illadelph and barnyard raiding

Wild animals in the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

North of Market Street, on the east side of Philadelphia.

Inside the Philadelphia art museum.  One of the security guards kept pointing out all of the hidden nudity among several pieces in the museum (not the vases here, but elsewhere), and somehow it didn’t come off as extra creepy.  One was almost an homage to River’s Edge (1986).

Window display in a boutique.

Jenn and I stayed at a bed and breakfast down in Philadelphia for her birthday this past weekend.  Despite it being “dumb cold,” we still had a good time.  Some interesting architecture, some good food (a few great markets that put the Essex Street Market to shame), some history, some blue collar dive bars, a large fixed gear community, and certainly schizophrenic & homeless representation.

This was at the end of an amazing strip called Boathouse Row in Fairmount Park.  The road felt like quintessential Ivy League life, moreso than actual Ivy League campuses.  Lots of crew boats stored for the winter.

The previous weekend, I participated in a 48-hr design intervention project with a landscape architect (Hans, on the left) and two architects (Mr. Moses in the middle, Tommy on the right), which began with taking a train down to Allentown, New Jersey to raid some abandoned barns (about three of them) in the middle of the night for wood and metal to salvage as building materials.  I’ve posted more information on the project here (plus there’s a full process photo gallery): canal nest colony. In the end, the project seemed to be a great success, and certainly a learning experience.  It generated a little press, which is always cool as well.

It was a little difficult to capture the scale of these super large structures in complete darkness, though my flash seems to have been working fine.  This was just the loft area in a massive barn.  There were bird droppings everywhere, but we were able to salvage a lot of oak planks (and a little pine) from this area.

Hans and Moses test the buoyancy of oversized tractor tires in a pond in the middle of a thicket at about 3AM.  The tires failed the test.

More abandoned structures in the countryside.  It rained on and off during the night, and remained super foggy in the fields.

kingdom of thailand (part 2)

• There are portraits of the king and queen everywhere in the country.  The king looks kind and smart, the queen on the other hand, well, nevermind, let’s change the subject.

• I thought I had felt heat that 4th of July a few years ago playing basketball on hot asphalt in Atlanta, but Bangkok, even in October, is in the 90s.  And it’s super humid.

• Thailand felt safe the entire time.  No pickpocket attempts, no weird late-night run-ins, nothing but smiles for the most part.  The two issues with relocating permanently might be the language barrier and the job availabilities in the creative realm.  But that’s certainly not a completely prohibitive scenario.

• In terms of the world economy, surprisingly the dollar has been sharply getting stronger against British Sterling (£) and the Euro (€), but not making any headway against the Japanese Yen.  The Thai Baht stayed at about 34:1 against the dollar during our trip.

Wat Jedee Luang in Chiang Mai.

Fishing in the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

My sister in Chiang Mai.  Sometimes when we went places, her mohawk/fauxhawk was a conversation starter.

Bangkok.  I really like the way some things are sorta left to decay seemingly because there’s just not a lot of effort and energy put into fixing things that don’t really require use.  Also, it seems like you could leave a bicycle against a tree somewhere and come back in a few weeks to retrieve it.  It’s a far cry from the need to throw a bodega lock on anything for even a 20 second bathroom stop in a park in NYC.

Sometimes you have to eat like a king.  That’s lobster on the left.  That’s my sister and Jenn in the top of the frame.  Chinatown in Bangkok.

There’s probably a healthy and unhealthy number of dead animal photos one can possess.

Dogs like this one were everywhere.  Some were in pretty rough shape.  It was sad at times.  But there were also many dogs that were cared for as pets.  People didn’t seem to neglect these guys completely, but it did look like they lived a tough life.

No derailleurs allowed in Thailand, it seems.

• In addition, here are a few more shots.  If you’d like larger versions of anything, as usual, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.

kingdom of thailand (part 1)

Outside a car repair shop in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

So I just got in from ten days over in Thailand.  Jenn and I decided to visit my sister who’s been over there since March, and my parents also decided to schedule a trip and have it partially overlap.  Here are some initial general thoughts:

1. Contrary to my previous opinion, just because food is served on an airplane, it’s not automatically “magical.”  Something about being served three different meals while crammed into the same seat starts to lose its charm fast.  I took a picture of nearly every meal I ate during the 10 days, but at the moment it sorta sickens me to look at them, haha.

2. A taxi travelling about 84 miles per hour through dense Bangkok traffic creating it’s own lanes when neccesary is even scarier than it sounds.

