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Monday, June 30, 2008

What's Cooking in Curry Hill

Little India
Photo by myself on Lexington Avenue, around 28th Street.

I took this photo while crossing the street. You can see clear up to the Chrysler Building, at 42nd Street.

We were in the neighborhood called Little India or Curry Hill, so called because it is located in a sleepy neighborhood called Murray Hill. This short strip of stores and restaurants on Lexington Avenue lies between 30th and 26th Streets. There were cabs lined up on either side of the street; not a surprise, since many cab drivers are of Indian or Pakistani decent.



This morning, Mark and I drove in for spices to make homemade dal, parking Clive, Mark's Mini Cooper, among the yellow cabs. We've been trying to cook Indian food for the longest time. So many curry recipes have turned out 'eh', we were convinced that Indian cooks hoarded their good recipes.

Then this morning Mark stumbled on a gaggle of guided Indian recipes on You Tube. We selected a couple presented by Manjula Jain, an adorable Indian woman, who shares all her home cooking secrets. We have her recipes to look forward to, as well as one Eva so kindly posted for me on her blog.

So tonight we cooked dal in the pressure cooker and an aloo gobi. Actually, Mark cooked both dishes, while I hid in the other room with my hands over my ears, convinced the pressure cooker would explode, lol.

All turned out deliciously, thank goodness.

Related posts: Food Glorious Food and All You Can Eat


Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Gowanus

Crossing the Gowanus
Photo by myself, at the Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn. (Pronounced 'Go-on-us').

There's a lot going on in this industrial location. A couple ramps head on to Manhattan. A scrap metal yard lies along one bank, where cranes load material back and forth. And an enormous bridge lurks overhead, covered with black paper and shiny metal studs.

The only time I hear about the Gowanus is on the traffic report. It's not much of a destination and is still a fringe area, lying between Park Slope and Red Hook.


Pardon the last couple photos, which are lacking in people. It's been uncomfortably humid here in New York, and the last thing Mark and I want to do is walk around, never mind be remotely close to other hot, sweaty people.

Shuffling down the sizzling sidewalk in our flip flops today at high noon, all Mark could say (over and over) was, 'It is craaaazy hot out. Craaaaazy, crazy hot. Yeesh!'

We had no real plans for the day, except go to the hardware store, next to the Gowanus Canal. We bought some shades for the bedroom, which gets bright at 6 am. We spent the rest of the day huddled next to the air conditioner.

Luckily this afternoon the skies opened up and poured down rain. Temperature and humidity lowered to a humane level. You could see the relief on people's faces as they sauntered on the sidewalks afterward.


Related posts: Mission Suspended.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Green Wall

Living Wall, UES
Photo by myself on the Upper East Side, around 80th Street and Lexington Avenue.

I caught a photo of a living wall, erected as a storefront above a yoga center. Various types of lichen and moss were trained to grow in the crevices of a concrete wall. The entire installation looked like a map.


We've come to the end of another humid and busy week. TGIF!

Off to bed after a long day. We'll be back tomorrow, folks.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Fashionista, Not

Bad Fashion Sense
Photo by myself near Union Square, on University Place and 13th Street.

If this gentleman were walking toward me, he'd have one of those black bars across his face, as a 'fashion don't'!

Alas, you can't police everything.


Looking through my photos each night, I've been stumped, recently. Nothing seems to excite me.

'Post something with people,' Mark says. 'People like looking at people.'

So I turn from the architectural shots and close ups, and try to find something halfway decent with a person in it.

Mark is convinced that it doesn't matter where a photo is taken. If it has an interesting person or people in it, a photograph will be interesting. So even if you take photos on the same street for days, your images will be interesting.

I'd love to know how people think about this. Is his theory right? Are architectural details boring? Would daily photos of any given street corner be enough?

This thinking reminds me of the movie Smoke, written by Paul Auster. The owner of a Brooklyn smoke shop contemplates the street corner outside his shop day after day.

Personally, I'm not sure. I'm still feeling my way through photography, trying to figure out what I like.

Related posts: Schmata, Or The Annual Warehouse Sale and Wednesday Portraits - The Sartorialist.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

NYC pizza
Photo by myself in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Pizza is not the greatest thing for one's diet, with all that bread and cheese, but New Yorkers simply cannot help themselves. Pile on the toppings, or simply stick to the basics, like tomato and fresh basil.

It's delectable.


Lately, I've been cooking more and bringing my lunches, to save cash.

My newest gadget is a pressure cooker, since I've been told by friends that these things save on time. You plop whatever ingredients in, seal it up, wait ten minutes, and presto, it's done. The only thing I have to get over is the fear of explosions.

Many New Yorkers just don't cook. Either their kitchens are too small, or their night lives are too busy or they're lazy or they enjoy socializing and getting out of the office.

