Category Archives: Travel/Adventure

Rainy Day Adventure

Despite the fact that I knew it was supposed to rain today, I wanted to make the most of it and go on an adventure. I figured that since it was going to be crappy out, I’d do an indoor activity.

I woke up at ~7:20 and got ready for the day. I decided that I’d go to The Met first thing in the morning to avoid a crowd. Unfortunately, everyone else in New York had the exact same idea. I left my apartment at 8:55 and when I arrived at The Met at 9:55 (it opens at 10), the line was down the front steps and down the sidewalk.

IMG_8509Saw this on the way to the exhibit

I got in the line, but to my left, noticed that there was a much smaller line for this little side entrance. Intrigued, I decided to give it a shot. Shortly after, I noticed that the sign said that this was for groups only. Worried I had made a big mistake I started to scheme, feign ignorance upon entry.

Once in the doors I found that no one was checking if you were in a group. On top of that, though there was a line for people with bags -I had my backpack- no one stopped me. Good thing I didn’t have a bomb!

IMG_8514Found this in the Asian art section; saw one exactly like it at a museum in Melbourne, oh deer

I passed all of the sheeple and went to a kiosk. Using my membership card, I had my free ticket in a flash. I then breezed through one of the galleries on my way to the coat check. A worker stopped me to check I had a ticket (bet you thought I didn’t you douchebag) and told me to take off may backpack (yes sir… douchebag).

Luckily no one was at coat check so I got my bag checked by a nice man who commented on my Luke Skywalker Lego Mini-Fig keychain on my backpack. We then had a micro conversation about the show The Toys That Made Us before I bolted to the Public Parks, Private Gardens Paris to Provence exhibit.

IMG_8516The America Wing, one of my favorite parts of The Met

Exposition, exposition, I ended up staying until 2; a total of 4 hours! I did not plan on hanging out that long, but I ended up finding some hidden nooks and crannies of the museum I had never been to before and I got a much better mental map of how things, specifically the things I like, are laid out.

Got my backpack, left the museum, hopped the (6) to 51st street, transferred to the (E) and got off at Court Square (Queens). I roamed around a bit and after a quick Google map redirect, headed in the correct direction. Along the way to my 2nd destination I passed a chicken place. I was very hungry so I made a mental note to hit it on the way back.

Shortly after passing the chicken place I reached my destination 24-10 21st Street. This seemingly unassuming auto-body shop was the location of Luftwaffe Automotive, the fictional(?) auto-body shop featured in the 2007 Wes Anderson film The Darjeeling Limited (which I recently rewatched).

IMG_8521“Luftwaffe Automotive” from The Darjeeling Limited

After basking in it’s glory for a bit I made my way back to the chicken place and got some food. I sat and ate for a bit but wasn’t able to finish my food. I asked the guy for a box and he said, yeah, bring your food up here, I’ll box it up for you. This was a feat I could have accomplished on my own but was a very nice gesture. He then joked with me about how his wife is the same way with her leftovers.

Afterwards I left and got on back on the (E). I took it to 42nd St where I switched to the (R) (I think) and took that to Prince Street. I walked to 23 Prince and arrived at my 3rd destination, Filipacchi. I went there specifically to check out the Ural motorcycles I knew they carried.

Upon entering, the first thing that stood out is that the handle to their glass door is the butt of a Beretta or some hand gun. The second thing I noticed was that this was one of the coolest stores in Soho. They carry everything from motorcycles, to gear to boosted boards to off-road skateboards to one wheels… .

IMG_8523Ural motorcycle with sidecar

I walked around for a bit (I also learned about Cleveland Cyclewerks, which they also carry) and eventually got to chatting with one of the associates. He invited me to sit on the Ural and told me all about it. Apparently it has a parking brake, a reverse gear (unheard of on most motorcycles, but this one has a sidecar… so…) and 2 wheel drive! He pointed out the drive shaft that connects the rear driven wheel of the motorcycle to the wheel of the sidecar. This blew my mind.

After hanging out for a bit and eventually even chatting with the manager, I learned that they occasionally do demo drives (apparently Ural had just hosted one last weekend or something) and they invited me to stop by some time for a test drive! I think I need to do a bit of a refresher course before I feel comfortable enough to do that but it’s good to know. Reading Hells Angels by Hunter Thompson has really gotten me to want to get on a motorcycle again.

After finishing my conversation, I made my way to my 4th and final stop. I took the (6) to Chambers St where I switched to the (J) and took it to Myrtle. From there I walked to 123 Melrose St. This is the address of a new housing development that is being built. I entered a lottery to possibly move in once it’s finished, though I did just sign a two year lease on my current place.

IMG_8525Flushing Ave Station – (J) train

The place looks really cool and I’d love to take a tour of the building once it’s finished. After a walk around I made my way back to the (J) and took it to Lorimer where I switched to the (G) at Broadway and took it to Fulton. From there I switched one last time time to the (5) at Atlantic Ave and took it back to my apartment. I got back at ~6:30, not a bad day.

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Micro Vacation

This past weekend I decided to take Friday and Monday off to go back home to Boston. I did this (took the extra days off/when back to Boston) for three reasons:

1) because whenever I go back to Boston, even if I leave early on Saturday morning (or right after work on Friday night), I basically just have the rest of Saturday and till noon on Sunday to hang out before I have to start heading back to NY. This way, leaving Thursday after work, I had ALL DAY Friday, ALL DAY Saturday and ALL DAY on Sunday before I had to leave on Monday.

2) because the quarter had just ended the week previous and I was in need of a tiny vacation from work.

3) because had stuff I needed to pick up -my skateboard and my bike polo mallets. On top of all that, I wanted to go home for the usual reasons, see my family, meet up with friends, etc.

Friday

I started my morning by showing my Mom my new headphones. I had told her about how cool they were and so I wanted her to try them. After that, her and I went to Dunkin Donuts where I tried the Thin Mint iced coffee, which was pretty good. While eating we had a good chat about the Optimistic Nihilism video I’d sent her.

Additionally, I  texted my friends Alyssa (to see if she was still planing to meet up with me on Saturday evening), Josh (to see what the plan was for hanging out that night), Eric (to see about meeting up with him Saturday during the day) and Craig (to see about grabbing drinks on Saturday night).

After eating, we got in my Mom’s new car where I drove us to Winthrop to my Aunt’s house to take care of her cat (my Aunt was in FL to take care of my Uncle). After doing what we needed to do we drove to the cemetery so my Mom and I could visit her Mom and Dad. Once we did that, I took a picture of her in front of her new car. I forgot to mention the fact that I gave her a HOONIGAN sticker and that we had fun messing around with the Apple Car Play features.

Next we made our way to Showcase Cinemas where I used my Movie Pass so we could see Ready Player One. I didn’t have a ton of interest in it, I hadn’t read that book, but one of the podcasts I listen to has been talking about for the past year(s) so I needed to see what the big deal was about. In short, overall I liked it. It delivered exactly what I was looking for, a fun adventure with cool visual effects and a straightforward yet interesting story.

I then drove us home in the now slushy weather. We chilled for a bit before walking to the bank to take care of some… banking. We then walked back home where I chilled for a bit until it was time to venture out to my friend Josh’s house party.

The party consisted of the OG crew of people I used to work with. We had snacks, drank beers, caught up on each others lives and played beer pong, a game I detest for how “frat bro” it is. I left around 11:30pm.

Saturday

I was woken up by my Dad at 7:30am on Saturday morning. We went the the traditional Saturday morning breakfast with my Grandpa, my Auntie Maria and my Dad. As usual we went to the Cracker Barrel which was, as usual, very good.

After breakfast we dropped my Grandpa and Auntie Maria off. I then had my Dad drive me to Oak Grove so I could take the train in to JP to meet up with my former co-worker Eric and his wife Pammi. She had recently had a baby and I was excited to meet him. I got to hold Keanu and he was awesome. There is no doubt he will grow up to be a baller.

