the unrelenting onslaught of wisdom and beauty you know as kidchamp dot net has been stemmed this month for administrative reasons; after ten-plus years of assembling the site as a narcoleptic would a scrapbook or a swallow would a nest (dozily, that is, and with unsightly mud), i finally handed the whole thing over to a professional to be reassembled as a killer robot from the future. the good news is that once the fine-tuning is complete, the shambolic horror that is the current commenting platform will be no more; the bad news is that i haven't been able to keep you abreast of the latest developments at headquarters (as new posts would obviously spawn hordes of comments which would then have to be painstakingly exported, reformatted, plunked into the hole where the robot's heart will never be, and so on). that said, construction is on hold for the time being, so i'm free to tell you that joe's nose recently went on a tiki tour of new jersey and staten island.
the nose began its tour at lani kai, an artisanal cocktail lounge near the holland tunnel in manhattan. this was more heroic than it sounds, for the nose concluded its evening at the campbell apartment after the manhattan cocktail classic opening gala mere hours earlier. ironically, the hideous limo-van that would ferry the tiki tourists from manhattan to jersey and staten island (for tropical cocktails and the operation of heavy machinery are a terrible blend) was pulled over for inspection and ran an hour late; the tour guides pacified their already-mellow charges* with dark and stormys and bar snacks. yes, short pants and long fuses in that crowd - which turned out to be a good thing, as (more irony) the freshly-inspected limo-van lacked air conditioning and we spent an hour inching up broadway in swampy, ninety-degree car-fug. this the guides battled with party cups of premium rum for everyone and tiki trash talk ("that guy's so tiki he takes a shit and garnishes it with a pineapple slice and a little umbrella." "that guy's so tiki he takes a piss and tops it with a float of 151.") morale remained high.
the nose's first port of call was chan's dragon inn, a c. 1962 polynesian-chinese joint in ridgefield, new jersey. i believe the nose tucked into a mai tai and i had a zombie, or was it the other way around? the menu was limited, but the towelettes were moist, the mustard was sinus-rejuvenating, and the (non-vegetarian) pupu was on fire. (we made ourselves a fairly substantial lunch before embarking on the tiki tour, which is why i'm here to tell you about it today.)
after a round of dead bastards (served with a jovial "see you in hell, motherfuckers") and another hour on the bus, we reached staten island and our second far-flung stop: jade island (est. 1972), shaolin's only tiki bar, once host to anthony bourdain (there on a visit with buster poindexter on an outer-borough episode of no reservations). weirdly, it was just across the strip mall from the pathmark of the damned, where, a few years ago, i spent ten minutes in line behind a woman trying to return a half-empty bag of dog food (without a receipt, naturally) because her dog "didn't like it." but that's neither here nor there; the nose called for an epic pineapple drink, i acquired a tiny umbrella which eventually migrated to my ear, and we wandered into what i imagine will end up being the most in-depth discussion of fruit juice our civilian radar will ever map.
on its third hour-long bus ride of the day (abandon all hope, ye who enter the holland tunnel), the nose was presented with a rum old-fashioned, and straight rum, and a handful of mel torme singalongs; the sun fled to western new jersey and disappeared, and assorted drink accessories crept into updos. lani kai was regained after dark, and the sleep of the just was eventually slept.
*fellow tiki tourists, i salute you and your unassailably good moods. the setbacks on our outer-borough slog could have been irritating or even alarming, but to a man, you kept it together (in flowered polyester).