Friday, March 28, 2008

Wonder if it is a half off sale

Another random picture from the streets of NYC. This one was taken in front of a pawn shop that calls itself an antiques store.


Okay I am a huge nerd, but when I hear of a town called Riverdale, I immeadiately think of Lord of the Rings. Well mostly how I want elf Orlando Bloom to plunder me. Durning a very uneventfull lunch, I browsed the ever popular Craig's List for a ski bag. I already own skis and boots, but I need the handy travel bag if I want to be taken seriously during ski trips. Well I came across a posting for "women's shaped skis, boots, poles, and travel bag...$25". Are you kidding me? All of that for $25. The bag alone is over $100. I immeadiately responded and arranged to meet with the woman that evening in her neighborhood...Riverdale. I couldn't help asking her why she was selling all of the ski gear for such a mad low price (the ski bindings alone are at least $40 each). She replied that it was her Huuuusssband who likes to ski and drag her along. Sounds like they are fighting or at least she is tired of feigning interest.

Here is a picture of the Riverdale train stop. Yeah, I need to explore this neighborhood more because the victorian home alone is making me curious.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Getting ass from craig's list

Back issues of Bust and Bitch magazine (East Village)
Reply to:
Date: 2008-03-25, 6:22PM EDT

I have every issue of Bust from Fall 2000 to mid 2006, and Bitch from Spring 2002 to probably about 2006 as well. I was planning on recycling them, but if someone wants them, they're yours.

Tempting....but no. I'm more of a Sweets reader.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tina's trials and travels

This weekend, Tina - one of my best high school friends (and faithful blog reader) – came to visit me. My glorious meticulously planned schedule got started off wrong when her plane was delayed 4 hours. Evidently her plane was a tiny one, and due to high winds, they only allowed a certain number of them to fly into the airport. Honestly, I would be more worried about a large plane drifting about in heavy winds. Anyway, the poor girl had to spend that time in the Omaha airport which is about five gates! Yeah, the terminal hosts a Hudson News and Kiosk snack bar. I guess you could kill time walking all 50 feet of the airport.

The following day, I took her on the standard tour of lower Manhattan which includes the sights of Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Ground Zero, City Hall, and a dozen other buildings that I have no idea what they are. As if we didn’t do enough walking already, we ventured across the Brooklyn Bridge. Now I love walking on the bridge because it gives you great views of the city and a sense of power. Well Tina killed the experience for me! Seriously, we were walking and she said something of the sort “aren’t you scared, I mean we are just walking on small planks of wood, they are not even spaced close together, you can see the ground below, etc”. Yeah, I looked down and saw the river a good 200 feet below me. From then on, I OCD walked on the sturdiest looking boards. Damn you Tina!

We headed over to the famed pizza place in Brooklyn just under the bridge. Now I have visited this place a couple of times before and have been sourly denied by an hour plus line. I decided 2:30pm on a Thursday would be a random enough time to eat and therefore avoid a line wrapped around the block. Although random, we still had to endure a 5 minute line. The pizza did not disappoint, but a word to the wise, don’t eat the leftovers because it is not nearly as good.

Although we saw plenty of odd street performers and locals, the strangest sight was a dozen slot machines perched on the Brooklyn east river promenade. Yeah they practically followed us around. There was a camera crew there as well, so I don’t know if it was some sort of casino commercial or what.

The next day, we punished our legs more by walking the Midtown tour. On our way through Central Park, we were stopped by some burly police officers. Evidently President Bush was in town speaking, and this was his escape route. I personally think he just wanted to see the park. Anyway, thankfully there were plenty of armed surly officers around because I was about to beat down a group of annoying teenage tourists. Five minutes turned into fifteen. His tardiness did not improve my opinion of him. Finally he drove by, and Tina and I snapped pictures of his limo. I turned to her and said “I only got the front half” and she was like “perfect since I only got the back half”. Together I guess we will have one complete photo. I personally was interested in the dozen or so black suv’s that followed his car with the rear window taken out so you can see the black suited bad asses.

We were given discount coupons for “top of the rock” viewing deck and that was enough to sway us. It was a gloriously fabulous day! Seriously, the weather was befitting the use of every flamboyantly gay adjective imaginable! Just to die for. No wind, upper 50’s, not too sunny. Ahhhhh.

