Friday, August 28, 2009

Just another (sick) day in the neighborhood.

Man oh man, it's been awhile since I strolled large chunks of Houston Street. I was back into the depths of 'hood today, this time picking up some candy for adults medication to combat whatever it is that I have. The most recent diagnosis - strep throat! What am I, 12? The doctor actually asked me half-seriously / half-creepily if I'd been hanging around kids recently. No Dateline, I haven't.

I strolled past this advertisement-disguised-as-a-mural near Houston and Avenue B. To read more about what it is and how the street artist Chico completed it, check out EVGrieve's detailed posts.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A bit of sun on an otherwise dreary day.

These sunflowers were spotted on 1st Street this afternoon. The doctor's office called me back in this afternoon to share the great news that I was still contagious. Awesome. Chalk it up as a 1.5 day work week.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pick a seat, any seat.

I changed things up by taking the V train home from work this evening. The subway started out fairly crowded for a late Wednesday night. But at some point after the exoduses at Rockefeller Center, Herald Square, and the West 4th Street stops, I found myself completely alone on my car. Crazy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ohhhhhhh this is going to be FUN.

Well kids, Photoshop is no longer just for touching up redeye. This evening I discovered the Photomerge plugin aka making panoramas. Sweet jolly this is going to be fun. Watch out NYC skyline and Beaver Stadium.

Tonight's trial run (poor blending of tones and light) came from my seat in Bryant Park. I was cooped up at home again today with the fever, but I managed to escape this evening for some nice time outdoors.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Subject: Me today.

Whenever an email with "me today" in the title vibrates through my Blackberry in the morning, it can only fall into one of four categories. Miss XYZ or Mr. ABC is running late, sick, taking a personal day, or playing hooky. Today it was my turn.

I'm rotating positions in bed as my current situation heats up to the point of unreasonableness. Feel the bed melting beneath me? Blow whistle, rotate, and repeat.

Partly to ease my mind and partly to pass the time that is a sick day, I visited a health clinic around the corner from my apartment. For $93 they told me exactly what I already knew - sleep, drink, and take Advil. Thankssssss.

I succumbed to my recent yet serious fried food cravings by stopping by Maria's Cafe on the corner of 3rd Street and Avenue C, deep in the heart of the East Village. I don't know if Maria was present, nor would I exactly call the yellow street stand a cafe (there are stools!), but the food satisfied my culinary bug. I picked up 4 HUGE chicken empanadas for $3.75 (the afternoon special) stumbled home wobbly and weary. And yes, still sick. Here's hoping tomorrow brings cooler temperatures my way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Irony there for the taking.

Somewhere between Saturday ending and Sunday beginning this fellow was parked outside of neighborhood drinking hole Death & Company. Only he was alone, his life on wheels parked nearby, just in reach.

We've all been there. One drink too many. Maybe it was a food coma...turkey? A broken heart is the worst kind. Regardless of how you got to the point of lonely sleep, you got there. Some crash on the couch, others prefer roommates' beds. This man well, this man just wanted to crash. I don't blame him.

I woke up this morning not hungover but simply and utterly sick. Explaining it to my roommate as "my mind being one step behind my body" I quickly realized I was burning up. 104 degrees later and I was drinking water faster than a gerbil after racing around on its wheel. Consider today over. Here's hoping tomorrow brings on a miracle recovery, as the week ahead is brutal at work.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Name two and half words that don't belong together in a sentence.

The sunset in midtown tonight was beautiful.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Now THIS is what they mean by Broadway.

I talked about favorites earlier this week and yet I already have another to add to the list. I friend of mine scored lottery tickets for the Phantom of the Opera, a truly remarkable musical. Emotion. Set design. Crazy phantom in the rafters. I can't explain it, just go see it.

My list of Broadway shows is short and somewhat undistinguished, so it was not hard for this masterpiece (almost as pretty as this) to jump to the top of my list. However, I expect it to be there for quite some time. If anyone is interested in going, ummm, next week - please let me know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

All together now...

Poor old Johnny Ray
Sounded sad upon the radio, he moved a million hearts in mono.
Our mothers cried and sang along and who'd blame them.
Now you're grown, so grown, now I must say more than ever.
Go Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye-Aye
and we can sing just like our fathers.

