Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Metrodome Roof Collapse Video From the Inside Metrodome

I'm continually amazed by this video (which appears to have been edited by James Cameron), and the collapse of this roof. It's pretty amazing that this happened while no one was in the stadium, which is the only reason it's so enticing to watch. The power of Mother Nature simply can't be underestimated. Check it out!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Trip: Hudson River Loop

For the amount of time I've lived in NYC, I know surprisingly little about the surrounding region. Avid explorers should know all the best spots, locally and regionally. So, we took advantage of the long weekend by embarking on a day trip up Bergen County, through Harriman State Park, down the Hudson River, past Westchester and over a bridge....to the island borough. Although it was more time in the car than outside, it was a great formula for the perfect winter day trip. Taking on the challenge of taking in sights that are best in the light of day we kicked our trip off early and didn't make it back home till 11 pm. Here's some of the places we explored:

Sugarloaf, NY (1.2 hours from Harlem) - In our research for a small town, high on charm with a thriving arts community, we came across Sugarloaf. The drive from NYC takes you through beautiful Harriman State Park, which is a bit barren this time of year but still offers great natural views. The town itself is a sweet little mountain village full of craftsmen and women. We started our stroll at the intersection of Pine Hill Rd. and King's Hwy and took in some of the shops, including: Luft Gardens, which was our personal favorite and sold vintage and homemade items such as delicious jams, antique movie marquee letters, and old design books; Mountain Herbs; My Sister's Closet which had some warm, wonderful soft hand-knitted clothing; The Candle Shop where we discovered the owner ran track in high school; and The Barnsider Restaurant with awesome spiked apple cider.

West Point, NY (40 minutes east from Sugarloaf) - In my mind West Point has pristine, manicured lawns, stunning, historic buildings overlooking the Hudson River, soldiers training for physical challenges and lovely little plaques placed strategically around the grounds explaining the significance of the sights.  And why not?  All the photos I've seen of the military academy appear to be taken in some sort of magical place with castles looming in the backround and organized chaos in the manner of a football game or training exercise taking place in the foreground.  But alas, we were not allowed to take a self guided tour and could only view the regulated sights including the museum and visitor's center.  A bit of a disappointment but it was en route to our next stop, so we only lost a few minutes of sunlight.

Finding our next stop at Stone Barns

Stone Barns Farm Center for Food and Agriculture (35 minutes from West Point, NY along a scenic curvy road above the Hudson River) - Stone Barns Farm is a non-profit farm and education center which operates an 80-acres of lush, beautiful land. It's open year-round and functions as a working farm, promoting the creation of a healthy and sustainable food system.

Holding our noses in front of the Sheep
Livestock Shelter

The Farm is laid out with both farmers and explorers in mind.  They offer guided tours or suggested self guided "walkabouts," complete with a map and information about how each of the barns, houses, gardens and pastures tie into the overall goal of the sustainable farm.  Their primary education mission, to build connections between the food we eat and farm land, certainly was not lost on me. 
From gorgeously manicured rows of veggies in the Greenhouse, to the open chicken coops the life and vibrancy of the farm took the city out of the girl.  I loved the livestock shelters, full of sheep, turkeys and pigs and wish we had more time to check out the larger pastures and wetlands.   

We only spared a few minutes to sip some coffee at their Blue Hill Cafe and take in the sunset from Chicken Hill before heading off.   

*If the farm sounds too cold or full of animals for your taste, there's also the Rockafeller State Park close by that you can explore by car or foot.  Its said to be some of the best hiking trails in the Hudson Valley and still holds a place on our must see list for our next trip

Mt. Kisco, NY (20 minutes from Stone Barns Farm) - Once our feet thawed and the sun set, we decided to check out another small town on our way home.  After reading about Mt. Kisco's quaint Main Street and relaxed wine bars, we figured it was the perfect place to start our evening.  This north Westchester town is an interesting mix of modern, cookie cutter shops and classic Victorian homes.  I'd read that most of the housing was build during the turn of the century, and included colonials and Tudors as well.  But, the downtown area primarily featured a modern mix of glassy storefronts and A-line rooftops.  There's a sweet charm to the modern village and we decided to settle in for a drink.

