Friday, August 31, 2007
So one night I wear a "hipster" hat and the next I put on my "corporate" hat.
Last night I got a chance to go to The U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens.
I'm not a huge tennis fan but it was a pretty cool experience being there for the first time. My company has a corporate suite so I got a chance to watch the matches in style.
The weather was great and after seeing Maria Sharapova polish off Casey Dellacqua in a mere 51 minutes, it was on to the marathon match between James Blake and Fabrice Santoro. It went 5 sets and the two went back and forth like two pugilists who couldn't deliver a knock-out punch to finish off their opponent. Finally, Blake triumphed with a 6-4 win in the final set to take it all. The crowd appreciated the gutsy performance by both athletes and showered them with applause when it was all over.
Colin Farrell, ex-NYC mayor David Dinkins and Monica Seles were all in attendance and shown on the big screen.
After the 3 hour and 25 minute match, the crowd dispersed around 12:30am and I took the 7 train back to Manhattan. I ended up back in Park Slope around 2am. It was a long night but a pretty entertaining one.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Rushing from Manhattan to Park Slope and back to Manhattan then to Williamsburg was a bit ridiculous but somehow I got to Mugs Alehouse in time to meet one of my best friends from college who recently returned from holiday in Italy and recently relocated back to NYC.
We then made our way to McCarren Park Pool for the Grizzly Bear/Broken Social Scene/Feist show. It's a great venue - wide open spaces, a pierogie booth from the folks at Warsaw and the standard Brooklyn Brewery booths.
This was actually the first time that I hung out in Williamsburg at night and it definitely felt like the epicenter of indie hipsterdom, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. If terrorists wanted to destroy all the indie-listening, thrift shop-wearing, art school-going kids all in one shot (just like in Gremlins when they gathered all the Gremlins in a movie theater to destroy them), they could take dead aim at McCarren Park Pool.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed catching up with my friend and hearing Broken Social Scene perform some of their hits like Superconnected and Major Label Debut.
The crowd loved Ms. Feist and she did not disappoint, delivering most of her popular songs from The Reminder. I didn't bring a camera but found the pic above on Brooklynvegan.com who got the pic from Kyle Dean Reinford.
Also on Brooklynvegan, someone posted Feist's setlist:
When I Was A Young Girl
My Moon My Man
The Limit To Your Love
I Feel It All
In My Hands (Tony Scherr cover)
Leisure Suite (4 track demo version)
Past in Present
Sea Lion Woman
Let It Die
The weather was perfect - cool and comfortable - and it was a nice way to cap the summer. Feist ended the show by wishing us "a nice autumn".
