All the things in my NYC apartment. A lifetime of collecting random things.

My name is Roberto Serrini and I live in Astoria, Queens (NYC) which I love. I’m a travel writer and filmmaker and I’ve been fortunate to travel the world all my life, so, I’ve collected some interesting things along the way. I decided one day just to set up a camera and document them all and thought I would share it. Will also make a nice memory when I’m old and look back at all the silly things I had. Hope you enjoy and would love to see what you all hold near and dear.

#myapartment #nycliving #randomthings

Visit the Hero Whose Spite Built The World’s Largest Museum.

Smithsonian Castle
Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560
https://www.si.edu/museums/smithsonian-institution-building

The city of Washington DC is like a Museum you can walk though. That doesn’t really make sense because you walk through museums anyway but what I’m trying to say is that the whole city is in fact a museum. Walking around here it’s impossible not to step full heel in a stinking pile of culture, and the Washington Mall where all learned roads lead. There are in fact 19 Smithsonian museums around this area, and the Smithsonian Institute boasts the title of the world’s largest museum, which is quite impressive indeed. Despite this title, one exhibit that many unknowingly pass over is the tomb of the man who established all of this. James Smithson was the bastard son of an American hating nobleman, so, upon his death he bequeathed that his entire fortune be used to quote “create an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”. Well Jimmy, all I can say is thank you.

The Best Little Walk in all of Washington DC.

Walking Logan to Dupont

DC is a neighborhood town built to be explored by foot. One favorite area to hoof between is Logan to Dupont where you will be gifted many a unique sight like a garden full of mutilated Barbie dolls. Yes my friends over at  @Atlas Obscura  (https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/barbie-pond)  tipped me off to this diorama of, quote, “rotating cast of guys and dolls”, that is curated by an anonymous party offering a jaunty and festive display of Barbie’s that evolves year round, and immediately brings a smile to anyone that happens upon it. Their strong Instagram game (https://www.instagram.com/barbie_pond_ave_q/?hl=en) with over 26 thousand followers boasts that Barbie pond is “bringing Logan Circle property values down since 2014” but raising spirits exponentially to me. 

Hungry after such an art viewing stopping at Nina May (1337 11th st NW http://www.ninamaydc.com/) is a must which in my humble opinion offers the best ambiance and best brunch in DC  hands down. From their pallet splitting fresh cocktails to insanely fresh and creative takes on haute cuisine comfort food, you can bask in ambrosia glory sampling sweet and savory flavors from around the world. 

Now to get the experience of working off a delightfully heavy meal without, you know, any of the physical activity, it’s recommended to stop by the Shaw Skate Park (1528 11th st NW https://shawskate.splashthat.com/) to see some of DC’s slickest practice their craft out in the open. 

Now crossing over into the brackish chic neighborhood of Dupont we hit up one of the city’s lesser known but fascinating museum, the Phillips Collection (1600 21st st NW https://www.phillipscollection.org/) which has the honor to be America’s first museum of modern art founded in 1921. This institution devotes itself to furthering the conversation of diversity in the arts, and on our visit, we got to explore the works of Alma W. Thomas who was the first Black woman given a solo show at the Whitney Museum at age 81. Better late than never I suppose Whitney museum, but thankfully the Phillips has their sights set on celebrating those underappreciated geniuses. 

I dunno about you but amazing art makes me hungry which is why a Michelin star rated Unconventional Diner (1207 9th street https://www.unconventionaldiner.com/)  is the next mandatory stop. While this instagrammer wet dream might ward off hard core dinner fans with their crafty cocktails, you will not be disappointed by the elevated grub here. Large format plates are the taste du jour at the unconventional diner, with a chicky sandwich that delivers, and a French Dip poutine that would make any Québécois say mon due that’s good. 

Fully loaded on the world’s richest dishes, it was time to walk it off once again, this time in a 4 floor mansion that may or may not be haunted. The Mansion on O Street (2020 o street https://www.omuseum.org/) may not have the most unique name, but definitely offers a singular experience, unless you personally know an uber rich hoarder with a playful obsession with secret doors. Here, after a short training video, you are let loose in this 108 room Victorian mansion that boasts over 70 hidden doors that you are dared to find. Most people only find 4, probably because the other 66 are hidden behind all the clutter, all of which is for sale. Yes, you can buy anything you see, you’re welcome. Frankly, this quote-unquote museum is a violent mix between an overactive swapmeet and your Aunt Peggy’s forgotten hoarder attic, and while not everyone’s cup of tea it is without question one of the strangest places I’ve ever witnessed. There is so much more to see in DC, but unfortunately we got lost somewhere between the 3rd and 4th floor and have been stuck here for about a month, please send help.

