Five years ago today, my friend Keith Alexander passed away in a bicycle accident on the Shore Road in Brooklyn. Keith was one of those people that stuck with you after you met him – big in both personality and stature, sometimes brash, heavily tattooed, full of strong opinions about everything from cycling to body modification, he was not someone you’d likely forget. When many of his friends, myself included, found out that he had died, we were shocked, as you might imagine, but not just due to the sudden and tragic nature of his death – because he was almost larger than life, a person who walked into a room and owned it immediately, someone whose flame seemed incapable of ever being snuffed out.
During his life, he was a rock star, playing with Carnivore and Dee Snider’s Sick Motha Fuckers; a piercer and scarification artist, operating Modern American Bodyarts in Brooklyn; a teacher, teaching classes at The New School. He served as an adviser to Dee Snider for his film Strangeland and organized the film’s celebratory opening party, the Night of 1000 Scars. He was interested in martial arts, music, marketing, cycling, body art, technology – he once told me that he could get along with anyone because he could always find some common interest. The sheer diversity of the people who attended his funeral were a testament to the amazing individual that he was: martial arts practitioners, rock stars, heavily tattooed body modification enthusiasts, marketing professionals, little old ladies, you name it, they were there to celebrate his life and mourn his sudden passing.
In the five years since he died, the things we’ve learned about his last moments add to the amazing and sometimes surreal life story of our incredible friend. Each year on this day, several of his friends go to the spot where he died to leave flowers. The first year, we met a couple who had been there and saw what had happened. He was riding down the Shore Road path, which was used by cyclists, runners, and walkers alike, and came up behind a father and son who were cycling together. Keith was coming up fast behind them when the child, who had been riding erratically, swerved in front of him. Keith swerved to avoid hitting the kid, hit a pothole in the bike path, and went full-speed into a guard rail. This man and woman, who were jogging separately on either side of the accident location, went to his aid and stayed with him until help arrived, but his injuries were too severe and he died at the scene. These two people, who had been strangers before that day, went on to become a couple.
In subsequent years, we’ve met many people on whom Keith made an impression, some who knew him from around the neighborhood, and some who were strangers but remembered him from seeing him every day on the bike path. The path has been repaired and the section where he died no longer goes right up next to the highway. Instead, there’s a fence between the path and the highway, and it would be impossible for the scenario in which he died to occur today.
We still go there every year to raise a glass to him and remember his amazing life, and we’ll be there again today. I wonder who we’ll meet this time.
Today marked the beginning of the 2010 Tour de France. While today was just a prologue it was still exciting. This is seemingly the only cycling event that has permeated itself into mainstream American sports. Anyone who is interested in watching the races live can do so at the newly formed Rapha Cycle Club! There until September at 352 Bowery they will be showing every second of the televised tour. So get up early, bring the kids, and get some tasty coffee and pastries from Third Rail Coffee. I’ll be there as much as time permits. I know I’m tired of every bar in the greater NYC area showing nothing but football.
Occasionally as a NYC metro area resident, you feel the need to vacate. Working in or living in the city is tough! There’s a lot going on at any given moment, and you need to be a part of it. Or, at least feel like you’re part of it. Afterall, if you don’t take advantage of the culture, hustle and interesting things happening 24 hours a day in NYC, why not just live in the ‘burbs or some midwestern town?
We who do hustle and work ourselves to death to afford our tiny apartments and large bar tabs often relish the chance to get the hell out of the city when the opportunity presents itself.
This week, I’m in North Carolina. I haven’t spent much time in the south since I moved away around 20 and really never looked back. There’s a good reason for that…
There is NOTHING to do outside of large port cities. I mean sure, you can relax, but who’s good at doing that? I need noise! I need activity and restaurants open until 4 am ( just in case i need sweetbreads in the middle of the night – blueribbonrestaurants.com ). Most of all, I just want to know these things are available to me when I want to take advantage of them. Listen, I like to go home to my nice quiet street in Jersey City after a long day, put my feet up and drink a glass of wine while reading or watching mindless tv. Relaxing is great. But when there isn’t another option, BORING. I don’t want to read, nap or relax anymore, I want to walk my dog through throngs of people, get coffee from my favorite coffee shop that shoots coffee beans through a pneumatic tube and presses them instantly for the freshest espresso this side of Guatemala (roastingplant.com). I want to be overwhelmed with choices for lunch/dinner/snacks and I want it all deliverable.
