Visual Treats

Thank you once again to Instagram. One of the feeds I follow is the graphic design company Invisible Creature. IC did a post mentioning they were featured in a book produced and published by Gestalten.

Gestalten, from what I’ve gathered is a company that produces books as well as content in general (video, etc.) that showcases visual culture. The video above is from the video section of their website – Gestalten TV. I love it because it combines two of my favorite things, travel and graphic design.

Speaking to the design front of things, they also have a section dedicated to typefaces, which again, is right up my alley. I’m sure this has been around forever, and the name does sound familiar, but I’m glad I stumbled upon it.

Additionally, in that same IC Instagram post, IC gave a shout out to fellow graphic design company, Moniker. Their minimalist style has a timelessness to is that I instantly fell in love with.

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James Bonding

I’m very late to the party on this one, but a couple of years ago Matt Mira and Matt Gourley started a podcast called James Bonding. Last week (er the week before) I decided to start listening to it after hearing about it several times on The Nerdist podcast. I’ve been binge listing to it ever since; I can’t get enough of it. There are so many moments when I wish I could just chime in during their conversation. Whether it be to add my 2 cents or help them when they can’t think of details, facts, songs, names, etc.


The cool thing about listening to the podcast is that it has reawakened the inner Bond fan in me. I have always been a Bond fan, but, like many things in life, it had a golden age in my existence. Listening to these episodes has really made me want to revisit the Bond films. Specifically, the ones to which I gave little attention or the ones that I really like. Perhaps with this new knowledge and insight I might like them better. Even if I don’t like them better it would be nice to just give them a second chance.

One of the things that the podcast does with each new guest is to ask them how they got into James Bond. This got me to re-think how Bond crept his way into my life. My Bond awakening came in a weird way. I remember watching Doug on Nickelodeon and loving the character Smash Adams. I remember thinking that a character like that would be cool to see in a movie and thinking that he could be played by Michael Jackson. I was all about MJ back in the day.

Overhearing me talk about this, either my Mom or Dad told me that there was a spy series called James Bond (I think I was subconsciously aware of Bond, but knew nothing about it) and I’m pretty sure they rented Goldfinger for me. My dad had also recently seen Tomorrow Never Dies in the theaters and bought it when it came out on DVD. I watched it with him and was hooked. I spent the next several years going on a JB bender; renting all of the movies and eventually getting them on DVD.

In 1998 my family went on vacation to Paramount’s Kings Dominion. At the time they had just released a motion simulator ride called James Bond: License to Thrill. I remember loving it and now, with older eyes,  it’s cool to think about how perfectly the timing of the ride’s release, my getting into Bond, and our vacation all are. I got a hat from the ride, owned a Big Dogs: Bone, James Bone t-shirt, and even had a Bond board game.

I could go on about my fandom, what movies are my favorites and what Bonds I like best, but I don’t have the energy right now. Perhaps I’ll add to this later. All I’m saying is that I’m glad to be back into Bond and I look forward to watching them the next time I’m home. Also, if you’re a Bond fan and have yet to check out the podcast, I highly recommend you check it out. They still haven’t finished reviewing all of the movies so it’s not too late to catch up.

Sidenote: Paul F. Tompkins has been a guest on their show twice and I feel like he is the perfect third person to their crew. The three of them gel well together and he seems to be on the same wavelength as them. He’s great.

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Yesterday I took advantage of Free Friday Nights -presented by Uniqlo- at the MoMA. I had never been there before and I typically like modern/contemporary art. As expected there was a lot of unusual stuff there, but there was a decent amount of things that I found cool as well. And, as my Dad always says, “you can’t beat free.”

warhol_soupAndy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup

One of the first “famous” things I ran into were the Warhol Campell’s Soup cans. There was a room dedicated to all of the variations he did with different flavors of soup. I still think he tricked people into thinking this is art and I found it funny that the room was filled with people taking pictures of the various cans on their phones.

A) you’re only doing this to show off to your friends that you’ve seen it in person, b) you’re no longer “experiencing the art,” and c) when are you ever realistically going to revisit that photo and think back on the fond memory you had taking a picture of it?

The next room was filled with a bunch of goons doing the same thing with the Marilyn Monroe Warhol’s. To be honest, what I found way more interesting was the concept sketch he did of the can before making the final version. It showed actual talent.

