Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 highlights.

Well, it's been fun.

Excuse the amateur editing and the cliche musical selection. 2009, as it was captured from behind my point-and-shoot.


Thanks for stopping by - see you in the new year.

My parents live in crazy world.

Sure, Manhattan has its share of birds, but this is just bonkers.


"Now showing up on a regular basis due to the bird feeders. Yesterday it was 'raining' bird feathers, as he must have nailed somebody."

Kudos on the quality shot. Count me out when it comes to shoveling the brick walkway out back.

A white New Years?

Snow swept through the area briskly and briefly. Gone by nightfall, when the clouds, misty rain and champagne made an appearance.

Happy New Year to you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"It might be hard to see this from Manhattan, but it's there."

CJ's mother is in town from Oklahoma this week so we hit up the Celestial Highlights at the Museum of Natural History's planetarium. The AMNH is quite possibly my favorite museum but this was my first time experiencing the Hayden Planetarium.

The Highlights lecture series takes place every last Tuesday of the month; describing what will be viewable in the evening skies in the upcoming month. The lecturer was a professor from a local university, and he fit the bill of quirky science guy quite nicely. He was locked in a pattern for most of the evening - describing some planet or constellation with honest vigor; once worked up to the likeness of Ralphie talking about his BB gun, he would remind us city dwellers that the wondrous sights in the night sky were not visible from Manhattan. Soul crushing.


Lovely little place, but I'll take the Safari room next time. Please and thank you.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Commonplace.


This could be anywhere in the West Village. Could be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

On the move.

Always on the move.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Road rage and BBQ sauce. Mmm.

I had lunch with one of my high school teachers this afternoon; catching up on old times and discussing the logistics of volunteering for future DECA programs. We drove through the back roads of Warren County, hugging the road in his Audi A4 (six speed on the floor, obviously). Lunch took place at Winner's Circle BBQ, a small cozy restaurant off of Rte 94 in Warren. The pulled pork nachos are a must if you're ever in the area. So is asking yourself what in heaven's name you're doing in Warren, NJ. Review here. Who knew Yelp reached out to the wilderness that is western New Jersey?


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all.


Bonus points if you know what this is.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So a guy from Vermont stumbles into a bar...

Sigh.

Here's the sitch - dinner and drinks ends well; post-dinner drinking ensues. Three Sam Adams and one SoCo & lime shot too-many-later and you're conversing with strangers at the bar. Thing is, they want nothing to do with you.

In what what was otherwise supposed to be an evening of much needed calmness, I found myself walking with escorting a belligerent drunk around the Upper East Side. We stumbled for 12 blocks, which is about the same amount of degrees that separated our lives before crossing paths tonight. I meant well. I think.

I learned a lot about Buckshot tonight. More than I'd ever care to know about Burlington's town drunk.


The point is, these lights adorned the 71st Street. Beyond the coffee that Buckshot bought me from the corner bodega, these were the highlight of the night. Yep.

Sigh.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ugh.

Holiday shopping. SoHo. Two days before Christmas. Tourists. What a cluster.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh, nostalgia.

What began as an attempt to fill a culinary craving turned into a sausage fest (no direct reference to Murray Hill). Leave friends responsible for ordering for the group at the Upper East Side's Heidelberg restaurant and soon you'll be come face to sausage with bauernwurst, weisswurst, bratwurst, pigs knuckle, potato pancake, bacon, kassler, knackwurst and leberkaese - with potato salad, red cabbage and sauerkraut. All of that looks like this:



That's a lot of meat.

The Heidelberg is decked out as you'd expect for a place who's specialties are imported beer and meats. Oompa band music fills the background of the wood-paneled, southern Bavarian-styled interior. The waiters wear a funky version of lederhosen, which reminded me of my days in German Folk Club in high school. Yes, I said German Folk Club...in high school. And believe me when I tell you that it's what all the cool kids were doing.

Mmmhmm.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Joe!

Happy 83rd Birthday to Joe!

I'm going to devote some time to the team and Coach before the bowl game, but here are some snippets capturing Joe at his best:

Joe the Coach


Joe the Storyteller




Joe the Legend



We are. Penn State.

Summer is pretty much basically absolutely around the corner.

You might as well pack away the holiday decorations and bust out the sunscreen - summer is almost here!

Alright, not quite. But today was the mark of Winter Solstice, which for all intents and purposes is the most miserable day of the year. Forget about the frozen (or not, surprise!) puddles of black crud at every street corner, the dozens of presents yet to be purchased, and the New Year's Eve plans still up in the air. From here on out until to June 21st of next year our days grow longer. So cheers to the extra few minutes of daylight.

Thank you for your attention. You may now return to your regularly scheduled last-minute gift wrapping panic.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The storm lived up to its billing.