3. 7/11s (the convenience store) and motor scooters rule Thailand.  I challenge you to travel anywhere and not see either one every five minutes.  At stoplights in the cities, a large mob of bikes always forms in front of all lanes.

4. Having to negotiate prices with absolutely everything is cute the first twenty times.  Bargaining is exhausting.

5. Spending a year in Thailand is definitely causing my sister to mature fast, she keeps getting smarter and more professional.  Thanks to her for orchestrating everything, and the negotiations for things in Thai, I could barely learn a handful of words.

6. Reconsider street meat.  Back home in NYC, I tend to only trust a handful of Salvadorian and Mexican trucks, but street side food in Thailand is making me reconsider some of my local options.

7. While not Thai, the Mandarin word for “I don’t want any” is incredibly fun to say, especially with the suggested intonation.

8. The woman Dustin Hoffman hooks up with in The Graduate (1967) is super attractive.

9. Hat’s warnings turned out to be very true: far too many middle-aged white guys with hired, super young Thai girls.  Creepy.

10. Don’t use your two year old children to beg naked out on the sidewalk.  It’s 93 degrees in October, and that’s not cool.

Now, let me add though that it’s an amazing place, and is a lot of fun.  I’m not sure why those initial thoughts sound more negative than positive: it was a blast.  Tropical flora and fauna is underrated.

• I’ll upload some more shots soon, a few more from Bangkok, and some from Chiang Mai.  In the meantime, these are from the first few days of the trip: Bangkok and Kanchanaburi.

Bangkok, with two tuk-tuks on the street.


This kid at a roadside restaurant in the middle of nowhere kept wanting to play with my camera.

Kanchanaburi has some hot springs, with a cold river (in the foreground) to cool off.

Walking some tracks near the River Kwai.

My sister lives in fairly modest quarters: she shares an apartment with 5 other people without air conditioning, hot water, phone, internet, or beds.

Ants make quick order of things.  I had never seen ants move as fast as they did.

En route to Bangkok.

danger falling bricks

South Slope, Brooklyn.

• Speaking of South Slope, if you’re in a 25-block radius or so of 26th Street and 3rd Avenue, I’d highly recommend riding your bike to Rossman Farms .  I was shocked initially the other week when I filled a basket with produce and assorted prepackaged items and the total was a mere $15.  In several return trips, I can’t seem to get the total over $22 (though my physical limit is what I can carry on my bike).  I mean, limes were 12 for $.99 last night.  Oh, and the junk is 24 hours .  Alright, that’s all, just wanted to put it out there once.

Roosevelt Island tram, on 59th Street in Manhattan.

• I rode my first official Half Century two weekends back, through the NYCC’s Escape New York .  Shane rode with me, up from Sakura Park in Harlem across the George Washington Bridge, up 9W in New Jersey to Piermont Pier, in New York on the Hudson.  After I fixed another flat (I’m not sure what to say about multiple staples being in my tires in the past few weeks), the route headed back through some stunningly decadent homes set into super steep terrain (specifically Church St. and Walnut St. beat us into submission).  But regardless, it felt good to be able to say I did 65 miles fixed, at the end of the day.  I still have yet to get the photos processed from the voyage, but hopefully soon.

South Slope, Brooklyn.

A livery cab.  I feel like NYC possesses 96% of America’s black Lincoln Town Cars and Crown Victorias.

• Happy birthday to my father last week.  Things seem to be on the up-and-up in North Carolina from what I gather.

• Thanks to D.LISH and B.Davis for continuing to host great italian feasts over in Greenpoint (now relocated from Bed-Stuy: Do or Die).

There are blocks and blocks of unmarked factories and warehouse complexes.  A security car followed me for a while around this area.  Many, many stray cats.

While the R train might be the most 1980s due to the fake wood grain, I do think they did something right with the wallpaper pattern.  It’s the NY state seal in positive and negative, effectively rocking the “all over print” before the junk was even in style.

• This past Saturday night, the party I’d been helping with (identity, print and digital promotions, printed collateral, etc) seemed to be a big hit.  TAKEOVER was this past Saturday night at BAM from 9PM until 4AM.  Brad (crashing with us, in from Seattle), Marta, Moses, Jenn, and I ate ceviche over at Coco Roco before meeting up with B.Nasty and some others for the event.  The two highlights for me were: when Sufjan Stevens came on stage to perform a cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” with St. Vincent, and when The Warriors (1979) started playing at 2:25AM, and the overflowing crowd, beer in hand, was cheering at the on-screen NYC gangs.

