customer service needed in layaway

Bike Kill 7, on October 30, 2010.

There’s been a lot going on, but before too much time passes, I wanted to show this series from last weekend’s Bike Kill.

I think everyone was thrilled that Black Label brought it back, after a hiatus in 2009. I previously shot the event in 2007, as you may recall, but went into this year’s with a different approach. Instead of an expensive digital camera and multiple 40-oz drinks, this year I brought a point-and-shoot 35mm camera, 2 rolls of color film, and only drank a single 40, plus an extra beer or two. I was definitely having some issues with one of the rolls of film advancing properly and catching on the spool, but the results really surprised me when I got them back from the lab. Instead of stale, frozen moments, these unexpected double-exposures start to give more of a sense of the spectacle that is Bike Kill.

Jenn and I saw a bunch of people we know out there, including: Kathleen, Tom, Virgina, Jim, Henry, my cousin Julia, Tod, Sam, Stacher, and more that I’m forgetting. Great times!

Some participants of the 6-pack relay on the right side.

Conrad, aka Dirty Finger, on the tables.

That’s Tom on the right side, with Virginia sitting in his cargo bike. They road over from the East Village to join in on the action.

prices and participation may vary

Gowanus, Brooklyn.

To change it up a bit, all shots this evening are recent scans from 35mm film. I am happy to have found a little shop in downtown Brooklyn that seems to do great processing. It generally takes me a while to make it through a roll, so these are from the past few months.

Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Partially inspired by a string of cherry blossom shots that Terry Richardson posted on his fairly-new photoblog (link). His blog is really fascinating to check out occasionally — he mixes up his standard white-wall studio snaps of scantily-clad celebrities with an assortment of street ephemera he finds in the East Village / SoHo / Lower East Side area.

At the end of Long Beach, on Long Island, NY. From left: Erik, B.Davis, Erin, and Mr. Appalachia. It’s a 65-mile round trip from the Park Slope area, and even with 2 water bottles, I couldn’t seem to stay hydrated. If you’re in the Brooklyn area, definitely take advantage of the nice beaches out by the Rockaways if you aren’t already doing so. To get to this spot, we passed through some areas that had tiny back-alley-like streets that were closed to cars, only open to pedestrians headed over to the beach or hanging out.

Plum Beach, Brooklyn. Initially I thought this may have been a fox, but I’m starting to wonder if it was a raccoon, which I’ve seen a lot of around town.

Shane and Echo invited Jenn and I up to Scarsdale for a bike ride a few weeks back, right before Echo left for China. This is a highway that they close off on Sundays for cycling traffic. Its amazing how much ground you can cover with vast highways cleared of cars and trucks.

David Downs and I got in a good ride from the Manhattan Bridge, through Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, along the coast past Coney Island to Plum Beach before needing to turn back. That’s his fixed-gear Bridgestone townie on the left, and my Mercier on the right.

A skeletal saddle in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

pitfalls and transgressions

Governor’s Island is a short, free ferry ride from the south end of Manhattan.  It’s been abandoned for about 10 years.  Since then, it’s been made into somewhat of a park / landmarked site / location of art installations.  I highly recommend you bring your bike to explore, though if you don’t, they actually have bike rentals on the island now.

There are many acres of empty housing, in various states of disrepair, due to roofs starting to cave in, and the strong ocean breeze taking it’s toll on them.  The city has been largely successful in keeping vandals out, which causes these places to feel like an untouched ghost town.

You may have been following the Swimming Cities of Serenissma recently (an extension of the Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea, however this vessel pictured above is possibly more compelling, for it’s sustainability alone.  The project is called The Water Pod, and it’s currently docked on the south side of Governor’s Island, and houses crew amidst livestock, rainwater collection and filtration, while also growing many diverse plants and utilizing other alternative energy (ie: stationary bicycles that generate electricity).  Additionally the two large geodesic domes serve as beautiful, 1960s-era removable shelters.  Definitely check out the project.

• I caught a free Matt & Kim show at Pier 54 in Manhattan last week one night after work.  Robin and a few of her friends ran into Jenn and I there, and we caught some of the Flosstradamus set, as well as the entire main act.  Matt & Kim seemed thrilled to be playing at the space, but it didn’t feel like the best environment to experience a show (due to being long and narrow, sound dissipating in all directions, and no slope to the space, making for obstructed views all around).  However, still a scene (a pretty young crowd, as to be expected), and great to see them free.

My block may be even more rowdy than I’ve been giving it credit for.  Sure, I’ve definitely seen drug deals, livery cabs meeting up for lots of coronas between shifts, many people stopping their car to relieve themselves near the cemetery, and all of the extra trash that shows up at the end of the street mysteriously, however, I have not yet seen public sex, prostitution, or break-ins.  Time permitting, I’ll have to check out this community meeting, it sounds like my block is on the up-and-up!