It’s been great cooking and laying down, but I realise with time away, I love NYC. The over-indulgence, the noise, the rediculousness of it all makes me happy.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama himself will be making a public appearance at Radio City Music Hall May 20th – 23rd. It seems he is making a general tour of the US so don’t miss the opportunity to see this inspirational holy man speak. http://www.dalailamany.org/
Here is why…
The other day, I was picked up at my place by a friend to go have dinner at her place. While walking down my street, we were commenting on all the new leaves on the trees and how wonderful it is to see flowers in our sidewalk forestry.
About five trees in, we noticed what looked like a beautiful caterpillar. A big caterpillar. We screeched to a halt and marveled at its beauty. Its bright green and yellow stripes. We even went as far as becoming a sidewalk traffic cops to ensure the survival of this little creature that would one day flourish as a magnificent butterfly.
I told my friend that I cannot touch it so I pulled a piece of paper out of my bag and she kindly scooped it up and placed it back in its natural environment – in the forest bed of the wonderful sidewalk tree.
Sadly, we realized it was no longer living. We were too late. Our efforts of keeping this caterpillar alive were fruitless.
We realized it was a fake.
I’m sure someone was watching us make fools of ourselves.
We can walk the streets and spot fake lips, handbags, boobs, and a number of other things from a mile a way, but cannot recognize fake nature. This is why we need to get out and experience it once in a while.
Since I have not been working for a few weeks, I have become increasingly aware of this phenomenon plaguing our cities around the world. Normally, I guess I was oblivious to this natural, but somewhat unnatural wonder because I was trapped in an office I didn’t want to be in or I possibly just turned a blind eye. At first, I thought this might be an occurrence specific to the Upper East Side since that’s where I live, but it turns out it is not neighborhood or city specific.
The Stroller Mom…
While standing on line to get a cup of coffee the other day, Stroller Mom # 1 kept bumping the back of my leg with her pram. I understand she was trying to rock her little bundle of joy (hell) to keep them calm and happy, but when I asked her to knock that shit off, she accused me of being in the way and said a few other colorful words of choice. Since I wasn’t pissed, just annoyed, I would have let her slide with “OMG, I didn’t realize, I’m so sorry.” That would be manners.
While walking into a shop to go buy things I don’t need, but want, I saw a lady approaching the door with a double-wide stroller. Ah, how cute. Twins. Huh-Huh. I held the door for said lady and she went through the door as was my intent to let her. Did I get a Thank You? NO. Nothing. Even though I am almost 40 years old, my mama would pop me on the side of the head if I didn’t say thank you in a scenario like this. Great, now there will be two more rude ass kids running wild in New York, thanks to their mother. She did have great boots though.
While walking up 2nd Avenue in the 70s, a gaggle of four Stroller Moms were leaving the gym. I guess they attend the same yoga class. I had a little giggle to myself when I realized they all had matching prams. But I almost wanted to put a stick in their spokes when they all decided to walk four abreast and take up the entire sidewalk. Then they managed to become even more unaware of the world around them because one was sending a text, one on the phone. Meanwhile, the entire pedestrian population around them had to put themselves in potential danger by stepping into the street to get around them. Just plain rude.
I could go on and on with my observations of Stroller Moms. I have noticed that Stroller Dads tend not to have these bouts of rudeness and maintain full awareness of their environment.
I guess, what I am just trying to figure out is…why does pushing around a stroller give one the entitlement to be a total douche? It’s simple and basic politeness people.
I went to the Andrew W.K. show at Irving Plaza (Fillmore East or whatever) last night. It was a load of inspirational fist pumping fun. If you aren’t familiar with AWK then let me tell you about him, and what he means to me. When I was a wee lad back in college I heard his music for the first time. My hippy ideals of love and good feelings were thriving, but I was missing that fast danceable heavy metal music that every boy needs. Then I heard his songs “Party Hard” and “I love New York City” and I knew I had found the way.
It’s been 5 years since AWK has played a show with a full band. He has been doing some motivational speaking and playing some solo shows, mostly at his own club Santos Party House. He brought his original touring band back for one night in New York City, the place he calls home. He poured out his love for NYC with some rather sappy words that had some people a little misty. Mostly though, he played his crazy amazing music that had the entire crowd partying hard. A classic circle pit was formed as people picked each other up off of the floor instead of purposely kicking them down. New York City wanted fun and AWK gave it full force!
Sometimes I overthink for him, and sometimes I am completely baffled when I choose the human perspective. so many sights, smells, people, noises, EVERYTHING, going on all at once. Often its overwhelming for me, so I can’t imagine from BLT’s p.o.v how shocking it is. Being the human of a good looking dog I do meet an odd cross-section of people. Everyone from grandparents, dog walkers, other dog lovers, kids, and even postal employees want to stop and pet my dog. I’m cool with this. I mean, he is REALLY cute!
