BLACKBOOK EXCLUSIVE: Chuck Palahniuk at the BLACKBARN x One Grand Books Summer Reading Series at the BlackBarn Restaurant in Chelsea

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Since the release of Fight Club in 1996, Chuck Palahniuk has been one of America’s most celebrated (and subversive) authors. Now back with his first book in four years, last night, Palahniuk sat down with BlackBook Editor-in-Chief and One Grand Books founder, Aaron Hicklin, inside the BLACKBARN Restaurant in Chelsea Market, to read from and answer questions about his latest, Adjustment Day, as part of One Grand’s Summer Reading series in partnership with BLACKBARN.

For Palahniuk, Adjustment Day is the exaggerated outcome of our already extreme current political climate — nations based on identity politics, and fueled by fake news, conspiracy theories, and heightened emotion. In the book, he quotes John Adams: “Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself” — that seems to be the Adjustment Day anthem. Inspired by Ira Levin (the author behind Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives, among others) Palahniuk wanted to illustrate our collective fears in the current environment. “Fascism, racism, separatism” — the author wanted to explore the violent conclusion of our social conscious. But he also sees the novel as just another “girl-meets-boy love story.”

 

 

Publishers didn’t agree. Palahniuk said he was almost ready to self-release the book after his longtime publisher said it was too dangerous to issue. That’s nothing new to the author who reminisced last night about the challenges of getting picked up at the beginning of his career. Then, he was shopping around an early draft of what would become his 1999 book, Invisible Monsters, and could not find a taker. Finally, he approached Jerry Howard, a publisher at W.W. Norton (the company that ended up releasing Adjustment Day), but only after Palahniuk forced a sit-down between the two by playing David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on heavy repeat on the jukebox, driving the others authors vying to speak with Howard out of the bar.

Palahniuk also read “The Facts of Life,” from his 2015 short story collection, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread. Although it is basically a porno with a lot of dark comedy (that includes a mid-sex spontaneous combustion), the story showcases what the author does best in novels like Adjustment Day and Fight Club. Palahniuk has an uncanny ability to not just document, but exploit human anxiety in a way that’s both completely unnerving, but also cathartic. He tackles sex (definitely in the case of “The Facts of Life”), love, compulsion and politics, all in a way that doesn’t just satirize our humanity, but holds up a mirror to it. With Adjustment Day, he examines the nature of equally extreme and opposing ideologies, warning of a disastrous future if things continue the way they have been. But like he writes in the book’s millennial “Declaration of Interdependence,” “A smile is your best bulletproof vest. The joy of fiction is that it only needs to smell true.”

 

View photos from our sit-down with the author below, and buy Adjustment Day here.

 

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Photos by Daniel Jonhson

 

Fast Cars, Booze, & Good Music This Weekend at Re:Mix Lab’s Four-Day Party

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I wasn’t going to write this week. I’m moving, and with the packing and a couple of DJ gigs I’m doing, it was too much, but here I am with my fifth article in so many days. When I don’t write I miss talking to you, and some of you say you miss me too.

I’m moving just a couple blocks from where I am now, into a better space for the same rent. I dwell in Williamsburg which is, to me, a little slice of heaven on earth. The Williamsburg/Greenpoint renaissance at first captured my imagination, and then my body, just like my second wife. New places to eat, drink, or play pop up faster than you can say "Bushwick.” A Manhattan snob friend was shocked that I wasn’t returning to Little Italy faster than you can no longer say Ray’s Pizza said to me, " Yo, I’ve been to that Williamsburg main drag two times, whatta ya call it, Bedford …didn’t see what all the fuss was about, yo Stevie, ya gots to come back to your peeps.” I told him that would be like judging Manhattan by the strip
of Broadway between Houston and Canal.  Bburg is built for me and mine. The delis, the restaurants, the boutiques, the furniture stores are geared to people with tastes like me. Most of the places in Manhattan these days cater to the old bridge-and-tunnel crowd which came in to occupy all those tall dormitories built in the last decade or so. So be it. Bburg certainly is becoming yuppified, and the baby carriages are becoming more common, but for now it’s my happy home.