Jerome did some reading and found  a popular wine bar, Pour Cafe, which occupies the bottom floor of a two story Victorian downtown.  The interiors were spacious yet cozy and included a lot of dark wood deep red velvet.  It felt like being in a good friends very refined living room.  The huge glasses of wine and well priced munches kept us happy for a while but the heat never quite kicked in and we got tired of shivering at a bar.  So, we decided to make one more stop before landing home.

Denino's Pizzeria Tavern, Staten Island, NY (1.5 hours with several wrong turns, from Mt. Kisco) - Since we don't own a car and usually head out of town when we decide to rent one, we rarely go off the beaten path in NYC.  Off the beaten path means over a 40 minute walk from a subway station.  If there's a bus, I'll take it, if there's a goal at the end of my journey, I'll work for it.  But, I don't usually go out just to wander (which I used to do my first couple of years here....how sad).  So, the borough we've explored the least is Staten Island due to it's lack of transportation. 

I've read about Denino's world famous pizzeria on SI, but never thought I'd get the chance to go there....till now.  We had a little bit of trouble finding the place, or more accurately, finding the bridge that would take us to the island but it was all worth it.  $10 pitchers of beer and thin crust pizza with the perfect sauce and fresh cheese was a great way to end the night.  

The Thanksgiving Spread

As I mentioned in my post Thanksgiving Tips, we spent our Thanksgiving with good friends here in NYC instead of flying out of town or out of the country (as we've done for the past couple of years).  They treated us to some amazing food, games and even a little art project (a.k.a. Turkey hand drawings).   Great Thanksgiving overall, as much as we missed our families on the west coast.  Here's some photos of our night and beautiful dinner.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Tips

This year Jerome and I will be spending Thanksgiving with part of our NYC family.  We'll get the best of both worlds, cooking a bit and traveling a bit.  Small quantities of both these elements make up a perfect American holiday.  Although our cooking will only be cheddar and black pepper biscuits, cranberry citrus relish and sage and shallot mashed potatoes and our travel will only be from Manhattan to Brooklyn we'll sure to get the full effect of both.  That gets me thinking about what Thanksgiving is all about.

Thanksgiving for me is about turkey cut-outs made of brown construction paper, beautiful home cooked meals with family and friends, sharing snip-its and insights about what we're grateful for around the dinner table, and of course, just a little bit of NFL football.  My aunt Kathleen is one of the best cooks in the Northern Hemisphere (ok, maybe we'll limit it to California), and prepares a flawless Turkey and amazing Apple Pie that melts in your mouth every year.  Kathleen's cooking isn't the only thing I'll miss this Thanksgiving.  I'll be sad to be away from my family this holiday, as I always am on Easter, Mothers/Fathers Days, etc. but I'm very grateful that I have such amazing friends to share it with.

This blog post, which is drafted by Kevin Ngo and appeared on his blog on last Friday offered some great tips.  Although I've seen several articles offering "Thanksgiving Tips," for how to make it through a full day with your extended family, or faking a deep and passionate love for bad food, these tips actually focused on how to be grateful.  I loved it, and decided to re-post it here.  Hopefully he doesn't mind.


With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d write about the meaning of Thanksgiving and what this joyous occasion is really about. I won’t be talking about Pilgrims and turkey dinners however, gobble gobble. What I’ll be talking about is the true meaning of Thanksgiving: Gratitude. We all know this of course but hopefully this post will serve as a reminder as well as give you some new insights.

How many people do you know go through life frustrated because they feel like they never seem to be or have what they want? It strikes me as odd to see people who seem to have so much going for them, yet never seem to be happy. How about you? Do you ever find yourself stressed and unfulfilled? What do you think it takes to be happy?

You see, we all have these rules of what has to happen in order for us to be happy. For some people they need a million dollars, for others, as long as they have their health, they’re happy. What are your rules? What has to happen in your mind in order for you to be happy? Many things may be running through your mind right now, but if I could just suggest one thing… And that is, be happy for what you already have.

Think about what you have in your life right now. Think of the friends you have, your spouse, the house you’re living in, the car you’re driving, or maybe the sports trophy from your school days or your college diploma or even the laptop or computer you’re using… do you remember back when one or more of these things were mere goals or desires that you had? How did you feel the moment when you finally obtained it?

