Random Places I Have Been in 2017

Well, I guess we were just in a New York State of Mind in 2017.

Trips to the Empire State included:

  • An extended “writer’s  retreat” weekend in Cooperstown in April.  It was my wife’s first time in one of my favorite places on earth.  It was also our first time doing Air B&B.  Despite coming home with a nail in my tire…it was a truly relaxing, lovely trip (and, yes, we both got some much-needed writing done).
  • A weekend getaway to NYC in June to hit up some old haunts (with a jaunt out to Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Museum).
  • A family vacation in August renting a house on Lake Seneca (first time in the Finger Lakes region) from which we watched the solar eclipse. The vacation also included day-tripping to Watkins Glen and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (a long overdue first time there!)  The Niagara experience inspired a short-story I’m currently polishing up.

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Random Places I Have Been in 2013

There’s no rhyme or reason here, folks, just a collection of photos from random places I have been in 2013.  I’ve been all over the map (with Europe still to come later this month!) from the Caribbean to Canada and with plenty of local tri-state faves here on the Eastern Seaboard in between.

Bet you were expecting a story here or something, huh?  Well, some shots from the Cape May Lewes Ferry did inspire a short story about an elderly lady turned drug dealer.  And another creepy abandoned industrial building in Toronto is sure to inspire a story about dead bodies most certainly hidden there at some point in my near future.

But I’ll say nothing more and allow you to choose your own adventure with these shots.

Photographs and Story Ideas by David H. Schleicher

My Favorite Eats in My Favorite Haunts

I took a half-hearted stab at a local dining guide years ago, and at some point many of the restaurants listed below received a shout out in one way or another from The Spin or on my Twitter…but I decided it would be fun to traverse the eastern part of North America and crown a best restaurant in each favorite stomping ground.  Our journey begins way down yonder in my former homeland of Nor’ Cackalacky.  We’ll revisit some of my local favorites in Philly and the Jersey Burbs.  We’ll travel far north through New York (and slighty west) all the way up into the land of expense accounts and Canucks.  Prepare your taste buds, your credit cards, your hybrid vehicles (only if you have a designated driver) and/or your frequent flier miles….here is The Spin on My Favorite Eats in My Favorite Haunts.

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Raleigh, North CarolinaBabylon (309 N. Dawson St.) – I have no idea why a restaurant serving Moroccan food is called Babylon.  Would Casablanca have been somehow un-PC or Marrakesh too obvious?  But weird geographical naming faux-pas aside, this uber-trendy mecca of Raleigh’s liberal elite located fashionably downtown serves up organic, locally raised Moroccan and Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine that rivals any of your bigger city Northeast rivals.  The ambiance is casual urban chic, the service impeccable, and the food fresh, hip and flavorful.  Really, Raleigh, whodathunk?  You go, with your emerging multicultural self!

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Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaAmada (217 Chestnut Street) – Old City. Chef Jose Garcas. Spanish Tapas.  Drinks named after Almodovar films. And a dish so epically simple and flavorful called Madre y Hijo (which consists of a fried egg atop a perfect slice of chicken breast atop a bed of roasted fingerling potatoes and all drizzled in truffle oil) that I would request if I were to ever find myself on death row waiting for a last meal.  This is a Philly Restaurant Week staple and one of the most popular (and hard to get into) restaurants in the city even after all of these years.  What more is there to say? (Reservations required!) Continue reading

Revisiting Network – The Best Film of the 1970’s

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” – Peter Finch as Howard Beale

The 1970’s – what is there left to say?  I mean, damn, this was it, right?  This was the defining decade for modern cinema.  In the words of Robert Duvall’s character from Network, this was the decade of “big-titted hits.”

If the 2000’s were where my generation came of age with film, the 1970’s were where my father’s generation came of age with film.  I arrived just in the nick of time to be able to claim I was born in this decade of wonder and transformation where the first generation of film school graduates took cinema by storm.

Here is where many of my favorite directors working today first made a name for themselves – visionaries like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Werner Herzog.  This was the decade where the prolific Woody Allen and Sidney Lumet reached their pinnacles with Manhattan and NetworkContinue reading

The Incendiary Game

I spent the weekend visiting friends in NYC.

On Saturday night, I suggested we see Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. They shot me down – I get it, not everyone wants to look at 30,000 year-old cave paintings – and then they suggested In a Better World. Darn – I’ve seen it already, and it’s not worth a repeat.

Wait!  They say, what about this movie Incendies?

Okay…I remember seeing the preview for that.  Looks dramatic as hell.  It’s gotten some great reviews.  It was nominated for an Oscar.  Let’s give it a shot.

There’s drama in hell.

Hot holy hell – what a trial it was to sit through this film.

– POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD –  Continue reading

Sidney Lumet Dead at 86

Legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet (1924-2011), whose cinematic depiction of his hometown of New York is rivaled only by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen in terms of lasting and prolific impressions, passed away in Manhattan on Saturday, April 9th, at age 86 from lymphoma.

You can’t say the man didn’t have a long and fruitful life, as he directed films for over half a century from the 1950’s all the way through the 2000’s, with successful stints directing stage and TV as well.  I had feared for a while Lumet might be near the end as the workaholic who never turned down a job had no projects in the works since 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, which I initially named as the second best film of that amazing year behind only There Will be Blood.