Come on Eileen,
I swear (well he means) At this moment you mean everything,
With you in that dress my thoughts I confess verge on dirty
Ah come on Eileen.

These people round here wear beaten down eyes
Sunk in smoke dried faces they're so resigned to what their fate is,
But not us, no not us we are far too young and clever.
Remember Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye-Aye
Eileen I'll hum this tune forever.

Come on Eileen, I swear, well he means
Ah come on let's take off everything,
That pretty red dress Eileen (Tell him yes)
Ah come on let's, ah come on Eileen, please.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Just follow the neon.

I thought August was supposed to be a slow month for work.

Growing up in the woodlands of Jersey not much was open after 8 or 9pm, save the Budd Lake Diner (clearly the post-prom destination of HS'ers everywhere). That's just the way it was and is, nothing wrong with that. I'm looking forward to that again someday.

But in the meantime I'm here eating late night dinners that, if time was rounded, would lend themselves to be more appropriately considered breakfasts. Like a fly to light, I often times follow the neon open signs as I walk home. Need paper towels? Check out the bodega on 1st and 12th. Need dinner? I don't even know where to start. Odessa, 7A, St. Marks Market, hell, street meat from 11th Street. Well, today tonight was one of those nights.

I think it's safe to say that street meat has become my new comfort food. Covered here multiple freakin' times, I apologize if you find my pathetic attempts at culinary reviews a repetitive bore. If you know of something better than street meat - please - enlighten me.

Tonight's balance of meat, starch, and veggies (debatable) came from the 24/7 cart at 11th Street and 1st Avenue. A favorite among cab drivers and drunk NYU'ers alike, these guys have a pretty consistent following. $4.50 and 4 minutes later I was on my way home with a nicely cooked meal. Mmmm gyro.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sometimes - on occasion - it rains.

Today's picture of the day is brought to you by Mother Nature and a soaked Blackberry. I got caught in the Downpour of the Summer while grocery shopping. The Dallas BBQ deliveryman felt it necessary to use a plastic bag as protection. And oh yeah, I was umbrella free. Awesome.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Drop into Grand Central for a taste of the past.

I'll be honest - I have favorites. A lot of them. From bagels to street meat, movie theaters to subway stations, and thai delivery to spots in Central Park, some things are just better than their peers. Grand Central Station Terminal easily takes the cake as my favorite large urban train station. It's not even fair to think that New Jersey and Long Island commuters have to deal with the grossness that is Penn Station while Metro North riders stroll through GC's halls every day. Eck. The GC is beautiful, simple as that.

The 700,000+ sets of eyes that experience GC every day probably breeze by many of the secrets that lay within its walls. Sure you probably know about FDR's secret train entrance to the Waldorf. Maybe you strained your neck to look at the backwards constellations on the ceiling. But have you ever had a drink at Campbell's Apartment?

Not actually an apartment (although talk about a short commute to the subway), I joined a close friend of mine at the Campbell Apartment for a post work drink. I had never heard of the bar and was thrilled to be experiencing something of its kind. Tucked away in the southeast corner of the terminal, the bar's slogan of "drinks from another era" could not be more spot on. Don Draper definitely hung out here.

The bar is named after railroad tycoon John Campbell, who rented the space as an office and entertaining spot in the 1920's. The interior space is dark and luxurious, with the clientele keeping to themselves and their respective conversations (i.e. don't come here looking for a date). Intricate woodwork adorns the 25 foot ceilings and the stained glass windows blur the world outside. When in a space like this, I recommend drinking something classic. The bar's drink list is complicated in ingredients but delicious in taste. Next time you miss your Metro North train I suggest skipping the bagged Bud Light in favor for taking in a drink at Campbell's.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Every New Yorker should read this book.

I learned about Colson Whitehead's book last week through an interview he did for a Daily Intel weekly series. Here's what caught my attention:

What makes someone a New Yorker?
“You’re a real New Yorker when blah blah … ” I wrote a whole book about it, why don’t you check it out?

So I did.

The Colossus of New York
is a short but excellent read that every lover of this city should experience. Yes, experience. The chapters are broken down into every day moments like your morning commute, Broadway, and the subway. Regardless of whether you've been here once or have lived here for 28 years, you can and will connect with Whitehead's words.

Pick up a copy next time you're floating around Borders or Strand. Read it, love it, and pass it along.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three weeks. Three &$#@ing weeks.

