Catching up with friends when I can

Plus some Instagram Pics

Empire State Building in clouds
Had a rare bit of downtime and coorporating weather so I saw my friend Claire for dinner the other night and then went out with my friend Bryson to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

Don’t actually get to catch up with people in RL all that often; partly because we’re all busy and partly because FB and other social networks are kinda like “keeping up, lite.” We get the curated highlights that people want to share and, for the most part, that’s often good enough.

But it’s nice seeing people when I can. Claire is staying here in The City from California because of her fella and Bryson is, as always, the same guy I knew back in college but with two kids now.

It’s nice seeing how your friends’ stories unfold.

Shots of liquor

On a different note entirely, I’ve been trying to get more into Instagram.

My main issue with using is that I don’t generally like how pictures from phones come out. But here are the highlights of what I’ve done recently – follow me!

Spring in NYC and Bryant Park.Spring in NYC and Bryant Park.

#Cloudy day in #NYC and autumn leaf bag bear downtown is unhappy. #Cloudy day in #NYC and autumn leaf bag bear downtown is unhappy.

Nighttime falls in the #UWS in #NYC. The #DINKYs and #YUPPIES grow restless. Nighttime falls in the #UWS in #NYC. The #DINKYs and #YUPPIES grow restless.

It's #spring and sunny in #NYC but still cold enough to freeze you solid. It’s #spring and sunny in #NYC but still cold enough to freeze you solid.

NYC is always a work in progress. NYC is always a work in progress.

Location: HomeDepot getting supplies
Mood: excited
Music: If you’re gonna do it, do it right – right?
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They’re always filming something here

They’re shooting Gotham in my neighborhood

Gotham Television Show Shooting in NYC

Since we’re on the topic of talking about the city and real life, there’s always a movie or television shoot going on somewhere.

It does get to be a bit annoying to have a million people milling about and blocking traffic for essentially entertainment purposes when you actually have some place to be.

The other night, an entire block near my house was lit up bright as day in the middle of the night for a scene from Gotham and I had to walk all the way around the other side to just cross the street.

That picture above was taken at maybe midnight but a crane with the brightest light I’d ever seen lit up the whole block.

P1070846

And outside my window this morning there were three scouts laying out shots for something else for what seemed like hour. I finally had to ask them to leave, which they were nice enough to do.

But still I have to admit that I’m always jazzed when I see someplace I recognize on the big or little screen.

Suppose it’s just like everything else in life, you want the results of things without having to put in the effort to have them done.

Me: Fellas, my desk is right there, do you mind keeping it down?
Him: Oh, sorry, sorry, we were working on a shoot.
Me: (laughing) I guessed that part.

Location: Queens, shortly
Mood: busy
Music: Hypocrites. You’re all here for the very same reason.
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Hoping we don’t go back to the good old days

Anyone missing the old NYC didn’t live in the old NYC

Me: Do you want me to slice that for you?
Her: Why?
Me: Cutting bagels are the among the most dangerous household activities.
Her: (getting knife) You’re the clumsiest person I know.
Me: This is true.

Finished up a slate of projects for a client recently and immediately got more work in. There’s no real happy balance with my type of work, it’s either feast or famine.

The professor was in town but we each only had an hour or so, so we caught up in basement of Grand Central.

Me: Y’know, I have no childhood reference for this place. I figured if I came here back then, I’d get shanked.
Him: Yeah.

The people that dream of the good old days of NYC never had to live here back then. I have the feeling they’re the same people that like to rubberneck at car wrecks or watch nature shows when the impala gets killed by the lioness.

Great entertainment if you’re the lioness or the one in a safe car. Not so much if you’re the impala.

Running down my list of friends who were born and raised here, the professor is in Pittsburgh, another buddy is in Hawaii, another one in Cali, another one in Connecticut.

The City takes its toll on you over a lifetime.

I bring this up because I was concerned about our new mayor. The last time we had a mayor like him, the city was a cesspool.