The Ford’s Theatre’s Little Secret.

The Ford’s Theater
511 10th st NW Washington DC 20004
https://www.fords.org/

So I got to do something I always wanted to do, which is check out a play at the infamous Ford’s Theater in Washington DC. There was quite a turnout to see Jose Carrasquillo’s fanciful reimagined version of Dickens’ a Christmas carol, with the preeminent Craig Wallace as Eb Scrooge, but there was no doubt that many came to see this empty balcony,  where Booth famously dispatched our beloved president Lincoln. What I was duly surprised to discover is underneath the theater is a rather profound, if not strangely thorough exhibit of sorts that displays all sorts of related material to the murdered commander in chief. Including the actual pistol used in the heinous act, the overcoat the president was shot in, and, if you can believe it, the very bloodied pillow he expired on. This is definitely the most macabre and haunting Christmas Carol I have ever seen, no question about it.  

New Orleans: I love you.

The following is a love letter I wrote to the city of New Orleans for Get Lost Magazine. At the moment, NoLA is getting hit pretty hard with COVID and besides my hometown of NYC, it’s one of the worst places affected. My heart goes out to everyone, especially the vibrant, loving, passionate people that makes New Orleans my favorite city on the planet.

It’s so much more than drinking and partying. There is an ecosystem of creation there that cannot be rivalled, that spills from art, to science, to soul in dizzying fashion. This is probably why they have perfected drinking and partying.

While this piece focuses on Mardi Gras, it really applies to any day of the week in New Orleans for Mardi Gras is always New Orleans as New Orleans is always Mardi Gras.

Besides the people of NoLA I dedicate this film to Lisa Dunn & Peter Boggia … two natives that took me in and showed me what real New Orleans magic is like. I also dedicate this film to Aubrey Rector & John Greco for being the simply the best there is.

Stay safe out there folks, and consider donating to the NOLA Relief Fund if you feel moved to. Otherwise just be good to each other.

-Rs

New York City, my birth city, is hard to beat. It has everything from glitz to gore, and will feed you well, in stomach and in spirit. There is no city as cool as new york.

Except for New Orleans.

New Orleans, or Norlans or NOLA doesn’t care what you call it. This city doesn’t know it’s on earth, yet its connection to humanity from gutter to steeple is unlike any other. There is something unique about NOLA’s beauty. both rough and gentle like satin covered sandpaper. Somehow vulgar in a very polite way. The streets here are lined with salty dreamers who wear their passion on their sleeve spilling it on cheap folding tables for wanders to consume. It’s a city where there is no such thing as an inanimate object; spirit here permeate every aspect of life.

I consider this a truly american city where “America” refers to its namesake Amerigo Vespucci, who upon reaching the correctly identified new continent quotes “The victor here eats their vanquished, and the women are intensely desirable being very lustful, [they] cause the private parts of their husbands to swell up to such a huge size that they appear deformed and disgusting”. That’s the feeling I get from this city.

What NOLA loves:

NOLA loves gas lamps.NOLA also loves it molding. NOLA really loves being covered in patina. NOLA loves in all sizes. From the grandiose to the two step manor, to the one step railroad, to the tiny bywater shack too adorable not to sigh a smile at. Perhaps what NOLA loves best, is a good party. A party to New Orleans is more than just a good time; it’s a hall pass from bullshit, where who you are, who you really are, is all you are allowed to show, and smiles become the only currency you need buy a good time.

In NOLA you quickly find yourself forging ahead with two best friends into the streets seamlessly becoming part of the fanatic fabric of festival. Without effort you are now part of the parade, among the fellow freaks and fantasy folk who seem to be there not only to entertain each other, but themselves. The streets are a river of color and shimmer where “spectacle” takes on a new meaning that forever removes it from your daily vocabulary. Here there is no wrong, or off color or incorrect, just the perfect marriage of fantasy working in reality.

These are not costumes like they are in other cities in other festivals. These are expressions, deep and obtuse who’s meaning shifts throughout the day depending on how much you’ve seen or how long you’ve been on mushrooms.  While it may all seem fractured and without curation, there is one common line that connects the madness. A bass line. A second line. A line of music that rumbles through the city, overlapping, fading in and fading out, driving forward and igniting movement. From the streets to the roof it chases you through the city relentlessly.

No city celebrates inebriation like New Orleans. They have perfect the art of imbibing and have found ways to reinvent the act of getting shit-faced a thousand times over. The city is a giant house party. Living rooms become street corners, and kitchens become oilbarrel bbq lined sidewalks. It’s BYOB and no one’s parents are home.

