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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Society of Grownups

Let me start by apologizing if I already mentioned this. I saw an add for this on the T when I was back in Boston a couple weekends ago and it instantly struck a chord with me.

The first thing that stuck out was how beautiful, clean and simple the design was for the this company. The next thing was that this is something I’ve always thought of and have always said, “I don’t know how to be an adult.” In other words, I don’t know how to do “adult things.” No one ever teaches you how to pay a bill or apply for a mortgage or tell you APR financing means, you just have to figure it out.

I guess, organically you would be forced to learn these things as they become applicable to your life. But what if you were worried about that stuff and wanted a place to learn about it? Society of Grownups is that place. I have yet to go, but it looks really cool. Of course I find out about it when I’m in the process of (potentially) moving out of the Boston area. And of course it is one of the few places that (so far) only has a Boston location. It seems like it would be a really cool place to work. Oh well.

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Super(bowl) Weekend

Saturday the 31st

So, if you hadn’t figured it out by now, I get enjoyment out of just going places and seeing things. A few weeks ago I saw an add for the Fulton Center, “New York’s Newest Public Space.” When I got home I looked it up and found that it is new as of this past November. I had organically been to the station before but had never needed to change trains there, or if I had, never needed to go through the main area and thus never saw the cool section featured in the video below.

Finally, the other night I had to change trains there and got a momentary glimpse of the skylight (pictured below). I also had the trippy experience of walking through the hall with the video art installation New York Minute. After that glimpse, I decided to make a little trip of it on Saturday morning (last week).

FultonCenterSkylightThe skylight at the Fulton Center/Fulton Street station

I rode out to the Fulton Street station and just took my time looking at all the advertisement and beautiful interior architecture. I was not able to tell whether there were shops there yet, but it is still just cool to stand in and look at. I was sort of on a time crunch and felt weird just wandering around a train station, so I decided to explore the financial district.

FreedomTowerFreedom Tower

I made my way passed the Freedom Tower and down to the waterfront. I found myself wishing (as has been happening a lot lately) that it was spring or summer and that I had my bike with me. The area was really nice and I happened upon a pier off which launch helicopter tours.

Waterfront_FianacialDistrictThe waterfront by the financial district looking out to Brooklyn.

After making my way up and down the waterfront, I headed back to the station and went to my new friend Elle’s apartment to work on music.

Sunday February 1st

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is to get a good New York bagel. So, I Googled, best bagels in New York. Upon planning my Sunday, I realized that Terrace Bagels (one of the ones on the list) was right near Prospect Park, one of the things on my “to do” list and thus decided to go there for breakfast.

As I was walking up I got nervous because there was a big fire truck double-parked right outside the shop. Of course the day I go there, they have a fire. However, when I went in what I found instead was a chief and like ten of his men yelling stuff like, “Yeah, can we get three everything bagels with cream cheese?” in thick New York accents.

After eating half of my sandwich (and taking the rest with me) I made my way over to and through Prospect Park. This is the Central Park of Brooklyn and the surrounding area, Prospect Heights is beautiful. There were kids sledding down the small hills and I was suddenly smiling, brought back to a time when I was a kid and that was me. I enjoyed the calm and the quiet and the cold as I made my way to Grand Army Plaza where I took the train into Manhattan.

I got out at Canal Street and made my way to Opening Ceremony. OS is a high end fashion store I had found out about while looking for retailer of a brand called ICNY. (If I haven’t talked about them before, ICNY makes cool reflective clothing for cyclists). Unfortunately, OS only sold the sock and I was looking for the shirts, so I left.

Next I made my way uptown to the Intrepid Museum. I have know about and wanted to visit the Intrepid for a while but now I finally went there… sort of. I basically just looked at it from the sidewalk because I didn’t want to spend the $25 for admission. To be honest, the only real thing I wanted to see there was the Concorde. I guess if you pay a special price for the tour they let you go on it. Though I didn’t go on it, I did get a good glimpse of it.

