April 29th, 2016 by chocko
The Planet Chocko goon squad hopped in our flying saucer and landed in Queens to check out the opening day of the exhibition, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk at the Queens Museum. By the time we got to the doors, the fire department had come in to limit the amount of cretins allowed into the building to see the exhibit dedicated to The Ramones, whose self-titled debut album turns 40 this month. We eventually got in, the place was packed and there was no way we were going to see the exhibit…the line snaked through the lobby and we were told the wait was more than two hours. We took photos of some of the many posters, memorabilia, photos and shirts from doorways we couldn’t enter. One room easily accessible was screening a Ramones concert from London 1977, Shepard Fairey paintings of the original Ramones lineup were hanging on a wall in the back and their awards for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and Grammy for Lifetime Achievement were on display.
We were able to catch the NYC band Show Me The Body. A mosh pit formed in front of the stage and there was little museum security could do to maintain control. The young and rowdy elbowed and crowd surfed to the stage, reciting their favorite lyrics. It was a smashing set of hardcore tunes from the Queens natives but it would have been icing on the cake if they played a Ramones cover or two. Check out some videos from the mosh pit sidelines below including a brand new song, “Aspirin.”
Show Me The Body at Queens Museum
Come on down…Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk will be on view at the Queens Museum through July 31, 2016. We’ll have to make a trip back to the museum soon, but until then…Adios, Amigos!
Tags: dee dee ramone, exhibit, exhibition, hey! ho! let's go!, joey ramone, johnny ramone, new york city, punk, punk rock, queens museum, ramones, the ramones, tommy ramone
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April 24th, 2016 by Mr. C
April always signifies a whole month long of celebration with the Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in Essex County, NJ. It started on April 9th with the bike race and then continued on with the 10K run, 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk, family day, and then the grand finale – this year it was the 40th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Bloomfest! Today, the schedule of events included Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and yes – we always throw in street art because that is nearby the grounds of the park, too! The cherry blossoms already went past its peak bloom, but it was still purdy’ regardless! Follow along with the photos to get a glimpse of what went down at Bloomfest!
(Brick City Jazz Orchestra – 20 piece ensemble from grades 9-12 / NJPAC Center for Arts & Education)
April 2nd, 2016 by Mr. C
This weekend thousands will flock to Trenton, the Capitol City of NJ for the Punk Rock Flea Market held at the historic Roebling Machine Shop building. I made the trek 70 miles south on the NJ Turnpike from Northern NJ – Exit 16W or 18E if you know what I mean! It was my first rodeo at the Trenton Punk Rock Flea and it was a great time! Bands took the tiny stage – food trucks were battling each other for business – vendors were selling everything from handmade jewelry to NJ themed artifacts & clothing, toys, vintage everything, vinyl records, original artwork, & much much more! Besides the really unique wares at the flea market, I was equally as fascinated with the buildings and architecture of old Trenton, NJ! The Roebling Machine Shop/Wire Works building where the flea was held was also an amazing structure! After shopping & draining my wallet a bit, I wandered the area outside of the flea and just soaked in the sights of the beautiful old storefronts & factories. Some were abandoned & shuttered, others were in decay & disarray, but still in operation. I couldn’t help but imagine what it must of been like many decades ago here. The hustle & bustle of some of these businesses – the workers in the factories milling about in town. This part of Trenton surely has seen a better day. I also had a chance to stop by TerraCycle, an amazing business that collects and recycles almost any form of waste.
TerraCycle is a company that reduces waste by finding innovative uses for materials others deem garbage. TerraCycle pays non-profits and schools to collect used drink pouches, yogurt cups, chip bags and more! TerraCycle also collects industrial waste. The materials are upcycled into affordable, high-quality products.
Oh yeah, and besides that TerraCycle has amazing aerosol street art, graffiti, & murals, adorned to the exterior of their building! Come & watch what I saw through my viewfinder today! The Trenton Punk Rock Flea market will be open again tomorrow Sunday April 3rd from 10am-5pm. If you can’t make it tomorrow then plan to meet us there in August when the Trenton Punk Rock Flea will rise again!
Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market at the Roebling Machine Shop/Wire Works Building
675 South Clinton Avenue
Trenton, NJ 08611
121 New York Ave
Trenton, NJ 08638
March 31st, 2016 by chocko
Despite being in the news a couple months ago for violating safety violations and getting shut down, Paterson’s Art Factory, an art venue housed in a monstrous 19th century industrial complex, remains standing. Mr. C and Chocko rolled up to the parking lot and walked around on the cobblestones to take pics of the street art on the outside walls.
When in town, one must check out the Paterson Great Falls National Park. The Great Falls towers at nearly 80 feet and and measures 300 feet wide and dumps as much as two billion gallons of water daily from the Passaic River into a canyon below. Walk on The Great Falls Bridge and you will be treated to a closeup view of the flowing waters and the rugged canyon which was formed thousands of years ago from retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age. Mr. C is pictured below checking out some graffiti off the beaten path. Our curiosity led us to the wastelands of the Mill Ruins.
The Mill Ruins are located about 700 feet downstream from the Great Falls and was once a bustling area that manufactured Colt revolvers in the 19th century which later led to the rise of the silk industry in that part of the city. The area has been shut down for nearly 30 years and after being ravaged by fires, what’s left is a toxic wasteland of crumbling buildings and massive, rusting machinery. Mr. C and Chocko explored the area and took pics of the graffiti and eye-popping art littered about the bombed out landscape. Definitely a cool spot to check out some art but enter at your own risk! About a year ago, drums containing hazardous materials such as sodium hydroxide, oxidizers and peroxide were removed from the area by federal authorities. If history repeats itself, then the cleanup is probably nowhere near complete. Heed the “No Trespassing Sign” and beware of toxic zombies and the freaks that come out night!
March 30th, 2016 by chocko
All Elements, Big Jeff Ent., and Castro Co. in collaboration with Queen Yonsada and the Justice League NYC combined their efforts to put on a great hip hop show recently at SOB’s to benefit and shed some light on the recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Proceeds from the show would go to the residents of Flint so they can get water filters to access some clean drinking water. I hobbled in around 9 pm and Frank Knight jumped on the stage. The dude is a live wire on stage and nasty on the microphone. Knight shared the stage with recording artist, Cheri Lashell before bringing up his mentor, Brooklyn MC Sav Killz for a few songs including “Dope” and “Saturday Morning Cartoon,” a feel-good song off his most recent release, Immovable Kings. DJ J-Ronin kept the show moving along with Lyricist Lounge Co-Founder, Danny Castro who introduced performers to the stage before they rocked for a few songs.
Quadir Lateef made quite an impression with his mighty voice and ability to get the crowd to participate in a song that featured the Dead Prez instrumental of “Hip Hop.” Dylan Dili brought his island smoothness and swagger to the stage for some reggae tinged tunes. Dylan felt dissed when Castro mentioned his Making The Band affiliation and defended himself by grabbing the mic and shouting out P. Diddy before slamming down the mic and walking off the stage. Mysonne Linen representing Justice League NYC dropped some knowledge and Nitty Scott, MC represented female MCs with J-Ronin on the turntables. The legendary DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore, the inventor of the scratch blessed the crowd with a routine that included his infamous no-look needle drop. He also performed while balancing a record on his head. Skyzoo performed tracks off his recent album, Music For My Friends followed by Division X from South Bronx and Smoothe da Hustler who performed “The Art Of Rap.”
