Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Times Square Snowball Fight

How great are these photos!

Monday, December 21, 2009

PsychCentral Article

Great article with tips on fostering healthy behaviors in your family: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/12/15/what-makes-a-family-functional-vs-dysfunctional/

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Humble Pie

Sometimes, expressing yourself on a bad day isn't the best choice; especially if how you feel in that moment is different from how you'd feel under normal circumstances.

As always, you live, learn, and try to avoid making poor choices -- choices that hopefully become fewer and fewer as time passes. However, for me, if there's one thing never gets easier, it's forgiving yourself for making them. Especially when the consequences have an impact far beyond what you could've imagined.

"Our lives are like the course of the sun. At the darkest moment there is promise of daylight." - The London Times

Sometimes, all you can do is keep reassuring yourself of this, and press on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On Free Will by Rumi

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lit-Nerd Alert!

I wouldn't consider myself a lit-nerd, per se, because I don't get to spend nearly as much time as I'd like reading; I especially wouldn't consider myself a lit-nerd when I look at others that I know who could run circles around me when it comes to discussing literature.

Then again, I can see myself getting accused of being a lit-nerd compared to some other people I know. Of course, the people I'm referring to also happen to be complete buffoons who seem to take pride in the fact that they've never read an entire book in their lives.

Like many things in life, lit-nerd street-cred can be relative, I suppose. As I often say, to each their own. People have a right to ignore things like reading, learning, and expanding their knowledge, if they so choose.

There are other ways to learn and expand your horizons, afterall. You know what I mean--living and experiencing life instead of reading about it. But, I tend to believe neither one has to be mutually exclusive. Finding a nice balance of doing both is where it's at, if you ask me!

I can read a fantastic, inspiring piece about what its like to experience a baseball game at Fenway Park, but it will never compare to actually being there. Then again, you could spend your whole life in a cycle of waking up, eating, going to work, and going to sleep without doing either.

Nevertheless, a good story can be a great way to forget the real world and escape your troubles.

And with Christmas just weeks away, I'm reminded of one of the classic stories that can do that for you: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

I recently saw the new version in theatres with Jim Carrey, and thought it was pretty good. But it's tough to beat the 1938 classic that you've grown up watching every year. As for the book, it's been a long time since I'd read it. So long, in fact, that I don't even remember much about the story outside of what is shown in the movies.

Minus one lit-brownie-point from my total for that one.

Then I read a story a few days ago in the NY Times about the original written manuscript being displayed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. Apparently it's the authentic pen-to-paper original, which includes all of his edits, and you can apparently see how the story was shaped and how it evolved into the story we know today.

I'm sure this is just so fascinating, right. By now you're probably thinking something like:

(a) "Wow, that's cool! I'd love to see that"


(b) "So what?"

I fall into the (a) group.

Aw, crap. I am a lit-nerd!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parking Issues? There's An App for That!

Considering the heavy traffic and all the means of transportation available in NYC, it almost seems weird for someone to actually have a car. But, dented bumpers and gridlock notwithstanding, there are apparently some who do. And for those people who also happen to own an iPhone, there's now an application that helps you find a parking space!

This of course, means that the other person needs to have an iPhone as well, but it's a very cool idea.

New York City car drivers, the phone application is free!

Happy parking!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New Gig

I have something new to share: I've been accepted as a contributor to Examiner.com.

On one hand, I'm excited about it. On the other hand, I don't really want to make too much of a big deal of it, because I'm not sure yet how much traffic I can generate, or if anyone will be interested in reading it! I don't see myself getting enough hits on the page to make much money from it, but the topic and general idea behind it suits me. I think it will be fun for me to write about my favorite subject: NYC.

But, it will be a little different from what I post here. Since this is a personal blog, anything goes, really. It's been an outlet for the many various and usually random topics that run through my mind.

The topic I signed up for is called NY Life In Photos, which is a topic that's perfectly suited for me.

As you may know by now, I love photography and writing, so it will be a place for me to seek that perfect marriage of words and pictures. The only difference is that I will probably spend more time on the writing part for those contributions, as I sometimes tend to get lazy here and submit posts before they've really been properly edited.

In any case, for those of you who are kind enough to stop by and read the personal posts I leave here, I hope you'll also check out my contributions to Examiner.com.

I love hearing from each and every one of you, so as always, feel free to say hello or leave a comment if you want.

Here's my examiner.com page:


If any of my fellow bloggers out there want to make contributions on a topic of your choosing, they are looking for writers. If you're accepted, please let them know I referred you, since they provide some monetary incentive for this.

All you have to do is go the link below once you're accepted, and put in my Examiner ID code, which is 31106:


Monday, November 23, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge Park

I have a feeling that the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is still under construction, is going to be my favorite park in New York City, someday. Maybe. It will be difficult to dethrone the jewel of Manhattan, Central Park, as my favorite park.

Based on the current project plan, and how much I enjoy what's already available to the public, it could happen, I suppose. At the very least, I think it will probably be on par with Central Park, for me. The section between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges is really quite lovely. I love the way the park is on the water, right by the East River.

It's really quite a nice view from almost any vantage point within the park. I look forward to the day the park is complete.

Hopefully by then, I'll be able to visit whenever I want!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Girl, Uninterrupted

It was a much welcomed clear and cool day when we decided to visit the newly opened Highline Park that day. This, of course, was after two consecutive days of seemingly endless drizzle; the kind of barely visible, light rainfall that isn't heavy enough to keep the natives from venturing out, but not light enough to enjoy any kind of outdoor activity or even walk around uninhibited, without an umbrella.

The streets were still bustling with people during those last two days, but most of them seemed to have only left shelter to take care of some chore that needed attention: perhaps to buy a gallon of milk, maybe a prescription to pick up at Duane Reade, or perhaps, a commitment they simply couldn't get out of.

However, this lovely day had arrived not a moment too soon.

It all started as we exited the Washington Square Hotel just in time to witness the sky opening up in mid-blossom; the clouds were in the midst of dispersing to the east, like pieces of strewn-out marshmallows or white cotton candy, blowing in the wind and perpetually morphing like mysterious shape-shifting spirits as they disappeared into the cobalt blue ether.

Our fears that inclement weather might persist for the duration of our stay were finally allayed.

"Let's go get some breakfast and coffee at Caffe Reggio" I said, yawning and rubbing the sleepy haze from my eyes.

"It's only a block from here" I added, before he could respond--as if to add incentive for him to concur.

"Alright, that works. I definitely need to eat before we do anything."

I looked in his direction and nodded in that primitive, non-verbal language of men, conveying agreement in my facial gesture as we shuffled toward the cafe on the uneven pavement alongside the red-bricked townhomes on MacDougal Street. About thirty feet away to our left, were a diverse group of people in their little corner of Washington Square Park, either playing chess or observing one of the intensely deliberate chess matches taking place at that particular moment.

We crossed the street to have a quick look. On the surface, the scene was relatively subdued, but there was a quiet intensity on men's faces that permeated the air in this section of the southwest corner.

Ah, men playing a gentleman's game of chess. What a nice change of pace from the trash-talking bravado which typically follows every successful move that's played in video games, or even dominos. This is not a scene I would ever see at home. With this in mind, I observed the moment with reverence as we continued walking past the park.

"How refreshing," I thought. The thinking man's game, where fate always favors substance over style.

New York City is full of things, big and small, much of which I rarely get to see back home in su-bore-bia--and this was one of them. Hell, even the uneventfulness of walking past Provincetown Playhouse, then looking to your left for oncoming traffic once you reach 3rd Street is a life-affirming thrill, compared to my daily life in the so-called Sunshine State.

For the record, the term Sunshine State is a marketing slogan of half-truth; and you know what they say about half-truths don't you? Be careful of which half you're getting. The full marketing truth would look something like: The 'Sometimes Sunshine but Mostly Just Hot and Humid 99% of the Time' State. But that wouldn't entice tourists to visit, and it certainly wouldn't fit on a license plate.

In any case, I digress.