I'm more of the busy/lazy/get out of the office variety. I'm also tired of throwing money down the drain.

Eating out adds up, quickly. Say you get something at a deli. I'd say eight bucks is your average bill. At a restaurant, it could be anything, depending on how fancy the place is and if they have a lunch menu. Multiply the cost over five days, and you're out a bundle.

We'll see what happens with the pressure cooker. So far I've survived cooking lentils and a chicken dish (well, the chicken came out a little pulverized, but otherwise edible).

Related posts: On Zen and Eating Too Much Delicious Food, How You Can Have What You Crave When You Want It


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sleeping on the Job

Sleeping Suit
Photo by myself in midtown, on Fifth Avenue in the 40s.

It's Tuesday and already the people around me seem worn out from the week. This gentleman must have had a tough day. Or perhaps he was a traveler suffering from jet lag.


Well, the summer solstice has come and gone. The daylight time only shortens from here on.

Walking down the sidewalk, I hear people around me saying how the morning zips by or that time is standing still.

Happy Hump Day, everyone!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Different Vistas

Manhattan skyline from Long Island City
Photo by myself of the Manhattan skyline from Long Island City. I took this photo during this weekend's barbeque atop one of the new residential towers in Long Island City.

Even though it's been nearly eighty years since its opening, the Empire State Building still strikes a distinctive impression along the Manhattan skyline.


This afternoon I went over to the job site on Central Park West, for a meeting.

En route there was some mayhem outside the Trump Tower at 60th Street, along the Park. A woman with two young kids asked a doorman, 'What just happened?'

'Steven Tyler just went into the building, ma'am.'

I kept walking, worried that I'd be late for my meeting. But all I could think was, there is a whole class of people like Steve Tyler, who live in these amazing apartments looking out on the world below. This is normal for them - the beautiful view, the throngs of people, the architects and decorators that cater to them.

And then there is the rest of us.

It shouldn't be such a new idea to me. There are loads of patrons of various degrees of wealth, after all. It must have been the circumstance - walking along the same pavement, visiting neighboring apartment towers.

It's funny how you can look out at the same view but see vastly different things.

Related posts: Location, Location, Location and Sublime and the Ridiculous, or Why I See Few Celebrities in New York.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Damned Yankees

Bay Ridge Storefront
Photo by myself in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Mark is addicted to cookies from a bakery in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He makes the 50+ block drive over for a batch, which he then stores in ziplock baggies.

This storefront belongs to a quaint Greek grocery store in Bay Ridge. You can see a reflection of a Greek flag in the glass.


The past week was a busy one for both Mark and I. He finished up a shoot for a major corporate website.

He did such a good job, the client gave him four tickets to the Sunday Yankees game against Cincinnati (the Yanks won, 4-1).

We were all set to go with another couple, but were both pooped from the week. Friday we went to a rooftop party in Long Island City. Saturday we had people over for a barbeque of our own. By the time Sunday morning rolled around, all we wanted to do was stay at home and nest.

So he decided to forgo the game. Mark sold a pair on Craigslist. That left a pair left, at 10am. The game started at 1:30.

'Anyone with a Yankees cap, I'm going to see if they want em,' he said.

On the way out of the apartment, we ran into a neighbor, whose young son had a Yankees cap. Unfortunately, they had plans for the afternoon. Then we drove to Bay Ridge for cookies.

We ran into a couple on the sidewalk, one wearing a Yankees cap. They were surprised to be approached by strangers bearing free baseball tickets, but they were too busy to go. Finally, just as we were getting back into the car, a lanky young guy sidled by with a blue Yankees cap and a tatooed forearm.

'Hey bro, you wanna go to the Yankees game? Starts in 45 minutes. If you jump on the train now, you can make it.'

The guy had to work in the afternoon, but Mark pressed him anyway. Maybe he knew someone in the neighborhood? They shook hands and we left him there, a little astonished by the random encounter.

Before today, I never noticed how many Yankees cap wearers there are around here. Seeing three people within a half hour is a lot.

Hopefully someone enjoyed the seats!

Related posts: Christmas Shopping


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sundays in the Park

Central Park
Photo by myself in Central Park.

I'm not sure there is wireless in Central Park, but this guy was sitting on a bench the other day. Mark remarked to me later that this guy is a doorman. Hence the unusual suit. The gizmo he's holding looks too small for an Apple laptop. I think he's watching a movie on a dvd player.


Thinking about technology sometimes is bewildering to me. It's incredible to think that there's no going back to the Stone Age.

There will never again be a day when we'll be at a loss for information, or someone else's opinion, even though they're across the country. There will never again be a time when we won't be able to find something within seconds.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

From the East Bank

From Long Island City
Photo by myself, looking onto Manhattan from Long Island City.