If you’ll bear with me a minute, I’d like to provide an update on Jenn’s and my current bike stable:

This past Friday, I picked up a really nice 5-rail Cetma rack for my primary commuter, my 2008 Mercier Kilo TT, nicknamed “the Urban Explorer.”  Thanks to the guys at King Kog over in the Williamsburg area.  I’ve already people asking me on the street where to get them.  Lane currently has the black 5-rail on sale on his site.  I’ve heard they can hold a lot of weight, though I’ve only done a smallish grocery store run with it thus far.

Affectionately known as “the Backup Bike,” I picked up this 1988 Centurion Ironman the other month via NYC Craigslist for a really great price.  I may have mentioned it previously, it’s got all Shimano 105 components, and recently I replaced the bar tape with bright yellow FSA tape, changed out the nice, stock Nitto stem for a shorter Kalloy, replaced the slightly-too-short Sugino seatpost with a lighter, used Bontrager post, and replaced the pedals setup with MKS GR-9s and MKS (LL) clips, among other small changes.

Jenn’s new bike (a 1988ish Peugeot Nice) was a recent addition, to replace her 1983 Miyata 210, which had been known as “Brownie.”  There may still be some slight tweaks in the future, but it definitely a step up from the Miyata, in terms of components, gearing, color, and weight.

OK, back to the regularly scheduled programming.

Recent ink: I got a raven that I drew tattooed onto my arm by Mike Drexler over at Fly-Rite in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  They do great work over there, highly recommened, plus Mike’s a good guy.

• Two blocks over, Landis and Ed hosted a fundraiser rooftop party for Landis and David Downs to run for charity in some upcoming marathon/half-marathons.  Excellent chicken sandwiches from Jacob, a fellow former North Carolinian, and Cindy provided great burgers (vidalia onions inside, and topped with tomatoes and guacamole).

In closing, here’s one more picture (of Jenn) from the Outer Banks, North Carolina trip the other week.

a beachy kick in the pants



Little family amusement parks come and go in tourist-driven areas.  This highly-visible corner spot has been on sale for a while, with a rusty roller coaster, overgrown go-kart race tracks, some small pavilions, dried-up fountains, and empty ticket booths.

• I’ve been spending the week down at the Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina, in a rental cottage with my family and significant others.  Fantastic cooking, and the attractions are largely bikeable (within a few miles, and all flat terrain).  I should add that my brother brought 5 bikes: a Raleigh tandem, a Takara road bike, a Schwinn cruiser, a Gary Fisher mountain bike, and a Bianchi track bike.  Combined with a Schwinn cruiser already at the cottage, the whole gang has been able to ride at the same time.  Practically critical mass style.

• Thus far there’s been one hospital visit (for a possible Lyme disease tick bite looking pretty rough), a trip to a dead-animal ridden, deserted beach (near Bodie Island), a visit to Jockey’s Ridge, and a lot of ocean time.

Beach cottage architecture in North Carolina is definitely different than New England and the northeast.


Wrestling glasses can hold quite large mixed drinks.

$86 buys two dozen blue crabs (only male are eaten by law, and they’re referred to as “Jimmy #1”) and several pounds of snow crab legs, including spices (a local blend, similar to Old Bay) and steaming.

smash a kangaroo

Deciding what to write on a sign for the afternoon.  A little stumped after “HOMELESS.”  19th Street, Manhattan.

Fifth Avenue in South Slope, Brooklyn, vacant on New Years Day, a few months back.

Stripes, skirts, legs, bikes, plants.  It’s springtime at last.

• Speaking of bikes, after a lot of errands recently around several neighborhoods, I was able to source a bunch of parts very inexpensively for some upgrades I’ve been making to Jenn’s bike during this week of solid rain.  Thanks to John over in Bushwick for a used wheelset; thanks to Bespoke Bicycles (the brand new shop in Fort Greene) for some brake cable, housing, and a tire; thanks to Dixon’s Bike Shop in Park Slope for a lot of help with a rear hub issue, and for the very cheap rear wheel; thanks to Henry and Chris over at the sparkly new Brooklyn Bicycles, just down the street on 6th Ave at 9th Street for a bit of brake cable and conversation; thanks to On the Move on 7th Ave in Park Slope for brake levers; thanks to John in Greenpoint for a set of bars; and to Spokes and Strings in Williamsburg for another set of bars and some super cheap brake pads; and I think the list goes on.  Suffice to say, with everything in order, nothing to do now but ride.