Last night I missed the opening reception for the Re:Mix Lab. It was the kick-off of four days of fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the Hyundai away. Hyundai has their cars on display and invites people to check them out while providing talent and a great party. Fast cars and booze are combined without danger since the cars can’t be driven . Yesterday I was DJing at Hotel Chantelle but am told there were live performances by Blonds, Skaters, and Opossum, as well as "Action Bronson, RL Grime, Sound Remedy, Hyperbits, Huge Euge, Nick Thayer, Sazon Booya, along with product demos from emerging technology companies such as Songza, Mixify,Beamz, Scratch Academy.” The events continue at Chelsea Market, 410 W.16th Street.

Here’s the programming for today through Sunday.

Friday, September 28
12:00PM – 6:00PM: The Future of Music Is Now (open house format)
                  – Vehicle displays, exhibits in collaboration, interactive art display, social media photo sharing, technology start-up village
8:00 PM: Music & Technology Keynote and panel discussion
   10:00 PM: Live performances
                  – RL Grime & Action Bronson: Solo performances, plus live on-stage collaboration to create a song for Hyundai Remix Lab. Recorded and remixed moments later by Sound Remedy to demonstrate how songs evolve into remixes.

Saturday, September 29
12:00PM – 6:00PM: Scratch Academy hosted by DJ Dasmatic (open house format)
                  – Vehicle displays, exhibits in collaboration, interactive art display, social media photo sharing, DJ mixing sessions, Learn to DJ demos
7:00PM: Closed to reset venue
9:00PM – 2:00AM: Live Performances (presented by ELEKTRO Magazine)
                   – Hyperbits: Electronic dance music duo based out of NYC, known for energetically fusing together big room progressive house, electro and trance
                   – Huge Euge: Resident mashup DJ at Pacha NYC
                   – Sazon Booya
                   – Nick Thayer

Sunday, September 30
12:00PM – 5:00PM: Scratch Academy, vehicle displays

I caught up with Zev Norotsky, president of H360 Group who told me all about it.

I caught the last five minutes of this last year and didn’t understand much of what was going on. The idea is to mix music with fast cars to build a consumer base.
At its core, the Re:Mix Lab represents the fusion of music and technology. The cars themselves are the focal point and give a reference for the entire event. The exhibit is the perfect backdrop to showcase these amazing one-of-a-kind vehicles and celebrate the spirit of collaboration, which is ubiquitous in today’s pop cultural lexicon. The car and gallery experience creates an amazing environment to bring together all these influences and create an amazing dialogue with consumers.

This is happening in a number of locations with different musical pairings. Tell me about the event.
Re:Mix Lab is a four-month, seven-city tour with events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami (during Art Basel), Vegas, Austin, and Seattle. Each event features different musical programming curated for that specific market, with the goal to include all genres. Using New York as a guide, tonight is indie, tomorrow has more of a hip-hop/DJ mixing flavor, and Saturday is electronica.  In some markets we pair artists from different genres together who, in addition to doing their own sets, create original music live on stage, staying true to the notion of a remix.

Is there a bucket list-type mentality pitch with some of the patrons who are young and possibly unable to afford but are (excuse the pun) upwardly mobile?
If anything, the reason Hyundai has been so successful is that they are affordable and represent the best value proposition for young adults. A Veloster Base starts at $17,000 est.

Is this a think-outside-of-the-car show/tv commercial box marketing?
The marketing is steeped in our understanding that our core consumer lives at the intersection of all these cultural influences. By creating the Re:Mix Lab, Hyundai has embraced their ideologies and given them an amazing experience with high-badge value (read: bragging rights) that fuses live events with social media and beyond.

New York Opening: Cull & Pistol

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The time has come to start picking out summer destinations. By way of methodologies you could do worse than throwing darts at the oyster list from Cull & Pistol, the new sit-down spinoff from The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. How about Mirichimi Bay, New Brunswick, home of the Beau Soleil oyster? Or Malpeque Bay, Prince Edward Island, known for its cottages, piping plovers, and the crisp finish of Indian Creek bivalves? Maybe you’d prefer the west coast, where the rugged shores of Cortes Island, British Columbia, abet rugged blue shellfish? If all else fails, there’s always Chelsea.