It's tough to say what's nicer, the views from Manhattan or the views of Manhattan. Many of the new condo buildings in Long Island City and Queens, just across the East River, are advertised for their cinematic views of the Manhattan skyline.

This photo is deceptive. The gorgeous modern United Nations, designed by Le Corbusier, looks to be next to the Chrysler Building, several blocks away. The Pepsi-Cola billboard actually lies along the edge of Long Island City, with the East River in between.

You can see the area better in an earlier photo of mine.


Tonight Mark and I went to a rooftop party in Long Island City, also known as LIC.

We went to one of the new apartment towers, which had a beautiful roof deck. There were landscaped areas, freestanding barbeques and wood structures enclosing picnic tables.

Five or six separate barbecues were going on at the same time, without a problem. Each sheltered area was separated from neighboring areas by tall grasses. Someone brought an ipod and a couple speakers. We had a wine bucket and food from a nearby supermarket. The grill, maintained by the building, was ready to go. All we had to do was flip the burgers and enjoy.

There was also a petanque court, a swimming pool and dozens of lounge chairs. I can understand why LIC is advertising itself as the next Battery Park City, the cluster of modern buildings at the southern tip of Manhattan. The similarities are obvious - both are at the waterfront, both are littered with modern high rises and parks, and both have all the amenities people are willing to pay big money for.

The nicest thing about the rooftop was that it's environmentally friendly. A rooftop garden cools the roof, which is normally heated by sun during the day. Rain that normally runs off the roof is used for planting, and the plants themselves are great for the inhabitants and the environment.

Hopefully we'll see more urban amenities like this. I think everyone would love to have a garden and barbeque.

Lower photo by myself in Long Island City.

Related Posts: Building For a Greener Environment and Climbing the Times


Friday, June 20, 2008

Bridging the Gap

George Washington Bridge
Photo by myself of the George Washington Bridge, around 160th Street on the West Side.

The 'GWB' spans across the Hudson River to New Jersey, beyond. I took another photo of the bridge earlier this year, when it was shrouded in fog.


Broadway, that street that's associated with theater and performance, is a long, long street.

Sure, it's broad; for many blocks on the Upper West Side, the street is a couple lanes wide with a bus lane in each direction, separated by a planted median strip.

But really, it's long. It goes virtually from the southernmost part of Manhattan all the way to the northern end of the island. Then it crosses the Hudson River, to Riverdale and Yonkers, beyond.

Visiting New York, it's hard to conceive of the suburbs and towns around Manhattan. All you're aware of is the island itself, rather than the bridges and tunnels and edges that connect it to the rest of the world.

Mark and I noticed it most when we returned from Paris. There, the Seine snakes through the city, its banks well-trafficked. People venture down to the water for picnics and walks. Others saunter alongside at street level.

New York's edges aren't so obvious to casual visitors, who are instead swept up by the vortex of skyscrapers and streets. The edges are more obvious to city residents - apartments escalate in value with water views. Drivers whizz down the West Side Highway and the FDR along the East Side.

Related posts: The Mawl, In the Fast Lane and Tourists for a Day.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life in High Contrast

Homeless on the Sidewalk
Photo by myself today on Sixth Avenue and 57th Street.

A homeless woman was sleeping with a pillow and bedsheet in the middle of the day. The area is upscale and highly trafficked.


Today I went with a coworker to an apartment renovation she's wrapping up on Park Avenue.

It was really, really nice. There were the usual gorgeous details: custom furniture, expensive hardware, plaster ceilings and walls hand-painted by dedicated craftsmen. All the outlet covers and light switch covers were painted to match the walls, so they were barely noticeable. Heavy, silk taffeta curtains hung at each window.

It was not the interiors that wowed me, but the art. I've never seen so many Picasso paintings and drawings. There was an enormous Matisse in the Living Room that was about six feet high and fifteen feet long. It hung above the sofa in a spare, antiqued gold frame.

I've seen nice apartments with artwork, but this has to be the nicest one yet. The couple who live there are middle aged and successful. That both husband and wife came from established families did not hurt.

Recently, I've noticed many more homeless folks on the streets, subway stations and sidewalks. Perhaps it's a sign of the times, or perhaps I've become more observant, now that I take photographs.

I took today's photo while in a cab going to the ritzy apartment. It was around noon. The bouncer at Jekyll and Hyde, a few doors down, was pacing the sidewalk in costume. Tourists were casually window shopping. Taxis like mine were idling, waiting for the light to change.

Times are tough right now. I think everyone is feeling it, except for the very few, who live amongst the Picassos. No matter what the economy, it seems like these select folks remain untouched.

I'll leave off on a positive note. Mark and I are planning on doing some community work in the near future. He suggested a soup kitchen or an elder care situation. I agreed. I'd love to be more in touch with what's going on with people, rather than lock myself away in a protected tower.