Once I was finished hanging out with Keanu and the gang I took the train home. There I brushed my teeth (something I definitely needed to do), finished my leftovers from breakfast and watched a thing I’d DVR’d. I had to stop it part way through because I was so tired from the previous evening and having to get up early that I had to take a nap.

After waking up some time later I watched a bit more TV before going out for drinks with some of my old work squad; some from the night before and some that were new to join. It was good to see a bunch of people I hadn’t for a long time, some as long as a year ago.

I took the train into the city, got out at Back Bay and walked through the Prudential Mall to get to Boylston Street. As I exited to the street I caught the tail end of a missed call from my co-worker Alyssa who was driving up from NY to meet me. I called Alyssa back to find out that she was about to pull on to Boylston, what perfect timing. I ran to the corner where she was, hopped in her car and together we found a spot basically right in front of the Pour House.

There are really only two things I want to highlight from the night: 1) when I when to the bar there were two beers already behind the bar. I assumed they were for a customer that hadn’t gotten back from the bathroom yet or something. When I ordered my Sam Summer, the bartender just handed me one of the already poured beers.

This seemed odd because who knows how long it had been sitting out. However, I reluctantly paid for it. Then, as I was about to go, the bartender told me to wait. She filled up the rest of the other glass of beer that had been sitting behind the bar and handed it to me. “You can have this one too” she said, “I’m wasn’t going to serve it.” Again I was a little skeptical but you can’t beat two beers for the price of one.

2) The second thing, without going into all of the details, is that I ended up kind of making out with one of my former female co-workers. (I’ll keep her anonymous for privacy reasons). This was great because a) I always thought she was attractive and b) because I hadn’t gotten any action in a while. I later found out from her via text that this was just a drunken mistake, and though I was kind of bummed because I would gladly date her, I was still happy it happened.

After saying our goodbyes, Alyssa drove us back to my parents place where she slept in my old room and I slept in my sister’s old room.

Sunday

In the morning I texted Eric and James to tell them what had happened with [name redacted]. Then, with my Mom’s help, I found a thing that I needed for a thing. Eventually, after Alyssa woke up, we drove to Salem to get breakfast at The Ugly Mug.

Alyssa is a horror nerd so we walked around Salem for a bit before driving to Boston. Once in the city we had to park in a garage, which was lame and expensive. We visited my sister at the Old North Church gift shop, where she works as a Manager. Then we went to Mikes Pastry and Modern Pastry to get/compare cannoli’s.

After walking around Faneuil Hall for a bit we went back to the garage, grabbed her car and drove back to my parent’s place where she dropped me off. Once home I watched another thing I recorded. My buddy Pete dropped by breifly so we could catch up and then my dad and I went to the movie Chappaquiddick. It was pretty boring AND the audience we were with was annoying.

Once home I showed him an episode of Rick and Morty and we watched the previous weeks’ episode of Silicon Valley.

Monday

In the morning my Mom and I went to Bruegger’s (tradition) before she dropped me off at Oak Grove. I took the T in to South Station and caught the 11:30am bus back to NY. I found out that all it takes is two podcasts and a book to make that ride fly by.

–Extra Stuff (this weekend… so far)

Friday

After work I biked to my co-worker Adam’s apartment, and, to my surprise, I beat him there.  He made us chicken fajitas while we chatted. We then listened to a thing that I had recorded so far; suffice it to say it is a podcast, but that’s all you get… for now.

We ate dinner while listening to the thing. Then, once done, we recorded for an extra 40 minutes. We still have a good chunk to do before episode one is finished but this proof of concept episode is coming along as good, if not better than I expected.

We stopped recording right when Adam’s roommate Tom got home. The three of us went onto their roof where they shared a cigar and I drank a beer while we looked on to Manhattan. After chilling on the roof, we went back down to there apartment for a bit and then called it a night (at around 11pm) deciding to finish the episode next week. I then biked home.

Saturday

This morning I got up at 8:30, got showered and dressed and hopped on the train into Mahattan. If I didn’t already mention this, I have been reading How to American and just had two chapters left to read.

While on the train I finished (almost all of) the book. I got off at 23rd St and walked across town to the Chelsea Piers Skatepark. I skated for half an hour before making my way over to 23rd and 8th. I took the (C) train to Spring St and walked to the old location of the Adidas Originals Store.

I did not realize it was no longer there but after a quick Google search on my phone, headed over to there nearby new location. I tried on a pair of shoes that were a little big for me before making my way over to the Onitsuka Tiger store.

After spending some time in there I made my way over to a store I’d seen while on my way to the bus last Friday that was filled with vintage Boom Boxes. However, I would later realize that it was closed.

From there I went to the LES/Manhattan Bridge skatepark. I skated for a bit, but it was pretty busy and I was intimidated by everyone there. I then walked back to where I thought the Boom Box store to be to make sure I didn’t miss the shop (again, a Google search once home proved I was in the correct place, it was simply closed).

I walked to the Bike Polo Court just to take a look at it before walking to Canal Street subway station. There I took the (4) to Barclays. I went to Target where I bought contact solution and body soap. I then took the train to the Brooklyn Museum station whereI  walked to Library, finished the book and returned it.

I walked back to train and took the subway home (home by 3pm). Once at my apartment I changed, did some laundry (4pm to 6pm) and listened to what Adam and I had recorded. After my laundry was done, I ate dinner and watched some YouTube. From 7pm to 9pm I wrote this. Once done I’m going to put my laundry away, do the dishes, watch some Netflix and go to bed.

Sunday

I plan on going back to The Met Breuer because the exhibit that was being curated the last time I went (St. Patties Day) is now open. Plus it’s supposed to rain so… might as well do something in doors. Also, I think I’ll finally get my hair cut. Probably should come up with some other stuff to occupy my day.

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On A Roll

For the past 3 weeks I have gone to a museum. First the Met, then the Met Breuer and now The Brooklyn Museum and the MoMA. Read on

Friday

I had been having a shitty day at work. Additionally, I had recently read about a new(?) bar in Manhattan called Patent Pending. The bar is a Nikola Tesla “themed” speakeasy and based on the pictures in Time Out Magazine, I was itching to go.

After coming home and changing into a button up shirt, I hopped on the (5), took it to 14th Street, switched to the (6) and took it to 28th St. From there it was a relatively short walk to the coffee shop that fronts in the daytime as a… well coffee shop and in the night is transformed to a speakeasy.

After being buzzed in, I told the woman behind the counter I didn’t have a reservation. She let me in to the small waiting area where I was able to hang up my coat and get a beer. I chilled there and finished my milk stout just in time for a spot to open up at the bar. There I ordered a pilsner which I sipped slowly while taking in the dark cavernous atmosphere.

When it came time to pay, I realized that the bar tender had only charged me for the the drink I’d ordered at the bar and not the one I’d ordered while in the waiting area. I mentioned this and he said, “I didn’t see anything.” Pleased by getting off easy, I tipped better than I normally would have and left.

Saturday

The first thing I did in the morning was my laundry as I was in desperate need to do so. Once done I got showered and dressed and made my way to the Brooklyn Museum. The email I’d received the day prior told me to arrive a half an hour early.

By the time my train arrived and I walked to the exhibit entrance, it was 11:19 and my entry time was 11:30. Luckily there was not a line like the one which had been described in the aforementioned email. So I killed 11 minutes looking at some art deco furniture before heading back to the entrance.

The employee there scanned the e-ticket on my phone and I was on my way in to David Bowie is. This is an exhibit that had traveled from the V&A Museum in London and so I knew I had to catch it while it was in town. Without going into too many details, the exhibit was pretty cool.

