Archive for May, 2007

crossing avenues

This Sunday, I was in heaven. The city was virtually empty. My roommate and I took a little stroll to and around Central Park, and on our way back we took advantage of the emptiness.

Park Avenue is usually my least favorite avenue to walk accross. The street is so wide that I often get stuck in the middle, unable to zig-zag my way to my destination. So I always have to run through Park avenue to make the light. But, but, but… on Sunday the street was almost empty. I could see the horizon! So instead of running, I sauntered. I looked to the north, then to the south, then again to the north, and back to the south. It was beautiful! I was living in the moment for once.

I really suggest you try it.

could shakeshack be better?


I was at the shack this weekend. It was a great day. A couple of friends were meeting up there….and it was a great day to be outside and we had to have a burger…so we all ended up there. I know there are like a million places out there in NYC which might serve up a decent burger but i love the shack – their portobello especially.
Anyways, the down part – the wait time is waaaaaaaaayyy too long! I mean waiting for a burger for about 20-30min is alrite but we ended up waiting for an hour and a half!


It would just be awesome if they could downsize their turnaround time but then, hey, at the end of the day, i did wait the hour and half! phew!

Just What We Need — a TB Scare

We have enough to worry about here in this city : a taxi assailant, coyote attacks not far from the city, and now a brush-fire in Queens messing up the LIRR service between Jamaica and Queens (I thought those fires happened in open wooded areas)

Now here is the scariest of all — Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old attorney, traveled on a transatlantic flight while infected with an antibiotic-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Not only did he fly into New York, but spent some time in Bellevue. Now, public health officials are trying to track down the people who flew on the flight with Speaker. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am praying this illness has not spread. With the airborne nature of this contagion, and straphangers crushed inside subway cars, many of whom cough in each others’ faces, let alone put their germy hands on poles, this has disastrous potential. Have I planted seeds of paranoia in anyone’s hypochondriac imagination. Just do what I have always done: wash hands as soon as possible after disembarking from any form of mass transit.

Wine in the Garden


Last night I caught up with an old friend at a little gem in the West Village: La Lanterna di Vittorio. I’d been there once before, but it had been winter. Now their courtyard garden is open.

An elegant establishment, the cafe contains a cozy, street level room with fireplaces and paintings, a downstairs jazz bar, and the garden. Unfortunately, by the time we got there (which was only 7:30 or so), there was a long wait for their esteemed courtyard. We settled for a seat upstairs (to avoid the cover for the jazz bar).

Google Maps… Is It Legal?

Yesterday Noah posted about Google Maps, and the cool new feature that provides street level photography for several US cities. In the past few days as people around America have begun playing with it though a few questions have arisen. First Boing Boing reported that some shots are so clear that you can see inside people’s windows, or clearly read license plates. Thankfully the New York City photography seems to have been blurred to avoid obvious identification, (the same magnification was used on this Oakland shot, and this New York shot, but the NY shot is WAY less clear). But a new problem is starting to show up… Google’s magic photo van took some shots that it shouldn’t have! Grokdotcom points out that the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which has been illegal to photograph since 9/11 is clearly shown. So I checked the GWB, which is also illegal to photograph, and clearly posted as such. Heck, if the magnification on that shot of the GWB was clearer you could read the sign saying it was illegal on the right! So what’s the story Google? Can your photographers not read? Any other cool/weird/illegal NYC stuff to be seen on Google’s new feature?

Tell on rude moviegoers

This is great! Regal Cinemas’ will be handing out a device to random members of their Regal Crown Club Loyalty Program attending each movie. If that moviegoer determines there’s a problem — rude moviegoer, problem with the film/sound, etc. — that moviegoer can press a button and summon a manager, all without moving from their seat and missing part of the movie. You can read the full story here.

My main concern is that whoever the “hall monitor” is will wield a sort of “power” over their fellow moviegoers and may abuse that power. What was the line from Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility”? (okay, this little pager thing hardly counts as “great power”)

What do you think? Would you want to be the one to hold the device and the ability to summon a manager at will, or would that sort of distract from your enjoyment of the movie? Me personally, I’d love to have a device that would beam rude moviegoers to northern Alaska. I’m betting that that fake butter stuff wouldn’t freeze up there.