It's all too easy to shelter yourself from reality.

Related posts: Signs of Hope, Come and Get It, Castaways and Filthy Rich.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gizmos We Live With

From the Manhattan Bridge
Photo by myself from the train crossing to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan skyline are in view through the smudgy glass.

To be sure, there are easier ways to take photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge, than hanging from a subway pole.


Speaking of poles, have people outside of New York taken to the idea of pole dancing?

A sweet, unassuming former coworker reportedly took such a class. I'd never imagine her draped around a chrome pole, never mind wearing a mini skirt. Apparently, some of her fellow dancers had poles installed in their apartments so they could practice.

None of the projects I've worked on has ever had anything so unique.

Mirrors that raise into the ceiling, to reveal hidden flat screen televisions? Sure. Outdoor fireplaces? Of course.

But no floor to ceiling pole dancing poles. Yet.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to the Basics

Hot Dog Stand

Photo by myself last week around high noon, around Park Avenue and 40th Street. The sun was straight up in the sky, and people searched desperately for shade.


Was it hard to wake up this morning or what.

Last night, Mark and I arrived late to JFK. The flight was a small disaster - LAX was disorganized and glutted with people. At JFK, our bag didn't hit the carousel for over 30 minutes. Mark had smoke coming out of his eyeballs.

Of JFK, La Guardia and Newark, the airports servicing New York City, I prefer Newark for efficiency and La Guardia for proximity. Sometimes, though, you don't have the luxury of choice.

While waiting for the bags, we spotted character actor Wallace Shawn, looking patient and well groomed. Shawn is best known for his excited role in The Princess Bride.

This morning we were awakened early by a hungry cat. Then I scampered off to work. The day was long, and at the end of it Mark and I dined at our favorite Italian place, talking about our day over glasses of Chianti. Exciting life, eh?

Wedding Cake

Since I have lost all my brain cells, I'll have to leave off for now. Above, a photo of my brother's wedding cake, that served the 200+ guests. Everything was done up amazingly for the ceremony, but I was much too tipsy to enjoy it.

Related posts: A Bit More on Celebrity, Past and Present.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Home, Sweet New York

Brooklyn Promenade
Photo by myself of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Promenade, in Brooklyn Heights. I took this earlier in the year, when it was cooler outside.

Believe it or not, the Brooklyn Promenade cantilevers over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). There are a few lanes of speeding traffic below.

It's a nice urban planning gesture. Busy traffic is located efficiently along the waterfront, while preserving the view and real estate above.


We're back home in New York after several days in California. I wish I'd had more time to write there, but our schedule was hectic.

This was my first time in LA with Mark. He's been there many times for work, filming car commercials on the twisty mountain roads, and knows the neighborhoods better than I do. He showed me his favorite hotel, his favorite cafe hangout, his favorite drive through the Hollywood Hills.

Friday, we toured Melrose. I was so swept away with the area that I didn't take photos of the eclectic, rock and roll vibe. There were tons of clothing stores, skateboard shops and tattoo parlors. I was reminded of New York's East Village, only spread out along one long street.

At one point, Mark was admiring everything - the weather, the lush surroundings, the houses. Out of nowhere he said, 'This place is unbelievable. Don't you want to move here someday?'

'What?! I'm not mentally prepared to talk about moving.'

'No, I mean when we're 60 and we don't feel like fighting for a spot on the subway.'

He was referring to the lushness and abundance in California. Life seems easier there. We ventured into one supermarket that was the size of two Fairway Markets put together. Only a handful of people were milling around. There were no crowds, no glut of carts, no harried little old ladies inspecting produce.

A day later, Mark had second thoughts. We'd driven through many beautiful neighborhoods. We hadn't encountered any trash, any crowds, any problems finding a parking space, or any hardship greater than highway traffic.

'Life is easy here,' Mark said. 'I'm not sure I like it.'

'See, that's what I'm afraid of. Your brain turns to mush.'

He and I agreed to keep the West Coast a distant possibility. I'm sure there'll be a time when we no longer want to live the sometimes workaholic, semi-anxious existence that New Yorkers are known for.

No offense to Californians. I'm sure 99.9% of the population would move out there in an instant.

Related posts: East Coast, West Coast, Tell Me About the Rabbits and From the Left Coast.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

More Notes from the Left Coast

Santa Monica pier
Photo by myself on the Santa Monica pier.

I've been posting photos from California for the last few days. Mark and I are here for my brother's wedding, near Santa Monica.

We'll be back Sunday night. Photos of New York will resume Monday morning.


My photos from our drive around Hollywood hills didn't come out as well as I'd hoped. Since we live in New York, it's rare to take panoramic shots. I'm sure there's some trick that I'm just missing.