I do think about how being a dog owner affects other people in new york. Are people on the train annoyed that I have a puppy in my lap? Some of them certainly appear to be. As a resident of Jersey City who works in Manhattan, I take the PATH and the MTA. Surprisingly most people on the MTA are more into the dog. Are they less sensitive? Is it a better group? On the PATH I feel like everyone is unhappy and dreading the ride to work. I love my job, and I love people watching so, the morning ( well really late morning ) ride into the city is fun for me. Bacon seems to enjoy it, he snuggles into his messenger bag and falls asleep almost instantly. If it’s nice and I have time, I walk from 9th st & 6th ave to Allen St & Delancey. If the weather is crap or I’m running late, I hop on the F train and hope it’s running somewhat normally. People on the F are dare I say, enchanted with the dog. He’s very sweet and quiet and chill so most people are interested. However we trek from west to east village, BLT is amicable. Once we get to work, he curls up on his little bed and waits until people show up so he can greet and cuddle with anyone who wishes to enjoy a puppy for half and hour or more.
After my day is over, we trek back to the train, repeat the morning’s activities and head home. At the end of the night people are generally in a better mood. I’m usually exhausted and wishing my dog didn’t weigh 25lbs so holding him on my sore-from-the-day’s-work back didn’t hurt exponentially more. Sometimes a kind person will offer me a seat. Depending on my day, I might take them up on it.
With doggy daycare, kind strangers willing to offer a scratch, numerous dog parks and a plethora of food bits and other dog butts to enjoy, the life of a dog in Manhattan is pretty damn good. I hope I get reincarnated as a dog. Any breed or mutt will do. But I do hope it’s a NYC metro-area dog, they seem to have it the best.
I was out having dinner the other night in Manhattan when a super awesome diner reared his drunk head. My wife and I were sitting down to enjoy our meal and became aware of a “situation” at a near by table. It seemed drunky crow, old man booze hound was getting into an argument with, what was later to be determined as, his ex wife. Sweet. There is fairly constant uncomfortable arguing going on when old man awesome starts arguing that yes, in fact, he does have a trust fund. This is met with stern opposition from his plastic surgery laden ex. Clearly, she believed his trust fund was not a reality. We went back to our meal. When their check came it was discovered that although Mr. Super Awesome had yakked his first coarse of veal scallopini onto his plate, his ex was certain that he had not finished his rather expensive fish entree. Therefore he shouldn’t have to pay for it. I mean this is a logical thought right? I didn’t finish it, so I don’t have to pay for it. Clearly having a trust fund entitles one to many things, like this nice restaurant perk! At this point the restaurant staff is keen on getting this inebriated couple out of their establishment. On their way out, Mr. and Ex Mrs. Awesome share a private moment where they play tug of war with their umbrella. Isn’t love (and large amounts of booze, trust fund money, and awesomeness) grand? Sometimes I get the feeling that some New Yorkers feel very entitled to things. Often it is something that they assume they deserve and act very rude when confronted with the idea that they do not.
Starting yesterday the city got scared about the impending Snowpocalypse. Schools were preemptively closed. Many businesses decided to not open. The Trader Joes on 14th st. had a line wrapping around its aisles twice instead of the normal once. You’d think they had predicted the biggest winter storm in the last 50 years or something. What was the real forecast? 12″-18″. Really? I was expecting at least 4 feet everyday for a week with all the hubbub associated with the storm. If I am not mistaken we don’t live in Texas, right? I mean c’mon, my bank closed at Noon today, America’s most convenient bank my ass. One day of snow should not render the whole city shut down. Snow sucks for a lot of reasons but to shut down business in a North Eastern city that has 4 seasons and a historically cold and wet winter? I am ashamed of you NYC. I would have expected a big finger to the sky, but instead we got snowmen on the sidewalk.
Tonight I’m venturing over to the Renwick Gallery for the opening of an artistic collaboration that I am very excited about: that of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Daniel Albrigo, entitled Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is… A Love Story. Daniel is a tattoo artist based out of my favorite NYC tattoo shops, NY & Brooklyn Adorned, and Genesis is best known for his music and performance in Throbbing Gristle (who recently toured, with a stop in Brooklyn) and Psychic TV.
