Archive for November, 2008

Find your way around NYC more easily

I’ve lived in NYC now for practically my entire adult life and sometimes it’s difficult to find my way. While Google maps makes things a bit easier with its new features, I still find that by following directions, I’ll get lost.

As an example, it took me 1 year to find 9th street Espresso. I know, how hard could it be to find an espresso shop whose name itself tells you the location? I have no idea. I’m slow and I looked in every single direction except for the right one when trying to find the shop.

I accidentally bumped into mondomaps yesterday while trying to find the name of a restaurant in Curry Hill. We were search for Tiffin Wallah—but their Web site is not listed on mondomaps. But a bunch of others are and the way it is linked up is very helpful. I don’t know if they update the site and if so, how often…I definitely see some missing information. But I’m always looking for new tools to find my way around the city, so I thought I’d share. Here’s a link to all of Chelsea’s art galleries. This one particularly excited me because I rarely know where all the great art in NYC is and I’m definitely going to check them out now using the data from the map.

Enjoy discovering.

Black Friday Death

After my post about Black Friday madness I woke up to find a serious note: a Wal-mart employee in Valley Stream was killed by a stampede of people shopping during Black Friday.

We all do our part in contributing to the insanity and if the retailers would make the events last just a while longer it could save such trouble. It’s all a Catch-22. If you increase the hours of the sale then not as many people will come shop for goods and then the day would no longer be Black Friday. It would just be another sale event.

I don’t care what retailers end up doing—no amount of money justifies the death of a human being. That is absolute insanity

And if companies like Wal-Mart know that their employees are going to be facing unusual volume, they should take security measures prior to the day. But then again Wal-Mart is rated as one of the worst companies to work for so I can’t imagine them having this sort of insight.

I sincerely am sorry that a person actually died because of a sale.

Black Friday Confessional

Black Friday brings out the worst in New Yorkers and shoppers everywhere. We forget that all of us have the same essence running through ourselves. Just because we’re not related to one another, we forget common decency.

Today, I was guilty of letting my ego get the best of me. Large crowds, lots of noise, very few items with deep discounts and the rush of making sure that you get everything on your list completed drives Black Friday to be one of the most stressful days of the year.

So, this is my confession…I cut in line today, twice. Once at the Best Buy in Westbury and the other time to get into the busy parking lot of the Best Buy in Westbury.

I turned left from the right lane, nearly crashing into oncoming traffic. Then I went into the right lane again and entered the busy Best Buy parking lot, again nearly crashing into oncoming traffic. Once I found a parking (luckily, no illegal actions had to be made here), I rushed inside and perused through the merchandise.There was a man who was playing street hawker and yelling “Get your Bluetooth headsets here, $25. Get ’em here.” He was quite good and got a lot of people’s attention and sold a lot of merch.

I found the digital camera I wanted to get from the store and noticed that the line spanned the entire length of the store and went up and down several aisles – 5 or 6 to be exact – I was going back to put away the camera and just purchase it from another store when the opportunity presented itself. . . there was a barricade and the only place to turn was onto a register. Behind me a Best Buy employee yelled something and I thought I had been caught, but she yelled again, “ED!” She was calling for Ed. Not me. I was safe. So after the family ahead of me finished making their purchase, I made mine.

I saved 59 minutes worth of waiting time. I feel guilty. I am sorry to all those that waited in line like decent human beings. I will try to improve, I promise…

Do you have any Black Friday confessions?

Terror attacks in Mumbai

Last night in Mumbai, India, there were a series of coordinated terror attacks across the city. Reports coming in say there still may be hostages in some areas and there are over 100 dead with hundreds more injured. Arzan at the Mumbai Metblog (who also writes for the NYC Metblog) is covering the story and has lots of information about what’s going on as the news of the attacks unfolds.

Our thoughts are with the people of Mumbai and all the people affected by these attacks.

Melissa’s Tough Love: How NOT to Meet a Woman at a Bar

A friend of mine and I were given tickets to the Knicks game last night. Yes, I know… they suck, but I’d be silly to turn down a night where I am going to be in a stadium full of men!

After the game was over, we stopped by Stout for one last drink. That’s when Jay and his friend Kevin came by to chat us up.

Kevin was fine, but this is the Top 10 list of things that Jay did and what you guys should avoid:

1. Keep the comments about her legs to yourself. You JUST met her. Tone it down unless she’s flirting with you and purposely showing off her legs.
2. When you “think” you’ve said something clever, don’t hold up your hand to give her the fist bump. It’s just as bad as the high five and trust me… you’re not all that clever.
3. If she lives in NYC and has stated that she loves it there, don’t try to convince her that Hoboken is better. NOTHING you say will convince her.
4. Do NOT chew gum while you’re talking to her. There is no need for anyone to watch you chew when you’re not in the middle of a meal. Have a mint if your breath is stinky.
5. Don’t drink out of her glass of water. It’s gross.