4-the-persistence-of-memory-surreal-art-by-salvador-daliThe Persistence of Memory

Much later in my trip I came across this iconic Salvador Dali painting. I was super surprised to see how small it was in person. I feel like it could have fit on an 8.5 x 11. It was just weird because I was so used to seeing it blown up on posters in dorm rooms. However, though this one is cool, there were a bunch of other surrealist paintings, not by Dali, that were just as good, if not better and they were much bigger.

1280px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Starry Night

Eventually I made my way to the room that contained The Starry Night. (I always thought it was just called Starry Night without the “the” at the beginning). As was the case with the Mona Lisa (when I saw it at the Louvre), there were a bunch of goons crowded around it just because they know its famous when in that same room there were several other paintings that were just as skillfully done that were going, essentially, unrecognized. It’s so funny to me how so many people get dressed up in their fancy clothes, seemingly go to the museum, just to be seen looking at art.

31634Monet’s Water Lilies

There was another room nearby that was dedicated to Monet’s Water Lilies. First of all, I had no idea that all of these were under one roof. Secondly, I didn’t realize that these pieces, contrary to say the Dali piece, were so big. One on each side took up the length of the entire wall.

Just so we’re clear, I’m the first to admit that I like seeing famous things, just because they’re famous, but it’s obnoxious to see herds of sheeple do it. That being said, the following are things that were less famous that I found particularly interesting.

tumblr_kslor7rSom1qa1iiqo1_500There was this weird poster of The Beatles naked that I never knew existed. Why is this a thing?

One of the coolest exhibits was the section dedicated to music. It displayed different instruments, different listening devices, and posters for concerts from different eras. My favorites were the record players and speakers designed by Dieter Rams. He is a genius at minimalist design and his work is beautiful.

The thing that took me for a trip however was seeing the first generation iPod in a glass display. I felt like John Spartan in the history museum in Demolition Man. It was weird to see something invented in my lifetime on display in a museum.

There were also a couple of sections that included posters from the Vienna Secession. I really loved this, not only because the designs are beautiful and ahead of their time, but I remember learning about them in my History of Graphic Design class. Another piece I was surprised to come across was Street Light -pictured below- as I had also learned about it in that class.

street-light-1909Street Light

A few other things caught my attention such as a dress made out of this plastic-ey material. There was this one painting on a big square canvas that was white and had a huge portion diagonally sectioned off in black. It wasn’t until I looked at it from and angle that I noticed the line had a slight curve to it. Though simple, it struck me that the artist was skillful enough to make a line with so little bend to it, that from dead on, it appeared to be straight.

In another room there was a painting of a tree in a field with buildings, like a farm or something, in the background. The thing that blew me away was not the subject matter, but the mastery of the detail. From a distance it appeared to be an out of focus photograph. To me, if this was done intentionally, and I believe it was, it takes a great deal of skill to first of all make a painting look photo-realistic, but then to make the details just “off” enough to make this “photographic painting” appear to be out of focus.

Umberto-states of MindsStates of Minds I: The Farewells

One painting that was unexpectedly cool was the first in a series of three. It was a train in the style of futurism. At first I just saw numbers, but then I thought that they had to be there for a reason and sure enough, the train revealed itself to me.

There was another cool thing where  the artist took the phases of the moon and correlated them with the letters of the alphabet. Then, on the other wall there was a series of the same moon phase images laid out to make a sentence. I didn’t have the time, energy, or interest to decode it, but it was still cool.

ArrivalDepartureArrival/Depature board

Lastly, being the travel nerd that I am, I found an arrival/departure board which was the only thing I took a picture of. I’m not sure why it was there, but I was glad to see it. They even had it powered up so that it could change the display. I’m not sure I had ever seen one in person before so this one really made my day.

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Catching Up

So I feel like I have sort of been doing a bunch of stuff and I haven’t written about any of it. The other side of it is that I don’t really even have the interest to write about all of it, or at least not in detail. So, I guess I’m just gonna post pics and maybe give brief descriptions.

DJ-ing at The Delancey – April 14


Here is a pic my friend Elle took the other night that I DJ-ed. It ended up being pretty lame. Of the 30 people I invited, only three showed up. It really shows you who your friends are. Now some people were like, “Yeah, but did you have fun?” and I sort of did, but what’s the point of DJ-ing if no one is there to dance. It sort of defeats the purpose; I might as well be listening to a playlist I made and dance by myself.

The best however was when the carry over’s from the previous band got to dancing to my music. It was vindicating to see that they liked the choices I was making. That is the gratifying part of DJ-ing or performing in any sort of venue, seeing people react to what you are doing, otherwise, why else do it? (Apart from, because you love it).

