Friday, August 31, 2007

Stamford Skate Park Looks Cool

SCOOP: There's a skate park that opened this summer in Scalzi Park. The park opens at 8 every day and closes at sunset. A Scalzi Park employee monitors it after 4 pm.
MY TAKE: This video is short, but it shows how when there are many skaters, they wait patiently and take turns. The guy in the video is average. If you want to see a kid who is REALLY good, go to this link on You Tube:
It's called "stamford skatepark" by skate 1423 if you have trouble finding it. The dog in the video cracks me up.
VERDICT: The park is on Bridge St. , and it looks like it would be fun to watch the skaters on the weekend or after work.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stamford: Patching Itself Up

SCOOP: Stamford is undergoing a lot of construction right now.
MY TAKE: If I'd had my camera while driving down Summer St. last night at 11pm, I'd have a picture of Wash Blvd closed down, police lights flashing, and cars detouring over on Main and down Stillwater. Nothing to do with the crane, mind you, I think they were just paving. You're a mess, Stamford, I said to myself.
Same night, on the way back up Atlantic, more flashing lights; a cop had pulled someone over, and another car pulled in as back up- with flashing lights. Policemen, I see you pulling people over a lot these days. That means you have us safe drivers' backs. There were flashing lights at an accident on my road Tuesday evening; the cops were taking care of it. You’re not a mess, Stamford. People are just hard at work fixing you up. I guess that includes lots of flashing lights.
On Wednesday, they were doing some paving/jackhammer business near Black Bear, with a cadre of elaborate trucks and, again, flashing lights. All this construction is irritating and ugly, but you’re growing, Stamford. I have to admire you for that. Multi-million dollar businesses flowing into the South End, and there you are. Not stressing out. Just patchin' some roads.
VERDICT: Be patient with Stamford, and don't drive like a jerk if you're detoured. Click here to read more.

Baseball Beats Karaoke at Bobby V's

SCOOP: Bobby V’s won’t turn off the Yankees-Red Sox game so karaoke can start on time. It is a sports bar, after all.
MY TAKE: I don’t mind that karaoke started late. I got to people-watch, or rather, men-watch. The bar was packed but orderly: a horseshoe of men, all looking up at the screen, sitting at the central bar run by the two pro bartenders. Again, the tolerance of the crowd at Bobby V’s surprises me. Everyone is so chill. There were two men wearing Yankees jerseys, acting totally insane. I can’t say they were cheering, because it was more like out-of-control bellowing. They were screaming at the TV for all of innings 7-9: “OOOOOOHHHHHH NO!!!!!!! YEAH!!!!!! F____ YEAH!!!!!!!! GO YANKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!!!!”
At first I thought the whole bar was yelling, but no. It was just these two men, making the noise of fifteen people. I kept thinking they were going to be ejected because they were so annoying, but the men at the bar just glanced at them occasionally with bemusement. I think in a way, people appreciated their enthusiasm. When they cheered at the proper times, it felt like we were all actually at the game. It was fun. There was a guy wearing a Yankees Suck T-shirt. The crazy men in Yankees jerseys pretended to jostle him and give him fighting words, but they were all laughing. Then, the friend of the Yankees Suck guy picked him up, threw him over his shoulder, and pretended to carry him out of the bar.
VERDICT: I like Bobby V’s. It feels like a big family and/or college. Click here to read more.

Margot's Offers Non-Starbucks Coffee!

SCOOP: A very good café/wine bar just opened in the Bull’s Head Strip Mall.
MY TAKE: I thought Margot was a chain because the sign is polished and generic, but it’s the new place from Margot Olshan. She runs the SoNo Baking Co. and Cafe, one of the few good things about Norwalk. Margot Café and Wine Bar in Stamford has pastries, coffee, breakfast, and a small but nice lunch menu. For the same 7-11 $ you pay for a crappy lunch at Black Bear, you’ll get healthier, better food.
Margot has an affordable but high-quality wine list, hand-chosen by the manager. We had a rich Spanish red for 12 $ and a delicious cheese plate that had way bigger portions than Saltwater Grille. (We also didn’t have to flag down a harried waiter who treated us like idiots for wanting more bread- get over yourself, SWG.) Margot’s bread is excellent and makes the cheese plate almost enough dinner for two people (make that two women). One trick: Margot doesn’t serve dinner yet. They close 6ish, so get there by 4:30 to have plenty of time to chat and drink in a sunny, relaxing place.
VERDICT: If you want catch up with a friend after work, go here to have a good glass of wine without having to scream over bar noise. Margot opens at 7:30 am, so swing by whenever-
SUDDEN REALIZATION: Oh my god, we have a place to go for coffee during the day besides Starbucks. Let’s support our local small-businesses.
EXTRA INFO: I just found an impressive entry about Margot on PBS Everyday Food at Click here to read more.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Music, Five Years Ago