Often times we get so caught up in our next dream or goal and we completely forget how much we use to want what we now have but take for granted. We’ve all heard the saying about not knowing how much something means to us until it’s gone, but I say, “If that’s the case, why wait?” Appreciate what you have while you’ve still got it. How? I’m glad you asked.

Tips For Being Grateful

1. Visualize not having what you have.

Imagine not having the car you currently drive or the house you live in or the people you have in your life. You may be hating your job but imagine losing it tomorrow. Imagine losing your legs or arms or your eyesight. If you really play along and go full out on this, you will be more appreciative of what you have.

2. Give things away that you wanted in the past, got it, but no longer appreciate.

What if you gave away things you don’t even take notice anymore, the things you’ve taken for granted. Donate your kidney, your hair, your car, your parents, or maybe your siblings. Yes I’m joking but think about how you’d feel if you were actually in the process of giving these away. How does the thought of losing these things or people make you feel?

3. Be thankful every morning.

Those first two tips can be powerful if you really do it full out, but the problem is they might not last too long. A week might go by you can could be back to taking things you have for granted again. So like exercising, to be grateful everyday, you need to do it everyday. Each morning when you wake up, think about all the things you are grateful for. What do you have that you would never want to lose? Don’t just think about it, really feel it. Feel the joy and happiness in your body. Starting your day like this will do wonders for the rest of the day. Do this every day and it’ll do wonders for the rest of your life.

So for this Thanksgiving holiday, remember, the meaning of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what you have and it’s a day that’s set as a reminder for us to be grateful. Whatever you end up doing or end up spending time with this Thanksgiving, be happy that you have those people in your life. If you don’t have anyone or anything, at least be grateful for your eyesight and ability to read. Again, happiness really comes down to what rules you set for yourself in order to be happy. And it’s always a good place to start with what you already have.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mapping the Harlem Drinking and Dining Renaissance

I love my neighborhood and simply adore when others find the same draw to it that I do.  So, I was pretty excited when Eater.com posted a great, albeit not entirely complete, drinking and dining guide for the area a few weeks ago.  Although there was only one surprise in the article for me, I love their take on the hot new spots, and appreciate the authors usage of the term "renaissance" over "gentrification."  So, without further ado, here's a few picks from their list of the top new spots in the neighborhood and my take on each one (in italics):

Bier International, 2099 Frederick Douglass Blvd - "Opened earlier this year, Bier International is a giant restaurant and beer garden popular with both the big drinkers and the stroller set." Their beer selection is pretty impressive, their food is surprisingly stellar and their unique vision is pretty intriguing.  It isn't big enough to be a true beer garden so they minimised the design to make you feel like you're in a bigger, more jovial space.  It's unique to the hood and earns a solid thumbs up from me.

67 Orange Street, 2082 Frederick Douglass Blvd - "One of the oldest entries on this map, 67 Orange is approaching its second birthday. The cocktail den became a fast favorite in the area for offering a speakeasy vibe … and high end cocktails."  This is one of the only mixology bars in the neighborhood and is perfect for a nice cocktail on weeknights.  The space gets a bit too cramped on the weekends but the high-energy, friendly bartenders make up for it.
My favorite statue in the neighborhood,
Harriet Tubman on 122 and Fredrick Douglas Ave.

The Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Ave- "Chef Marcus Samuelsson's anxiously anticipated and ceaselessly promoted new Harlem venture. It will be a restaurant/jazz club/speakeasy/market/community center we … think? He has been working very hard doing collaborations with Target and Kraft to prepare."  This restaurant hasn't opened yet, and somehow I wasn't on the invite list for the guest night :).  So, I can't offer a review yet but I'm certainly excited that Samuelsson choose the location he did for his new digs.

Levain Bakery, 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd - "The famed UWS bakery is making its move to Harlem because "it's a community they believe in."  This tiny, loving, decadent smelling cookie shop used to be my favorite when we lived in the UWS.  I couldn't be more excited about its move to my hood.  Although, I'm not sure I need more cookies in my life I'llbe sure to write a review when it opens.

Too soon to tell....

Two of the on Eater's list may be taking things a bit too far, too fast for the neighborhood.  Both the ALoft Hotel, which is a Starwood property and part of the W Hotel brand and the Harlem Tavern look like they should be set in midtown or the UWS.  I understand why these spots are buying the property and launching into construction now from a business perspective, but I don't think they will get the crowd they are expecting once they open.  The hotel is particularly terrifying to me, as it was originally rendered to be built around a historic carriage house that exemplified the area and ended up taking it out (aka knocking it down by accident) during construction.   If a business has no interest in preserving any of the history and character of the neighborhood then it's sure to fail (hence my appreciation for the word renaissance vs. gentrification).