Get ready for an onslaught of Penn State.

The Yankees are running away with the AL East, Brett Farve wants to kill all ties with the Packer faithful, and the Knicks are, well, still the Knicks. Lucky for us (and by us I mean the world) college football returns in three weeks. Summer practices are under way. Depth charts are being finalized. It's almost game time.

My man Pee Jay hooked me up with some nerdy excellent preseason reading this weekend. The first one sporting team captains Sean "I eat running backs for breakfast" Lee (45) and Daryl "I wear sunglasses at night" Clark (17) is an intense recruiting magazine. Covering everything from Joe Paterno to the student section to success in the classroom, it is a detailed collection of everything a parent or recruit needs to know about playing for Penn State. I've gotten through most of it but am still avoiding the pages on the game that never happened. The second magazine is the press-friendly preseason break down, full of every statistic an obsessed fan could hope for. Excellent reads for the subway on the way to work in the morning.**

I hope to be back several times this fall with some unique access to the games, posting pictures to my very-much-in-need-of-an-update Flickr page.

**You think I'm kidding.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What doesn't kill you only tastes delicious.

Today's lunch break provided much relief to what has otherwise been a hectic week. What went from time off to, well, working my tail off, the mad dash for mid-day nourishment succumbed to the craving for fast food for convenience purposes. I was craving something from the world of street meat, but I couldn't shake the idea of a filet-of-fish sandwich. Why? I don't know, but my theory is this is my body fighting my recent health kick. Regardless, I soon remembered Midtown Lunch's review of neighborhood fish sandwiches around the Lenten time. Fish from a cart? Do I dare?

I dared. Off to Kim's Aunt cart I trekked. Little to no line greeted me upon my arrival. I quickly ordered the white on white - fried white fish on white bread. Bread options include white, wheat, and hoagie and the meat choices are chicken, shrimp, beef, whitefish and flounder. Incredible.

Five minutes and $3.50 later (flounder is a buck more) and I was on my way back to the office. The walk was the perfect length of time for my sammy to to cool down, because the heavens know I have a serious temperature problem. What I tasted was incredible. Sweet tarter sauce mixed well with the perfectly fried fish; not too dry but cooked well enough. The white bread was a solid choice considering it most resembles the buns normally associated with chain fish sandwiches. I am a new believer in three hard working guys frying fish to order inside a sweltering cart on a sweltering August day.

Long Islanders worship Elvis (?!?)

Submitted by long time reader JT, Jesus Elvis was spotted somewhere on the great Island That Is Not Short. No details as to where this was or where it's from, but hey I'll take it! Keep the reader submissions coming - Twitter and email address are in the right sidebar---->

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's JoePa's FAVORITE day of the year!

It's Media Day in Happy Valley which means one thing - football is around the corner! Dee Jay Pee Jay scrambled out on to the field earlier today for this shot:

Thanks for the shot, buddy. Bring on Akron!

Breakfast on the go.

Long hours have been nothing new this summer and sometimes even in August work can be hell. Unless my morning consists of Advil and a bacon egg and cheese from the corner cart, I rarely make time for the most important meal of the day. But in an effort to make changes for the better I've been on a fruit binge this week, an experience that I have found to be both rewarding and frustrating.

After three years of struggle, I still find the world of New York produce to be an unsolved mystery. I have free-standing fruit carts, corner bodegas, the typical grocery store, gourmet and uber-organic options, green markets, and specialty markets all as options. An apple could cost you 33 cents or a buck and last anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days. Buying produce for the long term (i.e. the week ahead) is not suggested. Hand your money to the nearest bum and chalk it up as a loss. Or go buy a Big Mac. Your choice.

Over time I've learned that the best way to buy produce is in the now. Buy and eat the same day to avoid spoilage. Most of the convenient produce (bodegas, grocery stores and street stands) is ripe day it's on the stand. Blame turnover, length of time from farm to consumer, or a combination of any other factors. But if you want three bananas for a buck head to the nearest corner. Just don't let them sit on your desk for more than a day. You've been warned.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Killer of all things hot and humid discovered on 10th Street.

Take note of this if you live in or frequent the East Village.

One of my interns turned me on to Thirstea, an inviting little cafe specializing in bubble tea and smoothies. After opening earlier this summer on 10th Street (b/t 1st and A), they've already earned a 4.5 star rating on Yelp. And to be honest, I could not agree more. I've been there multiple times in the last few weeks, never leaving disappointed.