Queens as seen in Hollywood and on the season finale of Entourage

McDowell's from "Coming to America"

Queens is where I grew up. It is the school of hard knocks if you grew up in the 90s—not because it was rough—but as a hip hop fashion statement in the form of a t-shirt.

My favorite pizza place was Gino’s on Grand Avenue right next to Queens Boulevard. It was actually the same intersection where McDowell’s is shown to be in the movie Coming to America.

In last night’s episode of Entourage which I consider to be one of the best season finale’s of a show ever, we saw some of the neighborhoods in Queens showcased in recent films.

The part where Vince and the guys live was a combination of Forest Hills a la Spider-Man and Kew Gardens as seen in Boiler Room.

The place where Johnny Drama opens up his new bar is exactly like a scene in Glengarry Glen Ross and also in the lesser known and sometimes forgotten George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez starring Out of Sight. And the scene in which they have a picnic looked very much like a scene from Goodfellas…though the latter took place in Brooklyn—Queens’ worst enemy.

But it was interesting to see how Queens always has certain elements of simplicity associated with it. Queens is never the place you see opulence go down or anything crazy happen. But Queens is also so picturesque and unique that an editor friend of mine tells me that when he was cutting a short film I directed at a major (not to be named) studio in Hollywood as a favor, someone walked by and immediately recognized her hometown of Queens on the television screen.

Though simple, Queens rules. That’s sort of the point.

Soy milk survey results

So the overwhelming and somewhat surprising results are offcially in. Most people order soy milk because they are lactose intolerant.

Coming in at a close 2nd is that because people actually prefer the taste of soy and nut based milks to the taste of regular milk.

Among the “Other” answers given, some people don’t take milk at all in their coffee while some others do not know whether the milk being used by their particular shop is organic or not. As in, they do not know if the cows whose milk they’re drinking has been ethically derived or not. So these are all legitimate reasons.

The sneaky reason I had for taking this survey was because sometimes when I visit Abraco Espresso, they are out of their freshly made almond milk. This is due to people that I thought were ordering almond because they thought it had less fat. The survey shows that this is not the case – most people are lactose intolerant or just prefer the taste. So what happens when vegans actually go into the shop is we get screwed. Because while someone who likes the taste has been hogging all the almond milk, we will have no milk substitute available for us.

Anyhow, what I learned was that people just love the taste of milk alternatives or they are lactose intolerant – as is most of the world. But sometimes they’ll just bite the bullet and get regular milk.

I should become a market researcher. . . . . . NOT (channeling Borat).

A Little Night Music

Photo from

I had a very musical evening last night. It all began in the Grand Central subway, where I met up with a friend who was playing trombone in the terminal. Her band, called the Dramatics band, includes 2 trombones, a trumpet, a saxophone, and some awesome drums. They play jazz/ African fusion tunes in various subway terminals nearly every day of the week.

We went with her to Le Poisson Rouge, a relatively young venue in the West Village. There was a $10 cover for an evening of 2 shows, something I won’t normally pay. When you walk into the establishment, you’re greeted by a hanging fish tank and a dark room. The performances occur downstairs, through a red lobby with interesting throne chairs, in a large dark room with a spacious stage and ample seating. The space lacked the dinginess many other musical venues in the area possess.

The show last night began with Ethan Iverson, an inventive pianist. He played innovative renditions of a variety of jazz standards. My favorite was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which he played with melancholic intensity. Some of his other playing was a bit too much for me, a non-musician, but he clearly has a lot of talent. Next up was Gabriel Kahane and his band, a singer-songwriter group.  The band’s charming leader had me cracking up with his humorous anecdotes that punctuated their songs. I was most impressed with their violin player, Rob Moose, whose fast fiddling stole the show. We left as they continued their set, but had thoroughly enjoyed a melodic evening.

Selfish Drivers

Finding parking in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn has got unbearably bad over the past couple of years.

And what makes it worse is really selfish drivers. On many an occasion I have seen cars parked a few feet away from the end of the block. Surely no car was parked there earlier that warranted the car to be parked the way it is. Have two cars like this in a row and for every three spots you have just two cars parked.

Just last week and again today, I see someone parking their car bang in the middle of two open spots. In both cases I had to pull up and ask them to move their car back or front so I could also park. If I was not there at that instant, they would have just parked and gone away.

I realize there is no rule to force them to park so as not to take up two vacant spots, but isn’t it the right thing to do.

The guy today who parked was already out of his car and then made a big fuss about getting back in. However I have a big SUV (ok ok I know!) and he realized that one way or the other I was going to try to squeeze in and would invariably bump his car. Only then did he get in his car and pull back freeing up one entire car parking spot.

Other than dismissing these drivers as assholes, is there something that can be done. Or does one just swallow it and move on ?

Why do you take soy or nut based milk in your coffee?

Dear coffee drinkers of New York City, please take this survey because I am dying to find out. There is a legitimate reason for me asking this question and I urge you to be honest, sincere and bold in your response. Also, if you know of any other coffee drinkers around the city, please send this survey to them as well.

Take the survey here.

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