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January 14, 2009

Photo of the Day: Going Up

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16th Street BART Station, The Mission, San Francisco. 2009.

March 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: The Manhattan Bridge


The Manhattan Bridge, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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March 12, 2007

Photo of the Day: Fire Door


Fire Door, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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March 2, 2007

Photo of the Day: Bottle Collector


Bottle Collector, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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February 27, 2007

Photo of the Day: Paris


IMG_8490, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Top of the Arc du Triompf, Paris. 2003.

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February 25, 2007

Photo of the Day: Blind Tiger Ale House


motion, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Blind Tiger Ale House was a great bar on Hudson in the West Village. This shot was taken on its closing night a couple years back. I've been thinking of my old haunts recently. The Blind Tiger almost took the spot of my former home away from home, Black Star before it closed too.

The story of BT's closing is annoyingly familiar. The landlords got greedy asking for rent, started renovating the place to appeal to some of the boutiques a block away on Bleeker, then gave The Tiger the boot. Over a year went by, no boutiques took the bait and now it's going to be a starbucks. What a waste.

Meanwhile, Blind Tiger can't get a liquor license at its new location on a pretty lame stretch on Bleeker near 7th Ave. I haven't even made it over there yet.

::c::

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February 22, 2007

Photo of the Day: God Save Brooklyn


God Save Brooklyn, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I am back in Brooklyn after a slightly longer than planned trip to Philly. I enjoyed it, but was glad to sleep in my bed last night.

February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap

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We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

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Photo of the Day: Empire State Building, Autumn


IMG_9742, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Expect many more pictures of the Empire State Building. I work near and shoot it pretty regularly. I even have a set dedicated to it on my Flickr Stream. ::c::

February 17, 2007

Philadelphia: Good Dog

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I was wandering around the center city/Rittenhouse Square area looking for a place to have a few rounds while Tammi hung out in the room watching tv.

I was heading for Monk's Cafe, a Belgian bar that's supposed to have a huge selection of obscure imports. When I got there it was prohibitively crowded, so I took off. I stumbled across Good Dog on 15th.

It wasn't empty, but I found a spot at the bar, which is all I needed. The music on was totally random, much of it hitting my obscure hip-hop niche. They played some old Grand Puba, A Tribe Called Quest and "can I get wit'cha" an early BIG appearance from back in the day.

The beer selection had some good stuff from dogfishhead, Troeg, Victory, and Stoudt's representing the local breweries.

I tried to avoid getting food, since I was going to dinner in a bit, but the sizzling mac n cheese looked amazing when served to the folks next to me. I had a snack of truffled cheese steak empanadas. The filling was not as cheesy as I'd have preferred, but I have yet to taste an empanada I didn't like.

Good Dog Bar
224 South 15th Street
Center City, Philadelphia
215.985.9600

::c::

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Philadelphia: Downtime

This year has been super-hectic so far. Between SF, Aspen and working last weekend, I haven't had much downtime to speak of. When I get back, I'm going to have to spend some time up at the mothership in CT. So, part of the point for this weekend in Philly is to catch up on the downtime I haven't really had in the last month and a half.

With that in mind, I have a single scheduled event for tomorrow: to go to Northern Liberties, get brunch and linger with my notebook or laptop over beer and snacks for several hours. I went with Tammi to a yarn shop today to make sure she has knitting to do for the afternoon. I've been looking forward to just vegging for weeks now. I can't wait.

::c::

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Philadelphia: DiNic's

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If you read my philly guide, you may have picked up on my minor obsession with Philly's Roast Pork sandwich. The big problem is that the most famous roast pork places, Tony Luke's and John's Roast Pork are less than accessible to those of us without a car.

While looking for something that was a bit more central, I found DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market. Philadelphia magazine called it the best roast pork in Philly. Clearly I had to try it.

Now Reading on a Saturday is not exactly quiet or peaceful. It's jammed with people and chaotic. I'm a lifelong New Yorker, but I hate crowds. They drive me crazy. I get edgy and agitated when I'm surrounded by a thousand other people jostling and bumping me.