The owners are wonderful, friendly and honest about their drinks. For example, today I had the "Depeache Mode" smoothie, made with peaches, soy milk and honey. "It's more natural, not too sweet" was the description I received along with an offer to sweeten it up that I declined. Afterall, I trust the master behind the counter. The standard combination was spot on and delicious. For something sweeter I prefer the honeydew smoothie. Stop in, grab a drink, and enjoy the free wi-fi. I promise you'll leave here a happy and soon-to-be repeat customer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Foodies to hold their breath (and plastic spoons) until further notice.

Dessert lovers take note. I noticed late last week that there was a staple missing from my daily walk home from work. Covered here back in March, the Dessert Truck is nowhere to be found. Panic on the streets.

Checking in with their Twitter page (wait, Twitter is actually serving a purpose?!), there was a tweet directing followers to their menu because "it's the only place we could fit it." It?

Off to the website and up came the menu. It wasn't a menu but rather a letter. Eff.

Here's an excerpt (full letter here):

We can’t open! Yesterday [8/6] the city notified us that the mobile food vendor’s permit used by DessertTruck is no longer valid. For reasons too confusing and vague for us to understand, the city denied the permit holder the right to renew his permit.

What does this mean? We can’t sell on the street to passerby. It does NOT mean we are out of business – we will continue to cater private events and find a way to open to the public again.

Wow. This is the second dessert destination in my neighborhood to close in the last month after 2nd Avenue's Max Brenner skipped town two weeks ago. Hopefully the crew over at the DTruck can get things figured out. Where else can I get my bread pudding & bacon glaze fix?!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Noted - beer makes old men drowsy.

This week's weather is lined up to be a doozey- hot, humid, and very August-like. This month looks ready to make up lost ground after a cooler than usual July.

Any straphanger will tell you that standing on a subway platform in this kind of heat is borderline insane. Sure, the six train is ice cold when it pulls up - it should be for $2.25 a ride. So instead of waiting in the underground sweat box for an indeterminable amount of time, I decided to take the bus home. Same great A/C available, but the weather above ground was marginally better. And by marginally, I mean I'm still sweating.

This older gent' must have been waiting at the stop for some time, because he was passed out cold on the bench. He was thankful I woke him when the bus promptly finally arrived.

Go back to Canada!

No, not you. The geese.

I received another contribution this weekend, this time coming from the Hudson River Park. These "Canadian" geese were surrounding the contributor while she took in the sun's rays and some free kayaking at Pier 96. What were these poop factories doing on the West Side? My guess is hiding from their inevitable NYC-funded death.

Has anyone tried coaxing these liabilities back to Canada with some Poutine?!

Go home.


Thanks for the contribution, KW. Keep them coming!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lost in Manhattan - one sailboat.

The Sharpie and paper sign duct taped to the mast simply said, "moving in progress - ask doorman for info." Other than that, what explanation is really necessary? Here was a sailboat - parked in a side street - in New York City. In a city where it's easy to blend in, this one certainly does not.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pinstripe Dominance

Here is a reader's submission from the new Yankee Stadium, game three of four between the Sox and the Yanks. Let's go Yanks!

We're getting a little mad around here.

I helped out a good friend of mine with a little pet project today. "KK" is a huge fan of Mad Men, she and really wanted to enter AMC's casting call contest for a role on this upcoming season. What began as a need for office space and photographer (later being replaced by a real photographer), I happily obliged. I did not know that my shoulder would make the final cut for her photo submission, making this the most of myself that has appeared here to date. Racy, I know.

If you have time, be sure to vote for her submission here. Five stars!

UPDATE: AMC's website is getting smashed right now, so please be patient if you're attempting to vote.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A New Yorker's nightmare.

Common sense says New York is overpriced. Monthly rents larger than Midwest mortgages. Billion dollar palaces sports stadiums. Ten dollar six packs. You get it. Great. But for all of the things we voluntarily pay too much for, one thing we appreciate is the massive, borough-wide system of free bathrooms. No, I'm not talking about alleys and dumpsters. Enter stage left - Starbucks.