Check out the map and full article here.  Eater hasn't quite figured out that adding a blogger share button to their website would increase their distribution but I'm sure they'll get it one day.
You can't take the Harlem out of Harlem Globe Trotters!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook's New Battle With Google

Facebook's New Battle With Google covers the Social Media giant's newest messaging platform which incorporates email, SMS, and IM chat. It stands to streamline the multiple lines of communication that we all rely so heavily on, IF it works. Since email is a flawed system, most of us have learned that IM chats or text messages are faster and easier for one-off conversations. What if they could all live in one happy place?

And, in theory, I'd love to have all my conversations in one spot instead of scrambling to find a long lost text message about a new restaurant my friend found, or a random email with my dental insurance information in it from my boyfriend. But, I still have a slight mistrust of Facebook and don't see the site as my friend, even though I happily correspond with all my friends on their platform. Their extensive point of sale style marketing and sudden changes in their privacy policies make me a wary user.

And, if we're going to narrow this down to a fight between Google and Facebook, my brand loyalty is still with Google. I will openly say that it's because I have had fewer problems on their platforms (including Gmail), and their innovations make my work and personal life easier. But, I'm a marketer and know that their marketing, PR and advertising are aimed at making me feel warm and fuzzy about their smart services and offerings.

The video on Facebook's new messaging service is a great, and won me over for now. But, as always I'll wait to place all my eggs in one basket until all the bugs are worked out and the privacy policies are clearly posted.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Itinerary: 10 Days in NYC

Every year my parents come into town for about a week and I get the pleasure of touring them around the city.   Each time I consider it somewhat of a challenge, utilizing a short window of time to showcase my favorite discoveries in the city over the past year.  The most difficult aspect of this challenge is completing the week without utterly exhausting myself and my family.  I'm not sure I've ever really been able to pull a NYC tour off without tiring everyone out, but we always have a great time and this year was no exception. 

In the format of a running calendar, here's the details of their latest trip and my personal guide to showing some fun-loving, up-for-anything parents around NYC.

Saturday, October 30 - Halloween night, including a dress up party at our house, a transformation into the entire Scobby Doo gang and the surrounding cast of characters.  Off to American Retro bar for a Halloween Party where we met Sookie, Betty Francis, a Mummy and a recently slayed matador. 

Sunday, October 31 - Sie and Kate, the awesome Washington DCers via Texas depart, and we sob.  Recovery comes in the way of Calle Ocho sangria and one of their tasty new entrees (including a breakfast burrito and delicious quesadilla de Salvador), a walk through Central Park and a movie at home.

Monday, November 1 - Work day and party night.  Meet for of the most upscale and relaxed happy hours in town at B Flat which turns into a live jazz bar when happy hour ends, at 8 pm.  Great music but to loud to chat so off to Cafe Nior where we dine on tapas (such as Moroccan Pizza, Brie frito con miel, and Ceviche).  The final game of the World Series is viewed on my iPhone and the Giants win....celebration!
Tuesday, November 2 - Onward and upward, to the Highline Park in Chelsea; the best new sight in town in the past 5 years.  Then, take in a complete Chelsea gallery tour before hitting up a nice lunch at Spice on 9th Ave.  With food on the mind it's off to Mario Batali's Eataly for a glance at some of the best Italian imports in town before stopping in Sagaponack for a martini happy hour. Uptown to Broadway for a new musical, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, to satisfy the NYC itch.  Awesome seats, fun show, beautiful voices and awesome set.

Wednesday, November 3 - Spa Castle day with mom, dad is off to lunch with a friend at Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem.  Spa Castle is a whirlwind of relaxation and Korean artistry in Queens.  Home again for dinner and a movie.