• Lots of drinking lately, with some time over at Lakeside Lounge in the East Village and some time at Metropolitan in Williamsburg, plus some standard entertaining in one’s apartment.

Brad visited from Seattle for the past four days. Jen and Rich were also in from Asheville, NC for a while too.

defend brooklyn

A stray cat hangs out in the lot that might unfortunately become the prohibitively-expensive Whole Foods near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

Speaking of being eco-friendly, Jenn and I made it out to the monthly Brooklyn Critical Mass, at Grand Army Plaza on Friday.  It was decidedly higher profile than normal, with the widely-publicized police brutality at last Friday’s Manhattan ride.  The entire, enjoyable 2.5 hour police-escorted cruise through Park Slope, Dumbo, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bed Stuy, Bushwick, and some other remote neighborhoods went successfully, without tickets or much police harassment.  The vast majority of onlookers cheered and waves, though a handful of drivers and pedestrians shouted some funny things: “I thought the Olympics was in China!  Yall is the Special Olympics!” and, “Are you the Bike Squad?”, “There goes the Gay Marathon!” plus, “Communist bastards!” Haha, near a bar, some guy walked out with his beer and asked “What are you riding for?” and someone responded “Yes!  What are you drinking for?”  We met a few nice fellow cyclists, including some people active with TimesUp and a Dyker Heights guy on a black and white Langster named Mike (who reminded us of a younger and slightly more Brooklyn Mike Morarian).  Great fun, check it out next month.

• This past Tuesday I made it out to a small group ride for some training laps at Prospect ParkHenri, Lewis, and (damn, drawing a blank now on the other name), were super nice, and very fast.  I’ve got a little ways to go before I can power through that many laps at a decent clip again.

• Speaking of keeping active, in very unfortunate news, my super-active British uncle, Peter, died unexpectedly the other week.  He was a well-respected physician and marathon runner based out of Richmond, Virgina.  He’ll be missed.

Under-appreciated South Slope, Brooklyn.

• So as of August 1, I officially became a Brooklyn resident. I’m living out of a suitcase on 9th street in Park Slope until I move into South Slope (on 23rd St) on September 1st.  But no, to get “BROOKLYN” on one’s knuckles is certainly more than a little preemptive.  Though, I did get this on my left arm a little over a month ago (though it’s a homage to a small place in South Carolina, not the NYC area):

Carroll Gardens side of the Gowanus Canal.

• The new Five Guys Burgers & Fries on 7th Ave in Park Slope does cook great burgers.  The normal ones are double patties, and the smalls are single patties.  Their interior space and identity do seem to be a laziness-driven cop-out, but the food is certainly worth checking out once or twice a month (though, go easy on the arteries).

• Last night Jenn and I caught I’ll Come Running (2008) as part of the Rooftop Films series over at the American Can Factory on 3rd Street.  The passion-into-freak-accident plot reminded me a lot of the poorly-named Japanese Story (2003).  A 2-person band called “Bell” opened for the film, and drew upon Bjork inspiration to layer vocals, keyboard, and electronic drums, sounding like a cuter and decidedly less catchy version of Cassettes Won’t Listen.

Defend Brooklyn.

• Thanks to Jason & Kirby for throwing a good, old-fashioned cookout in the backyard of their 8th Street apartment, in the heart of the Park Slope brownstones.  Filled with many of their triathlon friends and coworkers.

Remnants of an alleyway pool party in the Lower while I was moving out.

topless paradise and pulp

Jarvis Cocker
rocked our socks off at the Williamsburg Hall of Music last night.  He put on a ridiculously energetic and charismatic show with a handful of encores, finally closing with his take on a 1986 deep house track, which seemed to keep the crowd satisfied (despite not hearing any Pulp, as to be expected).  Thanks to Jenn for the surprise birthday present (the tickets)!

Highlights included Jarvis giving a glass of whiskey to someone in the front row after they accidentally spilled their drink on the stage, and someone gave him flowers during one of the encores.  His stories and anecdotes between songs were very, very funny.

He’s still got it (and yes, that’s a braided belt).

A car parked outside of Duff’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

• I met up briefly with Chris Reid and Sara Waters last week, who were in town to see Chatham County Line and an upstate music festival, on their annual girls-only trip.  They were in great spirits, but the hang out time was a little limited due to tons of office work.  Jenn and I grabbed a quick drink at a surprisingly full Home Sweet Home that seemed to be having sorta a Bauhaus-ish, dark-keyboard night.

