Bill Murray, Brooklyn Bartender

This New York Times story of Bill Murray serving as a bartender for a soon-to-open Brooklyn bar is fantastic:

At 8:05, Bill Murray stepped in at last. The place lit up with smartphone flashes as he moved toward the bar. Those not occupied with capturing his likeness for their Instagram accounts gave him a round of applause.

His first order of business was to grab a bottle of Slovenia Vodka from behind the bar. He twisted off the square black cap, poured a shot into it, drank it and placed the cap on his head to big cheers. Then he got to work.

People who shouted the names of complicated cocktails got nowhere fast. But when someone said, “Mezcal, rocks,” the guest bartender served it up chop chop. Mr. Murray was equally quick with tequila shots, for himself and for anyone who asked.

The co-owner of the bar is Bill Murray’s son, Homer. Homer described his father’s bartending skills:

He just kind of pours Slovenia Vodka into people’s glasses when they look thirsty. He’s about efficiency. Turn-and-burn.

I would agree with this assessment:

A mixologist simply knows how to mix drinks…A bartender knows how to run a bar: interact with guests, have fun, have conversations with them. Bill is a bartender.

The whole story reads like a script from one of Bill Murray’s movies (most notably, perhaps, Lost in Translation).

How New York City Has Changed During the Bloomberg Administration

The New York Times has a fascinating interactive this weekend showing how the city of New York has transformed in ten years during the Michael Bloomberg administration as mayor.

Since Bloomberg took office, New York City has added 40,000 new buildings.

Below is a comparison of the NYC downtown skyline from 2002 and 2013:

NYC in 2002


NYC in 2013

In addition to a major initiative to rezone the city, Bloomberg helped establish more than 450 miles of bike lanes around the city.

Bike Lanes in NYC

I highly encourage you to check out the entire interactive.

Jay Parkinson, Hipster Brooklyn Doctor

The New York Times profiles Jay Parkinson, a 37-year-old doctor who lives in Brooklyn and can diagnose your ailments via IM or text message:

Have a mysterious rash? Send a photo of it to Sherpaa, reply to a few e-mails (Are you sure it’s not a bruise? Do you have bed bugs?), and proceed to the nearest Duane Reade to pick up your prescription.

This may seem like health care for the “OMG, I’m sick 😦 ” generation, but clients include high-tech players in New York like Tumblr, Skillshare, General Assembly and Hard Candy Shell. “We’re tech-savvy doctors,” he said, “for tech-savvy patients.”

In fact, Dr. Parkinson is perhaps the most prominent of the city’s 2.0 doctors, who are rethinking the health care model along 21st-century lines.

In 2007, after graduating from Penn State College of Medicine, and completing a residency in pediatrics at St. Vincent’s Manhattan Hospital in Greenwich Village, and another in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, he did what every young roustabout did at the time: he moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Dr. Parkinson rented a ground-floor apartment on North Ninth Street, and spent his nights at Hotel Delmano and the Brooklyn Ale House and his days caffeinating at Atlas Cafe. He was adrift.

Dr. Parkinson has a pretty well-designed blog too.

Très Brooklyn in Paris

The New York Times profiles a fascinating trend of the food truck invading Paris, France. Whereas the general notion is that American food consists of large portions and greasy food, in Paris:

…American food is suddenly being seen as more than just restauration rapide. Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than “très Brooklyn,” a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.

All three of those traits come together in the American food trucks that have just opened here, including Cantine California, which sells tacos stuffed with organic meat (still a rarity in France), and a hugely popular burger truck called Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck), owned by Kristin Frederick, a California native who graduated from culinary school here.

Kristin Frederick, the owner, received pushback before opening:

“I got every kind of push-back… People said: ‘The French will never eat on the street. The French will never eat with their hands. They will never pay good money for food from a truck.’ ” (Her burger with fries costs 10 euros, about $13.)

So how well is the truck doing?

Since the truck’s opening day, Ms. Frederick said, it has sold every last burger on every shift. And it has received the kind of publicity most chefs can only dream about. Its first weeks were covered obsessively on the many English-language blogs — Hip ParisDavid LebovitzParis by Mouth and Lost in Cheeseland — that chronicle the food scene here.

Read the entire story here.

Brooklyn’s Rube Goldberg Master

Joseph Herscher builds Rube Goldberg machines for fun (though not for a living). The New York Times profiles the artist, who explains that his goal is to try “to make it as absurd and useless as possible” to do very simple tasks via his amazing contraptions.

The project is also an attempt to inject larger meaning into a form he already loves. Four years ago, with no particular training in sculpture or mechanical engineering, Mr. Herscher built his first Rube Goldberg machine in the living room of the large house in Auckland, New Zealand, where he lived. Like his current projects, it was constructed mainly out of recycled materials and dollar-store finds, like Solo cups and paper-towel tubes. The result was a massively complex installation with an elementary school mad-genius aesthetic: balls rolled through tubes, bounced and dropped from one platform to another. A teakettle filled a plastic cup with water until it tripped a lever. Whirling sledgehammers slapped the balls forward until a final hammer swung down and smashed a Cadbury Creme Egg into a satisfying splat of chocolate ooze.

This is the Creme Egg in action (Joseph spent seven months on this project!):

Click over to the NYT article to see a video of his new contraption, the “Page Turner” in action. Pretty cool stuff. I wonder how many broken vases he went through before he got it right.