Concorde_IntrepidMuseumSo close…

During my time looking at Concorde, I gained the urge to pee. Fortunately as I was making my way over to the waterfront I passed a place called Gotham West Market. It looked cool and I wanted to check it out but had no reason to, until now. Basically, the place is a conglomerate of restaurants where each place has its own section that flows into one another, like a high end hipster food court.

Fortunately, because of this layout I was able to go to the restroom without being detected by someone who might out me for taking advantage of it. On my way out, I passed this one restaurant that had a glass fridge filled with tons of craft beers I’d never heard of before. Definitely a place I’d like to check out at a later date.

Studio54The Roundabout Theatre, formerly Studio 54

With an empty bladder, I made my way to my next location, Studio 54. Again, I didn’t want or need to go in, I just wanted to look at the famed location where so much cool shit went down in the 70s and the 80s. Sadly now it’s back to just being a theatre. After a moment of silence, I moved on.

I would not have thought to check out the Phillips Auction Gallery if it had not been for the fact that it was posted on the Opening Ceremony blog. And I was only on the OS blog because, as you know I was looking for ICNY merch. The gallery had a cool display of fashion photography from photographer Steven Meisel. I checked out the the art for a bit before making my way to my last stop.

Bike New York is a company I found out about through an add on the subway. They are, apparently a non-profit that helps teach people how to ride as well as sponsor group rides through the city. Unfortunately I went all the way to 116th street just to find that they were closed. I should have figured. It was a Sunday after all. After that I made my way back to Brooklyn to pick up the snacks I had bought for the Superbowl Party I was planning on attending.

Superbowl Party at Elle’s apt

I grabbed my things and then made my way over to my friend Elle’s apartment. I was planning on stopping off at Brooklyn Beer and Soda, a liquor store that apparently has a plethora of beers to choose from. However, upon looking them up, I found that they were already closed, so, I just went straight to their place.

I can’t really even put my finger on what was so cool about it, but once the crew showed up it ended up being a really fun night. Everyone was really nice and it just felt like we’d all been friends forever. We drank and joked and talked and ate and barely watched the game and to top it all off, the Pats one. Pretty solid Sunday. Pretty super weekend.

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Off Season

So I’ve been meaning to post this for a while but I haven’t had time and now it’s two weeks old. Oh well. The following events took place on Wednesday January 21st.

CamerrariBakery

I started my day by going to the current location of the Camerari Bakery. I wanted to see what the location looked like and maybe buy a loaf of bread. Upon exiting the subway however, I found myself in a quiet, seemingly industrial part of town. When I arrived at the bakery I found that it seemed to be more of a factory than a place to actually purchase bread. I wasn’t sure if I could go in and didn’t even bother to knock or ring the bell. I just took my picture and left.

ThunderboltEntrance_InstaEntrance to the Thunderbolt

The next place I went to was Coney Island. I knew that nothing would be open but I wanted to check it out anyway. Though I’ve been there before, it was cool to be there on the off season. There was hardly anyone around and so I was able to get the following “eerie” ghost town shots.

ThunderboltConey Island re-opens for the season on March 29th.

I really like that they made the sign look like a classic amusement park attraction. It helps to tie this modern coaster in with all of the old attractions.

Thunderbolt_InstaI’m looking forward to riding the Thunderbolt this spring.

Walking down the boardwalk was a nice and relaxing experience. I just took my time and, apart from it being pretty cold, enjoyed the fresh air.

Cyclone_InstaThe World Famous Coney Island Cyclone

After a decent stroll I grabbed a couple slices of pizza at the joint across the street. Then after taking a long stroll to find the the New York Aquarium sign from the last episode of season one of Girls, which I didn’t find, I made my way back to the train. (Let me be clear, I did find the New York Aquarium and I did find the cool entrance sign, I merely did not find the one that is on an overpass that is featured in the episode). My time in Coney Island had taken up a good chunk of the day and so by the time I got to Manhattan to continue my adventure it was beginning to begin to get dark.

