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.

if it’s yellow, let it mellow


4th Ave and 9th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

• The heatwave this week has certainly brought some odd people out into the streets.  “So, Barack Obama or that other guy?  You American?  You speak English?”  I was asked on the street, from a man who then ran up to a guy in a wheelchair and dove onto the sidewalk, pretending to shoot the man with a rifle.  New York.

Jenn and I saw a pretty serious screening of The Living End (1992) over the other night, but followed it up with a slightly happier screening of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull a few days later, also at BAM. The Living End was my first Gregg Araki film. The director’s introduction, plus an extended Q&A after the credits rolled, provided a full context (of the AIDS epidemic in the west coast gay community during the late 80s and early 90s). Slightly stylized violence and a large amount of character sympathy drive the film’s momentum, and keep it interesting. And yes, the token film school guy was there… with his trademark voice and that “I already know the answer to the question I’m going to ask, but I’ll ask it anyway so that other people can hear me asking it” style.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the fourth Indiana Jones, the latest Spielberg blockbuster, certainly felt successful on all fronts. Not only did the plot revolve around skulls and mummies in South America, but it also had borrowed cleverly from Dominic Sera’s Kalifornia (1993), when Indy finds himself in a fake desert town used as a nuclear testing facility (some may argue Brad Pitt’s identical discovery of the same location in Kalifornia is the only memorable moment in that film). My coworkers were right in suggesting the only lacking element of the fourth installment are the down/slow moments that can foster a little character development. Regardless, it fits right alongside the originals. I only wish I could have watched it with my siblings, like old times.

• The rolling summer thunderstorms are here. It’s not to the same voracity as down south for the most part, but the other night, Brooklyn did receive some hail.

Jenn and I saw Leticia at the newest vegan hangout, ‘Snice, in Park Slope last night — happy birthday! The cafe/restaurant has good prices, though I foolishly felt tricked into thinking my sandwich contained meat (on the no-meat front though, the meatless wings at Kate’s in the EV are good though).

• On Saturday evening, The Opera Singer & Archie threw a going away/engagement party at Justin’s loft in Bushwick. Big Joseph and James were there in great spirits, plus a bunch of other people. They head out for Illinois later in the month.

Radio Lab from WNYC (the full hour-long shows, not the 10 minute crappy ones) is a great option for helping one get through the morning office hours, in between meetings. I’m still catching up on a ton of old episodes. At moments, the two hosts become far more compelling even than Ira Glass’ praised “This American Life.

• “Who gets the girl? The guy in the SUV, or the guy on the bike? We know—at least in New York City… it’s the guy on the bike.” – Brendt Barbur (in an interview with L Magazine).

aquatic rock


Leticia near the Gowanus Canal in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

• Two weeks ago (ouch, it’s been a while), Jenn, Jesse, Jessee (yes, I don’t think there are even that many J’s available in Scrabble) and I caught the Brazilian dance troupe, Grupo Corpo perform two dances back to back over at BAM’s Opera House. Afterwards, we went over to one of the three (and supposedly the first) of the Kiku Restaurants in Park Slope, that are all unrelated, and just want to all be named after the small flower.

• Jenn and I scored a Miyata road bike (well, via paying for the item, but regardless, always good to pick up a new bike) for her to replace her GT Rebound. Shaun, the guy we bought it from, a few blocks from my place here in the Lower, is opening a bike shop on 3rd between 1st and A. He’s going to specialize in older steel bikes, and seemingly isn’t pro-track/fixed (or even BMX) like the rest of the neighborhood. Look out for his opening around May or so.

• Caught a late screening of Contempt (1968) directed by Jean-Luc Godard over at the Film Forum. Luckily it was held over an additional week. Jack Palance (ie: Ripley’s Believe it or Not host) as the typical “stupid American” seemed perfect. Godard goes over the top to show the female body on display, during the collapse of a marriage, set against the beautiful Italian coast. It felt like Godard doing a Fellini film from the beginning: we see that we’re about to enter the world of on-screen filmmaking in Italy, and the main characters are the film’s suave writer, arrogant producer, and oddball-genius director (played by Fritz Lang). Great film.


