“Everything You Need to Chill in Bed All Day and Surf the Net”

“Surf the classic way, from Amazon to Piratebay.” That’s the motto for the upcoming web surfing competition hosted by Rhizome at Rockaway Beach Surf Club on August 10th. The event will be the first hyperlink race to occur in New York City, inspired by the Trail Blazers live web surfing competitions overseas. Trail Blazers events began four years ago at Merz Academy in Stuttgart, Germany. Using only a computer mouse and web links, contestants flexed their surfing skills (sans Google), competing to reach Piratebay from Amazon as fast as possible.  The group takes its name from the pioneering American engineer and scientist Vannevar Bush, who in 1945 famously penned, “There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record.

It’s only fitting that the prizes for the web surfing competition will include gear from Arcangel Surfware, artist Cory Arcangel’s line of  “mainstream non-aspirational (in)activewear.” He describes the clothes and accessories as, “everything you need to chill in bed all day and surf the net.” The surfware collection debuted earlier this spring at a one-day pop-up shop in the Holiday Inn Soho. The name of the one-off boutique was You Only Live Once and looked more like an unkempt living room, replete with a bowl of soggy Rice Krispies, than the average meticulously designed Soho pop-up.

Rhizome’s free web surfing event begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 10th at Rockaway Beach Surf Club. If you think you have what it takes to ‘surf the classic way’ with the agility of a tenured hacker, email Rhizome for your chance to compete.

Arcangel Surfware “YOLO” Pop-Up Shop Holiday Inn by arcangelsurfware
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All photos by Tim Barber for Arcangel Surfware

Kenny Scharf Goes to Town in Rockaway Beach

Mural by Kenny Scharf.  Made possible by Topshop, curated by Beatrice Johnson for Clocktower Productions, and presented at Playland Motel.

All summer long, Topshop is celebrating the beach and sun with a Summer Music Series held in the Rockaways. The retailer enlisted the help of artist Kenny Scharf to set the tone — watch him in action (above) spray painting a beach mural featuring some of his favorite characters.

Drop by any Sunday through August 31 to see the mural for yourself, and catch DJ sets by artists like Danny Krivit this Sunday, MOTHER (with Penn Badgley) on the 17th, and more. All of the Topshop x Playland Summer Sundays are open to the public from 4 p.m. until late.

Hot Stuff at Hotel Chantelle, Surf’s Up, and Gay Pride

Help me, I’m melting! I actually need someone to pour water over me as I just don’t do well in the heat. In a heat-of-the-moment decision, I decided to DJ for free, something my manager Adam over at 4AM frowns upon. The occasion was the Surf’s Up soiree over at Aspen Social Club, which was converted to “Aspen Surf Club” to catch the wave. When I got settled and shook a bunch of hands and kissed the babes on the cheeks I went to the DJ booth where DJ Life was killing it. His offerings of hip-hop, pop, and R&B was just what they wanted so I opted out and headed to Hotel Chantelle where I really wanted to catch Luc Carl’s set.

The Aspen Surf Lodge event had a door proceeds benefactor in the Rockaway Beach Alliance. Every hipster I know is heading out to beaches in Fort Tilden and Rockaway these days. The night before at The Darby I dined with Marky Ramone and his wonderfully-made Marion and my gal Amanda. Marky felt strongly that a street in Rockaway should be named after Dee Dee Ramone, who penned the classic Ramones track “Rockaway Beach.”

That song has tourists from all over the globe flocking there. Marky pointed out that Joey Ramone Place is at 2nd Street and  Bowery, just a hop, skip, and jump from what is affectionately called the Ramone’s loft. It is actually the loft of artist, lighting designer, road guru and all-around genius Arturo Vega who I named my Chihuahua after. “Rockaway Beach” is one of the most recognized tracks from this seminal NY punk band, and a street for Dee Dee would indeed be sweet.
The air-conditioning failed to meet the test at Chantelle and, although we DJs did our best and the crowd tried to make a go of it, everybody ended up on the roof and partied under the stars. I had fun playing tracks that had some sort of heat reference including "Hot Stuff" by The Rolling Stones, "I’ll Melt with You" by Modern English, and eventually "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. They say the air will be fixed, but it was a bit too late for last night’s party. I’ve always been taught to "never let them see you sweat"…last night, I failed.

I would be remiss and subjugated to much emotional distress by my friends celebrating Gay Pride if I didn’t mention it. My fabulous friend and fiend Patrick Duffy has done it again. A fabulous event will mark my introduction to OUThouse within the THE OUT NYC resort complex. The space is behind a red unmarked door at 510 west 41st Street between 10th and 11th. This is a private affair with a $50 6pm-9pm champagne-and-curated- cocktail reception so if you want into OUThouse you better hustle.

