Archive for June, 2008

Car service ripoff

I travel a lot, and when I fly into LaGuardia I usually book a car service to pick me up rather than wait in the taxi lines, which can be quite long, especially in the evenings or when there is bad weather. I usually use LimoRes (formerly Crown Limo), despite the bad service I’ve had from them before, but after the last few trips in which they attempted to charge me a waiting charge when they shouldn’t have, I’m shopping for a new car service to use, or suggestions on how to avoid rip-offs from supposedly legitimate car service companies in New York City.

Last night, we arrived from Toronto on AA flight #1084. Originally scheduled to land at 7:15, we encountered a 2-hour delay both on the ground in YYZ and in the air circling over La Guardia. We did not land until 9:11 PM and I was out of the terminal and on the phone with LimoRes at 9:18 to inform them I was ready to be picked up. This is well within the 45-minute grace period for international flights that LimoRes publishes on its website, which states that they check the time of arrival with the airline and dispatch the cars accordingly. We entered the vehicle at 9:27 PM, still well within the grace period. However, upon arrival at my apartment at 9:45, still within the grace period and only 34 minutes after we landed, the driver presented me with my bill, with a $16 charge for 16 minutes of waiting time included. The problem? LimoRes told the driver that we arrived at 8:40 PM. (more…)

Free Concerts: Philharmonic in Central Park

Last week I went to the free concert put on by the New York Philharmonic in Central Park. There were approximately 60,000 people there according to the conductor’s announcement. I arrived just after 7pm to the great lawn filled with throngs of happy people spending the wonderful evening with their loved ones and picnic baskets. I maneuvered my way to my friends about 3/4 of the way back from the stage and partook in the mass quantities of food and drink. Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Hendrix were among the composers who’s music graced our ears. Wait, what? Hendrix? As in Jimi Hendrix? Yup, that’s right, they finished the evening with Purple Haze (which by the way, is about one of Hendrix’s favorite bars, NOT marijuana). My favorite was Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, mainly for sentimental reason as I used to flop around on the living room floor when I was 7 when the cannons would fire. I would highly recommend heading out to one of this summer’s free concerts. A list can be found here of the next few shows, including another on July 15th in Central Park at 8pm!


Waterfalls in NYC

Not since Christo’s “Central Park Gates” have we had an installation so impressive. Olafur Eliasson’s four “NYC Waterfalls” have come to NY Harbor. There are bike tours, boat trips, and water taxi runs, to go up close to see the falls [think Niagara Falls “Maid of the Mist”], but if you prefer to stay dry, you can view them from spots in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island as well.

Check out the official websites for locations, times, pictures, and other details.

Cosmic Craving

Photo from

I went to Cosmic Cantina, looking for some tasty Mexican food and was not disappointed. Initially surprised to find that you order and seat yourself (the outside had looked like a traditional restaurant), I sat down and looked at the rather complicated menu.

The menu is set up in categories – tortillas, vegetables, salsas, etc. You pick the array of things you want and order. Everything on the menu is completely organic. I ordered a quesadilla with cheese, mushroom, and avocado. They made it pretty quickly and called my name when it was ready. The tortilla was home-made, the vegetables fresh, and everything was delicious!

I’d definitely go there again, though I might choose a different seat. I sat at the tall tables with stools and ended up with a back ache that night!

DOH suspends oral HIV testing due to false positives

Last week, the Department of Health announced that they would suspend use of the saliva (oral swab) rapid test for HIV in their clinics due to an unusually high number of false positives in the past several months. All rapid test results in their clinics that come back positive require a second, more thorough blood test to confirm. Though the false positive rate was still below the FDA threshold for false positives, NYC decided to suspend the use of the oral swab until they can determine the cause of the higher rate of false positives.

Even so, testing is still anonymous, safe, and free, and just requires a simple finger-prick test at any of the NYC Department of Health clinics. You can also get confidential testing at Gay Men’s Health Crisis or a number of other providers around the city. (Anonymous means that your name is never given to the testing facility and you are assigned a random number; confidential means that your test results will only be disclosed to the state Department of Health and will not be disclosed to anyone else, including employers and insurance companies.) In all cases, HIV testing is quick, easy, and free in NYC.


I need a recommendation for a nice place to watch football (you may also call it “soccer”) next week. I want to watch the semi final game between Germany and Turkey, next Wednesday (25th June). It’ll be on around 2:30 PM.

