Shamefully, I cannot believe that it has taken me over two years to visit the Bronx. This time last year, I was training for a foot race in Van Cortlandt Park before I sprained my ankle. Ever since, the Bronx has been a non-priority, that is, until I ventured to the New York Botanical Gardens today. And what a perfect spring day! When coupled with a warm breeze and crystal cloudless skies, the gardens were a veritable fortress of solitude.
Luckily, while wandering the grounds of the property, I spontaneously remembered that the Bronx is known for its Italian neighborhoods – specifically its restaurants. All it took was a quick search on Yelp and (poof) I was suddenly at Zero Otto Nove, one of the highest rated Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue. And what is a good Italian meal without an even better dessert? I can thank Egidio Pastry for the chocolate-dipped cannoli and cappuccino.
I can also thank NYC roads for the chug-holed, stop-and-go, and smoggy ride home. Ten miles (if even) took over one hour!!
If Day #1 of my last week in NYC was all about Williamsburg, then Day #2 was largely Lower East Side… and a one-off trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
First order of business was the Tenement Museum, where my roommate Sanaz and I jumped on a 4pm tour called “Hard Times” At this point, it was around 11:30am, so we had some time to kill. Sanaz wanted bubble tea and, after I mentioned a good dumpling place I’d visited a couple of years ago, she was suddenly very hungry. Then we were off, on a mission to find these Chinatown culinary all-stars, zig-zagging through cramped streets and past tiny stores with funny names (ahem, Mei Dick).
After we’d accomplished everything we came for around the Canal/Mott Street area, Sanaz and I made a split-second decision to hop on an Uptown train and spend a couple hours at the Met. What a great idea – especially considering that the museum recently updated its Art of the Arab Lands collection. It might help to know that Sanaz is from Iran and quite knowledgeable regarding the traditional regional designs of Persia.
By 4pm, we were back in the LES and on our tenement tour. By 5pm, we were at Essex Street Market buying produce for the night. By 6pm, we were (literally) limping home. Not sure how I’m going to run and go to the NY Botanical Gardens tomorrow.
RIP Dick Whitman.
For the Iranian New Year, my roommate Sanaz purchased two goldfish. Although I truly love all living creatures, I’ve always felt conflicted about keeping birds and fish as pets. To me, there’s something a bit wrong about keeping wild things caged (or in poor Dick Whitman‘s case, bowled). Even with a proper set-up – an aquarium, heater, filtration system, the nines – keeping a fish just seems kind of… selfish.
At any rate, Dick Whitman (alias Leonardo Da Vinchi) is present in apartment one and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. That is, unless he suffers the same fate as his ex-wife who, unfortunately, is no longer with us.
She’s the first one to go.
Of the 2o-somethings in our group of friends, Sara is the first one of us to cross the threshold of a new decade. My milestone comes later this year. Whereas Sara celebrated her 30th in Brooklyn at a small bar called Good Company, I think I’d prefer a more natural surrounding.
After many months of thought, I’ve decided that I would most like to spend my next birthday in the Redwood National Forest or at Yosemite National Park. When I was a kid, I had a tremendous fascination with the natural world, an awe that’s followed me into adulthood. It makes perfect sense.
But this post isn’t about my birthday (it kinda is), it’s about Sara… and a creepy bus in the courtyard of that bar. Valerie actually said that she wants to get married on it. Let this post stand as the living proof of that statement.
I don’t know who was more surprised: Me, catching sight of a potbelly pig walking up Metropolitan Ave., or the pig’s owner, when I asked to take his picture.
He looked at me confused like, “You wanna take a picture of my pig?” He must get that a lot in Williamsburg. So I said the first thing that came to mind – “It’s not for publication, it’s just for personal use.” Pretty creepy, Shan.
But how often do you see a pig walking down the street in New York City? In these parts, around those bars, on a typical Friday night? You’d be surprised.
Spring in New York – the sunshine, the crisp air, the wide eyes peeking out from winter burrows – need I say more?
In comparison to last year’s blizzard, the past few months have been a cakewalk. Heck, New York hasn’t even had any substantial snowfall and it’s supposed to be 65 on Thursday!
Even though I’ll be locked inside an office…I’m still super stoked!