The Market’s din is kept well out of Cull & Pistol. A narrow dining room (near identical to that of neighboring Friedman’s Lunch) fits a long stainless bar topped with craft beer handles from locales as exotic as the oysters (The Bronx Brewing Company excepted). Stained wooden banquettes would seem as welcome in the cabin of an old fishing boat as in downtown Manhattan. Per the New York M.O., seating’s a bit tight. Go easy on the french fries?

Chef Dave Siegal, who helms both sibling seafood spots, has gone decidedly upscale here. Tender cuttlefish sit on a nest of squid ink “fideos negros” noodles (a neighboring diner suggested they looked like twigs; they’re not twigs). The menu is topped by a clambake dinner for two, with a luxurious mix of lobster, clams, mussels, and chorizo in a classic steamer pot. In honor of Seigal’s neighboring flagship, lobster rolls come two ways: hot and buttered, or cold with mayo. Speaking of neighbors, the adjacent L’Arte del Gelato cart makes a special orange Creamsicle for Cull & Pistol. Oh, gelato. Italy would make for a nice trip. Though again, there’s always Chelsea. 

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Cull & Pistol, The Lobster Place, Friedman’s Lunch, L’Arte del Gelato; More by James Ramsay]

Num Pang Opens Today In Chelsea Market, Already Packed With Hungry People

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You know those chili-mayo-and-cilantro-soaked banh mi sandwiches – full of glazed pork belly, coconut tiger shrimp, and spiced honey pork – tucked into crunchy, baked baguettes? The ones from Num Pang, that packed Cambodian spot off Union Square, Madison Square, and Grand Central? Well today marks the opening of its fourth location in what is basically NYC’s Asian-Vegan-Seafood-Italian culinary Epcot known as Chelsea Market. And as you can see from the photo, not only does Num Pang "welcome friends & fam" with a very loving, chalk-written welcome sign, but Num Pang’s opening has already been sniffed out by tons of NYers who know a good Asian sandwich when they taste it, and tourists who know a good buzz when they see it.

And unlike all other Num Pang locations, you can only find their new roast beef and coriander sandwich, and chicken salad with spicy cashew sandwich at this new Chelsea Market location – none others. But don’t worry, their five-spiced glazed pork belly, BBQ brisket, and watermelon juice are still there. Always there for you.

Get the inside-scoop on Num Pang, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

NY Happenings: Tax Day With Esquared Hospitality, Smokeline, Sycamore

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MONDAY: Take it 1040 Easy With Discount Boozing
Celebrate your annual bloodletting for Uncle Sam with a drink rollback from Esquared Hospitality. Check out the desperate procrastinator fest at the Farley Post Office before heading over to Eventi’s nearby Big Screen Plaza. Drinks from Brighton and Humphrey are half-off, and the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory screens at 8pm. Sibling joints like BLT SteakBLT Prime, and BLT Fish will also be serving up beer, wine, and cocktails with a fatty 50-percent rebate.      

Enjoy half-off drinks from Esquared Hospitality at Brighton and Humphrey (851 Sixth Ave., Garment District) all day today, April 15th. To learn more about the restaurants, check out their listings above at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Rib-Sandwich Joint Opens Near Chelsea Market
Dan Delaney of BrisketTown drops a rib-focused stand along the High Line’s Chelsea Market Passage. Smokeline’s sandwiches take inspiration from Central Texas, and pies and bespoke sodas make Chelsea chilling all the sweeter.

Smokeline (Chelsea Market Passage on the High Line, Chelsea) opens Thursday, April 18th. To learn more about the stand, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: First-Class Flights
Sycamore in Ditmas Park continues its Flight Night series with a visit from Frisco’s own Speakeasy Ales & Lagers. Flights of four brews will only set you back $8.

Speakeasy Flight Night at Sycamore (1118 Cortelyou Rd., Ditmas Park) is Thursday, April 18th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Keep up with the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

This Week’s NYC Happenings: NYChiliFest, Marquee, & Highlands

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SUNDAY: Chili-laxing In Chelsea
Winter Warming At NYC’s Biggest Chili Festival

A hearty bowl of chili is fair compensation for the January cold. On Sunday at Chelsea Market, the NYChiliFest goes off, with masters of meat competing for the 2013 Golden Chili Mug crown. Dickson’s Farmstand Meats supplies the dry-aged beef while Sam Adams pairs up four chili-friendly brews. The chefs in the fray represent a couple dozen of our more creative kitchens, from Delaney Barbecue to Ducks Eatery to The Wayland. Brooklyn’s own band The Dixons provide the honky-tonk soundtrack.
NYChiliFest at Chelsea Market (88 Tenth Ave., Chelsea) kicks off at 7pm on Sunday the 27th. Tickets start at $50 and must be purchased in advance. To learn more about the market, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. 

