All articles, tagged with “new york fuckin' city”

The Night the Lights Went Out on Broadway (and Everywhere Else)


walker street with no light

A few shots from the blackout. Click the picture to go to the gallery.

final thoughts

My one big regret about the blackout: by the time the sun went down on Thursday, lower Manhattan was completely under cloud cover. This was an incredible disappointment: the moment we realized it was a full blackout, my first thought was “Cool, I’ll get to see stars in New York!”

I’d say “oh well, maybe next time”, but I’m rather hoping that there will not be a next time. Indeed, I’ve learned my lesson: the last time I went through a minor disaster (what, all of a week ago?), I made the mistake of speculating about what might come next to top it. Obviously, that was a terrible, terrible mistake. It being a known fact that the universe revolves around my semiconscious muse and whim, I promise to spend the rest of my life wondering what horrible fate is going to befall Bill O’Reilly. I promise.

One final thought before unconsciouness: A small note to the NYPD cadets who were ‘keeping order’ on the Brooklyn Bridge this afternoon. When there are a thousand times as many people on the Brooklyn Bridge as normal, well yes, nobody gets to ride their bicycle over it. Goes without saying. (You will notice that this is literally true: you did not have to say it.) When there are around five times as many as normal (like, say, at 3pm this afternoon), well, it’s debatable, but sure, yeah, better safe than sorry: have people walk their bikes. However, when there are at most twice as many people on the bridge as on a normal summer evening (like, say, at 9pm tonight), the logical thing to do is to enforce the fucking pedestrian/bicycle lane division. The reasons this is the logical thing to do are (a) you can do that with a less than half the number of officers (really, just a pair on each side of the bridge to remind people will do, as opposed to a pair of officers every 15 yards), and (b) because that is what city employees who likely know more about this than you created the lanes for in the first place. Ahem.

(And yes, if this is my biggest complaint about the NYPD’s comportment over the last 36 hours, we’re obviously doing pretty damn well.)


Jeers to:

Trinity Properties, for their unstinting efforts to make my office the single most unsafe building I have ever worked in. As if two straight years of non-functioning fire alarms, floods and internal electrical failures weren’t enough, apparently they did not consider it a priority to either (a) keep the keys to the buliding’s emergency generator in a known location, or (b) regularly test the emergency lights in the fire stairs. Nothing like groping your way down eight floors of concrete stairs in pitch darkness to make you appreciate the value of telecommuting. But better that than being the poor fuckers trapped in the elevators for 6 hours because they couldn’t turn the generator on.

The NYPD’s traffic division, who between 6am and 9am Friday morning were busy directing traffic at the critical and central (note: sarcasm) intersection of Canal and Wooster, while letting the entrance to the Holland Tunnel turn into a scene from Death Race 2000. Well done!

T-Mobile/Voicestream, proving once again that they are the worst cell phone company in the country, possibly the world. While my friends and co-workers with Verizon, Sprint, Nextel and AT&T phones struggled with service that was intermittant, I had no such problem, as T-Mobile’s service was 100% consistant: I was not able to place or receive a single call between 4pm Thursday and 10am Friday.

Con Edison‘s directors, who somehow managed to find the time while the entire state was without power to issue multiple press releases attempting to pre-pin the blame for the outage on Canada. Anyone who was looking for evidence that this was purely Con Ed’s fault need really look no further.

The New York Metro Transit Agency, for apparently having no plan for restoring power to the whole subway and light rail system after a major blackout that would take any less than six hours after the final restoration of power. God knows, it’s not like NYC has had major blackouts or city-wide emergencies before or anything, and it’s certainly not like we depend on the subways for much.
Cheers to:
The kind folks at Globix, for letting me and several of my co-workers crash out in their Chinatown datacenter, and take advantage of their generator power and hence their internet access and blessed, blessed air conditioning. Extra mensch points for breaking into their own cafeteria to provide drinks and snacks.

Pretty much ever city agency other than the aforementioned: as far as I could tell, the response to the disaster was fast, professional and reasonably well-planned.