Thursday, November 4 - Decadence at it's finest.  A day at the MOMA to check out the Abstract Expressionist New York exhibit.  A new restaurant discovery on west 55 Street, Menchanko-Tei, which works out better than I dreamed and offered big bowls of tasty noodles and broth with chucks of fresh tofu, seaweed, shrimp and mushrooms to cold and hungry customers.  The evening took another turn towards high society when we we left Midtown West and headed back to Chelsea.  We checked out the Beatrice, and reveled in views from the Cloud Lounge on floor 53.  We sipped on espresso and coffee martinis at Food Parc and finally dined on the finest Basque food NYC has to offer at Bar Basque.  The space is phenomenal, the interiors are jaw-dropping and the food is pretty damn good too.  It's been way too long since I took 3 hours to sip, slice and munch my way through dinner - which included a blood sausage stuffed calamari, wild mushroom croquettes, slow baked piquillo peppers, acorn-fed ham, monk fish and the best damn ice cream in town.

Friday, November 5- A long work day, and an evening of realized fun.  Happy hour at the Dove Palour before moving on to a couple of the upscale cocktail joints in NYC for a beautifully mixed drink or two.  The well-known unmarked doorway on 7 Ave and Carmine Street which leads to the downstairs speakeasy tavern known as Little Branch was already out of seating by 7:30, so we carried on to Employees Only, hidden behind a fortune teller and dark curtain on Hudson Street.   Employees Only offers a Billionaire cocktail that makes my mouth water thinking about it with bourbon, lemon, homemade grenadine and bitters.  Then we headed over to the Red-Eyed Grill for a quite table and some dinner (which came in the format of overpriced, less-than par food but the quiet table and upbeat waiter made up for it).

Saturday, November 6 - Tourist extravaganza!  Kick off the day on a tour bus called The Ride that is part theater, part spectacle, part experimental and part ridiculous fun.  View midtown Manhattan sideways.  Jump on the train to Atlantic Ave. and tour Fort Greene including the Brooklyn Flea, a market like no other, and fancy drinks at No. 7 including a cherry infused bourbon Old Fashion.  Williamsburg was the next neighborhood on our list and we headed to a friend's house to get the full effect (from a locals perspective, of course).  A couple rounds of Fette Sau BBQ, Cafe Dumont mac n' cheese, and Rock Band later we headed home.

Sunday, November 7 - What better time to kick back and relax than the first cold Sunday of the year?  We started off our morning with home made breakfast sandwiches and mimosas while bundling up for the outdoors.  We watched the NYC marathon on TV before heading down the street to see it live at Marcus Garvey Park.  Viewing exhilarated runners dash, stumble, trudge and sprint across the 22 mile mark made for some great photos.  We toured 125 Street and picked up some goodies at Best Yet for a chili feast.  Chili feast was accompanied by football watching, game playing and cupcake eating.

Monday, November 8 - Sadly, the plane took off and I'm waiting for my phone call saying mom and dad made it home safely....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snapshots of Halloween Day in NYC

Through Central Park and the Upper West Side, we found some wonderful NYC characters to celebrate the day of the dead with.  After our night of solving mysteries and caring around our brightly colored van as the Scooby Doo Gang, we were ready for some relaxed entertainment.  We found it in the most unusual way....

Friendly Monster #2 of the day, who found us
watching the roller skaters in Central Park

The first skeleton of the day to approach us...flapping his wings
and shifting his Rollerblades

Halloween Block Party in the UWS

Jerome, Dad, Mom and me leaving the park


Block party fun!

The block residents and association
went all-out to make sure this
was the best Halloween Party in the neighborhood

Guess who?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CMJ Music Marathon 2010 Photos and Discovery

Headed out to see some
Awesome Music

The concerts, films, roadside shows and all-around CMJ madness left town as quickly as it arrived.  And, while it didn't quite have the same effect on me as a nuclear explosion, I did feel a bit beat up after the weekend.  Some of the images and stories below.

Littlefield's stage

As I mentioned in my previous post, CMJ has become a good friend to me.  A trustworthy amigo, I use to gauge what type of music I should be paying closer attention to and venues I should check out more often.  This year, I found an awesome new venue and an amazing artists (this is where I'd pat my CMJ blow-up doll on the back if I had one).  So my theme for this year is, 'Discovery.'