From Hollywood Hills

Hollywood Hills

Tonight's wedding ceremony was a little surreal. I'm having trouble thinking of my younger brother as a married man. His new wife is gorgeous and down to earth, and I'm excited to have her as a part of the family.

They had a huge number of guests and it went off without a hitch. Mark and I left with my parents around midnight, just as the dancing started. I'm sure everyone else stayed til the sun came up.

Anyhow, Mark and I are due to fly back tomorrow afternoon. We'll be sad to leave my parents, but promise to return soon. We have invitations from several of my parents' friends, for dinner next time we're in town.

Santa Monica Beach

Photos by myself in Hollywood Hills and on the beach in Santa Monica.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not So Wild Horses

Photo by myself in California.

Mark and I encountered these horses calmly enjoying the sunshine on our drive through the California Hills.


Seems like Mark and I have been running into a lot of critters out here.

The above photo is from our drives in the Santa Monica mountains Friday, which are covered in red rock and brush. Twisty turny roads weave along, making for dramatic views. Mark has been there many times to film car commercials.

On Saturday, we drove into Hollywood Hills, and saw a bunch of amazing houses. I haven't cracked open the photos yet, but hopefully one or two came out all right. I'd taken some shots of the view from the hills to downtown LA, below.

We fly home Sunday night. It's been a short trip, but as always, a good one.


Friday, June 13, 2008

California Dreamin'

Yankees Fan
Photo by myself on the Santa Monica Pier.

I ran into this fellow New Yorker on the Santa Monica Pier today. He was scampering around with his buddy, who was a brownish version with an LA Dodgers visor.

Both fellas shuffled by me, while another woman and I chased after them for photos. I suppose they must get this kind of attention all the time.


Greetings from much too sunny California!

After an early flight, Mark and I drove out to Santa Monica to hang out and walk along the beach. It was incredibly sunny and beautiful. There were people wading in the ocean, people selling their artwork, people taking lessons on a trapeze, people playing volleyball and people playing chess.

On the Santa Monica Pier

There was an amusement park with a ferris wheel, a carousel and other rides as well. Screams would spill out from the kiddie roller coaster every minute. This was all happening at ten thirty on a Thursday morning. I'd love to know what all these folks do for a living, and if they're hiring.

By 7:30pm California time (10:30pm New York time) we were zombies. After a brief dinner out with my parents, Mark and I called it a night.

We don't have anything specific planned for tomorrow, most likely toodling around Santa Monica, before the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding. I can't wait to continue to walk around with the camera.

At least we can count on it being sunny and nice outside.

Trapeze practice

Yankees Fan

Related posts: East Coast, West Coast, Tell Me About the Rabbits and From the Left Coast.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Food on the Brain

Fairway delivery
Photo by myself outside Fairway on the Upper West Side.

Every week or so, deliveries arrive at this popular supermarket. There are boxes and boxes piled along the sidewalk, wrapped in plastic. This location on the Upper West Side at Broadway and 74th Street is just one location for this small New York chain.


Tomorrow (Thursday) Mark and I have to leave early for California. Our flight leaves at 6:30 am, where we're going to attend my brother's wedding.

But tonight, it was the season finale for Top Chef. We still had to pack. We still had to figure out the cat situation. We still had to sleep.

Mark kept pacing about. 'What are we going to do? It's the finale!'

And there we were, sitting on the couch, debating soup versus foie gras, whether Richard choked or not, who was the best chef, and how a decision could possibly be based on one meal.

I'll be bringing the camera and computer to LA with us. I can't promise any wedding photos, but I'll certainly take some images of the beach.

Hopefully it won't be so doggone humid.

Related posts: Food for Thought, A Bit More on Celebrity, Past and Present and Confessions of a TV Junkie.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A View from the Streets

Street Corner
Photo by myself on a typical street corner in New York.

During rush hour especially, the street corners are packed. Cars whizz by and the crowd will move forward slowly, stepping off the curb and tempting fate. Then the light changes and *poof*. They're off.


In the summer, a lot of women walk around the city in flip flops because it's so darned hot.

There are two types of New York women. One type wears flip flops. Sometimes she changes into dress shoes at work, sometimes not, depending on office dress code.

Then there are the non-flip flop wearers. These folk think flip flops bring you too close to the street and all that touches the street. I'm the first type. I wear flip flops because they're comfy. I can move quickly and it's cooler than confining shoes.

Women wear backless sandals, too. So all summer long along the stairs to the subway, all you hear is 'thwack, thwack, thwack' of flip flops or sandals hitting the steps as each woman descends. It can be pretty percussive.

Street corner

So there I was on the sidewalk the other day when I noticed a woman with bright magenta hair, wearing a green dress and carrying a red purse.

I was caught off guard, but I dug my camera out of my bag. She was walking down the sidewalk and I was thwack thwacking behind her, desperately trying to adjust my camera.