Ici’s brunch over in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill is decent.  The staff is at least super nice.  Six of us (Big Nasty, D.Lish, Mehgan, Jenn, Moses, and I) had an extra long meal to discuss upcoming stuff in BK.

A few tags in Williamsburg.  Click here for a larger version.  There’s a Colt and a Miss 17, but I’m not too keen as to the others.

Bonita (that place on Bedford that has the “Comida Tipicos Mexicana” or something on the windows) has quite good sangria pitchers for $24, for what it’s worth.  The only problem is you need at least one per two people to get the night started right.

Jenn and I embarked on a 35 mile trek (round trip) to Fort Tilden at the end of Long Island, near Far Rockaway.  This is a pit-stop at a snack truck on the bike path, in between Sheepshead Bay and the Floyd Bennett Fields.  Jenn’s Miyata (right) is in beach mode: towel and Krypto lock on the rear rack, and flip-flops, purse, water, and helmet up front.  My bike on the left was a little less burdened, I instead opted to load down the bag on my back.

Fort Tilden has abandoned buildings to explore.  The beach felt remote enough for a handful of the twenty-something girls nearby us to run around topless all day (like jumping jacks and stuff).  No complaints.  At all.

• Later in the day, on the return trip, we had a bizarre craving for a chain Americana restaurant, so we locked our bikes up again and ate at the Applebees at Sheepshead Bay.  Turns out, the junk is good and gully: while enjoying a Bourbon Street Steak, an afternoon fist fight erupted out in the parking lot, and everyone in the restaurant ran to the windows to see the fists flying.  Food and entertainment.

gas, brake, dip, dip

A fish near Lake George, New York.

• Riding home from work the other evening, I saw a guy selling ice cream from a reclaimed and converted wheelchair. He had some sort of cardboard coverings over the larger front wheels, and had fashioned a large cooler into the main chair part of it, as if people weren’t going to notice it’s former wheelchair qualities.

• Also food-related, the owner of the Park Slope-based, Willy’s Dawgs, was telling me about the tattoo he plans to get when his shop hits it’s two year anniversary in a month or so.  I’ve become partial to the make-your-own over the recommended specials.  Also, beware of biting insects in the back patio during the summer.  Great food (and of course they have that carrot dog thing too).

Don’t let them tell you otherwise: Rich can grill some mean hamburgers.

We made use of a bar we found in an empty country club building that we gently let ourselves into for exploring purposes, late in the evening.  From left to right: Emily, Jen, Jenn, and Rich.

To be honest: I have no idea why there were heads on plaques.


Lake George, New York. Jenn and I took the Amtrak up to Albany, NY this past weekend to hang with our friends Jen and Rich (plus Emily and Erin), who invited us up to hang out at a lake house up on Lake George (an hour out of town) that they were in the process of selling.  While the water was beautiful and inviting (they had floating, anchored platforms for swimmers and such), the swimming was maybe overshadowed a little bit for me by the amount of intriguing, abandoned “family fun” parks and defunct, low-budget theme parks that were sprinked in the woods around the dense, touristy area.  Turns out, they even have a tiki-themed hotel and surprisingly-still-operating, ridiculously spooky children’s theme park called “Magic Forest” (suprisingly, i learned that Clara has wandered through it).  We explored Action Park, and noted the weirdness of a handful of others.  Other highlights included: seeing Albany’s downtown area, the large and slightly-dated New York Museum, Albany’s Egg venue, grilling hamburgers while a large amount of fireworks exploded over the lake, the lake water feeling super clean while swimming, an all-American breakfast at The Lone Bull on Lakeshore Drive.  When Rich was kind enough to let me borrow his car for a day, you better believe Weezy had the Albany airwaves on lock.  I’m telling you: it’s oddly unifying (and yes, I did hear those rumors about a biographical film coming out).

Action Park in Lake George, NY.  It hasn’t seen much action (aside from amateur graffiti) in the past few years.

I didn’t have quite enough time to let myself into the main Opera House.

Some of the other buildings, though, seemed to have some salvageable materials.

My cousin, Paul, demostrates how to achieve Ambrel’s aesthetic with stellar ease.  My brother, Clay, is seen on the right in the shot.  Check out all the rest of the shots from the extended weekend at the beach here.

