New CatSynth TV: I-87 Beer

Our latest CatSynth TV is about…beer!

Specifically, I-87, a limited-edition American IPA made by Davidson Brothers Brewing Company in Glenn Falls, New York.  Glenn Falls is a little north of Albany and just south of Lake George.

Glenn Falls New York

NY 32NY 9LAs we can see from this map, it is just east of Interstate 87, here the Adirondack Northway, so the name for the beer is not at all surprising.  US 9 also goes through the town center, as does one of its myriad auxiliary routes, NY 9L, and NY 32 which like US 9 and I-87,  follows the Hudson River.

As for the beer itself, it is definitely an IPA and has the characteristics one would expect, including the hoppy flavor.  But it also had a bit of a sweet/caramel flavor as well.  I’m by no means an official beer expert, but I quite liked it.   I will have to drop by the brewery when I’m that far north in New York state again.

See more of Glenn Falls, New York and many other fine towns across North America in our Highway☆ app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Highway☆ on Apple App Store .   Highway☆ for Android

Chakras and Homebrews at Performa 11

During my visit to New York, I had the opportunity to check out a few events from the Performa 11 biennial. I had a great experience, too years ago, and wanted to check out the final weekend. My time this year was quite limited, but I did have a chance to attend a few events.

The artistic highlight of my brief visit was a piece by Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler called SEVEN, which took place at Nicole Klagbrun Project in Chelsea. It was described as “a chakra sauna channeling chromatic body fluids from New York to Cradle of Humankind in Africa.” There are seven chakras, which correspond to areas of the bodies and states of being in Hindu and Buddhist traditions (you can look up tons of information on this if you’re curious), with an addition of colors of the spectrum in some recent practices, particularly in Western societies. The installation consisted of a full scale urban spa, with exercise area, working sauna and a lab with a bizarre combination of equipment and a technician who appeared to be running the show:

At the same time, the installation featured a video from an arid landscape in Africa. It is the combination of both the live installation and the video that becomes interesting. In the video, a succession of people in the African landscape extract cylindrical cores of mud from the parched ground. These are given to a local man in a small hut, which he then places into a bizarre looking contraption. When he turns it on, the core suddenly appears in the local lab in a similar looking piece of equipment. These are then placed in the sauna. Meanwhile, in New York, people take turns on an exercise bike, which both powers the sauna and helps the participant work up a sweat as they take turns moving from the bike to the sauna. The participants are assigned colors from the chakras/spectrum in succession, and their perspiration from the sauna generates a vial of “chakra juice” of that color, which is then collected.

This process repeats slowly for each of chakras, with the participants in Africa bringing the mud to the machine and the local participants generating the colored vials in the sauna. The synchronization between the installation, live performance and video is very well done, and does give the illusion that these events are happening together in real time through some process we don’t quite understand.

When all seven chakras are filled, the set is then sent back through the device to its counterpart in Africa in the video. At this point, the video completely takes over and we see the purpose of this ritual. If anything, the conclusion was perhaps the least convincing part of the piece, as it seemed a bit forced compared to the surrealism and illusion created by the synchronizing the video and live performance. But overall, it was a strong piece and I’m glad I made the trip over to the west side to see it.

Back at the Performa Hub in SOHO, I spent some time at the brew pub, where a variety of beers from local homebrewers were on tap.

I particularly liked a couple of spicy brews featuring chili, but there were also some great seasonal beers with pumpkin and cinnamon. In addition to the beer itself, it was an opportunity to interact with artists, the brewers and other visitors. Attending art events in New York can sometimes be a lonely affair, so it was a nice change of pace. In my haste to get to the next event, I misplaced my list of the beers (along with my copy of the Occupied Wall Street Journal I picked up earlier in Zuccotti Park), so I don’t have exact info to share with readers. If I find something online, I will update.

Overall, I did not get to see as much as I did in 2009, and it did not have the same abstract/modernist/future-retro vibe that it did two years ago, but overall it was a good experience and a good start to my week in New York.

Weekend in New Orleans Part 1: Zip visits the French Quarter

Before the start of the ICMC Conference today, I spent the weekend exploring a bit of New Orleans. Zip of course came along for the ride and photo ops.

In this first article of several, we make the obligatory trip to the French Quarter. This area largely survived the devastation last year and was quick to reopen as the “adult Disneyland” that people associate with New Orleans. Just outside the quarter on Canal Street, damaged downtown buildings being repaired and closed businesses are a common sight – a little eerie in spots. but inside things have the appearance of being back to normal. The bars and restaurants are mostly open, music and neon lights are everywhere. Tourists are in abundance (perhaps not as many as before, I have no way to gauge this), and there were plenty of people and vendors around the major sites, such as Jackson square and the cathedral(?) of St. Louis:

Churches are fine, but there are also monuments a plenty to one of the town’s real religions: jazz. Here Zip poses with famed jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain:

We also took in some live jazz at the New Orleans Jazz national park in the French Market along the rivier:

The famed architecture of the quarter is exactly as one would expect:

Again, most places seem to have weathered the storm or been repaired quickly, and many that are not hotels or business are up for sale as condos. There are still plenty of signs of the last year’s events, such as ubiquitous blue dog, here decked out for Mardi Gras (or pretty much any day here, it seems):

A few pleasant breaks from the stereotypical tourist fare could be found in some of the small specialty shops sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, including a rather intruiging shop dealing in occult products, including “black cat fur.” No cats were harmed in the collection of this fur, one hopes… Also some craft stores, a modern art gallery that didn’t give in to insipid tourist tastes, and a cool little shop that used the mason’s “Pyramonster” as it’s logo.

Another welcome addition to the day was a performance art troupe Wild Animus, who performed part of their piece on the riverfront near Jackson Square:

Apparently, the artists responsible are part of a San Francisco art collective, go figure. Several performers were handing out free DVDs, which I have yet to review, but I am curious about this work.

There was a particularly surreal moment as a wedding processing, complete with Dixieland-style band crossed paths with Wild Animus. I have a little bit of that on a video, which I will post as soon as I get a chance.

Having had enough of the French Quarter, I went in search of what is apparently one of post-hurricane New Orlean’s best kept secrets: where to get tour passes for the bus system. After several attempts, I finally found a tourist info agent who pointed me in the direction of a kiosk in one of the shopping centers, but when I got there I was met only with a sign that said “Back 30 minutes after the hour.” I believe it was about 2:45 at this time. A little annoyed, I headed back to Canal Street anyway to catch a streetcar (and pay full fare) towards the city park, where the city’s main art museum and sculpture garden is located. Of course, the streetcar would be out of order when I got there, and the busses running in its place were nowhere to be seen. The changes of making it out to the park before the garden closed to visitors at 4pm seemed pretty slim. But instead of stewing in my frustration, I headed with Zip back into the quarter for a more local kind of stew and a local brew:

This is definitely following the traveler’s rule “When in Rome…” In addition to gumbo, we sampled some of the ever popular oysters, cooked in this case:

And with this, the first of many tasty meals and refreshing beverages to come (too many?), we conclude this part of the story.

Be nice or leave.