One of my favorite things to do in NYC is play storefront speculation. When I lived in Hell’s Kitchen, it was pretty simple to guess what was coming into a renovated store: either a Thai restaurant or another Irish pub.
That might be a stretch, but it’s still a fun game to play. My neighborhood isn’t the most daring and outgoing of experimentations when it comes to new shops and restaurants. When I first moved to NYC, a friend lived at this subway stop, so I know that the currently-under-construction front used to house Dunkin Donuts before they hopped across the street to open their combination Dunkin/Baskin-Robbins doohickey.
Since reconstruction began on the old site, I’ve watched it with growing fascination, and my BF and I have speculated over and over regarding what it could be. Would it be that symbol of NYC neighborhood gentrification, Starbucks? Another little discount clothing store a la VIM? A bodega (we don’t need anymore; there’s 6 on that block alone!)?
Starbucks or not, our money continued to be bet on it being a coffee shop of some kind. Now that the windows are in and you can see inside, it does appear to be a coffee shop.
We’re ever so hopeful it’s not another Irish pub.

Non-Asians in Queens learn Mandarin to “fit in” with neighbors

I live in a neighborhood with a heavy influx of immigrants from the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and other parts of the former Soviet Union in Asia. In high school in the 70s, I took Russan for two years. I am ashamed to say that I remember very little, but I do remember how to read Russian. So I wow my friends whe a new business opens, and I can read the sign, many of which transliterate to familiar words, like “restoran” or “apoteka”, which is a drugstore aka apothecary.
Since my Hungarian background gives me a sort of Slavic appearance, the shopkeepers try to speak to me in Russian, but all I can offer is “Spaciba” (thank you). I often think how useful it would be to brush up on my Russsian language skills so I could actually speak to immigrants in my neighborhood. If I lived among these people while I was studying the language, I would have had a load of opportunities to practice. And everyone knows that, without the opportunity to practice speaking a language, you never master it.

And that’s why I think it is wonderful that something truly innovative is happening in Flushing. Instead of insisting that the Chinese immigrants learn English, which is important, they are now offering classes in Mandarin for the American residents.

According to a story in the NY Times, inthe basement of a Flushing housing project, residents are taking courses in Mandarin. The students include an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, an African-American woman, and an eclectic assortment of ages and backgrounds.

Now this not only a wonderful idea, but a modern twist on assimilation. Sure; immigrants must learn English if they want to advance here. But what’s wrong with learning at least a little of the predominant newcomer language too. I have been using my Spanish in Corona and Jackson Heights for years. If other neighborhoods follow suit, we may see classes in Arabic in Astoria, Hindi or Urdu or Punjabi in Jackson Heights or Ozone Park and, of course, Russian in Rego Park.

A bitch-slap for the Shack.


I don’t usually put a whole lot of stock in reviews, but I have to say, this NY Post bitch-slap of Madison Square Park’s Shake Shack just fills me with glee. Glee! Every time I see people lined up for hours at that place, I just wanna slap ’em. Yeah I know, that probably says more about me than anything else (and yeah, it’s the Post), but still… It’s a burger, people. A burger! The city’s bursting with them.

Yep. We’re sheep. It’s sad. Seriously, in a city that’s known for its fast pace and constant movement, we’re willing to stand still for an hour or two for a hamburger? A hamburger???

Recently on the Upper West Side, a friend and I strolled past the new Grom gelato place, and decided to check it out. I love gelato–it’s one of my favorite things about Italy, in fact. However, five minutes into our miserable, crowded, ridiculous wait (which promised to be a good thirty minutes at least), we abandoned the idea, knowing full well that we’d never be able to enjoy our five-dollar cup of gelato enough to justify putting ourselves through that experience.

It reminded me of a few years ago, when the Beard Papa cream puff place opened down the block. The line snaked down the sidewalk, guaranteeing interminable waits for the cream puff-clamoring masses. Cream puffs!

That place is empty now–you can walk right in. Maybe someday that’ll be the case for places like Shake Shack, or Grom. Til then, I’ll be happy to just walk right on by.

[image from Shake Shack website]

It’s official…Summer has started for me

I tried to put this off for as long as I could. I thought about all that global warming stuff and about my part in saving the environment, but I couldn’t justify holding out any longer. I thought about the wear and tear on the equipment and how using it would shorten it’s usable life, but not using it makes it worthless, and that’s not why I bought it. I even thought about the electric bill and how it would increase, but since I don’t pay utilities, that clearly wasn’t a deterrent.

“It” is turning on my air conditioner. Saturday, since I spent most of the day in the park, I didn’t realize just how hot my apartment was until late at night. I turned on just the fan portion of the AC and tried to make due with that for a while, but it just didn’t cut it. I finally bit the bullet and turned on the compressor and within a few minutes I was back in a comfort zone.

The problem with turning on my AC, and why I try to put it off as long as possible, is that once it goes on, it’s very difficult to turn it off. Not that the AC is sort of broken and physically won’t turn off, it’s me that’s broken and won’t live in my apartment without turning it on. It even has a handy timer feature that turns it on before I get home so I get to walk into a nice cold apartment.

For me, Summer starts when the AC goes on, and ends when I don’t need the AC anymore.

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