As our friend Marisa over at Needles and Sins writes:
Genesis and h/er late wife and other half, Lady Jaye Breyer, began a project in 1993 to transcend “body-based genders- and socially imposed identities,” thereby creating Breyer P-Orridge. Maxwell G. Graham sums it in the exhibition’s release: “…their two identities were merged through plastic surgery, hormone therapy, cross dressing and altered behavior in an effort to deconstruct the fiction of the self, each moving to resemble the other. Breyer P-Orridge, the cross-pollinated name of this endeavor, has continued even after Lady Jaye’s untimely death in 2007.”
In tribute to Lady Jaye, Daniel and Genesis join to tell a love story in painting, sculpture, photo-works, assemblage and jewelry.
The show and title is derived from the set of solid gold teeth that Genesis had installed to replace all of he/r original teeth. There are paintings documenting the casting process, as well as portraits of Genesis by Albrigo, sculptural objects, assemblages, and jewelry. I’m fascinated by this collaboration, not only due to my interest in art that’s a little outside the mainstream, but also due to the great love that motivated the project.
The opening is tonight from 6-8 PM at the Renwick Gallery in SoHo, located at 45 Renwick Street between Spring & Watts. There will also be a closing reception on February 22nd.
Every year that I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve seen these coat drive ads and occasionally donated a coat. This year, after looking through my closet and marveling at the number of coats I don’t need, I decided to not only donate a coat, but run my own coat drive in my building.
If you have coats to donate to the New York Cares coat drive, you can do so at public donation sites around the city – just plug in your ZIP code to find the closest one. Or, you can host your own coat drive by registering on the New York Cares site. Registering doesn’t make your coat drive location public, it just lets the New York Cares people know that you’re hosting one. Once the drive is over, you deliver the coats to their Manhattan warehouse. Simple, and gets warm coats to people in NYC who need them.
New York Cares also has a blog, which is currently covering the coat drive, but also has information on other ways to volunteer and give back to the community. Do you volunteer with New York Cares or another NYC organization? Tell us about it in the comments.
As most people know, especially those living and playing on the Upper East Side, 2nd Avenue is a total disaster right now and will probably only get worse. But this is for a VERY GOOD reason, so I’m not complaining. The construction of the 2nd Avenue subway line, which still has a long way to go before it is even operational, is currently underway.
But what is even more important right now is supporting the businesses that are suffering because of the construction. Many 2nd avenue restaurants & retailers have been put out of business because foot traffic has come to a crashing halt. Restaurants have lost their sidewalk space so there goes their summer crowd. Often there is no indication a business exist anymore. So, if you happen to live or play on the UES, I urge you to support your 2nd Avenue Business.
As we’ve mentioned before, writing for Metblogs is completely amazing. It will make you charming, famous, and good looking. It slices, dices, and makes julienne fries. When you write for Metblogs, you instantly gain superhuman strength and the ability to fly.
Though it’s entirely possible that the above things are true, we don’t actually guarantee them. However, Metblogs is a pretty fun place to write. It’s the largest network of locally focused blogs on the web, covering almost 60 cities around the world, and we’re looking to add a few new bloggers/writers/authors (or whatever you want your title to be, except King of the World) to this fine site. If you wanna know more about us, check out this wikipedia entry but even reading that is not a requirement. If you wanna write for us, here’s the scoop:
- All author positions are volunteer. That means you don’t get paid.
- You must live or work in (or very near, and spend a lot of time in) the city you plan to write about.
- Anything you post must relate to the city somehow. That means you shouldn’t post a movie review, but talking about going to see a movie at a local theater is fine.
- There’s no requirement for how much you can or should write, but we ask that if we set you up as an author you make about 3 posts a week.
- You can post about things you love, you can post about things you hate. You can even drop f-bombs. It’s entirely up to you.
Additionally, because of our global network, there are plenty of options for things you write to be read by people all over the world. New posts are posted on both our local Twitter account and the Metblogs network Twitter account. Interested? Want more details? Post a comment and we’ll be in touch!
I am not a fan of the touch-screen televisions present in NYC taxis. They’ve been there for a couple of years now, and fortunately have an “off” button so you don’t have to listen to the incessant yammering of people trying to get you to watch their shows or buy their crap (I get enough of that if I turn on the tv in my own home, thankyouverymuch). However, occasionally I have had the misfortune to get into a taxi in which the off button does not work. Since the button is on a touchscreen, I don’t know if it’s that so many people have touched the off button area that it has become worn out, or because the software is crappy*.
But every so often I get into a taxi that has something this on the screen, and it makes me giggle a little.
*After seeing what’s onscreen in the photo, I have reason to suspect the latter.