On Friday night, Belinda, Erick, Jerome and I headed over to Littlefield's out in Brooklyn.  I'm not to sure what to call the neighborhood this venue is housed in, but it's between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, so let's call it Carroll Slope for now.  Littlefield's in Carroll Slope turned out to be an awesome venue, with a unique set up that provided guests with a realized, quite entrance and bar space and open, semicircle lounge and concert space.  The concert space is tucked away neatly in the back of the venue, and only accessible through a long hallway, covered in art pieces and brightly colored walls.  The thick metal doors open to a typical style small concert space with random chairs along the walls and an open space for dancing, listening and cheering in the center.  We were mostly the listening and cheering type, but I certainly got my feet moving a bit. 

The bands, of which Brass Bed from Layette, LA was my favorite, all had to deal with a severely challenged sound engineer, or lousy soundboard (I couldn't quite tell whose fault it was), but overcame the odds and put on a great show.  Once the sound is fine-tuned and the system is back on track, it will be rated as one of the coolest NYC venue's I've ever visited.

Then, Jerome and I went to Piano's on Saturday afternoon to catch one of my favorite songwriter artists, Dan Magan.  We arrived early, to score some prime seating in the small upstairs lounge, unsuspecting participants in a musical experiment.  I'm no music producer, but usually acts are clumped together in genres or at least similar sounds.  The artist who played before the Dan Magan Band was absolutely nothing like them, or like anything I've ever seen before.  

K.Flay at Piano's

The artist, K.Flay tore up the small space by what I could only call a DJ's dream of a Renaissance woman.  She stood on stage with nothing more than her laptop, a turntable, and a mic.  She began each song by laying down a couple of beats (drums, melody, etc.) and edged her way in with her lyrics and pre-recorded chorus.  And, seriously, I had no idea a white girl could rap like this.  She spilled her words into the mic as fast as any MC I've seen and lapped up the applause like a champ.  She also has a somewhat strange, relaxed stage presence I had trouble pin pointing.  She dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and over sized sneakers reminiscent of RUN DMC.  She bounced to the lyrics she rapped, but rarely bordered on dance.  And, while speaking to the audience her voice eluded to an Irish accent (perhaps due to her Irish via San Francisco roots).  She was incredible and I'm so happy I was turned on to her.  Check her out if you're interested.

Robots Need Love Too...

Annnnd, headed home

Of course, the Dan Magan Band also put on a stellar performance and spent some time chatting with me and my group after the show.  They even did one of my favorite songs, Robots Need Love Too, from the bar stools.  Funny, funny fellows.  Check out their rendition of Robots at Mercury Lounge the Friday night before -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3O_a5ONQH0.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: The Piano Tuner

The Piano TunerThe Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful tale of a life changes, unique experiences and history.  I would recomend this to anyone who is willing to offer a book a touch of patience, undivided attention and a willingness to learn.  It opened up a creative box in my head that had been closed for years.  Many thanks to the author.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friendship Tribes

I read a great article in The New York Times today about the changes in society that have created friendship tribes (I love this term!). The article discusses the revolution under the umbrella of latest wave of television shows, which the reporter calls 'flock comedies.' The author, David Brooks, compares the direction of these new sitcoms to the past focus on family comedies. Has friendship replaced family in my generation?

The beginning of this compelling article breaks down why and how this shift took place and what impact it's having on the current programming line-up.

Last week, in a discussion with friends I caught myself passionately talking about a television program for the first time in years. I was just wondering why I have finally fallen back in love with prime time television (particularly Modern Family, Chuck, and Glee). Well now I understand, and can celebrate the fact that they are a reflection on my generation and my life choices. For the last few weeks I thought my new appreciation for prime time television was the slow fall of reality TV and invention of Hulu, which allows me to avoid commercials.

As a thirty something girl (I'm still avoiding the word woman), who focuses on finding the most intriguing friends, work, adventures and experiences in life, I can proudly say I have an awesome friend tribe. My friend tribe has experienced countless explorations, and adventures with me.  Perhaps it's because I found the love of my life 10+ years ago, but I'm not in a huge rush to take on the responsibility of a family. I'm certainly not running from it, and look forward to it one day. But my responsibility to volunteer in my local community, plan parities with friends and create the damn best NYC sightseeing list ranks higher on my personal priority list for now.

While I don't agree with Brooks description of "flock friendships" which are more heavily weighted in networking relationships and loose acquaintances which he calls "group relationships," the full article is well worth a read.  And, while I may have created my own definition of friend tribe I don't think I'll ever use flock friendship in a dinner conversation with friends.