The gift bags are a "must" with “a gorgeous equality candle, jewelry by Chris Habana, and a skin spa gift and much more. The gala has a name: “The Garden of Earthly Delights," a very special Pride benefit for the Courage Campaign and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign. The shindig is hosted by the ever-fabulous Amy Sacco, Peter Davis, Christopher Valiante, Michael Warner, and of course Patrick Duffy. DJ Angola will set the tone, and my favorite Monday Night Bingo buddy Murray Hill will perform. I wouldn’t miss it for the world …unless their air conditioning is on the fritz.

Surf’s Up! Back Forty Hits Rockaway Beach

It appears everyone is cooking up a storm of goodies at Rockaway Beach this summer, and now, the popular chef-driven, seasonal restaurant Back Forty is bringing their idea of a surf party to the shore.

“There is some delicious and interesting food being served in the Rockaways and we wanted to be a part of that,” said chef Shanna Pacifico.“What’s better than drinking some ice-cold beer and eating crabs with your hands on a beautiful night overlooking the water?” 

Starting today, Back Forty, which has locations in the SoHo and East Village, will bring their traditional Chesapeake crab boil to Rockaway Beach at Boardwalk 96Street for a crustacean feast. Starting at 5pm, for $25 you get a bucket of spiced blue crabs, corn on the cob, potatoes, and enough paper towels to clean up your mess. Plus, for the weekend feasts you not only get crabs (oh my), but there is live music and DJs on at the beach.

They are only doing this ocean-side dinner three times, today, and on August 18 and 25. But if you can’t make it to the Rockaways, you can still have a crab boil at their landlubber location in the East Village on August 14 and 21. But wait, there’s more! On August 28 through September 1, they will be hosting the Crabapalooza, a messy five days of hammering shells, sucking sweet crabmeat, and downing beer. 

Fort Tilden, the Next Top Beach: Yay or Nay?

Going to the beach should be fun and relaxing. But for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to have a car in the city (I sure don’t), the thought of melding with screaming children and their equally obnoxious parents on the subway has you already shaking, perhaps the hipster way is the best choice to take for your next beach adventure. Of course, as the service expands, it has its downside, namely, the takeover of Fort Tilden.

Now Rockabus, the Williamsburg-based shuttle bus service that specializes in transporting hipsters to the beach, makes stops to this unrestricted spot every couple of hours. Joy! Or not. I mean, it’s good for people to go there, but I am afraid if we are not careful, soon Fort Tilden will be less quaint and more annoying. Though, the upside to this might mean more awesome food choices like they have at Rockaway Beach. Right now, the only options at Fort Tilden are the glorious milkshakes in flavors like peanut-butter cup and Almond Joy, or a chili and pepper-cheese-topped hotdog from the Breezy Dog truck. Wish there was someway to bring the food, but leave the obnoxious crowds.

For the decade that I have lived in New York, Fort Tilden has been the place to go to for those souls who wish for a more laidback, cleaner, and topless beach time. Since it doesn’t have lifeguards or security, this spot is the best one to hit to if you like to drink, smoke, and swim out farther than allowed at other beaches. There’s a relative peacefulness to this beach, and though it’s been gaining popularity (heck, even the New York Times has raved about it), it still maintains on the down low.

But, if last year’s boom of Rockaway Beach is any indication of what can happen with easy access, Fort Tilden may loose this sweet serenity. At Rockaway Beach, they went from something most people didn’t think about to a cool-kids paradise. Where once the lone Rockaway Taco dolled out their tasty bites and DiCosmo’s Italian Ice served up cold, all natural fruit ices at a shack down the street, today both have expanded to the boardwalk. There, they are joined by other food purveyors including Caracas Arepa Bar, Lobster Joint, and Rippers burgers. About the time the food came, so did the Rockabus, which means more people and a perpetual beach party.  Not that Fort Tilden isn’t a party spot, but as of now, it’s a calm place to go, and hopefully that won’t change too much.

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Rock the Day Away at Connolly’s

Connolly’s is the Rockaway beach dive. In a neighborhood where bars are rare and those you’d be brave enough to venture into are almost nonexistent, here’s no better a time to be found. It’s cheap, maybe haunted, and relatively friendly! Also you won’t get stabbed, which is always a Rockaway bar selling point. 

