Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fun music site of the moment

Just started fiddling around with Pandora Internet Radio today. You type in a song or artist you like and they start playing a string of songs you might also like. A great way to discover new music, I'd imagine. Plus it's free!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One run, no hits

That was the Yankees' box score at one point this evening during a weird game -- my first ever at The House That Ruth Built as well as my first live baseball game in quite a while -- in which the only way the hometown team seemed able to get on base was through the mistakes of the Orioles, who'd racked up three errors but several runs by then. Overall, it was a fun night, a good authentic New York experience to notch up, even though my fandom has waned quite a bit since the Phillies lost the World Series in 1993. Breezy, but not too cold. Overpriced domestic beer and peanuts and a good view from up behind home plate and some loudmouth but good-spirited fans sitting behind us. And the ride home -- D to the A -- was so easy it makes me wish I was actually a Yankees fan.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


My new favorite chill, somewhat rustic, but not overly pretentious place to get a drink between 96th and 110th on the UWS. Broadway at 105th to be exact. Where even if the bartender doesn't know what a "lagered ale" is, he'll make something up for you as he pours. On the soundtrack tonight: Cake's "I Will Survive" and Guster's "Fa Fa."


I've had the catchy wordless theme to that old French film "Un Homme et Une Femme" in my head all morning. Go listen to it, if you're not familiar, and then maybe it'll be stuck in your head too!

Monday, September 25, 2006


The landlord's jacking up my rent 45%. The pain of a weakening sales market rears its ugly head on the rental world. Commence arduous and fraught apartment hunt.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

33 Union Square West

Watching Ric Burns' typically excellent documentary on Andy Warhol tonight, I was fascinated to learn that it was actually on the sixth floor of the Decker Building, where Union Square Wines used to be before it moved earlier this year, that Warhol was shot, after riding up in the elevator with his would-be assassin, then had to be carried down the steps by the paramedics, and was basically declared dead by some in the ER before he was revived and underwent a successful five-hour surgery. And that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated days afterward, as Andy was recovering in the hospital, going in and out of consciousness, unsure of whether he himself were alive or dead.
Streetscapes/33 Union Square West; Islamic/Venetian Sliver, With Minaret [NYT]
Decker Building, 33 USW [NYCJPG]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We were Mortified!

If you could pay $15 to laugh nearly nonstop for 90-some minutes at touching yet hilarious childhood moments, would you bite? Amy and I did tonight at the latest installment of "Mortified," now produced in five cities across the U.S. (She first heard about it on an episode of public radio's "This American Life.") Think of it as adolescent reality stand-up comedy. The entire show consists of people reading from their childhood journals, diaries, essays, school assignments, and even pass-'em-under-the-desk notes. Some embarrassment and lots of hilarity ensue. Here in NYC, it's hosted at the Tank, a small black-box theater on Church Street in Tribeca. We missed out earlier this summer, but made it in tonight, which turned out to be another sold out show. It was strangely therapeutic, and full of ample late-'80s/early-'90s cultural references: "Ice, Ice Baby," "OPP," Cabbage Patch Dolls, and "Family Ties." And priceless lines like: "She won't save enough to go on the Florida trip. She'll probably blow all her babysitting money on gum." Also, mad props for the resurrection of the term "like-like"—as in, "Do you like-like Jimmy?"—in the show's program handouts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The unabashed kitsch of Solvang

Monday, September 18, 2006

El Camino FLW?

As different as they may seem, I saw a lot of similarity between the exterior design of the traditional California missions, such as the one at Santa Barbara, and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin County Civic Center. Do you see what I mean? The long row of arches, the colors, the highest point(s) and dome(s) off to one side ... Also, the sense that it is a multipurpose center of the community. Once spiritual, later secular.