DJ Poska all the way from Paris popped up on the 1’s and 2’s for the remainder of the night backing up legends such as Sadat X and Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian. Sadat X an Lord Jamar performed a combo of hits including “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down.” Queens MC, Royal Flush followed with a short but memorable set and the night concluded with another Queens legend, Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz cranking out some old hits including “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless,” “Renee” and “Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz.” Big Jeff aka Zulu Jeff made a couple announcements at the end of the show including a mention of an upcoming event at SOB’s: The X-Clan 25th Anniversary show on April 5 at SOBs that will feature Live performances by Bro J (of X-Clan), Sadat X (of Brand Nubian), Wise Intelligent (of Poor Righteous Teachers), Mic Handz, Pri The HoneyDark, Lucky Tatt, DJ Cash Money, DJ Butta L and more surprises. Be sure to check out the website www.hiphop4flint.com
Check out some Videos below courtesy of LOOPYVIDS.
Tags: all elements, Cheri Lashell, dj jronin, frank knight, Grand Wizzard Theodore, hip hop, hiphop4flint, MC, mr. cheeks, Mysonne Linen, Nitty Scott, ny hip hop, Quair Lateef, royal flush, sav killz, sob's
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March 12th, 2016 by Mr. C
Surely you must be thinking that Planet Chocko has turned into a tree hugging – all out nature blog. Not really, we’re just sharing some local trails, parks, & marshes that we come across which we feel are well worth a visit. A day spent outdoors at a park – navigating, exploring, learning, & appreciating our land is a day well spent! Wait, I’m sounding like a hippie?! In our minds, you have to balance out all that city stomping, brickface chopping, toll collector mongering, & big city dreaming with some mother-nature ups, too! All the places we mentioned are ridiculously close to NYC.
The NJ Meadowlands Commission have been hard at work preserving 3000+ acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands, vastly improving the water quality of the Hackensack River which in turn helped bring back a resurgence of wildlife to the Meadowlands.
The Mill Creek Marsh in Secaucus,NJ is a great example of the revitalization and enhancement of the Meadowlands. As you take a walk on the trails, you’ll start noticing quite a few stumps of once where stoic cedar trees throughout the marsh tidal pools. I went back home and did some reading and found out that the Atlantic White Cedar forests once covered a third of the Meadowlands for hundreds of years. That is a lot of consumption of cedar wood that we destroyed the forest for.
I didn’t spot any exotic birds on my visit just lively seagulls, geese, and some sparrows flying in and out of some of those birdhouses perched in the shallow part of the tidal pools.
It’s amazing to be able to see the beauty of the wetlands, marshes, and the wildlife that inhabit the area and then you take a look at the backdrop to see the NYC skyline with its famous monster wall of skyscrapers. You then take another minute to realize the once booming cedar forest in the meadowlands that have been cut down since were the real natural skyscrapers of the day. The entrance to the Mill Creek Marsh is also mind numbing and full of contrasts. You basically park at Bob’s Furniture store at the Mill Creek Mall in Secaucus and look to the side of Bob’s loading dock and you can’t miss all that natural heavenly wetland glory!
Mill Creek Marsh
Park Plaza Drive, Secaucus, NJ
March 9th, 2016 by Mr. C
This 30 foot sinister looking clown has been at this location on Rt. 35 in Middletown, NJ since 1956 advertising the local FOOD CIRCUS supermarket (predecessor to the FoodTown supermarket chains). This Food Circus market has been closed for 25+ years and a Spirits Unlimited/Circus Liquors have taken its place since, but now talks of selling the property and business, has the locals all fired up about the possibility of taking down Calico – the evil clown of Middletown – an icon of the town for 60 years!