Jenn and Mr. Lehman in the gallery section of Supreme Trading in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Williamsburg Open Studios happened two weekends ago, to coinside with the Armory Show over at a pier in Manhattan. Will Hall, Chelsea, David Lehman, Jenn, Pam, and I went to a handful of them, occasionally held up at the keg lines, then went over to the afterparty at Supreme Trading, then finally Legion Bar to see Welles spin.

• This past weekend, Jenn and I got in a lot of cycling in preparation for the upcoming Five Borough Bike Tour. We also caught the opening day of Brooklyn Flea over in the Fort Greene area on Sunday. We saw Brian & Rachel, Addie & Brandon, and a few others, before ducking out to prepare some guacamole over in Park Slope. Then, Leticia and I played a few games of pool over in Carroll Gardens over some corona and whiskey, respectively.

• The previous day, we got in a bike ride from the Lower to the Slope to Long Island City, Queens via the less-talked about Pulaski Bridge. Later we rode with Brian & Rachel to a really solid, new Latin American restaurant on Broadway, just south of the Williamsburg Bridge, on the Brooklyn side.

Mos Def was heading into the car service next to where I was eating lunch last week over in Fort Greene, the neighborhood he calls home.  Also, in terms of music celebrities, Paul Simon was walking out of my office when I was leaving the other evening.

• Music-wise, unfortunately the Postelles & Bachelorettes show was moved from Sound Fix (likely due to the underage liquor bust the other weekend) to the inferior, Spike Hill, also on Bedford. Also the crowd was ten to fifteen years younger than we expected. I think I need to do my homework a little better before some shows. A few of the Postelles were in attendance at this show tonight:


Chairlift performed tonight at the wonderfully, aquatically-themed venue, Glasslands, in Williamsburg.

I couldn’t quite see where they were going with the first few songs, but it sounded like there was some potential, and then they finally reached a nice point toward the end of their set, with sparkley keyboard notes and catchier bass lines. Female-fronted, though the other two guys seemed to have decent voices as well. Though, perhaps anything would have sounded great following the tragic band that opened, Aquila. Even covering The Pixies (Break My Body), Aquila felt like they were missing a few instruments (well, and someone who can actually sing). Symbol-heavy drumming and bass guitar with too much distortion is lame. I did run into Ian though, in the crowd, a former college mate from a few years back, who happened to be in town for a few days. But I mean, the venue seemingly projects the Blue Planet series silently each evening on a side wall. I’m sad that I didn’t create an aquatic themed indie rock venue first. Long live David Attenborough!


An Elvis wheat paste on Houston. It’s a Fisher-Price assault rifle.

chef pants invades


• In a remote area of construction in the Upper West Side, we found a garfield stuffed animal crucified and left for dead.  Heavily faded, bloated, and missing an arm, it was difficult to determine time of death.

Jenn and I met up with Erica & Constantine for dinner at a small, snobby, new restaurant on 5th Ave, somewhat close to Southpaw.  Good food (steak, chicken, salmon tartare, and complimentary clams, but the owner was a little overbearing.  Later, we unsuccessfully attempted to bowl down at Melody Lanes in Sunset Park (we were faced with a 1.5 hr wait), so we met up with D.Lehman, Mr. Appalachia, and Ben Calloway over at Buttermilk on 5th Ave and 16th in Park Slope.

• I have no clue how those tiny urban boutiques survive.  You know, the ones like DQM, Prodigy, or Billionaire Boys Club, etc.  I mean, they have about five items for sale (which maybe isn’t the best word, because there isn’t anything sale-like about the prices), and the three-four employees in the 300-square foot space would much rather continue playing their video game console (perhaps Playstation 6 or whatever the kids have these days) than help any customers.  But it could be that I’ve never hung around those exclusive places enough to effectively pay my dues and gain their respect enough for them to assist me in purchasing something.  Or, I suppose, it could be similar to a bartender just intentionally not wanting to serve you… though, I never see anybody buy anything.  I mean, Republican Rob and I discuss the phenomena of the urban boutique from time to time, and his main theory involves unseen money coming in from a large behind-the-scenes celebrity (ie: Kanye, Pharrell, etc), which would always keep things afloat, despite never unloading any inventory.  It’s image.  (haha, actually, just from a little research, I see that Billionaire is Pharrell-owned, and Prodigy is going belly-up.  I think Rob was onto something.)


• Each time at the pay-what-you-want American Museum of Natural History, I find new things.  This time, I was most interested in the shapes the skeletons on prehistoric animals made.  Extra-large deer-like things, and ancient bears and stuff.

• Last weekend, Hillary, Zena, Jenn, and I took a number in the waiting space for Jin Fong’s famous weekend dim sum, then, once our number was called on the microphone, we paraded up the long escalator and into the large banquet hall.  Everyone was happy.  It was my third or fourth time eating there, but the first time for everyone else in the group.  If you’re unfamiliar with dim sum, its a lunch-brunch meal where waitresses roll carts by your table, and they announce (or sometimes just unveil) what their cart contains (mainly an assortment of dumplings) while you request (and point to, a lot of times) the items you’d like to be added to your table.  Then, the waitress stamps your card, which you later use to pay at the cash register near the exit.  I still haven’t figured out how to accurately gauge what the final bill will be.  It seemed like we had something like 12 stamps on our card, but the total for the four of us was $32.  It’s a steal.  I’d love to try the other larger dim sum options in this city – let me know if there are any you recommend.


• I finally removed the larger, unused larger chain ring on my bike.  Here’s a new shot (above).  A lot of my coworkers and friends have signed up for the Five Borough Bike Tour in early May.  If you sign up in the next week or so, you can still get the early registration rate, which comes to $46.50 or so, with a small service charge.  The real draw, aside from it being one of the largest rides around, is the chance to ride the BQE and the massive Verazano Bridge all the way to Staten Island.


• From the cutting-room floor: OK, there are at least 15 things wrong with this shot.


• A north-facing building on 2nd Street between Avenue B and C received an organic makeover at some point last year.  At a glance, the only name I recognize from elsewhere is the “Best” on the door.  But speaking of getting up in this city, Chef Pants has been pretty active in the past two weeks.  I’ve seen his poor penmanship near the LES Crabs tag on Houston just past the dumpy little architecture firm, beside the newish wheatpaste Elvis Playing an Assault Rifle at the 1st Ave entrance to the 2nd Ave F Train station, and on a handful of the cross streets between Avenue A and B (such as like 4th, I think).  As far as bizarre names go, “Teeth Soup Meat” may beat “Neckface,” “Earsnot,” and “Elbow Toe.” People definitely like body parts around here.

an 8-foot replica


Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


Jenn apparently agreed to be photographed for public advertising several years ago, and The Opera Singer turns thirty-four.


Big Joseph and James make it out to the East Williamsburg loft.

Persepolis (directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi) is a French film set in 1980’s Iran, and is based on a series of graphic novels of the same name. It’s animated, and largely black and white, and some of the richest, most organic animation I’ve seen (well, aside from Miyazaki masterpieces, and a few early 1960’s Disney films). As with Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001), it probably deserves two watches, largely because it replaces Waking Life’s over-the-top monologues on cultural theory with intense, lucid, political strife, and, unless you’re fluent in French, you may miss some of the subtleties within the delicate transitions while scanning the subtitles. It’s currently playing at BAM over in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. (also, I caught Loves of a Blonde, a 1960’s Czech film by Milos Foreman, with some coworkers. Definitely felt influenced by the French New Wave).

• On the subject of northern Brooklyn, I highly recommend dining at the Roebling Tea Room in Williamsburg (yes, they rock Cuba, that Andy Heymann used to rep in like 2004). While the food isn’t the cheapest (entrees mainly in the $16-22 dollar range, as opposed to $9-14), it’s well worth it. The baked brie appetizer arrives boiling, and with a tiny salad drizzled in honey, and the half chicken has a large side of mashed potatoes. Also, the “diver’s scallops” can go well with either a draught Kronenbourg or a house white.

• You may have already caught it, but Cadence Weapon performed “Sharks” with Final Fantasy providing an incredible version of the beat. I can’t stop listening to it. Hit up Hype Machine for the track, or drop me a line and I’ll send it over. A great fusion of danceable hip hop with indie rock.

Peter Dinklage (Station Agent (2003)) was in front of me in line at lunch today at Big Dirty’s favorite, The Gracefully.

• Cheers to the intermediate days here and there where its warm enough to bike around without gloves and such. I’ll drink to that tonight. And to Brian and Rachel’s new engagement. And to my buddy Val’s recent promotion. Nice one, chief.