Though the area is largely devoid of trend, Rockaway beach is fast becoming the hipster summer spot. Roberta’s and Blue Bottle both have stands on the boardwalk, Rockaway Taco has a line wrapping around 89th and a bougie-disguised-as-hippie coffee shop attached. It’s happening and will continue to do so. However, Connolly’s isn’t at all affected; it’s only locals. The crowd pops on weekend afternoons and evenings—mostly bro-ish fire fighters, surfers, and other various blue collars. You wouldn’t necessarily expect it, but everyone is super polite and cool and only concerned with having a good time on their days off.

Located in the basement of an old beach house, Connolly’s is original. Original in the sense that there’s not a lot like it, and original in that its look and vibe seems to have evolved organically through decades of good times. There is a sunken patio off the sidewalk with built-in benches and older people smoking; it usually has a couple seats open. Through the red door the large dark wood bar stretches down the left side of the room. Columns scatter about, and there’s plenty of room to mill around in. Booths are to the right, just before the pinball games and dart alleys. The walls are plastered with pictures of local girls in bikinis at the bar (maybe from some sort of annual contest) and years of their Halloween costume contests. One time I was examining them and an old guy pointed out to me that in a few there was a smeared ghost-like face in their backgrounds. The local rumor is the bar is haunted because the house next to it burned down, trapping a family of a women and her three children inside (the overgrown, empty lot still remains). The father came home from work and saw their charred and skeletal remains and vowed never to build another house on the lot, so it’s still empty. Having nowhere to go their ghosts moved next door. True? Probably not. Cool, yes!

All this aside, the very best thing about Connolly’s is their piña colada. They, as well as the equally good strawberry daiquiris, are served in Styrofoam cups so you can sneak them on the beach. At $5 a cup—$6 with a rum floater (an extra shot on top that’s usually "on the house")—you just can’t beat it. And be careful: they sneak up on you and shit gets hectic real quick. I don’t know any other drink prices because the coladas are so great, but I do know it’s very cheap. Also be sure to bring cash. They’re cash only and the nearest ATM is at a sketchy bodega three or four blocks away. 

Go to Connolly’s. It’s the best beach bar. Go before the beach, go after the beach, whenever. Bring friends or make them, but go before summer passes and their shutters close until May. 

New York City Will Be One Long Food Festival This Summer

It’s no secret: food events are all the rage. This couldn’t be truer than in New York, where dining alfresco has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of food trucks, markets, and whole days dedicated to eating from little stands, festival or not.

Already this summer the New York Times has dedicated two articles to these events. In last week’s Sunday paper, they talked about the artisanal side of eating, small businesses, and the hunt to try foods first at these gatherings. The other one hit on the trend of music festivals turned in to food extravaganzas, the most recent example being the failed GoogaMooga a couple weeks ago (though props to them for refunding the VIP tickets). The complaint surrounding that event, and with a many food-centric gatherings, is waiting in line.

This problem isn’t so bad at weekly gatherings like Saturday’s Brooklyn Flea Market in Fort Greene or the all-food bazaar Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At the Flea, they have nibbles like vegan Faux Gras by The Regal Vegan, Sam Mason’s Empire Mayonnaise, and tiny cupcakes from Kumquat Cupcakery. The year-old Smorgasburg has more vendors than we want to list here, but some of my favorites include First Prize Pies, Rick’s Picks, and Kings County Jerky. You can also get your grub on at Hester Street Fair, which features lobster rolls from Luke’s Lobster, artisan ice pops from La Newyorkina, coffee from Café Grumpy, and a whole slew of other bites.  

If you just want to hit up a bunch of seasonal food trucks, try the Red Hook ballpark in Brooklyn, an area famous for its taco and papusa stands. In Manhattan, the Highline has spattering of snacks you can buy as you walk along its lovely, urban-meets-organic path. Also, for you beach goers, nothing is finer for a beach body than stuffing your face with Rockaway Taco and DiCosmo’s Italian Ice at the famous Rockaway Beach in Queens.

As for up coming food, music, and fun festivals that you will probably have to wait in line for, June 9 and 10 brings the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park. For a decade they have been hosting this meat and music fest. This year they have Jon Langford, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and Southern Culture on the Skids to strike a cord as people chow on barbecue from the hottest spots around the country including Scott’s Bar-B-Que, Ed Mitchell’s whole hog roast, and Pappy’s Smokehouse.

Another event coming up is popular party host Dances of Vice’s Rockabilly Night Market at the DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn on June 22, which will have music by Eddie Clendening and the Blue Ribbon Boys, plus tons of food from the vendors there. Governors Island also hosts food-happy events like their Cook Out NYC on July 7 and 8, which features a burger cook off, a kimchi eating contest, and lots of local craft beer.

So, go forth you hungry people and enjoy this popular way to eat outdoors, listening to music, and walking around our fair city. Is there something on your list this summer that we forgot? Please share and may the lines ever be in your favor.