So, in comes the Evil Clown Art exhibit hosted by the AJ Dillon Gallery nearby at Atlantic Highlands featuring local artists from the Jersey shore displaying creepy clown artwork in the vain of Calico, the Evil Clown of Middletown – all to bring awareness to the 30 foot tall steel structure. I live in North Jersey but I work nearby the iconic clown sign for years now but I honestly never paid too much attention to it other than I thought the clown was cool and nostalgic. Then the news about the evil clown exhibit had my antennas on overdrive and after reading up more on the history of Calico and Food Circus – I felt more of a connection to the cause. The Planet Chocko crew made the 50+ mile trek from up North to get a glimpse of the art inspired by Calico – who has been frightening and delighting passerbys since ’56. The Evil Clown of Middletown has been set to be removed from its original location to make way for commercial development but hopefully the awareness from the art exhibit will stir something up otherwise to keep Calico in place! Visit the Evil Clown exhibit at AJ Dillon Gallery – buy the artwork – get T-Shirts – talk about it amongst friends – spread the word of Calico! Cherish local culture and stay weird!
But first, we MUST stop by another iconic destination all in the name of Kevin Smith’s – 1994 movie – CLERKS! We couldn’t believe why we haven’t visited Quick Stop sooner since we all live and work in NJ. But today, we would slay 2 iconic Jersey monsters with one stone!
Spirits Unlimited (Circus Liquors)
835 State Route 35
Middletown, NJ 07748
AJ Dillon Gallery
54 First Avenue Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Evil Clown Show exhibit on display from March 5 for 1 month
Quick Stop Grocery
58 Leonard Ave, Leonardo, NJ 07737
March 7th, 2016 by Mr. C
The Richard W. Dekorte Park in Lyndhurst, NJ – about 10 miles west of NYC and just a hop, skip, & jump away from the Meadowlands Sports Complex which includes Metlife Stadium (formerly Giant Stadium) is a wetland oasis of refuge and habitat for nesting/migrant aquatic animals and birds. The park provides a wonderful resource and an up-close look for visitors to observe the Meadowlands’ abundant wildlife and sustainable landscape. Tidal waters, marshes, and uplands make up the habitat of the park that once was slated to be a landfill, an experimental park on a landfill that is no longer experimental. The park contains about 3.5 miles of paths including the Marsh Discovery trail which utilizes a boardwalk that connects a series of islands and marshes for visitors to observe and take photographs of birds and aquatic animals. The Transco and Saw Mill Creek trails provide great views and examples of tidal mudflats along with the shorebirds that make it home. Everything about this park screams nature, wildlife, preservation, sustainability, & ecological diversity. All of this beauty available right in our backyard of urban NJ and NYC! Go and explore the park for yourself! It’s fast becoming one of my favorite spots to get a stroll in with a chance to spot some raptures and other bird delights! There are other arts & science events/activities going on around the Dekorte Park as well including the William Mcdowell Observatory which features a research-grade telescope, open to the public for free (I think it’s in renovation mode at the current moment) & The Meadowlands Environment Center has public programs from animal visits and marsh activities to lectures and concerts. The Flyway Gallery has bi-monthly exhibits featuring local environmental artists. The Memorial Butterfly Garden was created to honor the Rutherford resident, Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz, who was the youngest member of the flight crew on TWA Flight 800 which fell into the ocean off Long Island on July 17, 1996. You can also catch the WCT Memorial Cove, a water’s edge tribute that reflects the pre-9/11 Manhattan Skyline.
Richard W. Dekorte Park
2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
March 3rd, 2016 by Mr. C
Where do you go for a casual nature hike if you want to visit a scenic yet very unique destination while strapped for time & energy? I’d say go to Constitution Marsh in Garrison, NY. It’s about 50 miles north of NYC close to the Bear Mountain area in the lower Hudson Valley. The hike is less than 2 miles roundtrip in a relatively easy terrain to navigate minus a few rocky areas of flight. The final destination yields some stunning views overlooking the marshes in the foreground and the hudson river in the back.
It took me about 1 hr to drive to the Marsh from Northern NJ & about 1 hr of hiking. Crossing over the Bear Mountain Bridge ($1.50 toll) from the Palisades Parkway into the East side of the Hudson was amazing! Majestic views of the Hudson River – all points north & south! The only drawback I can see coming to Constitution Marsh is that the parking area only holds 8 cars at any one time. It was no issue for me as winter temps are still holding on like Richard Marx or Wilson Phillips – whatever your preference. Getting creative with the parking outside these 8 designated spots is not recommended! There are tons of No Parking signs everywhere outside of the skinny Eight! Be prepared to wait or make backup plans if you come here just in case the parking is full.