Adidas Superstar x Pharrell Williams – April 20


I went out to see if either of the Adidas Stores had the Pharrell Williams colors pack. To my pleasant surprise, they did, however, they didn’t have the color I wanted -red- in the size I wear. It was probably for the best as I shouldn’t be making frivolous charges and regardless it was still cool to see them in person.

Velodrome – April 21


After finally going home to get my bike I was able to do what I’d wanted to do for a long time. I took the train to Queens and biked to the velodrome. I had always wanted to ride on one and now I was finally getting my chance. To be honest it was sort of a let down. Because it was outdoors it was not a wooden track and because it was paved, there were a bunch of cracks. Additionally, because it was outdoors, you still had to fight the wind. However, I was impressed at the banking. It doesn’t look it but it was steeper than I thought, which was great.

Redbird – April 23


While I was home getting my bike, I fulfilled a craving I had been having to watch the first Toby McGuire Spider-Man. While watching it, I noticed an elevated subway train running in the background and the train was red. (I had noticed red subway trains in Die Hard With a Vengeance too). After a bit of research I found that Redbird trains used to run on some the subway line until 2003 when they were discontinued.

I also found that there was one on display out front of Queens Boro Hall. So, I took an excursion to check it out. It was cool to see one in person and there is even like this little gift shop thing inside. However, it is only open 10am – 2pm and I had gotten there at like 2:30pm or 3pm.

Bike Expo – May 1


The free Bike Expo New York took place this past Friday and Saturday at Basketball City. It was a pretty basic expo, nothing too special to write about in terms of the exhibitors that were there. However, there was one thing cool that happened. During the Kryptonite presentation they asked for volunteers to see who could lock a bike faster. The winner would take home a new Fahgettaboudit lock. I had been wanting one but didn’t want to spend the $90 some odd dollars to get one. I was determined to win, and to my pleasant surprise, I did! Thank you Kryptonite for the free lock.

Also, that night I met up with friends and we went out to Shakin’ All Over, the dance night at Home Sweet Home. I’d been there once before by myself but it was cool to go with friends. Before they showed up I danced with this one girl who kept taking the lead and swinging me around. I couldn’t tell if she was purposely trying to be off-putting so that I would leave her alone, or if she just does that. However, I eventually backed off because I was very confused by the whole situation.

After dancing with my friends for a bit we made our way to a 99 cent pizza joint. After a couple of slices we went to another bar where we just chilled until they closed before walking to our trains and going our separate ways. I didn’t get back until 5:30am and the sun was just about to come up. Pretty solid day.

Guggenheim Museum – May 2


I went to the Guggenheim Museum for the first time the other day. I had been wanting to go for a while but was always too cheap to pay to get in. Then however, I found out that on Saturday nights (and I think Friday too) they host “pay what you want” after 5:45pm.

I got to the Gugg at 4:30pm and I was at the end of the block. Apparently however, the line went all the way down the block and around the back. When we were let in I ended up only paying $1 which was great. The featured exhibit was On Kawara – Silence. He was either a genius or a crazy person.

One section had hundreds, maybe thousands of postcards that were sent 1, day after day, to different people that said “Today I woke up at (insert time here) .” and that was it, no other message. He also did something similar with telegrams except the message was “I am still alive.” He kept albums fill with pages, each page was a day, and on each page he typed the names of the people he met that day. It was really bizarre but really eerie and cool.

Staten Island/5 Boro Bike Tour – May 3


Sunday was the 5 Boro Bike tour, a 40 mile tour of New York free of cars. I wanted to join but a) I didn’t want to pay and b) the registration had closed by the time I knew about it. Regardless, I wanted to go on a ride that day so I took the free ferry to Staten Island and went on a little ride. I had ridden to SI once before (a few weeks ago) just to say I’d been there but I wanted to explore more  and the best way to do that is by bike.

I didn’t go very far south because I didn’t really know where I was going. I thought there would be a ring road that would go around the perimeter, but there wasn’t. I ended up just going in this weird loop which took a few hours before hoping the ferry back to Manhattan. It was packed with cyclist who were finishing up the 5 Boro. Once on the other side I booked it back to the apartment before passing out.

There are several other things that I should have mentioned but I’m past them at this point. I guess none of these were really “big” events and thus I didn’t feel the need to make dedicated posts. Typically when I do adventures, I have a post in mind. Lately I’ve just been doing stuff sans posting. I hope I am not phasing out HWS but I think I just havn’t been going on excursions worthy of note. Maybe I’m just lazy.