• Emerald Isle down in North Carolina has been a good annual escape for the past few years with my mother’s side of the family, to get away from work for a few days.  Jenn and I went down to a rental cottage they had for a week to find a large assortment of bikes (my brother’s collection, one of Paul’s, and a handful of others).  We did a thirty mile ride on cruisers (a Schwinn cruiser, and an old British-made Royal) while Clay and Paul rode fixed (Bianchi Pista and Surly Steamroller), and my father joined in on a Trek road bike.

• One thing I love about New York in the summer: the way that little weeds and grasses grow up between all of the cracks in the most desolate of areas, and pepper the asphalt and concrete landscape with some green.

• Happy birthday the other week to my boy Val in Boston.

Jenn and I met up with B.Davis and Sylvia to watch the 4th of July fireworks from the Empire-Fulton State Park area (in Dumbo, between the two bridges on the waterfront) with Sylvia being kind enough to bring beer.  The next day, Jenn and I went over to Esperanto on Ave C for brunch.  Reasonably priced and good bloody marys.

I’ve been riding this thing around as much as possible.  Next step: cut the steerer down to get rid of some of those spacers near the stem.  Thanks to Clay for the black risers.

• The bike arrived last week.  I couldn’t be happier about the fit and the fun involved while riding it.  Thanks to Jeff over at Continuum for some wheel-truing and brake assistance.  This past Friday night, after doing a few laps at Prospect Park (and then picking up burritos at Uncle Moe’s), I caught the free Brazillian Girls performance in the park.  We weren’t close enough to get a great look at the lead singer, but the sound quality was pretty good.

• “My junk is janky.”

emerald underbelly

Memorial Day, the Sasquatch Music Festival , and a handful of friends were enough reasons to escape to Seattle for six days.

It turns out that the middle of Washington is sorta an arid desert. We camped near a mini-grand canyon of sorts (not seen here). No rattlesnake sightings, only small lizards. Thanks to Maddy for the spare tent. Unfortunately David couldn’t make it out to the festival.

We saw performances by MIA, The Breeders, REM, Modest Mouse, Ozomatli, Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion), the Fleet Foxes, and some others, out in “The Gorge,” in the middle of Washington.

We stopped by North Bend, Washington , the town that inspired Lynch’s Twin Peaks. It’s large falls seemed to attract many tourists, even on rainy days. The local diner advertises having the legendary cherry pie from the cult TV show.

• We ate at a conveyor-belt style sushi restaurant: Blue C, a French place that surprisingly was a scene: Cafe Presse, an amazing Mexican place in Ballard: La Carte de Oaxaca, a greasy spoon in the middle of the farmlands, and drank an underground and Mexican wrestler themed bar: Cha Cha, the clean and somewhat empty Grey Gallery, a super-popular gay bar on Capitol Hill: The Cuff, and a handful of other places.

• We paid a visit to Archie McPhee for some Glen’s Smart Shop-esc trinkets.

David and Chad grilled some excellent sweet potatoes, turkey sausage, and shrimp over at their 1970’s style house in the neighborhood that borders some questionable motels. David’s Mexican-inspired salad dressing made the meal.

• It was explained to me that while Seattle is politically liberal, it is often socially conservative.

• I can’t count the number of times that Warren Buffett‘s name came up in conversation this past weekend. Turns out that Dhruv (Brad’s roommate) is one of his biggest fans, well, aside from Dhruv’s relative that paid $600,000 to have lunch with him. Some fascinating stories.

• We went to a chimposium at Central Washington University, where large chimpanzees have learned sign language and can communicate with humans. It raises more questions than it answers, very interesting.

This little diner was near a complex, functional lock system on the river in Seattle. There were a fair amount of bikes, however there are also some ridiculous San Francisco-esc hills that require a little bike-walking. Thanks to Maddy and Chad for the extra bikes. While there was an absence of bike lanes in most areas, cars seemed pretty chill about bikes all over the place. It must be the general west coast chillness. I was sorta jealous that people could use incredibly small & minimal locks on their bikes, and sometimes leave them without a lock at all. Surprisingly there were a considerable about of brakeless fixies around town as well… those hills are killer.

An early morning breakfast for some local cats in the Ballard neighborhood, a few blocks from Matty’s boutique design studio, Turnstyle.

Recreational horticulture.

Pike Place Market near the downtown area. Many well-stocked seafood stands, with large crowds watching.

Chad, Jenn, myself, and Brad . Shot in the photobooth of Re-bar during the longest-running, monthly house dance party on the west coast.