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.

fish jerky

A mysterious package arrives.

A variety of seafood-flavored items explode out — a little preview of late October, courtesy of my sister, Hillary, who’s living in Thailand.  Everything, except for some of the cuttlefish jerky, was consumed within the first 24 hours.  Don’t sleep on the shrimp chips and hot sauce combo (or squid-flavored peas, or even beer pretzels, good times).

• Happy birthday to Pam this past weekend.  Johnny Juice, Marta, Chris Griggs, Lou, Jenn, and I celebrated over drinks and mexican corn.  Not just any corn, this crap is phenomenal.  It’s grilled with mayonaise, kojita cheese, cayanne pepper, and lime juice.  $2 at Habana Outpost.

• The next day, Jenn and I met up with Steve Nghe, Will Hall, Frank, and a few others for a painful (location-wise) Midtown Dallas BBQ experience.  Good to see everyone, but no way it’s going to happen again in the center of all that is Midtown.

• On Sunday, Jenn and I met up with Marta and Pam again in the main fields of Prospect Park. Luckily, this was before my rear hub spontaneously stripped on my bike, hopefully we’ll be back in business within a day or two.

Albany, NY.

100% custom Schwinn in Midtown.

• A quick work-related mention: one of the largest projects I’ve worked on has reached fruition (last Thursday): bam.org.  Represent BK.

All quiet on the southern front.

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.”

alphabet city

Between Avenues C and D, in the heart of the Alphabet.

The rear bumper is pretty intense.

There seems to be no shortage of gangster 1950s cars.

• Jenn and I spotted Terry Richardson walking his dog a block from his studio, here in the Lower, on Sunday afternoon. He was rocking his trademark red plaid. I think he’s immune to aging.

The Great Bike Walk 2008! Despite getting off to a slightly later than expected start (following a “quick” 45 minute ride over to Park Slope and back around 7AM), I still rode in a good-sized pack of close friends: Jenn, Kate, Mr. Appalachia, B.Nasty and Delish. Regrettably, the delayed start caused my coworkers, Shane, Adam, and Matt, to need to go ahead and line up, which was more than understandable, given the intense crowds and our predetermined meet-up time. There were almost thirty thousand other cyclists. I heard yesterday that there were only 39 injuries associated with the ride, which is a pretty low number. After numerous bottlenecks and claustrophobia, we ended up bailing in Queens, halfway through the forty-three mile tour, to set out to carve our own path through to Brooklyn, via one of those more remote bridges, then a long, great trek through Bed-Stuy and some neighboring communities. As those California cycling coaches put it, “sometimes you have to control the lane.”

• Following the ride on Sunday, Mr. Appalachia hosted a great cookout in his backyard over in Red Hook. Beautiful weather. Great, large group of people, but the night really began at sunset when a raccoon attacked a cat, by chasing it up (and then back down) a fire escape. Animals make crazy noises when fighting. Defend Brooklyn.

Shane brought in this killer candy from Chinatown the other day. Chocolate tree stumps, complete with a wooden typeface. Golden. (And yes, Kathleen, that’s the clear skull in the background of the shot).

borderline royalty

Jenn and I made it down to Coney Island last weekend to soak up the bleakness of winter in a decaying Thor-owned wasteland. (Question: is Thor Equities truly a domestic company?)  The clouds ended up bringing snow, but not a lot of it.  In the far left in the shot is the old, abandoned historic building seen near the beginning of Lord of War (2005).

Avenue U, as we approach Coney Island on the train.

• From reading even more Chuck Klosterman as of late (big ups to Welles), it’s becoming pretty apparent that anyone who writes anything (you could almost use the word “writers,” but it’d be in the loosest definition) tends to evolve and work out their initial shortcomings in writing, slowly but surely. I suppose the exceptions may be the raving substance abusers that use their habit/hobby to fuel a lucid written experience from day one (and I’m not saying it’s going to be magical from the beginning in that situation). And yes, I know that writing about writing is somewhat akin to making one of those hideous, unnecessary AIGA posters and mailing it out only to the New York chapter’s most environmentally-conscious members. But back to the point. I’m about 62 pages deep into Klosterman’s first book, having started it the day after finishing his newest complete work (omitting “IV” because it’s just a collection of articles, not a holistic piece), and it’s clear that he is tossing around unverified blanket statements and unqualified opinions, as opposed to his later works, in which become more of an exploration from within, and how pop culture (and “underground” movements) have shaped his view on the world, and his personal relationships.  He’s grown.