Visitors are not allowed to take pictures, however, there was a cool audio guide that worked on bluetooth. As you walked to various sections of the exhibit, the bluetooth receiver would pick up the frequency of the device you were wearing and switch to the appropriate track. I ended up spending about 3 hours there.

After leaving the museum, I made my way to the nearby Brooklyn Public Library. I’d received an email that the book I’d requested,  How To American: An Immigrants Guide to Disappointing Your Parents by Jimmy O. Yang, was in.

Though I’d just started House of Leaves, I decided to check this out as well because it is much shorter and I’d found out that my co-worker owns it so I can just borrow House of Leaves for as long as I want once I’m done with this one.

When I got home, I took care of some housekeeping, cut my nails, shaved, ate, put my clothes away and put my dishes away. Next I read the prolog, introduction and first chapter of How To American. After that I watched the last episode of season two of The Grand Tour and the Bruce Lee movie Game of Death before going to bed.

Sunday

I woke up this morning and made it my mission to get to the 10am screening of Isle of Dogs at the Alamo Drafthouse. After having a small breakfast and a quick shower, I hopped the (5) to Borough Hall and got the the theater just in time to score the last back row seat.

I watched all of the pre-movie content that Alamo curates which was, as usual, really great before jumping into the movie. Without going into detail, I really enjoyed it. It was laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming and sub-textually (or perhaps overtly) political. I hope it gets nominated for Best Animated Feature.

After the movie, I walked to the (F) and took it to 57th St. There I headed south to 4 E 54th St, a building I knew to be historically significant, before heading into my true destination, the MoMA.

I love having my membership card because it makes it really easy to just go there whenever you want and not worry about paying. I started at the 5th floor and worked my way down. I passed the very crowded Starry Night before moving on to this great painting of a couple kissing. I didn’t take a photo of the info card so I don’t have the official name or the artists name, but I really liked it.

IMG_8231Kiss

I somewhat quickly made my way through the museum, not that I was in a rush per se, but mainly because it was busy and I only wanted to spend time with the things I really wanted to see. After retrieving my bag and jacket, I strolled through the Sculpture Garden before entering the Education and Research Center. There, I spotted an old F1 car mounted on the wall of which I wanted to take a closer look.

IMG_8239Alain Prost’s 1990 Ferrari F1 car (photo has been rotated 90 degrees clockwise)

Because it was red, I knew it had to be a Ferrari and, by a rough guess of the era of car based on the body style, I thought it to be Alain Prost’s car. Sure enough, upon reading the information card, I was correct.

I starred at it for quite a long time, gazing at the wings, aerodynamics and the tight weave of the carbon fiber before moving on.

Next I made my way to another building that I had noticed from a window of the museum (550 Madison Ave) before going to the MoMA Design Store to catch a glimpse of the KAWS BFF Companion window display. Once there, I entered the store and strolled around a bit. A $25 vintage Casio watch caught my eye, but I really didn’t need to make a frivolous purchase.

IMG_8246KAWS BFF Companion window display

After that I headed to the (F) and took it back to Jay Street where I exited and transferred to the (4) at Borough Hall. While On the platform, I saw that the next (5) train, the one I needed to get home, was 13 minutes away.

I had a plan. Rather than wait like a chump I was going to get off at Grand Army Plaza, walk to the Brooklyn Library, return House of Leaves, walk up Eastern Parkway to the Brooklyn Museum station and hopefully get there in time to catch the (5). Sure enough, my plan worked out perfectly, I arrived at the Brooklyn Museum station just as the (5) was pulling in. Damn I’m good.

Once home I made/ate dinner and wrote this while listening to the Isle of Dogs soundtrack and later The Shape of Water soundtrack, which by the way are both done by Alexandre Desplat, who knew!

I plan to finish just in time to get into my jim-jams and watch Silicon Valley the premier of Barry on HBO. Not a tad bad.

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NY St. Patrick’s Day

Despite numerous efforts to get my work squad together to do something for St. Patrick’s Day this year, I was left without plans. However, my day was salvaged when about a week before the 17th, one of my friends from college reached out to tell me she’d be in town and wanted to know if I wanted to hang out with her. This led to the following adventure.

On Friday the 16th (the night before SPD) I got a text from her that she was in the city. We made plans to meet at Atlantic Ave the next day and take things from there.

Cut to 10am on the 17th. I’d timed my train perfectly and arrived at Atlantic Ave/Barclay’s Center at 10:01am. I got out and happily I found Heather waiting for me on the platform. We hopped back onto the train I’d just gotten off of and took the (5) to 14th St/Union Square.

I had seen that day or the day before that there was a new Banksy piece on the corner of 14th and 6th. Additionally, I had remembered passing a bagel place on the corner of 14th and 7th at one point, so, I figured we could kill two birds with one stone.

BanksyRatBanksy piece on the corner of 14th and 6th

We got the to corner of 14th and 6th and sure enough there was the untouched, unmistakable Banksy piece on the clock. Heather and I stopped so I could grab a few pics before continuing west on 14th Street. After crossing 7th and getting to where I though the bagel place to be, I was stumped to find that, unless we had not gone far enough, there was no bagel place to be found.

Instead we popped into a donut shop where she bought two donuts for her husband whom we were meeting later in the day. We then circled back to a different bagel place we’d passed along the way and grabbed some bagel sandwiches. We sat by the glass front of the store, ate our bagels and caught up on the goings ons in each other’s lives.

Being that she had no real game-plan until later in the day, we decided to go to the Met Breuer, a place I only realized existed just last week. While walking back to Union Square she told me more about her plans to meet up with Rey (her husband) and two of the friends they’d made while working on a cruise ship together.

Their friends are from the UK and one of them had never been to New York before so they wanted to explore and do some sight seeing. The plan was to meet up with them in the late afternoon or evening and go out for drinks. While discussing the plan, Heather invited me to join them.

Though I thought I might feel like a 5th wheel, being that I didn’t have any other plans, I decided to join them. At Union Square, we took the (6) to 77th street and made our way over to the Met Breuer. After getting tickets and checking our coats, we took the elevator to the top floor.

IMG_8180The Met Breuer

We quickly realized that the art there was… not for us. It wasn’t bad per se but it wasn’t really my (our?) taste. We decided to go down to the 4th floor but when we hit the 4 on the elevator, nothing happened. I then noticed that both floors 3 and 4 were being worked on for installations/exhibits and thus were not open to the public.

We then hit 2 and made our way down. There we were met with more artwork that simply was not to our liking. Defeated I apologized to Heather and we made our way back to the ground floor. I was glad I didn’t have t pay, due to having a membership, and that she’d only paid $5.

We ended up in the gift shop where we got more enjoyment out of the books we looked at than all of the artwork we’d seen. Heather found a good one featuring artworks of people peeing.

After getting our coats, we made our way south from 75th to 42nd; first taking Madison Ave and then cutting over to the less busy Park Ave. We ended up at Grand Central and got there just in time to literally bump into Rey. We then hopped onto the (4) train downtown to Fulton Street. There we walked to the 9/11 Memorial as Rey and Heather wanted to see it.

Moving on we stopped into a CVS so Heather could get a Red Bull before we continued on to the South Street Seaport. We sat by the water and watched the water taxis as Rey ate, and shared with me, his donut. After a short sit we headed over to west Houston to check out the bar that had been recommended to us by Heather’s brother. However, because it was St. Patrick’s Day the place had a huge line to get in.

IMG_8184Financial District from Pier 17

We hopped on the nearby (1) train and took it to 23rd street where we planned to meet with Heather and Rey’s cruise ship friends. While on the train we saw an add for a restaurant called Dallas BBQ. Heather said she wanted to go there for lunch but I pointed out that we were not going to go to Queens.

We then exited at 23rd street and walked out to 8th Ave where, to our complete surprise there was a Dallas BBQ restaurant. It was a sign, we had to go. Despite the fact that it was a crappy family style restaurant chain as ubiquitous as a Chilli’s, a Friday’s or an Applebees, we ate there. Towards the end of our meal we met up with Chris and Emma, Rey and Heather’s cruise friends from the UK.