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
1. Was interviewed on CLTV (Chicagoland Television) while attending a pink-slip party.
2. Donated money to a meaningful cause.
3. Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
4. Saw the Pope in person at the Vatican.
5. Attended Lollapalooza '94 at Randalls Island when The Smashing Pumpkins and The Beastie Boys headlined.
6. Flew first-class.
7. Earned a bachelor's degree in English.
8. Lived in Chicago for nearly eight years.
9. Rode in a classic Rolls-Royce.
10. Had my wisdom teeth removed.
11. Shopped at the Mall of America.
12. Shot hoops with a City of Chicago sanitation worker.
13. Learned (and subsequently forgot) how to speak Ukrainian.
14. Learned (and subsequently forgot) how to speak Spanish.
15. Became an uncle.
16. Became a godfather.
17. Spoke words about a loved one at his funeral.
18. Gave toasts as a groomsman.
19. Was a groomsman 6 times but never a best man.
20. Got a fake tattoo.
21. Hiked up Mt. Snowdon, the tallest peak in Great Britain.
22. Stayed up all night in Hamburg, Germany.
23. Ran a now defunct "Guys' Weekend" among college friends.
24. Drove backwards down a road in Wessington Springs, SD.
25. Drove along the Pacific Coast Highway.
26. Sold items on Craigslist.
27. Got a fake tattoo.
28. Heard the U.S. Poet Laureate speak.
29. Spent college summers working at a law firm.
30. Commuted for different jobs via train, plane and automobile.
31. Attended a synchronized swimming competition.
32. Witnessed Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire battle it out at Wrigley Field.
33. Participated in a charity 5K Run/Walk (yeah, I walked).
34. Had a fake ID from Arizona. Had a fake ID from Florida.
35. Attended a wedding that traveled down the Willamette.
36. Played in a couple "Bookstore Basketball" tournament games.
37. Lived with roommates. Lived by myself.
38. Won a prize (an autographed Bloc Party album courtesy of Time Out Chicago).
39. Been to many a tailgater.
40. Participated in a snowball fight.
41. Spoke in front of large audiences.
42. Earned a Master's Degree.
43. Went to my high school prom.
44. Gambled in Vegas.
45. Fought with a landlord.
46. Was a political cartoonist in college.
47. Taught inner-city high school kids in Chicago through a volunteer program.
48. Attended the NBA Finals, the NCAA tournament, and regular season MLB, NHL, NBA, MLS, MiLB games
49. Had a pint at the Guinness factory in Dublin.
50. Been pulled over 3x for speeding but never got a ticket.
51. Volunteered at a soup kitchen in SoHo.
52. Was a deejay on the campus radio station.
53. Had a long-distance relationship.
54. Drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.
55. Worked for a dot-com.
56. Got laid off from a dot-com.
57. Lived in 7 apartments including a high-rise, a mid-rise and a brownstone.
58. Watched the sun set in Aruba.
59. Went backstage at a Depeche Mode concert.
60. Watched some b-ball at the W. 4th Street Courts in West Village.
61. Drank a "forty".
62. Fell in love.
63. Proposed in Central Park.
64. Got married in Oak Park, IL.
65. Backpacked through Europe with friends.
66. Saw Big Ben, Abbey Road, Buckingham Palace, The Eiffel Tower, The Berlin Wall, The Vatican, etc.
67. Had a "non-speaking" part as a Roman Soldier in my grade school's rendition of "The Stations of the Cross".
68. Had a company fly me out for an interview.
69. Was high school valedictorian.
70. Was high school student body president.
71. Was an audience member at The Colbert Report, The Conan O'Brien Show, TalkBack Live on CNN, and The Jenny Jones Show.
72. Sent flowers to my mother.
73. Said goodbye to the home I grew up in.
74. Participated in a cooking class, skated at Rockefeller Center, and bowled at Chelsea Piers for different corporate outings.
75. Went to a movie by myself.
76. Went to a concert by myself.
77. Ate frogs legs, escargot, caviar and foie gras (though not all in the same meal).
78. Have been through 104 cities in 12 countries.
79. Visited the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The National Gallery, and The White House.
80. Had meals at Jean Georges, WD-50, Charlie Trotters, Georges at the Cove and L'Auberge.
81. Talked to one of my favorite artists (the band Ida) at Schubas in Chicago (I was drunk).
82. Volunteered at a hospital in Elizabeth, NJ. Volunteered at an elementary school and a food pantry in Chicago, IL.
83. Reviewed CDs and Concerts for the campus newspaper.
84. Wrote a poem about a girl.
85. Had a different girl write something about me (it wasn't favorable).
86. Seen many concerts from arenas to small venues, including R.E.M., U2, Beck, Oasis, Pavement, The Sundays, Matthew Sweet, The Lemonheads, Aimee Mann, Death Cab for Cutie, Elliott Smith, Ida, The New Pornographers, Belle and Sebastian, Badly Drawn Boy, Depeche Mode, etc.
87. Have laughed with friends at The Second City, The Improv Olympic, and Zanies.
88. Have seen the Louvre, The National Gallery (London), The Tate, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Guggenheim, The Museum of Natural History, The Met, Musee d' Orsay, SF Moma, etc.
89. Watched plays at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
90. Worked for a global financial services firm.
91. Worked for a cable television network.
92. Worked on product placements for different television programs.
93. Have seen some celebrities throughout NYC.
94. Have visited Belgium, Amsterdam, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy, France, The Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and of course, Canada.