Bourbon street may be sluttiest street in the world. It doesn’t care who you are, you’re getting in its pants. An aroused army of revelers storm the street looting beads from every balcony, every perch, every outcropping. Here you see things you simply can’t explain, both comic and tragic in an Orwellian way.Here spirits run free, and there is dancing and magic everywhere. Where even dropped fishbowls of booze somehow don’t spill. Pure sorcery.  Then there are the parades; flotillas of frenzy that slice through neighborhoods, flooding the streets with the echo of stomping boots and screaming brass as you trip the light fantastic.

The quarter bell tolls and it’s time to switch up the scene, so you descend down frenchman to familiar caves filled with some of the best damn music you’ve ever heard. When that tires, you head over to One Eyed Jacks and perhaps fortune favors you by witnessing the legendary Quintron and Miss Pussycat break off a piece which sets off the dance floor stupid crazy. When you need to bring it down a notch, you mosey over to Saturn Bar to sing some sea shanties with the Valparaiso Men’s Chorusand whoever is left standing in the Bywater. When that quiets dies down you take it back to the beginning: back to the streets.

The cloak of night darkness is pierced by led lights and sulphurstreetlamp which guide the funeral procession to the parties final resting place. Along the tracks and down cobbled streets everyone dances the festival through the last stretches of town, clamoring and hugging lost friends found along the way. finally, reaching the levy, the frenzy ignites its primitive roots in effigy as you stand humbled.

You have been up now for 24 hours.

Many emotions, drugs, and experiences have passed through you and you find yourself in a Fellini film walking the crest of a levy in the purgatory of the party. Nothing makes sense which makes perfect sense. The movable feast begins to roll like a magnetized ferrofluid and collecting under a broken warehouse canopy you are presented a puppet show. It’s both callow and complex, much like this strange time, in this beautiful unique experience which is simply called, New Orleans.

Some eat bat. Others eat Balut.

Since I’ve been trying to figure out how one guy eating bat soup collapsed the world economy, I thought it would be interesting to post this little video of the time I ate what many consider the most disgusting, strangest, and unsafe thing … Balut, or pong tia koon as it’s called in Cambodia.

I was there shooting a documentary in Phnom Penh with my compatriot Sami Joensuu and we asked one of the local handlers to take us to the real Phnom Penh. He brought us to the central night market which was teeming with life; seemed like the entire city descends upon this epicenter of hawker stalls to chow down and chat up.

Wanting to try the ultimate delicacy, he brought us to this food hall that was known for their Pong Tia Koon. Basically what you are getting in for is a duck egg that is about half way through it’s gestation period. Inside the egg the unhatched chick is boiled, then served up warm with a bunch of accoutrement like lime leaf, chili pepper and seasoned salt.

First the smell hits you. It’s a mixture of egg and soup. It’s intense. Then the texture hits you. The chick, although fully formed with feathers, beaks and claws, is rather gelatinous, except for a hard, waxy white piece which I was told was part of the embryonic sac that feeds the development of the chick. Then, finally, there is the taste, which to be honest, isn’t that bad. It’s like really intense egg, and when you start adding the citrus, salt and heat of the birdseye chili its not bad, but still cannot save you from the thought that you just put a rubbery chick head in your mouth hole.

The entire experience was intense as you can see. The Cambodian people are super lovely, and really enjoy sharing their culture. Trust me I had some of the best meals of my life in Cambodia, and while this was by far the strangest, I would never call it disgusting, just, unnerving. Perhaps the funniest part was when we were asked if we enjoyed it, and as polite people we said, “Bat. La nasa.” (yes. very good) to be polite, which unexpectedly got us an immediate other round of Pong Tia Koon we certainly did not want, no were ready for. Hence, the time I ate two Balut against my will.

If you wanna see more random crap I get myself into … www.youtube.com/travelclast 

 

Drone Racing in Jersey

 

 

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to watch someone fly a drone to be so damn exciting. The Liberty Cup Drone Raceat the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey, hosted this amazing event, where you can see some of the nations best FPV racers do their thing on a very involved course. These little beasts fly VERY fast, and the noise, while not as loud as Moto GP or F1, is amazing. The action is PACKED, and at any moment you will witness a horrifying crash. All in all it’s a great event you should keep your eyes out for, and all is truly welcome to come check out this brave new world. Young or old everyone here is super friendly and inclusive, which makes it that much more of an epic experience.

20 ’20s phrases we should use in the ’20s

It’s the roaring 20’s and I’m all for it … so here’s 20 phrases from the 1920’s I’m looking forward to bringing back in style in 2020… so here is what I did over the weekend:

I took a jorum of skee before ankling to my hayburner cause Im no wurp, and headed to the sockdollager totes zozzled. I peeped this bearcat rocking a handcuff and being a cake-eater ankled over to her and demanded a gasper in hopes of getting some cash. She turned out to be a real bluenose cancelled stamp who thought me a dewdropper when really Im quite an egg and oliver twist. Getting the icy mit I jumped ship to the petting pantry grabbing a sinker so I didn’t pull a daniel boone on the way. What a night!

