Archive for February, 2008

Mon 25 Feb 2008 4:27 pm   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, New York is different

The brunch loophole

Park Slope is full of very good restaurants. Most are casual places where you can dine without a reservation and still enjoy something inspired. Eating out quickly can become an expensive habit.

It doesn’t take long to discover the brunch loophole. Drop in most of these restaurants between 11 and 3 on a Saturday or Sunday and you will find an abbreviated menu with selections priced much cheaper. Just one arbitrary example: My favorite Peruvian restaurant offers a brunch special where you can get a main course, coffee and a cocktail for $10.

As a result, you can get familiar with all the best places in the neighborhood without going broke. Bonus: Socially acceptable drinking in the early afternoon!

Sun 24 Feb 2008 9:19 pm   //   Posted in: Right now

Making the Oscars interesting

Right now my friend Tim Swift is live-blogging the Oscars at the Baltimore Sun’s Critical Mass blog.

Sun 24 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Photos

Skiing is weird


Windham Mountain, 23 Feb 2008

Sat 23 Feb 2008 3:43 am   //   Posted in: Photos, Weather

Snow fails to shut down the city — this time

Snow at Astor Place subway and the Mud Truck in New York City

Astor Place, at 8th and Lafayette, 22 Feb 2008

Animals know when the weather is about to change. While I was walking in my neighborhood Thursday night, I saw a skunk and a raccoon. I have only seen a raccoon once before around here, and skunks are so rare in Brooklyn that I have never seen one.

Were they out stocking up for the storm? The snow began falling overnight and left a fluffy coat on everything by Friday morning. By midday Friday, the snow had turned to sleet and rain, and promised to turn into ice overnight. Still, it was our first significant snow this winter.

By chance I am off super early to go skiing today, chaperoning the church youth group on a trip to Windham.

Fri 22 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Dinosaurs, Food & drink, Review

Five New York barbecue restaurants I have enjoyed

1. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 646 W 131st St., Harlem. Huge, crowded, hard to get seated for dinner on the weekend, awesome.

2. Bar BQ, 689 6th Ave. (at 20th), Brooklyn. More of a bar, this place makes the list because it’s a block from my apartment and good people work there.

3. Virgil’s, 152 W. 44th St., Times Square. If you must eat in Times Square, eat here.

4. Hill Country, 30 W. 26th St. (near Broadway), Manhattan. They only have one kind of sauce, but it’s really good. Do not get suckered by the weird meat-by-the-pound ticket system.

5. Spanky’s, 127 W. 43rd St., Times Square. A suitable standby if Virgil’s is too crowded.

Thu 21 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different

Please don’t talk to me about real estate

I moved to Brooklyn in 2002 with a vague idea that rent would be expensive. Understatement. I’ve made it work. But given how quickly prices have climbed, I doubt I’d be able to make a go of it today. In fact, I can’t even move to a comparable apartment in my neighborhood right now without realistically expecting my rent to double. Any young, aspiring creative person who does a little research first will be discouraged from moving to New York. It shouldn’t be so.

That’s why a certain group of us cheer every time the stock market drops. Let Wall Street hurt for a few years (they’ll get through it somehow) and let rents take a dive with it. With less money to invest, one hopes, fewer people will be buying apartments as investments — the ones that sit empty except for occasional weekend use. That will mean a greater supply for people who actually need housing for its own sake.

A friend and I recently pondered a more aggressive, direct-action strategy. Historically, rents fall in New York as crime increases, for obvious reasons. Thing is, we’re not ones to root for more crime. That got us thinking: Crime doesn’t actually have to rise. People just need to be convinced that crime is rising. Our strategy is to call in a bunch of fake crime reports to precints in select neighborhoods, just to throw off the stats and create the impression that New York is dangerous again. To make this plan work would require a well-organized team of very convincing liars, but the payoff would be so worth it.

Wed 20 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Transit

In appreciation of subway posters

I collect subway posters, the ones that tell you to pick up trash, or not to board the train if you’re sick. I also have a couple of the service change signs, like the ones that inform you that your train will not be running this weekend, or will run only every 34 minutes.

There are rules. I will only take a poster if it is not affixed behind plastic and it is no longer timely. My most recent prize is a sign encouraging Giants fans to ride the subway to the Super Bowl victory parade (peeled from a station pillar the evening after the parade). I still regret never having obtained one of the famous post-9/11 “If you see something, say something” posters.

subwayposter.jpgRecently, a subway poster appeared advising passengers not to leave newspapers on the train. It says, “Please put it in a trash can; that’s good news for everyone.” The Times had an article this week on the sign writer’s use of the semicolon (note the humorous correction at the bottom of the article). Evidently every writer in the city noticed that semicolon; nobody else did.

I tend to pay more attention to the design. Lately the subway poster designers have favored large photos, like one of a hapless, plaid-shirted passenger trying to force his way though a closing subway door. Another shows a guy subway surfing, or holding onto the outside of a moving train. (“This may be the last ride of his life.”)

Best was the brief time when the designs, like the one pictured here, seemed to be inspired by communist propaganda posters.

Tue 19 Feb 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: TV commericals, Videos

All fall down

Over-done TV commercial concept: Dominos!





Mon 18 Feb 2008 10:11 am   //   Posted in: Misc

3… 2… 1…


I’ve been testing this new blog since the beginning of February and I think I have all the problems worked out. (Okay, there remains a slight formatting issue in some older browsers and it’s not yet perfect on the iPhone, but it’s still readable.)

If this is your first time here please check out the About page.

I hope you’ll stop by often, add me to your RSS reader, and leave lots of comments.

Mon 18 Feb 2008 12:10 am   //   Posted in: Stray data

Presidents Day

On the subject of presidents, I direct you to the latest link roundup on my friend Jess’s blog “History is Funny.