Other highlights include riding the carousel in Bryant Park. The ticket Nazis would not let us ride an extra turn even though there was absolutely no one else on the thing! Oh and Tina found a taste for street vender food and had two hot dogs! Sure it is healthy-ish. Plus she needed the calories to make up for the excessive walking I forced her to do. Seriously, we walked EVERYWHERE! I know from experience, in Nebraska the only walking you do is to your car in the parking lot. Plus most people (my parents are the worst offenders) will circle the parking lot looking for the choice spot that will save them from walking an additional 20 feet!

We were able to get tickets to the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera. I have always wanted to catch this classic. We were in box seats really close to the stage. The only draw backs were that we missed out on the action happening in the very back left stage corner and that my eyebrows almost got singed off by the pyrotechnics. The theatre was uses as an integral prop to the play, and I couldn’t help being a 14 year old boy about the racy decorations. Seriously, the gold lady is really enjoying the boob grab.

Now although New York City offers so many historic and monumental sights, most of my guests come to the city for one reason….fake purses! Yeah, forget the Statue of Freaking Liberty, and give me a Gucci! Tina was timid at first when we had to follow a small Asian man five blocks to a basement backroom. She literally was walking 10 feet behind me and every time I looked back, she would shoot me a “oh my God, he is going to kill us or enslave us in some sort of human trafficking slavery sweatshop ring” look. I thought for sure she was going to split when we finally got to the rusty dark door at the bottom of the narrow stairs, but her fears were eased when a group of sweatshirt and turtle neck wearing Midwestern women tourists emerged with the tell tale inconspicuous black garbage bags. There was an obvious lack of policemen out because the normally whisper prone back room people were all out shouting advertisements and displaying their wide open back room door. I think we hit close to 20 back rooms if not more. My favorite was when this blonde teenager in an ill fitting “hottie” t-shirt insulted a backroom Madam by saying “okay, I have two Chanel purses and a wallet, I give you $40”. The Madam shouted no to her and snatched the bag away from the stupid girl. Ah ha ha ha. Oh another time, a woman from Kentucky came into the room and started grabbing handfuls of bags. She then said to the backroom man in a condescending ignorant tourist way “you understand, you take my order, you ship to me, give me good deal”. You could totally tell it was kid who grew up in the states and was like whatever lady, do you want me to pull out some chopsticks too. Anyway, she literally had a huge pile of 50 or 60 purses over in the corner and they were the tackiest most obnoxious looking bags in the whole place. I mentioned to a fellow shopper that they were ugly, and she said “well, everyone has their own taste…no matter how bad”. Ah ha ha ha. I was curious, so I asked why the Kentucky was buying so many purses. She tried to explain to me that she has a shop in her home town and that she provides merchandise to other shops. Okay, I bet she is going to try to pass them off as real purses. Shady!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dipping into the vino much?

Monday night, Dana and I attended a wine tasting class in SoHo. I’ve always wanted to learn how to properly inspect and taste wine, and now I can act more self righteous and obnoxious. Frankly, I mostly went just to drink wine. The presenters were all talky-talky and I was like “less talk, more pouring”. They actually talked so much that we missed out on tasting the final wine. I nearly jumped to the other side of the bar to retrieve the bottle because hell, I paid for it! I don’t care about how atrocious it is to classify your wine as an ice wine even when you have not let the grape whiter and die on the vine. Blah blah blah!

One of the presenters was a pregnant lady. I think there was a collective gasp in the room when she took a drink of the wine. I could see all the disapproving bubble thoughts of how she is unfit mother, etc, until she spit it out in the bucket. I guess that is how you are supposed to taste wine. You would think something as sophisticated as drinking fancy aged wine would not involve spitting up in a bucket. What is it for beer drinking…a toilet?

The other presenter was this old lady who had worked at/owned a winery for 30 years. You would think in that time, she would learn how to pour wine. Seriously, this lady dripped the wine all over our laps EVERY TIME! It got so bad that I started holding the note paper under the bottle when she was near. You would think she would get the hint since I was being rudely obvious about it, but NOOOOO. She got distracted speaking with another class attendee during the final pour of the night and ended up dousing both of our laps!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Only in New York

Today on the elevator, a man walked in wearing a purple suede suite and a matching purple fuzzy hat. Yeah, where do you get an outfit like that? I mean did he shave Grimace or something. So he is blasting music from his headphones. Seriously, it was really loud and even drowned out the elevator music. I wonder if he is deaf has lost his hearing because it was mega loud! To make matters more interesting, he was listening to the Jackson 5, so we all heard the “do do dooo do, A-B-C…”

In other news, yesterday, the NY Governor was allegedly linked to a prostitution ring. Great. He is basically the client of the project I am working on. If he gets the boot, then the Lieutenant Governor will take over. Problem is…he’s blind (or visually impaired). Yeah, tell me again how that is going to work in Architecture. Maybe we will just make models of the building so he can get the feel of it. Ah ha ha ha.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I feel safer already

So yesterday night, the army recruitment center in Times Square was bombed. It is located literally one block from my apartment. Of course I slept though the whole ordeal and did not find out about it until my Mother called me that afternoon all panicked. I guess that would explain the helicopters buzzing around overhead while I walked to work.