Mr. Appalachia, may be the only one of my friends to possess a full-size backyard in the borough of Brooklyn (chime in if I’m overlooking someone).  He invited Jenn and I over the other day to his Red Hook backyard for some planting of seeds and installing of chicken wire (mainly to keep the feces of feral cats out) in some raised beds he created out of salvaged ikea shelving.  These were some seperate seedlings I noticed on his desk.

A popular gentlemen in the financial world.  Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

If you’re in the NYC area, feel free to join my friends and I on a little adventure next Saturday (May 16th) at 9AM at the Circle Line pier (somewhat near Times Square) for a leisurely ride up the west side parkway, a short rumble through the Bronx, and crossing over a bridge or two to get to the small fisherman’s village known as City Island.  Relaxed pace, bring some sunscreen, a bicycle, some money for seafood, and possibly a camera if you’re inclined.  Adam will provide the pepper spray.  Send me an email if you have any questions.

dinner party season

Winter hit last week in South Slope, or SoSlo.  I’m always drawn to burning oil drums, especially in snow.

My siblings were kind enough to fly into town for some holiday cheer.  Clay, from Atlanta, via Charlotte, NC, and Hillary from Bangkok via Hong Kong.

Inside the Brooklyn Museum. I hadn’t seen a large portion of their permanent collection, as it turns out.  I think I always ended up finding my way to the cat mummies and then running out of time, previously.

My brother took my bike out for a spin.  I rode my backup bike (the Christmas tree one from the other week), and we rode down through the industrial parks of Sunset Park near the waterfront to Bay Ridge, and practiced riding on ice at the pier near Owl’s Head Park.

Hot tea over at Zaytoons in Prospect Park (which seems superior to the Carroll Gardens and Murder Ave. locations) on Saturday for lunch.

•Winter in New York does seem to be a time for parties, comfort food, hot drinks, and even catching up on some reading during the few spare moments.  I just started reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and, just 60 pages into it, the book’s sparse landscapes filled with approachable philosophical discussions are definitely compelling.

Leonard Street in Greenpoint.  Shot from the roof of D.Lish & B.Davis’ apartment, during their Christmas/Hanukkah party.   A good turnout, including Hans, Bethany, Gene (in from Barcelona), Yoost, Erin, Sylvia, Moses, Ellen, and some others.  Excellent homemade beef stew (with horseradish sour cream) and potato leek soup.  Later, we moved things to Europa a few blocks away.  If you haven’t been, it’s completely Euro-trashed out upstairs.  Mullets all around, really terrible, loud dance music.  I can’t really recommend it to anyone, however there are lots of super thin Polish and Russian girls there.

Cory and Holly also threw a great dinner party, the following day, at their place down in the Kensington area.  Jenn, Clay, and I joined Moses, Hans, and a few others for some incredible homemade shepherd’s pie and some great salad, and an assortment of meads.

• Additionally, while my siblings were still in town, Jenn and I took them to a few other bars and restaurants: Chip Shop, Otto’s Shrunken Head (for Danish Folk night), Pianos, Lil Pig, Bar Toto, and some others.  It’s great to be with family over the holidays.

i can’t go out and i can’t stay in

My good friend Mike Mararian had another solo show opening Friday night, at a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Great turnout.  Katie Scott (left) and Alicia (right) are seen here.

I borrowed Mike’s hat briefly.  And that’s the man himself on the right (and I believe that’s Dan in the background).

Jenn pays tribute to the legendary Allan Lee.

If every city has its own official liquid, you don’t want to know what New York City’s is.

• Scavenging has been a fun and often-productive activity for me for as long as I can remember.  Perhaps it could be linked to my Southern roots, where you drive around town, and anything out on the curb is fair game to add to your own packrat collection (I think several of you guys have ridden shotgun with me, years back).  That moved onto the justification of removing of remote, government-owned objects sometimes, and certainly anything in an abandoned area was available for the taking.  Never did this feel too much like direct stealing.

I haven’t fully considered aquiring food the freegan way, but scavenging lately has been on my mind in the context of bicycles here in New York.  I’m referring to abandoned (but locked), rotting bicycle frames that you probably see a handful of every day you commute.  It’s been an internal battle for me: surely bad karma will hunt me down, should I decide that I could use an old threaded stem attached to a decaying corpse of a bike.  So, I’ve never touched a locked but abandoned bike.

