New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Here's a photo I shot last night of the Dream hotel, which is located at 55th and Broadway. I had just met Marty and we were headed to McGee's for an after-work drink. I've never been in the Dream hotel but I am told that the restaurant and bars are quite nice. Again, I took this photo using the Night Scene setting, and since I couldn't hold the camera still enough it's a bit blurry, but I think it's a neat effect. I like the colorful lights they use to illuminate the building.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Three Bridges

I call the above photo Three Bridges. I'm pleased with how it turned out, because at first I was afraid that the light was too bleak. Click to make it big. I shot it during a walk I took this afternoon to Grand Ferry Park in Brooklyn. The bridge in the foreground is the Williamsburg Bridge. The Manhattan Bridge is behind it, and if you look closely you can also see the Brooklyn tower of the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. To get this view I walked to the edge of the East River and faced south, and I was just barely able to get both towers of the Williamsburg Bridge in the frame. The cranes in the foreground on the far left belong to the Domino Sugar plant, which no longer uses them to unload sugar from boats. The barbed wire is an added touch. What do you think?

I was taking an afternoon stroll because Jenn had some work to do and I wanted to get out of her hair for a while. I grabbed my camera and walked down Metropolitan Avenue to the river, and then I walked back home taking South First Street to Marcy Avenue back to Metropolitan. Here's a photo I took of a garage with an interesting sign.

If you need your New Ork State Inspection, this place is on Metropolitan at Meeker Avenue. The only guy I can think of who would need that would be Mork from Ork.

I continued walking and decided to snap this picture of a church.

Then I figured I'd shoot the street signs, for orientation. Marcy and Metropolitan.

As I continued walking I noticed that a funky-looking tea shop called the Roebling Tea Room had opened on Metropolitan and Roebling Street. These images are part of a mural painted on the side of the building.

This one reminded me that I've got to get my bike fixed.

I kept on walking past the Old Dutch Mustard Company. I don't think they make mustard there anymore but I like the building.

Here's the mustard company's loading dock. There are so many buildings like this one that it's easy to imagine this neighborhood as the bustling industrial area it once was.

I took a left on Water Street and saw this decorated truck, which I simply had to photograph.

By the time I made it to Grand Ferry Park the batteries in the camera were almost dead, so I was very parsimonious with what I was shooting. Here's the same picture as the first one, except without the barbed wire. Which do you think is better?

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and bought some chicken and vegetables to cook for dinner. It was nice to eat a home-cooked meal because we had been out to eat quite a bit in the last week. Last Saturday we ate with Jenn's friends at Nolita House. On Thanksgiving we ate at Arthur's Landing with Jenn's family. On Friday night we dined at Alta with Jenn's stepbrother and his new ladyfriend. And last night (Saturday night) Jenn and I cashed in a gift certificate we received as a wedding gift and had a phenomenal dinner at Fiamma, the first Michelin-starred restaurant I've (knowingly) dined in. Thank you Nicole for the wonderful gift. We had a great bottle of wine and enjoyed octopus as an appetizer. For entrees Jenn had the halibut, while I had duck. It was so succulent!

Friday, November 25, 2005

New York Coffee Cup

Good morning and happy Black Friday everybody. I was going to title this post Black Friday but it wouldn't be appropriate, since I'm not going anywhere near a retail store today (actually that's a lie, I just bought some sponges from the dollar store).

Since I did go to David's Bagels for breakfast, however, I thought I'd take a photo of the famous Greek-style coffee cup I drank my coffee out of on the subway (illegally).

I think these take-out coffee cups originated in Greek diners in New York City years ago. There are several different versions of the Greek coffee cup, and here's a link where you can see a few of them.

From David's I got scrambled eggs with bacon on an onion bagel. It was divine. When you order an egg sandwich before 11:00 a.m. it comes with coffee and a little (like six ounce) box of orange juice. I ate my eggwich and drank my juice at a table in David's, and then I took my coffee with me on the subway ride back to Kings County, a.k.a. Brooklyn. As I sat on the subway with nothing to read I was digging the coffee cup, and thinking about what a New York institution that type of coffee cup is. I should add that the coffee David's Bagels makes is excellent. Nothing fancy, but very expertly prepared.