Just past 3rd Street, we approached the now very recognizable green exterior of Caffe Reggio across the street to our right, when I began to notice the increasing uniqueness of the cast of characters walking up and down MacDougal Street. This instinctively prompted me to reach for my camera to capture the moment. As I fumbled with the focus and composition of the shot, I haphazardly snapped a few shots to capture the essence of life in little bohemia as it was happening, un-posed and un-rehearsed.

This was one of the few shots that didn't completely suck. Most of them were blurry since I didn't have time to adjust the settings and capture everyone walking. The guy on the bottom right and the guy on the top left were particularly interesting characters.

A few photos later, we went ahead and walked inside to size the place up. Upon entering, we stopped to look around. To my right was a man with a shaggy, full head of dark hair--each strand seemed to be quite busy, desperately reaching for the sky in every direction as he read his newspaper. Beside him was a middle-aged woman wearing a traditional Muslim hijab working on her laptop.

I smiled, thinking to myself, "Wow, what a scene. This is so New York City." Upon being noticed, we were greeted warmly by several friendly faces; but as welcoming as it was inside, the cool, brisk air outside was too pleasant to pass up.

"You want to sit outside?"

"Absolutely. It's so nice out right now!"

I let the hostess know that we'd be sitting outside for lunch, then took another glance at the cozy bohemian interior to take it all in, before turning and walking outside. We sat in the maroon-colored cushion seats at the mini bistro-style table just stage-right of the front door, then I immediately ordered a double espresso before the waitress went back inside. Once we ordered and the food arrived, it was quite a scene.

If anyone were watching us, it would have been clear that we were both ravenously hungry by way we were eating--and I use the term 'eating' loosely--gorging would probably be more accurate, considering the way we were basically swallowing the food whole after barely chewing.

Yes, I'm a heathen, fine. But still, despite the unfavorable impact to our digestive systems, this 'power lunch' worked to our advantage. Afterall, we did have places to go and things to see. Plus, considering that neither me nor my friend were going to wake up to an alarm clock while on vacation, we had already started our exploration late, around 10:30ish in the morning. Needless to say, we wrapped up lunch fairly quickly since we were needlessly burning daylight hours by sitting there.

Before moving on, however, I decided to take a few more shots from across the street.

For this shot, I noticed a slender, mid-twenty-something fellow with lilly white skin and dark hair hanging around. He was wearing slim-fitted blue jeans with Chuck Taylor All-Star Converse sneakers, and a khaki satchel made of cloth diagonally across his torso, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip.

What stood out most though, was the 1950s style hat that he was wearing along with those Blues Brothers style Ray-Ban type of sunglasses.

Despite being heavily immersed in a conversation on his cell phone, he seemed to want his photo taken, as he walked in circles directly in front of me. I had been standing there there snapping photos before he arrived, so I know he saw me taking photos.

Then I noticed he was standing still, almost deliberately in the first shot I took as well. Looks like I had an 'Attention Whore' on my hands. Not that I mind though. I found his style sort of uniquely charming in a nerdy kind of way. What's interesting to me is that as I posted this, I just noticed for the first time that our waitress was actually in the shot, picking up our plates.

It's easier to see in the full sized photo. I think if you click it, the photo pops up at full size, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, before moving on, here's our little attention whore again, 'coincidentally' lingering in the area I was shooting. Ha!

Our next stop was the Highline Park, a few blocks west.

Now, I usually just 'wing it' when I walk to places in NYC. I feel very comfortable in terms of knowing where I am at all times. But, my friend was a little nervous, and he kept asking me if I was sure I knew where I was going.

"Pfft...dude, this is my shit man."

"Screw Mickey Rourke, son...I'm the friggin pope of Greenwich Village now!"

Funny how that works: half of the time, I don't even know where I am in my own home town, and I've been there nearly all my life. However, in NYC, I'm like a caught fish that's just been released back into the water. In my natural habitat, free and unfettered.

In any case, since this is a blog post and not a book, I feel compelled to shorten what could be a much longer story.

That said, I confidently navigated our path through many interesting scenes and classic New York moments, which included some poor bastard dropping his cell phone into a puddle upon exiting a taxi then freaking out, and a model shoot on some corner deep in the west Village, where the old cobblestone streets are ubiquitous.

Then, in what seemed like a New York minute, we were there. Voila! I had managed to find the southern entrance to the park. I'm not really sure why it's considered a park, per se, but it's a nice enough stretch of benches with nice botanical decor. The views are certainly quite nice in certain spots. Perhaps I'll get into them in detail in another post, or perhaps I'll just let the photos speak for themselves here:

That's New Jersey over the Hudson River in the background...

A couple taking a self-portrait in front of some very colorful garden of flowers...

The first thing I remember seeing after walking up the stairway entrance was that girl sitting on a bench, listening to music, and probably spending some much needed alone-time at the park (the first photo at the top of this post).

I also remember the Asian man with the blue hat in the same photo asking me to take his picture using his camera. I happily obliged.

There are so many little things that happen in every moment; and if you're paying attention, these captured moments in time are life, captured in a freeze-frame photograph. This is something that I often remind myself of. A life lived is really only life in this very moment, right now.

What happened yesterday has been written and is now just a collection of memories and unchangeable moments that have gone by. Tomorrow is mystery filled with hopes and dreams that may or may not come to fruition. The only thing we really have is right now.

But like many people, I sometimes get caught up in the daily grind, and certainly miss out on plenty of things that are happening in the moment. Clearly, I'm far from perfect myself; but it's sad that many people never really pay attention to the little things, and all the while life is passing them by. Which is a damn shame; because in many ways, life is often all about the little things.

I think of all the places I've been, the little things jump out at me most when I'm in NYC. And that's because this is the place where my heart is. There are so many friendly people, so many opportunities to interact, and so many things to see and do in NYC that it seems impossible to for me to ever get enough.

But you can find those things anywhere really. My preference just happens to be in the northeast region of America.

I've often heard it said that home is where the heart is. Does your heart feel at home where you live now?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Things First

I took this photo with my iPhone last September. I think it was after leaving a small cafe on Grove Street in the West Village. This sign wasn't in the same area as the cafe, but I know it was somewhere in the Village area.

In fact, I remember the sign, but since I don't exactly remember taking the photo, it occurred to me that I must have subconsciously taken the photo for future reference. I will definitely need help finding an affordable apartment if I move when I move, so this Blue Star group will probably be getting a call from me at some point.

My resume is updated, so step one is complete. The next hurdle is convincing my girlfriend to move there too.

I've already had some conversations with her about it, and at one point I even compromised with her so she'd stay open to the idea of moving there -- by agreeing to staying open to the idea of moving to Chicago (her fam is from there) or even Denver (I'm sure it's great there, but good lord, I hope not) for her sake.

But, when I sense that the time is right, I'm going to have to ask her to think about NYC exclusively. At least for the immediate future. What makes it tough to sell, though, is that I can't explain exactly why it's so important for me to live in NYC. It's just something I need to do. At least for a while, so I know once and for all whether or not this longing is a just a phase that I need to go through, or if it's a long-term personal need.

It's feels like a 'destiny' thing, or something like it.

She seems to be warming up to it, but I can never count on full acceptance/closure on the issue with her. Like many of the women in my life, she changes her mind about sixty times every minute; which makes it tough to bring plans to a solid commitment/agreement on where we're moving to.

But, this should not come as much of a shock to me. Indecision, fear of change/the unknown, and the fickle nature of others have always been a barrier for me to overcome. Again, this will not be easy.

It's 2:38 AM on a Tuesday, and I'm still stressing about all these obstacles in front of me! I guess it's time to cue up the iPod and try to decompress a little. Relaxing with a glass of wine would be nice, but I guess you can't have everything.

I mean, where would you put it all...

Monday, November 16, 2009

In a New York State of Mind

I've recently made the decision to go forward and try to relocate to New York City.

