Sunday, June 29, 2008

New York Triathlon - Check

Checked off another milestone yesterday. The Little Nolita Lady and I competed in the Flat as a Pancake Triathlon in Staten Island.

It was my first in a while - definitely not my best - but it did trigger the tri bug.

It was a warm day, but a great race - quarter mile swim, 12 mile bike and 5K run. The swim was in Raritan Bay on Staten Island, and the run ended on the Raritan Bay Board Walk.

We celebrated that night New York style with dinner, drinks and dancing.

One Of Those Days

It was one of those days when everything just didn't go quite right. I had the 'great' idea to do a long bike ride from our place in Manhattan to Coney Island. So we rode downtown via the West Side Highway bike path, and met The Little Nolita Lady at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.
From there, we rode into Brooklyn, around Prospect Park, and then down Ocean Boulevard all the way to the boardwalk.

Along the way we encountered heavy traffic and bumpy roads, and The Boy was almost sideswiped. The bike path along Ocean Boulevard was puncuated by stop lights every 400 yards or so, so it wasn't a relaxing ride. Just a long and dangerous one.

The best part of the day was stopping on the boardwalk and having a hotdog at Nathan's Hot Dogs.

On the way home, The Little Nolita Lady had a minor crash that resulted in an impressive and colorful bruise. We got lost - several times - and I was reminded why i don't want to compete in any reality adventure shows. I don't handle stress on the road very well. Not pretty.

When we finally made it back to the city (a nice lady let us follow her to the Manhattan Bridge after we made yet another wrong turn), we got rained on all the way up the West Side Highway. Wet but relieved that we were almost home, we were cruising on 72nd street near The Dakota apartment building, when the ride turned almost catastrophic. On the nearly empty street, a car with out of state plates made a crazy u-turn in the middle of the road an nearly took The Boy out. Yikes! Then I don't what they were doing, but somehow I was in their sights and I was backed against the curb screaming, "Stop, Stop!" Fortunately, they moved away, and I escaped unharmed.

But The Boy had had enough. He went up to the driver side window and rapped on it. "Roll your window down," he said. The driver had both hands on the wheel and looked straight ahead, as if The Boy wasn't there. "Roll your window down," The Boy demanded. And you know what? The crazy guy did.

The Boy proceeded to tell the man, "You can't just come to New York and make crazy turns in the middle of the street. You almost hit me and you almost hit my wife. You have to be careful."

The man, older, traveling with his wife, said evenly, "Thank you for that information," and rolled his window back up.

We peddled away and finally made it all the way home. If we ever go back to Coney Island, we're taking the train.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Give Her Regards To Broadway

One of the great things about moving to a new place is meeting new people. The Boy and I have met a number of cool people over the last year and a half, and it is exciting to continue to learn new things about them. 

I thought I knew it all about The Little Nolita Lady. Like how much she likes participating in - and excelling at - sports. Like how she likes composing her own music. Like how she loves karaoke. This last one really made no sense to me. The one and only time I had experienced karaoke was New Year's 1992. I was visiting a friend. Our New Year's plans fell through, and we ended up at a sushi restaurant where some untalented bloke was singing a Mac Davis song at midnight. Now maybe it's because I had never eaten sushi before, or used chopsticks or slurped sake, or that my date was a jackass, or maybe it's just that the Mac Davis wannabe was really, really bad, but I didn't have a good time that night. My perception of karaoke was forever tainted.

But because The Little Nolita Lady is my friend, The Boy and I acquiesced last night to hit one of her fave karaoke bars - 2nd on 2nd - after dinner.  When we arrived, the cheese factor was circa my 1992 experience. The skill level was about the same, too.

Now, The Little Nolita Lady shared with me that judging karaoke performances has 3 dimensions.
  1. Song Selection
  2. Performance and Charisma
  3. Vocal Ability

To her, the first two are most important and can make up for deficiencies in actual singing ability. At least that is what she told me when trying to persuade me to try my hand at the microphone.  I always have contended that the only people who like karaoke are the ones who can actually sing. My hypothesis was borne out, allright.  About 30 minutes into the scene, The Little Nolita Lady was called to the stage where she belted out a Proud Mary that gave me goose bumps. She chose a great song. She chit chatted with the crowd. Danced with drunk revelers. And those pipes. Seriously, I'm embarrassed even to SPEAK in front of her after that. The chick can really sing! And perform. And pick cool songs. She is the karaoke trifecta.

So while I am elated at having a friend who is so talented, I'm also feeling a bit vindicated. No wonder I don't like karaoke. I don't want to expose my screeching instrument to the world! The Little Nolita Lady can and should do karaoke every night of the week. In fact, she is one of those few people to whom you would never mutter, "Don't quit your day job," after a turn at the mic. Indeed she SHOULD quit her day job and go sing on Broadway or try out for American Idol or start her own band. I, on the other hand, will stick to writing. It is soundless.  : )

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crane Your Head

I think many of you heard about the crane collapses here. I still can't believe they made national news, but that's another story.

Anyway, when I was walking around today, I saw this big bad boy, and it really blew my mind. I think because this building is so narrow itself, and the crane is so high - probably 50 or 60 stories. It inspires awe at both the ingenuity that enabled cranes to be developed, as well as the potential for disaster we now know is possible. They are doing new construction on my street, but thankfully it's only a 5 story building. Like many in other neighborhoods, I would be less than thrilled to have this in my back yard.

