Yesterday, I had a blast at the third annual McLean Avenue Street Festival, which was a rousing success. I spent the afternoon wandering from beer tent to beer tent along the length of McLean Avenue. Along the way, I "browsed" the food vendors, munching on a spanakopita on one hand, and grabbing a bizarre hot dog with mac-and-cheese and bacon from Dobbs Ferry's Dawg House (there were a couple of out-of-town vendors, including a restaurant from the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper upper Manhattan). At the western verge of the festival, I found myself in front of the newish Bronkers Tap House, which had catering done by a Jamaican-born gent who runs a "jerk" operation out of a smoker he usually parks by Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center on 233rd St in the Bronx. I spent a good time eating some great jerk pork while drinking hard cider and listening to a couple of middle-aged paisans playing Italian standards onstage. Did I mention how much I love my neighborhood? The guys onstage played Reginella Campagnola, a personal favorite of mine, as their encore. After a while on the western verge of the festival, I wended my way to Rory Dolan's, the premier pub of the McLean Avenue commercial strip. The staff at Rory's had a couple of supplemental bars set up in their parking lot, and the bartenders, consummate professionals all, were slinging the pints with aplomb.
Of course, it's the people who make a party, and the crowd was a great one. There were a lot of families attending the festival, and everybody was in good cheer. The festival was a great opportunity to catch up on the local scuttlebutt... I spent a good deal of time talking to one of the organizers of the upcoming Yonkers Film Festival, which I just learned about this weekend despite the publicity it's garnered. In my conversation with the festival organizer, I referred to Yonkers as "The Sixth Borough", which happens to be the tagline of the festival... great minds think alike! Sadly, October is when my employer runs their major fundraisers, so I basically pull a "Captain Nemo". I'll surface sometime in November.
I also had a good conversation with the founder of the Jonas Bronks beer company, who is planning on opening up a brewery in The Hub in the South Bronx. He's Bronx born-and-bred being the son of Katonah Avenue deli owners. I sure hope the business is a success, it's good to see a local kid make good and provide jobs in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood.
I also had a long, heartfelt conversation with a heart-meltingly pretty young woman who graduated from college last spring. She told me that she was $25,000 in the hole with student loan debt, and doesn't know when she'll be able to move out of her parents' house, but she considers herself lucky because a lot of her friends have much more debt, and she has parents who are supportive. I commiserated with her, and told her that I was convinced that her age cohort was the nation's best hope for a decent future (it's not the first time that I have said that I think the millennials will be the ones to bail the country's chestnuts out of the fire). I gave her a sincere wish for a change in fortune. It's tough to hear that someone who has done everything right isn't guaranteed a shot at success, but that's the new normal here in these United States.
Another standout conversation I had was a beer-soaked discussion of the misogyny of "nerd culture" with two sisters from Woodlawn, one of them resplendent in piper's regalia. Somehow, I managed to avoid a thumping when I mentioned that I wasn't really a "Dr Who" fan, being able to accomplish a "redirect" by saying that Shane MacGowan should have be cast as the new "Doctor". Anyway, one of the sisters was so disenchanted with misogyny in fandom that she refuses to refer to herself as a "nerd", but she'll cop to being a "geek". I told her I'd lend her my copy of Sign of the Labrys, but I'll be prepared to run like hell when she reads the back cover blurb. Back on topic... seriously, nerd d00ds, stop hating on the ladies.
All told, it was a great day- a lot of beer, a lot of good food and music, and peerless company. The neighborhood is as awesome as it's ever been. I have to thank my co-worker **REDACTED** for being willing to juggle the schedule so I could drink and carry on.