This may not come as much of a shock to those of you who keep up with this blog, but it is the first time I've made a commitment to myself to actually do it. I'm both unbelievably excited and completely terrified about this decision. I will not be able to afford living in a place like this below, but wow, would I just love to call this little place home:

I'm not getting any younger, and I'm tired of feeling like too many years have gone by hating where I live. I'm tired of feeling regret for not at least trying to do something about this perpetual longing of mine to live in New York City.

Home is where the heart is, and mine has long been in NYC.

Despite the fact that I don't currently live there, I am, without a doubt in my mind, a New Yorker. Granted, I would definitely feel completely at home and content living in Boston, or anywhere in the New England area, really. The truth is, I really love those places too.

I'm actually quite torn between the two; but the edge goes to NYC right now because the company I work for is based there -- so in order to keep my seniority and leverage my experience and knowledge of the company, it just makes sense to try and stay with them in the short term.

I figure if I can spend at least a few years there, maybe finish school there, decide what direction I want my career to go, and simply enjoy life in NYC to the fullest before I (hopefully) begin a family someday. If the day comes where I'm lucky enough to finally start a family, then I think that would be the right time for me to move to Massachusetts or even New Hampshire.

That, to me, would be perfect.

I think it's going to take a while to find a job in NYC, due to the current job market; but for the first time ever, I'm really serious about it. I just hope I don't lose my nerve or get discouraged.

It will not be easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm finally going to go for it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


People who know me well often tell me that I should have become a psychologist. Despite the many head scratches and peculiar looks that this statement may bring to some people, it may explain why I find this piece utterly fascinating:

10 Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature

I 'm still processing the information, so I can't say whether or not if I fully buy into all of it, but it is a very interesting read, I think.

While I'm on the topic of mental health, here's a statement I read today that I thought was on the money, from a healthy perspective:

"Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit." - M. Scott Peck

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day At the Lake

This past weekend, I decided to try out my new Camera at a park close to my apartment. There's a lake that's surrounded by trees and undeveloped land, which is home to many creatures.

Above is one of the photos I was able to capture.

See all the creatures I encountered in this collection.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Badabing Baby!

This is a gorgeous little restaurant located on Waverly Place just across from the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.

See the larger version here, it's much better.

Oh, do I love Italian food! Mario Batali's Babbo was everything I thought it could be. This establishment is not only very handsome on the outside, the contents created inside are also quite delicious! I look forward to going back. Mmm, my mouth is watering just writing about it!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mom, That Guy from That Movie Is Staring At Me

So, I went to the local mall today for lunch. It was a pretty routine lunch break, really. I'm not feeling well, so I walked a little slower than normal today when I walked back to my car after lunch. Rhetorically speaking, I kick and scream, I cuss and gnash my teeth.

Well, the kicking and screaming part is rhetorical, but I actually did cuss a bit. I do this, while the boring, responsible adult inside of me imposes its will on my impulsive side and forces me to go back. Just the thought of having to return to work while feeling sick is a struggle.

Anyway, as I fight this epic internal battle, I notice someone in my peripheral vision staring at me, and thought, "What the hell is he looking at..."

I keep walking. Well, it's more like slowly sloging along, really. I trudge along a few more feet, trying to ignore it, but there he is.

Just standing there.


"What the hell is that guy's problem." I start getting very annoyed. I'm in no mood to deal with jackasses today.

"This is a provocation that will not go unchallenged!" I say to myself. So I come to a complete stop, look over to my right, and there he remains. Totally still. Staring at me with his beady little eyes, as if to mock me. I was totally prepared to tell this guy off, but now I'm both slightly amused and a little creeped out.

It was a life-size cardboard figure of what's-his-name from that movie, "Twilight," placed by the door of an FYE music store. You know, the really pale white teenage vampire dude. Well, card-board figure or not, I still didn't like him staring at me.

I might have to knock him over next time I pass the music store. Stupid life-sized cardboard thingie.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bohemian Oasis

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I had no idea what falafel was before I tried it at Mamoun's Falafel in Greenwich Village this year (see black arrow in photo above). I knew it was a type of food with origins in the Middle East, but that's about it. I've never been a fan of chickpea byproducts, but it tasted much better to me than the only other chickpea byproduct I know, hummus.

But I wasn't really there for the falafel. I was there to have an espresso at Caffe Reggio, the little green establishment directly next door.

Now, I had heard a lot of things about the place. Words like beatnik and bohemian were always thrown around and finding their way into people descriptions of the place. From what I had read, it’s the city's oldest coffee house, serving up java since 1927. Apparently, many iconic figures have patronized the place, such as: Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Joseph Brodsky, and William Burroughs to name a few.

I'd read much of this stuff from online reviews of the place, which often point out that it "has harbored bohemians for decades, most notably beat generation poets like Kerouac and Corso." That's pretty much all that my ears, and my curiosity, needed for both to perk up, pay attention, and put it on my To-Do List. And when I finally made it there, it was exactly what I thought it would be.

I went inside to check the place out, at first. It's a cozy little place with an old-world feel to it. The staff were genuinely nice, and as expected, the patrons were quite a diverse group of people. But, as inviting as the inside was, it was a cool, breezy day -- so I sat outside at the table just stage-right of the door (the one with the red seat in front of the green door--see photo above, or large version, here).

I was actually somewhat surprised that I enjoyed the food as much as I enjoyed their double espresso. I will definitely return next time I'm in the neighborhood.

In case you're wondering, it's less than a minute south of Washington Square Park on MacDougal Street, if you ever want to check it out.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A.D.D. Boy

Where to start. This will be random. You've been warned!

I'm sitting in my living room smoking a stogie, drinking a 2005 Clos Du Bois Cabernet, listening to Ray Lamontagne's Gossip in the Grain. Some quick props to my friend Kelly in Chicago for sending me the cd a while back. It's the perfect music for this moment.

So here's something exciting (for me). I actually sold one of my photographs (the one above) on Imagekind.com! It's the first photo of mine that someone actually spent their hard-earned money on. Whoever this person is, I wish I could personally thank them. I doubt they have any idea how much it made my day--actually, it made my week, to be completely honest. I've been on cloud 9 for days.

Speaking of photography, even though money is tight these days, I managed to snag a Nikon D300 for $600. Granted it was just the body, but hey, it retails at about $2500, so it was a great deal.

The up-side is that it was $600.

The down-side is that it was $600.

I actually had other plans for that money, but I just went for it. If I were more practical and responsible, I wouldn't have spent the money on that. But, I did, and that's that. I went out and spent more money on a battery and memory card too.

My bank account is pissed, let me tell you.

But, I do really love photography, and enjoy the photos I've taken over the years with my 'beginner' Nikon D40x camera. Now I can actually do much more, since this camera is pretty much super bad-ass. My photos going forward will have higher quality resolution, which I'm exited about.

When it comes to my photos, I'm a perfectionist. I immediately see imperfections in image quality and get pretty peeved when a great shot is less than it could have been, so having the D300 is gonna kick major ass.

So yeah, wow this is good wine.

In the spirit of full disclosure, as is my modus operandi, I must admit that I'm a frequent contributor to Clos Du Bois' profit margin these days; I've been buying their wine a lot more often than other brands lately.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Their Briarcrest wine is TO DIE FOR, if you're a Cabernet person.

So yeah, kickass wine notwithstanding, back to what I was going to say. If I can get focused, I'll be working on my updating my resume after this post. Actually, I should be doing that now instead of screwing off doing things that are fun. Guess I'll have to get on that in a minute.

But anyway, I'm in a much better mood than when I started this post. Could be the wine. I know what your thinking, but I'm still on my first glass. Which means I need to get serious and pay more attention. To my wine, I mean. Duh, right?!

Oh yeah...I need to pay attention to that, and my resume (Aw, hell).

Right. Off I go...

Friday, October 30, 2009


I watched the movie Adventureland on DVD last night.

I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the film that I kept thinking about it all day. In fact, I think I may go out and buy it. I liked the actors and really liked the story, but I loved the script.

If you've read and enjoyed any of my older posts where I tell a story with dialog, you'll abosultely love the dialog in this movie. It's actually much better and more thought out than those posts, obviously, considering it was made into a movie.