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DJ Blank Space | Tues April 14th | The Delancey | Free

On Tuesday April 14th I will be DJ-ing at The Delancey at 11pm. Come early. Bring friends. Drink a lot. Dance. Have fun.


Who: DJ Blank Space

Where: The Delancey; 168 Delancey Street, New York, NY

When: Tuesday, April 14th @ 11:00pm

Price: FREE

What: The Music In My Head is a dance night starting with 50s/60s rock and soul music, progressing through the 70s/80s and ending with the dance and electronic hits of today.

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Luna Park Opening Day

Sunday was opening day at Luna Park. Ever since my visit there last month when I found out that their opening day was March 29th I had been wanting to go. So, after a quick breakfast and getting showered and dressed, I began my 45-minute train ride to Coney Island.

WonderWheelSignBeautifully painted Wonder Wheel sign

I wanted to be one of the first people to ride the Cyclone for it’s 2015 season. The park was set to open at noon and I arrived at 11:47am. I had not heard anything, but for some reason I had a feeling they might do some sort of special promotion where the first people to get there could ride it for free.

Low and behold, my complete guess was correct. Apparently every year the first 100 people in line get to ride the Cyclone for free. Unfortunately for me, other people were actually aware that this was a thing and had gotten there very early. I heard one kid say he was there at 1am! (Un)fortunately for me, this happened and it didn’t matter anyway.

CycloneStuckCyclone stuck on the lift hill

So I went on with my day, walking around the park. Though it was sunny, it wasn’t particularly warm out. I made a few laps of the park and was planning on riding a few rides but everything is pretty expensive. The Wonder Wheel, the consolation prize attraction I was gonna ride, cost $7! The Thunderbolt, the other coaster I wanted to do was closed. However, even if it had been open, it costs $10 to ride!

ConeyIslandPaintedSignBeautifully painted Coney Island sign

Now you can buy a wrist band for unlimited rides but a) it costs $35 and b) it excludes the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt, so what’s the point. I basically just spent my time walking around and taking pictures. I considered getting a Nathan’s Hot Dog but decided against it as I’m cheap and knew I had food back at the apartment.

So, there you go, it ended up being a fruitless endeavor, but it got me outside for a bit, so that was good. I figure if I am able to stay in NY, if a job actually comes around, maybe I’ll try again on a nice day with warmer weather and I’ll save up the money so I don’t feel bad spending it.

LunaParkPanoramaLuna Park as seen from the pier

A couple cool things did happen though. 1) I got to see some Guardian Angels in person; until then I thought they were a myth. 2) Apparently Wahlburgers will be opening a Coney Island location this Spring.

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Dance Contest

On Saturday night I went to Brooklyn Bowl for Soul Clap, a soul music dance night/contest put on by New York Night Train and hosted by DJ Jonathan Toubin. While standing around waiting for the music to begin, a woman came up to me and started asking me what was going on, if there was going to be a DJ, etc. I explained to her and the guy she was with about the soul night and how I was planning on winning the contest.

We got to talking and I found out that they were from DC and were just up for the weekend. After chatting with them for a bit I looked for the coat check and upon seeing the line, immediately gave up. Upon returning to our corner of the dance floor, I put my coat on the ground. I noticed that workers were putting up what looked like a screen on the stage at the other end of the room. I didn’t know what it was for but moved to that end to investigate.

Additionally, I wanted to know how, where, and when I could get my number for the dance contest. Eventually, I saw on one of the permanent screens on the wall -where they had been projecting information about upcoming events- that they were projecting information about the contest. The screen said to get a number at the merch booth, so that is where I went.

DancersSilhouetteDancers stood behind the screen and were backlit to form silhouettes of them dancing.

Upon getting there, the booth was closed. I hovered around it for a while, and asked passers by what they knew. Eventually, the guy hanging out outside it told us he was running it and that they were just counting the money from the show that was on before this. Once they were done he would go in and give us our numbers. Shortly after he said that, that is exactly what happened.

In spite of the fact that I was first in line, this girl cut in front of me and got the first number. It didn’t matter as they weren’t in an order and it wasn’t going to effect how they judged your dancing, but I wanted the first number and I wanted number 1. As it turned out I got the second number and it was #23. The person who gave me my number helped pin it to the back of my shirt. After that I made my way to the dance floor.