But his recent choice of our old Chief Bratton has allayed my fears, somewhat. Only somewhat.

For me, I can only wait.

Because there really isn’t anywhere like New York.

 

Location: in front of all these computer screens
Mood: tired
Music: I know, I know, I know you ain’t the one to play the game.
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Insomnia and a day of meetings on tap

Another sleepless night

Had a bunch of things I wanted to write about but a particularly bad bout of insomnia this week has made it so that everything’s hazy. A copy of a copy of a copy.

Last night a car alarm kept my entire building awake as well so that was beyond irritating. Wanted to go outside with a sledgehammer.

Now I’ve got to slap myself awake and prep for a day of meetings from 11AM to 7:30PM. No fun.

In some ways, NYC and I are in an abusive relationship. She treats me terribly but her charms are enough that I stay. Some of us are just nighthawks, I suppose.

Apparently Billy Joel feels the same way too; check out this vid with him and a random Vanderbuilt college kid named Michael Pollock that wants to play the piano with him.

Here’s the thing: If you never ask, there’s zero chance you’ll get what you want. The risk one takes by opening the mouth and asking changes everything.

Everything good comes from the asking. Michael Pollock asked to play and Joel said yes.

Guess it’s time for another meeting.

Why yes, I will have another cup of coffee…

Mood: ex-fricken-hausted
Music: so easy livin’ day by day Out of touch with the rhythm and blues
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The guys in your corner

Life’s easier with people on your side

Was doing work when I got a text from my buddy Thor telling me he had a fight the next day. He’s probably the only guy I get to practice my crappy German with so I said yes.

Him: Hey buddy, do you maybe have some time tomorrow to take some pics?
Me: Maybe – where and when?

The next night, was walking down an empty Jerome Avenue looking for a fight ring.

Pretty soon, walked into a Bronx gym that smelled like old sweat and violence.

Found Thor and the coaches and waited around for the other fella – who ended up being a no show. But the guys just ended up looking for another fighter to fight and found one.

The only issue was that he was ranked two levels higher than my buddy (white vs. purple).

But Thor was game so it was on.

Just like all of the other fights, it was a lotta waiting around before they finally got down to scrapping. I stood in his corner with his coaches to film it.

Thor ultimately lost but we were proud that he held his own.

It’s ok, we all lose at some point.

And we all lose our very last fight. It’s our fate.

But along the way, it’s nice to have people in your corner – people on you side.

As for me, if I get to choose which corner to be in, I choose to to be in the one with the people that, when that bell rings – regardless of the what or who they’re up against – take a deep a breath, knuckle-up, and roll.

Him: Thanks for coming. It means a lot to me.
Me: You did great – it was against a purple! That’s something. Get ready for the next one – let’s go...

Mood: proud
Music: on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs
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Our reputations bring us places

Sometimes these places have no rum but endless vodka and ill-thought out plans

Our reputations carry us places – hopefully places we want to go, which is not always the case. And you build a reputation just like you build anything else in your life.

When I was single, had a reputation of never saying no to an invite and that’s served me well; met my wife this way and lots of other interesting people.

Back then, found myself randomly at the Rainbow Room meeting Tina Fey or running repeatedly into a French waitress at Hiro or just ending up on a rooftop somewhere.

After I got married, stopped having that reputation – mainly because it’s tiring and little beats being at home seeing what’s on Netflix with your favourite person.

But I still get the random call from time-to-time. Monday it was from my old buddy, Mas.

Him: There’s a black tie banquet at Cirpriani’s downtown tonight, you’re on the guest list.
Me: Do I have to wear a tie?
Him: It’s supposed to be tuxedo, so please wear tie
Me: Fine, fine – but if I see someone without a tie there, it’s coming off!
Him: Deal

An hour later, I’m having a Double-Cross vodka martini – hold everything but the vodka – and trying to chat with Maya Lin.