95. Blew off studying for an exam to go to a concert.
96. Performed many a skit at various corporate outings and retreats.
97. Earned a few "senior superlatives" in high school.
98. Stepped onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium.
99. Lived in NYC and realized that there's more life to be lived.
100. Started a blog.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
It's been about a month and I'm happy to say we no longer buy bottled water in bulk (or at all, really). We switched to one of those Brita water pitchers for our home use and have not missed the bottled water at all.
At work, meanwhile, I now use a Nalgene bottle for drinking water at my desk.
Hopefully we can keep it up and continue reducing our impact on the environment (and on our wallets).
Yes, I am guilty of pulling the "here's what I ate today" move (see my last post about Sushi at Jpan) but I think I mix it up a bit more than that and part of the reason behind posting where we eat is for me to simply remember what we did as opposed to trying to fill a content void. Hmm, maybe I should re-think that.
Well, anyway, she did have some good ideas that inspired me for future postings. And she did have an inspirational quote that I will post here:
"Start saying yes. The more you experience, the more you have to write about."
I'm a big fan of lists. Heck I'll make lists of lists.
I'm working on a "Things to Do in NYC" list right now. But what about a life list? Those are some big questions. Not sure what's on mine just yet. What's on yours?
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The food was good, not great, but you did get quite a bit for your money (for NYC). For $8, I got the chicken teriyaki lunch box which also came with shumai, miso soup, salad, a california roll and side of rice. My wife got the sushi roll special which came with a miso soup, salad and two rolls - the shrimp tempura roll and the eel and avocado roll.
The place has a nice vibe, including an outdoor patio in the back.
We'll probably still stick with Oshima for our sushi needs since it's closer to us but it was good to try a new restaurant.
Back in the 80s, Billy Mitchell set the all-time record high score for Donkey Kong (where the now omnipresent ‘Mario’ made his debut). The score remained unchallenged for more than 20 years, until, in 2006 a man named Steve Weibe broke the record. Director Seth Gordon manages to capture the personalities (Mitchell comes across as arrogant and cocksure; Weibe as a lovable loser who finally found victory) perfectly and crafts an addictive, entertaining jaunt down memory lane. Even if a name like QBert means nothing to you, and you don’t get the reference of a bouncing pretzel, you’ll still have a good time watching this story of social underdogs finding their own road to becoming champions.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Kim Severson's article on eating locally.
And props to my brother for directing me to Zoe Wolff's description of Park Slope's own A.C. Newman (New Pornographers) tying the knot with his girlfriend and celebrating at Union Hall.
Delves into why people vote against their own self-interest and put the Republicans in office.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Chronicles a year trying to eat nothing but home grown food, and if not that, locally grown food.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
From The Washington Post: The omnivore's dilemma is twofold: what we choose to eat ("What should we have for dinner?" he asks in the opening sentence of his book) and how we let that food be produced. His book is an eater's manifesto, and he touches on a vast array of subjects, from food fads and taboos to our avoidance of not only our food's animality, but also our own.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I also enjoyed Kandinsky's Composition No. 8:
And another favorite was Picasso's Mandolin and Guitar.
Afterwards, I checked out the gift shop where I really liked this print of an old New Yorker cover from the '70's.
Having concluded my early morning visit to the Guggenheim, I headed south and took in the sites of the Upper East Side, like the UES'ers boarding a bus to go to The Hamptons.
Eventually, I took a train downtown and made my way to The West Village. I stopped by the W. 4th Street Courts (aka "The Cage") to watch some hoops. Lucky for me, turns out that Kenny Graham's W. 4th Street Tournament games were taking place. I watched about half of the women's game and all of the men's game, pressed against the fence alongside a mix of tourists and locals. It was pretty fun and a real NYC experience.
Hungry from walking around and standing during the entire length of the b-ball games, I grabbed a slice from Bleecker Street Pizza and returned to BK.