By the time I got back to the dance floor, the music had already started. I could now see that the screen was being used to project silhouettes of professional dancers that were dancing behind it on stage. I wasn’t sure if the contest had already started, so I decided to really get into it. It wasn’t until about an hour later that they took the screen down, stopped the music, put the lights on and explained that the contest was starting.

RandyJonesRandy Jones -the original Cowboy from The Village People- was one of the judges of the dance contest. The other guy is DJ Jonathan Toubin.

Jonathan introduced the judges, including Randy Jones, the original Cowboy from The Village People, and then they described how it was gonna go down. There would be three elimination rounds, one song for each round. You had to dance your ass off and the judges would walk around the crowd while you were dancing. If they tapped you and handed you a card you were allowed to get on stage and dance. After the three rounds were over they were going to have a few more elimination rounds to weed out the finalists until it was whittled down to the last three.

The second the music started, it felt like the Rydell High dance-off; how everyone flocks to the cameras. I just tried to do my thing and not be to sucked in by the fact that I was competing. This was clearly not what the judges were looking for. It seemed they were only into weird clothes and jumping craziness as opposed to actually good dancing.

After not being picked in any of the rounds, I thought all hope was lost. Then, during the first on-stage elimination round I made a last ditch effort, going all out to see if they’d spot me in the crowd. Alas, they did not. As misfortune would have it, one of the people in the final three was that girl who had cut me in line to get her number first. Fed up, I didn’t have to patience or interest to wait and see who won, so I made my way back to the subway.


While waiting on the platform, I struggled to get the number off my back. After eventually getting the number off, I was approached by a woman. “Hey number 23,” she said, “how’d you do?” I explained what went down and she and the guy she was with told me that they were also at Brooklyn Bowl and had watched the contest but didn’t participate. They were both a little drunk but very nice and interested in what I had to say.

If memory serves, their names were Tara and Glenn. Tara was comparing her pants to mine, “Look at how similar our pants are.” She then asked me to do some dance moves for her, so I did. They told me to just keep doing what I was doing. Even though it came from a place of “drunk wisdom,” I was still appreciative of what they had to say and it was a nice consolation prize.

Sidenote: there was a hired photographer taking pictures from the stage during the event. I know, based on the flashes proximity to me, that I was definitely in some of the photos. Unfortunately, I have no idea where they were posted to.

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Happy Accidents

I initially went into yesterday with a vague plan for what things I wanted to do. However, the more I strayed from it and just followed my eyes, the more fun my day was.

FultonCenterFulton Center

I started off by taking to the train to Fulton Street. Though I had gone there before, I’d never taken the time to appreciate the station from across the street; it’s modern and clean lines. I then decided, rather than to continue on my way to the same areas I always go, to explore the financial district.

There is nothing inherently cool about the financial district. Apart from the fame of Wall Street, what it is and what it represents, there is basically not very many reasons a tourist would go there. It is where New York conducts its business. However, I decided to explore. I made my way down Fulton Street and took a right onto Williams. It lead me to this dense area with all these nooks and crannies that were packed with these really cool looking bars.

CheckerTaxiChecker Taxi

Then, like a dog spotting a squirrel in his peripheral vision, I saw a rare sight off in the distance. A Checker Cab, the epitome of a New York Taxi, was taking a right turn a block or two away. Trying to predict his next move, I thought I would cut him off at the pass and thus I too took my next right. However, making my way up whatever street it was, there was no sight of him.

Then, after all hope had been lost, he popped out and was making his way across my field of vision. I was able to get off the shot seen above. If I’d been a little more confident in my guess of what street he was gonna take, I would have hustled a bit more to the intersection and had my camera ready. Maybe I would have even tried to flag him down like I was a fair just to stop him for a photo and to maybe ask him some questions. Oh, well.

StatenIslandFerry_EntranceStaten Island Ferry entrance  

Though this side-excursion had taken me off the course I was originally on, it lead me to another unexpected find, the entrance to the Staten Island Ferry. Again this is not something inherently exciting; I probably will never need to take it. However, I had seen it before on Girls (HBO) and now I was seeing it in person.

PearlStreetFinancialDistrictPearl Street; the building with the yellow dots on it is what initially drew me to this area.

After a few pictures I made my way around an area I’d been to before (where the helicopter tours take off), before heading back to more of what I really wanted to see. I went back to Pearl Street and explored the area between that and South Williams Street. Again this was the area with the cool little bars. It was so compact and the roads were cobblestone, it reminded me of the North End in Boston.