The first place I went to was Gotham Bikes. I thought it would be this dope bike shop, but instead it was this small shop that had more racing and mountain biking gear. The kind of people who wear Livestrong bracelets and shop at REI and buy their groceries at Whole Foods. I’m looking for a grungy, fixie, hipster bike shop. No doubt several exist in the city, I just need to find them.

CBGB_InstaJohn Varvatos formerly CBGBs

The next place I went to was John Varvatos or, as it was formerly known, CBGBs. I didn’t know much about JV but every time I have come to New York I have wanted to pay homage to the classic rock venue but have never gotten the chance… until now. Obviously I would have loved to have gone there in it’s hey day, but it was still cool to be in its presences. Of course you always build up a moment like this. For whatever reason I pictured it to be tucked in this alleyway corner of Manhattan. Instead it is on a fairly traveled street, which was weird and not what I expected.

Upon entering I was pleasantly surprised to see that seemingly much of it was intact. The walls were plastered with stickers from back in the day. The store was actually really cool. There was a lot of nice clothing; leather jackets, shirts and pants. There were a lot of old tour posters and photos of musicians, all of which were for sale. Though I never got to go to a show there, from what I know about the club, it seemed like a fitting tribute.

BoweryElectric_InstaBowery Electric

The next place I went to was The Bowery Electric. I went there for two reasons, 1) because upon planning my day I saw that it was right down the street from CBGBs and 2) because I had almost gone to a show with Steve there the last time I had come down to visit. Seeing how cool it looked from the outside make me really want to see a show there.

40-40_Insta40/40 Club

I continued making my way up town to visit yet another club, this one drastically different from the last two. The Jay- Z owned 40/40 Club is a high end sports bar/club. I would love to have my next birthday there. Hell, I even just want to go there one night to check it out. However, I feel like it’s one of those clubs where you wait outside forever and then it’s like, “You ain’t getting in here with those shoes.” I ain’t tryin’ to fuck with that.

SloanKettering

I then made my way even further uptown for yet another Vampire Weekend reference, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (For the reference, see A-Punk; “Showed no fear she’d seen a thing, in the young man’s wing at Sloan-Kettering.“) Not a particularly fun place to visit; I didn’t go inside, but I just wanted to see it for myself. While on my way to the hospital, I passed Baker Street, which from the outside and name and logo seemed like a Sherlock Holmes themed bar. However, a quick visit to their website and they claim to be a sports bar. Regardless, it seemed cool enough to check out.

Also, I forgot to metion that a few days ago (relative to the time I went on this excursion) I went to Washington Heights. I had no reason to go there but it was yet another reference I needed to visit in person (For the reference, see A-Punk again, “I saw Joanna down in the subway, she took an apartment in Washington Heights…“).

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3-Day Moonstruck Excursion

I started my day (1/17) later than I planned to. Partly because I woke up late-ish and partly because I didn’t have a concrete plan as to what I wanted to do. After looking through my “to do” list I decided to go on a Moonstruck excursion, something I’d been pushing off. While doing my planning, I also found that the New York Transit Museum was in the same area as the other things I wanted to see. So at 1:30pm I made my way into the cold.

CastoriniHouse19 Cranberry Street, Brooklyn aka the Castorini house

The first thing on my list was the location they used to shoot the exteriors for the Castorini house. Upon getting there I was taken right into the scene towards the end of the movie where Cher comes walking around the corner after her night at the opera and kicks the can down the street. I half expected (or rather hoped) there would be a red Pontiac Firebird parked at the end of the street, but alas, there was none.

BrooklynPromenadeBrooklyn Heights Promenade

After making my taking a few pictures of the apartment and having a moment of realization of where I was, being in a real life scene from a movie, I made my way around the corner to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. This was listed on IMDB as, I think the location where the grandfather takes the dogs for a walk. “Bella luna, bella luna,” but it did not really feel that way.

I feel like that takes place in Brooklyn Bridge park, closer to the water. I’ll just have to watch the movie and see. Additionally, for some reason I had this music (which BTW I had no idea was done by Philip Glass!) in my head while I was walking around. I should have had this music in my head, but it did not prevail.

