Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hundred Acres

May 20

“Who the $*%! are these people?” I asked Andrea Strong last evening as she walked with Vicki Freeman to the back of Hundred Acres.
I should have asked Vicki, because she’s the co-owner of Hundred Acres (and of Five Points and Cookshop), the new restaurant that opens on Thursday in the space that once was Provence, but I had never met her and didn’t know who she was.
Andrea introduced us and Vicki said most of the people at the opening party were her friends, although the press had been invited, too.
As far as I could tell there were only three press people there: Andrea, Ted Lee and me.
Ted’s getting married on Saturday, so congratulations to him.
But soon enough everyone else showed up; it was New York City's biggest restaurant opening of the week, after all. And so as I snacked on oysters, asparagus tempura, sliders and mini mint-chocolate ice cream cones and drank Sauvignon Blanc — followed later by something red that went down easily — I made the rounds. I saw Peter Meehan for the second time in my life and we had a very enjoyable chat about career choices. Peter’s about to leave The New York Times, you see, and people don’t do that very often. I suggested that leaving the Times was the coolest thing in the world to do. Then you can say, with nonchallance, “yeah, I had a column in the Times, but I quit. It was time to move on.”
I talked about my cousin Sarah Boxer, who worked at the Times for years, but finally quit to have a kid and otherwise readjust her priorities. She lives in the DC area now with her husband, Harry Cooper, who is, like, director of modern art at the National Gallery or something similarly spectacular, and their son Julius.
Sarah just came out with a new book, about blogs, and seems to be doing very well. Her parents, my Aunt Florine and Uncle Phil, are certainly proud.
Then I fell in with Julie Besonen of Paper and her husband, Jim Knapp, who were soon joined by freelancer Kathleen Squires and her plus-one, whose name I didn’t catch, but she sold clothing to department stores for Nike, and I ended up having a long talk with her about textile-import regulations and negotiation techniques in Asia.
I like speaking with plus-ones, because how much food-scene gossip does a person really need?
Then I talked with some people about vacationing in Colorado, caught up with David Blend of Thrillist and re-met his underling Steve Bryant.
I also caught up with Laren Spirer, sometime-contributor to Gothamist and, like me, a graduate from Tufts. Laren was in one of Tufts' three, yes three, a capella groups. She was in the offbeat, co-ed group called the Amalgamates, as opposed to the all-woman Jackson Jills (although Tufts is co-ed, on paper the women all attend Jackson College and the men attend the College of Liberal Arts; it is a tradition) or the legendary Beelzebubs. Really, the Bubs are legendary. My young colleague Mark Brandau, who was himself in an all-male a capella group in college, says the Bubs’ CD “Code Red” is the standard by which all other all-male a capella groups are measured.
Sure, you may want to laugh at college a capella groups, everyone does. But the Beelzebubs got laid more than anyone else at Tufts. I swear they did. Laren said so, too.
Amalgamates, not so much.
Laren and I briefly played the do-you-know game, and it turns out we both know Mayer Danzig, who was in charge of promoting concerts and stuff at Tufts. He booked the band for our Spring Fling. In fact, he booked The Band, but it was 1990, so it was minus Robbie Robertson, and I mocked his choice in my column in The Tufts Daily. He actually threatened me with physical harm, afterwards, but it was at a party thrown by large gun-toting friends of mine, so I wasn’t concerned.
Mayer’s now involved in the web site Twangville. I’ll have to shoot him an e-mail.
I swung by the table where Lockhart Steele and Ben Leventhal of Eater were assessing the situation.
Ben is always smiling. Always. He’s always smiling. I think he likes his job.
Ben and Lockhart are launching — on Thursday, I think — a new version of Gridskipper, which will be covering the Hamptons for the summer. We talked about several other things, which they then declared to be off the record, like anyone cares about their flirting strategies anyway.
I left at the same time as Steve Bryant, who I think was going to some other opening, and as I walked to the subway he let me rant about what’s wrong with my own neighborhood, Park Slope (in short, some of the most fortunate people in the world live there, but they spend their time simultaneously overindulging their children while also pumping them full of neroses, running in Prospect Park not to embrace life but to fight death — and all the tortilla chips sold at my minimarket are made with organic corn, like that makes the slightest bit of difference once the corn is processed and fried).
It is a pretty neighborhood, though.


Laren said...

I'm sure some of the Amalgamates did pretty well. I, on the other hand, had a boyfriend all through college.

Bret Thorn said...

Well some of the mechanical engineering students did well.

Shane Curcuru said...

I can't help but thinking Bret's comment may have been directed at me, and that I've failed him by taking so long to respond to his blog.

I'm not *that* famous; searching for my last name doesn't always bring up my website as the first search hit, although it's usually the second.

Or perhaps Bret actually had other engineering friends who read (and contributed to) his Daily columns?

Bret Thorn said...

Well Shane, I guess you’re always on my mind, to some degree, occupying a comfortable spot in my subconscious where I keep good memories and valued friendships. And I think you were one of the gun-toting friends at the party with Mayer Danzig — not that you were actually packing heat; I mean gun-toting in a more metaphorical sense, that were anyone to endeavor to harm me you would try to prevent him (or her) from doing so.
But I leave it up to you to reminisce about your sex life as a mechanical-engineering undergrad; it’s not my place to do so.