MEMORY: Green’s. If you know what I am talking about, you are old-school and on the down-low. Post a comment so we can reminisce. An Irish bar now stands in its spot on Woodside St., across from a house where cops recently seized a cache of weapons from two teenagers… yeah. Five years ago, I went in search of original live music and found it at Green’s Saloon. Late. On a Tuesday. It was dingy, but the place was all about music, every night. Often, it was excellent. I’m not sure if that scene can ever be recreated. If it's still out there, I need to know ASAP.
THANKS: To Garrison Gunter for his great photo of Green's. You can even see a band playing in the back.
REQUEST: If you know what the members of Bravo Avocado are up to these days, tell me. Click here to read more.

It's Easy to Meet People on Tuesday

SCOOP: Go to Tigin on Tuesday if you want to compete with other smart people or meet men.
MY TAKE: Last week I walked into Tigin looking for a friend. Groups of people were huddled around tables, talking. My feelings were hurt. What the F? I thought. Does everyone in Stamford have friends except me? I ran into a different friend, who shouted, “Are you here for Trivia Night?” Oh yeah! He had mentioned it to me a few days before, but it sounded dorky and boring. But Tigin was packed. There were attractive people of all ages. They seemed deliriously happy; I guess a combo of beer, friends, and competition will do that. I rounded the corner and ran into a group of coworkers; they ended up winning the 50$ prize and spending it on shots.
I returned to Tigin last night and felt the same disorientation when I walked in: people were behaving in a non-bar way. They weren’t shouting over loud music. The girls weren’t in the circle of “We’re hot but don’t look at us”, and men weren’t staring lecherously. It was like being at a party with friends. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of staring opportunities, but you’re busy, so no one can tell you're checking them out. When the game’s over, you can mingle. Ladies, take heed: I did notice there were more men than women. Men, invite your female friends, for god’s sake. Let’s make the most of this flirting opportunity.
VERDICT: Go to Tigin. Trivia starts at 8:30 (this Tues Sept 4 no trivia due to holiday). It ends by 10:30, so “I have to work the next day” is not an excuse. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You're Killing Me, Blockbuster

SCOOP: Blockbuster is seriously messed up and carries few movies I want to see.
MY TAKE: Dear Blockbuster on High Ridge,
Why did you take away the documentary section? What sense does it make to sprinkle them in the drama section? They’re not drama. Why don’t you weed out the comedy section- I doubt anyone is renting License to Drive with Heather Graham and Corey Haim from 20 years ago.
Why the ill-conceived shelf set-up? The aisles are narrow and long. You can only see the bottom shelf by bending over, but then your butt hits the other side of the aisle, so you have to bend sideways. If you’re in the middle of the row and decide you want to exit, you have to walk half the length of the entire building. The shelves are so high that I feel claustrophobic, and I’m tall. I guess you’re maximizing the space, but the aisles are like the maze scene at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
I do appreciate that you had the second season of Weeds. It was in a really obscure location- the bottom shelf- but an employee helped me find it. I noticed there’s another Blockbuster near my Commerce St. NYSC; maybe it has a better selection.
VERDICT: Someone tell me: is there somewhere I can rent non-blockbuster films, or should I just do Netflix? Click here to read more.

Sing Along, Stamford

Thank you Guru, for sending me this link to a video about urban life. Some of the people don't mind being alone, some use headphones to tune out, others want to connect, and others are jumping on a trampoline or making out. Maybe the message is, we're around each other- recognize each other. And how 'bout those buffalo?
The video is "We Are Alive" by Paul Van Dyk. What a name.

Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stamford Talk: Starting the Blog

SCOOP: The local papers list events, but the city needs a website with information and commentary that provides a more complete picture of Stamford social life. We need gossip, not news. Email me.
MY TAKE: Last Saturday morning, I went online to find out where my husband’s coworker was playing cricket. It was the final match of the season, and I had enthusiastically promised to be there. I was looking forward to learning about a confusing-looking sport and getting into the glamorous world of the Stamford cricket scene. I googled it… clicked on links… searched everywhere… NOTHING.
I couldn’t believe it. There was a cricket match going on in Stamford, and I couldn’t find it. I was pissed. You can find anything on the internet. Right then, in a 10 am rage, I started writing the first entry of Stamford Talk. I had known for a while that Stamford needed a website other than the solely-informative City of Stamford and the poorly-organized The cricket match incident moved me to make the social, conversational website I'd been imagining since January.
VERDICT: I’m going to tell you about the people, restaurants, parks, events, scenes and organizations that the newspapers are too objective and serious to cover. Click here to read more.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why a Blog About Stamford?

SCOOP: Stamford can be a tough place to love if you don't know where to look.
MY TAKE: It took me nine years to like Stamford. I only thought about what it didn’t have: coffee shops that weren’t Starbucks, easy to find live music on a regular basis, and beautiful places to walk. I need other people to like Stamford sooner. If it takes five years, they might leave, depriving me of people to have fun with. I need this town to rock my world.
Fairfield County northern-ized me. I stopped talking to strangers. I started driving like a bitch, not letting people go in front me. I hated who I had become. I let this area teach me to ignore the people around me, but I want to change that. 140,000 people live and work here. This site will be a great excuse to approach all the interesting-looking characters I have felt too shy and disconnected to talk to. I'm devoting myself to finding and reporting on the live music, good public parks, and eccentric events like contra dancing, and get back to you. Seriously, I want to do-si-do.
VERDICT: I’ll do some “research”- tonight it’s karaoke at Bobby V’s- and get back to you. Click here to read more.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Karaoke at Bobby V's

SCOOP: Bobby V's karaoke is casual, fun, and people stay out of your face.
MY TAKE: Last night’s research was a bit too fun; I didn’t mean to stay out until 12:30am. Shout out to the wonderful bartenders who made our night even more enjoyable with their laid-back personalities. What a nice change from snooty bartenders who act like you’re bothering them by asking for a beer. Even when the bar was busiest, the bartenders were pleasant when they got to us. That pretty much captures the vibe at Bobby V’s- no pretension, just people out to drink with friends, have a late dinner at the bar, and take in the karaoke scene. Guys after work, guys after softball, girls with their guys, people there to sing. Everyone did what they wanted and kept out of each other’s way. The bar is in the center of the room, dividing the room in half, so there’s no crowding. It’s a great set up. The karaoke went smoothly; the MC knows what he's doing. Most singers were decent. A few stood out, including the guy who sang “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Verne, who sang the blues. Props, brothers, hope to hear you again.
VERDICT: I’ll be there next week. Let's all do what we can to keep the place hopping, especially in the dark days of winter. Click here to read more.

Bobby V's vs. O'Neill's Karaoke

SCOOP: O'Neill's cannot match Bobby V's karaoke.
MY TAKE: My friend says that O’Neill’s karaoke in Norwalk- also on Wednesday- is equally good. I myself doubt that, because the one I went to last winter was pretty dead. But she said, no, it’s a young crowd, very supportive, and it’s darker, so it’s less intimidating. Well, I found the vibe at Bobby V’s plenty supportive; people who wanted to listen listened, and those who didn’t care chilled at the bar or talked with friends at the tall tables along the wall. I don’t want to be in dim drab O’Neill’s in the dark; I prefer Bobby V’s warm lighting and sports paraphernalia-covered walls. My friend said O’Neill’s is “more serious”; I guess that’s cool for serious singers, but Bobby V’s is about having a good time with no pressure.
VERDICT: Bring some friends to Bobby V's on Wednesday around 9, 9:30.
TIP: the MC at Bobby V’s might heckle you, but he’ll also save your butt and sing along if you are totally off-key. Click here to read more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Post Offices Matter to Stamford

ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE: Stamford needs post offices, because they combat the dehumanization that comes from living in a big place. Email has replaced letters, but everyone needs POs to do mail boxes, get money orders, and send certified mail. You have to interact with other human beings at the PO. This is a good thing. I see people pay clerks in stores without saying a word of hello or thanks. I don’t want to live in a place where people think they are better than others. Even the wealthiest patron at a PO has to be polite; if not, the clerk will tell them to fuck off and get out. I’ve seen that happen (in Greenwich), and it’s awesome. The USPS is a government agency; fucking with them is probably a federal offense. The post office requires respect. Behaving well will make you a better person, and therefore make Stamford a better place for us all. Click here to read more.

Post Office Perfection: Camp Ave

SCOOP: Want a coldly-efficient yet deep-down loving PO? Turn right off Hope St.
MY TAKE: The Camp Ave PO was one of the key reasons I started this blog. Located right behind my Twin Rinks NYSC, it’s brand new, with a huge parking lot and a spacious area to wait in line. If you need your passport renewed, and you are anxious about getting it back in time, GO THERE. I needed my passport ASAP, so I was freaking out. It seemed complicated to get the express envelope AND include ANOTHER express envelope inside that, and I didn’t want to be THAT PERSON who holds up the line. NO WORRIES at Camp Ave. They have a special BACK ROOM where they PUT THE WHOLE APPLICATION TOGETHER and make sure you have all the correct forms, envelopes, and postage. Usually for someone to be this helpful, you have to pay money. People keep saying passports are taking a long time, but I got mine back in a jiff. I give Camp Ave the credit for that, and for calming me down.
VERDICT: Great PO for the anxiety-ridden. Too bad it’s in the TOP RIGHT corner of Stamford, practically in New Caanan and Darien. Click here to read more.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hope St. Post Office: Almost Southern

SCOOP: The Hope St. PO is convenient; it's patrons are the long-time residents who are going to make 400,000$ off you when they sell you their battered, 40 year-old 3-bedroom.
MY TAKE: In the name of research, I swung into the Hope St. PO today. I was thrilled to see the old-school PO boxes. You know, gold/copper color, square glass window so you can see your mail, box # on the glass, and the pointed dial you turn with your combo. I kind of want one of those.
I decided to wait in line to get a better feel for the place. As a cover, I planned to ask about air mail envelopes (they no longer exist) or buy a few stamps (I got a whole sheet of really awesome STAR WARS stamps.) The desk was short-handed; the line was mildly irritated but understanding. The clerk (no names here) was NOT flustered by the fact that he was doing all the work in the entire building. I had a chat with the retiree in front of me. He was mailing something he sold on eBay. Even though it was slow, the Hope St. PO was nice. When it was finally my turn, the clerk patiently explained that they no longer have air mail, it’s just priority or first class. I got my Star Wars stickers (I mean stamps) and left.
VERDICT: Feeling friendly and want one-on-one attention? Go to the Hope St. PO. Click here to read more.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Passport Service With a Grimace

SCOOP: Don't stress about your passport. Go to the Ferguson Library's basement.
MY TAKE: You may have noticed the huge banner on the Ferguson Library's front, advertising the erratic hours of the Passport Office. Oddly, the “office” is a desk located in the far corner of the basement. When I went there two years ago, the woman working there was… you know. So mean, because she’s tired of explaining the same old crap to people who get upset at her explanations (no, she does not make passports there), yet lovable because she is so mean. And, she’s not mean, she just can’t help you get a passport if you do not have the original copy of your proof of citizenship. At least she tells you where you stand. It was like a scene from Seinfeld as she tolerantly performed a tedious but very important job.
VERDICT: You can get most passport forms online, but if you need or prefer personal help, go to the Ferguson. You can get your passport photo taken (10 bucks) and chat with the jaded clerk. Actually, the woman who was there last month was spacey and sweet, but I like the grumpy lady better. Click here to read more.