New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Russian Fun

On Friday night Jenn and I went to a Russian supper club in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn called The National for Noah's 35th birthday extravaganza. We had a great time. The food was delicious (and unending) and the show was a spectacle of sight and sound. I'll let my Gridskipper entry on the subject speak for itself. (Here is a link.). In the meantime, here are a couple of photos I took and here's a link to Noah's Flickr set. In the photo above our emcee sets the tone for the evening. Below, she sings from the heart.

This guy sang in fluent Russian.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I'm not sure who does this kind of work around the city but it reminds me of Banksy. I shot this during our walk over the weekend. Tonight we went to a club opening in the East Village, and now I need to work on an entry about it.

[Update: Here is the entry.]

Chilly Weekend

I took this picture of the winter sun over the Hudson River on Sunday. It was a cold day. I'll post more soon.

By the way, I'm a vlogger now. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Valentine 2006

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. To celebrate it, Jenn and I put together a dinner of cheese, fruit, and charcuterie. That's a picture of our spread above. We are huge fans of fine cheeses, and especially huge fans of the Bedford Cheese Shop here in Brooklyn. (Here's a link to my Gridskipper posting on it, and you can go here for a rundown of all my stuff.)

Since it's too late and I'm too tired to actually do any "writing" I've compiled a list of what we had. In the magazine world, you'd call this a listicle.

Five Year Boerenkaas cheese (It's a type of Gouda, at $15.99/lb)
Rolf Beeler Gruyere (at $28.99/lb)
Montenebro (at $21.99/lb)
One tin of Riga Smoked Sprats (excellent little Latvian fish in sunflower seed oil, $1.99 for a 5.6 Oz. can)
Red Onion and Rosemary Z crackers
Pain D'Avignon Onion Ficelle bread
Bresola Biellese (Bresola is aged, dried beef. Think prosciutto, but beef. It rules, at $32/lb)
Honey Maple Turkey Breast and Herb Turkey Breast from Applegate Farms (at $8.99/lb)
Moroccan Oil Cured Olives (at $5.99/lb)
D'Anjou Pears
Gala Apples (which we forgot to slice and put on the table)
Pama Pomegranate Liqueur (from the slush table, shaken and strained into martini glasses as an aperitif. Quite divine)
Ribas de Cabrera 2001 Spanish Red Wine (yummers)

Below is a picture of the Riga Smoked Sprats, since I took the above picture and then realized I had forgotten to put them on the table.

Let the record reflect that I really love this style of eating: small plates with lots of different things to choose from. Cheeses, meats, smoked fishies, fruits, boozes. Everything good in life. And while it's pretty dear for a "home-cooked meal" it was an absolute cornucopia of excellent food, and far superior to anything we could have gotten for that money at a restaurant on Valentine's Day, also known as amateur night.

Let the record also reflect that I did indeed give Jenn a heart-shaped box of chocolates. We had a lovely time, and we also have leftovers.

Here is a picture of our cheese selection.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New York City Blizzard 2006

At first it seemed like it was going to end up being another overhyped non-blizzard, because it didn't begin as early as predicted, and the first few snowflakes that started coming down at about 3:00 p.m. yesterday (Saturday) afternoon were pretty shrimpy. However, I'm sure weather forecasters across the city breathed a big sigh of relief when it became clear that it was the real deal. They wouldn't get tarred with the Chicken Little brush again.

The snow is beginning to taper off now (it's 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon as I begin this entry) but we've got more than two feet of snow on the ground. We've got a real blizzard here, or at least a very heavy snow, and it's both beautiful and fun. It's also a pain in the back if you've got to shovel. I took the above photo and the next several last night at around 11:45 p.m., when I went out after dinner to buy the Sunday New York Times. (Click on any of these photos to make them big.)

I was kind of surprised at the heavy snow and wind as I walked the three blocks to the store. It reminded me of the two winters I spent living in Riga, Latvia, where heavy snow is the norm throughout the winter. The snow was falling so heavily that the camera had trouble focusing on anything besides the big snowflakes.

The above photo looks like it could have been taken somewhere in the Alps, or perhaps in the Rockies, but actually it was taken in Brooklyn, New York. Anyway, after I bought the paper I came back home and Jenn and I flipped through it and then retired to bed.

This morning we woke up to a winter wonderland. After having some delicous coffee we bundled up and went out for a snowy adventure. The photo below is of a statue by our front door which collected snow in an amusing way. Normally this guy is very suave.

The plan was to take the subway into Manhattan and see Union Square blanketed in white. I took this photo of Jenn as we walked to the subway.

Here we are, going down into the subway. The roads were barely passable, but the trains were running.

Unfortunately, we had to wait a half hour for a train, but it finally arrived and after a short ride we emerged from the subway system at Union Square. In this photo I am looking up Park Avenue South. The large building on the right is the W Hotel at Union Square.

Below, the snow adventurers.

We walked through Union Square Park toward Barnes & Noble. Jenn took this nice picture of snowy trees.

And I took this slightly off-kilter photo of a snowy statue.

We walked to the large Barnes & Noble that overlooks Union Square from the north end (17th Street). Here's a nice NYC insider secret: If you go to the top floor (the fourth floor) you can get a great view of the park from the windows by the stage area where visiting authors give readings (Jenn and I saw Garrison Keillor read there on the evening of Monday, September 10, 2001. I can't help but remember the date.) Anyway, this is a view of Union Square Park, facing south.

And here's Jenn, browsing. She almost bought a book but I talked her out of it.

And here's another view from the window: these classic New York buildings can be found on Union Square West, which is what they call Broadway as it happens to pass the park. Sorry the upper right of the image is blurry. Blame Barnes & Noble's lackluster window-cleaning efforts.