It’s vodka, BTW, because of their lack of any aged rums; told the bartender they should consider adding some.

After my buddy and his friends show up, it’s a blur of vodka (now giving up all pretensions and just having it on the rocks), appetizers, speeches, and handshakes.

In the middle of it, get a call from a client.

Her: …12 projects. All due this quarter.
Me (what I wanted to say): All due this quarter?! That’s crazy. There’s only three weeks left and I’ve got eight projects already due by year’s end, which is really December 21st because of Xmas falling on a Tuesday this month. I’m flattered you thought of me, but I can’t possibly.
Me: (what I actually said): Sure.

Finished up the night by thanking my friends for the invite and headed home to the aforementioned favourite person.

Her: How was it?
Me: No good rum but otherwise, really nice. Let me tell you who I met…

Woke up the next day with 250MB of pdf files in my email. My email crashed because of the volume of scans.

Slept 3 hours last night. Off to start project nine of the month.

Goodbye sleep, I’ll see you in January.

Location: off to another meeting
Mood: whoa
Music: down on Delancey, Hey remember that time
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Travelogue (Kinda) – Downtown NYC

We love weddings and staycations; even better together

A buddy of mine that’s made a number of appearances in this blog over the years under another name got married this past weekend downtown.

The wife and I decided to book a hotel downtown a while ago so that we could have a staycation. But we were worried after the storm hit that the Hilton Doubletree downtown might be damaged so we called and they said everything was fine.

We found out later that this was only partly true.

Getting around downtown with a cane and a buncha bags wasn’t easy, and there was definitely a strong odor of gas/anti-freeze/oil in the air. Everywhere we went, there were ConEd workers and pumps chugging along. Piles and piles of rubbish everywhere.

But we made it to our hotel in one piece.

The thing that was partly true about the hotel was that only two of the three elevators were working. We didn’t think that was going to be a big deal but it ended up meaning long waits for everything.

Me with a cane meant that we couldn’t take the stair so it was a whole lotta hurry up and wait.

We decided to just stay in the hotel for dinner and I ordered myself fried chicken with waffles before crashing.

The next morning, we ordered some breakfast and then went out for a walk. Downtown is really completely different from rest of the city in that it’s streets are a lot like Boston or Philly because of this massive fire in 1776.

We couldn’t believe how much the water rose during the hurricane.

But it was a sunny, if not cold, day so the city looked like it was getting back to normal.

We then went over to Battery Gardens where we sat for a Jewish ceremony complete with my Asian buddy smashing glass at the end and getting hoisted up on a chair.

Saw a number of old friends that I’d not seen in a while.

Also, isn’t it funny when you find out that you have a friend in common with people that you didn’t know knew the same people? That seems to happen more and more these days.

The guy with the shaved head below insisted on getting me food while I sat and nursed my leg – what a mensch! Between him and my wife, I pretty much just sat back and received food and drink. That’s the way to live, my friends.

I’m leaning on a cane below; I wanted one with a silver handle and a fur hat for the festive occasion but the wife put a stop to that idea.

She ruins all my great ideas.

The next day, took almost half-an-hour for the elevator to arrive but we made it home soon enough. Spent the rest of the day nursing my leg; the trip home wiped me out.

Life is slowly getting back to normal for us as well. As it were.

Me: Morning, honey. Oh shoot, I’ve got to call that chicken farmer this morning.
Her: Morning. Wait, what?

Location: planning a trip to an industrial farm
Mood: better
Music: But someone picked you from the bunch
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Then kunckle up and swing

UWS NYC

Her: (watching the tourists at 30 Rock) It’s funny. People come all the way here to see our town.
Me: Yeah. It’s not notice things when we live here.

Had a date night with the wife; we don’t do it often enough but it’s nice when we get around to it. Went to the same place we went around last year.

Afterward, we took a nice stroll back home. It’s good, being tourists in your own city.

