Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's all in a name

Read this article: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/justin_bieber_accused_of_reckless_JUl0g8LSvsepBInFnzg65K

Then ask yourself . . . Would that EVER be Justin Timberlake?

You don't last long when that's you.

Brian Huba

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Camping at Lake George . . . Oh Boy

On the way up the Northway Friday afternoon, I couldn’t believe the number of SUVs and family vans with camping equipment attached, heading off the Lake George exits. I don’t understand this insistence on pitching tents in artificialized camping areas and spending a long weekend getting poured on. It's supposed to rain buckets right through Monday without break, so let’s be soaked to the bone until it ends. Then come home filthy, exhausted, possibly sick and go right back to work on Tuesday. Is there anything worse than “packing up” after a rainy weekend? Miserable.

But it’s not just the rain.

Rain or shine, what's the attraction to these overpacked Lake George camp places on Memorial Day? Why spend your free time living like this? We are in America in 2013. We have 100-inch HD TVs and hotels with hot tubs and swimming pools and state-of-the-art workout rooms. We have it so great we need to invent ways to “rough it.” Why? What’s the point? Building a fire and sucking down canned beers before passing out on the lumpy ground, wake with a crooked back to shower in those slimy public barracks. It’s disgusting. There’s always that wet, rotting kind of aura around the campsite the whole weekend, even when the weather’s nice. I don’t get it, guys, I’m sorry.

When I "did" Lake George on Memorial, we’d grab a cheap hotel on the Strip, bang down some RB & Vs, get busy with the bars. The energy was exciting, a bit intense, but so much possibility. We had a lot of great weekends like that. I almost got us kicked out of a hotel one year. Another year we watched Kobe & Shaq at a cool outside bar called Fire & Ice with a gang of girls. It was great. Whenever that one knucklehead suggested an 8PM detour to King Phillips to meet up with someone there, I never agreed. To me that was the fastest way to lose a killer night to the Hillbilly vortex. Nah. I’d rather listen to live music with college girls on the waterfront. I was single almost my whole twenties though, I will admit that, and if I had a serious g/f I might’ve approached LG differently, but no way would I have camped. Hell no. Thank God for my friend who hated King Philips more than I did.

My parents took me camping all the time when I was a kid, a place called Hidden Pond. I have no idea where that is, just that it was called Hidden Pond. The adults would get wasted, and there’d be motorcycles everywhere. I think one time a fight broke out. I’d wake up in that horrible tent, with the puddle of pooled rain water seeping into my sleeping bag. It ALWAYS rained. All I ever wanted to do was leave. My camping days officially ended when I found myself waist-deep in that slimy little pond, and my dad and his friends were on the shore “making their own cigarettes.” From the swamp to the left of the beach, a long snake emerged, swimming to cross to the swamp on the right. He moved through the water, with head up, three feet from me, and I freaked, splashed out of that water so fast, and never went back.

It’s not just camping though. I don’t understand packing elbow to elbow into the Plaza to go ooohhh and aaahhhh at fireworks on the Fourth. I'm totally bored at Labor Day Parties. Parades? Get real. New Year’s Eve is the worst. I feel like it’s more work to partake in all the American ways of passing a Holiday. I know I sound like a wet blanket, but I just like hanging out and relaxing with my small circle, not engaging in phony activities with thousands of strangers, because that’s what we “always do.” Come on, you actually like the Flag Day Parade and going to the Plaza for Price Chopper fireworks? No you don’t.

In the 80’s, we spent a lot of time at the Howard Johnson Hotel off Exit 19. We’d get a room, go to the movies on Aviation Drive, eat at the greatest pizza place ever: Papa Gino’s. At the hotel, there was a huge indoor pool and hot tub. That’s where I learned to swim. In the morning, we’d go to the hotel’s restaurant for pancakes, so thick with blueberries they’d bleed purple when you touched a fork to them. Every time we head north now, we detour off Exit 19 for a place called Mr. B’s, and I always drive past that HoJo’s, which was torn down years ago, and tell my wife the same battery of remember-when stories. It’ll always be the greatest hotel in the world to me.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

We Saw This Coming

Originally run on August 17, 2012:

It’s time for longstanding Albany Mayor Gerry Jennings to step aside. Yes, this needs to be Jennings’s last term in office. He’s been mayor since 1994. It’s been a great run, a historic run, second only to the unconquerable Erastus Corning who ruled for 42 years. And I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Jennings. He's part of the city’s homegrown fabric, the good old boy who went from bartender’s kid to CEO. But everything has to end.

Before I get to the base of my argument, let’s take a snapshot of the city’s landscape. The schools are a disaster. The taxes are through the roof. The city is losing population. The number of boarded-up business fronts is rising like rapid fire. The crime is out of control. And don’t believe that APD report about city crime being down. Like Mark Twain said about lies, “there are three types: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Albany is a terrifying place, and I’m not just talking Arbor Hill, which is worse than Bedford Stuyvesant, I’m talking the entire city. It’s scary, big-city scary. But let’s forget all that, if such forgetting is possible, and talk about the latest issue at hand: Jennings vs. the Bar Scene.

