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.

i know you know you’ll stay

Under the BQE in Brooklyn, near Red Hook.

Boston, Massachusetts.

Two weekends ago I had the opportunity to catch an old reliable Chinatown express bus to spend a weekend up in Boston with my good friend Val Maun (on the left).  That’s his shot of me on the right (obviously).  We went to school together some years ago and he’s been in Boston ever since (with a brief stint in St. Louis and Texas), building up a solid network up there.  This time we set out to a few areas we hadn’t shot before, and for some catching-up time over beers and malt beverages.

Near Harvard’s campus in Boston.  Perhaps one of the bigger things that is different from NYC is the way that everything is in its proper place.  Even in alleyways, things seemed to be placed purposefully, and things were clean.  Even the small bits of graffiti were in their proper place.

I believe this is one of Boston’s more famous and super-old cemeteries.  Almost every stone had this skull detailing.

Fall in full effect in New England.

Val just picked up a super nice L-lens for his Canon.  To be fair to his shot, this crop is something like a tenth of the original size of a 1600 ISO shot or so.

Big ups to South Slope representing on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

• I picked up an old French road bike the other week, just to have some spare bikes at my apartment for my siblings big visit next month.  It’s a 60cm Mercier from 1967 or so, lugged, but with some french-specific parts.  For minimalism’s sake, I quickly converted it to singlespeed, and its seeming to work just fine.

• So it turns out there’s this hidden Hare Krishna cafeteria near my office in downtown Brooklyn.  When you go in, there’s a small security desk in front of an old temple space, and Govinda’s Kitchen.  The payment almost seems “what you can,” and everyone seems super nice.  Interesting dated pastel colors, and good vegetarian food, if you’re in the neighborhood around lunchtime.

• Another note on food: the Latino bodega on the corner of 23rd and 5th Ave here in South Slope has great tortas, tacos, gorditas, and other stuff.  Seemingly better than the one a few streets north (though, that bakery/tacaria is actually 24 hrs).

• Also, Brad was in town for a long weekend a few days ago, and I ended up going out with he and Jenn some (though not as much as they partied, or for as many back-to-back nights).  We met up with Ari last Thursday evening at that dark bar with the pirogi sign on N7 in Williamsburg.  As it turns out, Ari’s been running a pretty interesting site on fashion for the 60+ crowd: Advanced Style.  I don’t really know where to begin with it, it seems like such an underrepresented group here in NYC, and the street fashion approach feels reminencent of the classic Vice Do’s and Don’ts.  Good stuff.

Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

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.

multiple showers

Team Robespierre rocked out at “Less Artists, More Condos” tonight.

The main vocalist looks a lot like Nate over in Park Slope, coincidentally.

• So yes, the venue was someone’s apartment over on West 3rd, deep in NYU territory.  It was three hundred degrees in there.  An advantage of all-ages shows is that it’s much easier to get a drink from the bartender.  Two things of note about this show: 1) it’s the third time in NYC that I’ve been at a show where the headliner doesn’t show.  This time it was Japanther.  And worse, I’ve heard they did it two other times recently.  Brilliant way to keep fans.  2) embarassingly enough, I only discovered the beauty of earplugs this evening, after years of hearing loss.  Turns out, those things work wonders.  Next up: buckling my seatbelt when riding in a car.

The other month, I happened to start talking to a bunch of friends about tiki stuff, it just started to strike me as fascinating.  Then, a week later, this shows up in the abandoned lot across from my apartment (the brick building on the right).

• Last weekend, Jenn and I happened to bike past a free performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, over in that Old Stone House place just off of 5th Avenue, so we watched the last bit of it.  One of the lead females was played by a guy in drag, and the humor all around was on-point.  Not quite as amazing as stumbling into “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” last year in the Lower, but a very close second.

• Bike update: I successfully cut an inch off the steerer in the fork today with a small pipe-cutter I picked up, plus trimmed an inch off each side of the bars.  This thing is getting clean.  Photo.

Hidden gem: this value mix is $3.99 at your local Key Food grocery store.