Constitution Marsh is a tidal wetland on the east shore of the Hudson River. They say there are over 200 species of birds and 30 species of fish, plus other vertebrate and invertebrate species living on this land. Shoot, if they told me the boogey man or big foot lives in these parts, I might believe them too because the marshes, the plant life, the cattails that thrive here provide so much cover for anything living or dead for that matter! I guess I feel secure knowing that West Point Militiary Academy is just across the other side of the Hudson from the Marshes. I’ll have to comeback when the weather is warmer and when things are in bloom for further investigations! I’m looking forward to seeing some wildlife. Maybe I’ll see you on the trails!
Constitution Marsh Audubon Center & Sanctuary
127 Warren Landing Road
Garrison, NY 10524
(Unfortunately, I fumbled & stumbled around like Mr. Magoo and missed the falls. Ended up at a creepy creek)
(The little bridge up top at 12’o clock, I think I should of walked over that and continued on to the Indian Brook Falls. Next time for sure!)
February 29th, 2016 by chocko
Looking at my Gucci, it’s about that time. Chiller Theatre Expo will be coming at you live from April 22 – 24 at Sheraton Parsippany Hotel in Parsippany, NJ. The guests appearances this time around include Alice Cooper, Weird Al Yankovic, Meat Loaf, Tara Reid plus loads more including a CHiPS reunion, a What’s Happening!! reunion and Musical Guests including Cherie Curie and members of The Monkees. Tickets are on sale now. Definitely get your tickets in advance. Here’s a quick look at some of the guests at Chiller Theatre which took place a couple months ago.
Also on display outdoors, was The Chariot from Lost In Space. It was created by John Antonellis and the team at Elevator Interior Designs using the original 20th Century Fox blueprints. Incredible detail!
Herschell Gordon Lewis presented the 50th Anniversary of The Blood Trilogy (Blood Feast + Two Thousand Maniacs + Color Me Blood Red). Before the movies started rolling, Herschell spoke about his movie career and delighted the audience to a performance of the theme from Two Thousand Maniacs. All the Chiller maniacs in the seats provided the rebel yell…Yee-Haw!!! Free swag for those in attendance…a vomit bag. Blargh!
MADMAN cast reunion…from left to right: Michael Sullivan, Paul Ehlers, Gary Sales and Harriet Bass. MADMAN is a 1982 slasher flick where a serial axe-murderer comes back to life to hack, chop and slaughter.
You never know what you’ll find in the creepy vendors rooms or what’s lurking in the Chiller halls. Possessed baby dolls and nurses plus straight outta your nightmares bondage goons…don’t forget the safe word!
Celebrating Batman’s 50th Anniversary with a cast reunion: Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar. Holy autograph fees! I had to walk away from the room or go broke…deuces! Is that Mickey Rooney with Julie?
Patty Mullen (Penthouse Magazine Pet Of The Year 1987) celebrating Frankenhooker’s 25th Anniversary. Purple hair-nice touch! Frank Hennenlotter (director) and James Lorinz (actor) were also in the room.
Frank Henenlotter (left) and Mike Hunchback (right). We had a nice conversation with Frank about his love for Jess Franco films and his recollection of meeting Mr. Franco at a Chiller Theatre Expo back in the day. Mike was promoting his book Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye’s Final and Darkest Era. It’s chock full of bizarre drawings.
Professional wrestling superstar, CHYNA! The next couple photos below are from the Halloween Costume Contest which took place on Saturday night before the bands took over the stage. My favorite costumes were the R.J. MacReady from John Carpenter’s The Thing and Elephant Man.
