL’s 3D doesn’t make my eyes hurt. And because I also registered a qualifying game, I received a free download token for Pokemon X/Y, which I already owned. And because it was Adam’s son Dante’s birthday, I figured it would make a decent gift. But only on the condition that he named a Pokemon after me…

Seriously the best thank you note ever…

Yet another restaurant, or in this case food truck, off the list: Korilla BBQ. Not bad, though the kimchee/bacon fried rice was a bit too lukewarm in my book…

Cuz Adam also got his son trading cards for his birthday, I realized that I hadn’t been to Economy Candy in forever…

On the way home, there was this sleepy kid on the train who had with him a stuffed squid of all things, and it was the insanely cute thing I’ve ever seen firsthand…

Time for the home stretch; this past weekend was a trip to Jersey, to Mitsuwa, to once again gawk at shellacked dinner sets…

As well as taiyaki stand guarded by Pikachu…

In addition to partaking in fine Japanese eats, it was a chance to soak in the fine world of Japanese print…

Of all the different kinds of Japanese magazines, I’d have to say that the ones on guns are my absolute favorites…

And as fine as the magazine selection might be, the video selection is even better (though I’m assuming you need a Region 2 DVD player)…

So how am I approaching the second quarter of 2014? I have a lot on my plate, both on the professional and personal fronts. Lots of awesome things are happening on all side! I also hope to finally make it up to Toronto, sooner than later. Oh, and I also want to see Jodorowsky’s Dune, cuz that just opened.

But before all that, I need to get back to catching them all, via Google Maps, before April 1st wraps up…

… I’ll be back Friday, with another rundown of totally wacky and totally random video game vids. And remember, this goodbye ain’t over yet.

TO BE CONTINUED

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