But the bottom line is that the writing is superbly brilliant in my opinion.

It's smart, funny, subtly intimate, and very witty. I can't say enough how much I loved the writing from Greg Mottola. For me, it's an instant classic. I can't exactly put my finger on why I enjoyed the writing so much; but it just seemed so refreshing. I don't know if it's because Mottola is around my age, but I really related to it a lot, and I remember thinking the characters were saying things that could have come right out of my own brain.

As I watched, it was as if Mottola wrote the script with me in mind, just for my amusement. It hit that close to home. For example, the main character, James -- he had a trip across Europe, and was going to get his Master's Degree in Journalism at Columbia University in New York City to become a travel writer when he returned.

Um, hello! That's just my dream life condensed into one sentence right there. So basically, Mottola had me at hello! I loved all the references, both literary (Charles Dickens), and musical (Lou Reed). The movie is so perfectly balanced with heartfelt moments and witty humor. I really can't say enough about it. I really loved the movie and can't wait to see it again.

Here's a small morsel from the movie that made me laugh:

Sue O'Malley: What are you majoring in?
Joel: Russian literature and Slavic languages.
Sue O'Malley: Oh wow, that's pretty interesting. What career track is that?
Joel: Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

That's a Big Bitch!

I don't know where this guy keeps such a ginormous dog living in New York City, but I'd love to witness that place. I mean, I shot this photo in the West Village, and I didn't see very many places in the neighborhood with the kind of space needed for this big fella.

Hopefully, his owner has a lot of money and can afford some huge apartment big enough for the two of them! Otherwise, that is a seriously interesting living situation.

"A dog owns nothing, yet is seldom dissatisfied." -Irish Proverb

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Bird Whisperer

Walking northeast from the west southcorner of Washington Square Park, I noticed this interesting scene: two men having a conversation, with one of them surrounded by a gaggle of pigeons, on him and all around him.

I really didn't think much of the shot when I took the photo, but after I saw it, I really liked it. I wish I would have stopped for a moment to take it, but it was a spontaneous shot on the move and my camera settings weren't prepared, so it's actually a little blurry.

In any case, I think I've discovered the Bird Whisperer!

"The opportunity for brotherhood presents itself every time you meet a human being." Jane Wyman

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green with Envy

With nearly every inch of this house in the West Village covered in green foliage, it's as if the vines are giving it a perpetual hug.

There's something about homes like this that makes me feel so relaxed and at home, just from looking at it.

I always have to stop to appreciate scenes like this whenever I see them.

Music = Soul Food

This photo is from an outdoor performance this past September, next to the Washington Square Park fountain in Manhattan. I wish I would've asked for her name. For a better view, look here.

"Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life, bringing peace, abolishing strife.” ~Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Saints Rise Again

(warning: adult language & theme)

I'm a huge movie buff. As a general "rule of thumb," I probably watch a few movies a week, thanks to Netflix. Unfortunately, I haven't been out to the movies very much lately. I'd say it's because I can't seem to find the time, but in reality, I think it's just easier to watch them on DVD before bed.

In other words, I have no life and I'm basically a lazy ass.

There, I said it.

But this lazy habit of watching movies at home after work will change very soon. In fact, October 30th, 2009, is the date this new habit will begin. I'll tell you what is so special about October 30th: it's the date the movie Boondock Saints II is released in theaters (at least for me, locally).

I guess I should go ahead and mention that I'm a big fan of the first movie. Not in a mentally unstable female teenager with a bumble-bee haircut who's screaming and in tears at a Beatles concert kind of way--but a fan, nevertheless.

My appreciation for the movie basically started about the day the movie was released on video. I used to be a manager for Blockbuster Video a little over ten years ago. So, whenever new movies came out on video, I would help the reps who worked for me prep the new movies for public display on the shelves. This was back when video store shelves were still stocked with VHS movies.

Wow, do I feel old. Pretty soon I'll be complaining about teenagers and drinking Metamucil.

Anyway, I don't remember the exact year it was when I first saw the VHS version of the movie with its black cover box, and the now infamous picture of Norman and Sean (the 2 main actors) on the front, with their guns pointing down in the same direction. But I do remember that it definitely caught my attention.

I believe it was sometime between 1998 and 2000, I'm not exactly sure. I remember thinking the cover reminded me of the cover box for Reservoir Dogs, for some reason. Somehow, pictures of dudes with guns in random, unrelated movie ads usually get affiliated together in my brain, because, well...they're dudes with guns, I guess.

And dudes with guns are basically considered bad-ass in the eyes of most males between, uh, about the ages of about 2 to 99 years-old.

True story.

Falling into this demographic myself, I was of course, drawn to the bad-ass looking cover box at first. Then I watched the movie. Long story made short, I loved every minute of it. Maybe I just have low standards, or maybe I just 'get it,' depending on who you ask.

Whichever it is, all I know is I found the writing fun, very refreshing, witty, and quite funny in many ways. I liked the Irish humor, the way it was directed, the characters and actors were great, and I thought Sean and Norm were perfect for their roles.

I also remember thinking how much I liked the whole jeans, t-shirt, tattoos, sunglasses, and p-coat thing--it was totally my style.

Now that I think about it, I think this movie is what put Boston on the map for me. And then when I went, I absolutely fell in love with the city the moment I stepped foot on the ground at Logan International Airport. Since then, I've been to Boston several times and it's one of my favorite places to be. In fact, I partly credit the movie for making me a Boston Red Sox fan. If it weren't for the movie, I may never have gone there, and may never have gotten to see a game at Fenway Park.

Or should I say, Fenway Pahk. What a wicked pissah good time Boston is, man. It's a great, great town.

In any case, back to the movie. I definitely related to it, somehow. This despite not being Irish or from Boston. But then again, I've always loved all things Irish for some reason. It's strange, but I've always felt a strong kinship with every Irishman I've ever met. The movie influenced me in many ways back then, and it definitely strengthened my already strong love of Irishness in general.

Hell the movie influenced me so much back then, I was even inspired to wear a rosary under my shirt for a while.

Oh, to be 28 again.

Damn, I feel old.

But alas, here I am, ten years later and about to see the sequel in about a week.

From those days of blurting out lines from the movie with my buddies, up to now, I've seen and read a lot of negative things about the writer/director Troy Duffy, and have also read a lot about how people either love the movie or hate it.

Now, I can understand if someone isn't really into it because it's not their type of movie--you can't please everyone--but to actually hate it? I mean, seriously?

I must say, in total honesty, the only people I've ever encountered that actually hated it, also happened to be total douchebags.

Coincidence? I think not.

Now, I have lots of friends at work who happen to be homosexual. I respect them not only because they're cool people, but because they're not afraid of people knowing that they're gay. They've got a confident, 'we're here, we're queer, and we're proud of it' type of attitude--a genuine 'here's what I am, take it or leave it' kind of thing going on, which I admire.

It takes balls to do that. Plus, I tend to appreciate authentic people more than most.

But the guys I've known who've actually hated the movie--the total douchebags--well, they were mostly latent homosexual frat-boy types who were in total fear and denial of their ravenous love and sexual desire for men.

True story, but I digress.

As for the writer, Duffy, I can't help but think the guy got a bad rap...and a raw deal. Only he can really say whether or not his misfortunes, either partially or entirely, are a result of his own actions. But I have to give it to the guy. He got it done, against all odds. Twice.

So when I see him in his Red Sox hat, I always think about how he, in many ways, is an embodiment of the Red Sox prior to 2004 (at least in my demented mind).

Two words:

Perenial. Underdogs

Boston fans and natives know what I'm talking about. They remember all too well the dreaded Curse of the Bambino.

The Red Sox were the team that for about 86 years, were often winning...before they lost it all. They were the team that people like myself, who always cheer on underdogs, couldn't help but hope that someday they'd make it back to the top.

They eventually did.

And I hope Duffy has the same good fortune.