For me, Lumet will always be remembered for directing one of my top five favorite films of all time – Network. Continue reading

Spotlight on the Independent Arts: Save Yourself

It’s time again for The Schleicher Spin to put a Spotlight on the Independent Arts.  

The goal of this recurring feature is to give exposure to, encourage collaboration with, and provide honest critiques for independent artists.  The plan is to feature filmmakers, writers, photographers, painters and musicians.  As an independent author, I feel it’s important to support and celebrate those working independently to forge their careers in the arts.   

If you are an independent artist interested in having your film, book, music or art considered by The Schleicher Spin for a Spotlight feature, please submit a comment. 

Our current entry will focus on the new full length album from New York’s own Robbie Gil, Save Yourself

Robbie Gil : Save Yourself

The Lowdown:  Robbie Gil should be no stranger to Spin readers or to fans of the New York City music scene.  He’s been featured before on Spotlight on the Independent Arts and is regular headliner at Manhattan’s legendary Rockwood Music Hall.  Recently he released a new album, Save Yourself, which can be purchased at one of his shows or through cdbaby.com.  Older songs from his album Stumble Inn and his EP Lightning in a Bottle are also available on iTunes.

Maybe it’s my bias as a writer, but my favorite musicians are those who are first and foremost masterful storytellers – the Bruce Springsteens, the Fiona Apples – they know not only how to craft a tune, but also how to tell a compelling story in as few choice words as possible.  Robbie Gil, with his “Cat Stevens-by-way-of-Ray LaMontagne” vibe is no different.  Continue reading

The Ballerina in Battery Park

The building was an older one, just a block from Wall Street in the heart of Manhattan’s Financial District, and its modest ten stories were dwarfed by towering modern skyscrapers.  The rooftop offered an amazing 360-panoramic view of the cavernous buildings that stretched into the clouds.  Their lit windows made checkered patterns against the enclosing walls of the city.  Looking out between the buildings was like gazing into the belly of a deep and narrow cave that stretched back forever into a darkness around the bend.

A grim view from a ferry taken from Jersey City to Manhattan.

About two years ago I made it one of my primary missions to hone my skills working in short fiction.  It was an area I had avoided and feared before (I am “davethenovelist” not “davetheshortstorywriter” afterall) but I decided it could be a welcome change of pace and something I could really dive into between novels.  It’s resulted in many stories and ideas, some of which I’ve now discarded or still linger to be fully fleshed out, others of which I have edited to death and/or submitted in various drafts to select literary magazines in print or online.  Along my journey, I read somewhere that the average writer will make at least 20 submissions before having their first story published.  Well, on the 13th try, I am finally seeing some returns on my investments of time and hard work. 

I am proud to say my short story, “The Ballerina in Battery Park” has been chosen for publication and awarded 3rd place in Scratch’s 2010 Spring Quarterly Contest.  In addition to immediate online publication it will be appearing in print in their annual anthology due out in the Spring of 2011 – stay tuned for details on how to purchase a copy!

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Spotlight on the Independent Arts: Uptown

***This is the third post in a new feature I plan to showcase here at The Schleicher Spin called Spotlight on the Independent Arts.  

The goal is to give exposure to, encourage collaboration with, and provide honest critiques for independent artists.  I hope to feature filmmakers, writers, photographers, painters and musicians.  As an independent author, I feel it’s important to support and celebrate those working independently to forge their careers in the arts.   

If you are an independent artist interested in having your film, book, music or art considered by The Schleicher Spin for a Spotlight feature, please submit a comment. 

The third entry will focus on the true indie flick, Uptown

Chris Riqhuina and Meissa Hampton star in UPTOWN.

Independent Film:  Uptown

The Lowdown:  An aspiring filmmaker (Chris Riquinha) goes on a date with a young woman (Meissa Hampton) he hopes to cast in his new film only to find out that she is married, a startling fact he doesn’t let get in the way of making an emotional connection. Continue reading

Ten Feel Good Films

There’s nothing quite like a well made, artfully done, depressing-as-hell film.  It’s what I love.  It’s what I long for when entering a darkened theater — my There Will be Bloods, my Sweet Hereafters, my classic noir, my psychological dramas, my human tragedies.  I avoid musicals and romantic comedies like the plague…these being films most would claim as “feel good”.  But there’s something special about a well done “nice film” that can brighten one’s spirits.  And then there are those off-the-wall comedies that make you laugh over and over.  After watching one of the most draining and harrowing films of recent memory, the artfully done but dehumanizingly humanist IRA-hunger-strike-in-prison drama, Hunger, I realized I needed a pick-me-up.  So what movies make someone like me feel good? 

Well, here’s the Schleicher Spin on Ten Feel Good Films that totally “get me”:

10.  Ratatouille (2007) – Hats off to this rat and the best Pixar film ever.  I frickin’ love this little French rat chef.  It’s all about the story-arc and character development here.

Ah...Paris!

9.  Wet Hot American Summer (2001) – Really, how can you not feel good when a movie has these four words in the title:  WET, HOT, AMERICAN,  and SUMMER?  Yeaaaaah!  Summer camp and the 1980’s rocked, man!  This is the movie that Hot Tub Time Machine wishes it could be. Continue reading