NYSENew York Stock Exchange

I then continued to make my way around the Financial District eventually running into the New York Stock Exchange building. I continued out to Broadway where I accidentally found the famed Charging Bull statue. If I’d been looking for it, it would have taken me twice as long to find. This wandering thing really seems to work in my favor. It seems the less I try, the less effort I put in, the less planning I do, the more I get out my day.

Thus, I continued to let curiosity be my guide as I made my way to a pedestrian bridge that led from Greenwich Street to Washington Street, passing over the entrance to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (the tunnel apparently pops out in Red Hook Brooklyn). I did a bit of wandering around that area before making my way up Broadway. The end goal I was aiming for was One World Trade Center, ie. The Freedom Tower.

As I made my way North however, I began to recognize where I was. Approaching the Wall Street station, I had a sudden flashback to 2011, my first NY Adventure on my own. I had met up with my friend Katie and for whatever reason the train we needed to take wasn’t running and thus we ended up at Wall Street.

While trying to find our way back to where we wanted to be, I snapped this picture before continuing up Broadway and happening upon the “Occupy” movement. Ever since getting here at the beginning of the year I had been trying to remember where that building -the Equitable Building- was and now suddenly, it was right in front of me. Again, my lack of having a plan had benefitted me.

Moving on, I made my way to The Freedom Tower. It was not due to an interest in visiting Ground Zero, but merely because I wanted to see the building up close. After a quick picture I continued north on West Street towards a bridge that crossed over it. I specifically crossed to the other side of the street just so that I could cross back using the bridge. Before I did however, I snapped the following photo of said bridge with the Freedom Tower in the background.

BridgeAndFreedomTowerBridge over West Street and One World Trade Center aka Freedom Tower

After taking the picture I made my way across the bridge. Once on the other side I took a quick stroll through Washington Market Park before making my way up Greenwich Street. I walked through Tribeca and crossed over to Hudson Street and passed the traffic entering the Holland Tunnel. Shortly after this I realized I was right across the street from Classic Car Club. I walked in and admired the collection for a bit before continuing on my excursion.

A sign (literal, not figurative) on Spring Street invited me back to Greenwich Street. I recognized it from when Pete and I came to the city for the Justice concert. As I made my way north on Greenwich, I recognized where I was. Once again I had found a place I was trying to find without going out of my way to find it. It was as if it came to me. The place is of no real consequence, just a location where pete had taken a picture of an old GTO, but still, I was glad to have found it.

GayStreetNuff said

Continuing up Greenwich Street I eventually found myself in a quaint and quiet area of the city. It felt upscale and more neighborhood-ey than the rest of Manhattan. I soon realized I was in The West Village. I can see why it gets so much love, it’s really nice. As I made my way East towards 6th Ave, I ran into yet another things I was subconsciously looking for… Gay Street. I knew it existed but never looked it up or actively sought it out. This was just one more example of unplanned happiness.

Eventually I made my way to 6th and to my destination, Murray’s Bagels. I had passed it the other day and was planning on saving it for when my fam comes to visit, but after seeing Steve’s bagel sandwich earlier in the morning I was in a bagel sandwich mood. I was hungry and I knew it was in the area so I went. The one I got was really good and fueled me up for the last part of my excursion.

For the last leg, I made my way over to 1st Ave. Along the way I passed Union Square to find they were filming something for a feature, that was pretty cool. While walking down 1st I realized I wanted to be one block over on Avenue A. The change allowed me to pass Sidewalk bar (yet another happenstance). I had heard about it and keep meaning to go to their Monday night open mic but have yet to do so. At least now I know where it is.

Continuing down Avenue A I eventually made my way to Houston, the cross street that divides A from Essex Street. Continuing on Essex I got to my second to last destination, Beauty and Essex. I had heard about B&E thanks to my sister who had sent me a Buzzfeed list a couple of years ago about “secret storefronts” in NY. This one is a pawn shop that doubles as a speakeasy. I quickly checked out the pawn shop (I wasn’t in the mood to go to the speakeasy, plus it was too early in the evening, plus I’d want to check it out with friends) before continuing to my last stop.

I continued down Essex and walked to nearby Norfolk Street. Right near the end, before you hit Delancey, is a downstairs entrance to the “Lower East Side Toy Company.” This is actually just another speakeasy from the aforementioned list. Again, I didn’t go in (again, I want to check it out with friends) I just wanted to finally see where it was. After a long day and a lot of walking, I hopped on the train and headed back to the apartment.