My favorite scene from Moonstruck

Next on my list was the NY Transit Museum, not Moonstruck related but it was on my “to do” list and was nearby the other things I was visiting… and it was only $7. It was also a welcome escape from the cold. Not surprisingly, the entrance to the museum looks like the entrance to a subway station; mostly because it is, well, it was. The station now holds a series of artifacts and information about the construction of the MTA.

To my surprise there was actually a line to get tickets. The place was pretty busy but it was filled mostly with parents and their children. Overall it did seem to cater to a younger audience but there were still things that an older person, such as myself, could enjoy. There was a lot to read, some interactive exhibits, and my favorite- a bunch of old MTA train cars from throughout the years.

By the time I was done (and that was rushing-ish) it was 4:22. I intended to go to the Cammareri Bakery next, but I had a job interview to go to at 5. Also, I was losing light and it was getting colder so I decided to put off my last Moonstruck locations until the next day.

After my interview I went back to the apartment and got some food. A little while later Dilila called and came by to watch none other than Moonstruck with me and Steve. And BTW after seeing it, the scene I had in mind def takes place at BB park.

—Part 2 (1/18) the next day

The first thing on my continued list was to visit the location of the Cammareri Bakery. Due to costs, the actual bakery has since moved to 1559 62nd Street in Brooklyn; it’s now Maybelle’s Cafe.

CamerariBarkery502 Henry Street, former sight of the actual Cammareri Bakery.

I thought today would be a good day to explore because in spite of the fact that it was supposed to rain, it was supposed to be relatively warm. This was a mistake. My jacket and pants soon soaked through, so I was cold and wet. I should have stuck to my original plan and gone to the Hayden Planetarium. At least then I would have been inside, oh well.

Because of the rain, the rest of the plan was scrapped and after miserably finding the location and getting the photo I made my way back through the rain to the apartment.

—Part 3 (1/19) the day after that

The first thing on my “to do” list was to find the Grand Tocino restaurant. I took the train to 14th Street and walked to 12th. As I made my way towards 254 I was sort of aimlessly on my own world. Not having done my usual calculations, I wasn’t thinking about whether it would be on the right or on the left. I had assumed that it was going to be on my right and then suddenly it was in front of me.

GrandTorcino254 West 12th Street, Cafe Cluny aka Grand Tocino

I don’t know if it’s because it is no longer the Grand Tocino or if it’s just not as impressive as I thought it was be, but I was very underwhelmed upon my arrival. It made me question why I visit all these places. Just to see them, who cares? I took my photo and moved on.

Next I made my way back to the train and went all the way up to 66th street to visit The Metropolitan Opera. The subway goes directly to the Lincoln Arts Center and after ascending some stairs and walking a short distance to see The Met.

TheMETThe Met

It is rare that things take my breath away but this really got my heart pumping. I don’t know if it’s that I was actually there or that it was a cool looking building or some combination of both, but I was really happy the moment I saw it. It instantly renewed all the doubts I had been having at the previous location.

I had done all this research and now my journey excursion -at least the Moonstruck part- was over. It wasn’t until after I was finished with the first or second day that I found this site which  is really good to reference in regards to finding locations.

TheMET_GrassAndWaterReflecting pool and grass area at the Lincoln Arts Center

After getting the picture, I made my way up to the entrance to look at what shows were playing. To my pleasant surprise, La Bohème was playing that night! (This is the show that Nick Cage and Cher go to on their “date.”) I wasn’t planning on going and didn’t end up going but it was still cool to see.

Next I made my way around to the side where I found to reflecting pool and grass field thing pictured above. The whole Lincoln Arts Center was beautiful. I can just imaging that in the spring and summer the area is mobbed with people.

MartinLutherKingJrHighSchoolMartin Luther King Jr. High School; “We shall overcome…”

After an appropriate amount of time at that LAC I decided to move on to the next thing. Initially my plan was to go right back to the train as my next stop was 59 blocks away. However, since the weather was nice, I decided to walk… at least until the next subway station.