My requirements are: a tv, a nice place to hang out for around two hours, moderate prices, nice people and maybe must serve beer.

If you know of such a spot, please comment, and if anyone wants to join up to watch the game, I’ll make sure to give out a couple beers or maybe coffees if you are a wussy and don’t drink in the afternoon. :-)

Met Summer Concert @ Prospect Park

We went over to Brooklyn last night to see the Met Summer Concert at Prospect Park and despite the train ride and the odyssee getting back to Manhattan from Brooklyn later that night, we had a really good time. ;-)

I am not sure how many people were at Prospect Park last night but it was so many and all seemed to have a great time.

There was just one interruption during the concert when I a police helicopter patrolled above the park disturbing everyone listening to the music. When the helicopter took a second turn flying across the concert, the crowd (like literally all the people in the park) flipped them off and they finally went away.

Totally nuts.

After the concert we went to some place at 15th and 8th Av, or maybe 16th? Anyway, a good night out in Brooklyn.

Morning Pick-Up

A new coffee bar opened up in Astoria, right next to the Ditmars Blvd subway station. Called rather obviously The Coffee Bar, this spot’s location makes it a good place to stop at on the way to work or on the way home. The place is clean and the staff friendly. Though I haven’t sampled anything there yet other than a tasty bagel sandwich, they have a large menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The establishment has plenty of tables, along with adorable black and white pictures that seem to be people drinking espresso in Italy. A nice spot for a morning jolt.

The Devil Wears Ralph Lauren

Usually when I post things in the Customer Disservice category, they are describing a situation where I or someone I know was mistreated by a salesperson. In this case, however, the salespeople were being more than kind and helpful, and the customer was incredibly bitchy.

I was at the Ralph Lauren store on the Upper East Side returning an item when a lady walked up to the person who was ringing up my return and interrupted, demanding to know where a certain jacket was. The clerk directed her to another room, where she, unable to find the jacket, found another salesperson. They found the jacket, the customer complaining that “they sent me to the other room first, so obviously they don’t know what the hell they’re doing”. She set her two shopping bags, purse, and raincoat down (also, raincoat? it was clear and warm out today) and tried on the jacket. She decided to take it, then turned to the salesperson and hissed, “What are you doing? Why would you just let my things lie here like this?” Apparently, she’d wanted the salesperson to pick up all of her items after she’d set them down. To her credit, the stunned saleswoman said, “I didn’t want to disturb your things, and you could’ve certainly handed them to me if you’d wanted me to hold them.” The customer decided to purchase the jacket, but had someone else ring her up, and loudly complained the whole time about how bad “that girl” was and how she “couldn’t believe” that the staff expected her to try on a jacket “over a sweater and a raincoat”. She was mostly pissed that they didn’t pick up after her when she set her crap on the floor, as if that’s a fucking part of their job.

The sense of entitlement wafting off her was almost palpable. I hate to see people treat salespeople that way. I credit the professionalism of the sales staff in dealing with her, because if I were one of them I’d probably have told her where she could shove her raincoat.

Have you seen customers treating salespeople poorly around the city? Tell me your tales of customers behaving badly!

It’s Enough to Make a Queens Girl Go Yankee

I come from a long line [well, two generations long] of Mets fans. And it isn’t because I live in Queens either. I was raised in Brooklyn, and then Long Island. My dad was born in Brooklyn. Even his dad was born in Brooklyn. My dad is still sitting shiva for the Dodgers moving to LA! Therefore, in my family, you wouldn’t be caught dead rooting for the Yankees!

But yesterday, I was ready to burn my orange and blue and wear pinstripes. Okay, I’m not running a benefit for Willie Randolph! You can’t even equate his firing to layoffs at United or Starbuck’s or even Bear Stearns. Besides Willie’s money, I’m sure he’ll get snatched up as fast as the Dodgers nabbed Joe Torre.

And I’m not questioning whether he needed to go. Maybe Willie’s time was up. But do you have to fly the guy to California, let him qvell over his winning team, and then fire him at midnight after he reaches his hotel room? Beyond tacky. I never thought anyone could make the Steinbrenners look like nice guys, but this did just that!

Shame on you, Mets Management!! photo credit:Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons

Shame at Shea

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