Let’s take the red Shogun road bicycle currently attached to the fence of the dog park on 7th Avenue and 17th Street in South Slope.  It showed up a month or two ago, in pristine condition, connected to the iron fence via a standard-size U-lock around it’s top tube.  After it remained unmoved, untouched, un-checked-on for the first solid week, the front wheel walked away.  Then, in a matter of days, the rear wheel was gone, perhaps at the same time that the handlebars were pryed from the bike’s stem.  The pedals, seatpost, and saddle were the next to vanish.  I guess it may be similar to the way flies and beetles naturally break down dead animals on the street to aid in the decomposition cycle.  The frame (often the only thing actually locked in these cases) is permanently left, the same way that the insects will consume the skin, tissue, muscle, and body fat of carcasses, yet will leave the bones to eventually become brittle and succumb to long-term weathering.

But the question is still there: is there a threshold for the exact moment when a discarded bicycle is legitimate, honest “fair game” to potential scavengers?  Obviously if your bike is locked for more than about ten seconds in the Union Square area, it’s considered fair game by the scourges of society (the number of stolen bike posts involving Union Square on Craigslist is scary).

• On the subject, this evening I found some steel drop bars and two bike tires in a large pile of trash on my street.  It’s business as usual around here.

• Sadly, two of my old staples in Manhattan are looking pretty rough: both Lounge (ideal for its inspirational, curated fashion), and National Wholesale Liquidators (ideal for achieving middle-america prices on household junk) are getting priced out of their SoHo and NoHo spots, respectively.  Both stores are heavily marked down and tearing down excess aisles daily, and may be gone completely by early January, at this rate.

• Last Wednesday I caught a performance of Pina Bausch’s Bamboo Blues at BAM.  While it seemed good, I’m not positive I’ve yet aquired a taste for contemporary dance.

Recently at the Broadway-Layfayette stop in Manhattan, there’s been a resurfacing of the top-notch Belvedere Vodka ads, but in print.  This self-portrait of Terry Richardson is on a poster about six feet tall.

Macri Park near Metropolitan and Union in Williamsburg.  Pretty laid-back atmosphere, but cozy.

The Gowanus Canal has high tide and low tide.  During low tide, you can find all your lost stuff.  The smell of this highly polluted waterway can be a little foul though.

we were fated to pretend

Last Saturday, I strapped a 4.5 foot douglas fir to my backup bike (a 1967 Mercier SS).  Unfortunately I had to walk the bike back, not quite enough space to ride.

Boerum Hill. At least 3-4 cats live in this lot, but they seem to manage to not miss meals.

Erica and Constantine joined Jenn and I for some chicken and orzo over at our place Sunday night, and we managed to burn through a whole, previously-unopened bottle of Jameson over dinner.  Perhaps that’s not as large of a feat as I’m thinking, but it certainly seemed exceptional at the time (and the following morning).

I had nothing to do with this shot, taken of my parents before I was born, but it does happen to be a favorite of mine.  The seventies hairstyles, the composition, colors, crispness, and the general Motorcycle Diaries (2004)-feel seem perfect.

4th Avenue near downtown Brooklyn.

• I did take to trying out a ninja-style balaclava to and from work the other day when the temperature began to dip.  As it turns out, those things are no joke: I actually think they’d enable one to ride a bike around Antarctica even, with how warm they keep one’s face.  However, I’ve got a feeling you’d get arrested for bringing a balaclava anywhere near an airport.

• But speaking of winter riding, someone the other day did say, “life’s too short to not ride what you’ve got,” within the context of riding one’s main, prized steel bicycle throughout the duration of a salted-road winter (as opposed to also possessing a dedicated “ice bike”).  And, while the statement can possibly be immediately dismissed as cliche, I do think it’s the best way to operate, and is arguably more rockstar than trying to be all delicate with your utilitarian items.  Stuff is just stuff, own it.

• My friend (and former classmate) Sharvin got a short writeup in the News & Observer here for a recent job change/promotion.  Big ups on continuing to advance stuff.

• In case you were curious, here’s the full gallery of wedding shots from my friends’ (Kathleen & Tom) celebration a little over a month ago.  The delay is due to the couple finally returning from an island off the coast of India, plus the ordering of prints.

• While unrelated to New York, I doubt Winehouse can make it many more years.  Things aren’t looking so hot these days, and those YouTube clips were several years ago at the point, even.

Pamela and Marta joined Jenn and I to catch Opening Night over at the Harvey, with some crazy, on-stage seating comp tickets I had.  The majority of the audience was in the normal seating area, but we got to sit on a set of seats mixed in with actors, and surprising close to the onstage nudity and such.  The performance was based on John Cassevetes’ film of the same name.  It was a little strange to see a play in Dutch, but subtitles were broadcast in several places.  Afterward, we had a few drinks down the street at Moes.

On Degraw Street, at an area I was told was once a secret spot for rampant prostitution, but has now been significantly cleaned up.

Evidence of the weather turning a little cooler outside. Also, further evidence that littering never went out of style in this town.