In total I estimate I walked anywhere from 6 and 10 miles. If I had to take away anything from my yesterday, it is to plan less. (You have to have a bit of a plan because without one you wander around aimlessly). Maybe have a rough idea of what you want to do, but don’t necessarily plan every detail. The fun and pleasure you gain is gained from the adventure and happy accidents you make.

Later in the evening I met up with Greg and some other FSU alum at Bizarre Bar in Bushwick for some drinks and dancing.

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Birdman Excursion

My excursions had been a little stagnant as of late and so yesterday I decided to go on a solid one to make up for lost time. My plan was to start in SoHo and work my way up towards midtown before heading into Queens. This plan however was foiled by the fact that I zoned out on the train and got off at Union Square instead of getting off at Canal Street. As it turned out (and is typically the case), the unplanned adventures are often the most fun.

ChryslerBuildingThe Chrysler Building upon exiting Grand Central Station (we’ll get to this part of the story later).

I crossed over to Broadway and made my way south towards my original plan. Along the way however I was sidetracked by a comic book shop called Forbidden Planet. Being that it was on a main street it was one of the nicest comic book shops I’d ever been in. Though I rarely buy anything, I typically enjoy stopping in to see what sort of stuff they have for sale. The window display had a life size Terminator and ET that I assume were for sale.

The door pulls were each half of Captain America’s Shield and were connected to large wooden doors. Everything was neat and organized, nothing seemed to be dusty or hiding in a corner. It was a place you wouldn’t feel ashamed to bring your girlfriend, but let’s face it if you had one, you wouldn’t need the comic book shop.

After that I made my way to a few other places; Lids (I was in search of a hat I don’t need), John Varvatos (similar but not the same as the one on Bowery), The Hundreds, and a couple of art galleries on W Broadway. I was going to take the train to Grand Central (where the rest of my adventure was to take place) but decided to walk back up Broadway. I had passed a store that I had, for whatever reason, decided not to take the time to go in. Knowing that a) I need to “smell the roses” more rather than just rush through experiences and b) that I would want to come back at a later date to check it out anyway, I decided to go back to check it out.

The store in question, Flight Club, is a sneakerhead mecca. The walls were filled with -mostly Nike- limited editions. The prices varied, but most of the ones I picked up were between $150 and $275. Each sneaker was shrink wrapped to ensure no potential buyers scuffed them up. There were two that stood out to me but Nike’s aren’t really my type of sneaker, I’m more of a skate shoe type of guy. Plus, I really don’t have the money to justify a purchase like that.

Moving on, I made my way back to Union Square and hopped a 4 train to Grand Central station. It seems like whenever I go there I never exit from the same place. This time I got out at Lexington Ave and was immediately staggered by a huge building in front of me. Not knowing what it was, I took its picture. It wasn’t until later when I got further away that I realized  it was The Chrysler Building (see 1st pic in the post).

TheHelmsleyBuilding(Left) The Helmsley Building seen from one block away, notice the “tunnel” entrance/exit at the bottom; (Right) looking right up at the building from the base; (Bottom) a better view of the Park Ave Viaduct entrance/exit.

I went up to 46th and Park Ave -along the way stopping in at Midtown Comics- because I had a special mission. After seeing Birdman, which [I didn’t take the time to review but] was excellent by the way, I was reminded of an area of the city  that I’d never been to before. It is also featured in Lord of War (another great film) when Nick Cage is trying to evade a helicopter that is following his limo. The area in question is the Park Ave Viaduct that elevates and splits around Grand Central station before dropping back down to street level while exiting through the base of the The Helmsley Building.

As you know I am easily amused by visual stimuli and this was no different. It was really cool to see and to finally know where it was in the city. It reminded me of the Admiralty Arch or the gateway that leads traffic in to Trafalgar Square in London. After taking a few pics I then went stumbling around midtown. Initially I was just going to walk down to The UN but then I saw the Chrysler Building. I hadn’t realized until this point that that was the building I had seen upon exiting Grand Central Station.