My coworkers Adam and Jennifer, who not only fed and caffeinated me at a critical juncture this morning, but who loaned me a clean t-shirt.

And last but not least, to nearly every last damn resident of New York Fuckin’ City, for keeping their cool, helping each other out, moving in an orderly fashion toward the exits, and indulging in a minimum of oh-my-god-it-must-be-terrorists-ing. 1977 this wasn’t: the only major reports of looting so far have come from Ottawa. Damn Canucks can’t control their baser urges I guess…

come see the dolls!

This Thursday evening at 8pm, the Dresden Dolls are coming to New York City to have their album release concert at the Knitting Factory. Miranda and I will be going, and you should too. The Dolls’ last show at the Knitting Factory was easily one of the best concerts I’ve seen in the last five years.

Their music is a little hard to describe. My attempt: if, at the end of Blade Runner, Deckard had realized that Priss was way more interesting than nicey/passive Rachel, and had run off with her to start a cabaret act…they’d probably sound a lot like the Dolls.

If that description doesn’t make any sense, there are some mp3s on their website, or you could just take my word for it.

The Factory is a small venue; come up and say hi if you’re there.

faster, pussycat!

Seen on my way to the gym this afternoon:

sapphaster, pussycat!
You really want to click this to see the fullsize version.

(Update: it’s not a misspelling. It’s a pun. Sheesh, you people…)

it’s official…

…God is, in fact, a New Yorker:

you lookin at me?

live and direct…again

Things you probably don’t want to wake up hearing, via NPR: “The 1 and 9 trains are closed between South Ferry and 14th Street due to a police investigation: police have found an envelope containing white powder in the station at Canal and Varick Streets.” Canal and Varick? Why, that would be…where I work.

And sure enough:

click images for fullsize

Why yes, that would be a full hazmat team and about a zillion or so police and fireman all congregated outside my office window. Thank god for the pedestrian bridge over the Holland Tunnel exit, or I’d’ve had to hike about a mile from my subway stop to the office.

At this point, I would merely like to make a small request to all New York City drug dealers: could you please keep a tighter grip on your sample packages? We’d all really appreciate it.

a few notes on a fabulous weekend

Okay, this is going to be perhaps completely loopy after that last bolus of self-indulgence. I’m tired and should probably should go to bed, but I know if I wait until tomorrow to write this up I’ll just never do it at all.

My weekend rocked, in a precise New York 4/4 time signature.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who likes doing ridiculously extravagent things for his friends wrote and said that he’d rented a skybox at Madison Square Garden for the Coldplay concert, and would Miranda and I like to attend? My disassociation with current pop music had gotten bad enough that I only vaguely recognized that Coldplay was a brit-pop band, but I accepted happily on the grounds that how often would I get the chance to see an MSG concert from a skybox, and quickly went searching on Kazaa for Coldplay mp3s. I was happy to discover that their two albums were actually both extremely good (yes, I now know that I am two years late to this party, thanks), so I wasn’t going to spend the entire show waiting for the band to finish up so I could get back to socializing.

So on Friday night, Miranda and I met up in Penn Station and proceeded into the Garden. Now, the last time I’d been to a full-on Arena Stadium Rock Experience was getting on a decade ago: Metallica at the Philadelphia Spectrum, touring behind the black album. (I banged my head for four hours straight, and then couldn’t move my neck for about a week, much to the amusement of my girlfriend at the time.) That had been a bracing but borderline terrifying experience: my seats had been on the first row of bleachers before the floor seats, and I’d gotten to watch as the entire general admission area turned into an enormous most pit within seconds of the first song.

The skybox experience at MSG is…about as far from that as you could get. You enter via a side-door, get your ticket validated by a polite attendent, and then take an elevator all the way to the top. When you get off, there’s a catering table and bar in the lobby where the other people are milling, and you can make smalltalk or wander into your box, which is actually like a small hotel suite, with a private bathroom, an icemaker, and a smiling stadium employee who pops into the room every few minutes to cart away any excess trash and see if you’d like any more orders of sushi. This, apparently, is how the the other half lives.