In other news, on my way to work this morning, I passed three uniformed cops. I overheard one say to the other "man, there isn't even one crack head out".

Your welcome.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why I'm an engineer and not a chef

For some odd reason, M-Man and I had the biggest craving for breakfast at dinner. Yeah I’m talking about French toast, eggs, bacon, OJ, etc served in the evening. My mom used to do this all the time because the kids loved it (or maybe because she only had a few recipes in her portfolio). Anyway, we stopped by a new grocery store to pick up supplies. Wow, this place was huge, well it was actually normal grocery store sized, but that is a lot bigger than our typical bodega paper goods and frozen meals place. We marveled at the vast selection (you mean we can choose from 10 different types of cereal!) while browsing every single freaking aisle. I turned the corner abruptly and was almost struck by a Latina woman pushing a cart. She sympathetically said “oh sorry mammie”. What? I’m not pregnant. Do I look pregnant? M-Man was all laughing at my shocked expression and had to explain to me that since we were in the ghetto (125th & Lex…aka Harlem) that the terms “mammie” and “pappie” are like girl and boy. He knows this because he teaches at a public school in this area. His students once said “Mista (notice not Mister, but Mista), why you dress so ghetto (ie shabby)?” He replied “well because I spend my money on books”.

I learned a valuable lesson about bachelors….they are not prepared to cook. Seriously, I am surprised to find any single men who have a complete cutlery set and at least two plates. Most of the time I believe they scoop out the contents of a take-out box with their fingers. M-Man only had one skillet! Okay, how are we supposed cook French toast, bacon, and scrabbled eggs in one tiny skillet. It seriously could only hold one piece of toast at a time. We decided to make the toast first, then use the left over egg-milk batter to make scrambled eggs all while baking the bacon. Follow that? I lined the baking sheet with aluminum foil (excellent time saver for cleanup) and painstakingly laid out every slice of bacon. Meanwhile, M-Man was making the French toast. Okay everyone’s method seems to differ. Do you dip it, brush it, soak it, etc. Well he was letting the bread soak until it completely disintegrated! Can you imagine how hard it is to make beautiful evenly golden square French toast out of mashed up soggy bread pieces! Serioulsy, a blind retarded kid with one hand and no thumbs could have done a better job. It took him 30 minutes to make 6 pieces of toast! Break that down to 5 minutes per slice plus the additional 10 minutes of batter soaking. When he was on his last slice, the smoke detector went off. He ran over to fan it with a towel (because that is always the first response when the smoke detector goes off, not ‘oh shit there is a fire, grab the savings bonds and get the fuck outta here’) while I opened every window in the apartment. We asked ourselves what was burning…not the soggy toast, the toaster was off, no paper was on the stove….oh my God, the BACON! I opened the oven door and a plume of smoke escaped. The bacon had literally turned into charcoal and was SMOKING! I am running around the apartment with the aluminum foil smoking bacon package thinking “okay, should I throw this in the trash can, no it will continue to smoke and most likely set it on fire, okay, should I run downstairs to the outside dumpsters, no it is a 5th floor walk up and I a barefoot, oh I know….”. I turn to M-Man and asked “can I throw this out your window?” Before he could finish saying “my window….what” I had chucked the smoking bacon out the window! It took him a second to get over the shock of the whole situation before remarking “you just threw that on my neighbors” to which I replied “well it IS food, the pigeons will eat it…and hopefully die”.

Wildcat run

On a whim, Marathon Man, Dave, and I decided to go skiing for the day. The three of us has previously gone skiing together in one hilarious upstate NY trip. M-Man found a package deal where we get a train ticket, all day + night skiing lift ticket, and ski rentals for $70. Alone the lift ticket would have been $90. I guess it is the resorts way of trying to draw in city dwellers.