ChryslerBuilding2In search of a good view of The Chrysler Building

I tried to make my way towards it but as I got closer, I lost sight of it due to other closer buildings getting in the way of my vantage point. Eventually, when I did get to the base of the building I realized that the view really wasn’t that good and it is better appreciated from a distance. Thus, I made my way East down 42nd Street until I got to the stairs that led to Tudor City Place. Being that I am guided by the spirit of adventure, I made my way up the stairs and turned around to see this…

ChryslerBuilding3The Chrysler Building as seen from Tudor City Place

…a cool view of the Chrysler Building. After admiring it for a short while, I made my way around the block and down to the United Nations. I don’t know if I was just in the wrong area or if you simply can’t just go in anymore (maybe you have to be part of a tour) but the area I was at required a pass for entry. I know I went into the UN when my family went to New York in 1998 but I was too young to really appreciate it and I certainly don’t remember if we signed up for a tour or were able to walk right in.

I was going to walk around the outside but I was freezing and my feet were hurting and I was hungry. Luckily in my wanderings I had passed two 99 cent per slice pizza places. I found one of them and got a couple slices before heading back to Grand Central. I was about to get on the subway and head in to Queens to finish the last couple of things on my “to do” list, when I remembered I wanted to get up close to the MetLife Building (formerly the Pan Am building).

Cut to another montage of me walking around for a good view/to try and get to the bottom; a sidewalk entrance from which I could stare straight up at it. All this was foiled when I realized it is basically on top of or appears to be growing out of Grand Central Station. Thus, one cannot simply walk to its base and look up. Instead I was able to get this pretty cool shot of this uh, art thing in the lobby.

MetLifeBuildingLobbyArt/sculpture(?) in the lobby of the MetLife Building; thin wires that converge to look like beams of light.

I then made my way back to Grand Central to board the 7 train into Queens. Cut to a montage of me freezing my ass off looking for 5 Pointz (legendary graffiti area) that I knew was closed but I still just wanted to see it; eventually finding it, being disappointed and walking back to the train for the long ride back to Crown Heights.

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Oxfords Not Brogues

It’s tough for a movie to live up to your expectations when you’ve known about it for 9 months. That being said, I would give Kingsman: The Secret Service a rating of 73%. Let me start by apologizing that this review is more disjoined and stream of conscienceness than I wanted it to be; I just needed to get this collection of thoughts out of my head.

The trailer, which you hopefully will have just watched, made it look like a gritty spy thriller with good action, wit, and gadgets. What it delivered was something a bit sillier. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a comedy, but it definitely was not a serious or grounded in reality as I wanted it to be. I get that the point of a trailer is to get asses in seats, however, if this movie was advertise more accurately to represent the product I ended up seeing, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it.

That being said, I did still think it was a decent film. I thought the whole Kingsman training school was brilliant. It was as if James Bond had gone to Hogwarts. I thought the gadgets were great and I really liked the characters. The acting was on point; Sam Jackson was great, Colin Firth was great, Mark Strong was great, and newcomer (or at least new to me) Taron Egerton was great. I loved all the bespoke suit stuff. The whole gentleman spy thing was the bit I was interested in; I thought it would keep closer to that theme. Instead it lost me by changing gears with the over the top violence (ie. God Bless America) and a silly plot.

The villain’s evil plot was very far fetched. The movie was much more violent than I expected it to be and over the top, dare I say gory violent. As well, the action sequences were a bit cartoony and over the top. It felt more akin to Wanted (fuck that movie) than it did to James Bond (and by James Bond I mean Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan (with the exception of Die Another Day and a few choice others*)).

What makes the pre-Daniel Craig Bond films great is there ability to have a tongue in cheek humor with an over-the-top yet still somehow grounded in reality feel to all of the plots and action. That being said, though what I love in Bond is their ability to not take themselves too seriously, what I was hoping for, what I was expecting was something more akin to the Jason Borne movies. Not that those are amazing, but I like how hard and tough and no frills they are; they are serious spy movies.

This movie is more for people who are into all the superhero franchises (with the exception of Spider-Man (2002) because that movie was awesome); Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. I see those trailers and I roll my eyes because I don’t care about any of their substance free, action for the sake of action plot lines. I want to see good grounded movies, and not that I don’t have a sense of humor, but typically I would rather watch something serious.

If I’ve not said it before, I am a “movie optimist,” a phrase coined by my friend Dave. I go into movies wanting to like them. I typically don’t like ripping a movie apart and I didn’t hate this movie but I didn’t love it either. It was good, I guess, for what it was, and I try not to go into movies with expectations because then they can be ruined but it merely wasn’t the movie I was expecting it to be.

*Octopussy, Live and Let Die (specifically ONLY the scene where Katanga blows up, otherwise it’s great), License to Kill (when that dude’s head explodes at the end) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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