It’s been two years and I haven’t bowled with the Bohls once. That is, until Saturday.
There’s something you’ve gotta understand about Adam and Sara Bohl – they love to bowl. Sure, it sounds like a joke but it’s totally true! These Indiana siblings are straight out of an episode of Roseanne and they’ve got the flannel to prove it, too. They’ve also got the bowling scores. I, unfortunately, do not.
I walked away from Gutter with a measly score of 84. Total fail.
These Williamburg Brazilian Jiu Jitsu clowns have been using neighbor trees to promote, well, whatever it is they do.
I suspect that the culprit may be one of the construction workers drilling outside my apartment in the morning. Seriously, I have been awoken by their jackhammers every morning for the past week – and my bedroom isn’t even street-facing!
Kinda seems appropriate to share a tree with a poop sign.
Notice the sweat accumulate as Carter toils over ‘Sweet Emotion.’
Every morning I pass the same violinist in Union Square.
She is not just any violinist – she is The New York Violinst - of whom I’ve never heard of but admittedly sounds very official.
Every morning I pass this woman; with her violin and her stiff back, her long gray hair and her yoga pants; a tourist invariably stopped beside her to listen; and I think to myself, “how nice it would be to have nowhere to go.” But it’s the morning and I’m headed to work with the rest of Brooklyn, caught in the human deluge of rush hour. Every time I see this violinist, that scene, I pull out an ear-bud and I listen for as long as it takes to walk by. And when the music gets too far away or the sound of trains drown it out, I always think about how I should have stopped to enjoy it.
This morning, as the same lament for the dying chords of “Pachelbel Canon in D” set in, I had those thoughts again. “Choices,” I thought. I could choose to stop instead explaining away reasons not to. And so, as effortlessly as that, I retraced my steps back to the violinist, still with her for all of one minute, and then instantly headed back on my way.
It has been said that only your true friends will help you move for free. I think this adage applies to the painting of one’s Bushwick apartment, as well.
The fun started at my house on Friday night and then moved to Valerie’s on Saturday and Sunday. By the end of it all – Whitney Houston’s funeral, two rooms and all that crown molding – we were nasty.
Let’s just say we could’ve fried some chicken with the grease off our heads. It was gross, ya’ll.
Let the games begin!
My knuckles, swollen like a blow fish.
Couples fight. Couples make up. Couples stay together. Couples break up. That’s what couples do.
For as bad as an argument can feel in the moment, it’s important to keep your wits; to remember that you are arguing with your partner – not the guy that elbowed his way onto the crowded train; you are arguing with the person you love.
I’ve often said that a couple can be judged not by their best moments but by their worst. How a couple fights and makes up – or, adversely, fights and breaks up – really shows the inner workings of their relationship. It’s in the “getting through it” – the communicating, apologizing, and forgiving – where a couple builds trust and confidence. I believe, it’s in that place where love is ultimately strengthened.
The other day, as I scrolled through the seemingly endless selection of channels in my cable pack, I saw that Teen Nick now airs episodes of Freaks and Geeks in syndication. This led me to consider my favorite characters, of whom I’ve taken the liberty of compiling into a list. You know, just for giggles. And the love of Judd Apatow.
This is early James Franco, people. We’re talking young, rebellious, and ripe for the picking. As the series progresses, Franco eases into his role and the character really comes alive. At once heart throb, rebel, and slacker, Daniel DeSario embodies every school girl’s fantasy – and every parent’s worse nightmare. Best scene: When Daniel shares the nudey flick with Sam and, in turn, is welcomed into the Geeks’ Dungeons and Dragons circle.
Knowing what we know about Jason Segal characters now (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, How I Met Your Mother) it’s kinda hard to distinguish how much of Nick Andopolis is fiction and how much is the actor, well, just being himself. Freaks and Geeks was the birthplace of the Jason Segal MO: sensitive, stalkerish, and totally into ’70s drum-rock. Best scene: Nick’s “Lady L.”