After paying for our food, we headed uptown to a 99 cent pizza place because the Brits a) wanted to try it and b) were low on cash. We then strolled up 6th Ave, where I got to chat with Chris, and ended up doing exactly what I’d not wanted to do, end up in the area near Times Square on St. Patrick’s Day. We searched frantically for a bar that was low key, off the beaten path and not filled with drunk tourists.

Eventually after strolling into and then right out of such bar, Heather -using her phone-found a spot nearby that seemed to fit our needs. The Bourbon Street Bar and Grille, though still kind of tacky, was not super packed or too upscale/pricey. We were able to grab a booth where we posted up and drank from 7:30 to 11:30.

Mixed in were good conversations, dancing/mingling with some of the other tables which had also gotten up to dance and a nosebleed which I incurred after getting accidentally getting elbowed in the nose by the woman with whom I was dancing.

Though I had plenty of steam left, I was super bored from sitting in the same place for 4 hours and so at 11:30 I called it and made my way back home via the (Q) and the (5). I felt bad because I wanted to hang out more and show the Brits more bars but I was simply not in the mood. I ended up getting home by 1:30.

–Bonus Content

Today I went on a short adventure. The first stop was Bowery and Houston to see another Banksy piece I’d found out about via Hypebeast via Instagram.

IMG_8192Free Zehra Dogan

While on the way back to the (6) I found this piece I’d heard about be had never found… until now.

IMG_8197Offset Mickey Mouse by Jerkface

After that Made my way north to admire the new super expensive but super dope looing apartments (condos?) at 520 W 28th St. This too I’d found out about via Hypebeast via Instagram.

IMG_8198520 W 28th Street

I then went to see the entrance to a new speakeasy I want to check out at some point. I was then going to go to the MoMA but a) my feet were killing me and b) I wanted to get back to Brooklyn in time to go to the Brooklyn Library before it closed at 5pm. I also wanted to stop by the Bose store to get an accessory but I did want make the effort, so I bailed.

Back in Brooklyn I went to the library where I picked up a book called House of Leaves. I’d heard about it 4 years earlier and have been intrigued to check it out, but also  scared to read it.

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Three In One

1. Saturday

I woke up weirdly early, around 7am or 7:30am. I made some guacamole. Once it was made, which took quite some time due to lack of technique, I made some sandwiches for lunch for work.

After finishing that I reorganized my apartment, cleaning things up and getting my closet in order. Once done with that, I got showered and dressed before heading into Manhattan.

My first stop was Hugo Boss as I was in search of a jacket that I knew they no longer made but perhaps would still have on a clearance rack. I knew it was a pipe dream and sure enough, it was not to be found.

IMG_8145I kept seeing this building from a far so I finally found it and paid it a visit.

I next walked to a bar I’d been told of -Tokyo Record Bar- not to go in but to merely see where it was/is.

Next I made my way to the subway to continue uptown. Along the way I passed a Casper mattress store. I had been wanting to find one for a while but, because it wasn’t on my itinerary, I passed it by.

This was a fail because I am not good at “stopping to smell the roses” but instead only focus on what I’m set out to do. This is a skill I’d like to improve upon this year; don’t be so stringent and focus on the next thing, enjoy the present, be in the moment. (At the same time, what was I gonna get out of the Casper store? Sure I could have finally tried one of their mattresses but it’s not like I’m going to buy one. Plus, I can always go back and “retcon” my mistake).

IMG_8146Abandoned lot – Harlem

Exiting at Bryant Park, I passed a stand filled with touristy brochures of things to do in the city. One of these was a brochure for the David Bowie Is exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. Though I already have tickets to the exhibit for later this month, I thought it might be cool to get a brochure. However, again, because it wasn’t something I was expecting to do and because I didn’t wan to carry a brochure or look like a tourist*, I kept on moving.

My next stop was Urban Outfitters as I was in search of a note pad with a magnetic back that says Fuck This Shit which I’d seen the night before on an episode of Girls on HBO (I’m rewatching the series). I didn’t know this notebook to be there but I thought, if I’d find it anywhere, I’d find it there. I was wrong.

Moving on, I made my way to Tommy Hilfiger, another store I never go to (the other being Hugo Boss) in search of a certain jacket that they also did not have.

IMG_8149DeVille

From there I took the 5 uptown to 101st St where I made my way west and across the bridge to Randell’s Island. I spent a solid chunk of time meandering around there, a place I’d been only once before on my bike in significantly warmer weather. After getting cold and hungry I decided to start heading back to Brooklyn

I took to 5 to the L to the G to Classon Ave. I’d seen an ad on the subway for pizza AND had been wanting to visit one of the many restaurants from my “places to take dates” list. However, since I have yet to procure one of those AND in keeping with the Girls theme, I went to Speedy Romeo.

SR is noted as being one of the best pizza places in the city. The pizza, was quite good. Neapolitan style, this 12-inch personal pie was not cheap. Combine that with one beer, a piece of chocolate cake and I was out of there for just under $50. Not what I was hoping to spend. Luckily, I don’t go out much and if I do, I do as much free stuff as I can.

IMG_8150Sneaker Joint

Once home, I got ready for bed and decided to re-watch La La Land. I was one of the few people for which La La did not Land. I don’t know if it’s because it had been too hyped for me or because I watched it on an airplane but it simply did nothing for me.

I was hoping a second screening would change my mind, alas, it did not. I still did not care about the characters, didn’t find the songs very interesting, and though visually the movie looks quite nice, as a piece of entertainment, for me, it falls flat.

Side note: I was also possessed to rewatch either that or Moonlight (which I still haven’t seen) because earlier in the day I had listened to an episode of the Filmstruck podcast which discussed “envelopegate” from the 89th Academy Awards.

*I feel a bit like a working tourist. Like someone who is in this city working just so he can stay longer and explore it in greater detail and with more time that any tourist could afford to spend on a vacation. The problem or struggle I find is that the longer you live in a place, the less appreciative you are of it’s treasures. It becomes the thing you see everyday. You don’t enjoy the frailty of it’s temporary-ness. The flip side is that when I find myself in wonder, looking up at a building or still occasionally being excited when I see The Empire State building and think, man, this is my new backyard and yet people come from all over the world just to see this, just to be here, I get mad at myself for acting like a tourist. I want to blend in and feel like a true New Yorker. This however is a thing I’ll never be. Whether I live here for just another year, five years, ten years or the rest of my life, I’m not from here, I wasn’t born here, so it will never really be my home. But I think that’s ok because I never want to lose my Boston roots. I have such a strange love/hate relationship with this city in that when I first came here in 1998, I hated it. Hated how loud and dirty it was/is and how bad it smelled. It wasn’t the New York I knew from the movies and it was one of the first times that I saw the world for what it really is. Who would have thought that 20 years later, I’d be living here. It’s crazy because New York is often referred to as the “Greatest City On Earth” and yet it is dingy and it is smelly it is falling apart. But maybe, rather than being this shiny ultramodern metropolis, that edgy trashy side is part of the whole appeal.

2. Sunday

I woke up “late” thanks to daylight saving’s time and did laundry from 9:30am till 11:30am (including folding and putting away my clothes). After that I read a corresponding article from The Hollywood Reporter which took a more in depth, nearly minute-by-minute look at “envelopegate.” It was/is a fascinating read.

The article is quite long and I’m a slow reader so I read it from about 12pm to about 1pm. Partially while the laundry was washing and or drying I worked on a graphic for how I envision a year. There’s a long backstory but basically, this is how I think of the months as they are laid out in my minds eye.