Brooks blames the shift to "flock friendships" on technology and the evolution of social networking, which everyone does.  And, while I don't try to pretend I understand the 20 somethings who have 500+ friends on Facebook and swear they would invite every single one of them to their mom's house for dinner, I do know enough of them to understand plenty of them still value one-on-one individual relationships.

Luckily I have,"the long, uninterrupted bonding experiences that they (most people) no longer have time or energy for anymore," in my life.  I don't long for the friendships on these sitcoms, as Brooks suggests, but relish in the fact that there are writers, or characters, out there experiencing the same thing.  As society continues to evolve and change, there will always be naysayers and frustrated outsiders. 

But, hell, if it's finally making television enjoyable to watch again....maybe it's worth it (mwhahahahahah -evil laugh).

Check out the full article:

The Flock Comedies - NYTimes.com:
"These flock comedies serve an obvious dramatic function. In an age of quick cuts and interlacing, frenetic plots (think “30 Rock”), it helps to have a multitude of characters on hand zooming in and out of scenes.

But the change also reflects something deeper about the patterns of friendship in society. With people delaying marriage and childbearing into their 30s, young people now spend long periods of their lives outside of traditional families, living among diverse friendship tribes. These friendship networks are emotionally complicated and deeply satisfying — ripe ground for a comedy of manners."

Wagging Tails

Ok Go - the genius' behind 'Here It Goes Again' or as it more commonly known, the treadmill video - just released their latest single-take video. And, apparently to please me, the added the most amazing, sweet, happy dogs into the mix. The song is great, but the talented pups in this video and their wagging tails truly won me over. And, aside from the amazing choreography and production skills this video took, I love this band for flashing dog rescue organization links on the YouTube version of the video. I heart Ok Go and their talented furry friends! Check it out here:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CMJ Music Marathon

I'm going to have to make this short and sweet, since I'm dashing off to enjoy the very festival I have to share with you but it's music madness week.  Of course, music madness is just my name for it but that's what it feels like.  I normally grow weary of searching Time Out New York, NY Mag, FlavorPill, etc. for good weekend concerts that will get my blood pumping and allow me to loose my mind for a little while.  But, this week CMJ made my life a whole lot easier.  They simply hand-picked hundreds of amazing artists for me and laid them out in some of my favorite venues over the next 5 days.  It's like having a really cool friend who tells you what to listen to and where to see it, based on your tastes.

I'm off to see Dan Magan at Mercury Lounge tonight and will be hitting up Littlefield's tomorrow night for a variety of artists.  We'll see what comes after that.  But, I highly recommend checking out the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival this weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rules of the Road: A NYC Cyclist Story

From a New Urban Cyclists, the Top 5 Rules of the Road:
  1. Taxi drivers and pedestrian’s entering and exiting taxis are the primary enemy.
    1. What other object stops randomly, without warning, uses the bike lane as a spot for occasional swerving and takes sharp turns on green lights? Only taxis, that’s who.
    2. When cab drivers stop to pick up a fare – you’re in for even more torture.
    3. ADVICE: Yell and scream loudly at taxi drivers when necessary.
  2. Make eye contact with drivers and other cyclists
    1. When given the opportunity, make eye contact with drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians at stoplights or intersections. Once someone sees you and recognizes you’re a human, they are less likely to miss you in their rear view mirror or step out in front of you when a light turns from red to green.
    2. ADVICE: Eye contact and a smile go a long way.
  3. You are smaller than a bus
    1. When forced to use a bus lane, speed through as quickly and safely as possible. Because, a bus horn is almost as scary as a bus.
    2. Don’t challenge a bus to a left hand turn, they cut in so far that pedestrians regularly have to take a step back on the sidewalks.
    3. ADVICE: Respect the city bus.
  4. You’re bigger than and Interceptor
    1. Seriously, NYPD, when the Department of Transportation set up bike lanes throughout the city, did you think they were setting them up for traffic cops to use for tagging tires and checking meters? I don’t really care if you don’t have anywhere else to go, it’s a royal pain to get stuck behind you when you could easily pull off to the side and let me by.
    2. ADVICE: Yell softly and try to avoid kicking them when you do have to go out into traffic to get around them.
  5. Claim your space
    1. Now that you understand your stature in this city, be sure to claim your space and puff up as much as necessary to show you deserve a half of a traffic lane or the small piece of bike path you’ve been allowed.
    2. ADVICE: This is where smiling doesn’t come in handy. Just look like you know what the hell your doing and act like you’ve done it 100 times before.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journalist Jen and Scrabble-Man Gus

After party at the Wonder Bar
Embarrassingly, in high school I won a made up award from my friends for being the "Promenator," a honor I received for attending several proms in one year.  Now, if such an award existed Jerome and I have become know as the wedding professionals.  As you may know, we did not obtain this expertise from having a wedding - quite the opposite, as we've also become known as the unmarried married couple - we simply attend a lot of weddings.  