Chocko and Mr. C also ran into the stunning Trina Parks from exploitation films like THE MUTHERS and DARKTOWN STRUTTERS. She also is an accomplished dancer, singer and happens to be the first black Bond Girl after starring as the bikini-clad Thumper opposite Sean Connery in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER in 1971. A big thank you to Trina for taking the time out to answer some questions. Hope you come back to Chiller soon!
Could you tell us a little bit about the 1976 movie, THE MUTHERS?
Muthers was done in the Philippines. Jayne Kennedy, Rosanne Katon and myself were the three American actresses. Doing the film was wonderful. We did the film on location, we had scenes in Batangas. Riding in taxis there…not the best thing to do there in the summertime. They didn’t have airconditioning. I like heat but I almost fainted from the stuffiness and humidity. I had a wonderful time shooting and with this film, we had to go to Guam to dub the whole film. The lead villains were just wonderful to work with and they were completely different from their characters.
What was it like to work with the legendary Filipino sleaze director Cirio H. Santiago?
Cirio Santiago was very good to work with. He was so nice, for instance there was a part where there’s a snake that’s supposed to bite me and I don’t like snakes at all. He was so kind and asked, “How are you with snakes?” and I said,”Not good at all.” He said, “Don’t worry. We have a rubber snake and the only time the snake will be real is when it comes up your leg.” So, he went back and talked to the tech people and they put my sneakers and pants on someone else and they just showed the snake there. He was so great to work with and for the first time to work with him, you just felt very comfortable as I felt like working with Sean.
How did you get that part in the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever?
I was a dancer doing concert work and Broadway and then I went to L.A., a friend of mine was working with me as a manager and she invited people because I started doing my own singing act and it was standards with a 3 piece band and she invited the Agency For The Performing Arts (APA) and William Morris and a couple other people. I signed with APA and they got a call from the James Bond people. They wanted someone like myself because I danced plus I did karate. That’s how I got the role.
Do you have any memories from the fight scene with Sean Connery?
Oh gosh, the fight scene we shot for two weeks. Each day we shot a little section. It was just wonderful. He was so willing to do a lot of things. It made me feel very comfortable because I had to kick him in the balls. The first time I did it kind of easy. Mr. Hamilton (director) said, “I know you can do it stronger.” I said, “Yeah, but I don’t want to hurt him.” He said, “Miss Parks, he has one of those football things on.” Of course when I kicked him, it was the stuntman that fell.
Since we’re at Chiller Theatre, what are your favorite horror shows?
I like The Walking Dead, The Strain and American Horror Story.
Tags: adam west, celebrities, chiller theatre, expo, horror movies, interview, Madman, new jersey, sci-fi, The Muthers, trina parks
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February 25th, 2016 by chocko
Anthrax (pictured above from left to right: Jonathan Donais, Joey Belladonna, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello and Scott Ian) showed up for a signing to promote their latest album “For All Kings” at the legendary NJ record store Vintage Vinyl. I’ve been to the store for many in-stores and signing events and this was probably one of the worst signing experiences ever! Fans lined up in the cold for nearly two hours before the record store’s security laid down the law and promised that two items would get signed by the band and only take photos on the fly…no selfies or pictures with the band. The signed poster as advertised was not meant to be and the reason was that somebody from the record company forgot to send them to the store. Anthrax showed up and with a performance later that night at Starland Ballroom, you just knew that things were going to get rushed more than usual at a store signing. Sure enough, when I got to the table…one of the first ones up to the plate, the rules get changed! One signed item only, then security yells at everybody that they’re only signing cards. Now, the deck of cards (with Anthrax For All Kings art work) was an option to get in on the signing or you could pre-purchase the new album “For All Kings” which wouldn’t even be released for another month at the time of the signing. So, Anthrax only signing cards when not everybody bought a deck of cards totally didn’t make sense! I’m sure it wasn’t Vintage Vinyl’s fault for the confusion but they could have been a tad more accommodating to customers for the lack of communication and last second rug pull. If this had been my first signing at Vintage Vinyl I would never go to one again, but I’ve been to tons of events there and seen them do much better.