Here's another view of the cup, showing a rendition of a priceless Greek vase.

I've got the day off work, but Jenn is in the office today. With my free time I'm going to take a daytime karate class, followed by a meditation class. Then I'll come home and clean the house, or make overtures toward same. Here's a link to another coffee cup entry.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Happy Thanksgiving 2005, everybody! I hope you are thankful for the good things in your lives.

This morning Jenn and I watched some of the Macy's parade on TV. I understand there was a bit of an uproar over Dora the Explorer, and another balloon tried to take people out with a lamp post (again).

Our plan was to meet Jenn's mom and stepdad at a restaurant in New Jersey for Thanksgiving dinner. So we got ready and went to the NY Waterway Ferry terminal on West 38th Street, where we met Jenn's aunt and Jenn's mother's former research assistant Haiyan. Since all four of us live in New York City, we decided to take the ferry to New Jersey together. Here's a photo Haiyan took of me, Jenn, and Jenn's aunt Nancy.

We were standing there, waiting for our ship to come in. And then there it was!

This is the ferry we took to Port Imperial/Weehawken. We were traveling to New Jersey, but just barely. Our destination was Arthur's Landing restaurant, which is not only right on the water, but it's right next to the ferry dock. You can even get free ferry tickets if you eat at the restaurant, which worked out well for us.

Here's a photo of Jenn, Nancy, and Haiyan as we arrived in New Jersey.

It's a very short ferry ride--essentially straight across the river--and we were soon seated at a great table on the second floor of the restaurant that had a beautiful view of Manhattan with the light of the setting sun upon it.

I call the photo above Skyline Noir because with the rain clouds coming in but the sun still shining on Manhattan it almost looks like a black-and-white photo, when in fact it is in colour. Color. Remember you can click on any of these photos to make them more awesome.

Here's a photo of all of us at the table. At the front right is Jenn's mom. Jenn's stepdad Chuck is next to Haiyan. At front left is Jenn's mom's friend who also teaches at Fordham. The building right behind Nancy is the Empire State Building.

Pat and Chuck treated us all to a wonderful dinner and lively conversation. I stuck to traditional Thanksgiving fare: Turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, and apple pie a la mode for dessert. It was all delicious but I think my favorite dish was my first course: a Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Creme Fraiche Drizzle. It was heavenly. Jenn got the salmon and said it was good. The apple pie was also quite divine. I'm still stuffed, although since it was an early dinner I might need a snack a bit later.

On the ferry ride back to Manhattan after dinner I took some pretty funky photos of the New York City skyline at night. It was about 5:00 p.m. This is what happens when you set the camera on the Night Scene setting but can't hold it very still (for example, you're on the upper deck of a boat in choppy waters). The tall green and red building on the right is the Empire State Building.

This series of photos is called Skyline Squiggles 1-5. And the artist is me.

This one is kind of cool.

As is this one, in my opinion.

After we arrived back in New York we said goodbye to Nancy (who walked to her Hell's Kitchen apartment from there) and then Jenn, Haiyan and I hopped on a free shuttle bus at the ferry terminal and took it to the subway at Times Square. Here's a photo of Haiyan and Jenn on the bus.

We said goodbye to Haiyan in the station. She took the subway home to Queens, and we took the subway home to Brooklyn. Now we're hanging out, calling our family and friends on the phone and wishing them a happy Thanksgiving. It was a very nice day.

Before I go, our best wishes go out to Ted and Sonny, who got married yesterday in Las Vegas, Nevada. May they have a lifetime of happiness together.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Darwin's Delight

Yesterday (Sunday) Jenn and I went to the new Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We had to kill an hour before we were allowed into Darwin so we strolled around for a while, first looking at stuffed elephants and okapis, and then making our way to Asian cultures. I enjoyed the Samurai warrior and the Shinto shrine.

Darwin was quite impressive. The exhibit contained his notebooks and sketches and all manner of experiments, but naturally people were riveted by the live tortoise, iguana, and horned frog. (I was fond of the blue-footed boobies for obvious reasons.) I wrote an entry about the exhibit for Gridskipper, which you can find here. After you've read my entry, poke around the rest of the site, for it is a fine site. (Click on where it says Gridskipper on top to get to the main blog.)