As I made my way down the side of the LAC and out to the back, to Amsterdam Ave, I came across a sculpture. The sculpture (pictured above) was in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought that it was strange that on this day of all days -Martin Luther King Day- I would stumble across this memorial. I could have gone back to the train and missed it, but something brought me here.

I took a moment to cross the street for a better look and to take the time to pay my respects to a man who had such a positive impact on history.

125thStreetStation125th street – Harlem

Eventually I moved on, passing the 72nd street station and getting on at 79th. I took the train where I got off at 125th street. It was to my surprise, the first stop that was actually elevated that I had ever been to in Manhattan. As I mad my way down the stairs a guy in front of me said to his friends, “Doesn’t this look like GTA 4?” It felt nice to not be the only person who appreciates art imitating life. Not to say that him and his friends came all the way to 125th street to see something from GTA, but simply that he appreciated the game’s ability to recreate reality in such detail.

ElevatedTrainElevated train

I had two places I wanted to see while I was in Harlem. The first was the world famous Apollo Theatre. I made my way east across 125th towards 253, the Apollo’s address. What at first seemed like it would be a long walk turned out to be not too far and I soon got what I came for… a photograph.

ApolloTheaterApollo Theatre

The second place I wanted to visit was a restaurant I noticed on Google Maps while scouting the area around the Apollo before heading out on this journey. As luck would have it, it was noonish, lunchtime, and the joint was only one street down and a couple blocks over at 100 west 124th street.

HarlemShakeHarlem Shake – restaurant

The restaurant in question was a place called the Harlem Shake, and it was right up my alley. It was essentially a diner/burger joint with a 50s/60s vibe. The thing that made it cool was that everything seemed, and I believe was, authentic. Rather than taking a new location and making it look old, as far as I could tell, this actually was old. I got a sandwich and a chocolate shake. Both were really good and hit the spot. After eating, I walked back to a subway station I had passed on the way that had lines which were perfect for brining me to my next destination.

AmericanMuseumOfNaturalHistoryDinosaur skeleton at the AMNH; I’m sure I have this exact same picture from the last time I was there.

The second to last thing I did was to visit the American Museum of Natural History. This was not originally my plan. My plan was to visit the Hayden Planetarium which is part of the Museum. However, upon entering and purchasing my ticket, I found that the suggested donation price (aka pay whatever you want) only refers to entrance to the museum. For entrance to the planetarium you have to pay full price, $27. Being cheap, I stuck with my $5 donation and decided to just make a day out of the museum.

Though I had been there before with my family in 2007, it was really cool being there again. Even though I was 18 then, I feel like I was young enough to not really appreciate everything I was looking at. This time however, I really enjoyed every room and exhibit I saw. Additionally, I was able to navigate the museum by myself, see what I wanted to see when I wanted to see it and for the exact amount of time I wanted to stare at it. I ended up staying there from 2:10 to 5:40; 3 and a half hours.

A Most Violent Year

I ended the night with one last thing. I had been curious about the movie A Most Violent Year and after finding a theatre with an upcoming showtime, decided to go see it. As a short synopsis, my advice is this: Do Not Go To This Movie!

The movie is literally 2 hours and 5 minutes of people talking. There are maybe two or three scenes of action but overall, nothing happens in this movie! I don’t mind dialogue if it goes somewhere, but the problem is that it doesn’t. I have only vaguely an idea of what that movie was about. They try to shroud what’s really going on in mystery by being vague but they are so vague that it doesn’t come off as mysterious or cool, it just comes off as confusing. Additionally, from what little I did pick up, the plot is super boring. I kept waiting for things to pick up and get interesting, but they never did.

The story is about a guy who runs an oil delivery company keeps getting his trucks jacked and he spends the whole movie trying to figure out who’s doing it. Meanwhile he has 30 days to raise enough money to buy this new oil facility but can’t because of all that stuff that keeps happening to his trucks. Sound boring and stupid? That’s because it is.

