Williamsburg circa 1910

There use to be trolleys and horses. And hey, after the Williamsburg bridge was finished in 1903, “the small village of Williamsburg” became the most populated area of Brooklyn. So morning commuters at the Bedford stop at 8 A.M. watching packed train after packed train go by, history knows your pain.

Move over, hot toddy, there's a new game in town

There are plenty of things to love about the arrival of winter: the rediscovery of well-worn boots that look (and feel) even better with each passing month, the excuse to skip a night out to tuck away under heavy blankets, reeking of smoke after an evening spent at the Union Pool fire pit.

With these pleasures comes the arrival of the hot toddy: a potent blend of hard liquor, hot water, honey, lemon and spices designed to warm the stomach and take the edge off winter’s bite.

Almost every bar in the neighborhood features some take on the hot toddy, with standouts including Daddy’s (try the ginger variety), Five Leaves (their Highlands Cider gets a dose of housemade quince butter and thyme), Fireproof East (especially strong), and Pete’s Candy Store (extra cinnamon-y).

But for cold boozehounds with a sweet tooth and a willingness to branch out a bit, Huckleberry Bar’s jalapeno tequila-infused cocoa is a beverage that leaves the trusty rusty toddy in the dust.

Huckleberry bar's spiked hot cocoa, in all its glory

The masterminds of mixology behind the counter at Huckleberry take their housemade hot chocolate (“super decadent,” declares bartender Jeffrey Stalcup) and pair it with their spicy pepper-infused tequila. The result: a thickly indulgent (yet kicky!) sipping drink that somehow marries the unapologetic pillowiness of Kristie Allie’s hips and the bad-assedness of Mickey Rourke’s… well… everything.

Fans of other, more traditional pepper-spiked confections – Vosges’ “Red Fire” comes to mind – know a kick of pepper heightens the flavor of cocoa like none other.

But Huckleberry Bar’s boozy version takes this flavor pairing to an entirely new level. It’s sugar and spice with a shot of courage. It’s the drink you order after a hellacious day at work; the drink you tell your friends to meet you at the bar for; the drink you fantasize about when it’s not around.

And it’s absolutely the best way to cure — or sate — your alcoholic, chocoholic cravings in the cooler months to come.

Charles Bronson's 'Killing Hipsters'

Really? Kanye got a perfect score?

Before today there were 11 albums that received at 10.0 rating on Pitchfork. Now, add Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Believe me, I want to give credit where credit is due, and I do like Kanye West, but I have a hard time believing that Kanye released the best album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out eight years ago.

Maybe it’s petty to weight the opinions of a music review site so heavily, but this is the internet, so let’s get petty! Here’s the list of all the previous perfect scores.

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Source Tags & Codes

12 Rods – Gay? (EP)

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I See a Darkness

Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin

Robert Pollard – Relaxation of the Asshole (In the review, this album received rating of (1)0.0, giving it a dual rating of 10.0 and 0.0.)

Radiohead – Kid A & OK Computer

Amon Tobin – Bricolage

Walt Mink – El Producto

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

So what records that came out in the past eight years do you think are better than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? Or was this justified?

Black Dice back in school

Last night Black Dice played ‘The Schoolhouse’ in Bushwick. Lots of energy, both on and off stage. Their newer material seems to have a slightly harsher touch to it as compared to the free-psych-hypno-beats that marked the band’s artistic exploration in recent years. There’s more of an industrial vibe now, still very groovy but notably rougher around the edges. FB status: like!


A Tale of Two Cities

The commerce, the food, the fashion, the lights, the parasites? So New York is cutting edge, and now Paris is trying to keep up. According to Paris City Hall, the Parisians are starting to experience a paranoia New Yorkers know all too well: bedbugs. From Reuters:

An employee at the public health section of Paris’ City Hall who asked not to be named said more than 600 places in the city have needed treating for bedbug infection so far this year — a marked increase from 2009.”

Known in French as “punaises de lit” which means “bed drawing pins,” the bedbugs have been spotted in other areas of France as well. French officials, unfamiliar with such a problem, have no contingency plans for dealing with the situation. As Parisian news reports punaises de lit in some of the city’s most renowned hotels, many fear the effect they might have on tourism. New Yorkers know. “Been there, done that.”

Watch: Tame Impala "Solitude is Bliss (Live)"

Tame Impala played the first of two sold out shows in Manhattan last night, and Big Ass Lens was there to watch them catch wreck. Check out a video from this show of their single, “Solitude is Bliss”, a polite and tightly packaged monster of a track which we captured in glorious BAL goodness. All the hallmarks of the band are present – roaming, reverb drenched vocals, sun splashed guitar, and a slyly shifting rhythmic section. And just to take a moment, what a rhythm section! Nick Allbrook’s seriously killer bass playing keeps the foundation upfront but frequently improvises lines over top, while Jay Watson stabs in and out with a crack and clatter reminiscient of Nick Mason. All of this is packaged with a great sense of pop songcraft perfect for those who like their Beatles passed through a ray of psych.

Tame Impala play again tonight, and while tickets have long since sold out, Bowery should be releasing a few tickets later in the evening (as they did yesterday around 9:30). If not, there’s always craigslist. For more on Tame Impala, visit Big Ass Lens.

Robyn: "When Doves Cry"