So when we got in there and found 2 dozen people in line to order from DiNic's, I was ready to leave. Tammi wasn't having it. She said, "didn't we come here just for this?"
She was right.
Thankfully I gave in and we got in line. It moved pretty quickly and I managed to refrain from swinging on anyone, even the dude behind me who seemed to be hanging onto me the whole time.

I would have missed out on some serious porky goodness if I had ditched.

Details after the jump...

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Philadelphia: Amada

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Last night we had dinner at Amada in Old City. It was excellent. We had dinner there last year, so I made a reservation for our first night, when I knew we wouldn't want to go looking for dinner.

We had 10:30 reservations, so when we walked in the place was already busy. In the middle of the front room a Flamenco performance was in progress. We headed to the bar and had a round of cava to ring in the long weekend.

Amada isn't just a place that small plates that calls itself a tapas restaurant. It strives to be very Spanish, right down to the hams hanging from the ceiling over the bar. The menu can be a little overwhelming just because everything looks so good. We started off by promising ourselves that we'd make another visit there before we left, just so we would moderate what we ordered. It worked. We managed to eat everything we ordered without hurting ourselves.

The highlights of the meal after the jump...

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Photo of the Day: bicycles


bicycles, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

February 16, 2007

Trenton Makes...

I'm sitting on the SEPTA regional train waiting to start moving again. Out the window, off in the darkness, are the words, "TRENTON MAKES THE WORLD TAKES" in bright red neon letters. I've passed that sign maybe a dozen times at this point. It still seems pathetic and self-pitying.

You have to wonder about the culture of a place that would collectively choose to identify itself by laying a guilt trip on visitors and asking locals to wallow in their own perceived suffering.

::c::

Photo of the Day: A Tip


A Tip, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

February 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: Lovers


Lovers, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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February 13, 2007

Photo of the Day: Transit Museum


IMG_3236, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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February 11, 2007

Photo of the Day: Barcelona Graffiti


barcelona, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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February 10, 2007

Wilton, CT

December 2003

My first business trip was to Wilton, CT. It was somewhat anticlimactic, since I was scheduled to spend a week in San Francisco for the company a couple weeks away. My boss at the time had insisted that I represent our group for a big project in Wilton. I decided to head up there the night before because there was no way I was going to make it up there on my own in the morning. In the end it was nothing particularly exciting or relevant. The memory of it stays with me years later because of what happened the night I arrived.

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February 8, 2007

Toronto: The Sunday Lime


iflute?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer 2005: Tammi and I took a long weekend out to Toronto. The timing was perfect. The weather was gorgeous and there just happened to be a graffiti festival on Queen Street. We wandered about and I shot some of the fresh art up on the walls.
Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Queen to catch the last of the festival. We could hear music from a block away. It was coming from a bar called Big Papa's Bordello. In the fenced off garden space, we could see musicians playing as the DJ spun beats.

This was the bar's Sunday ritual, the Sunday Lime. Musicians from a group called The iDrum Collective played percussion over what Tammi called 'soulful house.' I don't know from House music, but this wasn't like any I'd heard before. It was a mix of funk and soul and the songs just flowed into each other. What drew me in the most was the musicians. There wasn't much structure to the group, The flowed in and out just like the music. They came and walked off periodically. They switched instruments from time to time, one guy drummed for a while, then took out a trumpet and played that.

A little before we left, an older man came in and hung out for a few minutes. He chat with the others for a bit, then he took out his flute. He hooked up his mic and caught the beat. As he played, he meandered through the garden passing us by, bending and moving with his lilting tune.

When he was ready for his solo, he waved his arm with a flair.
"Just like that." The band held the beat and the old man took over.

He finished, packed up his flute, said his goodbyes and left.