Another thing that made the film boring was how it was shot. Every scene looked exactly the same. The framing, the focal length, the depth of field, the same in pretty much every shot. Also, I didn’t care about any of the characters. There were these flat people who don’t do anything and don’t make you feel what they’re doing matters in any way. Once again, just as was the case with The Councilor I was foiled by a well cut trailer. To make matters worse, I don’t know if this is a New York thing or if movie prices are just this high now, but it cost me $13.50 to watch this abomination!

The only good part of that movie was Jessica Chastain. She was the only character who had real depth and emotion.

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Dead Dog Story

It is said that the best writers are often the best listeners. While coming home on the subway last night, I heard the best/worst story. This was being told by a girlfriend to her disinterested boyfriend and was already degenerated several times having been heard from a friend of the friend of the person it actually happened to. Thus, like the childhood game of telephone, the validity of the following story and the facts within are spotty to say the least. The story goes as follows:

Apparently a girl (some girl, any girl, presumably in New York) had a pair of friends who had just gotten married. Upon embarking on their honeymoon, the newlyweds entrusted her with the responsibility of taking care of their dog. Sometime during their honeymoon the dog got sick (or already was sick, or some other reason that has nothing to do with illness- I don’t know for sure because this story was not explicitly being told to me, I was merely eavesdropping), and died. Panicking and not knowing what to do, the woman called the veterinarian. The vet told her to bring the dog to his office so it could either be kept or cremated or buried or whatever it is they do with dead pets. Being that this is New York, the woman obviously did not have a car and thus had to use the only other form of transportation available to her (apart from a cab or getting a ride from a friend)… the subway. As per instructions of the vet, the woman put the dead dog in a plastic trash bag and brought it on the subway. Having a considerable amount of trouble caring the bag, as it was x pounds of -pun not intended- dead weight, a man walked over and asked if he could help her with it. “No,” she insisted, “I have it, but thanks for asking.” The man was adamant and continued to offer her help. Eventually she gave in, and handed him the bag. Upon taking hold of it, the man instantly ran off with the bag… with the dead dog in it. Shocked, the woman didn’t know what to do. She was soon approached by a police officer who asked if he had seen correctly, that her bag had just been stolen. After telling him it had been, the officer then asked why she didn’t chase the man. This led the woman to explain the contents of the bag and why she was in no rush to retrieve it. After filling out a report and going home she then had to figure out one last thing; how she was going to explain to her newlywed friends that not only their dog had died, but that it’s dead body had been stolen from her.

I wish I was making this up.

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Led Zeppelin Excursion

I started my Monday by taking the 4 train to Borough Hall and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is a touristy thing that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Apart from the wind, it was a really nice experience. Great views of the city, the Manhattan Bridge, and a little bit of the Statue of Liberty. The only thing that would have been better is if there were fewer pedestrians. I guess the pedestrians weren’t the problem, it was more that they were all stupid. Not paying attention to the traffic and stopping for pictures in the most inconvenient places.

BrooklynBridgeInstagramBrooklyn Bridge

The first thing I did after getting into Manhattan was to make my way back to The Magic Shop. This time however, I rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, the door was answered by a young guy in a hat and a button up shirt. I told him I had heard about the studio from Sonic Highways and was wondering if I could have a tour. He told me that they were in the middle of a recording session but that I should come back in a week and a half to two weeks. I was glad to have at least made contact and will indeed try to make my way back there.

BrooklynBridge2

Next I stumbled my way up and down and back and forth through Soho in search of the Adidas Originals store. Though I’ve been there several times before, I had some trouble finding it. I was in search a particular pair of shell toes but it was immediately apparent that they didn’t have them, so instead I used the store to collect my thoughts and temporarily escape the cold.

I then made my way to McSorley’s  for a beer and some food. While there, I asked if there were any job opportunities. I was told that there weren’t any but that I should try The 13th Step, a bar nearby and Swift another nearby bar. Before I left I was told instead to just try Swift as a) they knew the bartender over there and b) because The 13th Step is more of a “college bar.” (Their words, not mine).