All kidding aside, if you haven't seen Boondock Saints, you should keep an open mind and give it chance. For the sake of full disclosure, I will say that it's not for little kids or people who dislike adult language and a good deal of action/violence. But if you've got a sense of humor, an open mind, and just love movies...you just might like it.

Then again, you may actually love it.

So check it out before October 30th, then go see Boondock Saints II when it comes out. I doubt you'll be disappointed if you're open-minded or young at heart.

In the meantime, I have to go "make like a tree, and get the fuck outta here!" Those damn teenagers next door are making too much noise. That, and I need to see about this Metamucil stuff so I can go take a crap.

*If you had no idea what some of the quoted references were, see the movie and you'll get it. Other references to being old and crapping were just me being a moron.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Enigmatic Black & White

If you're not from New York, haven't seen episode 77 of Seinfeld titled 'The Dinner Party,' or don't happen to have a strange obsession with all things New York (like me), you may not have ever tasted or even heard of a black & white cookie.

If it's made right, it's quite delicious.

But don't take my word for it. Go there and have one!

In the meantime, this link describes it much better than I can (the link says episode 74, but it's 77).


Here are parts of the scene from the Seinfeld episode:

Elaine and Jerry at the Royal Bakery

"ELAINE: Mmm, I love the smell of bakeries.
JERRY: Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side [mumble?] It's a wonderful thing isn't it?
ELAINE: You know I often wonder what you'll be like when you're senile.
JERRY: I'm looking forward to it.
ELAINE: Yeah. I think it will be a very smooth transition for you."

Later on…

"JERRY: Uh, I don't feel so good.
ELAINE: What's wrong?
JERRY: My stomach, I , I think it was that cookie.
ELAINE: The black and white?
JERRY: Yeah.
ELAINE: Not getting along?
JERRY: I think I got David Duke and Farrakhan down there.
ELAINE: Well if we can't look to the cookie where can we look?"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MoMA Mia

I enjoy going to museums to look at art exhibitions. But you really do have to try and keep an open mind about what you're looking at.

Actually, I think you really have no choice but keep an open mind in order to give certain pieces a chance. That said, I've never been much of a Modern Art type of guy. I know art is subjective, which is a good thing, but sometimes I just have a tough time understanding why certain art is actually considered interesting; especially if it's something that I or even my 8-year-old nephew could do.

I have an even tougher time comprehending how certain exhibits end up in well-known museums like MoMA in New York City.  Take this one below, for example, which was taken with my iPhone.

I don't remember who the artist was that made this, but it's basically a bunch of horizontal brush strokes of white paint in various places on a white canvas.

I hate to pick on this piece because it probably meant something to someone, but I really just don't see anything interesting or even good about it. To this day, I'm baffled as to why it was hanging on the walls of MoMA.

To each their own, I suppose.

Maybe my ever-expanding horizons are still too narrow to appreciate it, I dunno.  The next one I just happened to see shortly after the white-paint-on-white-canvas one, and could appreciate it simply because I could see that it took talent to create.

Even though this wouldn't normally be my cup of tea either, the jolly doctor with a full-size belly did get a smirk of appreciation from me. This one, unlike the first one, I wouldn't be able to do myself. The next and last one was in the photography section of the museum.

Prior to seeing this, I had never really took notice of how lovely Elizabeth Taylor was in her youth. I don't think I fully understood how she was so popular among men in her heyday. But, after seeing this photo of her, I was surprised at how beautiful and feminine she looked. I now understand why men made such a big deal over her back then. This is, I think, an excellent photo of her.

I must admit, I found that most of the art in MoMA really didn't fit my taste. I tend to like the Renoir and Monet type of paintings the best. So far, I would say, of all the museums in NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has the best variety, even though it's a tourist haven. I still have yet to visit the Guggenheim, so the jury is still out on that, but you really can't go wrong with The Met, in my opinion.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Post Meridian, How I Love Thee

I am not a morning person. Not by any means. Whatever the opposite of a morning person is called, that's me.

As I do everyday from Monday through Friday, I walked into the office today hoping no one would notice. It's not that there's anything wrong, per se, it's just that I'm awake. This is a problem for me.

Being completely dressed and at my desk by 9AM is always a source of discontentment during the early hours of the day. If Walt Disney had created a character that was the exact combination of both Sleepy and Grumpy for the film Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, that would be a perfect example of how I feel at work before noon.

Which brings me to my next thought.

I don't know if it's just me, or if anyone out there like me feels the same way, but the last thing I ever want to hear from anyone as a greeting in the early hours of the day is, "Good morning." I'm not sure exactly what it is about the words, "Good morning" that I hate; all I know is that it irritates me, makes me feel worse, and all I want to do immediately after hearing it is throw things at the person who said it. Foul things, preferably. At the very least, things that make lots of noise when they break or things that smell bad.

In truth, the good intentions behind those words are, for some reason, filtered in my morning brain as pure smugness. When I hear those words, I'm always thinking something like:

"Oh, sure...good morning she says. Easy for her to say. Look at her with her smug little morning grin and peppy little morning steps...stupid morning."

No offense to morning people, because I'm sure you're awesome, lovely people. I just don't want to experience your cheeriness or hear your upbeat voices in the morning. But you would think that I'd be glad to hear someone say, "Good morning."


I mean, it's usually said in such a nice tone and the person usually goes out of their way to say it. They probably meant for it to be a cheery start to the day. So, in a way, I sort of feel bad after I give a scowl-and-grunt, or give a cheesy fake smile, or say it back in that sarcastic, monotone, 'what's-so-good-about-it' kind of way.

Okay, fine. So I'm exaggerating a little.

When I say that I sort of feed bad, I really mean, not at all.

I might as well just say something like, "Bah, humbug!" in response.

I'm the real Ebenezer Scrooge, apparently. Well, before noon anyway. Lunchtime is another story altogether. I cherish and look forward to lunch-time. Oh, glorious and wonderful lunch-time. Especially today. Hopefully I'll get to hear, "Good afternoon" instead. That just sounds so much better...music to my ears.

The words, "Good afternoon" or even "Good evening" are such lovely reminders that it's no longer After Meridian.

Is it just a coincidence that the words 'Morning' and 'Mourning' are so similar?

I think not!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beat Street

Among the millions of things I love about New York City, one of my favorite things is randomly finding talented musicians or performers doing their thing.

On this day, after spending the first part of our day in Brooklyn, our long journey on foot brought us back to Manhattan, and to this corner on Broadway and E Houston St.

We stopped and watched this guy use all of these odd, everyday items as percussion instruments. He used everything in the picture that you see within his reach (including the sidewalk), and literally played for at least 30 minutes before we had to move on. With so much to do, we usually wouldn't have stayed for so long, but this guy was totally JAMMING!

At one point, the crowd must've reached about 20 people. We all had to work together to form an opening for passersby on the sidewalk to get through. My friend and I, not to mention just about everyone else, couldn't help but nod our heads up and down to rhythm of the beats. This fella was playing some really funky stuff. I really enjoyed it.

All I got was this photo on my iPhone, but my buddy recorded most of it on his camera. I hope he posts it to youtube.com or something, so someone can find this guy to see if he's already got things lined up.

If he doesn't, someone needs to get this guy some gigs or a job in their band!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cobblestone Brooklyn

There's something about these old streets in NYC that I love. This shot was taken with my iPhone in Brooklyn, close to the East River, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.

'Twas a nice, cozy little area that's only one subway stop away from Manhattan...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Angels In My Midst

I'm at a point in my life where I find myself constantly thinking about starting over in life and moving in a new direction.

People who are older than I am tend to believe I have plenty of time, but I can't help feeling that I need to make a move sooner rather than later. For me, time has become most precious, now more than ever.

Thus, as the days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years--a perpetual sense of urgency to change direction and begin a new journey presses at the forefront of my thoughts. So, I frequently find myself hanging out in book stores, reading, drinking espressos, and lingering around the store in deep contemplation.

Today, as I sipped on my Doppio Espresso, I was thinking about a quote that's attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald, which I've heard and read a few times from various sources. I've heard it once in a movie that I love (Purple Violets), but mostly, I've read it in various places online.