WEDNESDAY: Marquee Lights
Long-time flouter of gravitational hotness laws Marquee is back and smoking once again. The space has been redesigned from tip to toe, with the focus shifted from bottle service to dance music. Case in point: Wednesday night’s red-hot set by DJ Chuckie.
Marquee (289 Tenth Ave., Chelsea) is open now. Chuckie will DJ Wednesday night with doors at 12:30am. To learn more about the club, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Highlands Hearts Burns
True Scotsman’s gastropub Highlands celebrates poet Robert Burns’ 254th birthday with their annual Burns Night. There will be Scotch, along with a bagpiper, prix-fixe dinners, and a few kilts, too.
Burns Night at Highlands (150 W. 10th St., West Village) will be celebrated Thursday, with seatings at 6:30pm and 9:30pm. Prix-fixe dinners are $55, with $35 additional for whiskey pairings. To learn more about the gastropub, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Find out first about the latest openings and events in NYC by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the email brought right to your inbox every Monday. And download the BlackBook City Guies app for iPhone and Android.

National Spaghetti Day Exists, So Fill Up On Carbs

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We aren’t entirely sure where these national food days have come from, or who decides what each day means for what day. But for today, since its National Spaghetti Day, it’s a great excuse to eat a bowl of pasta or two.

The most recent addition to the land of pasta is Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina, an Italian pasta company that opened a restaurant in the Chelsea Market in November. There, you can get an array of dishes including ravioli with artichoke and smoke mozzarella, and chestnut tagliatelle with guinea fowl ragu. Or get fresh pasta to go like the chili-garlic pappardelle or lobster stuffed mezzaluna.

For an old school Italian experience, the 30-year-old Marco Polo in Brooklyn serves scrumptious plates of squid ink tagliolini and fettuccini with red wine sauce, which gets tossed in a wheel of Parmesan. In the same vain, the king of Italian cuisine Mario Batali serves luscious bowls of pumpkin cappellacci and spaghetti with Dungeness crab and jalapeno at the popular Del Posto.

Scarpetta too makes a mean spaghetti with tomato and basil, and you can’t go wrong with a plate of linguine with clam sauce at Esca. If you want to go for the stars, celebrate this pseudo holiday at Robert De Niro’s Locanda Verde, where you can get a plate of papperdelle with ragu or lumache with duck sausage and broccoli rabe.

Of course, today, and any day, is a good time to hit up Il Buco Alimentari andVineria, which is one of the best new Italian spots to open in 2012. Fuel up now, you can start you New Year’s diet tomorrow.

One-Stop Pasta Shop Opening Soon in Chelsea Market

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For obvious reasons, the grand opening of Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina in the Chelsea Market has been pushed back, but that doesn’t make their first brick and mortar shop in the U.S. any less exciting. Owned by Giovanni Rana, a well-respected Italian fresh pasta maker, the new shop will not only sell their goods already packaged to go, by you can also sit down to a full meal in their old-world-style restaurant.

"Our family has long held a commitment to freshness, quality, and innovation when it comes to our pasta, and we wanted to share that passion with New Yorkers,” said Antonella Rana, the daughter-in-law of the company’s original founder. “Chelsea Market is the ideal location for us because it is home to a community of creative artisans offering hand-crafted culinary goods and products who share the same attention to detail and focus on high quality ingredients as Giovanni Rana."

Their menu thus far has dishes including Prosciutto and Sage Cappelletti, Radicchio and Gorgonzola Triangoli with Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Braised Pork Belly with Apples and Roasted Potatoes, and Spinach Lasagna. Aside from the restaurant portion, the family run business also plans on selling rare Italian pantry staples out their shop, A Casa Mia. There, you can get goods like Krumiri biscuits from Turin, Antica Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate from Sicily, and a unique olive oil from the Garda Lake.