PhysicalGraffiti_96-98StMarksSt96 and 98 St Marks Place aka Physical Graffiti album cover

After stopping in at Swift and leaving my business card, I made my way over to 96 and 98 St Marks Place to continue my media inspired excursion. This time, the location in question was a pair of apartment buildings which were used as the cover for the 1975 Led Zeppelin album Physical GraffitiThe cool thing was that the area clearly recognizes and has capitalized on this fact as there is a restaurant called Physical Graffitea located next door.

As I was about to leave the area I got a text from Tom telling me that there was a half-off sale at a nearby Army Navy store. Why was this relevant? Well, the night before we had been talking about pea coats and he had mentioned that a good place to look for them would be an Army Navy store. As fate would have it, the one he was telling me about, Uncle Sam’s Army Navy store, was on the same street I was already on, just a few blocks back in the other direction.

Upon my arrival at the AN store I was immediately helped with what I was looking for. I found a pea coat that fit me well, and at $125, it was very reasonably priced. However, I left empty handed as there are other, more important things in line in front of it that I should be concerned with buying.

After a random, useless quick-trip to Central Park I made my way back to the apartment.

—Later that night

I had made plans with my friend Brandon to meet at a bar after he got out of work. So at around 10:34, I took the B46 (bus) over to Williamsburg. The place we went to was called Jackbar. It was a rad little dive populated by pinball machines.

Jackbar_PinballMachinesPinball machines at Jackbar

Brandon is friends with the bartender, Kirby, and so the three of us just chatted and drank and played pinball all night. I chilled with him until around 1:30 or 2 after which time I walked to the L and eventually made the appropriate connections to get me back to Crown Heights by around 3-ish. It ended up being a really cool day.

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Men In Black Excursion

Continuing my “media based” adventures I started my day by venturing into Queens. My destination was Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The reason was simple, I wanted to see the “space ships” from Men In Black. Additionally, I’d never been to Queens before, so, two birds.

MetalWorldStructureGiant structure of the world in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

After walking from the 7 train and finally finding the entrance to the park I could see in the distance a metal structure of the globe and the MIB “space ships.” I walked all the way to the other side of the park and ended up at the metal structure. It was set in the middle of a fountain, but because it is winter time, the fountain was empty. So, I was able to walk right up to and underneath it.

I could see the “space ships” off to the left but right behind the globe was a building. I didn’t know what it was and it was closer to the globe than the “space ships” so I decided to check it out.

NewYorkPanoramaPanoramic of New York at the Queens Museum

I walked passed the globe and made my way to what I would find out to be the Queens Museum. I have several other museums on my To Do list but this was not one of them. I decided to go in anyway and ask what it was about. I found out that it is apparently an arts and cultural museum. On top of that, rather than have a set price, there was a suggested donation. The suggested price was $8 but I decided to pay $5 because I’m on a tight budget.

The first thing I did was to check out the Panoramic of New York. In short it is basically a giant miniature (oxymoron) of the five boroughs. This was really cool to me. Not only can you pick out every detail in Manhattan, but you can also see the layout of the parks and the neighborhoods and the bridges and the airports. There were even miniature airplanes suspended from wires that would take off and land at LaGuardia.

NewYorkPavillionThe back side of the New York Pavilion from the 1964-65 World’s Fair

After making my way through the Queens Museum I finally walked over to the New York Pavilion aka the “space ships” from MIB. The cool thing about this park is that it is the former sight of the 1939 and the 1964-65 World’s Fair. There is an entire section of the museum dedicated to that fact and the brochure’s and memorabilia related to it.

Walking up to the pavilion I felt a strange sense of ceremony. This has been standing for so long; it never got taken down. There is no real reason for it to still be there, and yet it is. (Side note: there is a skatepark on the other side of the pavilion.)

TheMagicShopCheck out the label under the doorbell

The next “media based” destination I went to was inspired by the HBO mini-series Sonic Highways. In the last episode, which takes place in New York, the band records at a studio called The Magic Shop. It’s a hidden little gem in Soho that you wouldn’t know was there unless you were looking for it.

