The Great Awakening

This is the first Shearwater album that I'm just not sure what to do with. Don't know where to slot it in, what exactly to make of it. I'll definitely give it a few more laps and see what happens though.

Jet Plane and Oxbow

I left a snotty little mini review (or preview, rather) a few weeks ago about this new Shearwater album, based on its first single, which has a distractingly synthy vibe to it. You know my feelings on this whole synth trend. So I was being preemptively frustrated with it, to try to stave off the actual frustration that might come with the actual album. Good news is: I was wrong! It's not a trendy annoying synth-heavy cash-in! Bad news: If anything, it's Shearwater-by-the-numbers, which isn't actually bad, because Shearwater's numbers are usually impeccable. But considering the incredible heights their last few albums get to, Jet Plane and Oxbow just doesn't have enough surprises. I hate to say it, but I think maybe they should've made a synth record! Fail spectacularly rather than succeed timidly.

Jet Plane and Oxbow

This Shearwater album isn't out yet. Probably not until the new year. I haven't heard it either, just one song. But I know everything I need to know: Shearwater is going synth, and everything sucks.

Animal Joy

Makes me want to climb a mountain. Makes me want to punch a lion. Makes me want to jump through a window. Makes me want to blow up a blimp. Makes me want to throw a kick drum off a cliff. Makes me want to stand on top of a moving train. Makes me want to eat a live cobra. Makes me want to hit stuff with a pipe. Makes me want to listen to Rook, which was just a bit better.

The Golden Archipelago

Rook was and is a spectacular piece of work. And unfortunately for Shearwater, I think it was also the best they can do. Not only was it the best they could do, but it represented the purest epitome of their very particular sound. So they're not going to top Rook, and they're not going to go release a dance record or an electro-pop record, and we're left with a perfectly respectable Golden Archipelago, thinking, "Boy, I really want to go listen to Rook right now." Shame. (It comes with a cool book, though. Something about aborigines? I don't know.)


Shearwater's Rook is probably my favorite album that came out this year. If I was the kind of jackass who made lists of such things (which I am), it would be right up there on the top. I listened to it last night while sitting in the Target Center watching Kevin Garnett and the Celtics kick the Timberwolves' collective ass. It's the perfect soundtrack for the Kafka-esque internal struggle that is a Minnesota Timberwolves game.

Mariscos El SubmarinoQueens

Who knew that I loved ceviche? Raw fish dowsed in citrus and seasoning, I don't know, doesn't sound like my thing. But after an eye opening experience at Caleta 111 a while back, and now my local NYT-approved "hidden gem" of a Mexican ceviche place Mariscos El Submarino, I think I'm on board with this whole endeavor. And when I say NYT-approved, I really mean that Submarino has been appearing on every Best Of list in a bunch of different publications this year. You'd usually assume that means it's some sort of cool new hotspot, but there's truly nothing cool about this place. And not even in a "cruddy little hole in the wall" way. Their logo is a clip art cartoon of a yellow submarine with a (probably offensive but not really?) stereotypical Mexican mustache on it. I mean I guess there is a certain string of Bushwickian thinking that would lead that to be cool, but just trust me that it is not that. The walls are covered in other fish cartoons, and the entire place is inhumanely lit with bright white fluorescent lights.

But the ceviche! Wow! I mean, I guess wow, because I thought it was delicious, and seemingly does every food writer in New York. But like I said, I truly have only had ceviche like 3 times in my life now, so hell if I have any idea what makes it good or bad. But just on pure enjoyment alone, hell yeah, I'd say this is some excellent damn ceviche.

98k HamburgerQueens
Chicken sandwich

So I'm trying this new burger-slash-chicken place in my neighborhood (well rather, the adjacent and heavily Chinese and Taiwanese neighborhood of Elmhurst), 98k Hamburger. It's fairly new, I'd seen it before and thought that I'd give it a shot some day. It's mostly unremarkable from the outside, other than they have an odd logo that almost looks something like a gun scope? Who knows.

But as I'm waiting for my order inside, I see that there's some sort of crossed-rifle military or paramilitary crossed-gun insignia stenciled on all of their seats. Very odd, definitely not an accident, but suddenly their gun scope logo makes some sort of sense. I don't really understand the design decision, maybe they just got the chairs from some surplus outlet that made them for a different client?

But then I go around the corner from the register after ordering, and in the hall leading to the bathroom there are these giant vinyl wall graphics, both high contrast, like comic-book style black and white. One is a woman in a military hat holding a small machine gun. One is a guy with a stocking cap pointing a handgun towards the camera. WTF? So aggressive! But weirdly familiar?

Then I look further down the hall into the open door of the bathroom, and when I see the vinyl design on the bathroom wall suddenly it all makes sense; my god, this is a PUBG themed restaurant.

A quick google of "98k PUBG" showed me that the Kar 98, aka the 98k, is a very popular sniper rifle in the game. And that the crossed rifles of the military insignia on the seats were indeed the silhouette of the 98k. I further noticed the phrase "Winner winner chicken dinner" vinyled on another wall, which initially made sense for it being a chicken restaurant, but suddenly made way more sense in the context of a fucking PUBG themed burger and chicken place randomly on the streets of Queens.

It's so weird! The oddest part being how they don't like really go for it, y'know? If you don't notice the rifle insignias, or go back to the bathroom and see the PUBG logo behind the toilet, you wouldn't really guess what's happening. Because otherwise the restaurant is a very average, plain, independent fast food counter, playing some adult-contemporary Chinese pop music on the radio and the weather channel looping on a TV in the corner.

And yes the chicken sandwich was a winner.

Chun YangQueens
Toffee cheese foam cocoa latte

Best toffee cheese foam cocoa latte I've ever had.

Taiwanese pork chop sandwich

This place Partea (formerly Play Date, I don't know if the rebranding is a step up or down), is right in the heart of Flushing, and is basically an arcade that only contains claw machine games. I'm sure if you're into that thing it's probably pretty fun. But up front, they also serve bubble tea, and an assortment of fried chickeny things, and fries, and maybe some simple dumplings. I never thought much of this place walking by it, until one day they were advertising this new Taiwanese pork chop sandwich. Now, I'm sucker for a fried pork loin sandwich, which basically are impossible to find here, and I did once have a Tawainese pork chop (also in Flushing), and thought it was delicious. So yes, I was immediately interested. A few weeks later I was finally in the right place at the right time, so here we go!

You might notice above that I posted a picture of the advertisement, rather than the actual sandwich. This is because the actual sandwich I was served looked perfect. Exactly like the professional photo. It was remarkable really. And it tasted nearly as ideal. Subtle, not some extreme taste explosion, but just a really nicely marinated and seasoned pork, some five-spice flavor vibes, fried just about perfectly, topped with some cole slaw and that was it. Honestly, it was good enough that a restaurant could basically use it as the cornerstone product of the entire menu. Like "Omg you have to go to this new Taiwanese pork chop sandwich place!" The fact that it was just a new menu item at this place that sells boba tea and hosts claw machine parties is pretty wild.