Anthrax signed for a solid hour. I heard some people got fist bumps from the band or members of the band actually acknowledged their fans. I managed to get a copy of “Spreading The Disease” autographed so all was not lost. The band was whisked away to get to their show opening up for Lamb Of God. Before stepping away from the table somebody from the crowd asked “How about a group photo?” They pretended not to hear their fan’s simple request because I’m sure they had some rough Jersey back roads to navigate to get to Starland on time. Pictured below are some new friends, fans of heavy metal and unsatisfied customers.
Enough of the whining for now, the new Anthrax album drops on Friday February 26 and it’s titled “For All Kings.” I’m looking forward to listening to it. Anthrax has a couple events surrounding the release of the album, check out their website for more information. Definitely support Vintage Vinyl…check out their website for future events and buy some records!
February 21st, 2016 by Mr. C
Things almost seem to be back to normal for me especially when I can attend a Super Saturday celebration in Chinatown’s NYC usually scheduled on the 2nd Saturday after the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. I haven’t been able to make the Saturday jams the last couple of years, but I think I’m back like furious George now! Super Saturday is a 50+ year old tradition in Chinatown, NYC set in place to celebrate Chinese New Year and the parading around of Lion dance troupes,Kung Fu Schools,community organizations, & the likes to local businesses to welcome in the New Year! – this Super Saturday was organized & created by the 5th Precinct of the NYPD in the 1960s to set a day aside for the Lion street dances! Main streets are closed off for traffic in Chinatown like Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Pell, & Grand Streets. It used to be a lot more hectic & unpredictable when fireworks were allowed during the lunar new year celebrations but those pre Giuliani times are nothing but distant memories now.
Our day’s lunar new year celebration continued as we called upon the spice gods at the Mala Project, a newish Sichuan Chinese Restaurant on 1st ave just a few storefronts away from the defunct Kim’s Underground record/cd/dvd store. Mala Project specializes in the dry hot pot scene and we got a pretty nice dosage of the Mala! (mouth numbing,tingly spice). We started off our lunar new year eating adventures with the 5 spice sliced beef and the Liangfen of Happy Tears – both cold appetizers! I thought the 5 spiced sliced beef was ok. Not the best rendition I had because the meat seemed too lean for my tastes and a little light on the 5 spice flavor. The 5 spiced beef that I would have preferred would have been more fattier – have more of a gelatin like consistency from the refrigeration process. Though, I must say, the sliced beef still was a nice compliment to cut the spiciness, cut the tears of the Liangfen of Happy Tears. The grass jelly gelatin (liangfen) cut into udon noodle like strips mixed with the spicy sauce was excellent! Loved how the liangfen was cold and then the sauce heated you up real quick! The spice level from 1-5 of the Liangfen of Happy Tears was about a 3.9 out of 5. The main event – what we really came here for was the dry hot pot. You basically pick your proteins,vegetables,carbs from an array of choices and then choose your spice level and bam – your hot pot comes stir fried with hot peppers and the familiar numbing,tingling, & spicy flavors (called mala) of what is the Sichuan flavor profile! For our Hot pot we chose soup filled beef balls, sliced lamb, beef tendons, chinese cabbage, lotus root, rice cake, & konjac noodle! It proved to be a great combination. I’m happy to get my rice cakes (in 1 form or another) in for the new year and what better way than this dry hot pot. The rice cakes acted like a sponge to absorb the sichuan spice! We chose the level 3 out of 4 spicy and yeah, it was the perfect spice for us. I think the 4th level of spice would of blown my top off! We’ll have to come back to make a further analysis and final verdict but the 1st visit definitely made us want to go back to try more!
122 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009
(Dried pepper floral arrangement at Mala Project – photo by Mondocurry)
(Dry Hot pot – Spicy level 3 – Photo by Mondocurry)