By the time I got there I was certain they were closed, so I didn’t bother ringing the bell. However, now that I know where it is and how easy it is to get to, I might go another day and try to do the same thing I did at the Tested studio, ring the bell and see what happens.

The last thing I did before heading back to Crown Heights for the evening was to grab a bite at Taka Taka. I had seen the restaurant a couple years ago during a different New York adventure and had always wanted to try it. However, I was always too busy and never got around to it. The appeal was that the sign said “Japanese Tacos, Mexican Sushi.” The only negative thing I found out was that it is pretty expensive. Being on a tight budget, I deprived myself of the tacos (what I really wanted) and instead order the soup. It was good but not filling. I’ll have to go back when I have some money and get the tacos, but at least for now I can say I’ve been there.

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Vampire Weekend Excursion

By now you must know that a lot of the things I do when I’m in a city are based on the media I consume. In the case of today, two of the four places I went to were places or things found in Vampire Weekend songs.

JerusalemRestaurantSing next year in Jerusalem, you know, the one at 103rd and Broadway?” -Vampire Weekend; Finger Back

The first place I went to was the Jerusalem Restaurant. Mentioned in the song Finger Back, Jerusalem is a tiny restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I stopped in sometime around 2 or 3pm for some shawarma. It was really good as the last time I remember having it was in Israel in 2010. (Holy shit… five years ago!) It was cool to be in the place that is described in the song. There’s even a “…laminated poster of the dome of the rock” on the back wall. Why wouldn’t there be?

M79It’s gonna take a little time, while you’re waiting like a factory line. I ride across the park, back seat on the 79…” -Vampire Weekend; M79

The next thing on my agenda was to take the Roosevelt Island Tram to Roosevelt Island; not something from a VW song. However, in oder to get there I legitimately had to take the M79 bus. It was my plan to take the bus at some point anyway but it was nice to have an actual reason to take it.

I got back on the 1 train and took it a few stops/blocks downtown to 79th street. Naturally when I got on the bus I took the back seat (pictured above). The ride took a jaunt through Central Park (as expected; as described in the song) after which I got off a few stops later at Lexington Ave. I walked two blocks down Lexington to 77th where I got on the 6 train to 59th street. I then crossed two blocks over to 2nd Ave where I got on the Roosevelt Island Tram.

RooseveltIslandTram_stationRoosevelt Island Tram – Manhattan Station

Upon entering the tram station I found, to my pleasant surprise, that you pay for entry with your Metro card. I assumed it was a separate fee that I’d have to pay in cash, but happily, it’s not.

riding_RooseveltIslandTramRiding the RIT towards Roosevelt Island

I didn’t really have much of a reason to go to the island; I don’t know that anyone does. I actually don’t know what it’s purpose is. Regardless, there are great views of Manhattan as well as Queens. You’re also able to get particularly nice views of United Nations. I’m sure it would have been a nicer experience but it was so windy and so cold that I couldn’t fully enjoy it.

QueensboroBridgeUnder the Queensboro Bridge

After a short walk around what parts of the island were open to the public, I took the tram back to Manhattan. I was sort of hoping that something would go wrong with the cables so that Spider-Man could rescue us, but instead it was an incident-free ride.

QueensboroPanoramaPanorama of the Queensboro Bridge as seen from Roosevelt Island

While walking back to the train station I passed a man in a soccer jersey outside The Carriage House (a bar). He was asking passers by for a light. To his luck, I had matches in my jacket for just such an occasion. He lit his cigarette and then asked if I was going in for a drink. I told him I was on my way home and that I wasn’t planning on going in. He then took some cash out of his pocket and told me to go in and buy myself a drink. At first I refused, all I’d done was given him a light, what did I care. But, he was insistent and so I took his money and bought myself a beer.

What a random act of kindness. This very uneven exchange took me off guard in the best way possible. It was a really cool gesture and made for a pleasant and relaxing end to my day. It also put me in a positive mood and set what will hopefully be a the tone for the rest of my 2015.

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