Today I want to go off-uni and tell you about an amazing day I had on Saturday. It was one of those days that can renew your faith in, well, everything, and I’d like to share it with you.
Here’s the deal: Two years ago, almost to the day, I read an article about the Los Amigos Fishing and Hunting Club, a Puerto Rican social club on the Lower East Side where they apparently didn’t do much fishing or hunting anymore but did do a lot of drinking and playing dominoes. I’m not Puerto Rican, I haven’t spoken Spanish since eighth grade, and I haven’t played much dominoes in recent years either, but this sounded like my kinda place, so I put it on my list. On Saturday, the Tugboat Captain and I finally got around to checking it out.
The subway line we had planned to take was rerouted due to track repairs, so we ended up at a different subway stop and had to walk through Chinatown. Along the way we passed a Chinese fishmonger that was selling something neither of us had ever seen before in New York City: live crawfish. They were in scrabbling around in a cardboard box (Chinatown fishmongers tend to be fairly low-tech):
I love crawfish (we had some during our recent Deep South road trip), but I’d never cooked them myself, and I’d never seen live ones available for sale here in NYC. Only $6 a pound, too. We were intrigued, but we had to get to Los Amigos, so we decided to circle back to the fishmonger later on.
About 15 minutes later we arrived at Los Amigos, which turned out to be ramshackle-looking hole in the wall on Rivington Street (for all photos, you can click to enlarge):
The door said, “Members Only.” But as you can see above, it was also wide open, so we walked in and found a tiny space with four people playing dominoes, some additional people sitting on few cramped benches along one wall, and a bar in the back. Nobody seemed to mind our presence, so I made my way to the bar and ordered two Buds (only $2.50 apiece). A few people immediately offered to make space for us along the benches, so we sat down and took in the scene.
Over the next two and half hours, we had a few more rounds, watched some very aggressive games of dominoes, and chatted with several of the regulars (including a lengthy interaction with a guy named Willie, age 71, who told us about, among other things, his service in Vietnam, his first wife, his second wife, his house back in Puerto Rico, his expertise at boxing, bowling, archery, gunnery, dominoes, and chess, his 35-year career at a nearby Pepsi bottling plant, and how he’s handled a lifetime of being called a spic). Although we were outsiders, we were treated like old friends. It was all pretty magical. Los Amigos didn’t just live up to its name — it was one of those places where you feel like the rest of the world has melted away and there’s no other place but this place.
I didn’t want to be disrespectful by taking too many photos, but here are a couple of dominoes shots. In the first one, you can see that they have a nice photo of Roberto Clemente watching over the table:
And here’s a shot of the Captain talking with Los Amigos’s 82-year-old owner, Felipe Cortes, who opened the place in 1962:
As we got ready to leave, Felipe was one of several people who shook our hands and said, “Come back and see us again!” We definitely will.
By this time it was getting close to 7pm. We weren’t sure if the Chinatown fishmonger was still open, or if they’d still have crawfish available. But sure enough, the cardboard box was still there. It wasn’t quite as full as before, but there were still plenty of crawdads to be had, so we ordered three pounds and watched as a worker scooped them into a paper sack:
A few of the crawfish missed the sack and fell onto the sidewalk. The worker scooped up most of them and I grabbed one myself. It immediately nipped me with its claws and drew a bit of blood as I dropped it into the sack. “Feisty,” I said approvingly.
We wanted to know more about where the crawfish had come from, whether they were wild or farmed, whether they were strictly seasonal, and more, but there was a pretty serious language barrier. So we stopped asking questions and took the subway back to Brooklyn, wondering how many other people on our train were carrying bags of live crawfish. (Our estimate: zero.)
According to an article that we read on the way home, it’s good to “purge” the crawfish in a bowl of fresh water before cooking them. So when we got back to my neighborhood, the Captain headed straight to the supermarket to get the fixins we’d need for a traditional Louisiana-style crawfish boil (potatoes, corn, and spices) while I took the bugs home and put them in some water. I was happy to see that they were still plenty lively:
We prepared a pot of boiling water with spices, added the corn and spuds, and then added the crawfish:
A few minutes later we had a right proper crawfish boil. It came out perfectly, with the tail meat cooked just right — not overcooked or undercooked:
We ate while listening to, appropriately, Professor Longhair’s Crawfish Fiesta album.