Later that night, I met up with a friend whose cousin owns a boutique in Park Slope. He was watching the store for her and when he closed up, we went across the street to Bar 4 (7th Ave/15th St) where I was happy to hear a My Bloody Valentine song played by the deejay. And we found out they have Guitar Hero nights every Wednesday. Bonus.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Didn't Activision just come out with the 80's version of this game?
Why am I looking forward to the true sequel to Guitar Hero II?
The gameplay stays the same but the songs change and that's where they make their money. I'm the chump willing to shell out $50 a game just for the opportunity to "play" new songs. It's comparable to the Madden series for EA Sports. Essentially the same gameplay every year, but different rosters. What a business model!
Anyway, here are some of the songs on Guitar Hero III that I am looking forward to:
-"Cherub Rock" by Smashing Pumpkins
-"Cult of Personality" by Living Colour
-"Even Flow" by Pearl Jam
-"My Name is Jonas" by Weezer
-"Reptilia" by The Strokes
-"Sabotage" by Beastie Boys
-"Suck My Kiss" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
-"Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses
Curious I first Googled the number to make sure it was legit and then dialed it. After validating my info, I was informed that someone tried using my CC# but I had the actual plastic card!
Apparently whomever this thief is, he/she tried to put about $1400 or so on it at a Target store in the Bronx. The charge did not go through but it made me wonder - How did they get my number? Who was this criminal? And what kind of idiot tries to buy $1400 worth of goods w/o having the actual card in their possession? Did they just roll up to the cashier with a piece of paper and the cc# on it? So shady.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
First up is Spielberg's E.T., which we watched last night.
Maybe this is blasphemous, but I didn't love the film. In fact, I didn't even like it. It's tough to watch this kids film from the '80s with the sensibilities of a jaded 30-something in 2007.
Here are my gripes (in no particular order):
-How stupid is the mom in this film? And reckless? She just leaves her kids home alone?
-How the hell does E.T. and the kid get psychically linked? E.T. starts boozing on beer and the kid feels it? That was weird.
-What's with the blatant product placements? Reeses Pieces, Coke and Coors?
-Why do the scientists bust into the home unannounced and wearing space suits? Why not knock? They broke into the home like zombies in a horror film.
-How do these loser scientists NOT stop the kids from taking E.T. and stealing the van? Where's the security here?
NEXT UP IN OUR SELF-IMPOSED "CLASSIC" FILM VIEWING: The Godfather.
Afterwards, we checked out the rest of the zoo and particularly liked the meerkat, porcupine, and California sea lions, pictured below.
We then walked through Prospect Park and made our way to 5th Ave. where we sat outside at Willie's Dawgs, indulging in a couple Frankies (hot dogs with carmelized onions and bacon).
First of all, it simply tastes good. It's moist, flavorful and has the right combination of fruits/nuts. Secondly, it's good for you. It's all-natural, handmade in Australia, and a good source of fiber.
Best of all, 5% of the proceeds go to OneVoice, a non-profit that promotes co-existence in the Middle East.
Checkout the site for PeaceWorks Foundation, the "not-only-for-profit" company behind this product.
As for where to purchase these snacks in BK, so far I have seen them in Union Market in Park Slope and Chop Chop on Smith Street.
And yes, my transformation into a granola-eating, tree-hugging Park Sloper is now complete. Now if I could only reconcile that with my daytime corporate persona....
Ecosexual n. A person who's into hybrid cars, low-energy lightbulbs, and recycling. Now that environmentalism is hot, ecosexuals are getting increasingly fashionable.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Unfortunately, I did not have an intern report to me this summer. But it was nice getting to know some of my co-workers a little better outside of the workplace and to meet a few people that I hadn't met before. Plus, you can't go wrong with tapas and sangrias. And it was actually comfortably cool outside that night.
For more on Sala, see the New York magazine review here.
Friday, August 10, 2007
STAGE ONE: AWE
This is it. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. No more Second-City complex. You've got unlimited choices and unlimited potential.