I think the curators of Darwin put together a very courageous exhibit, given the current attacks on evolution by the anti-science crowd. There are no apologies and no hedging, just the scientific method and the results it has yielded. There is, however, an area where researchers discuss the controversy and how it's even possible for a scientist to have faith.

(You can click on the photo above to make it bigger and scarier.)

We were tired after evolving (and devolving) through so many eras, so we went home to Brooklyn and got pizza at Sal's. Sal's Pizza represents the height of human achievement.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New York Horse

I was waitlisted for a flu shot at work, and this afternoon I got the call, so I hurried over to the 55th Street building and got the shot from a very friendly doctor. On my walk back from getting shot I shot this photo (so much shooting in New York) of a carriage horse at the corner of 57th and Broadway. I think the camera's fill-in flash startled the horse, because it started clomping into the oncoming traffic on Broadway. Fortunately the driver tugged on the reigns and calmed the horse down. Sorry, horsie!

The next photo shows scaffolding going up around 2 Columbus Circle, the controversial building that begs the question "should ugly buildings be given landmark status?" Supposedly it represents very well the thinking in architectural design during that era (1964). When it first opened it housed the Gallery of Modern Art, which displayed the collection of Huntington Hartford, heir to the founder of A&P Supermarkets. Over the years it has housed a number of different things, but mostly it has languished for lack of a good purpose.

Jokingly referred to as The Lollipop Building, many people, myself included, can't really decide if they like it or not. Some ugly things are actually kind of cute (pugs), and I think 2 Columbus Circle fits that category. I wrote about and photographed it in this post and this post.

I can see from reading the constantly-updated Wikipedia that 2 Columbus Circle is to be renovated and occupied by the Museum of Art and Design. We'll see how much the building is altered. Of course they had to do something with it because the rest of the area around Columbus Circle (and Columbus Circle itself) has been improved dramatically in the past two years. It stuck out like a sore (grimy white) thumb. It always has been weird to have that building there, almost completely unoccupied for all these years. There's usually a security guard in the lobby and a few dim light bulbs flickering in a very dated-looking pipe latticework-style light fixture. Sometimes a guy sets up a bicycle rental area next to the building on Broadway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brooklyn Views

I took these photos on Sunday afternoon. The scene above features an Orthodox Church in Brooklyn that might be familiar to Seinfeld fans: its exterior was featured in the "kavorka" episode. The onion domes used to be green (the color of oxidized copper) but they have since been cleaned. I think they'll return to green over time.

I didn't leave the borough of Brooklyn on Sunday, which is unusual, but I didn't have any business to attend to in Manhattan, and, furthermore, my 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCard expired the previous day (midnight on Saturday), so I figured I'd wait a day before starting the clock on my new one. I'm cheap like that.

Transit was a bit sticky over the weekend anyway. Our beloved L train was not running between Brooklyn and Manhattan at all, due to construction in the tunnel. This made things difficult for anybody who lives along the L line to get around. Jenn and I were forced to take the G train down to Hoyt-Schermerhorn to transfer to the A train to Manhattan, and to reverse the process to get home.

On my way home from kumite class on Saturday afternoon my G train stopped suddenly just as it began to leave the station at either Myrtle-Willoughby or Flushing Avenue (I can't remember which). The driver said there was a stalled train in the tunnel ahead of us. Since our train had actually started to enter the tunnel we had to evacuate the train, rather than just having the conductor open all the doors. As I was in the first car I was fortunate. The driver (an affable, heavy-set Asian man) opened the one door that was still on the platform with a special key he had, and I got the heck out of there.

People were confused and didn't know where to go. I started walking in the direction of home almost immediately. I was on Marcy and Union, somewhere near where a young Jay-Z wrote his first raps. The walk home took about a half hour.

Jenn's subway had also been screwy, and she wound up walking back from Nassau Avenue in Greenpoint, but mine was the screwier of the two. Anyway, after that ordeal I was okay with taking a day off the subway on Sunday.