———-

Work’s finally slowed down a bit, for better or for worse. Had some time to work on some other projects of mine.

NYer Lionel Trilling once said, “Our culture peculiarly honors the act of blaming, which it takes as the sign of virtue and intellect.” I add that to that old Chateaubriand quote, “You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light.”

Just don’t get why people think negativism equals reasoned intellect. If anything, unsupported criticism just makes you look like a churl. And a douchebag.

There’s this company with the following business model: for a fee – they’ll read your book and write an honest review of it. So I put my money where my mouth is and requested one.

What I got in return was a scathing review, which was disappointing. But then I read the review closely, noticed some odd things. The reviewer:

  1. only mentioned the hero in one sentence
  2. didn’t mention the antagonist – at all
  3. didn’t mention anything that happened after page 30.
  4. didn’t mention any themes (revenge, loyalty, etc) or really anything of substance
  5. instead focused a third of the review on a single minor scene (on page 24) out of 276 pages.

That’s when I realized that this guy just skimmed it, dashed off a review, and took my dough. There’s nuthin honest about that.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, saw that the reviewer, amongst other things:

  • doesn’t understand how to use a colon
  • doesn’t know the difference between “blonde” and “blond,”
  • doesn’t know how to spell “plot lines.”

There’s more, but that’s enough for now. And that’s when I went from being disappointed to feeling ripped-off.

So I actually contacted an editor and told him that I’m not just some disappointed author, I’m someone that reviews books regularly. And I know the difference between a real book review is and a slap-dash quickie dollar.

And I posited this simple question to the editor: “Do you and your company stand by this review?”

  • If he doesn’t, I want my money back.
  • If he does, I’ll print the review here and let you decide if it’s a valid review.

Should note that when I write a book review, my name is on it. I own it, good or bad. In this blog, on FB, at the NYJB, at Lawline. I own what I put out into the world and I stand by it.

Here’s an anonymous review from someone that clearly doesn’t understand basic rules of English, who didn’t read my book, and tells me it’s no good.

If you read me regularly, you know that I can handle lively debate or a fair disagreement. What I can’t stand is horses__t and bullies.

It’s like that time that guy ran out and said he would drop me. Remember thinking, You must not know ’bout me.

Told that guy to knuckle up and swing because I knew something he didn’t: I was qualified for the task at hand.

As he sulked away, he and I both knew he was not similarly situated.

And now, it appears we’ve arrived at a similar junction.

 

Location: yesterday, celebrating Easter
Mood: offended
Music: “Do you believe what you’re sayin’?” Yeah right now, but not that often.
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The person with the answers’ worth the wait

UWS church in NYC

Was asked to be one of the photographers for my new church opening on the UWS. It’s flattering to be asked but maybe it’s more my Syd than me.

A photographer once told me that at least half of the difficultly of taking pictures of people’s the walking up to strangers and shoving a machine into their faces.

You “take” pictures – no one “gives” them to you. It’s aggressive by its very nature.

The thing’s that I’m not an aggressive guy. Most people’s responses to my taking pictures is a why-not kinda shrug.

Dunno if this’s a good thing or bad thing but I’m leaning toward the former.

Whiskey Tavern in NYC

Went out to see the family over the weekend and the wife came with. Spent most of it building a PVR for my pop.

Time Warner has two numbers for building these things and I called the local number (718.358.0900) versus the toll-free number (866.606.5889) as it seems to be a shorter wait.

The lady on the first one – after 15 minute wait – said, “Hold on, I’m going to send a signal to your box.” I told her I had a series of numbers that I was supposed to read to her and she told me she didn’t need it.

30 minutes later, I’m back at the Time Warner repair center returning a fried box.

This time, called the second number and – after a 90 minute wait – got a guy who chuckled and said, “She fried your box, huh? Dunno why they keep putting the local numbers there. Those guys don’t know what they’re doing.”

No. No they do not.