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February 5, 2007

A Quiet Afternoon in Coney Island

Coney Island

I'm not what one would call an adventurer. Ok, fine, I'm a punk. My idea of danger is standing on the yellow strip on the subway platform. In the late nineties, I joked that a black man in New York City didn't need to bungee jump to feel genuine fear when the NYPD was only ever a few blocks away. In truth, I avoid fear, doing as much as possible to sidestep opportunities to scream like a little girl. So, when I suggested a trip to Coney Island one bright Sunday afternoon, I had not planned on testing my bladder control before the day was over.

My only intentions were to sit out on the boardwalk and read the paper, periodically pausing to people-watch and to stuff my face with Nathan's hot dogs. My girlfriend, Tammi, had an entirely different idea of what an afternoon in Coney Island meant. As soon as we finished ogling newly renovated Stillwell Avenue station, she began talking about the rides we should go on. I was immediately confused. Rides were typically something I thought of in an abstract sense. I passed them as I headed to the beach or the aquarium, occasionally I'd even stop and watch as participants flew by screaming. Friends would tell me knowingly how much fun they were. I took their word for it, but never really considered verifying these claims.

I have only been to amusement parks a couple of times. As a kid, everything about them was novel. The whole spectacle: the lights, the people, the foods all excited me. I didn't require threats to my life to enjoy myself. As such, I never built up the resistance to self-preservation my peers have developed so extensively as to need a new, more perilous danger each year.

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February 3, 2007

Philly Guide

Philly


A co-worker of mine goes down to Philadelphia regularly to see his gf. He asked for a couple tips on where to take her when he's down there. Below is an edited version. I'm heading down there in a couple weeks, so I'm going through it as a refresher.

Follow the jump for some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the city of brotherly love...

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January 29, 2007

Aspen: Las Vegas in the Mountains

Because 'Goodfella's' would be too ethnic

Whenever I travel, I like to seek out the local foods. I look for food that either I can't get anywhere else or that is fresher or more authentic than anywhere else. Aspen has nothing like this. Every restaurant, high end or low, serves food that is culturally or physically imported. Fancier places offer lobster, sushi and oysters while the cheap 'dives' sell pizza and cheesesteaks, or facsimiles thereof.

Great effort has obviously been put into making the place look like the old mining town it probably was 100 years ago - a little too much effort. Aspen is up there with Vegas or Times Square in terms of pure artificiality. The historic aspects of the town are played up to the point of caricature. A walk through downtown Aspen reminds me of the town in Northern Exposure, except it's spotless and the shop windows sell art and discount furs for $5000.

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January 28, 2007

Aspen, the winter home of entitlement

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Aspen is surreal. The aura of raw, unabated entitlement emanates from every corner. I've never seen anything like it. I grew up surrounded by white folks with money. But I had never experienced anything like Aspen before. Conspicuous wealth abounds and no one seems concerned.

This is my second trip here, so I knew what to expect. It's still jarring though. The sense of entitlement is pervasive. It's implicit in the full length furs hanging off of so many of the women here, it's in the expensive snow gear everyone wears and the unavoidable giant SUVs. It's there in every interaction you have with anyone who doesn't work here. Whether they aren't slowing down at the intersection for you to cross the street or they aren't getting out of the way when they're blocking the sidewalk. It's there when a bunch of teenagers are yelling at the driver to take an overcrowded bus faster down a steep icy road so they can get to their snowboarding.

I'm here for business. I don't ski or snowboard. I hate the winter, truth be told. That said, I do enjoy exploring new worlds and Aspen is definitely that. I've been here for a week now, which has been plenty of time to observe. I'll put in some more posts about my experiences and observations in the next day or two.

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January 7, 2007

SF: Rogue Public House

This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.

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When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.

The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.

I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.

The beer I tasted after the jump...

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January 1, 2007

2006 Travel Recap

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(This entry is backdated.)

2006 was one of my better years for travel. I saw 2 new countries and 6 new cites. I tried to get a fresh look at the places I'd been before, exploring new neighborhoods and seeing new things.

I hope to find a way to include all or most of these trips in the blog one way or the other. For now this will have to do.

After the jump, my photo rundown of the places I went last year.

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