The town was only 70 miles north of Manhattan, so the train ride was only 90 minutes long. Well that was long enough for Dave to fall asleep and M-Man to mess with him. To maximize our ski time, we took the 7:56am train from the Harlem (125th st/MLK drive) station. I think Chris Rock said it best, “no matter what city you are in, if you are on Martin Luther King Drive/Street, you know it is the worst neighborhood in the damn city”. So true. Anyway, we met up at the McDonalds nearby to get breakfast and a large dose of cholesterol. M-Man ordered an extra hash brown with his value meal, but when the bagged goodness arrived, it was missing. He informed the clerk of the mistake and showed his receipt to prove that he did pay for an extra piece of fried food. Well they all gave him attitude like “oh now Whitey wants another hash-browwwwn, what next…you want a shoe shine cracker” Seriously, even at 7:30am on a Saturday morning, Harlem served us a heaping serving of attitude.

The package deal included a free shuttle between the train station and resort. Well we were all expecting a charter bus or something, but ended up with a tiny dented up van with “Thunder Ridge” stenciled on the side. While driving to the mile to the slopes, I spied a store that was antiques/army surplus. Wait antiques AND army surplus….have I died and gone to heaven? Well the van was a metaphor for the ski resort, you know not quite what we expected. Granted it did have a dozen or so slopes, but you spent more time in line for the chair lift than skiing down the actual slope. I think it was one of those “beginner” places where everyone learns how to ski before they get their asses kicked on a real mountain.

The hill (not mountain) received 6” of powder the night before, and I can safely say that it makes for terrible skiing. Seriously, it was like you were trying to slide through peanut butter. At least it made for good snow ball fights (oh yeah, we were those “city people” that the parents were all warning their children about). “Put that snowball down Johnny, they are a bad influence, yes they lead exciting lives and are the envy of everyone around them, but be happy you still have your morals!”

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Celebrating 29 in style and behind enemy lines

I love costume parties. I seriously do. Any excuse to dress up unusual is fine enough for me. If I could wear a space suit to work every Friday, I would. Anyway, my birthday fell on a Saturday this year, and frankly I think that is God’s way of telling me I needed a costume party. I set up a bar golf pub crawl thing and I was surprised to find out how many people have not heard of the concept. Basically you find 9 bars (preferably near each other to minimize travel time) and assign a special “designated” drink at each bar. You try to pick out something unique to that bar. For example, a tiny West Village bar “Blind Tiger” is one of the few bars in the city to carry cask beer, so the designated drink was (you guessed it) a cask beer. If a person drinks the “designated” drink, then they hit par on a par 4 hole. If they drink two beers, it is a birdie…take a shot, an eagle, etc. If they choose not to drink, then they bogey and score a 5. Each bar has a tee time limit of 30 minutes before you move on to the next hole. At the end of the 9th hole, you add up the scores and the lowest wins (like in real golf dumbass).

Anyway, I threw in a few loopholes to encourage people to have fun if they were getting too drunk (wait can you EVER get too drunk). I let people take a stroke off if they played a song in the jukebox or played the vintage Mrs. PacMan game at some dive bar.

I thought everyone would enjoy themselves, but honestly, I had no idea it would be such a hit! People were getting super competitive and going for holes in one all over the place. Evan and his friend Gary started out strong and then nosedived towards the 7th hole. They get the Phil Mickelson award. In the end, it was Grant and Dave dueling it out trying to one up each other. I don’t know how many shots they ended up taking, but they were wasted by the end of it. I played it safe and shot for pars and birdies and thankfully did not have a raging hangover the next morning. As any indication of how serious everyone took the game, there were only 4 original golfers who made it to the 10th hole which was an 80’s dance party bar. Oh and Michael (one of the last standing foursome) was not even drinking!

To make things a bit more interesting, I decided the theme should be Rambo plays golf! I had custom made Rambo iron-on’s put on the back of a dozen cheap “I heart NY” shirts picked up in Chinatown. It was AWESOME! The top line read “God would have mercy, RAMBO won’t” which is an actual quote from Rambo 3. I even put agent code names on the bottom to individualize each of our shirts. Mine was SAUSAGES! which I took from that bud light talking dog commercial. Yeah, I rock! It was a easy way to unite the group and have people stare at us as we take over a dive bar. One time a few of us turned around a corner in our shirts and someone yelled out “I love NY too”. They then said “wow you really love NY” when a dozen additional people rounded the corner.

Here are the highlights:
At the 4th hole, a guy was walking around with a random stuffed dog. Yeah strange. Well we all had some fun with it before management took it away from us.

The 5th hole was the Stonewall Inn gay bar. Yeah this is the bar where the Pride Parade originated. The designated drink was a “blow job” shot. Now I don’t know if the gay guys found that humorous, but the bartender sure knew how to pour them. Hmmmmm. Plus my one of my friends stuck a gay male magazine in my purse so I had something to read on the train.