Wow, that’s a line I thought I’d never write about the Capital City’s 74th Mayor. Jennings grew up the son of a bartender, and one of the first things he did when coming into office was take up the idea to build Albany’s economy on the back of Pearl Street. He jump started Alive at Five, and he was at the forefront of the bar scene buildup. He was Mayor when the Big House got rolling. Then came Mad River, the Bayou, Jillian’s, just to name a few. I can’t count the number of times I saw GJ at McGeary’s, beer in hand, mixing with the masses. His Alive at Five moves were brilliant. County and State Workers get paid on Thursday, so let’s bring all that new money to the Riverfront and let’s rock. I loved Alive at Five. It was all going great. Talk of a Convention Center and "Destination City” status was in the works. He got the Giants up here. He built up Albany International Airport. The U Albany Science buildings are here. Parking-ticket scandal aside, his legacy is secured. Get out, Gerry, while the getting is good.

Before I say another word about the bar scene battle, I will tell you that Jennings is 100% right on this issue. Most of the Downtown trouble comes after 2AM, and said trouble is a strain on local police and even hospitals. It’s a Warzone on Pearl Street after 2AM. But right doesn't always mean right. The fact remains that Jennings is trying to stifle out the monster he built, he’s turning his back on the partnership he made from Day One. Even though he’s 100% right on this 2AM thing, it feels a bit desperate to me. It feels like the end. The Big House is gone, Mad River is gone. And now Jillian’s is gone. That was a big one. And when the Bayou goes dark (because the Bayou is as Albany as Jennings himself) that to me will feel like a symbolic finish. And don’t get fooled, this Mayor cannot rebuild Downtown by waging this war against the bars. It’s time to start fresh.

Five terms in, Jennings is just too comfortable. He’s not hungry enough. How could he be? The man walks on water. He even made number one on my Famous Capital Region List. I love consistency. And I love Jennings as the face of Albany. But the ship is sinking. Smart people are moving out of Albany, and it looks like the bar scene isn’t far behind. The Convention Center can’t get off the ground. If Jennings is sticking around to outlast Corning as Albany’s longest-running Mayor, I don’t think he’s going to make it anyway. Jennings must be hungry for a new challenge. Senate? Congress? And the City of Albany needs a new voice to get in there and shake some things up. I love Gerry. He has great taste in food (I see him at D’Raymond’s all the time). He’s a homegrown good old boy. But it’s time to change gears. Get out, Gerry, while the getting is good.

Read More about Jennings: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Jennings-won-t-seek-6th-term-4516198.php

Brian Huba
Originally: 8/17/12

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Is bigger EVER better?

Is bigger EVER better?

Is there anything in life that’s better when it’s exposed, celebrated, increased, or commercialized? I was wondering this as I watched SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, hosted by formerly-funny manchild, Zach Galifianakis. The episode was unwatchable. There wasn’t a second of genuine, original funny taking place. The cast did what they could as Zach G delivered another round of the same weird routine recycled for the ten thousandth time. HANGOVER co-stars Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms made cameos as Jennifer Aniston lookalikes. Trifecta unfunny.

Commercial breaks meant HANGOVER 3 previews. I think this edition has the possibility of being the worst movie of the year. HANGOVER 2 stunk (still WAY better than BRIDES MAIDS), but this third installment is going to hit a whole new rock bottom. And this is coming from a guy who calls the original HANGOVER the greatest comedy ever made, one of the greatest—of any genre—ever.

The HANGOVER trailers look awful. Why? Nothing stays good stretched out this far. This movie has about as much of a chance as LITTLE FOCKERS. There was a time when this group of Vegas-going guys was the most original thing in H'wood. But that was 500 million dollars ago, and three celebrity girlfriends on Bradley Cooper’s arm ago, and a few seasons of THE OFFICE with Ed Helms at the helm ago. Translation: That movie made these guys stars, but we’ve seen the routine. I get it, HANGOVER 3 will make its 200 million, and you can’t argue math, but the quality has been replaced by the quantity. Say what you want about Jim Carrey. He took one look at the DUMB & DUMBER sequel script last year, said no thanks, left twenty mil on the table. Why?

I was thinking this same thing some more as we joined friends for lunch at a sandwich shop in Halfmoon. We’ve lived in CP for five years, and have sworn by this little place. No Saturday was complete without a sandwich run. It was a hole in the wall, with hardly any dining-in accommodations, but the portions were absurd and the prices were more than reasonable. Was it cheap? No. You want cheap, go to Mickey D’s. It was great food at a fair price. They knew your name. They knew how you liked your wheat bread toasted, never forgot the pickle on side. Big things from a little shop.

Then it changed.

The old place was shuttered and the operation moved to a bigger, better building on the other side of the lot. The flat screen TVs and microphone to call out order numbers came. Now it’s fetching lunch on an assembly line. Portions smaller, prices higher. Mess ups. We're out of that. He doesn't work here anymore. The pickle? Extra charge. Granted, the place looks fantastic, tables everywhere, cool celeb pics on the wall, but the product is nowhere near what it used to be. Ask Genoa in Latham about changing. You can't fit more than two people in that place. New building? Expansion? Nah. They just make the best sandwich going.

It’s time to go back to the beginning.

I’m looking for the next sandwich shop, a hole in the wall that makes great food at great prices. And I’m looking for the next group of guys to crawl out of the woodpile like the HANGOVER gang once did. I’m looking to find them before someone else does and destroys the whole deal with exploitation. When something gets bigger it never gets better.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/hangover-3-trailer_n_3062525.html

Brian Huba