She got pretty far along. Then I'd catch up to her and take a few photos before she get ahead of me again. And there I was, left to thwack thwack after her.

Related posts: Ahoy Matey and Out Getting Some Air


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is it Hot Enough For You?

Summer cottage on the Island
Photo by myself this weekend of a shingled summer house by the shore, in Greenport, Long Island.

Greenport is a small town on the northern fork of Long Island. Montauk is located at the very end of the southern fork.


New York is currently experiencing an early heat wave. It's been hot and humid in the 90's. From first thing in the morning to late at night, it's been uncomfortably hot. All you hear outside is the hum of air conditioning.

I feel bad for the guys who wear suits to work. Mark is lucky to wear long shorts, short sleeved shirts and sneakers. 'Dressed up' for him means and untucked, button down shirt.

There aren't tons of suits in my neighborhood, but I see them on the subway and on the platform, standing uncomfortably still.

They look like short-haired pointers in the field - unwavering and anxious, trying to catch the breeze generated by passing trains and pedestrians. The platforms are oppressively hot nowadays, though not nearly as bad as they will be a month from now.

Yes, and the stations have begun to reek. Portions of stairways and streets smell of human urine or garbage, depending on the breeze and time of day. It's just all too close, too hot, too humid. And it's not even officially summer yet.

Tonight was very, very hot and humid, as Mark and I sauntered home from dinner. It felt like we were trailing behind a bus, or any other large piece of machinery. Once again, I had eaten too much, and I was being led by my distended tummy as we walked leisurely down the slope that Park Slope is known for.

It was all we could do to keep our thoughts cool and pleasant. Only yesterday, we were walking along farm stands, two city slickers picking out pints of freshly picked strawberries. And now here we were, stumbling along the hot asphalt, home.

Related posts: Montauk, The End


Monday, June 9, 2008

Summering with Gatsby

Photo by myself at the Ram's End Inn, on Shelter Island.

A long table with place settings was prepared for a civilized luncheon.


Over the weekend, Mark and I went to a party thrown by one of his work associates, in celebration of her tenth wedding anniversary.

The theme was 'The Great Gatsby', and the setting was gorgeous. If you remember the book, Gatsby was set in West Egg, a fictional wealthy summer playground for New Yorkers. Guests were encouraged to come in 1920's garb.

The party was held at The Ram's Head Inn which looks like a large, old cottage, nestled among lawns, gardens and tennis courts. The Inn is located on Shelter Island, a small island off the northern part of Long Island. To get there by car, we had to board a car ferry.

Mark and I were overwhelmed by the drive up - there are wineries, farms and pretty shingle style summer houses. Long winding roads were shaded by trees, and at times you could see the glimmer of the ocean through the greenery.

Summer Lawn

With the heat and humidity, Mark and I motored along with the windows down most of the time, until it became absolutely unbearable. What struck us the most was that there was no 'scene'. There was no swarm of fashionable people, just peaceful quiet and the unmistakable smell of flowers. We were in the country, and it was beautiful.

I must have gotten carried away with the sangria and chit chat - almost none of my photos show people, and many were blurry. I was woefully underdressed, not having given much thought to the occasion. Some of the women wore nice dresses, a couple sporting hats. One fella wore a seersucker suit (!).

In the end, I had a good time. After lunch, many of us drove to a nearby beach to wade and lie about. Both Mark and I were so naturally tired at the end of the day, we stumbled back to our motel and slept deeply.

Sunday morning, we got up to motor around and admire all the beautiful houses. Then we bought some delicious fresh produce and a homemade blueberry pie at a farmhouse stand, and made the long, hot, drive back to the city.

Party End

Day trips are easily accessible destinations just outside the five boroughs of New York City.

Related posts: Life's a Beach, Mission Suspended and Giving Thanks.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vacating the City

beach time2
Photo by myself at the beach in Long Island.


Mark and I are off to nearby Shelter Island this weekend to attend a friend's anniversary party. Shelter Island is a small island off of Long Island, where many New Yorkers own summer houses. Mark and I will have to drive Clive, his Mini Cooper, onto a car ferry to get to it.

The theme is Great Gatsby garden party. I hope to get some great photos of people all dressed up in preppy outfits and some beautiful summer houses.

This weekend is rumored to get very hot, in the 90's. The nice weather in New York tends to come and go very quickly. In the summer, the city is known for being hot and humid.

People dread the hot days, especially the subway stations, which become intolerable at times. As an antidote, I'm posting this photo, which evokes cool sea breezes.

I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend!

Day trips are easily accessible destinations just outside the five boroughs of New York City.

Related posts: Life's a Beach and Montauk, The End .