Year“A ‘Perfect’ Year”

The color of the months either correlates with the temperature I associate with that month or was just randomly assigned by my brain. The length of the month is somewhat arbitrary (certainly not based on how long the actual month is) though I recently came to the realization that it is likely based on how I thought of a school year.

The numbers below the month are what I feel the temperature for that month should be on average and the hill from the beginning of December into mid-March is when I think there should be snowfall and how much there should be.

This visualization is also reminiscent of my thoughts of a year as a child. Before I knew what global warming was and when it felt like seasons had a fairly definite beginning and end, rather than deciding on a daily basis what temperature it should be, regardless of the time of year.

After finishing this, I left -at 2pm- for The Met. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see much as it closes at 5:30pm on Sunday but I really just wanted to see two things, the America Wing and my favorite series of paintings, “America Today” by Thomas Hart Benton.

IMG_8154City Activities With Subway**

My favorite section of the series is “City Activities With Subway.” It romanticizes the 1920s and 30s in a way that I can’t help but love. I want to step into the moments portrayed in the painting and live amongst the people, sights and sounds taking place there.

After enjoying a stroll through the America Wing, I made my way back to Brooklyn. I really need to take more advantage of this year long membership to The Met before it runs out. I need to realize that because it’s free, I don’t need to spend an entire day there trying to soak everything up but rather that I can choose one or two things to focus on, as I did and really enjoy and appreciate them.

IMG_8156A cool ornate door I passed on 77th

Back at Atlantic Ave, I went to Best Buy where I picked up batteries for the light fixture a temp at work had gifted to me and the rest of my team; we all got one. After I got home I put the batteries in “night light”, made dinner, planned some stuff on the computer and outlined this post.

**I typically don’t like to take or post photo’s of artwork. It seems disrespectful to the artist to minimize their time and effort into a single second, a momentary photograph. Also, if you post it somewhere, it feels like you’re getting credit for their work. There’s also the factor of, “Look at me, I’ve been to that thing, aren’t you jealous?”

 

3. Being A Hypebeast

I’ve been meaning to write this one for a few weeks now but I’m only just getting around to it. On February 26th, McDonald’s released a special limited edition sauce called Szechuan sauce. There’s a whole back story which you can hear about on a podcast they produced called, “The Sauce.” (The pcast by the way is a fascinating listen).

In short this sauce was re-popularized by a TV show, Rick and Morty, and brought back in very limited supplies this past October. The lack of sauce literally cause riots so now they were re-re-releasing it in much larger, albeit still relatively limited quantities. When I heard about this, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Being a latecomer to R&M, I was not aware of the hype surrounding the first drop. This time however, I formed a plan. Getting off the train one stop earlier than I usually do on my  way to work on the 26th, I knew I’d encounter two McDonalds and double my chances of getting some.

The woman behind the counter at the first one said they didn’t have it. I think she just didn’t know what I was talking about and was too lazy to look. The second counter had a more youthful staff and the guy I spoke with knew exactly what I was talking about, even if he (seemingly) didn’t realize the significance. I thought perhaps the Mickey-D’s would be mobbed by nerds but it seemed to be not a big deal at all.

I ordered a hash brown and asked for two containers of the sauce. Then, before I left the counter, I asked for one more. (One to taste, and two for back-ups, one to possibly try and sell). As I left the McDonald’s I was elated. I even accidentally didn’t hold the door for an older woman trying to get into the restaurant as I exited, I temporarily forgot how to be human.

IMG_8085The Sauce

Once at work, I took out a container, hastily took a picture of it and immediately posted it to Instagram. The second the post was up, all of the elation rushed out of my body. Why had I done this? What did it matter? Was the whole point of my excitement just to humble brag that I had something limited that not everyone had? Do I really only find validation in the temporary adoration of others?

This leads back to the re-occurring theme of this post, living in the moment rather than living for the moment.

 

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Brooklyn/Manhattan Adventure

This weekend my sister came to visit me. The issue always ensues when someone comes to visit, “what do you want to do this weekend?” As luck would have it, I have been amassing a list of things to do on dates. However, since I haven’t had luck going on dates, I figured I could use these restaurants/sites as things to do with Kyra.

After having spent the previous night in Williamsburg, eating at Diviera Drive, checking out the grand opening of Muji and meeting up with my co-worker Alyssa to grab drinks at Surf Bar, we decided to go back the next day, Saturday (yesterday) to do a deeper dive.

Though I have been to that part of Brooklyn several times for various reasons, Kyra has only seen bits and pieces. We started on the outskirts at a place called Loosie’s Cafe. I’d read about Loosie’s in Hogwarts: A History… er… Brooklyn Magazine.

IMG_7408Loosie’s Cafe

Upon getting there, the place was exactly what I was expecting; chill hipster vibes with minimalist modern furniture and cool art painted right on the wall. The section we were in was out back and had a cool glass ceiling (not that kind) with fake (or real?) vines along the top which let the perfect amount of sunlight in.

The food we had was pricy, but great. The only negative was that service was really slow. I mean, not that we were in a rush, but every part of the process felt like it was taking forever. Once we were done eating, we made our way down Berry Street, under the Williamsburg Bridge, to Metropolitan Ave.

FullSizeRenderKyra and I by the water with the Manhattan skyline

From there, we made our way down to the water to get a good pic of us with the Manhattan skyline in the background. After chilling by the waterfront for a bit. we began our journey as we criss-crossed up and down each of the streets like aisles in a grocery store. There was no real game-plan except to stop into a shop if we thought it was interesting.

Eventually, after several zig-zags, we found ourselves at the crafts fair. I had been there a few weeks ago, but Kyra hadn’t, so we went in. The place is filled with cool merch, ranging from clothing to cookies to jewelry, with a little bit of everything in between.

We spent a short amount of time checking out the “artisanal” this and the “organic” that and the “cage free, cruelty free, vegan” who-gives-a-fuck. after that we eventually made our way over to Rough Trade; one of my favorite record/book stores in the city.

Rough trade is essentially a warehouse space with shipping containers that make up parts of the structure. There’s even table tennis and a music venue in the back. They’re also always playing some obscure band that I end up obsessing over for a while.

It feels like what would happen if Boston based Newbury Comics and California based Amoeba Music had a baby in Williamsburg. In any case, we only stayed for a short while before eventually getting to Brooklyn Industries.

Brooklyn Industries is a store I’d been into a while ago but hadn’t been to since. Upon entering, I forgot how cool it was/is. The store is filled with cool graphic tees, button up shirts, pants, jackets and hats all made (I’d assume) in Brooklyn.

Despite the fact that I already have a wardrobe full of stuff that I don’t wear, or at least not all of it, I wanted to buy the entire men’s section. There was this one jacket that I totally don’t need, but was perfect for me. Luckily, most of the stuff was kind of pricy, or at least for what I’m used to paying, so that kept me away from making any ‘rash purchases.

After stopping in one more store, we made our way back to the L where we rode it to 6th Ave, transferred to the (2) and took that to 72nd Street where we stopped in to Gray’s Papaya. Gray’s is a well known Manhattan hot dog spot and staple of the classic film, You’ve Got Mail (see this post for more).

IMG_7407The little park between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway

We crossed the street and stopped in so Kyra could get a hot dog and a papaya drink. We then crossed back to the mid-section of sidewalk that splits Amsterdam Ave and Broadway where we grabbed a seat on this quite little bar… thing. It was very nice and peaceful as the cool early fall air surrounded us.

After she was done, we headed North on Amsterdam to Cafe Lalo, another site from YGM. I purposely didn’t get food at Gray’s so that I could get food at Lalo. The cafe is this quaint and feels very Parisian. I wanted all of the desserts in the glass behind the counter. Instead I got a sandwich and we ate and talked and enjoyed the evening.

IMG_7410Cafe Lalo

After lazily making my way through this late lunch, early dinner, we headed out into the city. I had forgotten that we’d discussed checking out the 91st Street Garden (another site from YGM), so instead we headed East an eventually cut through Central Park, afterwards heading North on Lex to 86th Street where we got on the (5) and took it back to Brooklyn.

