New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Space Shuttle Ride

Having enjoyed our helicopter ride in Virginia last Saturday (see below) we decided to take the Space Shuttle Enterprise (picture above) for a spin. It's a bit tough to keep under control, but the ride was smooth and the seats comfortable. I wish they would install Sirius satellite radio, though, because I got totally sick of the crappy FM reception in outer space.

Seriously, these are photos from the National Air and Space Museum's new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Dad, Jenn, and I took a stroll through the museum after our helicopter ride, since it was on the way home. It's an excellent museum, and I highly recommend it if you're in the Dulles, Virginia area.

I'm fond of this next photo, which shows a range of adorable little satellites hanging from the ceiling. Phone home!

Here's a decent view of the majority of the museum, which is housed in a huge Quonset hut. The Air France plane in the foreground is obviously a Concorde, and the big yellow plane behind it on the right is a Boeing 707.

Here's a photo of the exterior of the museum. The control tower in front is actually an observation deck and an exhibit about how a control tower operates.

And here's a view from inside the tower.

That's all I have time to do at the moment. Now I'd like to direct your attention to my latest effort for Gridskipper. Here's a link directly to my entry on Spuyten Duyvil.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fredericksburg, Virginia

After opening our presents on Christmas morning (afternoon) Jenn and I were antsy, so I borrowed my mom's Camry and we went for a short drive to the historic Civil War town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. I spent the latter part of my childhood in Stafford, Virginia, and Fredericksburg was the closest "real" town, so that's where we would go for movies or shopping or just hanging out. We called it "Frednecksburg" but then, what were we? We young Staffordians aspired to be Frednecks. Now that I've lived in New York for so long towns like Fredericksburg seem really small and quiet. It's a nice break from the hustle and bustle but I do tend to go batty pretty quick. The photo above is of Jenn standing in front of a pharmacy and soda fountain called Goolrick's on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg's old town.

The weather was rainy earlier in the day but it cleared up just as we started walking. I liked how the winter sunlight was hitting this mid-19th century building so I shot it.

Fredericksburg is a very pretty Southern town with lots of charm and a few quirks. In recent years a number of art galleries, restaurants, and shops have opened in the downtown area. This old building below now houses a coffee shop.

And here is a photo of a pool hall. All of these buildings date from the mid- to late-1800s.

We walked around for a few minutes and then drove back to my parents' house in Stafford, where we had dinner and then watched the Dog Whisperer. That guy really has a way with pooches.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas Fun

Yesterday Jenn and I got back to New York after visiting my parents in Virginia for the Christmas weekend. We had a great time and it was nice to see them, and the highlight of the trip was a helicopter ride my dad took us on in his friend George's Bell JetRanger. The photo above is of Jenn and me up in the air, and the photo below is me with my dad. He's the one flying the helicopter, though I did take the stick for a while.

Here's a better picture of the helicopter before we pulled it out of the hangar.

Once again I do not have the time to blog as much as I'd like, so I'll put some more photos and comments up when I can. I hope you all had a merry Christmas and enjoyed your helicopter rides.

Friday, December 23, 2005

NYC Transit Strike is Over!

The 2005 NYC Transit strike is over, and that is great news for all New Yorkers. I took the above photo at the 57th Street and Seventh Avenue subway station this morning.

As for the three-day strike, I'm not sure what the transit union accomplished, but they pounded on their chests and millions of New Yorkers were greatly inconvenienced. I think the transit workers deserve a fair contract, but in this case I don't believe the union leaders served their members very well.

I, for one, refused to let the strike cramp my style, and yesterday that meant a round trip to work and back on foot: Brooklyn to Manhattan and Manhattan to Brooklyn. I mapped out my route online when I got home and it was about a 14-mile journey. It's true that New Yorkers walk a lot in the course of their daily lives, but 14 miles is crazy.

It was easy enough getting in to the office yesterday morning, but getting home became the ultimate physical challenge. I alternately walked and ran all the way downtown to the bridge, snapping photos along the way. Here's the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

And here are some tourists posing with some monsters.

I practically flew downtown, but I stopped to shoot Yonah Shimmel, the finest knishery on the Lower East Side and possibly the world.

And here's world-famous Katz's Deli (yes, yes, the Harry-Met-Sally orgasm scene was filmed there).

I ran across the bridge and shot this photo of New York at night. I tried to balance the camera on the railing but the bridge itself was vibrating from all the traffic, so the image is a little wobbly.

As I descended the pedestrian ramp the end was in sight. Brooklyn!

The Red Cross was giving away coffee and hot cocoa. I asked this guy for a vodka martini, extra dry. He turned to the truck and called out "Bartender!"

And here's me drinking the best hot cocoa I've ever had.