Don't ask me how many 'Bucks are in the city, as there were a few closures around this time last year. Take a quick peak here to get a better understanding of the complex network of cappuccinos potties:

View Larger Map

So open up Google Maps on your phone, search your locale for a 'Bucks and make the mad dash to the nearest location for free bathroom usage. Just don't be surprised if you get there only to find this:

The worst. Also don't be shocked when you're in line with 3 strollers, a family of four, and a homeless guy looking to "shower." If you want privacy find one of these spaceships around town. Otherwise grin and bear it. We do.

Technical problems.

Hey folks, thanks for sticking around during a slow week of posting. Fear not, pictures and stories are coming for every day this week. Look for the site to be up to speed by Sunday, just in time for lazy reading on Monday. Have a great weekend?


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why don't buildings use these anymore?

Discovered in a friend's apartment hallway, I realized that I see these things everywhere. Office buildings, "luxury" apartments, even places like hell-on-earth Penn Station have similar shoots, now out of use. A quick online search turned up less than nothing on the history of these shoots. Where do they go? Who used to sort it all? Why aren't they used anymore? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't mind seeing these return to use.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No, I do not know what this is about.

But it can't be good. I passed this place around the office after a late night. The truck was unmarked and the windows of the building were blacked out. Note - avoid all businesses on 49th Street. You've been warned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rubbing Elbows, party of 8 - your table is ready.

Asked to plan an evening of wining and dining for a group of business constituents, I was concerned with being faced with trying to build a skyscraper from Lego's after learning of the event's budget. But do you know what is one upside to the recession? Sweet deals on corporate events!

I hosted the dinner tonight on behalf of my company's leadership at the '21' Club in midtown. Looked at as tacky by some of my more experienced dining colleagues, it was a hit with the crowd we were hosting. This place screams classic, old school New York. Jackets are recommended for dining and required if in the Bar Room. Every president since FDR (with the exception G.W.) has dined there. Needless to say, '21' is established NYC history. Check out Wiki for more info. It's definitely a place I need to return to with a real camera. BB pictures only do so much. Heck I didn't even capture the horse jockeys.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sometimes, on occasion, one simply needs a strong drink.

Yes, it is Monday. The work week is on the horizon. The past weekend has long faded into life's rear view mirror while the next one is as tangible as a daydream. But this week promises be difficult for me on many levels, so as necessary I will be taking the week off from posting. I'll continue to take pictures (starting with my friend James, here) but will leave my meager attempts at personal journalism for the weekend hours. Thanks for sticking with Catch That - we'll be returning stronger than ever. Who knows what the week ahead has in store for you. Make it a good one.


Phishing for reader submissions.

CJN sent this through from the Phish show.

Venue - The beautiful Red Rocks amphitheater
Seat location - Row 1
Experience - Not Safe For Work

Never having experienced it myself yet, I'd still bet that it's an unbelievable place. I'd put it up there with the Gorge and Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Moving up the list though would be the recently experienced Jones Beach theater on Long Island. Where was the last time you were at a concert that the arena rivaled the show itself?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Forget Brooklyn - the Nets' new arena is moving to the East Village.

My Sunday was anything but a Funday, but I did escape from my tomb apartment for long enough capture this particular sight. Sneakers on telephone lines are nothing new, but including a mini basketball hoop? Sure why not, right? Don't ask me how it got there or who uses it for practice. Check it out next time you're standing around 3rd Ave and 8th Street.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I don't know how this happened, but I like it.

When I first came across this antique payphone on 6th Street I thought this was just a kooky advertisement. Upon closer inspection of the ad I realized this was indeed something different. Someone managed to cram 4,852 pages from a book between the Plexiglas and original advertisement. Did they take it apart? Were they hopped up on Adderall? How did the book cover get placed oh so perfectly in the bottom right corner? Who was reading While Reagan Slept anyway?

I don't know, but I like it.

Dog days of summer.

Check out this lovable goofball. Meet Jiggy, one of my family's dogs. Jiggs has lived a sweet life on the lake after a rough start that included doing some time in the local pound. His trademark crooked smile and Dumbo-like ears are a lady-killing combination. Now he can promise the local ladies a ride on wheels.

Jiggs injured his back legs by slipping on some ice last winter. Albeit pain-free, he doesn't have use of his hind legs anymore. Swimming is pretty much the only thing he could do...until now. Retrofitted with some helping wheels, he's good to go on walks around the golf course again.

Picture kindly provided by BK Senior.