There were about 15 people in the box, including John and Michael, my friend Glen from Boston, who I hadn’t known was going to be there, and whom I hadn’t seen in about 3 years, and his lovely friend Dafney, who instantly bonded with Miranda but who of course is just about to move to Berkeley. Everyone else seemed to be friends of Michael who were in town to celebrate the launch of their new magazine, which I think could safely be described as Vogue for Chelsea Clones, but they themselves were unpretentious and fun.

The opening acts were pretty much a loss. The first group was called Eisley, and appeared to be a trio of British women who were perhaps 16 years old. They actually had a fairly nice sound — a lot of ethereal harmonies a la Miranda Sex Garden — but…ah… actual quotes: “This is a song about treetops.” “This song is about a dragon.” Sadly, they were not talking about Trogdor. They were followed by Ron Sexsmith, who I’d heard good things about, but who was apparently having an awful night: he played only six songs and was consistantly offkey.

Coldplay’s set, happily, was uniformly good. They don’t have a deep back-catalogue to draw on, so the set was pretty much what you’d expect: the highlights of their two albums. I was really worried about how their pop-floydian introspection was going to play in an arena setting, but Chris Martin was more than up to the task: he wailed, he moaned, he pounded on the piano, he ran around the stage like a maniac, and pattered amusingly and disarmingly at the crowd. The band was tight and well-rehearsed, and the lightshow complemented the music without being overly show-offy. For my money, the best song of the evening was a heart-rendingly perfect rendition of “Everything’s Not Lost”, but the crowd seemed to get most into “In Your Place” and “Yellow.” For their second encore, they covered Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar”, which was a great treat for us Old Farts in the audience. We stumbled out at around midnight, tired, full and happy.

But wait, there’s more!

After spending Saturday first completely failing to get Miranda’s DSL working and then stranded at my office by a sudden downpour after we’d detoured there to pick up a box of lead I’d left there, we wandered into Prospect Park to hear a free concert by Blackalicious, who are only the best goddamn band to appear in the last five years in any genre and the authors of the best hip-hop album I have ever heard, period, so I was just a little excited to see them. We were going to meet up with and at their apartment first for dinner, but ended up running horribly late, and when we called them, they were already sitting at the bandshell…and snagged three seats for us. Perfect.

The opening act was Sekou Sundiata, a spoken-word/rap/poetry-over-jazz/hip-hop act who was…okay. Under other circumstances (ideally a smoky club where I was not waiting for Blackalicious to play) I probably would have liked him better, but some of his pieces dragged, and his set seemed to wear out its welcome about halfway through. And I was here to see Blackalicious, damnit.

Apparently Gift of Gab missed their last NYC concert because he was recovering from eye surgery — I’m happy to report that he was here, in good shape, and holy god, yes he can rap just like that live — and freestyle. I have now heard “A to G”, “Alphabet Aerobics”, “Paragraph President” and “Chemical Calesthenics” performed live, and I can pretty much die happy. The entire hipper-than-thou Brooklyn crowd was on their feet, cheering, dancing and waving their hands in the air the entire night. I’m feeling stupidly giddy just thinking about it. It was easily the best show I’ve seen in the last few years, and I’m going to run out of adjectives if I keep at this: just go see them when they come to your town, okay?

Afterward, invited us back to her apartment for an impromptou barbecue: was the grill master, and one of their friends produced this insane duck, turkey and fennel sausage that I am going to go to whatever lengths necessary to procure again. Michaela and Karen were, as usual, the perfect hosts, and plied us with food, wine and good music until we were all falling over.

And at this point, I’m going to have to go all Wachowski-ish and say: To Be Concluded, because it’s 3:17am and I should really turn in right fucking now. Coming tomorrow: Night of the Living Yentas.

out of my depth and loving it

Friday night, to celebrate Miranda’s new job, we went out for dinner at Veritas.

Whoa boy. What follows is some severe foodie porn. Avert your eyes if this stuff annoys you.