Hopefully Sandy won’t have held them back too far. As of now, they don’t have an exact opening date, but fingers crossed it’s soon. We could all use a little comforting pasta right now. 

Move Over, Wine. Beer Pairs with Fancy Food Too

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While I’m woefully behind on certain trends—e.g. I’ve still never seen Titanic or heard a Justin Bieber song all the way through—those involving beer are not among them. Nope, I’m totally up to date when it comes to beer and all the wonderful things you can do with it. Therefore, the beery folks up at Sam Adams really didn’t need to set up that nice beer/food pairing they invited me to at Chelsea Market yesterday, but I kept my secret and showed up anyway, knowing how fun it would be.

The idea was to sample a few wines that are commonly thought to be excellent companions to various foods, and then try Sam Adams Boston Lager instead, just to see how it clicks. To do this, they enlisted the help of Jake Dickson, proprietor of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, who hosted the tasting and even came up with a special cut of beef designed to complement Boston Lager which he aptly named the Boston Lager Cut. It’s a tender cut from the cap to the top sirloin that has a big, beefy flavor. You can buy the Boston Lager Cut from Robinson’s Prime Reserve if you like.
 
So there was a nice plate of medium rare steak, and we started off by tasting it with a wine selected by wine and beer sommelier (cool job, huh?) Gianni Cavicchi of Café D’Alsace. He poured a 2009 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, which is a tasty, medium-bodied red wine that costs about $19 a bottle retail. It paired nicely with the steak, as many red wines do, and I enjoyed the interplay of flavors as I have in the past. Then we tried the same steak with Boston Lager, which, as Sam Adams brewer Jennifer Glanville explained, is designed to have a perfect balance of malt and hops. Wouldn’t you know it, the steak and beer matched up great, the hops in the beer cutting through the caramelization of the steak, yielding a mouthful of meat that was even more succulent than I had hoped. A primo pairing. 
 
Next up was chocolate. Have you ever paired chocolate with wine? Of course you have, you sexy thing, on those cuddly nights with your ever-loving boo. We chomped on some TCHO 70% dark chocolate that Cavicchi paired with a 2009 Bonterra Zinfandel from Mendocino County that you can buy for $13. It was another fine red wine, and it gave the chocolate a nice fruity edge as it melted in my mouth. But when Glanville handed me my Boston Lager, it was a whole new ballgame, with the carbonation and maltiness of the brew cutting through the chocolate and yielding a medium-sweet treat that I can’t imagine ever getting tired of. It’s just as romantic as a wine and chocolate pairing, but a little more fun. Cue the bow-chicka-wow-wow, if you know what I’m saying. Because I’m saying it could lead to ’70s porno-style sex. 
 
Finally, we had our cheese course, nice healthy hunks of Roquefort spread over slices of French bread. It’s a powerful cheese, which Cavicchi paired with the most expensive wine of the bunch, a Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Tawny Port from Portugal that’ll run you $54. It was another fine pairing which I enjoyed, but the Boston Lager actually did a better job cutting through the pungency of the blue cheese, with the carbonation and hoppy edge lifting the creaminess off my tongue, and helping me experience the deeper flavors. A match made in cheese and beer heaven. 
 
All the while, a team of Dickson’s Farmstand butchers was working a few feet away from us, deftly chopping up massive forequarters of humanely-raised cattle, a display that would horrify vegetarians but I found quite interesting. We all chatted a bit more about how we like to eat and drink, and Cavicchi explained a little sommelier’s trick for helping guide diners to wines that are in their price range without making them feel bad for not wanting to blow a hundo on a bottle. (The trick involves going down the wine list with your hand in the devil-horns position, with the index finger pointing out the vineyard while the pinkie shows the price. "Oh, you like that vineyard? Excellent choice, sir.") And then that was it, and I was back out into the heat and sunshine of lower Manhattan in early September, still tasting a symphony of flavors in my gob. 
 
So now we all know just how well beer in general and Sam Adams Boston Lager in particular can pair with all kinds of food. Of course, Sam Adams makes many different beers you can experiment with. My current seasonal favorite is Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale, the perfect beer to welcome the official start of fall on Saturday, September 22. Now go get a bunch of food and a bunch of beer and start tasting.