What a great day! We embarked on an adventure and ended up having two great adventures. And we wouldn’t have known about the crawfish if the subways hadn’t been messed up. Kismet!
Thanks for listening. I’ll be spending a big chunk of today on an airplane, as I fly to Las Vegas for the NHL/Adidas unveiling, which will take place tomorrow night. I’ll be leaving the house at about 9:15am Eastern. If my flight has WiFi, I’ll check in from the airplane; otherwise I’ll see you tomorrow. Oh, and tomorrow’s entry might be posted a bit later than usual, since I’ll be on Pacific Time. Thanks in advance for your patience.
Click to enlarge
New ESPN column: What you see above is a Riddell 3D scanning gadget showing a scan of me. I was wearing a tight black hood thingie because they wanted to get the exact contours of my head. This is the part of the process for Riddell’s new Precision-Fit helmet program, which produces custom-made interior padding for a precise fit between player and headgear. I’ve written a new ESPN piece about this, which I think you’ll find interesting. Link coming soon.
Holiday uniforms: Yesterday was Father’s Day, so MLB teams wear baby blue uniforms. It was pretty much the same thing as last year (including the Giants once again wearing orange letters and numbers because they don’t want to look like the Dodgers — yes, really), so there’s isn’t much worth covering here. Alex has a few player-specific items in today’s Ticker.
Next up: Independence Day, which will feature four days’ worth of stars/stripes uniforms, commencing on Saturday, July 1.
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: From Saturday: The Reds and Dodgers eschewed Father’s Day duds, more than likely because the Reds dedicated a statue to Pete Rose before the game. The Reds wore a patch commemorating the event on both their jerseys and caps. … Also from Saturday: The Indians and Twins went with the full Father’s Day uniforms for the first game of their doubleheader, but in the second game they wore their regular jerseys with the Father’s Day caps. … More Father’s Day stuff: White Sox 3B Todd Frazier wore the team’s regular road pants instead of sans-piping pants like the rest of the team (from Chalk Larock), Red Sox P David Price de-squatcheed his cap and wore special cleats (from Ben and Dante), and Astros P Joe Musgrove had “MAM” written on his cap, presumably the initials of his father (from Mike). … Yoelkis Cespedes, who plays for the Cuban national team, was apparently wearing his brother Yoenis’s No. 52 Mets wristband during a recent game (from Adam Sadinsky). … Louisville wore their all-black home unis yesterday. Must have been uncomfortable in near 90-degree temperatures (from Dave Cohen). … Check out these rarely seen color photos of the Orioles’ solid-orange unis, most likely from the 1972 season (from Jon Helfenstein). … Last week we had a blurry photo showing how vendors at the Astros’ ballpark were wearing tequila sunrise jerseys. Here’s a much better view (from Rob Snyder).
NFL/College Football News: The Bears posted this Father’s Day graphic on Facebook that includes inaccurate TV numbers (from Ray DeBoer). … Paul has told the story about the original version of the Patriots’ “Flying Elvis” logo, but Mike Youngblood shared this helmet concept with a phantom logo that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before. He says he found that picture at the Patriots Hall of Fame. … Colton McWilliams found this custom-made matte black Texans helmet autographed by JJ Watt in Abilene, Texas. … Evan Birchfield found an this awesome NFL-themed blanket from his childhood. … College prospect Stephen Henry, Jr. used an outdated Kentucky logo when unveiling his Top 10 schools on Twitter yesterday (from Josh Hinton).
Hockey News: Linus Ullmark, a goalie prospect for the Sabres, recently got married, and both he and his wife wore goalie masks in their wedding photos (from Mike). … This is apparently what the Rangers’ Draft Day cap will look like (from Ted Starkey).
NBA News: Whoops: A Celtics fan went and bought a (presumably customized) Markelle Fultz jersey, and then burned it after the team traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Sixers. That’s what you get for not waiting for the draft.
Soccer News: The US Men’s National Soccer Team’s kits for the Gold Cup have reportedly leaked. … New kits for Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League (from Charles George).
Grab Bag: Mama Mia! Golfer Sergio Garcia dressed a lot like a certain beloved video game character yesterday during the US Open. … We’ve seen plenty of old-school base ball reenactments, but how about some old-school lacrosse? The Canadian Lacrosse Association staged a reenactment game in honor of Canada’s 150th birthday (from Griffin Smith). … This DC-area restaurant has apparently ripped off the “Friends” title card logo (from Mike Rosenberg).