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Climbing the Times

The Times Building, Times Square
Photo by myself of the New York Times Building near Times Square at 41st Street and Eighth Avenue.

The new headquarters for the New York Times was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano and only completed last fall. The building is a 'green building'. Among its many environmental features, the louvered facade is the most noticeable; the porcelain horizontal struts help provide light while shading the building during the hottest times of the day.


The other morning we woke to news on New York 1, the local 24-hour news channel, that two people had separately climbed the New York Times Building in protest. The first, a Frenchman, was protesting for his environmental cause. The second climber wanted to promote awareness of malaria.

On the way to work all I saw were photos of the climbers on page one. It was bound to happen - the building design is just asking to be climbed.

Personally, I'd have trouble climbing a 52-story building pulling a banner and without using equipment. I have a hard enough time looking out the window of a 10-story building.

Some people will do anything for attention.

For more on the Times Building, click here.

For a photographic tour of the building by Annie Leibovitz, click here.

Related posts: Building For a Greener Environment and Things to Come.


Friday, June 6, 2008

The Latest with Mark and Me

Photo by myself last weekend of Mark and I, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


Mark and I are looking forward to a weekend in Connecticut Shelter Island, at a friend's anniversary party, followed by a weekend in Los Angeles, at my brother's wedding. I'm sure the first will be restful and the second will be stressful. Oh boy.

Lately we've been on a do-it-yourself kick. We started by installing a pendant light. It's a relatively easy thing to do, if you're replacing an existing light. After we got over the fear of electrocution, Mark and I dangled from a tall ladder. It was like a Cirque du Soleil performance, minus the nice costumes.

Then we installed some ceramic floor tile in a storage room. All we needed was Clive, Mark's Mini Cooper, the internet, Home Depot, and patience. It took a couple weekends and it looks wonderful. For our next trick, we'll outfit the room with shelves and utility hooks. And paint. We're going to paint everything.

We also plan to install roller shades in the bedroom. The sun comes in bright around 6 am, waking us up. Between the sunshine and our cat, Dida, it's a wonder that we sleep at all.

With all this going on, I can't imagine having a house. One must be constantly busy. We New Yorkers usually don't have yards to tend, gutters to clean, or basements to rescue from flooding. Most are renters, and the extent of their handiwork would be calling the landlord (who may or may not actually do anything). We have it easy.

Here, I have to mention that on the project I'm working on at work, we're using some fancy, expensive hinges. Each hinge costs over $500, and since the doors are 8 feet high, there are four hinges per door.

That makes $2,000 in hinges per door, or over $4,000 per set of double doors. Just for hinges. That's not counting fancy knobs or the doors themselves, which will be custom made of a beautiful paneled wood.

I'll just continue to work for these lucky clients, while I balance on the ladder with Mark at home.

Related posts: How the Other Half Lives


Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Recent New York Transplant

Railings, Railings, Railings
Photo by myself in Summit, New Jersey. This was probably the back side of some stores in the middle of a quaint town.

Mark and I walked around Summit this weekend, after his nephew's birthday party. Nothing was open, except the nail salon, which was packed.


Recently I heard an amazing segment on the This American Life podcast. There are tons of billboard ads in the subway stations about the televised series, which runs on Showtime, Sundays at 10 pm.

In this particular episode, host Ira Glass interviews Haider Hamza, the son on an Iraqi ambassador. At the age of nineteen, he worked for the Ministry of Intelligence, as representative of the country.

Hamza appeared on television shows as an 'Iraqi youth', and was coached by psychologists in what to say, and how to behave. Then the war started, the tables turned and he had to flee the country with his family.

Hamza is intelligent and eloquent. He describes in accented, perfect English his complicated relationship with his parents and equally complicated situation as a cog in the Iraqi propaganda machine.

What's Hamza doing now? He's living in New York as a Fullbright scholar.

To be sure, not everyone living here has such colorful back story.

For the This American Life podcast, click here. For the Hamza episode, click here.

Related posts: On Dopplegangers and Memory


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

All That Jazz

Jazz at Penn station
Photo by myself in Penn Station, of the Alex Lo Dico Ensemble in their element.


Today I encountered the most amazing musical group I've heard in the subway yet.

I stumbled out of work after a long day of checking and double checking drawings. I'm focused on what hinges we're using at which cabinet, whether the built-in speakers will fit, what kind of sound proofing we're using. When I reached Penn Station I was overwhelmed by a crowd of people and a huge, glorious noise.

Jazz. Its foundation of improv and spontaneity are the very opposite of perfectionism. There was live jazz blaring from the middle of the subway station, and I was transfixed for a good long time.

I'm not typically a 'jazz person'. I don't like the squirrelly type of jazz, or curly long blond hair type of jazz. But the music I heard tonight was singular - an ecstatic, ear-splitting, shouting from the rooftops kind of jazz.