There was one more spot on our to-do list, Butter & Scotch. I had found out about B & S by accident while doing a bit of Google mapping. Being that it’s right off the Franklin Ave stop, it’s super close to where I live, thus making it a great final destination for a short commute home afterwards.

IMG_7413Butter & Scotch

As a -seemingly- queer/femm bar, it feels very out of place amongst the more “hood” vibes of the surrounding establishments. That said, this small [word] joint was really cool. On one of the walls they were projecting Disney’s 1997 classic Hercules (which Kyra and I later watched once back at my apartment).

On top of that they were playing some really great and eclectic tunes. Kyra had noticed that they woman -roughly our age- one stool over to my right had some really cool tattoos. I commented on them which lead to us conversing on and off throughout the night.

I found out that my new single-serving-friend (see Fight Club), Erica, is a hair stylist and is in town for Fashion Week. While we were chatting, Kyra sipped her cocktail, which looked delicious, and I had my beer. We shared a brownie Sunday which was divine.

Right before we left, I told Erica I was due for a haircut and that if she wanted to make some cash while in town (apparently you don’t get paid to work Fashion Week, go figure), that she could cut my hair. I gave her my number and headed on my way. If only I was that confident with straight girls. I doubt she’ll call but either way, it was nice to make a friend.

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It’s Always Sunny In Chiladelphia

This all came about last month when I grabbed a free copy of Time Out New York, while exiting the Borough Hall subway station, from the guy passing them out at the top of the stairs. I thumbed through it on my way to work and in doing so, came across an ad for the Museum of the American Revolution.

Looking at the address, I noticed that it was located in Philadelphia. This got me to wonder how far Philly was/is from New York. A quick Google search told me that it was only ~2 hours away. Realizing this, I started contemplating taking a day trip there.

It wasn’t until I was on my way home, thumbing through the magazine again, when I noticed that the two page article preceding the ad was titled 12 Hours in Philly; an hour by hour guide of how one could spend a day in the city off the beaten path. Being that I had never been there before, the bee was firmly placed in my bonnet.

Cut to yesterday, a few weeks after having read the article. Though I wasn’t as gung-ho as I had been -at this point if felt more like something I had to do in order to shut my brain up, than something I wanted to do- I decided to finally go for it. It was/is Labor Day Weekend so I had the next day (today) off and my co-workers BBQ had been canceled due to inclement weather. To my surprise it apparently is alway sunny in Philadelphia since there, unlike New York, it wasn’t raining.

That settled it, though I had missed the early bus, I could still make the 11:50. I took a quick shower, got dressed and hopped on the subway. I hadn’t booked a ticket but the guy at the bus said if there was room, I could squeeze onto the 11:20. It was 10:46 and I had no cash on me. I made my way to the nearest Bank of America ATM, grabbed $40, and by the time I got back, the bus was boarding.

$20 procured me a seat on the top level of the double decker Megabus (it would have been $15 if I’d bought online beforehand) and soon we were off to Philly. The thing that was different about this trip, as opposed to most other trips I take, is that I hadn’t done any hard pre-planning. I typically structure my day so that I know all the things I want to hit, where they are relative to one another and how to get to each of them.

I had looked through the article and gotten a few ideas of what to do and had done a very rough layout on Google maps, but that was it, it was all very fast and loose. On the one hand it made me feel uncomfortable but on the other, it felt nice not to be constrained by my own itinerary.

On the bus I did a bit more research and re-read the Time Out article, but as we pulled into the city, I was basically flying blind. I stepped off the bus and found myself in the heart of Liberty Square… wait, that’s Disney World… uh… Independence Square I think.

In any case, the first thing I saw was the Liberty Bell Museum, or rather, the line to get in. There was a sign that said no ticket required. This was good, I really didn’t want to pay just to look at an old broken bell. However, I had very little patience for lines. Especially when I just got off a bus, was in a new place and wanted to just go, go, go.

IMG_7362Independence Hall

I decided to skip the bell for now and head on to Independence Hall across the street. Looking at the hall from my side of the street, there was a row of chain links blocking the other sidewalk. I couldn’t see any other way to get into the area, so after crossing the street, I ducked under the chain links.

As I walked in, I started to hear yelling. I had no idea what it was so I ignored it and kept on walking. As I walked, the yelling got closer and was coming from behind, “Sir,” the person kept saying. Finally another tourist pointed behind me and said, “They’re yelling at you.” I stopped and turned around to find two disgruntled park rangers chasing me.

“Sir,” she yelled, “you can’t come in that way!” I just stared blankly at her, where else was I supposed to enter, I saw no signs and no entrance. “Sir, what does a chain mean to you!” She was furious. Again I just stared blankly. I really hate being yelled at and made to feel like I’m a child who’s just drawn on the wall.

“Uh, I don’t know.” I said, “Seems like a bad way to block an entrance.” This did not make her happy. “Sir, you need to leave.” I put my hands up, “Relax,” I said, and made my way towards the exit. If there’s one thing that really sets me off, it’s when people tell me to relax when I’m angry OR when I wasn’t angry but they think I am. I hope this had the desired effect on her as well.

I made my way to the exit and let myself out. So far Philly had left a pretty negative impression on me. Moving on, I took a lap around the block to just get away from the nonsense. As I did, I accidentally stumbled upon the National Constitution Center. It wasn’t really my plan to go to any of the museums as I really just wanted to explore the city. Plus I didn’t want to spend the money, so I kept on walking.

IMG_7363National Constitution Center

Eventually, I made my way to the other side of the block and entered the Philly subway system or SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) as it’s called. It was 1:45pm and I was hungry. The one takeaway I’d gotten from the Time Out article was a restaurant called Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop.

Since this was Philly, I had to have a Philly Cheesesteak. After fiddling with the ticket machine I eventually bought a one-day-pass for $9 or nine rides. I took the subway to the Girard station and walked the short distance to the restaurant.

IMG_7364Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop

The place feels like a diner with some modern vintage signage in the style of ESPO. Who knows, as a native of Philly, (I found that out in the article) it may have been done by him. My waitress Erin felt like a native Philadelphian; a towny and likely a lifer. She was very nice and brought me my order with a smile. I got a cheesesteak and a mint chocolate chip milkshake that was so big I had to take it to go.

After paying my bill I made my way back to the subway and took it to 15th street, the city center, as it was the closest stop that would get me to the next thing I wanted to see, Rittenhouse Square. When I got out of the station, I found myself in front of City Hall. The building was huge and gorgeous and looked like a castle.

IMG_7367City Hall

After getting a few pictures of it, I was going to just keep walking and make my way to the park. However, I’m really bad at smelling the proverbial roses so I decided to take a quick walk through the area. I’m glad I did because it felt like Cinderella’s Castle. You walk under this archway an into the central courtyard, which again, feels like a castle.

I then continued on my way towards Rittenhouse Square. Along the way, I noticed that a lot of the architecture reminded me of Boston. It makes sense as they are both very old and historical cities. The main difference is that where as Boston has its sections of big buildings, Philly feels like more of a big building city… if that makes any sense. Also, though Boston is blue collar, Philly felt very blue collar. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased.

IMG_7370Rittenhouse Square

Eventually I got to Rittenhouse Square. Though it was kind of small, the treelined park was very nice, quiet, clean and beautiful. I never really know what to do in parks and so I just kind of walked around for a bit. At one point I got a text from my new work friend Jordan, inviting me to the movies. Unfortunately I obviously had to decline.

Moving on, I made my way out to Schuylkill River Park. There, I walked along the Schuylkill River northbound towards the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As I approached, I heard music playing. Turns out the Made in America Festival was happening that weekend so basically all of the park was closed off to the public.