At the 8th hole, another girl was having a birthday party. The bouncer found our concept funny and let me steal one of her balloon bouquets. I carried those around until we hit the 10th bar and a ceiling fan stole them from me! Seriously, I was dancing when they were yanked out of my hand. I pulled a chair over to try to untangle them, but it was so badly wound up that the ceiling fan jammed up. Ooops.

Monday, March 03, 2008

what really matters

When I went home for Christmas, I came bearing fabulous imposter gifts. You know, the coach purses and tiffany jewelry that cost me all of $10 down on Canal street. Anyway, it was such a big hit at Christmas, that my Mother and Aunt came up to visit me for the weekend.

We started off the weekend with hitting the typical tourist events like Central Park, 5th Ave (the Tiffany and Co building), Rockefeller center, Empire State Building, Macy’s at Herald Square, etc. Granted I’ve done this tour about a thousand times but I didn’t complain because it made them soooo happy. We went to the top of the Empire State Building and lasted all of five minutes because the 20 degree wind froze our faces off instantly. We did slip into the restroom to see if the water in the toilet would sway. Here is the conversation among the three of us that happened behind the closed stall:
“Okay lets see if it will move”
“I can’t see the bowl from here, scoot over”
“I think I see some movement”
“Really, I think it the water”
“Maybe if we flush it”
“No we have to wait for it to be still”
“It isn’t doing anything and it is starting to smell!”
When we opened the stall door, an old Asian woman gave us the strangest look. I guess I would too if I didn’t know what we were talking about.

We took in two Broadway shows. I had heard rave reviews of Mary Poppins, and I can vouch it is as magical and wonderful as they say. I probably would have liked it even more if I had not just seen Grease the day before. Yeah, Grease. It got shitty reviews and some guy told me they couldn’t pay him enough to see it. They are all wrong! It was so catchy and upbeat that I left humming and snapping my fingers. Plus the Sandy and Risso parts were being played by understudies (mediocre at best) and it still rocked! Loved the girl playing Frenchie who may have technically been a dwarf.

One evening I took them down to Little Italy to eat some really good Italian food. I swear it is a “cannot miss” area. Each time I have eaten at a different place, and each time the food has been fantastic. I told them to walk down the token three blocks that make up Little Italy and choose a place. While we were browsing the menus, my Aunt declared that we must eat here. I asked her if she saw something extra good on the menu, and she replied “no, but did you see how cute the Matre’de was!” Ah ha ha, and the food was equally as delicious.

Although both plays were fantastic, the highlight of the weekend was shopping for fake stuff on Canal street. Both my Mom and Aunt brought $500 cash and a long list of items request items from friends and family. They were so excited to follow small Asian men and women to a backroom and buy imitation Coach, Fendi, Prada, and Gucci purses. They also picked up pasminas, cashmere scarves, and Burberry scarves for $5 (or less) a pop. Then we hit the jewelry sector where they happily collected Tiffany & Co, Chanel, and Coach jewelry. At the end of the day, we had six (yes six!) full size non descript black garbage bags. I think my Aunt got 11 purses, 4 bracelets, 3 necklaces, 6 pasminias, 4 scarves, 12 “I heart NY” shirts, and one statue of liberty 14k gold charm.

Here is my personal favorite moment:
We followed our fake purse liaison down the block assuming we were going to yet another back room. Well she pulled up to this van, looked around, opened the door and told us to get in! Ummmm a VAN! Okay, I’ve been in my share of back rooms, attic spaces, utility closets, and basement storage rooms to buy fake purses, but never a van. I checked the drivers seat because I didn’t want to jump in and have it take us to some slave labor sweatshop in Queens or something. I could only imagine. Anyway, here we are in the back of a van (or minivan) looking at the stacks and stacks of purses they had on display. Getting a look at the purses was a problem since all the van windows were covered up and the only light we had was the tiny dimmed overhead cab light. I was huddled in the corner as the van managed to contain myself, the fake purse liaison, my Mom, my Aunt, another random girl shopper, and about 500 fake purses. When they finally made their purses (yes they bought something from the back of a VAN!), the liaison made us wait till the coast was clear before literally shoving us out the side door. On the street a mid-20’s guy who was standing nearby asked if we had seen a girl inside there. He was her boyfriend and he was getting ready to raid the van if he heard even a peep of distress from her. My Mom later remarked that we should have told him “oh you mean the body in the corner”. Now you know who gave me my unique sense of humor.