I took this from the back window of Barnes & Noble, because I liked the look of the snow falling over the Old Town Bar and Grill on 18th Street. The Old Town is a fine old New York establishment that I do recommend, both for drinks and for pub grub. I've said it before and I'll say it again: any place with an old pressed-tin ceiling is a good place, be it a bar, restaurant, or hair salon.

We left Barnes & Noble and walked east on Fifteenth Street toward First Avenue. We were headed to David's Bagels on First and 14th, our favorite bagel shop. This next shot is of an Irish Bar on 15th between Irving Place and Third Avenue called Shades of Green. There's not much green here.

Here's a photo of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), a historic building on 15th and Rutherford Place dating back to 1860, I believe.

Here's another view. Old buildings look especially nice when its snowing.

Here's a view of the park across from the Quaker building.

The snow was five feet deep in parts, which this next photo proves beyond all doubt.

Finally, this last picture is a beautiful view of snow falling over Rutherford Place, with a shepherd's crook-style street lamp in the center.

Jenn and I successfully made it to David's Bagels, where we purchased a pair of onion bagels and a quarter pound of lox spread. We took the subway home from there and I shoveled the walkway while Jenn toasted the bagels. I was quickly reminded of how hard snow shoveling is, especially when you're using a shovel designed for soil rather than snow. The difficulty of the snow shoveling made the bagels all the more delicious when they were toasted.

So that's the Blizzard of 2006. It's 11:35 p.m. now (I took a few hours off in the middle of writing this) and the radio just told me that it's 27 degrees fahrenheit outside with light snow falling. Apparently we surpassed the record snowfall in New York with this storm, so goody for us. It was a fine snowstorm.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Blizzard Warning!

It's Friday morning, and I just took a walk to drop off the laundry and pick up my dry cleaning (black dress pants). There is a blizzard warning for the New York area over the next couple of days. Many New Yorkers secretly hope for a blizzard to shut the city down, because that's the only time the city is ever quiet. You will never hear silence on the streets of New York like you will during and directly after a blizzard.

So I've always liked this cluster of buildings, pictured above, on the corner of Jackson Street and Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn. The building on the corner has to be from the Civil War era, if not earlier. One way to tell is by the little iron stars you can see on the walls (click photo to enlarge) which anchor long iron bars that bolster the floors, necessary in those days because they didn't have the advanced building materials we have today. Iron stars=Old buildings.

When I started walking I looked up and could just barely see the winter sun, low in the sky, trying to poke through the snow clouds. I vowed to take a photo after I dropped off the huge laundry bag, but by the time I did that the sun was already gone. Okay, let the snow (and the weekend) begin!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This is the view facing south from the 13th floor of a building at 601 West 26th Street in New York. You can see the Statue of Liberty if you look carefully. I was there on Tuesday afternoon for a karate photo shoot at my black-belt friend James Porto's photo studio, which was very cool. I hope to be able to share some of the photos.

Monday, February 06, 2006


The club where the Trump party was held, Marquee, was a pretty fancy place. It's one of those clubs where celebrity sightings are common, although I didn't see any celebrities at the Trump party except those who were specifically bused in for the event, namely Trump himself, and Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA. Oh, and that guy George, Trump's right hand man on the Apprentice. I stood in line behind him at the coat check. Didn't strike up a conversation, though.

Here's a view of the bar area downstairs in the non-VIP area. The VIP and non-VIP areas were very similar, to be honest with you.


Last Tuesday I went to a party at a fancy club in Chelsea called Marquee for the launch of Donald Trump's new business venture, a website called You can see the party crash coverage here. I don't know much about the website itself but the early reviews aren't too positive. It was pretty neat going to an of-the-moment uberclub, though.
More later, just thought I'd put this up for now. Oh, check out my Otafuku entry, too, which discusses the best cheap octopus balls in New York.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Senate and People of Rome

Last night my karate school held its annual black belt dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy called S.P.Q.R. Since it was a private event I don't want to go into too much detail, but it was a wonderful time with some great people, and the food was delicious.

I don't spend much time in Little Italy, so I was reminded of what a wonderful and charming neighborhood it is. I worked until about 7:45 p.m. and then took a W train downtown to Canal Street. Canal serves as a border between Little Italy to the north, and Chinatown to the south. Chinatown, however, protrudes into all its surrounding neighborhoods, so the maps actually don't seem so accurate anymore. Chinatown goes well beyond its official borders.

Getting out of the train at Canal Street is always an interesting experience, and it felt especially so last night, as I strolled down the crowded sidewalks wearing my blue blazer with patch that I got a year ago for last year's dinner.

I felt like I was in a movie, dodging all different kinds of people on my way to black belt dinner, looking at all the signs in Chinese and shopowners pulling down their metal gates. I know karate is Japanese, not Chinese, but it's not hard to feel transported to some Asian city when you stroll through Chinatown in New York. The density of people on Canal Street and in Chinatown during the workday has to be among the highest in New York. It's madness, but also very cool.

There's really no Japantown in New York per se, but the East Village (for young, hip Japanese places) and Midtown (for more traditional, Japanese businessman-type places) come close.

As I was running late, I was a man on a mission to get some appetizers before they started switching over to the main course at 8 p.m. I just made it.

Now I've got to get going. At the dinner I accidentally got some butter on my blue blazer because a pat of butter was somehow stuck to my napkin, which I had in my lap. The stain isn't very bad, but I will take the jacket to the dry cleaners anyway. So now I need to drop off my buttery jacket at the cleaners, buy salmon or tilapia from the fish monger, buy a case of seltzer from Beverage World, and then get my fight gear together and head into Manhattan for kumite. More soon.

By the way, the weather in New York is pretty dreary today. It's dark and damp and not very fun at all. On a day like today you've got to dig deep for your inner sunshine.