IMG_7379Philadelphia Museum of Art

Thus I was able to enter through the rear of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but not the front. Why does this matter? Well, on the other side of the museum are the famous stairs from Rocky and I wanted to so badly have my moment and run up them. Oh well.

I moved on and walked past the Rodin Museum to a bench outside the Barnes Foundation. There I sat, took a break and collected my thoughts. It was 4-ish and I knew I wanted to take a 7pm bus home so I’d get back to NY by 9-ish. I figured out the last few things I wanted to hit and made my way to them.

IMG_7380Free Library of Philadelphia

As I was sitting across from the library, I decided to stop in, only to see that it was closed. Probably for the best as, though I’m sure it would have been beautiful, it would have been more walking than I would have wanted to do. I then walked through Logan Square and caught a glimpse of The Franklin Institute before making my way to the subway.

I took the subway back to Independence Square to finally get a good look at the Liberty Bell. The line was much shorter now and moved fairly quickly. The biggest hold up was going through the metal detectors. Eventually I was through and I rushed past the exhibit to get a glimpse of the main attraction, the bell.

IMG_7393The Liberty Bell

The bell was swarmed with families taking selfies with their kids. Eventually it cleared out and I was able to get a good shot of it. I then went back and actually looked at some of the things in the exhibit before making my way out.

I decided to take another stab at Independence Hall. Not to “sneak in” -although that would have been funny- but just to get a better view of it and to see if and where there was an entrance.

After taking a lap around it I did find the impossibly hard to find entry point. I wasn’t sure if you had to pay to go in or not but there as a line and I didn’t want to wait. Plus, it had left such a bad taste in my brain that I decided to skip it. I walked back to the visitor center where I sat and rested for a bit before breezing through the gift shop.

There I saw a thing for the famous LOVE sculpture and made it my mission to try and find it before I left the city. I took the subway to the part of the city where it should have been but despite walking in circles, was unable to find it. I was running out of time if I wanted to make the 7pm bus back to the city so I got back on the train and took it to 30th Street station.

Cut to a montage of me walking through the Amtrak Station looking for signs for busses. Walking to the sidewalk where the signs pointed and looking to no avail. Then eventually doubling back into the station to ask customer service where I could find a bus back to New York.

Despite the fact that I had looked at the Megabus website earlier in the day to find that their last bus left Philly at 5:45pm, when I went to where she pointed me a block away, there was a 7:10 waiting. According to the receipt, I got my ticket at 7:07pm. I hopped on, went to the top deck and found a seat by myself towards the front.

As we pulled away from the curb, I saw two kids running up trying to flag down the driver. They were shit out of luck as he didn’t see them and we kept on going. As we made our way through the city, I reflected on my day.

Philly, as it turns out, is pretty small. I’d say I did a decent job covering it. The only thing I didn’t really hit besides the LOVE sculpture and the Rocky steps were the museums -which would need a dedicated trip to be honest- and if there’s anything to see from “It’s Always Sunny.” Despite my lack of planning, I’d say I did a pretty good job. That said, I don’t feel the need to ever go back.

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Six Flags Great Adventure

I’ve been to Six Flags Great Adventure four times in my life. The first was when I was fairly young and I don’t remember it at all. The next two times were in 2005 when the ride Kingda Ka was made. The first 2005 trip ended in a bad experience because Kinda Ka was having technical difficulties. I then convinced my Dad later that summer to take me and my cousin back with, essentially the sole purpose of riding Kingda Ka.

We went all the way back, a six hour drive down to New Jersey, only to find that once again Kingda Ka was closed! However it eventually opened towards the end of the day and after 3 and half hours in line, we had finally conquered the (at the time) tallest and fastest coaster in the world.

IMG_7280Kingda Ka/Zumanjaro

Cut to 2017 and it’s been 12 years since I’ve been to this park. After moving to NY I searched how long of a ride it was from the city to the park. As it turned out, it was only an hour and a half away. And so, last Sunday I hopped on the NJ transit bus from Port Authority in Manhattan to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

We arrived at SFGA at ~10:00am and waited in a fairly long line to go through security. Being that I had my backpack, I had to wait in a longer line which took forever because that had to search everyone’s bag. When they got to mine, the security guy found the opened green tea I had been hiding. He told me I needed to dump it out into a bucket.

“If it wasn’t opened,” he said, “you could have kept it.” I was so pissed because I had only had one sip of the drink. Not only did it mean I no longer had my green tea, it also meant that had spent X amount of money which I was now literally throwing away, but it also meant waste of a perfectly good bottle of green tea. I hate wasting things. This was strike one.

After going through security I then had to wait in another line to get my ticket scanned. This was super annoying but at ~10:45am I finally got into the park. The first thing I did was to run to Kingda Ka. When I got there however, I was stopped by the fact that you could not bring bags or any loose items into the line. Instead you had to place your items in lockers.

This is already annoying enough but at least at other parks you go to that make you do this you get to put items in for free. At this park, you get squeezed for every dollar they can get and it’s a dollar each time you have to place your items in the locker. The locker is only good for 2 hours. After that it’s an additional dollar per hour. This is simply “highway robbery” because they know they have you by the balls. This was strike two.

I begrudgingly paid the $1 and got in line. To my pleasant surprise, the wait time was only ~10 minutes, a far cry from that first 3 and a half hour wait in 2005. After riding Kingda Ka, I got back in line and rode it again, this time with a ~15 minute wait. I then made my way over to Zumanjaro.

Zumanjaro is a simple elevator drop ride. It was built onto the front structure of Kingda Ka in 2014. It is, apparently, the tallest (at 415 feet) and fastest (at 90mph) drop ride in the world! I typically hate these rides because I really don’t like heights, but yet I love roller coasters… go figure. However, because this one doesn’t launch you from the bottom, it actually wasn’t bad.

Also, because it is attached to Kingda Ka, it somehow makes it feel less heigh. I took the age old advice of “don’t look down” and it truly worked. Instead, I looked up to see how close to the top we were. Once at the top I looked out over Six Flags before dropping five seconds later. All in all not bad.

IMG_7258El Toro

After that I retrieved my backpack from the locker and went over to El Toro. El Toro was being built the year we went to SFGA twice. It opened a year later in 2006 and has been voted the number one wooden coaster in the world two years in a row. I paid another dollar to put my bag in another locker before getting in line for the ride.

El Toro did not disappoint. It was by far one of the smoothest, if not the smoothest wooden coaster I’ve ever been on. It also has the second biggest drop of any wooden coaster at 176 feet and one of the steepest drops at 76 degrees. It’s also the 4th fastest at 70mph. However, what I thought was really cool was the speed of the lift hill. At 13mph it gets you to the top in no time at all.

After riding “the bull” I went over to Medusa, er, I mean Bizzaro. Formerly know as Medusa, Bizzaro is was repainted and renamed for the 2008 season and theming objects were added. It really does nothing for the ride but I can now say I’ve ridden this floorless coaster with two different names. B&M rides never fail to deliver fun, smooth rides.

I then grabbed my bag from the second locker and got overpriced Mexican food for lunch. After eating lunch, I made my way over to the Green Lantern coaster. Placed in the spot where The Great American Scream Machine used to stand, Green Lantern was relocated from Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and renamed; it was formerly called Chang.

I was really excited to ride it because I’d never been on it before and because it was only going to be the third stand up coaster I’ver ever been on. However, upon my arrival, it was closed. This was strike three. I was pretty bummed about all of these things and though they may seem minuscule, they cumulatively made for a fairly bad experience.

Disappointed, I then made my way to the other end of the park where I put in my third dollar for the day. There I rode The Dark Knight. This is, arguably the best themed ride in the park. I say that very loosely because it is barely themed. It has a pre-ride show and, because you are supposed to be riding on Gotham City Transit, the queue is subway themed and the cars look like subway trains.

