Archive for July, 2010

Sat 31 Jul 2010 8:01 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles

Today’s Bike Ride: Great Neck and Port Washington

Important announcement: If you enjoy reading this blog, you should make a donation to the Livestrong Foundation. I will be riding my bike 100 miles in Pennsylvania on August 22 as part of Livestrong Challenge Philly. Your generosity will improve the lives of people with cancer.

On this especially beautiful Saturday, I rode my bike 72 miles out onto Long Island and back. Out there, I cruised around the north shore villages of Great Neck and Port Washington. There’s a very specific reason I chose these two destinations, which I will explain in a future post. Regular readers of this blog can probably guess what it is.

Highlights of this ride:

  • Passing the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
  • Seeing the house on Forest Parkway where Betty Smith lived when she wrote “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”
  • Riding on the abandoned Vanderbilt Motor Parkway (where I hit my top speed of 30).
  • Crossing Utopia Parkway, made famous (to me at least) by the band Fountains of Wayne.
  • Getting a bagel sandwich in Manhasset and eating it on a bench with the turtles, dragonflies and egrets in Manhasset Valley County Park.
  • Stopping for a beer with Leslie and Brian and friends at their new place.
  • Witnessing the excesses of Long Island mansions and the depressing decay of northern Brooklyn and eastern Queens, just a few miles apart.

A map follows.

Mon 26 Jul 2010 10:55 pm   //   Posted in: Transit

Spotted! The Target 6 train

Leave it to Target.

This evening I saw for the first time the MTA subway train which Target paid to have wrapped in ads, promoting a new store in Manhattan. This is the first time the MTA has covered an entire 10-car train with ads. The train is running on the 6 line.

How much? The reported cost of the ad is $250,000, though that might not be accurate. (It sounds high to me.) At any rate, the campaign is supposed to last 6 weeks and has been generally well-received by New Yorkers, who want the MTA to have more money and who find Target tolerable.

Here are some photos of the train:


Sat 24 Jul 2010 7:58 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles

Today’s bike ride: West Side and the Palisades

Today I rode from Brooklyn, up the West Side bike path, over the George Washington Bridge, and up through the Palisades (pictured) to Alpine, New Jersey. On the way back I took surface streets through Manhattan; I had to dodge a street fair (annoying!) on Bleeker Street.

My goal of this ride was to rack up some mileage on a hot day in practice for my Livestrong Challenge Ride next month in Pennsylvania. (P.S. – Donations welcome!) Round trip: 51.9 miles. Average speed 11 including breaks. Top speed of 32 achieved twice on downhills in the Palisades. High temperature in Central Park: 96. Bottles of water/gatorade consumed: 6.

A map follows below.

Fri 23 Jul 2010 6:35 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Media, Technology

Is Yahoo News proud of its comments feature?

“It’s as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots.”
Gene Weingarten, writing about web comments in the Washington Post.

* * * *

Yahoo News is one of the most popular news web sites in the world. It has a problem, though. Every major story comes with a generous helping of the most vile hate speech you’ve ever seen.


Wed 21 Jul 2010 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Music

Don’t mess with Johnny Cash

Country radio stations recently started spinning a song called “Way Out Here” by Josh Thompson.

At first listen, it’s a celebration of the nobility of the American small town. On the second listen, it’s a rallying cry supporting God and guns, criticizing government welfare, and boasting that people from small towns are more likely to serve in the military. “If it was up to me I’d love to see this country run like it used to be,” Thompson sings.

So it’s a Republican political song. That’s fair. At least, until the chorus comes around, which goes like this:

“We’re about John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere, way out here.”

Oh no he didn’t!


Sun 18 Jul 2010 6:05 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles

Today’s bike ride: 4 bridges

Special “heat advisory” edition. I need practice on hills, so today I rode over four bridges, in order: 1. Manhattan, 2. Queensboro, 3. Williamsburg, 4. Brooklyn. Not a perfect ride—I had to dodge some street fairs and got caught in Chinatown traffic trying to get from Delancey to Broadway during the last swing through Manhattan. Top speed: 31, achieved on the Queensboro bridge. Average speed: 10. Temperature in Central Park: 93. Map is below.


Sat 17 Jul 2010 12:30 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles

Today’s bike ride

A short, fast ride out to the water and back, favoring roads and paths with few traffic signals. Average speed 14.

GPS tracking powered by

Wed 14 Jul 2010 11:19 pm   //   Posted in: New York is different, TV commericals

We’re better than this, really

I’m posting this video not because I think it deserves to be seen, but because it’s a reminder that naked bigotry is still alive in America. Brace yourself:

OK, did you watch it? Let’s talk about it.


Tue 13 Jul 2010 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn

How I fought the bedbugs, and won

I’ve spent 6 months deciding whether to write this post. That’s how long it’s taken me to be sure the bedbugs are gone. Not that you’re ever really sure.


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.