No matter what Martin Starr does, no matter where he goes, he will always be “Bill” to me. When I, per chance, met him at the South By Southwest 2007 premiere of Knocked Up (another Apatow project), I told him as much. He seemed nice but a little nonplussed. In the series, he’s part of the geek crowd, the third player in his three-geek gang of comprised of friends Sam and Neil. Best scene: A two-way tie between the geek fight scene and Bill’s prank call to Coach Fredericks.
To say that Harris is a supporting character would be giving him too much credit. He’s in the periphery most of the time but the scenes in which he does appear are golden. Rumor has it he was a real student at the high school where Freaks and Geeks shot. Apatow thought he was funny (which is totally is) and plugged him into the show. Best scene: Any scene in which Harris offers sex advice.
I would assume that, at some time or another, everyone has known a “Millie” type. She is the quintessential good girl, the “Jesus Freak,” mathlete, the only freshman still playing with dolls, president of “sober students,” and the former best friend of protagonist Lindsay Weir. Best scene: When Millie goes rogue after Lindsay and Kim accidentally kill her dog. She even drinks a beer and mouths off to her mom!
Papa Tino’s brunch.
Carter and I at the Greenbelt.
Mark, Jonathan, and Carter.
I miss this Austin.
Pre-Valentine’s Day snuggle.
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Why are so many New Yorkers obsessed with being “real New Yorkers?”
This thought entered my mind while watching a promo for the NY1 “Real New Yorker” campaign yesterday. A narrator speaks over photos of different New York street scenes while asking the viewer certain questions: (I’m paraphrasing) “why do you look into oncoming traffic instead of the traffic light before stepping into the crosswalk?”; “how do you know the street vendor umbrellas are garbage?”; “how do you know which subway car will drop you off closest to the exit?” – “you’re a REAL NEW YORKER.”
I understand the angle. NY1 is at once attempting to illustrate it’s longevity while also giving viewers the “secret handshake.” New Yorkers wear this city like a badge and rightfully so. The longer I’ve lived here, however, the more I’ve come to see New York as I would any other city: just a city.
Before I moved to New York I got a lot of chatter about how expensive it is, how hard it is to “make it,” how everyone is rude, how New York is the loneliest city in the world, how it’s a dog-eat-dog world and New York City has the sharpest teeth – the list goes on. What I’ve found? Well, there’s truth in every trite adage but only a little.
As with any megalopolis, New York is going to have slightly stiffer competition than other cities, more expensive options, more people thus more of the ruder variety, and, yes, it can be very lonely. My point is, when I stopped glorifying New York City and saw it stripped naked standing in front of me, I realized that we’re not so different from everybody else – we’re just more concentrated.
Sure, New York is different in the details: I walk everywhere; I look like a pack mule coming home from the grocery store; I have a personal relationship with my cobbler. In many ways, I feel like New Yorkers are closer, more in touch, with their residence just because of simple interaction. There is an energy to this place but there is no magic.
So why are New Yorkers so obsessed with being “real?” Maybe it’s because we know how special this city is. We know how, perhaps, we once glorified the skyscrapers and bustle; how we felt when we first visited; how envious we were of our friends that had already made the leap. We also know the dirty, often stressful realities of living here.
Maybe that’s what they mean by “real.”
It seems as though Republicans are really pulling out all the stops.
I saw this beaut on the way to work this morning.
Just goes to show, no venue is too small – or dirty, for that.
“Anybody but Obama in ’12′”
It’s no secret: Williamsburg is blowing up.
Development off the Bedford stop is booming. So much that the original gentry are now the ones being gentrified! In a strange although completely expected turn of events, “adventurous” Manhattanites are crossing the bridge to settle North Brooklyn side. What does it all mean?
Well, it definitely means a price hike. It also signifies the next phase in the evolution of Williamsburg. Such is New York.
Always changes, never sleeps.
More Occupy art.
I wasn’t planning on spending the night in but… it’s raining and I feel like Michael Flatley’s dancing on the hardwood floors of my brain. That means I have a headache.
Any way, this is happening tonight. So hard.
Not listed: the complete works of Corey Haim.
I’ve started popping stove top.
I once read that at the core of an artist – beyond curiosity or a quest for knowledge or the appreciation of beauty – lies a delusion of grandeur.
My own opinion has always maintained that an artist is preoccupied with death and, therefore, the desire to leave a legacy. In really considering this, it’s pretty easy to see the delusion inside. I mean, what less than delusion could make someone crazy enough to create something out of nothing? Crazy, indeed, though also brave. To create is to be brave.
Some of the greatest art comes not from the loudest or most confident people but rather from the most courageous and trusting. To truly honor your desire to create, you must truly trust your voice.
So really, if the real nucleus of an artist is trust, then maybe delusion and death are merely ribosomes and mitochondria?
The night began with an ice sculpture.
I think it was intended to be a dog but it ended up looking more like an icy bust of Zuul. As in the Gatekeeper of Gozer. I made the mistake of mentioning this observation aloud, which got me into a lighthearted but truly serious argument about whether Zuul was those beast dogs or if Zuul was merely the spirit of a demigod that could inhabit any form. The answer? Both, I guess. At any rate, I am a nerd.
After that, I caught Cass McCombs at the Bowery Ballroom, where I reflected on the 15-almost-16-year-old me. This bored my young friend Sam, who speaks of the ’90s as if it were some urban legend.
Who is Zuul?
Totally sold out.
Cass outside of the Bowery.
Every time I go to the Bowery Ballroom I’m always reminded of the first time I went to the Bowery Ballroom.
At the time, he worked for the corporate arm of Sam Goody (Remember Sam Goody?!), which had offices in Greenwich Village. Last time I checked, it’s a bank now. In 1998, however, it was the mecca of cool and, when ever I’d come to town, my dad made sure to show me just how cool it really was. That meant tagging me along to his office under the guise of an “internship,” loading me up with a bunch of free music (it was during this time that I discovered Belle & Sebastian and Superdrag) and taking me to tons of free shows. We saw so much music together, in fact, that live shows have since become a tradition between the two of us. Seriously, we saw everyone from Van Morrison to Beck to Ben Folds to Fastball and Semisonic.
You remember Semisonic, don’cha? The ubiquitous “Closing Time” anthem? Yeah well, we saw them at the Bowery Ballroom. I don’t really remember much of their set but I do remember the floor was especially sticky. Like, pull your shoe off sticky. I also remember seeing the chubby, bespectacled frontman of Harvey Danger hanging between the necks of two young women. That’s about it.
Any time I go to the Bowery Ballroom I always think about those random details. I also think about how cool it would be if the me now could talk to the me then. Specifically, that I’d be standing in the exact same spot nearly 15 years later recounting the arbitrary events of that night. The 15-year-old me would’ve been totally stoked. Heck, the 29-year-old me is still totally stoked!
Cass McCombs tonight @ the Bowery Ballroom
When is it time to give up? Well, if the steadfast presence of the occupiers down on Wall Street have anything to say about it, never.
There’s a reason that the Protester was the Time Magazine 2011 Person of the Year. There is something about the very spirit of protest that really embodies our time and, within it, a true – if not naive – belief in change. A belief that surprisingly perseveres through violence, ridicule, homelessness, joblessness and even weather. Faith, I guess you could call it.
What can the lay person take away from all of this? I believe that it all comes down to the simple seed of dreaming. No, not the kind where you’re naked sword-fighting Darth Vader in front of your peers. The other kind of dreaming; your goals. Would you endure brutality, destitution and the elements for your dreams? I think it is an important question to consider when considering what you are truly passionate about.
For Heaven’s sake, keep the dream alive.
Two guys were handing these out at Union Square this morning.
Upon stepping out of my apartment on Sunday afternoon, I found a stack of rather interesting publications strewn across the sidewalk in front of my door.
When I took a bit of a closer look I realized that there were some real treasures in the pile: first edition short stories by Jonathan Lethem, George Saunders and Haruki Murakami, to name a few. You don’t have to have a master’s degree in creative writing (ahem, me!) to know that those puppies are some real finds.
Of course, before I fully committed to pocketing these lovely chapbooks I allowed the paranoid New Yorker inside of me to surface. That means I inspected the delicate pages, one by one, every crevice of these tiny manuscripts for any sign of beast or vermin. Bed bugs, folks.
Laugh it up, but it’s a real concern in the City. Thankfully though, these bad boys were pest-free!
Photo courtesy of Valerie.