Education Transportation

Was on the subway in late morning today because of a dentist appointment. There was a group of jr high or high school kids on the subway with their teacher - on a fieldtrip perhaps? Anyway, there was a load of them, and they were being loud and obnoxious, so at first I was annoyed. Then I realized that the teacher was quizzing them on geometry rules and theorems. They were clamoring all over each other to be heard shouting out the answer. It was the coolest thing ever. In between the answers, they were cracking wise, and the teacher was completely non-plussed and just kept going. He helped steer anyone who gave a wrong answer to the right conclusion. I felt really lucky to see something like that in action.

Later, I was walking through City Hall Park. They have tables set up with checkerboards on top. There were a couple of dudes playing chess - an old grizzled dude with a jaunty hat on his head, and a younger, taller, beefy dude. They were going at it, clicking the timer and making their moves. Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around to see who won, but my money's on the older dude.

Which is interesting. Apparently I'm not really in sync with the "inexperienced" whether they are chess players or mathletes. Guess that's why I was supporting Hillary, even though as a Gen Xer, I should have been turned on by Obama's subtle message of hope. Maybe I'm so cynical I don't really believe things can change, and just want someone I know can play the game. Like the old grizzled dude.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Market Mania

One of the benefits of living in the city is the variety of specialty shops - the butcher, the cheese shop, the bakery, the fruit stand. In my idealized view of the city, I would make time each week to visit these vestiges of the past and thoughtfully select my groceries for the week. 

The truth is, I hardly ever do this. There is a butcher who rents space in the bottom floor of my building, and I rarely visit! There are at least 4 small, New York style groceries on my way home from the subway, one right on my block. However, I usually forgo all of this to exercise one of the other benefits of the city - they deliver everything. Therefore, just about once a week, I receive a thoughtfully-selected bounty from Fresh Direct. It is more convenient, and I'm actually less apt to buy a bunch of stuff I don't need - or worse - forget to buy the stuff I do need.

And while I do appreciate the benefits of getting my groceries delivered this way, I sometimes wonder if I am contributing to the demise of "New York City - the hard-scrabble land of dreams" and contributing to "New York City, the Disney theme park."

Texas-Style Weekend

Temperatures soared into the 90s in NYC this weekend, and along with high humidity, brought a profoundly Texas feel to the weekend.
I paid a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday morning, while the oven was just pre-heating. Picked up some beautiful beets and lettuces and cheese from nearby farmers which made a delightful salad later that evening. There were vendors with all kinds of herbs and plants for sale, making me wistful for my mom. She loves that stuff and would have enjoyed the morning.

Later in the day, The Boy and I met up with The Little Nolita Lady at the Big Apple Barbecue Festival in Madison Square Park. I wanted a taste of Texas 'Cue, and there were two vendors on hand from the Lone Star State. I wanted to hit The Salt Lick Barbecue from Driftwood, Texas for the beef brisket and beef sausage and slaw.  It had passed the 90 degree mark by then, and to my dismay, the line for The Salt Lick was at least an hour long and snaked around the sweltering pavement of Madison Avenue and 26th street.  2 people fainted while I was in line. With sweat rolling down my back in rivers, fainting seemed like a reasonable plan for fast-tracking the line, and getting a frozen washcloth and some free food. 

Finally, after the long wait, we settled on the grass in the park with wisps of live music drifting our way, and communed with several thousand of our fellow New Yorkers. The Lady Lawhorn will be happy to know that we spotted several proud displays of horns amongst the crowd. It was a day well-lived, and a nice reminder of home. 

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A River Runs Through It

Ventured out with The Boy last weekend on a great adventure on two wheels. We rode our road bikes through Central Park, to 72nd Street, then by the Dakota Lofts, where John Lennon famously lived and died, west to Riverside drive and then north about 90 or 100 blocks to the George Washington Bridge. From the bridge, as you can see, is a great view of the Hudson River, with New Jersey bordering the right, and the island of Manhattan on the left.
From there we ventured to Palisade State Park in New Jersey, where we rode up and down the rolling hills bordering the river.

It was a challenging and sometimes nerve racking ride, but a great way to spend a sunny weekend morning. 

That Stinks

My friend La Bitcha from Houston works for Aramark. Looks like her brethren here in NYC are skeeved about something. They've been on strike for at least a month, lorded over by a giant inflatable skunk. I walk by them each morning on my way to work. They always have 2 foil serving platters full of breakfast. I wonder who is providing the catering. Surely not Aramark?

Chicks Flick

Set out with my girlfriends on Friday night for the 11:30 showing of Sex and the City, the movie. Full of anticipation, we dined at Citrus before we headed to the theatre at Lincoln Center. Women were dressed to the nines - including one who had a feathered bird in her hair -  for the chick flick of the year. 
Little did we know that chicks would actually be flicking, and shoving, and cutting, and cursing, and running to get into the theatre. 

After waiting in a line as long as Samantha's list of sexual conquests, we began moving forward amicably. But then all hell broke loose and large hordes of women began pushing their way forward as if Manolo Blahnik himself was crafting customized pairs of shoes just beyond the double door entrance.

It was a low point in womendom.  And, because of all the craziness ad ruckus, I didn't even dare venture out for popcorn, MnMs and a cherry coke, my movie staple.
Fortunately, the movie itself provided that salty and sweet combination. I just wish there had been a little more sweet and a little less salt within the movie viewing public.