Looking down at Moonstone Beach

Highlights from the California trip

The first views from SFO. "South San Francisco The Industrial City." Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The Cheeseboard and its well-worth-it line around the block. In SF: Ferry Building. Cable Car to Lombard Avenue. Chowder at Boudin's. The outdoor Ghirardelli chocolate fair. The arduous but satisfying hike up the Greenwich Steps to Telegraph Hill. Coit Tower and its murals. City Lights Bookstore. The Transamerica Building. The countless clothing exchange shops on Haight Street. Delicious tacos at an award-winning taqueria in the Mission District. The Golden Gate. The fog. Marin County Civic Center. The open freeways. Bistro Don Giovanni in the Napa Valley. Stopping in for a peek at and a drink in Yountville. The Mondavi tour. Opus One and its funky contemporary building: home of the $25 single tasting. The Rutherford Grill. The Silverado Trail. Stunning view after stunning view. The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sipping wines while overlooking the bay. Excellent tilapia from the Sea Harvest, a local seafood house in Monterey recommended by someone behind the wine counter. Sunset over Highway 1 south of Carmel. Stopping at every other turnoff to take it all in. The thick fog, again, that descended on the twisty-turny one-lane road after dark. The slightly worn around the edges but still welcoming glorified motor lodge that is Cambria Pines Resort, complete with an obviously unused par 3 golf course. Hearst Castle and the amazing collection of fine art and decorative art arrayed inside; imagining what it would've been like to be there as a guest in the '30s. Once again, the views. Dinner at a basic but decent Italian place in Cambria. The coarse, pebbly sand of Moonstone Cove, down the hill from my motel. Sixty-ish degrees and foggy again, walking out for the complimentary breakfast, before heading back onto the coastal highway. Watching the sun come out miraculously as I came up and over into the Santa Ynez Valley for more wine tasting. Quick lunch in the faux Danish village of Solvang. Some great sips, talk of Sideways. On to the Santa Barbara Mission, one of the most famous along the Historic El Camino Real, marked off at regular intervals by the poles with the hanging bells along the freeway. Rolling into L.A. County. Winding along Mulholland Drive for the outlooks and the expensive homes and the pricey cars in front and behind. The Hollywood Bowl from above. The Hollywood sign in the distance. Staying steps from Hollywood Boulevard. The next day, reveling in the glory of Los Angeles' own acropolis, the Getty Center atop one of the Santa Monica peaks, between Brentwood and Belair. Spending most of the day there, not wanting to leave. In-and-Out Burger. A fair to good sushi place in the Hollywood and Highland complex. The Walk of Fame. The handprints. The Chinese Theater. The cheesy tourist souvenir shops, like Times Square, but slightly seedier. Strange how the N.Y. crossroads feels more Disneyfied than the one just over the hill from Burbank itself. The L.A. County Museum of Art, free after five. The beach at Santa Monica and the chilly but swimmable Pacific. Fish tacos and wheat beer on the bike path. A random cruise through Beverly Hills. A final stop at the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on a typical sun-drenched SoCal Sunday before heading to LAX to fly home.

Back from CA

Fuller recap to come; not enough time or energy now. I successfully transported seven bottles of California wine, and have about 300 digipix I need to weed through. Will likely be sharing some of both with you before long.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Great pizza in Berkeley, Calif.

The Cheeseboard Pizza Collective! Which only makes one kind of gourmet pizza a day, but commands Magnolia-cupcake-level lines out the door. Plus free jazz entertainment while you wait! Friday's pizza was topped with Mozzarella, Yellow Onion, Fresh Corn, Fresh Red Bell Peppers, Feta, Garlic Olive Oil, and Cilantro.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Headed West

I'm off to California for 10 days tomorrow. I probably won't be blogging much, but we'll see if the West Coast spirit moves me toward an internet connection at one point or another. In the meantime, have you heard about Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror, which is coming to NYC's Rock. Center on Sept. 19?

A pic of Kalina a day for six years

The incomparable photog/artist/bon vivant Noah Kalina, unearthed on LAist of all places.

On the set with Jodie Foster

The Times the other day did an interesting piece on the filming of The Brave One, which has been going on around New York, including the Heights, this summer. The reporter stakes out a late-night shoot over in Spanish Harlem, and mentions "those giant white cube-shape helium balloons that are the rage now on nighttime shoots."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chinatown to State College!

It's not every day that news-I-could-use arrives by handwritten letter, but that was the case this afternoon when I opened a note from one of my old professors, who passed along word that a particular Chinatown bus company—Dragon Deluxe, from what I can tell—is now running service from New York City to State College, filling the gap left after Greyhound canceled its service to nearby Milesburg, Pa. Round-trip price tag: $50. Perhaps I'll have to check it out at some point this football season.

Internet absurdity of the moment

An oldie but goodie: (pronounced "zombo-com"). And the mostly humorless explanation at Wikipedia. Remember: Anything is possible ... at Zombo-com.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Where I'm from

H. asked me today on the train back what they call where I grew up, and I realized there are actually three answers: The name of the post office associated with my old zip code is different from the name of the local government, neither of which are the name of the village I think of when I think of home. So can you blame people when they say they're from just outside Philly?

Earlier in the weekend, as the remnants of Ernesto drenched the region, we visited the Michener Art Museum, a just-the-right-size collection of galleries in Doylestown, Pa., across from the Mercer Museum, and ate a delicious dinner at Bell's Tavern in Lambertville, N.J., catching a bit of Penn State's successful opener.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sept. 1, 1939

Another NYC reference in today's "Writer's Almanac," this time from W.H. Auden and his poem upon the beginning of WWII: "I sit in one of the dives / On Fifty-Second Street / Uncertain and afraid / As the clever hopes expire / Of a low dishonest decade: / Waves of anger and fear / Circulate over the bright / And darkened lands of the earth, / Obsessing our private lives; / The unmentionable odour of death / Offends the September night." This poem was apparently spoken about a lot after 9/11 as well: You've got the September date, New York as a setting, the end of a certain era, the way the news invaded "our private lives," etc.