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Pleased to Meat You

As recently as 10 years ago, New York City was considered a barbecue wasteland. Then gourmet pits representing various regional styles began popping up throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. And now barbecue is quickly taking the place of New York’s ubiquitous French bistros—which is fitting, because BBQ is the only inherently American style of cookery that can hold its own with the top international culinary traditions represented in the so-called Capital of the World. A few weekends ago, the city celebrated the smoky flesh at the annual—and free—Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, featuring NYC’s three top pits, Mighty Quinn’s, Delaney and Dinosaur, with dining music provided by five authentic blues outfits. If this is the South’s long-term strategy to take the North, it seems to be working. Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, 1 Mighty Quinn’s server prepares a “plate.”   Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, 2 Slicing the brisket.   Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, 3 Sandwich with brisket, pickled cucumbers and chilies.   Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, 4 The stage during Shemekia Copeland’s performance.   Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival 5 Washing it down with style. Photos courtesy of Stephanie Adams CULTUREMAP_Catching-Up-w-Food-Trucks

by Stephanie Adams

Sep 23, 2014

In Like Flynn

Errol Flynn often joked, “I like my whiskey old and my women young.” But when he first saw young Beverly Aadland, in 1957 on the Warner Bros. studio lot, she was not impressed by the aging movie star. He invited her over to read for a play—a ruse for her seduction. Flynn once boasted that “all over the world I was, as a name and personality, equated with sex.” But that evening, the star of The Adventures of Don Juan learned that Aadland was only 15 years old. The original Tasmanian devil, Flynn was born in Hobart, the Tasmanian capital, on June 20, 1909. He became an overnight sensation with the release of Captain Blood, in 1935, and the hits that soon followed, such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and The Sea Hawk (1940), cemented the actor’s status as America’s favorite swashbuckler. In 1942, however, at the height of his career, Flynn was charged with statutory rape: Seventeen-year-old Peggy Satterlee claimed Flynn had assaulted her aboard his yacht, the Sirocco, during a trip to Catalina Island, near Los Angeles. Satterlee told authorities that Flynn had nicknamed her J.B., for “jailbait.” Betty Hansen, also 17, claimed that a tennis match with Flynn was followed by a “swim-and-sex party,” at which “Flynn had undressed but kept his socks on throughout,” according to gossip bible Hollywood Babylon. Warner Bros. went all out to protect its box office champion. The studio’s attorney hired detectives to get the dirt on the two girls, and he had nine women placed on the jury for insurance. Hansen admitted she had allowed Flynn to remove her clothes, and the lawyer went in for the kill: “Didn’t you want him to take them off?” When Hansen replied, “I didn’t have no objections,” Flynn’s case was all but won. After 13 hours of deliberation, he was found not guilty. Satterlee said after the verdict, “I knew those women would acquit him. They just sat and looked adoringly at him as if he was their son or something.” Flynn’s first post-acquittal film, ironically titled Gentleman Jim, was another box office smash. The Flynn portrayed by Kevin Kline (pictured above) in the new movie The Last of Robin Hood, which details his later affair with Aadland, is definitely a broken man. His debonair good looks, ravaged by booze and drugs, are gone, and leading roles are getting harder to find. His relationship with the 15-year-old (played by Dakota Fanning) may have begun with sex, but it soon becomes obvious that Flynn desperately needs Aadland for emotional support and companionship. (As she later told People magazine, “When it was all over, and he realized I was a virgin, there was a complete change. He started to cry. He was very unglued, extremely apologetic.”) To deflect public suspicion, Aadland’s stage mother, Florence (masterfully depicted by Susan Sarandon), acts as a chaperone on their dates. One fascinating scene dramatizes a meeting between Flynn and director Stanley Kubrick, who was interested in having Flynn play Humbert Humbert, a man in love with a 14-year-old girl, in his film version of Lolita. Kubrick would not agree to Flynn’s demand that Aadland play the title role. Perhaps Flynn risked the dangers of dating a teenager because he knew his days were numbered. A 1942 medical exam had revealed that he suffered from an enlarged heart, tuberculosis and various venereal diseases. Morphine and heroin became his drugs of choice to relieve his chronic back pain. When Olivia de Havilland, who made eight movies with Flynn, ran into him in 1958, she was shocked at his appearance. “He had changed so much,” she said. “His eyes were so sad.” Aadland later remembered, “I think I started out being a plaything, but in 24 hours I no longer was. He began to take me everywhere. It really was that quick. If he were alive today, I would still be with him.” In Canada in 1959, the 50-year-old Flynn suffered his fourth heart attack; he died with Aadland at his side. An official from the coroner’s office said Flynn had the body of a “tired old man—old before his time, and sick.” Flynn’s autobiography was published just months after his death. He’d wanted to call the book In Like Me. Instead it was published under the more fitting title My Wicked, Wicked Ways. Photo courtesy of Everett CONNECTS_Errol-Flynn