It's during this stage that you're a little, well, in awe. You carry the Not For Tourists Guide around with you to figure out how to get around town. You watch your fellow straphangers a little closer to make sure no one looks shady or will steal your wallet. You're on sensory overload with all the people, restaurants, stores, bars, museums, sporting events, activities, etc. but you're enjoying taking it all in.
STAGE TWO: INDOCTRINATION
You're settling into life as a New Yorker. You may have stopped doing touristy things and instead have settled on a few neighborhoods to hang out in or maybe even limit yourself to the three-block radius around your apartment. You swear by NY 1, curse Duane Reade, avoid midtown at all costs and even begin to develop that smug sense of New York superiority (deserved or not) because you live among artists, writers, entertainers and powerful people. Because you can get bagels, bialys, samosas, sushi, foie gras, and a slice of pizza all on the same block. Because your subway ride to work is a venerable microcosm of the world. Because now you get the local references on Sex And the City. Because you're at the center of it all. You begin to wonder why you never lived here before and pity those poor bastards stuck elsewhere who will never experience this lifestyle.
It's also during this stage that you develop an unhealthy and warped perspective on money. When $100+ dinner for two is considered "not bad", $2000+ a month for a rental apartment is considered a "deal", and when you realize that despite the fact that you make good money it is never enough here and certainly insufficient to ever buy a home in this town. You're jaded, consumed with real estate, and aware of the constant presence (or absence) of money in this town. Nevertheless, you remain steadfast. You're officially a New Yorker.
STAGE THREE: BACKLASH (REBELLION)
This stage typically occurs during the months of July or August when the city quite literally smells like human excrement, when you're forced to pack into a subway car with people who don't share your same sense of hygiene, and when some facet of our city's infrastructure fails us (see ConEd's blackouts, the recent steam pipe explosion, the even more recent mass transit disruption due to rain, etc.). This phase may also be triggered by some random-ass event that could only happen in NYC, like the Yankee player who crashed his plane into an apartment building, which though not tied to terrorism, still reminded us of the constant underlying belief that we collectively share as New Yorkers: terrorists will strike this city again.
It is also during this stage that the characters you once found charming for their "New York-ness" are now simply just "assholes". You also realize that it is ridiculous how much you are paying for rent, how little space you have, and how "not normal" your lifestyle is. You realize how the "standards" for NYC apartments and landlords are so much lower than what's reasonably expected and are thus willing to put up with poor service and treatment because after all, it's New York and after all, it could be worse.
You recognize that it's not necessarily healthy for your ears to be exposed to the deafeningly screeching sounds made by subway cars while simulatenously your i-Pod blares to drown out the omnipresent subway preachers and panhandlers. Nor can it be healthy for you to inhale the stagnant, pollution-filled, humid air. Nor can it be good for the soul to not be near green grass or a clean body of water.
During this stage, it's best to avoid visiting other big cities like Chicago, San Francisco or Seattle - all of which seem to exhibit healthier lifestyles, more affordable housing, and an enviable quality of life - so as to not drive yourself completely crazy.
STAGE FOUR: ACCEPTANCE
The honeymoon now over, you begin to recognize that New York may not be the place you settle down in permanently. But you knew that all along, didn't you? This was the deal you struck. The trade-off you agreed to. You didn't come here to save money. You certainly didn't come here for the fresh air. You didn't come here to escape a rat race. You came here to experience this city, to pursue opportunities, to not have regrets. You remind yourself why you came here and how it never was supposed to be long-term.
STAGE FIVE: RENEWAL
This stage often coincides with spring (just in time for the release of Cadbury Creme Eggs) or perhaps fall (just in time for Back-to-School season). You begin to recognize that you might just leave NYC in a couple years and start looking at things with fresh eyes, as if it will be one of the last times you see those landmarks, hop on that 2 train, laugh with those friends. You realize that there is much more to see and do. More of New York to be experienced. More goals to be reached. More opportunities to be had. More memories to be created. Maybe you ought to make the most of this time in New York. To steal from The Lucksmiths, maybe you'll look back and remember this as The Chapter in Your Life entitled 'New York'.