I humbly admit that I was wrong about the forecast. Unofficial readings (like sticking one's hand into a pile topping a car hood) vary, but it looks like we received 11 inches of wintry goodness. Just a reminder to everyone out there - what is white and nice today will be a gray curse during tomorrow's commute. Pull out the back up dress shoes; it's going to be nasty.






Someone over at Control Geek put together a time elapsed movie of the storm from their Brooklyn apartment window (one picture every 30 seconds).

December 2009 Snow Storm Time Lapse from John Huntington on Vimeo.



Enjoy Gothamist's photo dump here.

That's it for today. Stay warm!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hiding from the snow...

Today was not the day to run errands. Or get a haircut. Or rent a Zipcar and trek to the Long Island City Home Depot. But alas, it was.

Mud Truck parked in Astor Place, flurries just beginning.


Ghost Town.


"They" are calling for 10-12 inches tonight. I ballpark it around 4-6. We'll see what happens.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A different kind of "public art."

This isn't exactly Tom Otterness like yesterday, but you get the idea. Someone was using the wall of a Union Square staircase as their gallery space. One for $10 or two for $15. Sure beats hanging outside in the cold.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A penny saved...

Most of the subway stations I frequent day to day are in fair condition. Basic white smudged tiles reflect the inadequate florescent light. Occasionally the waft of homelessness lingers through the air. Many times the platforms seem crowded, only to be outdone by the arriving sardine can.

But for whatever reason, some stations receive a little more love from the MTA powers that be. The public art displayed in the 14th Street/8th Ave stop was commissioned as part of the MTA's Arts for Transit program. Designed by Tom Otterness, Life Underground is a pleasantly quirky collection of characters. Otterness' work can be found all over town, including a certain frog that was one of my first shots.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Answer: Absolutely clutch.

Question: What is Zipcar?

My travel in and around the city for work often leaves me at the mercy of Avis and Hertz rental cars. I find myself committed to one until I am inexcusably screwed over. Sorry we don't have any cars at this time might as well be the official "Welcome to Buffalo" slogan. That and What the Hell Brings You to Buffalo?

Not anymore. My firm recently opened a corporate account with Zipcar which is going to completely change the way I travel. Cars are available 24 hours a day and can be reserved in minutes online. There's even a lot out here in China Brooklyn. Score one for the little guy.

My roommate and I made a trip to the Flatbush Target, and for the low, low rate of $9 an hour we had Volvo wheels under us. The car unlocks with the swipe of an ID card. Just be sure to write down the lot location. And the access code to the parking lot. And don't leave the card in the cupholder once you're parked on a side street in Brooklyn or you'll be standing in the cold on the phone with Roadside Assistance. Not that any of that actually happened.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Barren subway stop.

Late night trains are the worst. Just the sleeping bums and me waiting for the six.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Penn Station is still a hell hole.

It takes a lot for Grand Central commuters to stand still for a few minutes. Unless of course it's the Holiday Light Show. It takes place during normal hours on the half hour. Check it out. Just don't miss your train.




In other news, here's a great article on Notre Dame.

And then there's the Big Ten. Which already has 11 teams. And is looking for a 12th. What are they going to be called? The northern Big 12?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This is why I lived without a dishwasher for seven years.

Son of a $*@%#.

This is what happens when you use Dawn dish soap when the regular stuff is gone. I don't recommend.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A magician. On the L train. With a rabbit.

Empty box.




Boom. A rabbit.




Sorry, secrets are not revealed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And you wonder why the MTA has a deficit.

Straphangers ended the week with atrocious news - the Doomsday service cuts previously on the table are now being re-considered by the MTA. In the least shocking news I've heard all day, the financial experts clowns underestimated payroll tax revenues (aka b.a.i.l.o.u.t.) to the tune of $200 million. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??? Did someone forget to carry the one?!?

No fare hikes are in store for 2010 (yippee) but this probably means 50+ bus routes and a few subway lines will get their numbers called. And not in the good new-equipment-for-you kind of way.

To my joyous surprise what did I see tonight at the West 4th Street stop?



Eleven dudes watching two dudes work. Yup.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do your best to refrain from "that's what she said" jokes...

I can't get enough of 6th Avenue and the ridiculously large but ever-so-tasteful decorations that adorn the corporate landscape that is midtown. These giant red Christmas balls seem to float on top of the water fountain. Definitely a sight to see, I need to come back here one weekend and photograph them during the day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Here, there and everywhere.

Stickers (and stikmen!) are in no short supply these days. Much of the street art has gone the way of high tech stickers, but one artist (or criminal, depending on your viewpoint) has made a name for himself with three simple letters. The Times landed an interview with the individual behind the international stamping of B.N.E., which happens to coincide with a limited length art exhibit (info here).

While I normally don't pay much attention to the stickers, I started picking up on this one after reading the Times article. The pay phone on the downtown F/V platform at 14th Street. This one in Brooklyn. Others in the East Village.

Have you seen it anywhere? Share your stories below.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

11th Street storefront.