These musicians galloped from riff to riff, as if tossing around a hot potato. One of the alto sax players started first, handing the solo off to a bass player. Then the drums, and finally the trombone, played by Lo Dico, who proceeded to bellow with as much frenzy as a trombone player can.

A huge number of people enveloped the group, everyone tapping their toes, snapping pictures and bobbing their heads. The mood was high.

Jazz at Penn station

The Alex Lo Dico ensemble and their music have been featured on NPR for their talent. Apparently I'd posted a photo of the group before, but I was in such a rush coming or going that the music didn't register in my brain.

I wish I could have stayed longer, but Mark was waiting for me at home for dinner. I snagged one of their cd's before leaving. What a welcome way to completely escape the workday.

Here's a video of the Alex Lo Dico Ensemble in action. The first 50 seconds are a little harrowing, but if you can hang on until after the drum solo, you won't be disappointed.

The NPR feature has links to their music as well in the sidebar

Related posts: Schmata, or the Annual Warehouse Sale and Recovering From Friday Night


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Community Garden - An Urban Oasis

Flower in Community Garden, Brooklyn
Photo by myself in a community garden in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

You can see some of the neighborhood townhouses in the background.


If New York didn't have its parks, tree-lined streets and community gardens, it would be a completely different place to live.

Rows upon rows of brownstones will suddenly give way to a fenced in block of wildflowers, carefully cultivated by the residents of the neighborhood. On site are tiny man made ponds, wisteria, vegetable gardens, stepping stones, bright orange poppies and garden gnomes. Everyone contributes to a composting pile that provides rich soil to new planting beds.

You pay yearly dues that go toward supplies. In the meantime, neighbors meet each other in the open air. They sit in lawn chairs and chat while children run around, giggling.

Sometimes in New York you can go on for years without meeting your neighbors. You might only hear the loud squawking of their television or the thud of footsteps overhead.

People often feel too vulnerable to meet their neighbors, since you never know what you might find - the 6'-6" linebacker in clogs above you would always have the advantage. Or perhaps it's the woman with the small ferocious dog below you, the family with little kids or the older couple in need of hearing aids.

In the neutral territory of a community garden, people let down their guard. You share planting tips, the garden hose, equipment. Gardeners are notorious for creating something out of nothing, so a generous spirit comes easily. One plant becomes three. A harvest rewards all with abundance.

I'll have to revisit the community garden near me soon. It was tough to take good photos with so much going on.


Related posts: The Cycle of Decay and Trees Do Grow in Brooklyn


Monday, June 2, 2008

The Next Generation

Tibetan Peace Rally, NYC
Photo by myself at a Free Tibet peace rally in Union Square, earlier this year.

This little one was perhaps the youngest protester in the crowd.


Mark and I bought a birthday present yesterday for his nephew Brian, who turned two. It was a big, colorful dump truck, and we got it at a small toy store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where we live.

Park Slope is also called 'Nappy Valley', a pun on 'Napa Valley' wine country in California and the fact that there are so many little kids here.

Several recent articles on Curbed, a daily blog about Brooklyn real estate, and the The New York Times report on mayhem caused by stroller congestion. You'd never think it'd be an issue, but it really can be nuts when you're at a restaurant with five or six couples that have young, squealing kids.

Families move to whatever neighborhood has a good school. Park Slope real estate has soared since 2001, after Manhattanites reacted to 9/11. Since then, real estate prices have multiplied several times over.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Building Big

WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn
Photo by myself in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Williamsburg Art and Historical Society was originally a bank constructed in the mid-1860's. Its rusticated ground floor and overall detailing make it look like an Italian palazzo, or urban palace.

The balusters enclose a 'moat', which allows light and air into the basement story.


Today, the New York Times printed a photo of Frank Gehry's first building in New York City. Gehry is perhaps the most sought-after American architect right now, whose huge sculptural buildings seem to defy gravity.

Gehry's skyscraper located downtown near City Hall. A residential tower, it will be clad in stainless steel.

The photo rendering shows the building to be sleek and shiny, which is deceptive. Stainless won't rust, since it has a low chromium content. Most likely the building will have a metallic lustre, much like Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA.

A friend of mine worked at Tiffany while Gehry was developing his signature jewelry line. Apparently he is a humorous, easy going guy who loves to curse. You can see the jewelry here. Some pieces are whimsical, others geometric.

I'm looking forward to seeing the building. New York has had a lot of 'celebrity' architect-designed residential towers lately. There's 15 Central Park West by Robert A. M. Stern, the residential towers by Richard Meier on Perry Street, and Astor Place by Gwathmey Siegel, to name a few.

The above architects might not be household names, but they are among the more well-known living signature architects. All are considered New York architects except for Gehry, who practices in Los Angeles.

Related posts: Things to Come