The quote is: "There are no second acts in American lives..."

Most often, it's only used in a context which is supposed to prove that the assumed meaning behind the quote is incorrect. But as I sat there working things out in my mind, thinking about my life and what my second act could be, the quote kept popping up in my brain.

I thought to myself:

"There's no way that's true! It can't be." I figured if you're lucky enough to live long enough to try, then it can be done. Heck, it has been done by many. Now, I happen to love reading Fitzgerald's work; mostly for his prose, first and foremost.

Just from what I know of his work, I couldn't imagine he would really believe that. So I decided to dig a little deeper into the issue. I found a link to a piece written in 1995 by Earle Palmer Browne about the quote for the American Journalism Review. In it, he points out that "not only did Fitzgerald never publish the line--it was found out of context in a mishmash of jottings for his unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon--but that it's possible the phrase 'second act' has to do with the old three-act plays of the time, and thus the quote could mean that there are no transition periods in the hectic lives of Americans."

That could very well be the idea that sparked the unpublished line. Only Fitzgerald knew for sure.

One thing I do know is that I would love to start over--not only from a career perspective, but with life in general. In reality, it would actually be more like I'm getting a late start, but in essence it's the same thing. If I am anything, I am certainly a late-bloomer (assuming I'll eventually blossom); and judging by this interesting piece in the New Yorker from October 2008, there is hope after all from a career/occupational perspective.

Three things from that article that gave me reason to stay optimistic:

"Forty-two per cent of [Robert] Frost’s anthologized poems were written after the age of fifty."

"Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at forty-nine."

"Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight."

There are actually many, many different examples, but in reading this piece, those examples stood out to me. While I'm on the subject, I should mention that during my visit to Barnes and Noble today, I grabbed one of the books that caught my eye as I walked around. It was called Late Bloomers by Brendan Gill.

I gathered a few more books (I can never pick just one), then got a muffin with some coffee. As I sat quietly drinking espresso in my little two-seat bistro table, I initially scanned the pages for interesting stories that might inspire me.

People watching is a spectator hobby of mine that I often indulge wherever I am. In between moments of reading and drinking espresso, I occasionally looked up to observe my surroundings. I lifted my eyes as a thirty-something year-old mother shuffled by with her young daughter in arms. The little girl couldn't have been more than 3-4 years-old, but as soon as I looked up, there she was, with a big, shinning, adorable smile on her face.

She was just smiling at me as if she was so happy and excited to see me, for no particular reason. I don't know about you, but seeing such a sweet and innocent face light up to smile at me that way is a sure way to brighten my day. It's the little things that often matter the most, and sometimes, they can truly make your day better.

I grinned back at her with the same enthusiastically genuine smile that she gave me--which was a gift from the angels, I concluded. As I digested the moment with an unexpected appreciation, I placed my cup back on the table with what felt like a content expression on my face. I sat back in my chair, and took a second look to see if the little one was still within view, when I heard the voice of an older gentleman sitting directly across from me.

"Late Bloomers, that looks interesting."

He was an older man, older than me anyway. Somewhere in his late fifties or early sixties. His face was similar to some of the old black-and-white photos I've seen of Red Cloud, a Native American chief of the Sioux from the 1800s. He had an indomitable and astute presence about him, yet his tone was friendly and affable. His shoulder-length, black hair was straight and peppered with gray streaks. His face had a light golden-brown glow to it, with the types of wrinkles around his eyes that you get from spending a lot of time squinting in the sun.

He spoke at a even pace, like a man with plenty of time on his hands and no reason to hurry. In fact, he had a captivating way of delivering his words, deliberately pausing between sentences. I sensed that this man was probably a great story-teller.

"Ah, yes. I, uh... I'm thinking of making some life changes, and thought this might spark some motivation and encouragement. I'm kind of a late bloomer myself," I responded.

He looked at me, nodded his head in acknowledgment, and said, "I can see in your face that you're not only relating to the book quite well, but judging by your facial expression, you seemed both determined and concerned."

"Yeah, it's uh... it's been on my mind quite a bit lately," I said.

"I've known many people who were what you might call 'late bloomers' myself," he responded. "But if you don't mind me saying, don't beat yourself up about it too much." He continued, "You appear to be laboring under a misconception that our culture seems to constantly beat into our heads: that one must somehow be amazingly successful and wealthy before they hit their 30s. Especially men."

He paused for a moment to drink his hot tea, and continued, "I remember speaking of this with old friends when I was much younger. Success comes in many forms, and it used to be something that was expected by the time you reached your late forties; but the bar seems to be getting higher and the age expectation seems to keep getting younger and younger as the years go by. It's a very destructive meme. Along the lines of the 'eternal beauty' nonsense that women have to endure."

I sat in silence for a moment, having just had a stranger put the issue into an excellent perspective for me. I looked at his wise, gray eyes and nodded in agreement, then thanked him for sharing his thoughts. I decided to close the book, put it down on the table, and continue my conversation with the stranger who reminded me of Red Cloud.

Feeling as though a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders, at least for the moment, my mind was cleared of trouble. I no longer needed the book for encouragement, and I was able to sit back in my chair and simply enjoy the moment for what it was:

A relaxing moment in a book store with angels in my midst.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Coming Up for Air!

It's been about 2.5 weeks since I returned from my trip to NYC, and I'm really just now starting to come out of the recovery of returning to South Florida.

The first thing I needed when I returned was time to rest, as my body was literally pushed to its limits while I was in The City. I came home exhausted, both mentally and physically. But, I was determined to squeeze everything I could out of my time there.

I had an overwhelming desire to experience each day to the fullest. It was like not being satisfied with a bone-in-ribeye steak, but also wanting to suck the marrow out of the bone; and I very much wanted to suck the marrow out of my time there. I think I literally must have walked the equivalent of at least 50 miles. By the second day, my left calf was cramping badly and I could barely walk; but I still pressed on.

I snapped off about 800+ photos in 4 days. About half of those were probably duplicates, though. I like to take several shots of each subject, just in case. Check the photo stream on the top right to see them. So far I have about half uploaded.

I also returned to work with over 200+ emails to read and/or respond to and follow-up on. Between my recovery and trying to catch up on work, it's been a crazy busy few weeks! I'm actually still very busy with work, but I'm caught up just enough to take a moment and breathe. I'm currently in the middle of an intensive analysis for Operations Reviews on behalf of a few online travel sites. Without getting into it too much, part of what I do at my day job is to identify ways to improve business performance via data analysis and consultation. My responsibilities fall primarily within the Travel Industry.

Hopefully, I'll be able to post a few entries relating to my recent trip to Manhattan. Until then, enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Escape From Suh-bore-bia: My Mecca Beckons

"Every true New Yorker believes with all his heart that when a New Yorker is tired of New York, he is tired of life." -Robert Moses

Well, it's that time again. New York City, here I come! I'm as giddy as a kid on Christmas Eve who's going to Disney World the next day.

I'm so ready for this.

I need this! I've been waiting too long to go on a vacation. I will definitely not miss Suh-Bore-Bia, that's for sure! A buddy of mine is going with me, and I want to show him a piece of as many Manhattan neighborhoods as I can. I suppose I'll share the itinerary, which is quite robust. Yes, there's a lot, but honestly, the last time I had just as much to do, and did almost all of it.