1. Ankle: to walk

2. Sockdollager: an event or action of great importance

3. Bearcat: a lively, spirited woman, possibly with a fiery streak

4. Bluenose: term for a prude or individual deemed to be a killjoy

5.. Cancelled stamp: a shy, lonely female, the type one would describe as a “wallflower”

6. Cash: a smooch

7. Cake-eater: in the 1920’s refers to a “ladies’ man”; later, slang for homosexual

8. Dewdropper: like lollygagger, a slacker who sits around all day and does nothing, often unemployed

9. Egg: a person who leads an absurdly wealthy, extravagant lifestyle (see: Gatsby’s “West Egg”)

10. Gasper: cigarette, “fag” (also of the 1920s)

11. Handcuff: engagement ring

12. Hayburner: a car with poor gas-mileage, a guzzler

13. Icy mitt: rejection from the object of one’s affection, as in: “He got the icy mitt.”

14. Sinker: a doughnut

15. Jorum of skee: a swig of alcohol, particularly hard liquor

16. Oliver Twist: an extremely good dancer.

17. Petting pantry: a cinema or movie theatre

18. Pull a Daniel Boone: to upchuck

19. Wurp: wet blanket or person seen as a buzzkill (see: Debbie Downer)

20. Zozzled: shitfaced

52. Sockdollager: an event or action of great importance

Unsilent Night: NYC most weird & wonderful holiday tradition.

Unsilent Night is by far my favorite (and surrealist) holiday activity. Phil Kline composed a song in 1992, and each year he comes out to Washington Square, with a bunch of boom boxes and cassettes to meet up with hundreds of people.

You can download the song or grab a cassette (yes, cassette) and everyone starts the song at the same time. Because of the beautiful humanity of it, the song isn’t ever perfectly in-sync across the sea of people, and the resulting sound is a cacophony of bells, chants and holiday cheer. From the square we walk across the village to Tompkins Square, in complete silence, taking in the city as a slow moving, unrelenting serpent, drowning out the normal chaos of NYC with our haunting procession.

Passersbys watch slack jawed not knowing if they are witnessing a silent protest, a cult suicide or a pure form of holiday reverence. It’s powerful, simple, weird and wonderful just like the holidays should be. Much love to Phil who does this just for the love of doing it, without charging a penny, or requiring an email address or a like to a Facebook page. It’s purely about magic, and pure NYC. #unsilentnight #philkline #nyc

The Oldest Restaurant in the World: Sobrino de Botín.

This year I was fortunate enough to get a little face time with José González the owner of the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin (www.botin.es), located in Madrid, Spain. This year the city will be hosting the world renowned Davis Cup Tennis tournament (www.daviscup.com) in association with Kosmos Tennis (www.kosmostennis.com) so I was sent by Get Lost Travel Magazine to discover all the best this city has to offer, which Botin definitely is one. Read all about it in the upcoming issue at http://www.getlostmagazine.com or discover more unique travel experiences at my blog http://www.cineclast.com – Buen Provecho!

The story …

If you cut through Plaza Mayor in Madrid you will find yourself on Cava de San Miguels, a street frozen in time with ancient little tapas and wine bars that patrons bubble out over onto the street at night. Here I gently sailed through the cheerful crowds and arrive at Sobrin de Botin (http://www.botin.es/en), which happens to be the oldest restaurant in the world (https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/76907-oldest-restaurant?fb_comment_id=701177683313583_913687318729284), in service for nearly 500 years continually. I however wasn’t there for the spectacle of it’s pedigree, I was there for the succling pig.

I’m met at the door by a man electrified, José González, one of the proud custodians of this national treasure. “You will leave this place a different man! A ruined man!” he says with a finger shaking audaciously toward heaven, “our succulent pig is the best in the world. Period.” Along the wall of the kitchen, handing in neat little rows like freshly caught perch, perfect Iberic pigs wait to be placed gently in a clay dish to be roasted and basted in a continually burning 500 year old wood oven, until they become the color of Dulce de Leche and twice as sweet. I sit at a white linen covered tabled washed in the effervescent bubble of chatter from a room full of happy, hungry patrons. Before I know it I am served the most succulent pig I have ever had, crispy skin wrapping tender morsels that are a gift to your taste buds. My host was quite right; I have been ruined by this meal, and can easily see why they have stayed in business longer than some religions.