Sunday, July 30, 2006
Spent lots of time with a friend who's moving back to Denver, CO for a temporary stint. Sad to see another friend leave NYC when in many ways I feel like I just got here....
Earlier in the week, we checked out Via Emilia in Union Square for a simple but tasty Italian dinner. On Friday, headed to Long Island City, Queens for a friend's party and Saturday we were back in the Union Square area having drinks with friends at Pete's Tavern, which apparently is the tavern O. Henry made famous. Afterwards, we went to see Little Miss Sunshine. I thought it was alright but did not enjoy it as much as everyone else seemed to.
Today, we mostly hid from the heat, although we could not escape from the heat trapped in our apartment. Damn old brownstone. We did make it out to dinner at Blue Ribbon in Park Slope, where we finally saw local celebs Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly (and their kid) dining out. It's about time! We've only been here 6 months and hadn't seen them until today.
Now we just have to beat the damn heat this week. Ugh....Bring on autumn.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
We realized what an aberration life in New York is from most people's living situations. Where else do people pay over $2,000 a month for tiny apartments (and by the way, that only gets you a studio in Manhattan - hence, part of the reason we are living in Brooklyn - we need livable space!). At the same time, we are used to paying ridiculous amounts for cocktails and dinners here too so $100 dinners aren't terribly expensive to us. As cliched as it sounds, there is nothing like living in New York....and with that comes both the good and the bad.
This revelation reminded me of a recent New York Magazine article I read about happiness written by Jennifer Senior. There were some interesting points made, such as the following excerpts from the piece:
Like most New Yorkers I know, I can’t imagine living in most other places in the world. My troubles would surely be aggravated, rather than solved, by relocating to Branson. But reading the literature of happiness studies, I can’t help but wonder whether we aren’t all in the grip of some strange false consciousness. From the point of view of the happiness literature, New Yorkers seem to have been mysteriously seduced into a way of life that conspires, in almost every way, against the most basic level of contentment.
Which is where the subtle thesis of Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice comes in. He argues, with terrible persuasiveness, that a superabundance of options is not a blessing but a certain recipe for madness. Nowhere do people have more choices than in New York. “New Yorkers should probably be the most unhappy people on the planet,” says Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore. “On every block, there’s a lifetime’s worth of opportunities. And if I’m right, either they won’t be able to choose or they will choose, and they’ll be convinced they chose badly.”
Economists have a term for those who seek out the best options in life. They call them maximizers. And maximizers, in practically every study one can find, are far more miserable than people who are willing to make do (economists call these people satisficers). “My suspicion,” says Schwartz, “is that all this choice creates maximizers.” If that’s the case, New York doesn’t just attract ambitious neurotics; it creates them. It also creates desires for things we don’t need—which, not coincidentally, is the business of Madison Avenue—and, as a corollary, pointless regrets, turning us all into a city of counterfactual historians, men and women who obsessively imagine different and better outcomes for ourselves.
While my wife and I were at the beach, it was interesting to see a single straight guy try to strike up a conversation with another single straight guy in the water (without coming off gay). Single Straight Guy #1 (known as SSG #1) carried a football into the water and somehow started playing catch with Single Straight Guy #2 (known as SSG #2, whom I'm pretty sure had a wife somewhere).
It was sort of funny to hear the awkward small talk made between two straight guys in the water: things like "When did you arrive?", "Have you been downtown much?", "Ever go windsurfing?" They were straight to be sure, but the awkward banter (and fact that they were shirtless in the water while tossing a football to each other) seemed amusing to us in an ironic way.
From the sounds of an island band covering Journey's "Open Arms" to the tunes played in Champions Sports Bar (like B-52's "Love Shack", Black Box's "Strike It Up", En Vogue's "What A Man", and Wrexx n Effect's "Rumpshaker"), we felt like we were caught up in a music time warp, although it did add to the fun of the place.
Now I can go back and be a 21st century indie rocker and listen to the new Thom Yorke album on iTunes...
However, once we got to the front desk we were asked by the attendant if we knew that the flight was delayed. "No", we responded. Down but not out, we asked: "For how long?" She replied, "It's scheduled for 6pm." Are you kidding me??? 6 hours later?! Who could believe that our vacation would be spent for an additional 6 hours in the airport? No reason was given either. Actually, we received the lame reason of "equipment change" or something to that effect.
We weren't alone. Many other couples and families received the bad news that their hard-earned dollars and time off from work would be taken away from them from American Airlines for this so-called "equipment change". It certainly wasn't weather-related and they didn't pretend it was. Most likely, just poor management on the part of American, overbooking flights and not having enough supply to meet the demand they created.
For our inconvenience, we were graciously (sarcasm here) given $10 meal vouchers each! Whoa, can't spend the $20 fast enough, can we? It was like adding insult to injury. Is that how much American Airlines thinks our time is worth? We essentially lost a day due to their ineptitude and there was very little empathy shown.
Despite the bad news, we tried not to let it get to us or ruin our moods, so we read magazines, listened to our iPods, had a snack and drinks at the airport bar/restaurant, and damn, I even broke down and bought a Swatch watch. Hey, you get bored at the airport after several hours. But we all resigned ourselves to the fact that the plane was leaving at 6pm and we would be on our way.
Then came the announcement: The flight was now scheduled to take off at 7:30! And we had to go to another terminal, which meant that we had to go through security yet again! People we're absolutely pissed off. And justifiably so. Furthermore, it didn't help matters that the desk clerk showed little compassion. One guy yelled: "This is horseshit!" Finally, it took her forever to start giving out more $10 meal vouchers but it was too little too late (with an emphasis on too little).
The airlines have no incentive to treat their customers well and when problems do arise, they do not address them with any immediacy, concern or commensurate value to the time and money that consumers lose as a result of their fuck-ups. American Airlines demonstrated their severe lack of customer service by their inefficiencies and missteps.
As the weary travelers finally made it to Aruba at 1:00 am (instead of the scheduled 4:55 pm arrival time), we had the bittersweet knowledge that we could've been enjoying our vacations several hours earlier had it not been for the mismanagement and ineptitude of American Airlines.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
As the Q Train approached Union Square, my wife said: "Maybe he'll get off here." I replied: "I think that's what he's trying to do." Ha, ha...
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
I am hoping the installation of the A/C will make our bedroom feel like this photo I took from earlier this year.
Damn these humid nights!
Otherwise, I think we will lay low today since it's so damn hot out. Maybe watch Italy/Germany in the World Cup and have some Brooklyn Lager? And maybe tune into the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest? I'll be pulling for the Japanese dude to win it all again this year.
Monday, July 03, 2006
It was another scorcher of a day, but at least we didn't have to go to work.
Headed down Fifth Ave. and had a nice lunch at Press 195. Continued on our way to the Pavilion movie theater to see The Break-Up. Our expectations were low so it ended up surprising us and did have some funny moments, like this one from IMDB:
Brooke: I think you're just a little embarrassed that Richard kicked your ass. Gary: There's a really big gap between getting your ass kicked and having a dancing, singing sprite fool you with trickery and then strike your throat before you know that you're even *in* a fight.
There were some good Chicago references that made us long for our old home city:
- Tour Bus/Boat on Michigan Ave./Chicago River
- Water Tower
- Smith and Wolensky
- Fireside Bowl
- The Riviera (Old 97's playing there)
- Weiner Circle
- Notre Dame/Michigan football game
- And of course, the real estate market (compared to NYC)
All in all, it wasn't a bad movie and not nearly as awful as the trailers we saw for Step Up.
Meanwhile we headed home walking down Prospect Park West and saw that 8th Ave had been blocked off due to a bomb threat! We ended up going to 7th Ave. to grab dinner at Santa Fe Grill, which was serviceable but nothing to write home about. Turned on NY1 and News 12 Brooklyn but no info! Of course, the only place to find out anything was the local Park Slope message boards! And I needed to pick up dry cleaning on 7th but couldn't because the street it was on had been blocked off by the police too. Will be interesting to see what the cops find out. Weird to think about all this commotion taking place in The Slope.
UPDATE: Still no coverage on this story in the local news! Was it a mere practice run?
Reading The Google Story by David Vise....
Downloading Priorities 1-6 by M'Shell Ndegeocello....
Thinking about going to see The Break Up if only to see scenes of Chicago....
Deciding we are too American-centric since our news shows focus on pets and grillin' while BBC News covers the Palestinian crisis....
Looking forward to taking a vacation with my wife....
Apologies to anyone who has to work today.
Last night, we treated ourselves to a dinner at Melt - started off with the shrimp salad (fried shrimp with mango pieces) and had the Salmon (served with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus) for my entree. We topped things off with the creme brulee tasting - cinnamon, coffee, vanilla and ginger flavors.