Moral of the story? The person with the answers’ worth the wait.

Whiskey Tavern in NYC

Afterward, met up with Gio. He was having a party at Whiskey Tavern downtown to celebrate his 40th birthday as well his recent engagement. He and I had many the random meetings in the big city together.

As usual with him, the poison was on his tab and all of our people were there. My liver wasn’t speaking to me afterward. Ran into a number of old faces and it was good catching up – even ran into three people that read me here (hola!).

Anywho, there’s this saying that every pot has it’s cover. Maybe that’s true.

Met the future Mrs. Gio that night and told her I wished the two of them all of the best.

Life’s hard enough without your person.

Location: bedroom, writing
Mood: disappointed
Music: you give me no reason why you’re making me work so hard
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5 Unique things to do in NYC – 2011

What does a native New Yorker do for fun?

Lincoln Center

People are always asking me for unique things to do in NYC. Dunno about unique but here’s what I do as a native NYCer when I get a moment or two:

1. Walk down Riverside Drive
On a clear day, take a walk down Riverside Park. It’s perfect in spring or fall – here’s when I did it in November 2009. There’s an entrance on 72nd and Riverside Drive. Start off by walking to the tip of the West Side Pier and pretend you’re on a ship. Afterwards, you can stroll all the way down to Union Square via the bike path (or bike, natch) and see some ruins of old NYC, the parks, and even the High Line if you want to step off for a bit. It’ll be the most relaxing part of your Manhattan trip.

2. Eat at John’s Pizzeria
Always tell everyone to try out John’s Pizzeria on W 44th Street. Everybody goes to Lombardi’s downtown cause that’s where American pizza was invented in 1897. That’s all fine but it’s kinda not worth it. The thing is, Lombardi had a buncha helpers who were named Grimaldi, Patsy, and John, amongst others. John set up shop, like the others, and John’s Pizza’s his flagship. The pizza’s the same in that’s it thin and great – not coal fired, though. But the thing about John’s Pizza’s that it’s in a converted cathedral. So try to get a seat in the main room and look up at the stained-glass ceilings. You can also have fun trying to figure out where the choir was. It’s cheap too; figure $50 for a pizza, two drinks and a salad. It’ll be the nicest pizza place you’ve ever been to. Two notes:

  • the mens rooms are tiny,
  • avoid any time 90 minutes before a Broadway show, place’s packed.

3. Step out at Solas
Back when I was single, was at Solas on East 9th practically every Thursday and Friday night. The best thing about the joint – beside the no cover charge – is that it’s essentially three different spots in one. The eastern part’s a regular bar; belly up, order yourself a Dark and Stormy and chat up the girlie next to you. The western part’s almost always has a DJ and a private party that you’re always able to crash and get down with your bad self (don’t be a douchebag if you do). That has a bar too. Finally, upstairs is a lounge area although they usually jack up the sound up there too. Oh, and there’s a bar there too. Love that joint. It’s the only thing I miss about being single.

4. Get a drink (with or without bubbles) in the Winter Garden
Despite the name, the summer’s the best time to head downtown to the World Financial Center / Winter Garden. There’s usually a lotta shows that’re free to see and you can get a Dark and Stormy here too or something else with bubbles in your drinks. Like mosta NYC, it’s not really cheap but it’s not crazy expensive. Good place for a fourth date or a nice night out.

5. Have lunch with real silverware and food you don’t have to unwrap for $7
Go eat at Curry Row – already wrote about it once here.

I’ll post more stuff to do in the city that’s not in guidebooks next year. If you have anything you like about the city, lemme know?

As for me, back to the grind…

———-

Regarding the usual nuthin, spent most of Thursday night in the hospital again. Just a lotta waiting around for doctors. Come so often to this emergency room that I should get some sorta rewards point.

———-

 

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The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
Location: Last week, a waiting room at Columbus Circle, again.
Mood: still worried
Music: maybe I’m on my knees
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