This ride is nothing more than an indoor wild mouse coaster with some lighting and theming objects. It replaced the defunct Batman and Robin: The Chiller for the 2008 season. Sadly, I only ever got to ride Robin in 2005, the Batman side was closed.

After riding The Dark Knight I went over to perhaps my favorite ride in the park, Nitro. Nitro is another B&M coaster, this one however is a hypercoaster with a 215 foot drop. Nitro never fails to be thrilling and enjoyable. After Nitro I rode Batman The Ride, a compact inverted coaster. The ride it so short that the long line did not really justify the wait but oh well, another one to check off the list.

Cut to a montage of me looking at the map, strolling around aimlessly and eventually taking the Skyway gondola. The thing that really sucked about having to pay for locker each time, on top of the cost, was the inconvenience. It was so annoying to not be able to just place your stuff on the other side of the track and pick it up when you got off.

IMG_7248Six Flags Great Adventure as seen from the Skyway gondola

I get that it probably messes with load times but it is ultimately an easier system. It basically made me not want to ride as many rides because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. For example, I didn’t ride Skull Mountain because I didn’t want to pay a dollar to ride it. Its a fun stupid little coaster but it’s not worth a dollar. Being that going on rides is the whole reason I went to the park, it kind of put a damper on the whole day.

When I got to the other side, I put my bag in a locker… again, before riding El Toro one last time. At an hour and a half, this was my longest wait of the day. The ride was having problems, than ran few trains empty to test them and eventually they had to take 15 to 20 minutes to swap one of the trans off. This meant running a one train operation.

The down side to this was that ranter than loading on train while the other was running, they could only load the train once it was back in the station. This essentially doubled the wait time for the ride. However, as before, it delivered and I was glad I got in two rides on it.

After that I basically had to play the waiting game. The bus back to New York wasn’t set to arrive until 9:30pm and it was only about 7:30pm. I was essentially done for the day, tired and a little depressed. Eventually, after going back and forth for a while I bit the bullet an paid the $12! for a chicken sandwich.

As I exited the park with my overpriced food to wait for the bus, I contemplated dumpster diving through the recycling bucket for my green tea. I bet, if they hadn’t emptied the bucket throughout the day, that it was still in there. That said, it was probably sticky and gross so I decided against it.

As I waited for the bus, I reflected on the day. I thought about the fact that overall, I had a fairly mediocre experience. It really bummed me out because it made me think that I’m getting too old or too jaded for theme parks, something I used to love. Maybe if I’d gone with a friend or bought a locker at the beginning of the day or not had to throw out my green tea or spend so much money it would have been a better experience, I don’t know.

The last thing that bummed me out was that fact that I missed the first bus -my own fault, I refused to wait in the line- and so I had to get on the second one, which stopped in NJ first before going to NY, making the trip that much longer. On top of that, the driver didn’t even collect my bus ticket. Why did I bother paying for a round trip ticket if I could have snuck on for free?

Overall the day was fine, but it may mark the end of an era for theme parks for me, #sad.

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Pool Hopping

The last time I was living in New York, I, for whatever reason, got the idea that I wanted to find a hotel pool to sneak into as a means of a) doing something fun and b) beating the heat without having to go to the beach.

Thus, a quick Google search lead me to a list of NY hotel pools and how to sneak into them. Fast forward to present day and the idea resurfaced in my brain. Knowing that it was a super low risk “crime” and that I had nothing better planned for this weekend, I decided to go for it.

IMG_7183Pool at the Millennium Hilton; spoiler alert… I got in!

I thought that the best place to start would be the top of the list. In addition to knowing exactly where the Millennium Hilton is, the article I found made it seem very easy to sneak into.

After getting off at Fulton Street Station, I walked the very short distance to the Hilton. I decided to enter through the side entrance as to draw less attention to myself. I had my headphones on and my sunglasses too. I walked straight to the elevator and pressed the call button. Moments later my ride was there.

I got in, thankfully alone, and pressed 4. According to the article, the pool was on the 4th floor. However, when I arrived, I was greeted with a hallway filled with business centers. I nervously paced back and forth down the corridor. Was there a different elevator shaft I needed to take?

The only other rooms I saw were labeled “Staff”. I had a feeling that any second a staff member was going to pop out and I’d be busted. I found a nearby bathroom and collected my thoughts.

No one knows you’re not a guest at the hotel. You have yet to give them a reason to suspect you aren’t a guest. Even if you get caught, the worst that will happen is they’ll kick you out.

Relaxed, I got in a different elevator. Again it was empty and as the door closed, I scanned the buttons to see if any were labeled. Then, out to the corner of my eye, I spotted a plaque with a list of amenities and what floor they were on; “Fitness Center” Floor 5.

The article had screwed up the floor number. I pressed 5 and was pleased when the door opened one floor later to smell chlorine. I was in the right place.I walked around the corner and down the hall to find a glass door leading to an empty reception desk, just as the article said. Beyond the desk was the pool, I was home free.

As I entered the pool room I saw two life guards sitting on the chairs at the shallow end of the pool. They were twenty-something year old dudes who were just talking and looking at their phones. They were also fully clothed so even if there was an emergency and they needed to do actual life guarding, they would have been pretty useless.

I casually walked over to an empty seat, took off my backpack, took off my headphones, took off my shoes, took off my shirt, slipped off my basketball shorts, under which was my bathing suit and walked down the stairs of the shallow end into the pool. I did it!

Being that it was around 11am the only other people in the pool were a young, roughly my age couple, and a grandmother with her granddaughter. The pool was heated, as I hoped it would be, and after maybe 20 minutes of swimming around, the young couple left. A short while after that, the grandmother and granddaughter got out too.

For a short while I had the whole place to myself. After that a mother and her teenage daughter came in. And after that two women maybe five years older than me came in. At around noon I decided to bail. The thrill of sneaking around was sort of gone and because I was by myself and the pool was… just a pool, I was getting bored.

Though I’d brought my own, I grabbed an unused hotel towel off the seat next to mine, grabbed my bag and went into the bathroom/changing room. I toweled off and changed back into my regular clothes. I then dropped my used towel in the hamper and made my way out.

As I was leaving, I pushed the glass door to exit. However, I didn’t remember having to push it open to enter. Had it been left ajar? I pulled on it to see if I could get back in but it had locked behind me. I glanced over to the wall and sure enough there was a key card reader.

Either I had gotten lucky and the door had not been shut fully OR it was wide open when I got there OR the hotel staff waits until later in the day to activate the key car reader.

Either way it was pretty lucky that the door wasn’t lock when I’d arrived or I’d have been boned. I probably could have waited for another guest to arrive or something, but still, it would have put a serious monkey wrench in the plan.

So, two things I learned, 1) the pool is on the 5th floor, not the 4th and 2) you may need to procure a key card, or find someone with a key card in order to gain access to the pool if the glass door is not left open/unlocked. Other than that it’s smooth swimming.

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Japan Top 10

1. MariCar

This was by far the most fun I had the entire trip

2. Nagashima Spa Land

I was able to fulfill a 17-year old dream of riding Steel Dragon 2000, plus the day was a lot of fun

3. Tokyo DisneySea

You kinda can’t beat Disney Parks

4. Tsutaya Daikanyama T-site

I could have spent an entire day their looking at books

5. Anata No Warehouse

The theming was great and the games were fun

6. Liberty Walk and RWB

Tied at #6 because of how similar the experience was, I was so grateful to meet Kato-san and Nakai-san

7. Gonpachi Nishi Azabu

Not only was it cool to be in a location that inspired a scene from Kill Bill, this was also my most memorable and probably best meal of the entire trip

8. The 5.6.7.8’s

I got to fulfill a long time goal of not only seeing this band, but seeing them in Japan

9. Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium

Whale Shark, nuff said

10. Miraikan

The Art of Disney: The Magic of Animation exhibit brought me to tears

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