The real itinerary is more specific and itemized by day, but here's another version of our plans/options, which is broken out by neighborhood:

Upper East Side

• Central Park, The Mall and Literary Walk, Olmsted Flower Bed Mid-Park (from 66th to 72nd Streets)

• Conservatory Gardens, (open 10:00 am - 5:00 pm) At the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (Upper East Side top of the Park, Inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues) http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=virtualpark_southend_themall

• Guggenheim Museum (close to Central Park)

• Daniel French Cuisine, 60 E 65 Street, can reserve online too, 212-288-0033 4 star rating (Upper East Side by Central Park and Guggenheim), http://danielnyc.com/daniel.html

• Cigar Inn Lounge, 1314 1st Ave, New York, NY 10021 (212) 717-7403

Upper West Side

• Lunch at The Boathouse in Central Park http://www.thecentralparkboathouse.com/sections/home.htm

• Davidoff of Geneva (cigar lounge), Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Cir., New York, NY 10019 at 59th St., 212-823-6383, http://nymag.com/listings/stores/davidoff_of_geneva02/

• DE LA CONCHA 1390 Avenue of the Americas Bet 56th and 57th Sts (just south of central park, central north mid-town) New York City, NY 10019 Tel 212.757.3167

• Le Bernardin Restaurant, reservations mandatory, 155 W 51st St New York, NY 10019 (212) 554-1515

• Broadway Comedy Club 318 W 53 Street (NorthWest Mid-Town, just south west of Central Park) : http://www.broadwaycomedyclub.com/

• Riverside Park on Riverside Drive. Gorgeous waterfront park stretched 4 miles alongside the Hudson River. http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/vt_riverside_park/vt_riverside_park.html
• Terrace in the Sky Restaurant: view of the city while eating/drinking: http://www.terraceinthesky.com/

Mid Town

• Rockefeller Center, Top of ’The Rock’ the city’s only crystal-clear, 360° view of the city. Sunset at 6:56 PM that day. http://www.rockefellercenter.com/home.html (47th to 51st Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues). $18.00 buy tickets online: http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/tickets_landing.aspx

• ESB - At 6PM go to watch the sunset (btwn 6:55-6:59 PM that week) on the Empire State Building 350 5th Ave (between 33rd & 34th) (212) 736-3100. Observatory open 8AM - 2AM, 7 days a week, $17.61 + tax. http://esbnyc.com/index2.cfm

• Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar 11 West 31st Street (very close to ESB): http://www.ayzanyc.com/

• Sunday September 13th Tudor City Festival (East side of Mid Town) on Lexington Avenue from 42nd - 57th

• Nat Sherman Cigars, Johnson Club Room (close to Bryant Park), 12 E 42nd St New York, NY 10017-6901 (212) 764-5000, http://www.natsherman.com/events.cfm?CFID=3605205&CFTOKEN=cc11351330d5bbc9-99E81DC3-19B9-F18B-2289D0671650915C

• Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, 42nd Street between Avenue of the Americas and Broadway, (by Bryant Park) http://www.charliepalmer.com/Properties/Aureole/NY/

• Beekman Bar & Books, 889 1st Ave New York@ 50th Street, NY 10022 (east side of mid-town, close to east river) (212) 758-6600, http://www.barandbooks.cz/

• Le Veau D'Or‎ (Upper East side, close to central park, parallel to SE corner of park), 129 E 60th St, New York, NY‎ - (212) 838-8133‎

Mid Town South

• Eisenberg Sandwich Shop (mid-town South Central by Madison Square Park) close to Flatiron building, 174 5th Ave, New York, NY‎ - (212) 675-5096‎

• Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Midtown, 411 Park Ave South New York, NY 10016 (East Mid-Town just East of Madison Square Park) http://www.leshalles.net/ny_park.php

• MetroCafe & Wine Bar 32 E 21st St (close to Madison Square Park): http://www.metrocafenyc.com/index2.htm

• Blue Smoke (BBQ Ribs, Chicken, etc) 116 E 27th St (Mid-town Central, close to Madison Square Park between Park & Lexington)

• Eleven Madison Park (Wine & Dining) 11 Madison Ave (Mid Town Central by Madison Sqaure Park on 24th & Madison)

• Keen’s Steakhouse (central mid-town, few blocks south of Bryant park), 72 W 36th St, New York, NY‎ - (212) 947-3636‎

• 230 5th Rooftop Garden: eat, drink with breathtaking views of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Manhattan skyline. All guests must have valid id. Dress Code for Men: no shorts, baggy/torn or very worn out jeans, tank tops, sleeve less shirts. General Dress Code: no t-shirts with logos or pictures, sports jerseys, athletic wear, sandals, flip-flops and baseball caps/hats of any kind. 230 5th Ave (Mid Town Central, just North of Madison Square Park(212) 725-4300 http://www.230-fifth.com/

West Village/Meat Packing District

• The Highline. Visit the Highline and the park on it (Meatpacking District/West Village). The first portion of the three-section High Line, which runs near the Hudson River from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are entrances at Gansevoort Street (stairs) and at 16th Street (elevator); exits are located every few blocks. Newly opened park, was once a railway system: http://www.thehighline.org/, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/nyregion/22highline.html?_r=1&ref=travel

• BAR AND BOOKS 636 Hudson Street @ Horatio Street, New York 10014 Tel.: 212 229 2642 Open daily 5.00 pm - 4.00 a.m

• Perry St., 176 Perry St. (Perry & Bleecker), 212-352-1900 (West Village by the Ports).

• One if by Land, Two if by Sea, 17 Barrow St, New York, NY‎ - (212) 255-8649‎, (West Village close to hotel) http://nymag.com/bestofny/food/2006/steak/

• John's Pizza in the Village, 278 Bleeker St. between 6th & 7th Ave's (West Village, close to hotel), (cash only)

• Perilla 9 (close to hotel), 9 Jones St, New York, NY‎ - (212) 929-6868 (West Village, very close to hotel)‎, http://www.perillanyc.com/

• Florent Bistro: French bistro open 24 hours on weekends, 331 W 4th St, Jane St/8th Ave, 212-242-9502. http://cornerbistro.citysearch.com

• Sunset Cruise: http://www.zerve.com/SailNYC/ManSun

• Greenwich Village Comedy Club: Comedy Cellar, 117 MacDougal St & W 3rd/Bleecker St, 212-254-3480 (very close to hotel): http://comedycellar.com

• Magnolia Bakery 401 Bleecker St at W 11th St, New York, NY‎ - (212) 462-2572 (West Village, slightly north)‎, http://www.magnoliacupcakes.com/

Lower East Side/Downtown/Brooklyn

• Katz Deli, 205 E. Houston at Ludlow, tel. 212-254-2246, www.katzdeli.com.

• Bodies: The Exhibition (very close to the Brooklyn Bridge) 11 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038: http://www.museumtix.com/venue/program.asp?pvt=&vid=741&pid=1394402&code=

• Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/new-york/nyc/brooklyn-bridge.php

• Red Hook Lobster Pound: We do not sell Lobster Rolls yet at 284 Van Brunt St. We only sell lobster rolls at this time at the Brooklyn Flea in Ft Greene on Saturday from 11-5 and the Brooklyn Flea under the Brooklyn Bridge on Sundays from 11 to 6 WEATHER PERMITTING. If the weather is iffy, call 646 326 7650 and check and see if we are at the Flea. Also, we usually but not always, run out before 6. http://www.yelp.com/biz/red-hook-lobster-pound-brooklyn

Street Fairs:

• Saturday September 12th Gramercy Park Neighborhood Festival (on 3rd Avenue from 14th - 23rd Street)

• Sunday September 13th Tudor City Festival (on Lexington Avenue from 42nd - 57th)

• September 10-20, 2009 Indoor and outdoor dining at 35 of Little Italy's most famous Italian restaurants. More than 300 licensed street vendors selling international foods, official Feast of San Gennaro, New York City and Little Italy souvenirs. Every Parade will begin on Mulberry Street between Canal and Bayard Streets (One block south of Canal Street), and will proceed north along Mulberry Street to Houston Street, east along Houston for one block to Mott Street, south on Mott to Grand Street, and west on Grand to Baxter Street. http://www.sangennaro.org/event.htm

• Saturday, September 12, 2 PM -- Grand Procession with the Statue of San Gennaro will be carried from its permanent home in The Most Precious Blood Church through the streets of Little Italy. Street)

Photo Lesson/Tour:

• New York City Photo Walking Tours: Photo Walk-abouts are guided walking tours that focus on teaching participants to take better photos. After a brief lesson on photography, your guide will escort the group along the route, giving historical background on the sights along the way. All public tours are $20; cash only; No reservations are required; simply show up at the designated meeting location; Tours last approximately 2.5 hours; No reservations are required; Tours do not start and end in the same location; Tours run rain or shine (you can get some great photos in the rain) - call 917.557.3693 in the case of inclement weather: http://gonyc.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=gonyc&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.photowalkabouts.com%2F\

o Greenwich Village - 10 am Saturdays, Meet Father Demo Square at 6th Ave and Bleecker: http://www.photowalkabouts.com/greenwich.html
o Central Park - 2 pm Fridays Meet General Sherman Statue at 5th Ave and 59th Street: http://www.photowalkabouts.com/central.html
o Financial District - 2 pm Saturdays Meet Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street: http://www.photowalkabouts.com/financial.html

Other Wine/Beer/Liquor Tasting Events:

Sep 10

• (Thu) Whisky Tasting & Dinner Cruise - Feauturing over 100 Single, New York, | Whisky On The Hudson - Spirit of New York | $85
• (Thu) French Wine & Cheese: An Exploration of Terroir, New York | Tasting World | $75
• (Thu) The Elements of Saké at Astor Center, New York | Astor Center | $65
• (Thu) Viva Italiano - A Taste of the Boot!, New York | Chelsea Wine Vault | $35
• (Thu) L'Chaim! To Life! Kosher Wine Tasting, New York | Bacchus Wine Made Simple | $15
• (Thu) September 10, White Burgundy (CLS091009), New York | Morrell Wine Store | $70 per person or $125 for two people.
• (Thu) NFL Kick-Off Party, New York | Black Bear Lodge | FREE
• (Thu) Brewer-Clifton and Palmina Tasting with Chrystal Clifton, New York | City Winery | $65.00
• (Thu) Seth Walker & Clarence Bucaro, New York | City Winery | $15.00
• (Thu) Free Tasting - End of Summer Wines at Pour, New York | Pour | Free

Sep 11

• (Fri) Market Basket Cooking from the Union Square Greenmarket at A, New York | Astor Center | $125
• (Fri) Tasting Wine Like a Master: The Art of Blind Tasting Red Win, New York | Astor Center | $55
• (Fri) Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, New York | City Winery | Bar Stools $20.00 / Reserved Tables $25.00
• (Fri) NEW - NY Craft Beer Week, New York | New York City | Beer Passport $35
• (Fri) NEW - New York Craft Beer Week - Gotham Cask Ale Festival, New York | Rattle N' Hum, Swift Hibernian Lounge, & Jimmy's N | Pay as you go
• Free Tasting - End of Summer Wines at Pour, New York | Pour | Free

Sep 12

• (Sat) North Fork Long Island Wine Tours from Manhattan, Greenport | North Fork Wine Tours | $149pp all inclusive 10% discount for 6 or more.
• (Sat) One-Day Wine Immersion, New York | Tasting World | $95
• (Sat) Wine 101, New York | Tasting World | $75
• (Sat) Wine 101 One Night, New York | NYC wine company | 90
• (Sat) Hudson Valley Food & Wine Fest with Grape Getaways, New York | Bus leaves from midtown Manhattan | Regular: $80; Early Sign Up (before 8/20): $75; G
• (Sat) Aromatic Wines with Exotic Flavors paired with Spicy, Savory, New York | The Classic Harbor Line /Yacht Manhattan | $85, use code wine09 for 10% savings on 2 or more
• (Sat) The International Culinary Center's Fall Pastry Courses, New York | The International Culinary Center at The French Cu | $195-$785
• (Sat) David Broza, New York | City Winery | Bar Stools $25.00 / Reserved Tables $32.00
• Awards Dinner, Staten Island | PIAZZA BROTHERS WINE ROOM | $45.00
• (Sat) Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest with Grape Getaways, New York | Bus leaves for Dutchess County Fairgrounds from mi | $80 per person ($70 pp forn groups of 4 or more)
• Discover the Legend of Glenmorangie at our ‘Scotch’ Brun, Chelsea Wine Vault $50
• (Sat) Free Tasting - End of Summer Wines at Pour, New York | Pour | Free
• (Sat) Great Winemakers of Europe – 3-6pm, NYC | Le Du's Wines | Free

Guide to All NYC Museums


Friday, September 4, 2009

Bronx Bomber Stadium

The previous post reminded me that I had this photo of the old Yankee Stadium after the last game ever played there. My first and last time watching a baseball game there.

I'm sure it'll take a long time to develop the same type of memories that people have from the old stadium, but I hear the new stadium is very nice.

Ok...enough baseball talk for a while.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities & Two Teams

I really try to avoid politics, and as a general rule, don't typically get into political discussions. And although I don't plan on starting today, the news of Teddy Kennedy's death has definitely put Boston on my mind. That and the fact that I want the Sox to clinch a wildcard spot.

Believe it or not, despite my obvious obsession with New York City, there is another city that I really love to be in. Yes, that city is Boston. Actually, it's all of New England really. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine mostly. But Boston gets most of my focus because, well, just because it's so damn awesome.

The Freedom Trail. The great food and gelato in the North End. Mike's Pastry. Quincy Mahket. Paul Reveah's house. Old Ironsides. Fenway Pahk. The T. All the wicked pissah good times from eating lobstah and drinkin' lotsa beahs.

I mean come on, it's a no brainer.

But I think many sports fanatics native to Boston and New York would both probably have a hard time comprehending or reconciling the ability to love both places. That's alright though. It's true that I heart NYC. But the Red Sox are definitely my team.

I tend to route for underdogs, and even though I've never been an avid baseball fan, I started cheering for the Sox a few years before they won their first World Series in like a gajillion years. They were perenial underdogs then, and to some extent, probably always will be when it comes to playing their arch rivals from the Bronx, the Yankees.

I once went to a mid-season game at Fenway Park that really didn't have much significance to it. But if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought it was the World Series. It was such a strange, surreal feeling. Maybe I should explain a bit more so you understand my point of reference. You see, my hometown baseball team is the Florida Marlins. Yes, for a young team, they've managed to win a World Series or two.

But if you've ever gone to a Marlins game at mid-season, you'd know that by looking around the stadium, about 80% of the seats are usually empty. Nobody cares. I like the Marlins and all, but when you're at their games, it's really just a pathetic atmosphere.

Then go from experiencing that anemic environment many, many times, then go to a game at Fenway. It's just unbelievable. The two experiences are an extreme contrast between an enjoyable experience and a dull one.

When I was at Fenway Park, I had goosebumps for half the game. By the time they started playing 'Sweet Caroline' in the middle of the 8th inning, I was singing along at the top of my lungs with everyone else. I can still hear Neil Diamond's voice on the loudspeaker, "Good times never seemed so good..." and then the roar of the crowd following up with, "So good, so good, so good."

Everyone around me was so happy and lively and friendly. The place is just brimming with energy and enthusiasm. By the time the game was over, I was exhausted, had nearly lost my voice from cheering and singing as loud as I could, and still had a leftover andrenaline buzz lingering from the game itself.

That's a great memory that I'll never forget. I've rarely encountered such die hard, loyal fans of a baseball team. I'm sure there are plenty of other teams with that type of support, but the Sox have an argument for the best fans in the sport. I'd say #1, but for arguments sake, they're in the top 2 or 3, at the very least.

The game at Fenway was something I had on my 'bucketlist,' which is a list that actually existed before the word 'bucketlist' was popular. I also had 'See a Game at Yankee Stadium' on there too, and I actually ended up being able to go to the last home game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium. I was so excited to be there. I felt like I was a part of history.

This was the last game played there.


This was the house that Ruth built, my friends. Countless legends have played on that field. There are a limited amount of people who can say they got to see the last game ever played at the original Yankee Stadium before they tore it down, and I'm proud to be one of them.

But I digress.

I just know that whenever I go to NYC or Boston, I never want to come home.

In a city with so much history, pride, and views like the one in the photo I took above, at the Public Gardens -- can you really blame me?