by Colin J. Warnock

Sep 22, 2014

Arr! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but before we start calling our friends and bosses “ye scurvy dogs,” let’s take a moment to remember that a pirate’s life wasn’t all rum and Coca-Cola, or even cakes and ale. Remember Long John Silver setting out from Bristol on the Hispaniola, bound for adventure, mutiny and Treasure Island? Well, yes—but first the Hispaniola had to be towed seven miles from Bristol down to sea: The River Avon is tricky. A big sailing ship might need 10 rowboats and 300 men to haul it up or down the river, but a schooner like the Hispaniola could have probably gotten away with one rowboat. Still, it sounds a bit like having your mom drive you and your date to the Cineplex at the mall. And you could spend hours just getting ready. Hauling up an anchor was no fun in a dirty little harbor like Bristol. The rope came up covered in mud and myriad slimy stowaways—and very slowly at that. The movie crew on a replica of the Bounty took three hours to bring up an anchor with just 180 feet of cable. What about smells aboard ships? With luck, it would be downright rank. Unwashed pirates weren’t the problem. It was clean-smelling ships that were dangerous. All the liquid filth that accumulated on any wooden boat flowed downwards and collected in the lowest section of a ship—the bilges. This was “bilge water,” and right nasty it was to the nostrils. Meanwhile, wind and waves stressed wooden hulls, voyage by voyage. Experienced pirates—or any sailor—would be alert to a change in smells. A reassuring stink meant the hull was watertight. No smell at all meant the hull was letting in seawater. Man the pumps. “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum”? Careful. A bottle of the stuff could kill you, as it did John Reading, aged 24, on August 28, 1769, while serving on Captain James Cook’s Endeavour. It wasn’t even a full bottle. Too much strong rum at one sitting can close down the body’s respiratory system. No wonder the Royal Navy kept its daily rum ration scant. Finally, even if you worked really, really hard and were elected captain, job security could be miserable—especially if your shipmates started to doubt your judgment. Captain Edward England, a hornswoggler of a pirate if there ever was one, successfully captured the Cassandra in 1720 after a gun battle. His fatal mistake was to let the opposing captain get away and eventually find help. England’s crew promptly dumped him on an island with little more than a brisk “Walk the plank!” Photo courtesy of Wikimedia SHOP_Annotated-Treasure-Island

by Simon Barker-Benfield

Sep 19, 2014

The Dog Was Out

Al Pacino may have been the star of Dog Day Afternoon, the film version of John Wojtowicz’s brazen daylight robbery of a Brooklyn bank, but from the opening frame of The Dog, a mesmerizing new documentary about his life, Wojtowicz makes sure the audience knows who the star is now. The Dog, as Wojtowicz wanted to be called, was the center of attention again, and he liked it. “Nobody would ever did what I did,” he says in the doc. “Nobody would ever rob a bank to cut off a guy’s dick to give him a sex change operation. That’s why they made a movie about it.” Wojtowicz, who died in 2006, was a Goldwater Republican in 1964, when he was drafted. He had his first gay sexual experience during basic training, he recollects, with a “hillbilly by the name of Wilbur,” but in 1967 John married Carmen Bifulco (“my female wife”), the mother of his two children. The marriage ended on June 20, 1969—eight days before the Stonewall riots erupted in Greenwich Village. He heard the new gay liberation movement’s siren call, which proclaimed, “Anybody can be straight, but it takes somebody special to be gay.” When the Dog first met Ernest Aron, at a festival honoring St. Anthony of Padua, he was “infatuated,” he said, and “had to have him.” A gay priest married the pair in 1971, and Ernie, who also went by the name Liz Eden, immediately began to beg John for sex change surgery. After the latest in a series of suicide attempts, Ernie was admitted to Kings County Hospital, and when doctors told John that Ernie was “never getting out of here,” John decided he had to rob a bank to save his wife. On August 22, 1972, at 2:50 p.m., the Dog and his two young accomplices, Bobby Westenberg and Sal Naturale, entered a Chase Manhattan Bank on the corner of East Third Street and Avenue P in Brooklyn. Westenberg panicked and fled just moments before the Dog handed a teller a note that read, à la The Godfather, “This is an offer you can’t refuse.” A machine gun was produced and the siege began. John’s demand was simple: “Tell the cops to go to the nuthouse and bring Ernie down here. We’re gonna get on the plane, fly him to Denmark and get him the sex change operation.” Outside the bank, thousands gathered to witness the spectacle of the NYPD, the FBI, emergency vehicles and, most important, TV news crews, all waiting to see if the Dog would kill the seven hostages he held inside. The news that an “admitted” homosexual was robbing a bank to finance a sex change operation for his wife named Ernie must have produced spit takes all across America. The Republican National Convention was even yanked off the air for live footage of the Brooklyn media circus, where the crowd chanted, “Queer Queer Fag Fag”; pizza was delivered; and John received a series of visitors, including his mother, Ernie and an ex-boyfriend. The siege ended at 3:30 a.m. on the tarmac of JFK International Airport. Wojtowicz, Naturale and the hostages were waiting in a limo for a jet to whisk them away, when an FBI sharpshooter killed Naturale. The Dog was captured. Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon premiered in 1975, while John was still in prison. He paid for Ernie’s sex change operation with the $7,500 he received for the movie rights to his story, but after Ernie became Liz, she told John she would never see him again. So John “married” his third wife, George Heath, his jailhouse lawyer. Thanks to Heath, the Dog served only five years of his 20-year sentence. Unable to find work after his release (he had actually been a bank teller before the robbery), he moved back home with his parents and lived on welfare. Cashing in on his notoriety, John would pose at the scene of his crime, wearing an “I Robbed This Bank” T-shirt and charging money for pictures and autographs. Filmmakers Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, who spent 12 years working on The Dog, saw John as a “unique New York character” who certainly “deserved the film.” John was also clearly invested in it. He clung to the Dog persona until his death, telling the camera, “I’m the bank robber! Fuck Al Pacino! I’m the gay Babe Ruth!” Photo courtesy of Drafthouse Films CONNECTS_John-Wojtowicz

by Colin J. Warnock

Sep 18, 2014