Or maybe you will stay after all. Wait, I just remembered that rent check. Fuck it, I'm out of here in two years.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Traffic was ridiculous and what should have taken 30 minutes or less ended up taking an hour. Even then, traffic was crawling and I eventually got out of the car and walked six blocks to get to the office. Some of my co-workers walked to work - one from Union Square, one from Grand Central, one from the Upper East Side. Others took cabs. Some didn't make it in at all.
It's amazing how some rain crippled the mass transit system. NY Times covers the story here.
UPDATE: More coverage on the chaos, the commuter frustration and the Brooklyn tornado?! from the Times here. And, uh, does anyone else notice that this extreme weather is due to the friggin' climate crisis????
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
FACT: I had purchased two tickets to this sold out show way in advance.
FACT: I can walk to Union Hall in about 10 minutes.
FACT: Instead of going to see them perform in a cool setting close to home, I proceeded to lay on the couch and get sucked into trainwreck television like: Age of Love, Fat March, The Pick-Up Artist, and Man Band.
FACT: I am officially old and lame.
For those interested in how the show went and how those who are young and hip live, Brooklyn Vegan posted this blurb and pics from Trent's Flickr.
Monday, August 06, 2007
As I descended into the stinky, humid, and appallingly uncomfortable abyss of the subway station, I'm pretty sure I muttered under my breath (to myself): "This city is f#cking bullsh&t!"
I then also decided that Chicago winters are worse than NYC winters (that wind goes right through those thermals!) but that NYC summers are way worse than Chicago's (thanks to the funky smells, the quantity of people and the unbearable subway stations).
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Thankfully the weather cooperated with us and it was actually pleasant and comfortable out. Also, we lucked out with not having any annoying people sitting in the rows in front of us and behind us.
We got there fairly early and picked up the Marty Markowitz Bobblehead. The game was fun and we saw some good plays (including a few homeruns) and by the time we took off, the Cyclones led the Aberdeen Ironbirds by a score of 9-3 in the 6th inning. They ended up winning 12-6.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
It was a great action film and even better than the first two in the series. Almost as fun as watching the non-stop action in exotic locales was the packed theater for the 11am matinee. Let's just say it was one of those typical "participatory" New York City moviegoing crowds. Whenever Bourne triumphed after an intense fight scene, there was applause and hollering in the theater which added to the fun of seeing it with a big audience.
Next, we got our butts kicked by the sweltering NYC heat. We made it down to Boerum Hill and Smith Street where we took refuge at an Irish bar called Ceol. I had a pint of Smithwicks and a California Wrap as we watched a little Man U on the telly, er, I mean television.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
It's a Belgian Beer lounge so naturally we had some Chimay and some pommes frites.
It was good to see her one last time before she moves to London.
This woman seemed normal enough and was pretty well dressed. So it was not unusual that she actually grabbed our attention when at the Atlantic Avenue stop on the 3 train, she got on and announced: "Excuse me ladies and gentlemen."
What is this, I wondered? She went on: "I just want to remind you...." Where is she going with this, I thought? "....that Jesus died for our sins." Oh boy, here we go. That's when the iPod volume gets kicked up a few notches higher.
I don't know about her god but my god has some commandments and one of them is "Thou Shalt Not Annoy." I'm so sick of people on the subway exhibiting this antisocial behavior and telling us what to believe. What about the Jews and Muslims on the train who don't believe in Jesus? Not to mention it's just plain rude! Please shut up from now on.
In the ads, host Drew Carey asks inane questions like: "What percentage of Americans don't wear underwear?"
My question in return is: "What percentage of Americans will watch this crappy show?"
I was riding the 3 train downtown to Brooklyn and saw a man who appeared to love money. He loved it so much that he wore a necklace whose links were made of dollar bills. He also had a drawstring bag that had images of hundred dollar bills on it. And he had both a wall calendar and monthly planner out on his lap on which he proceeded to write different dollar amounts out on different days.
What was he doing? Keeping a tab of expenses? Money owed to him? Or perhaps he is just crazy. Here's to you Crazy Money Man.