Friends and Grey’s Papaya on the UWS

This was a weekend in good and bad food choices


A male buddy, who is white, showed up with a female friend, who is Asian, at my home the other day. I introduced them to my wife and noted that my wife and I were a white female/Asian male couple.

Guests: (to wife) Hello!
Me: It’s like we’re the negative images of each other!

The girl was from Taiwan and had never been to America before so I gave the two of them a quick 45 minute nickle tour of my neighborhood before a phone conference I had scheduled.

Her: How long have you lived here?
Me: About 40 years.

She wanted a hot dog so I brought them to the Grey’s Papaya on 72nd.

Me: …and over there is where Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson had the phone scene in Die Hard III. And this is also the Grey’s Papaya from Fools Rush In and You’ve Got Mail.
Him: Cool.

Forget sometimes that I live in the middle of one of the most visited places on the planet; to me, it’s just home.

When people visit, I become a tourist in my own city again. Even if only for a little bit.

Picture from On The Set of New York.

Everywhere I look, the news is troubling and sad. Was going to write something about it, but I don’t think I’m clear in my head right now – my injuries are preventing me from going to the gym, which in turn has led to the return of my insomnia, which in turn is leaving me fuzzy.

Not a good start to the week but the weather’s cooled down enough for me to make some lasagne.

Life is better with lasagne.

Here’s an Instagram pic I took of it – oh, and find me on Instagram and Twitter.

Location: running out to get more coffee
Mood: fuzzy
Music: how could he resist when her dress let in the autumn sun?
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Remembering the Northeast Blackout of 2003

10 years since the East Coast Blackout

Me: Today’s the 10 year anniversary of the 2003 East Coast Blackout.
Her: Really? Wow. 10 years. Time goes by so fast.

I remember what I was doing that day/night well since it happened just under a year since the 9/11 attacks.

Was actually in a real estate closing when I realized that I was missing a check. So I made a mad dash to my office to get it.

On the train ride back to the meeting, the train got stuck in the tunnel. Was already panicked as this was only my third real estate closing so I remember that when the AC shut off in the subway car, I was already a sweaty mess. I also remember the subway car windows steaming up because of the humidity.

Hours later, the car doors opened in the middle of the tunnel and we worked our way in the dark to the station – we used our mobile phones for light. When I finally got out, I was a mile or so from the closing so I ran there with the check.

Was so absorbed in getting to the meeting that I barely noticed that there were no lights.

Arriving, I banged the door repeatedly when the building manager finally came and opened the door. “I’m…here…for the closing. Checks.” I said, breathlessly.

People walking in New York City during the bla...
People walking in New York City during the blackout (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Closing?” he said, “There’s a ___ing blackout. There’s no closing.” And the slammed the door in my face. Only then did I look up and think, Well, that’s weird.

Eventually, I made it over to Rain’s apartment where we ended up BBQing on his roof since his fridge was stocked. I remember sitting on his roof ledge in a rumpled suit, dirty from my tunnel run.

Hours later in the dark, finally managed to grab a $80 cab ride back to my pad. We went at like three miles an hour up to the Upper West Side because of all the pedestrians and lack of light.

When I got home, found my sister waiting for me since she couldn’t make it to her home. Back then I had a car so I lent it to a buddy to go check up on his mom in Philly. End up eating everything out of my fridge for a late dinner.

Two things happened that day:

  1. I have a checklist for closings now so I never forget another check.
  2. Got this here story to tell people now.

All education’s expensive. Some, though, come with worthwhile memories.

Location: enjoying the strangely cool August weather at my desk
Mood: nostalgic
Music: It’s been a long night in New York City
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Goodbye Big Nick’s, you’ll be missed

Change is the only constant in life


I first moved into my neighborhood 17 years ago.

Back then it was kinda dive-y but I was younger and stupider then. Back then, the legendary P&G Bar – which you might know from the Runaway Bride or any number of other films – and the Yogi’s Bar were typical for the neighborhood.

Al Pachino’s Needle Park took place just a few blocks from my doorstep and the film the Warriors had shots all over my hood including the 95th Street Station exterior shots.

The Panic in Needle Park
The Panic in Needle Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Trump moved into the area and fixed up the pier and they installed the new subway station at West 73rd Street, the place really took off.

As you know, I don’t lament the passing of old New York all that much; after all, no one that was born poor wants to stay poor.

But last week, my old haunt, Big Nicks closed. Their menu was as big as a book and if you wanted a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, and a side of gyro with chili at 2:34 AM, they had it. With a Fosters beer, for some strange reason.

As an insomniac, wrote a lot of stuff there; a lot of The Men Made of Stone was done in front of greasy plates there.

That leaves me with two dive bars left in the UWS.

There’s this poem in Chinese I like that goes:

shao xiao li jia lao da hui, xiang yin wu gai bin mao shuai.
er tong xiang jian bu xiang shi ,xiao wen ke cong he chu lai.
少 小 离 家 老 大 回, 乡 音 无 改 鬓 毛 衰.
儿 童 相 见 不 相 识, 笑 问 客 从 何 处 来?

Basically, this dude leaves his hometown and comes back an old man for the first time in decades. He sees children playing and laughing – like he did with his childhood friends – but they’re not him, and they’re not his friends.

But they’re just like him and them when they were kids.

And they call out to him: Hello stranger! And it’s nostalgic and sad in the sense that he’s now a stranger in his own hometown – it doesn’t recognize him and he doesn’t recognize it.

I think one day I’ll leave here and everything will have changed and be like I remember it, but not.

Suppose that’s true anywhere.

More practically: Dammit, there’s no place else now to get a bagel, slice of pizza, foot-long hotdog, a side of gyro,  with chili and a Fosters Beer at 2:34 AM.

I wish some things stayed the same.

Not all. Just some.

In other news, went to see the folks last night. It looked and felt like spring.

Location: the UWS that’s changing too fast for me
Mood: busy
Music: Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
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Revenge of the Green Dragons

Scorsese tells a gangster story we all (kinda) knew growing up


Got a message from my sister the other day; she said she overheard someone talking about a new film that Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lau were working on called, Revenge of the Green Dragons.

It’s about two young men seeking revenge as they make their way through the New York City’s Chinatown underworld.

If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same basic idea as my book, The Men Made of Stone.

However, this isn’t a mere coincidence, in fact, it goes to the heart of why I was so irritated at Kirkus Indie when they said that they would assign me a “qualified reviewer” to review my work.

By qualified reviewer, it implies a reader of crime fiction. After all, a reader of children’s books is probably not going to like the amount of violence in a noir crime thriller.

But anyone that reads crime fiction would know that The Men Made of Stone was based on actual events. Moreover, these actual events were recounted in a somewhat famous New Yorker article by Fredric Dannen named – you guessed it – Revenge of the Green Dragons.

Therein lies the nexus.

Martin Scorsese on the set of The Departed.
Martin Scorsese on the set of The Departed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never read Dannen’s article but I knew all about the Green Dragons and similar gangs growing up because any Asian-American in Queens and Manhattan during the 80s and 90s knew something about them.

Now, there’s a joke I tell all the time: Do you know the nerds growing up that were never picked to be on a team? Well, I was the guy that those nerds beat up.

As an adult, though, I found there’s one small benefit to being a nerdy nobody growing up; it meant that could fade into the background and listen and observe. Since most of these stories were second, third, and fourth-hand knowledge, that meant that I was probably getting highly exaggerated versions of what was actually going on.

Perfect for any budding writer.

When it came time to write my book, it was a fictionalized account of fictionalized accounts of actual events – as well as a combining of the stories of the Green Dragons, the Born to Kill Gang and the London Kray Brothers.

Just based on what I’ve read, it seems that Lau and Scorsese’s story is their fictionalized based-on-actual-events account of the Green Dragons alone.

But because both stories are based on the same germ of truth, I’m wondering what overlap, if any, there will be. It’s a bit like a modern day, real-life Rashomon – another crime noir reference for those of you that follow the genre.

There is one overlap that I’m already aware of. The thing that infuriated me the most about Kirkus Reviews was that the reviewer said a scene in my book in a pool hall was “completely unrealistic.”

Except that pool hall scene actually happened.

In fact, here’s a video of that scene being shot for Lau and Scorsese’s version of that event four days ago.

In any case, knowing Scorsese and Lau’s prior work, I assume we’ll see the usual suspects of: Loyalty, honor, violence, and revenge – all the ingredients of a good story, IMHO – with the added bonus of it being about Asian-Americans.

Looks like a winner to me.

Oh, and here’s my completely fictionalized version of what happened:

 

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
 

Location: out in Queens, coincidentally
Mood: curious
Music: Difference is I’m throwing four, he’s throwing fifty (J cole)
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My life on repeat

The time I rode a mechanical bull

Probably not the best thing when you still have whiplash.

Had a lot on my mind this weekend so my friends dragged me out. It was a hella weird weekend.

Paul and I went to a total of five parties, all of which were vastly different than expected. I really needed a distraction. So Paul paid $10 to have me go onto a mechanical bull. Quick but fun.

Did I ever tell you that Berlingirl was here studying dance?

Here’s the thing: in the last party of the night, for the grey-eyed girl, I met yet another German girl studying dance here in the big city except she was from Köln.

What’re the chances?

I spent the rest of the night chatting with her and the grey-eyed girl until 3AM or so. And then we were gone.

Can’t tell you how many times these days that I daydream of running away somewhere.

Then the 2 train comes and brings me someplace I don’t really want to be but gotta.

———-

I’m at my parents place and my dad is singing to himself. It’s midnight. How cute is that?

Location: 21:15 yest, leaving office
Mood: exhausted
Music: Digging deep for clues on higher ground

Party Crashing

This weekend Hazel and I went to a rooftop party, crashed the Manic Panic 30 year anniversary party, and crashed the NYC Live Earth party at the Maritime Hotel. The rooftop party was fun, Manic Panic had free products and the Live Earth had an open bar. No rum, though.

Shucks.

I’ve been hanging out with my buddy Sheridan’s group of friends – a motley mix of Jewish and Asian. We floated into the latter two parties because Hazel was “Cynthia Wong” that night. At Manic Panic, I met this sweet looking girl who turned around and had this gi-normous tatoo on her back. Surprising – she looked like the (Chinese) girl next door.

Sheridan’s out and about more than me. A few weeks earlier we went to R Bar where I, of course, ended up talking to 22 year olds. Somehow we slipped in a limo going to Azza. There another very sweet looking girl walked up to me, introduced herself, and asked me if I had cocaine. (?!)

Said no but we hung out until it was time to go home. Of course, she was 22 too.

Didn’t exchange info with tattoo girl, cocaine girl or any woman in the past three weeks. My social card is full and I’m swamped with work. Plus, something tells me that Ms. Right isn’t going to open with, “Hi cutie – have any coke?”

My social life is entertaining, scratch is coming in and, most importantly, I’m getting sleep.

Can’t tell you what all that is doing for my mood.

Oh yeah, I’ve burned some more boats. I’m excited again.

Location: 7PM yest., Toast in Morningside Heights
Mood: oddly good
Music: I’m tired of fighting Fighting for a lost cause

Totally worth it

You pay a price for the things you do

Me: Do you remember hitting me on New Years?
Her: I hit you?! Why?
Me: Well, someone, not me, grabbed your butt and you turned to me and you were all pissed. You asked, “Did you grab my butt?” And I said, “No.”
Her: Did you grab my butt?
Me: No.
Her: Then what happened?
Me: Then I grabbed your butt. And you immediately slapped me.
Her: (pause) Was it any good?
Me: (pause) Yes. It was totally worth it.

We then both laughed. My friends are awesome. She thinks I’m in love with her, I think she’s in love with me. We’re both wrong – a good thing.

We’ll be friends for a long time.

Location: @12:25, Glitter and Doom @ 1000 Fifth Avenue
Mood: mellow
Music: Somehow, I lost my way, looking to see something in your eyes

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Burning boats

You can’t go back

Ooooh, my aching head.

One would think that, with the sheer quantity of alcohol I ingested last night, I would have slept like death.

One would be mistaken.

I saw a ton of friends last night and it was hella fun. It was my first new year’s eve as a single guy, I think ever in my adult life. Kinda weird. And as the night wore on, it got progressively weirder.

  • I got slapped at least once but it was totally worth it (not (exactly) what you think)
  • Almost dis-robed a very cool girl I met last night (totally by accident) – she did not look pleased but I hope to see her again anyway
  • Got hit on by a friend (that was weird)
  • Regretted not hitting on her back (that was weirder)

Alexander the Great used to burn his boats once his army landed somewhere so that they had no choice but either fight and win or die in a foreign land.

In 2006, I made my choices and burned my boats.

2007 then.

Let’s go, let’s go…
Location: @3AM-ish, stumbling home on Broadway
Mood: tired
Music: Hast Du etwas Zeit fuer mich?

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Second story, first thoughts

The one where I met another blogger

Heart in hand, I made my way to the west side uptown line. I haven’t taken a cab by myself in a while and I feel it’s somewhat wasteful. Plus the walking always clears my mind.

I was in the subway and this very small woman had a bag covering her hand so that she didn’t have to hold onto the railing.

Not that I blame her, I would do the same thing; there’s 4.7 million subway riders a day. That’s more people than most cities have. You’ve gotta figure someone has something nasty.

But the thing was that this woman had a tiny, tiny sandwich bag around her tiny, tiny hand. I looked at her, then at this pretty blond sitting across from she and we both laughed. The blond took out a pen and a pad and wrote out something. We then reached my stop and the blond exited also.

I had to ask.

Me: Did you write about that woman?
Her: Yes, not that I blame her, I would do the same thing. I have a blog about the subway…
Me: Funny you say that, it just so happens…

We exchanged blog information, which I think is so comically modern (note that this is all at two or three in the morning). If you’re at all interested, her blog is here.

Yes, I am a complete dweeb. But, I would like to point out that you are reading the blog of a complete dweeb.

Oh my.

The lack of sleep is making me rude.

No excuse…

Sorry.

Location: knee-deep in computer parts
Mood: Amused
Music: I just couldn’t take the hurt again, What a feeling