We both had the good fortune of creating amazing bonds with several friends when we were young that we've held onto firmly with both hands - and primarily from all the way across the country - which was an excellent decision since I'm not sure where I'd be without them today.  Since then, we've moved around a bit, and come across some of the most amazing people this world has to offer, not that I'm biased or anything.  We're at the age when many of our friends are getting married and have attended quite a few weddings over the past 10 years.  Although if you talked to my very open minded mom, you might hear that Jerome and I have been at the age to be married for quite some time but that's not part of this story.  

Getting ready for the wedding
This is a story of a wedding in Asbury Park, NJ, where my good friends Jen Brown and Gust Hookanson got married on October 2.   One of the best weddings to date!  As I've done on previous posts, I think at top 10 list is the best way to describe a big event.  So, here goes:

1. Introductions at the rehearsal dinner: Each person in the 20-25 person seated dinner was asked to stand up, introduce themselves, say how they met  Jen and/or Gust and an interesting fact about themselves.  Jen's interesting fact was that she nearly became a CIA agent, before turning to journalism.  The introductions gave us all an understanding of where everyone fit in and made for a nice wedding celebration the next day with plenty of familiar faces.

The view from the venue,
The Watermark
2. Gift bags: When each guest checked into their hotel room, they received a gift bag with such goodies as: a small beach ball, extra strength Tylenol, a bottle of water, 2-for-1 drink coupons at a local bar, and maps of the local area.  Thank you Joan Brown!

3. Scenery: The wedding activities were set along Asbury Park's boardwalk, which is beautiful wooden walkway that offers amazing views of the beach front.  Due to the weather, which hovered around 65 degrees, the beach was fairly empty on Saturday which left miles of beach in its natural state.

4. Casual after-parties: The couple, who met in a bar and still enjoy a good beer or cocktail, choose relaxed, casual venues for the Friday night welcome drinks and Saturday night wedding after party.

5. Personalization: The ENTIRE wedding was personalized to reflect Jen and Gust's characters from the lounge themed venue to the pre-drafted vows.  It felt more like a party in their living room, albeit a fancy living room, than a formalized ceremony.  Isn't that every wedding guest's dream?

The ceremony

Our tattoos of choice
The amazing couple
6. Wedding treats vs. wedding favors: A fortune teller and some temporary tattoos gave me plenty to remember October 2 by.  And no, I can't tell you what the fortune teller told me but if I go see her, just a couple more times, she'll tell me what the one thing that I need to change in my life to unlock all the happiness I've created for myself.  Hummmmm....

7. Sunshine: The wedding day was full of sunshine and perfect for an indoor/outdoor venue.  The ocean breeze and views where awesome!

The outdoor area of the Watermark
8. Specialty cocktails:  Jen and Gust picked a few specialty cocktails for the wedding and served champagne to guests as they entered the wedding venue.  It was an extra little personal touch to relax the guests and make sure everyone was having a good time....which worked.
9. Mix of live music and DJ: Through the duration of the day we were treated to an acoustic guitar player who strummed lovely tunes before and during the ceremony, a DJ who took requests and helped guests of all ages rip up the dance floor and a live band who rocked the after party.  There was no way you could couldn't have fun.

10. Relaxed Sunday brunch: Following a full day of wedding madness, including a lovely ceremony, dancing, drinking and even singing we were all invited to a relaxed brunch at Jen's parent's house a few miles away from the Asbury Park.  I've seen people do these types of brunches before, but they've always been at a restaurant and far to structured for a large group (particularly when more than half of them have hangovers).  The relaxed setting and serve yourself tasty treats were a perfect way to say goodbye to a weekend of celebration.

Additional Photos of the ceremony and the fun that followed: