Archive for the ‘New York is different’ Category

Sun 11 Jul 2010 1:07 pm   //   Posted in: Books, New York is different

Growing Up Gatsby

“I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.”

“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”

Do they still teach “The Great Gatsby” in schools? They did in Maryland in the 1990s, when I read the book for the first time. At that time (9th grade maybe?) I had never been to New York City, had a girlfriend, or attended a party thrown by a wealthy strangers. The narrator, Nick Carraway, seemed unattainably cool and wise as he cruised through the high-society jumble of Manhattan and Long Island. The book was a fantasy.

Now when I read “Gatsby,” I feel like I’ve lived entire chapters of it. (Minus, you know, the tragedy.) I’ve come to appreciate it as arguably the all-time best New York City summer story. This year, as I was re-reading it for probably the 5th time, I was shocked to realize I am now the same age as Nick, the cool narrator who once seemed so out of reach.


Sat 26 Jun 2010 11:55 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different, Transit, Videos

Video: Party on the last V Train

Because of budget cuts, the New York City MTA canceled two subway lines on June 25, 2010. This video shows the party that subway fans threw on the last V Train, which departed 2nd Avenue at 11:33 p.m. on June 25.

Fri 25 Jun 2010 6:38 am   //   Posted in: New York is different, Transit

Dueling transit funerals

Today will be last time trains with the V and W designations will ply the rails beneath New York City. The MTA budget cuts are killing these two subway lines. This occasion triggers a little-known New York City custom: The transit funeral. By tradition, a crowd of people jams into the last car of the last train for a raucous celebration.

Tonight there are dueling transit funerals in the New York subway.

  • The V: Levy’s, a tour company that has organized farewell paries in the past for the Q Diamond and the 9, is throwing a farewell party for the V train. It leaves 2nd Avenue at 11:33 p.m. sharp and heads to Forest Hills. The whole ride should take about 38 minutes.
  • The W: People on Facebook are organizing a rally for the final W train. This party leaves Astoria at 10:17 p.m., exits at Union Square, crosses the platform, and boards a Queens-bound W train at 11:02 p.m. for the final run back to Astoria.

I’m with the V party. The W plan is too complicated and requires two trips to Astoria and back—no thanks. And if a transit funeral is a celebration of the absurd, the V train is the more absurd of the two choices. It’s the youngest train in the system and beloved by no one.

But a loss is a loss, and we must commemorate it. I’ll see you at the back of the 2nd Avenue platform at 11:33 tonight.

Mon 31 May 2010 5:08 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different, No right to be good

Weird stuff from Pearl River

Below are some products my bro Gerritt, my sister-in-law Melanie and I found today while perusing the awesome Pearl River Mart in Soho. (Slogan: “We bring interesting things to New York”). If you’ve been, you know this is just the tip of an iceberg.

Ranch flavored toothpicks


Sat 15 May 2010 5:40 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different


One World Trade, set to be the tallest building in America, seen May 15, 2010.

Earlier post: 9/11/09.

Fri 7 May 2010 7:22 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, In the news, New York is different

Every American should spend a day in Prospect Park

“The citizens of New York are tolerant not only from disposition but from necessity. The city has to be tolerant, otherwise it would explode in a radioactive cloud of hate and rancor and bigotry.” — E.B. White, “Here is New York.”

“If we want to have a future, we need to have more immigrants here.”—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, April 2010

I live a couple of blocks from Prospect Park, one of the best-utilized urban green spaces in the world. Constructed in the 1860s, it was designed by landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux as their encore to Central Park. To call it a success is a gross understatement. On any nice day, it’s packed with people enjoying the rolling, tree-studded lawns and ballfields, cookout areas, concert spaces and other free, public facilities.

The park is made truly rich by the Brooklyn neighborhoods that surround it. To stroll around the park is to stroll around the world. Everyone can dress how they feel most comfortable, speak their own language, and enjoy the games, foods and music from their culture. Nobody ever gets called out for looking different.

Sat 1 May 2010 3:05 pm   //   Posted in: Art, New York is different

Recommended: Big Bambú at The Met

Big Bambú is part sculpture, part engineering, part adventure sports, and all about the living organism of the city.

At its most literal, it’s a building-sized bird’s nest of bamboo lashed together with nylon cord on the roof of The Met, rising over the canopy of Central Park. It opened this week. Artists Doug and Mike Starn and their team of rock-climber assistants are planning to keep building it higher until the installation closes in October. The city considers it a construction site; it gets inspected and weight-tested.

There are two ways to see it. One is to go up to roof of The Met any time, where you can view it from the solid footing of the concrete deck. The other way is to take a tour, in which the Met staff lead you and 14 other people up a bamboo walkway that winds through this nest and up into the sky. Trust me: Go do the tour. I went this morning, getting to the Met at 9:15 and securing a ticket for the first tour at 10 a.m. It’s an enveloping art experience not dissimilar from The Gates in 2005. I’m a total sucker for stuff like this. What a view!


Sun 25 Apr 2010 8:32 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different

Why aren’t people going to the Rockefeller Center roof deck?

It was a banner Saturday in New York. Sunny skies. With my dad and stepmom visiting from Maryland, we set out to see the city. Down at the Battery, a massive line of people waiting for the Statue of Liberty ferries snaked around Castle Clinton. In Times Square, tourists bumped and jostled for space on the new Broadway pedestrian mall.

But at the Top of the Rock—nobody.

Top of the Rock view


Sat 3 Apr 2010 11:49 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different, Photos

Lutheran Halal Cafe

This is real. Only in Brooklyn!

Sun 21 Mar 2010 9:28 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles, New York is different

My health plan is a new bike

Your favorite bike shop is the one that sold you your last bike. Here’s my new favorite: Sid’s Bikes in Chelsea.

Saturday was the First Sunny Saturday Of The Year, which is an unofficial city holiday in New York. A lot of people, including me, took it as an excuse to go bike shopping. (I’m training for another Bike MS charity ride in May — I’ll start hounding you for contributions next month.)

In my experience, about half the bike shops in New York are run by crooks or assholes. When you find a good shop you stick with it; entering a unfamiliar bike shop can be a scary experience. On Saturday I went to three good shops run by nice bike people, plus Paragon sports, a big sporting goods store with a cycling department. I ended up buying a new road bike from Sid’s.

What influenced my choice? They had a great Cannondale in my budget, first of all. But I could tell they were a high-quality shop because they offered me a helmet when I went out for the test-ride. None of the other shops did. (Two shops sent me out without a helmet; Paragon was so mobbed I couldn’t even find anyone to even help me.) This told me Sid’s takes what they do seriously. It made buying a bike there a really easy decision.

I’m psyched to get some miles on this bike. Hoping for more sunny Saturdays!