I made it home in record time. It took me about one hour and 45 minutes to get from 57th and Broadway to Leonard Street in Brooklyn. I was so tired when I walked in the door and kissed Jenn. It felt like I had just had a long hike in the mountains. But I also felt really great mentally, like I was the king of New York. Nothing could stop me! And I had a fantastic tour of the city. I took the shower of champions, and then Jenn made me that martini that I had asked the Red Cross guy for, and it was divine.

I am really sore today, both of my feet are blistered, and it felt wonderful to take a subway to the office instead of hoofing it. Again, happy holidays to all! Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

NYC Transit Strike, Day 3

The strike is still on as of this writing, but I hear that it's being resolved soon, and that is wonderful news. I walked all the way to work from Brooklyn this morning. It took me two hours but it was an enjoyable experience because the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Of course I brought my camera. The photo above is a scary beast in front of a Bowery restaurant supply store. Below is the pedestrian/bike path on the Williamsburg Bridge.

Again I haven't got the time to write much of an entry, but here are a few photos. The penthouse on the top of the building in the following photo supposedly belongs to 50 Cent. Of course he wants to live in my neighborhood.

Here's some graffiti in Williamsburg.

This is what you say when you have to leave Brooklyn.

And here's a view from the bridge.

So I made it into Manhattan and walked uptown through the Lower East Side. The following photo is of another restaurant supply store on the Bowery. Click on any of these photos to make them big.

As I walked uptown I couldn't help but notice that the subways were still shuttered.

I walked up Park Avenue South and then over to Fifth Avenue, which I took all the way up to 57th Street. Here's a photo of the Empire State Building.

And here's Rockefeller Center. Those in the know called the tall building in the center "30 Rock." Now you can too! Many NBC studios are located there, such as the one for Saturday Night Live.

As I neared my destination, I photographed this guy, because we both had our ordeals today.

I'd like to post more, but I have things to do. If all goes well, subway service will be restored by tomorrow (Friday) morning, and it's not a moment too soon. Jenn and I will fly down to D.C. tomorrow night to visit my parents in Virginia, and we'll be back on Monday. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NYC Transit Strike 2005

It's very late and I can't spend as much time as I'd like narrating my 2005 NYC Transit Strike Adventure so I'll just post a few pictures and give a brief synopsis, with more forthcoming.

Here's what the world needs to know about the (ongoing as I type this) strike on the subway and bus lines in New York City, which began at 3:00 a.m. Tuesday. It's a huge hassle not having the subway at my disposal, and in order to accomplish everything I needed and wanted to do today I had to exert Herculean effort, but I wasn't defeated and ultimately everything worked out fine. If the strike stretches on through tomorrow, the next day, and so on, however, my patience will likely wane.

Here's how my day went. We woke up to find the strike was on, so Jenn made some calls to inquire about rides with colleagues and such, but decided it was fruitless and worked from home, where she was very productive. I was looking forward to the "adventure" of walking across the bridge from Brooklyn into Manhattan, so I dressed warmly (it is bitter cold outside), grabbed my camera, kissed Jenn goodbye, and hiked out to the Williamsburg Bridge, completely prepared to walk across.

As I approached the bridge, however, I saw a line of cars pulled over by the curb. Drivers were asking the pedestrians if they wanted rides across the bridge. The NYPD wasn't allowing any vehicle onto the bridge that had fewer than four people in it, so a ride across the bridge into Manhattan was easy to come by. All the walkers were just hopping into waiting cars and zipping across the bridge.

I hopped into a clean SUV driven by Eddy Duran, CEO of Duran Films Inc. Two other people hopped in as well, and we had a foursome, ready to cross the bridge. Once we got going the traffic was amazingly light. We made great time getting into Manhattan.

Eddy said he worked at an ad agency and also made films. He is a very good man for giving me a ride as far as 14th Street and Sixth Avenue. The other two passengers in the vehicle, a guy and girl (both in their 20's, strangers to us and to each other) got out near SoHo. All four of us in the vehicle either worked in advertising or publishing.

So this is a picture of Eddy, the guy who gave me a ride into Manhattan from Brooklyn on the first day of the 2005 NYC Transit Strike. Check out his work.

After I thanked Eddy and got out of the vehicle I took a photo of the shuttered subway station at 14th and Sixth (top) as well as a close up of the strike notice. Then I started walking uptown to my office.

I walked the rest of the way to 57th Street, and I deliberately walked through Times Square to take some photos, which I will post later. When I finally got to the office, I settled in with a bagel and a second coffee.

Work was cool, and kind of mellow compared to the hectic couple of weeks we've had. I did what I had to do and also booked a hotel for our Bahamas trip in January. (Ahem, Bahamas trip.)

At the end of the day I had to get downtown to the Blind Tiger Ale House (links here and here) to wish farewell to Webster and MaryAlice as they move to the Boston area. We were also wishing farewell to the bar, which is closing after nearly a decade. And we were determined not to let the transit strike force us to cancel our plans because we had no time to reschedule.

I had no other way of getting downtown other than my two feet. I alternately walked and ran from 57th Street to 10th Street in Greenwich Village in 40 minutes, with heavy pedestrian traffic. The weather was very cold but I was sweating under my heavy jacket.

I was able to relax when we got to the Blind Tiger where we all had a very nice time. I shot this photo of Webster shortly after he came in from the cold.

When it was time to go home and I was steeling myself for an extremely cold walk across the bridge back to Brooklyn, my friends Mike and Penelope offered me a (sober) ride home to Brooklyn in their car. Excellent. Here I am, and friends, I'm sorry if this is a sloppy entry but I've got to go to sleep now. I'm not sure how tomorrow is going to go, transit-wise. I hope labor and management can reach an agreement soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas in Brooklyn

Last night I took a walk around the neighborhood to photograph some of the Christmas decorations people have put on and around their buildings. One particularly good block for Christmas lights is Conselyea Street between Lorimer Street and Leonard Street. There are always a half dozen houses that put up impressive if not over-the-top displays of holiday spirit. The snow monster above is part of a larger North Pole display, pictured below. Click any of these images to make them big.

During Halloween, that house had a different display, shown here.

I like this next house because of the pretty blue lights against the white walls. The blue lights remind me of the runway lights you see on the airport tarmac when you fly at night.

And I also like these young lovers with cozy headgear.

This is a photo of the house with the most Christmas lights on the block. Sure it's gaudy, but it's also kind of neat-looking.

Finally, this house is on Leonard Street. The decorations are classic yet understated.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Panda Face Cookies Part VI

After several rerun cartoons, I have a new Sakusaku Panda cartoon for you. If Miki is out there, I would appreciate help in translating this. Thank you. I can only make the vaguest attempt at a guess about what these pandas are saying. The hat is protecting a broken-off chocolate panda ear, perhaps? Broken off and gift wrapped, maybe? You can click on the image to enhance your panda experience.

The previous panda face cookie cartoons can be found here: one two three four five.

These pandas remind me of Butterstick (scroll down), the world's cutest baby panda. Here's Butterstick's blog.

Tonight Jenn and I went to the Argentinian consulate on 56th Street for a benefit for an organization called ProyectArte that helps teach art skills to young people in Buenos Aires. We had a nice time and drank some wine and ate a few empanadas. There was an exhibition of Tango dancing, and the dancers and musicians were excellent.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Last Orders at The Blind Tiger Ale House

The Blind Tiger Ale House, one of my favorite bars in New York, is closing. I confirmed this fact last night after work when I stopped in for a quick beer with Seth.

I wrote a small item about the Blind Tiger's fate for Gridskipper today, and you can find it here.

I only posted one photo on Gridskipper so here are some more. This next shot features Seth on the right and Kate behind the bar.

And this last picture is of me!

The Blind Tiger will be open until 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 27. It's located on Hudson and 10th in the West Village.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Evening View

I took this photo earlier this evening on my way from my office building to the subway. I stood in the bike lane near the southeast corner of 55th and Broadway and shot facing downtown. Just as I arrived at home in Brooklyn at about 8:00 p.m. it began to snow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

First Snow

Let the record reflect that New York City saw its first snow accumulation of the 2005-2006 winter season in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 4, 2005. Winter will not officially begin until December 21. The photo above is of the birdhouse outside our window.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Muay Thai

Last night after work I met up with a few friends, including Mike, Eric, and John, and went to an amateur boxing and Muay Thai exhibition held in a large hall on 60th Street and Columbus Avenue. (One of the sponsors was Scratch DJ Academy, which provided the soundtrack to the evening.) It was a cold and windy night in the city but I didn't have to walk far from my office (on 58th and Broadway) to get there.

The event was called Friday Night Fights NYC and the matches were quite enjoyable. The traditional boxing matches came first. By way of comparison, I have seen Golden Gloves events a number of times before, and my immediate impression was that the Golden Gloves fighters were cleaner and more strategic, while last night's fighters were a bit looser but possibly more energetic.

The main reason I was there was to watch the Muay Thai, which was excellent. I won't go into too much detail here because I'll be posting about the event on Gridskipper on Monday, [Update: Gridskipper entry here.] but I will say that I was geniunely impressed by the Muay Thai fighters' skills, spirit, and demeanor. The photo above shows a Muay Thai fighter meditating in the corner before his match.

And the photo below is an action shot of the same fighter squaring off against his opponent. I'm sorry the photos are blurry, but I wasn't permitted to use a flash. Just look at them as artistic interpretations of the action. I'll have a professional photo for my Gridskipper entry.

Today is Saturday, and I'll be doing some kickboxing of my own at my regular 4:00 p.m. kumite class, in less than two hours.