I stopped for a few minutes in front of this storefront on 11th Street in the East Village tonight. Ikea has nothing on old-fashioned craftsmanship.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tacky women and tacky decorations. Just another Manhattan Monday.

The last thing I want to see when I'm in Bryant Park during the holidays is the cast of Bravo's Real Housewives of New York. But as I meandered through BP with an old friend of mine our lives forever changed for the better pretty much stayed the same. There they were, on the ice at Bryant Park's free rink. Kelly, LuAnn and Co. were sported out in their finest for what looked like a completely scripted scene. One of the crazies jumped on the ice in a purple leotard, my friend and I winced in pain, and parents hid their children. Look for highlights coming soon to a TV near you.



No really, hide the kids. It was downright terrifying.

Moving on.

The night shifted to Rolf's Bar in Gramercy. More than 70,000 lights and what seems like just as many Christmas balls hang at an almost uncomfortable level. If you've ever been to Germany during the holidays - most likely the southern Bavarian region - let me know if this is common practice. And if you go, you can't leave without trying their Gl├╝hwein, a warm spiced red wine that will make your taste buds start singing Christmas tunes.


Click to enlarge...this one's worth it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My favorite shots are underground.

I love it down here. Characters. Bands. Great lighting. $1 magazines. And in today's case a fast moving train and a young woman frozen still.




There's something about the two objects crossing on film that I can't get enough of. I took a similar shot nearly three years go when I first moved here:




One could argue that I need to find new inspiration. But these trains are our lifeblood, as much as we might hate to admit that. There is life in, on, and around every subway car and station. They thread the otherwise unconnected masses together. They make us creatures of habit. They're trains, after all. So that makes them pretty bad ass, or at least that's what the permanent kid in me likes to think.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Classic sign.

This one is a favorite of mine. Classic neon in midtown. 48th Street parking garage. I've been here before...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Occasionally inadequate cameras pull off decent shots.

And by decent shots, I mean colorful blurry ones:




Back to 6th I went tonight, this time taking shots of the oversize Christmas lights. Here's another shot to give you have a better idea.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ignore the crowds, soak in the rest.

Despite the cold weather I've been lengthening my trip home after work by a decent amount. The quickest way to travel is down the 6 to Union Square with a transfer to the L. The combined time I spend outside during this route (office to subway and subway to home) is no more than 200 yards. That is nothing when it comes to what my walk used to be before I moved, not to mention what the typical commuter probably does. But a number of reasons have diverted me off of this trek.

For one, I'm craving time outside. The biting cold isn't here yet but it's still too cold to sit outside during lunch. Throw in some Christmas shopping and tourist oogling, and I have myself a reason to hike to Rockefeller Center. F/V downtown to 14th Street, connect to the L, and homeward bound. The suicidal issue problem with this walk is that the area is that I must navigate through the Perfect Storm of holiday crowds.

Rockefeller Center - tree, shops, ice skating
Fifth Avenue shopping - three wide, slow moving groups
Radio City Music Hall - miles of dancing legs and the crowds they attract

But through all of it, I don't mind. I absorb the holiday cheer in the air. Breathe in the nut cart. I can unwind after what has been a very long busy season. The therapeutic walk does the body good.



This is a shot looking up 6th Ave towards Rockefeller Center. The holiday balls were hanging off of a hot dog cart.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kodi - great friend and loyal companion.




The East Village lost a great friend this week. One of the best dogs and companions I’ve ever known. We shared some good times together. 11th Street won’t be the same without him.

And just like that, the holidays are here.

Well this didn't take long.

As mentioned last week Christmas lights were spotted on Park Avenue, but now that Thanksgiving is officially over it's as if FAO Schwartz threw up all over midtown. Consider this the official kick-off of the Trying to Outdo the Neighbors coverage.



Much like many of the corporate behemoths that call Park Avenue home, my building's managing company does a major league job of decorating the place. Wreaths, menorahs, trees, the whole nine. But in an effort to be greener this holiday season the outdoor lights adorning the patio's barren trees are now LED. I don't know - is the blue tinted light that thees babies give off really worth it? Does it make much of a difference when the ozone depleting classic lights are used inside?

Meh.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The MTA looks good in Art Deco dress.

One arm or not, it was back to work for this guy today. I'm still not able to tie my shoes or put on a shirt on my own yet. Yep, breaking one's collarbone reverts you back to the age of two and a half.

Maybe it was because of my snail mail pace, but as I walked to work today I noticed something refreshing about the corner of 51st and Lexington. The downtown 6 train's southwest entrance is styled to match the art deco building next to it. Art deco you say? It's the RCA-turned-GE-turned-gift-to-Columbia-University building. Find a history lesson here. Boom, you've been schooled.

Here's what I'm talking about.

Current Subway entrance signage:



Fancy schmancy signage:



I can't begin to count how many times I've walked past this corner with my head down and ipod cranked.