The first hint that I might have been on unfamiliar ground came as I was sitting at the bar, waiting for Miranda to arrive. Two patrons and one of the bartenders were engaging in an animated discussion about the relative merits of wines from one or another region in France. I’m afraid I can’t really relate any of the conversation’s details, as the terminology was, while technically in English, almost completely without semantic context for me. I like wine, and years of drinking Manischevitz and Mogen David growing up have left me with, if not a proper appreciation for what makes a good wine, at least a firm grasp of what makes a bad one — but I don’t think I’ve spent more than 20 minutes total in my life talking about wine, and so the vocabulary of the wine buff is as alien to me as geek jargon is to the rest of the world.

That presented a small problem, because Veritas is all about the Vino. There was a copy of the winelist on the bar, and it was a monster: a three-ring binder that could easily double as a blunt weapon, with everything from recent California vintages to generations-old Mouton-Rothchild. After about thirty seconds of browsing, my eyes crossed and I put it aside.

A setup like this could all-too-easily become a pretentious mess, interesting only to wine geeks and scensters, but instead, the staff at Veritas were, to a one, friendly, cheerful, uncondescending, and breathtakingly efficient. The sommelier asked us a few simple questions about our dinner and quickly recommended what turned out to be a perfectly matched pinot noir, and then got about a thousand extra style points for pouring tastes for both of us rather than just the boy. The waitress was so consistantly able to appear the exact instant we’d run out of bread or water that we began to look around worriedly for the camera pointed at our table.

And the food?

Holy god.

Round one, appetizers, went to Miranda. I had the seared fois gras over rhubarb compote with roasted hazelnuts, which was superb, but no match for her littleneck clam chowder with saffron-infused potatoes, red peppers and tarrgon. You could smell the saffron across the table, and one spoonful was a full-body saffron experience.

Round two, entrees, was a draw. She had the roasted chicken with potato gnocchi and chanterelle mushrooms; I had the seared duck breast with fingerling potatoes. After some consultation with Miranda, I decided that licking the sauce off the plate would have been over the top, but I was seriously tempted.

Round three, desserts, was mine: Miranda’s raspberry sorbet and marzipan ice cream terrine was stunning, but a clear second to the chocolate souffle, which was presented like a Mondrian painting of dessert: all carefully placed shapes, lines and cross-hatches. I had a small glass of Taylor Fladgate port (the only wine on the entire menu that I recognized by name, thanks to my former employer Bob, and ), and Miranda had a Tokaj, which tasted strongly of honey and dill.

I’m afraid that my alcohol tolerance is no longer what it was during my serious drinking days: after a half bottle of wine plus a cordial each, I felt a strong need to linger over my coffee before risking a walk to a taxi.

For quality of the food, Veritas was easily on a level with Nobu and Montrachet, the other two “famous” NYC restaurants I’ve been to. But for the entire dining experience, I’d have to rank it above them both: Nobu is loud and impossible to get reservations for. Montrachet’s layout is relatively cramped, and while its table service is excellent, you first have to pass a legendarily obnoxious host. As a small bonus, Veritas’ menu is entirely pre fixe, and actually cheaper per person than the others.

Recommended, to put it mildly.

the few, the proud, the damp

Chest beating, he-man resolution, two hours ago:

Fuck this “waiting for it to actually get warm and/or clear” shit. It’s obviously never going to. I’m riding my bicycle everywhere starting now. Outta may way, inclement weather, I’m a-comin’ through!.
Slightly chagrined, extremely waterlogged, dirty-strip-up-my-ass-and-back resolution, 60 minutes later:
I am buying a rain fender for my back wheel first thing tomorrow.
As a side-note, it’s more difficult than you’d expect to make a chest-beating, he-man resolution when you’ve recently gotten an electric blue manicure.

Satisfied consumer postscript: the CourierWare shoulderbag that bought me (thank you!)…seven years ago now (?) continues to rock the goddamn bells. A solid hour of bicycling through city streets in the pouring rain. Several entire puddles dumped on my by passing taxis. The outside of the bag: dripping water by the cup. The inside: bone dry.