Here's a photo of the new track and field at McCarren Park.

Enjoy your rainy Tuesday, New York (and world). I've got to get ready for work now.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Nice Fall Day

This is a test posting. I'm trying to figure out how to upload photos from my new new camera onto the blog.

I took this picture of a tree in McCarren Park this afternoon. The weather was beautiful, and then it got chilly. I sat on a bench and read my friend Ken's screenplay called Physical Evidence. It's bloody good.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Chocolatology 101

Happy Friday, everbody. Sorry I've been slack in updating, but my evenings this week were spent in the company of my co-workers at fun work-related events I'd best not blog about. Suffice it to say my colleagues are smart, attractive, and kind to people and animals.

I can write about last night, however. Jenn, her marathon-finishing friend Beth, and I went to the opening of a Michel Cluizel chocolate boutique in the always-trippy ABC Carpet & Home shop on Broadway and 19th Street. What makes this shop unique is its full bar. Supposedly it's the first fancy chocolate shop in the city with a liquor license, which means you can pair the finest chocolates with the finest boozes: Rum, whiskey, champagne, cognac, armagnac (any 'gnac you can think of) and more.

It was crowded and fun, and to celebrate the opening there was unlimited chocolate and champagne. My head started to buzz pretty early and not only because of the booze. I like chocolate as much as the next guy, but I'm not used to so much sugar in such a short amount of time.

Here's a photo of the party.

After all the speechifying and toasting, Jenn and Beth went to get dinner at a place called Pipa while I went home to take care of business and not spend money. Jenn got home after midnight and is feeling a bit sluggish today.

Check out my entry on Gridskipper here, please.

We don't have any serious recreational plans for the weekend, but I do have a few freelance projects I need to make some headway on, so I reckon I'll do that, at least for a while. Happy weekend, everybody, and please check out Miki's translation of the latest Panda Face Cookie Cartoon below.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Latvia Wins!

I don't have time for a long post right now, but I wanted to let you all know that for the first time, a Latvian woman has won the New York City Marathon. That's not her in the photo above, but rather a stylish couple that I photographed as they were running up Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. As for the Latvian, Jelena Prokopcuka (from Jurmala, Latvia, a very nice Baltic Sea beach town) dominated the women's category and took the glorious victory. Please check out my entry on Gridskipper, which also has a link to some of my photos on Flickr.

Check it out here. Hooray for Latvia, a small country with a big heart.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Panda Face Cookies Part V

Ask and you shall receive. Here's the latest and greatest Sakusaku Panda cartoon. Click on it to make it big. Thanks Miki for all your translations, and thanks Carla for the valiant attempt. As a regular subway commuter I can relate to today's cartoon, but I could still use your help and best guesses as to exactly what facet of transit life these pandas are discussing. My guess is that once the train car got really crowded the pandas melted on each other. That can happen when you're made of chocolate.

We are now going to walk out to Bedford Avenue and watch the New York City Marathon. I'm going to shoot some pictures and make some observations, so please check out Gridskipper tomorrow (Monday) for a brief posting on the subject.

Friday, November 04, 2005

New New Camera

Good morning and welcome to Friday. You may recall that Jenn gave me a new digital camera for my birthday. Sadly, that camera didn't last long. It gave up the ghost after just a few photos. I sent it back to Amazon and was informed that HP doesn't make that model any more, so I'd have to choose another camera. I did exactly that, and my new Olympus FE-120 six-megapixel camera arrived yesterday. That's it in the photo above.

In addition to the camera, I ordered a one-gig chip to put in it, which is as big as they come. Watch this space for photos of the city taken with my mean new photo machine. Thanks Jenn!

Here's the back of the camera.

And here's the chip. Wish me luck! Tonight I'm going to go through the manual and very methodically set up the camera to my personal specs, and then over the weekend the New York photo safari will commence.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Panda Face Cookies Part IV

Hana Foods is selling a new type of Panda Face Cookie (see parts one, two, and three). The cookies now have a layer of white chocolate in addition to dark chocolate.

Here's the latest panda cartoon. I'd appreciate any help in translating this. Usually I can take an educated guess but this one has me stumped. Click to enlarge.