I caught a jazz show over at the Williamsburg Music Center two weekends ago.  Gerry Eastman, the director, gave me a history lesson on the jazz scene in Williamsburg, while the art curator and a resident barfly confirmed his information.  I ended up also having quite a long conversation with the barfly about the decay of certain cities directly adjacent to larger cities, the main two being East St. Louis and Gary, Indiana, all while I opened people’s beers for them.  The bar couldn’t locate their bottle opener.  (Afterwards I went over to see Ola Podria at a far-too-packed Pete’s Candy Shop).

This West Village staple, A Salt and Battery, remains one of the top fish and chips restaurants in New York City.

• On Friday, a young cashier was stabbed to death at my grocery store (Key Food at 4th and Avenue A). A butcher knife. Very unfortunate that nobody had a chance to tackle him before he vanished into the streets. I didn’t know the cashier by name or anything, but did see her quite often. Just yesterday afternoon they put up a memorial out front, and a few other cashiers were in tears. Here’s a report on the Times site.

• You might be thinking to yourself right now, “when I’m walking down the street and I hear a random Biggie Smalls song blasting out of a car, like, one that I haven’t even heard because it’s just some random junk that probably isn’t even that great, things just tend to feel right.  It just seems that things are in order, and the street is fine.”  Well, I would tend to agree with your sentiments, but I’d also secretly doubt the grammatic correctness of your sentence structuring.

• Here in the Lower, over the past year, we’ve seen the local dumpy laundromat go first from $1.75 to $2.00 for a wash, now its $2.25.  The dryers used to be $.25 for 7 minutes, now it’s down to 5 minutes per quarter.  I mean, for my standard 2 loads, it only increased from $5.50 to $7.50, which is a 36.5% increase, which does exceed normal inflation predictions… though it may be as good of a marker of devaluing of the dollar as anything else.  One could argue that it’s simply a byproduct of rampant gentrification, but in fact, isn’t that same gentrification somewhat proof of the same national currency embarrassment?  And one could argue that if I’m gonna nickel-and-dime the self serve laundry, that I should get out of the United States’ most expensive metropolis.  But, I may be around for the long haul, we’ll see.

Anyway, it might seem possible that people are priced out of their buildings every day because rich people keep moving to New York.  True.  But, I don’t think it’s as much trust-fund-welding young Americans as raw-resource-backed/borderline-royalty immigrants (ie: oil-backed Middle Eastern investors)… but, I need to qualify that to say that I don’t mean to come across as xenophobic, or anti-immigration, by any means.  Just simply, it is similar to what happens when an upper class US citizen visits a South American country: you bust in there with stronger currency and basically own the place.  But — I have nothing beyond anecdotal evidence to support any hypothesis.  It seems a bit melodramatic to think that it’s international oil barons that are causing the newest Lower eyesore, “The Ludlow,” to cut into virgin skyline.  But I find my thoughts become unproductively cyclical when you start to question whether or not inflation/devaluing/gentrification are even bad things, per se.  Maybe it’s not as simple as a more-and-more universally accepted moral & scientific issue like environmental sustainability.

• Last Friday, Mr. Appalachia, Robin, Jenn, and I met up at the great Sherwood Cafe in Carroll Gardens, before getting turned away from the sold-out show at Union Hall, then hopping from Great Lakes, to Commonwealth, and then to Buttermilk.

• The next night, Marta introduced Jenn and I to Roberta’s — an amazing hidden pizzeria near the Morgan stop on the L train in Bushwick.  The Faro-tagged door opens up to reveal a large, warm room of exposed-brick and young patrons (beards seem required for men, and perfect bangs required for women).  I hesitate to mention this place only because of it’s seeming secrecy.  Regardless, if you’re going on a pizza tour of this fine city, don’t overlook this gem.  And it’s BYOB, naturally.

• Recent catching-up of the film scene has involved: There Will Be Blood (2007), Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), No Country for Old Men (2007), and Spartacus (1960).  Surely it does not seem to pay to receive months and months of hype on Hollywood blockbusters, only leading to varying degrees of mild disappointment.

Around maybe 11th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan.