June 3, 2010

City Seen: Now on display

_MG_8458 - Version 2

It's been a busy, busy couple of weeks and it's just keeps coming. Last night, several dozen of my friends came out to celebrate the opening of City Seen at Habana Outpost and my impending birthday. With momentum like this, I don't know how 33 couldn't be my best year yet.

Thanks to all the family and friends who came out and special thanks to Jon Oliver, who provided some chill beats for us to enjoy. Most of all, I owe more than I can begin to describe to my wonderful wife, Tammi for helping me through the entire process. There's no way the show could have come off as well as it did without her eye for precision.

The photos will be up through June 14th, if you've enjoyed all the photos on this blog and my other sites through the years, please come out and take a look. If you can't make it out, all the photos in the show are online and available for purchase at Clay Williams Photo, my photo site. All purchases are printed new by Adorama, where I got the prints done for the show.

May 11, 2010

Bed-Stuy's Blowin' up


I moved to Bed-Stuy in 1986. Over the nearly 25 years since then, my relationship with the neighborhood has had its ups and downs. As a kid commuting to Brookln Heights every day, It bugged me that we didn't have bookstore and ice cream shops like on Montague Street. When I was a teenager, I was deeply embarrassed when hosting a visiting exchange student to have to walk him through a bloody crime scene on his first morning with us.

After college, my perspective changed, I still wished for amenities found elsewhere in New York, but I certainly appreciated living in Brownstone and paying the same price as friends in Fort Greene for twice the space - with a backyard, no less. Bars, restaurants, ice cream shops were all things I'd have to commute for, but the alternative was gentrification.

That subject, especially in Brooklyn can lead to some heated debates. While I'm certainly enjoying many of the perks gentrification provides in other neighborhoods, i understand that it can also leave an area unrecognizable and worse, unaffordable. That said, everything changes over time and there's no predicting how things will go.

New places are popping up all over the neighborhood and a few concerns aside, I'm very much enjoying it. There are restaurants, a book store, a wine bar and an art gallery. There are places for community to come together besides churches and places to imbibe besides the street corner. I'm pretty excited about it, truth be told.

This is all my wordy way of introducing a series I'll be doing over the next couple weeks highlighting places, new and old around Bed-Stuy that I haven't given a lot of attention to on the blog.

December 31, 2009

That's a Wrap: A Personal Reflection on the 00's


This is it folks.

Not technically the end of a decade, but that's not a fight I'm going to pick. The naughts, the aughts, the double O's, I just made that last one up, but it doesn't matter. No one ever called this decade either of the others. In fact, I heard the terms again for the first time in 10 years just a couple weeks ago. It's a silly label, but everything needs a name.

Whatever it's called, it's not been the easiest ten years, that's for sure. It's certainly been the most eventful on a worldwide scale in my lifetime. All I've been hearing over the last few days has been how terrible both the year and the decade have been. It's been rough, that's true, but I can't complain.

The 00's was an essential period in my life. I came into the decade as a kid. I was 22 and just out of college. I hadn't begun to cook or travel or do much, if any of the things that define my life these days. My career in Technology was only five months old. I went into the field as something to do until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life, but had no idea what that would be. Along the same vein, photography was something from my past, a hobby from high school that I enjoyed but didn't plan to pick up again, not this craft that I try to pursue and improve upon every day.

Ten years ago I was also very lonely. My life in college had gotten me accustomed to being surrounded by friends at all times. I was never more than a few minutes away from someone to drink with, talk to or watch TV with. For all the confusion and growing and pressure that college brings, after four years things start to make sense. By this time in 1999, I had no idea what the 'real world' was about. My friends had either scattered to the four winds or were still in school, the working world had borders and barriers that I just didn't get.

Over the ensuing decade, I experienced a lot and hopefully learned from it, I met great people, eaten amazing food and set foot on four continents. I discovered a life I wouldn't have dreamed of as a 22 year old and I met a beautiful, passionate and intelligent woman to share that life with me.

Without being either saccharine or gloomy, I can say that the decade has been an important one in my life and, while a lot of it could have gone better, I'm grateful for what it's brought.

Happy New Year.

December 8, 2009


_MG_7165 - Version 3

Bobst Library, NYU. Greenwich Village, NYC. 2009.

Ten years out of school, it's easy for me to forget that it's also finals time for students all over the country. Outside of the occasional dream, this is something I happily have forgotten all about. I just had a conversation with my aunt, a college professor and she was telling me about all the reading and grading she's doing.

Periodically, we all have wistful thoughts of school days. I can't say I've ever missed this particular part though...

December 7, 2009

The Tree Starts the Season

_MG_7121 - Version 2

The end of the year is sort of a whirlwind. Starting with the build-up to Thanksgiving, the meme-storm of holidays and music and events is enough to sweep you up or knock you down.

I find it a bit disorienting this year. I love the season, but I haven't -felt- it yet. The weather has certainly cooled down appropriately and the holiday music is being blared in more places than I'd like. But the season doesn't quite feel there yet for me.

I think tomorrow is when it'll happen. Tammi and I are getting our Christmas Tree after work tomorrow night. We'll follow the long time holiday tradition and decorate it while listening to the sounds of Nat, Ella and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

November 21, 2009

Hawai'i: Waikiki Weirdness


One can only spend so much time in Waikiki before, apparently, your brains fall out of your head and you do something completely outrageous. This is my theory, at least. We've had the good sense to only ever go a few days at a time. But in our few days in Waikiki at the beginning of the trip, we stumbled across quite the oddities there.

Sitting at a hotel bar relaxing, Tammi and I looked up at the group of Japanese guys at the table over from us only to find this guy stripping down to what you see here. I've surmised that this was some Bachelor Party prank or something, but that's a wild guess. All the English we could get out of his friends between guffaws was that he had to wear that for an hour.

He made the best of it, hamming it up and posing with any number of people who wanted pictures of or with him.

_MG_2103 - Version 2

Converse to that guys personal exposure, there were no less than three guys we saw on our first night in Hawai'i walking around with 'inflated' self-worth. They drunkenly wandered the streets and bars and showed off their temporary enhancements to anyone who would look their way.

September 9, 2009

The Smoke Condition

_MG_0479 - Version 2

I understand that it's probably wise for MTA staff to avoid saying 'fire' on a crowded train during rush hour. But I still think that 'smoke condition' is a stupid euphemism.

August 12, 2009

Lunch: Shut Out of the Outdoors

_MG_7853 - Version 2

My favorite (read: only convenient) outdoor space near my office has been locked up and fenced off for the better part of a month. It's doubly disappointing as it seemed to coincide exactly with the arrival of seasonal weather.

There's no sign or readily apparent explanation as to why it's locked up, but it is certainly a disappointment for the many local workers, like myself, starved for daylight and seeking a mere 15 minute respite from the office to soak up a little sun. Being on a side street, the space benefited from being just out of the way enough to avoid the throngs of tourists that shuffle around the base of the Empire State Building.

But now there's nothing. We either have to wade through the crowds to get to Herald Square, the heart of the swarm, where aimless tourists and shoppers meander or the benches in front of the old B. Altman's building where you can vie for spaces with the homeless.

Or, it's back to shoveling food into your mouth at your desk before someone says, "I don't want to interrupt your lunch but..."

May 29, 2009

Taking Back The Streets of Midtown


Starting Monday, May 25th, the Department of Traffic blocked off traffic on two stretches of Broadway in Midtown. It's part of a pilot program that creates a pedestrian mall for five blocks in Times Square and two blocks at Herald Square.

As someone who worked in Times Square for four years, I can't begin to tell you how much that extra room is needed. Just being able to bypass the tourists will be a vast quality of life improvement. Beyond that, having more outdoor space to sit in the sun and eat lunch in is greatly appreciated.

_MG_7215 - Version 2

On Sunday I was in the area and got to see the DOT workers repainting the road. It's exciting to see where the city is going with these pedestrian and bike-friendly programs. It started with more bike lanes popping up all over town, which has been very helpful to me as a nascent bike-rider. Then last year, the Summer Streets programs opened up miles of
road to bicyclists and runners and strolling pedestrians every Saturday in August.

Apparently, this is all the work of Janette Sadik-Khan, the Transportation Commissioner. I won't bother to paraphrase the more extensive New York Magazine article, which goes more in-depth into the commissioners plans as well as her opponents around the city.

I, for one, support the idea that since pedestrians vastly outnumber drivers, we should probably get more space. But that probably makes me as much a 'radical' as she is.

_MG_7332 - Version 2

Depending on how the pilot program fares, the spaces will be made permanent and the areas will be redesigned to cater to the new use. For now, orange barriers like these will keep the streets safe for pedestrians.

The unfortunate part of the entire arrangement is that most New Yorkers, myself included will still rush through these areas due to the complete saturation of tourists. But at least we'll be able to get by faster.

May 10, 2009

Soggy Spring

_MG_1363 - Version 2

Contrary to the rhyme, this year's April Showers made way for May downpours. According to Gothamist, we got within an inch of the monthly average rainfall for May in the first 7 days of the month. Since then, our rain has kept coming, but has conveniently shifted to an after hours schedule, holding out until late night before initiating torrential rains and earthshaking thunderstorms.

The weather has wrought havoc on the traditional pastime of surveying the various outdoor gardens around the city, but rest assured, it's coming. In the meantime, stay dry.

March 12, 2009

The MTA's March Madness


I don't think I'm going to lose any friends by calling the MTA a bunch of bastards. I'm not the first and I won't be the last to speak ill of the folks running Transit, so I'll minimize my invective.

For the entire month of March, the A Train is being replaced by shuttle service for over 3 miles of its route in Brooklyn. From Jay Street to Utica Avenue. Practically, this means that trying to get anywhere downtown or into Manhattan is going to be a clusterfuck for another 4 weekends. They've done this before and it has been profoundly unpleasant.

The upshot of this for me is that these are 'Williamsburg' weekends, as heading in that direction by bus or bike is a far better experience than even attempting to navigate the foolishness on Fulton Street.

March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion...

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January 5, 2009

Season's End


Yesterday, I hauled out our Christmas Tree, marking the end of another holiday season. Usually a pretty hectic season, this one was more so, being preceded by months of Wedding activity, paralleled by numerous work projects and, now, followed by a month on the road between a conference in San Francisco and another sojourn to Aspen in a few weeks.

That said, I had a fantastic December doing exactly what I wanted to do: cooking for and reveling with those most important to me. In the process, I also began working some of the many new projects I promised myself I would dedicate myself to after the wedding was all done. I spent time learning more about meat and butchering and curing and much of the arcane that I'm perpetually attracted to. Better yet, I took the opportunity to practice some of these new talents.

I don't do resolutions, but if pressed to make one, mine would be to continue what I've been doing over the last few weeks: shooting more, writing more, cooking more, reading more, learning more and applying it as much as possible so I can keep improving what I do.

October 15, 2008

Wedding: Licensed!


Last Friday Morning, Tammi and I braved the bureaucracy of the City of New York, pale flourescent lights and surly city workers to obtain our Marriage License. We're nearly there, which feels great and terrifying at the same time. Terrifying only because there's quite a bit left to do and mere weeks to get it completed.

July 15, 2008

UltraClay's Summer Vacation

The powers that be have unexpectedly blessed me with an extra week of vacation this year. Given that I've been hoarding my time for the honeymoon (more on that to come), I was a little shocked to find myself suddenly have more time than I know what to do with. It will definitely be the last week of August, but other than that I'm not so sure.

I just spoke to Guyvera, who has some time as well and we've come up with a few options. Clearly food is a priority, but I'm hoping to do a 'road trip' without spending 90% of the time on the road. Maybe that's antithetical to the concept, but as a non-driver, I really want to see more than the inside of a car.

Here's what we've got so far...

•Mid-Atlantic: Philly-Baltimore-DC-NC
•The South: DC-NC-SC-Memphis-New Orleans
•Canadia: Quebec City-Montreal-Toronto
•San Francisco
•Pac NW: Seattle-Vancouver

Keep reading for the run down on each option.

ATL: Robbed Part 2

It's been a month since our room at the Atlanta Marriott Downtown was robbed.

When we discovered it, security came to our room, took our statement and directed us to discuss the issue with management. The manager on site told us not to bother filing a police report and that we should check with the general manager when we got back home. The general manager directed us to their risk management department. The risk management department returned my call once, didn't have the file on hand and said they'd call back. They never did.

Finally, after calling again three or four times, Tom Sislo from Columbia Sussex, the franchise owner told me that, even though he hadn't even seen the report yet, the Innkeeper's Statute absolved them of all responsibility of the theft.

Literally a month after the theft, after speaking to 7 different people on this subject and a number of unreturned calls, I was told that no matter what, the hotel would not accept fault and that apparently it's not in the hotel's interest to investigate this case significantly.

So, there you go. Apparently we should all expect that anything we don't leave in a safe (which isn't provided in the room) will be rummaged through and potentially stolen. Good luck!

June 26, 2008

Today's Brian Lehrer Show

Here's a little last minute self-promotion: I'm going to be on the today's Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the photos I posted in the show's Flickr Group about food and our connection to food.

Brian's show is one of my favorite's on WNYC and I'm honored to be chosen as a guest again.

This morning I spoke with Andrea Bernstein, in for Brian, about a various shots of raw meat I've taken in my travels. These were Photos of the Day, Pollos, Raw, and Meat-Packing - which is why there's no photo in this post...

You can hear the segment here.

June 16, 2008

SF: California Dreaming

IMG_4639, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Wherever I travel, I consider on some level whether I could live there. I think everyone does to some degree. In some cases, that consideration is as simple as "I hate this place, I could never live there." That's how I feel whenever I head up to the 'burbs in Connecticut. In the case of Paris or London or Tokyo, the question is more wistful. I would love to live there but it's so unlikely and complicated by language and policy that it's more of a dream than anything else.

But San Francisco has a pull for me that's unlike anywhere else. it's different, more realistic, more familiar.
I'm probably just feeling the afterglow from my visit to the Farmers Market this morning. And the bottles of local wine I picked up in the ferry building. Eating and drinking local, sustainable and most importantly quality products doesn't seem to be the luxury it is in New York.

The culture of the area just seems so custom-suited to my interests. I've gone on about the food already, and obviously I'd love to be right in the middle of the biggest craft brewing and wine-growing region in the country. It's also the urban center of the tech industry, which is what has brought me out there for the last several years.

Of course, the ugly is pretty inescapable as well. Junkies camp out on the streets leaving crack and weed smoke wafting through the air. I grew up in New York of the 80's, I have no glamorous visions of such things. It's ugly and dangerous. Nothing good can come of it.

In the end, the chances of me ditching Brooklyn anytime soon are slim. It is my home after all. Even so, as I fly across the country back to New York, I can't help but wish I had more time to get to know San Francisco better.

June 11, 2008

Birthday Dinner at Yoshi's

IMG_3004, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On Sunday, I turned 31. Like my previous birthday, much of it was spent in the air. Last year we spent most of the day flying to Japan, a trip I blogged pretty extensively.

To celebrate the big day, Tammi and I had dinner at Yoshi's on Fillmore. We had a fantastic meal there, possibly the best I've had all year. After days of delicious, heavy southern foods, we both welcomed a lighter fare.

That said, the dish that sticks with me the most was still fried: Unagi Tempura, a whole eel fillet fried in tempura batter. It was a little difficult to handle with my poor chopstick skills, but it was fantastic.

I also had some uni that had an incredibly complex flavor. I love uni. Your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for odd textures. I've lovingly compared it to a wad of snot in the past. it doesn't slide down your throat like an oyster, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, lingering long enough to release every bit of flavor it's got. Tammi's not fond of the stuff, but I love it.

As we shared a selection of fish from Tsukiji Fish Market, I realized that it was already Monday in Tokyo, exactly a year since we blindly wandered the aisles at Tsukiji, trying to avoid being hit by the 'careening' turrets.

After dinner we saw Ahmad Jamal and his band perform at Yoshi's Jazz club. It was a great show.

June 1, 2008

Gothamisted: Weekend Service

IMG00899.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Gothamist picked up this quick cameraphone shot I took of the crazy handwritten signage I found at Fulton Street yesterday morning. Much can be said about how irritating the poorly communicated service changes impact New Yorkers and the tourists who get in our way, but really, the saddest part is that this sign mostly makes sense to me.

April 26, 2008

Hair Raising

IMG_0800, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It's been about 6 months since I cut my hair. I guess that coincided with winter hibernation, because I'm suddenly seeing a bunch of people who haven't seen me since then who are _shocked_ at how short my hair is.

Conversely, I'm amazed at how much it's grown since the cut. I'm psyched to have my mini-fro back. It hasn't looked like this since I was 24.

Photo of the Day: Breeze

Bicycles, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I may be getting a bike tomorrow. This will make Tammi very happy. I'm just hoping to avoid injury. Wish me luck.

February 25, 2008

Mexico City: Viewing the Virgin of Guadalupe

IMG_5021, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I know, I still haven't posted about have the stuff we did in Mexico City. Here's my attempt to catch up a bit.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a big deal in Mexico. The guide who took us out here explained that Mexicans aren't really Catholic, they're followers of Guadalupe. I'm sure this is slightly hyperbolic, but only just so.

Clearly there is much to be said about native appropriation of Christian icons to represent facets of indigenous religions, but I'm trying not to go down that tangent.

Really, I just want to point out that they installed a moving sidewalk underneath the pulpit so visitors and pilgrims can see The Virgin without the obstruction of the clergy.

January 29, 2008

Words of Wisdom...

"Monday's just like a Friday, except we got to work tomorrow."

-The (very drunk) Hillbillies down the bar at Little Annie's

December 27, 2007

Christmas with the Family

IMG_5105, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On Tuesday, Tammi and I went out to Long Island to my Aunt's place, a long time tradition.

As you can see a good time was had by all. Many gadgets were given and received, including the Bose Soundock that provided the soundtrack to the day's festivities (see above).

My uncle Errol once again cooked up a wonderful spread of Jamaican food. There was Ackee and Saltfish and Callalloo for breakfast. For dinner there was Curry Goat and my mom's Escovitch Fish.

The day has become much more low key in the last few years, the traffic has died down from the previous hundred or so people who pass through to the relative handful of a couple dozen. I've been resisting the call of the fam for the last few years, only begrudgingly attending this year because everyone insisted that Tammi had to come experience Christmas. I did enjoy it despite myself, and Tammi had a great time.

Now on to New Year's!

December 15, 2007

Drive Failure

Busted Traffic Light, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just when I was getting ready to start posting some more I run into more technological difficulties.

I am trying very much to avoid freaking out about the fact that my laptop just crashed with at least a year's worth of unbacked up photos. Not to mention email, documents, yadda yadda.

I leave it in the capable hands of the fine folks at Tekserve and hope the irony gods aren't targeting and IT guy who doesn't back up his data...


November 22, 2007

On Our Way

IMG00032.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After a full day of hearing about traffic and travel nightmares, Tammi and I managed to get to the airport, check in and go through security quickly and smoothly. There's something to be said for traveling late at night to a country that isn't celebrating thanksgiving.

Seriously, of all the record-breaking numbers of travelers moving around the country this weekend, few are actually leaving the country. And that is why this has become a tradition for us.

My laptop is up and running - knock wood- thanks to the fine folks at Tekserve. So hopefully I'll be posting photos and blogs posts along the way. I also plan to get some of the Philly stuff written down soon too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

November 21, 2007

Murphy's Law

IMG00001.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As is so often the case, technology has chosen the exact worst time to completely collapse on me. With about 24 hours until my flight to Mexico, my laptop has gone haywire on me.

Consequently, there will be a bit of a hiatus until we get back from Mexico City if I can't get this resolved in the next few hours.

November 8, 2007

Eating Good in the Neighborhood?

IMG00205.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I knew it was coming, so eating at Houligan's for the last couple days has been fine. Tonight we're getting taken out for Steak, so I'm hopeful for better fare.

October 22, 2007

Open For Business

This weekend Tammi and I hosted our first guests at the Apartment. After nearly 7 months, we finally have the place presentable, albeit with some boxes and laundry bags hidden away in corners and crevices.

Saturday night, Robert and Mary allowed us to repay all the wonderful hospitality they've shown us over the years. I came up with a remarkably stress-free meal, which was the biggest surprise. Typically my menus have me sweating away in the kitchen for days before and then throughout the evening.

This time is was mostly a matter of chopping, tossing and sauteing. The most exotic part of the meal was the centerpiece, pork confit that I prepared a week before (more on that later), and all that took was reheating them sticking in the broiler.

The laidback pace was perfect. It left me time to spend relaxing in great company.

Of course there was plenty of food left, so the next day Eric, Marni and Anna came through and hung out over the last of the pork - I saved a batch just for the occasion. Eric picked up some charcuterie from a place in Chelsea I'm definitely going to have to check out.

It was so much fun to spend the weekend at home with friends. I missed that a lot and I'm glad to have the opportunity again.

October 9, 2007

Fall Has Returned

IMG_6867, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

And like -that- it's Autumn again.

Yesterday Tammi, Dorla and I spent all afternoon sitting outside hanging out and drinking at The Red Lion, today, I'm wishing I had brought my jacket up to Connecticut. Seemingly this is it, I can't imagine it's really going to go back up to the 80's again before the end of the year. We'll see.

October 8, 2007

84 Degrees in October

IMG_7649, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

There are Halloween decorations out and it's 84 degrees. I've never been a fan of fall, so I'm not complaining, but it is a bit surreal.

Halloween Season?

IMG_7708 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

When did Halloween stretch out so long that decorations are up a full 25 days before the 'big day?'

October 2, 2007

Atlantic Antic 2007

IMG_6988, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Sunday was a great Brooklyn day. Tammi and I waded through the crowds at Atlantic Antic and enjoyed good food and great company all day.

We met up with with various friends and randomly bumped into others. I had a thick, juicy sirloin slider from Donna Da Vine a newish wine bar that Tammi and I have started going to.

We also had some fantastic pork sandwiches made from the two whole pigs Jolie roasted. They were served on long narrow rolls and served with a mildly tangy horseradish mayonnaise.

And at a friend's urging we tried out fried oreos, which were a little weird. I was expecting something along the lines of the deep friend twinkie or chocolate bar often found at brit style chip shops. Instead, owing to the vendor selling them - an Italian Sausage truck - it was more like a zeppole, thick and doughy and covered in powdered sugar.

The one thing I didn't get that I miss is the shwarma usually served by a middle eastern food supply shop near clinton. They don't sell food at all most of the year and, invariably, it's the best I've had. By the time we ended up on that end of the Antic, I couldn't really contemplate eating much more.

When we were done, we hung out at an after party hosted by Robert and Mary, who live nearby.

All in all a really great day. See the rest of the Antic photos here.

And here for my extended description of the festival from last year.

September 23, 2007

The World's Gone Mad


I woke up this morning to find the talking heads on TV discussing Rudy Giuliani's speech to the NRA.

I just don't understand.

I mean, seriously. Strip down all the things that make him one of the most terrible people in the world and it still doesn't make sense. Ignore the fact that he was arguably the most divisive mayor in the city's history. Ignore the fact that before being elected, he led the police union in a riot on the steps of city hall, then made a point of barring any and all protests on the same steps when he was elected.

Ignore the fact that he married his cousin.

Ignore his callous disregard of abuses on the part of the NYPD toward the black community. Ignore that this 'hero' released the irrelevant juvie record of a man murdered by police officers. Ignore that much of the carnage happened on September 11th 2001 because he outfitted his Fire Department with shoddy equipment and because he chose to create an emergency operations base in the only building in the entire city to ever be the target of terrorism.

Ignore every terrible thing that he has done and said in and out of office. Forget all of it.

If I had never stepped foot in New York and all I knew about the man was that he was mayor the day that the towers were attacked and that he carried a bullhorn and soothed many in the city and the country, I would think that he deserves a medal. Maybe even a statue.

I can't fathom thinking that these actions on one day would merit the leadership of the United States of America. Those actions on one day did not make him competent or qualified to lead the free world. It does not mean that suddenly he has an understanding of international politics, domestic issues or the federal tax laws.

It doesn't make any sense to me that this man is really, genuinely considered by anyone to be someone that might deserve a single vote for the presidency.

My faith in American common sense diminishes every day that Giuliani is considered a 'frontrunner,' even this ridiculously early in the primary race.

September 20, 2007

Bye Bye Barcelona

Sagrada Familia 1.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

For the time being, Barcelona will have to remain a memory. Last week I canceled our thanksgiving trip.

While I like to say that this vacation was sacrificed to the Wedding Gods, in truth it was to the much more frightening Responsible Adulthood Gods. These Gods don't leave you alone after the big day. They stalk you for the rest of your life making demands.

For the first time in a while, I have no destination to plan for. There's no lonely planet I need to go out and buy, no place for me to research in the dozens of travel magazines or newspapers I hold onto for just such projects.

I've said for a long time that the only way I make it through the daily routine is by looking to my next destination. Planning my travel has been the counterweight to work and other such nonsense. I guess I'd better find something else to keep everything together before everything falls apart.

September 5, 2007

Nesting Season


Where did the summer go?

It's only been a couple days since Labor Day, yet summer already seems to be long gone. This August was one of the coolest on record, but I'd swear I already feel a chill in the air that wasn't there last week.

Tammi and I spent much of the weekend feathering our nest. We mostly stayed in, finally decorating the apartment and stocking up on groceries. I think that from Friday to Monday I may have spent the most time at home since moving in. It was good to settle in a bit after being out of town so much, but I was a little stir crazy by Monday.

August 8, 2007

Stormy Weather

I got home just in time for a storm of biblical proportions. Thankfully I work a later shift today and so got the warnings about subway shutdowns. I waited it out until I got notice that the A/C was up and running again. I'm working my way to the office now.

The train is crawling, but we're going somewhere. From what I hear, it was all much worse earlier.


Update: I ended up finding that my connecting train wasn't running and wandered around in the sweltering grossness until I found an alternate route. Still not awful, just damp.

August 5, 2007

I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo

Originally uploaded by ultraclay!
With Apologies to A Tribe Called Quest, I did lose my cell phone in the hotel, which is actually in El Segundo.

Thankfully someone turned it in to the Lost and Found. There's something to be said for having a phone no one wants to steal. I had just managed to finally get all my numbers synched across all my devices, I'd have been pissed if I had to do that all over again.

I also discovered how to use my own MP3s as ring tones on the SLVR, which I wondered for ages. I found it on the Interweb posted by someone named UVADaniel. I've reposted it after the jump.

Continue reading "I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo" »

August 4, 2007

Centrally located across from the airport

IMG_8904, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Or something like that. My hotel is really pretty good. It's got a steakhouse as its only restaurant, so I really don't have much alternative to eating steak whenever I feel like it. It's tragic. Really.

The only drawback is that it's directly across from the airport. Like, right there. The pic above was taken from my room. And that's not really an issue for the expected reasons. The windows are thick enough that you barely hear the planes at all.

The problem with being near the airport is that there's nothing worth doing near the airport. As good as the restaurant and bar are at the hotel, I'd really like to hang out somewhere else for a bit.

So far, I haven't gotten to see much of LA this time around. With the exception of a fantastic meal at Musha and a couple hours in Santa Monica the first night I haven't gotten out at all. It's making me a little antsy. The biggest problem is that I just don't know this place well enough to be able to get in the car and go somewhere. The fact that I can't drive is a close second, given that getting in the car requires a second person who's up for whatever I feel like.

Typically, by the time we get back to the hotel, I can't even fathom the idea of considering where to go. I don't know where anything is and unlike most travel, there's little in the way of a central area to go wander around. I may make another trip to Santa Monica just for that, really.

July 19, 2007

We're Getting Married!

We're Getting Married!, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On Tuesday, July 17, five years after we met, I took Tammi to Gramercy Tavern for an incredible meal. Then I asked her to marry me.

She said yes!

We have few details so far, the tentative plan is to do it next year, early in the summer, preferably in Brooklyn. No idea where or more importantly, what food and what music we'll have there.

Clearly, this will be an adventure. More to come...

June 21, 2007

Settling Back into the Routine

IMG_0205, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Things are starting to get back to normal, more or less. We're both having some trouble sleeping through the night, but that's getting better.

Otherwise, it's back to the routine: commuting, working, yadda yadda.

As usual, I'm already thinking about my next trip. Well, trips. I'm off to LA in a month for work and I just booked a Thanksgiving trip to Barcelona. I'm pretty excited about that. It'll give me an excuse to try to keep my Spanish from getting too rusty.

Of course I'll have to do as much research as I can at various tapas bars around the city. . .

June 12, 2007

Transport Rant

Forgive the upcoming soapbox tirade. I'm sitting on the bullet train to Kyoto from Tokyo and thinking about some of the inadequacies of home.

While I watch the Japanese countryside zoom by at hundreds of miles per hour, the first thing that comes to mind is 'why can't we do this at home?' I've been avoiding ranting on this subject for a little while now, but those who have known me for a little while have heard me sound off about the concerted effort of various lobbying groups to keep our rail system antiquated. Amtrak should be so much better than it is. When politicians go on about the agency needing to be self-sufficient, I always wonder what they would say about ending subsidies to the interstate system.

Economies run better when people can get around. It's just a fact. That's why we have public transportation. Mayor Bloomberg has said that he wishes the subways could be free because it's such a necessity to us all. The national rail system could be like that, if anyone wanted to do it.

June 8, 2007


A couple hours ago we crossed the date line, which means I'm officially 30 years old. We've got just over an hour left until we land and I'm a little too excited to sleep. It's a few minutes to midnight at home, but I can't keep my eyes closed.

I've been passing the time with a little immersion. I went through some Japanese lessons, trying to get a handle on grammatical structure and such. I've also been watching a bunch of anime I haven't seen in years to get used to hearing it spoken. Every now and again I'll hear a word I recognize, but mostly it's outside my reach. I'll just have to get by as best I can.

I've come across an interesting obstacle. Whenever I try to put together a sentence, I find myself thinking Spanish words in the place of Japanese words I don't know. It's an odd thing. Spanish is the only language, besides English that I have more than a passing knowledge of. I've studied it on and off for over 15 years, so it's my default 'other' language.

May 30, 2007

Photo of the Day: Happy Birthday Tammi!

Rockstar, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Happy Birthday Tammi!

May 11, 2007

Habana Outpost Re-Opening Party

LEE, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

If you're looking for me, tomorrow, look no further than Habana Outpost. I plan to spend as much of the afternoon as I can there. I can't wait to sit out and relax over several beers, a cubano and mexican corn.


May 10, 2007

You can't go home again

After putting it off for almost a month, I finally went back to my old place a couple weeks ago to pick up the last few things left. My old landlord, Patrick had been calling me about it. I needed to just get it done. Honestly, I'd been a little apprehensive about going back, in part because of how strange it was to see it emptied out. The orange walls were bare and every sound echoed back at me.

That apartment was my home for 8 years.

When I got there, Patrick and his wife, Gloria were there talking to the guy they brought in to fix up the place. I could hear the same creepy echo from the hall, then I walked in. They had re-painted the apartment a bland off-white. The warm orange glow was gone.

It was so disturbing, it was all I could do to grab the last of my stuff and get out of there.

Patrick and Gloria gave me a ride to the new apartment and in the end it reminded me of the day I was dropped off at college.

Photo of the Day: Hilarious

IMG_5437, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

May 7, 2007

Europe Trip '02, Part 1


The day after Christmas 2002, I took my sister on a 4 city trip to Europe in an attempt to convince her to spend a semester abroad. It's shocking to anyone who knows me now, but I didn't really travel much before I got out of school. It's pretty much my only regret. In hindsight, I should have seen the world and ditched town every chance I could. I've been making up for lost time ever since. That was motivation number one.

At the time, there were some big upheavals happening at the company where I worked. There were layoffs and reorganizations and no job was secure. In May, we were told that they would let us know whether we would be laid off by the day after Columbus Day, 5 month away. We were also told how much money we would receive if we were to be let go. The only way I could deal with the uncertainty was to consider what I would have done if I got that severance. There was no question. I would have traveled. I mentally planned out 3 months wandering around Western Europe. I hadn't been to Europe since my high school Spanish trip almost a decade before.

As the day approached, it was all I could think about. Every time a user did something stupid or I had to deal with dumb software or I sat through a useless meeting, it popped in my mind. Looking back, that was really when I lost my commitment to that job. When I was told that I would be keeping my job, I resented it for taking my trip away. I resented being put in a position where I was hoping to get the ax. The weekend before we were told, I decided to take matters into my own hands and I booked this trip.

The trip took us to Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris and Madrid. While there, I tasted port for the first time, practiced my Spanish, fell in love with Paris and ate extremely well. I'm digging through my notebooks and photos from the trip. I'll post about it as I track them down.

April 30, 2007


IMG_5623, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Gothamist picked up this shot for their story on the 2 transit workers killed in the last week. I took it when we were heading out to the Brooklyn Half Marathon a couple weeks back.

April 26, 2007


On Tuesday, I had a wisdom tooth removed. I wasn't too concerned about it beforehand because the last wisdom teeth I had removed came out fine. I didn't even need to take the painkillers they prescribed me.

What I hadn't really thought about was that it was almost 11 years ago when I had the two back right teeth taken out. I was 19 and apparently too dumb to feel pain. That's no longer a problem.

Continue reading "Ouch" »

April 23, 2007

Spring is Here

I hope.

I'm sitting out at one of my favorite summer perches on Bleeker St in the village. It went up to 86 degrees today. I spent most of that time stuck in the office, but I'm out now, which is all that matters.

This weekend was pretty great. We went to the first bbq of the season Saturday evening I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in way too long. I have a couple shots on flickr, but sadly none of our hosts, who were juggling hosting and parenting duties.

Then Sunday, Tammi ran a race, where she once again broke a personal record, breaking the 10 minute mile - after running 8 miles the day before. She's incredible.

I ditched out this time and spent the morning shopping in the neighborhood. (I bought groceries, including many braising meats. Suddenly the weather is less accommodating to such things. I suspect half of it will end up in the freezer tonight.)

In the afternoon we went to Carroll Gardens and hung out in the garden at PJ Hanley's drinking beer with Tammi and her knitting friends from work.

I'm completely ready to spend the next several months like this. It's supposed to cool down for the rest of the week, but so long as we're out of the cold, wet, 8 inches of rain in 36 hours woods, I'll take it for now.


Dispatches from the Shuttle Zone


This weekend the neighborhood saw it's third weekend without A train service.

(I think the MTA does this sort of thing periodically to show us how poor service could be. )

Anyone trying to get from Utica Ave (where we are) to Jay street or anywhere between has to take a shuttle bus, braving crowds of hundreds of other passengers. You don't quite realize how many people fit on a subway train until you try to fit them on a bus. It just doesn't work.

We've detoured and worked around in order to avoid taking the shuttle buses, but this weekend there was no other way.

Shockingly, the MTA actually had their stuff together. There was an army of fluorescent-vest-clad minions doing everything they could to let everyone know where they were going. They yelled "EXPRESS TO JAY" and "ONE STOP TO JAY" and "THIS BUS ONLY GOES TO JAY STREET" over and over again. They chanted and gestured and pointed.

This didn't stop people from running off of the bus at the last minute saying, "This _only_ stops at Jay?" and wandering around bitching that they didn't know which bus to take.

People are dumb.

We've got two more weekends of this nonsense. Once it's all done, I hope my commute gets faster. The trains have been crawling through the areas where the track work is being done.

April 18, 2007


Apologies for so few posts lately. I'm a little overextended these days.

Everyday I see something I need to unpack or put away or set up. But by the time I get home I'm wiped out. The last two days I got home early and cooked dinner, which took a while. I did get some things unpacked, like my spices. It's been such a pain trying to cook when I didn't know where anything was.

I spent a couple hours this morning working on things, which has made me very late for work. I need a few days off to just catch up on things.

That's not going to happen soon though. I've got a trip up to CT tossed in my lap at the last minute, so I'm heading up there tonight.

Last week I grabbed dinner at a wine bar called bin 228, maybe I'll go back. They had good panini and a nice wine list

Hopefully, I'll have a little time to put together a piece for the record. Also on my to-do list is a listing in the right column of all my br posts. Their search feature leaves a lot to be desired, so I want to have it consolidated somewhere.

I've been writing this post on an extended commute. After already running late, the mta decided to help out by holding my train for 20 minutes at Lafayette. I finally got out and caught the Q at Atlantic. A few minutes ago I glanced up and saw the Brooklyn Bridge. I love it.

Ok, this post has officially become a ramble. When I started the blog, I decided to make a consious effort to avoid rambling and excessive bitching. So much for that.

I'll try not to do it again.


April 15, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: The Tax Man

IMG_9573.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

D*Face, 11 Spring Street. December 2006.
- - - -

Happy Tax Day everyone. Enjoy your 2 day reprieve!

April 10, 2007


Dojo Closed, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, ''That used to be Munsey's'' or ''That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge.'' That before the Internet cafe plugged itself in, you got your shoes resoled in the mom-and-pop operation that used to be there. You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now."

-Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

I went down to St. Mark's Place during lunch last week. It was surreal. The place was unrecognizable.

Getting off the train at Astor Place, I wasn't surprised by the more egregious changes: the giant shiny condominium across from the cube, the Walgreens sign where Astor Wines used to be. Then in the corner of my eye, I saw a hole in the ground just down 3rd Ave. I don't remember what was there, but the absence was jarring.

Continue reading "Change" »

Photo of the Day: Mortality

IMG_7210, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2006.
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April 5, 2007

Sometimes it Snows in April

IMG_3265.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This morning, I walked out the door to find gray skies and flurries falling.

I don't have anything good to say about this.

April 4, 2007

Too Much TV

I OWN YOU, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

An unfortunate side-effect of spending all this time in the house unpacking and setting up has been a sharp increase in my TV consumption. We have cable in multiple rooms, which was a surprising decision to come from someone who claims to hate TV, but it made sense when dealing with the cable company.

It used to be that I'd spend the time listening to music or NPR, but lately, it's just been one show after another. Every hour I'll hit the DVR or On Demand looking for something else to have on in the background. It's almost hard to remember that a year or two ago all I had was fuzzy broadcast television that I barely ever watched.

I have to keep that in check. I always described my relationship with television as an addiction. I did my best to avoid it for years. Now that I'm 'on' it again, I'd like to keep it moderate.

It's very easy to do mindless tasks while watching TV, but reading and writing and anything that requires some focus is nearly impossible.

Tonight, I'm going to try to avoid turning on the TV at all.

No New Commute

IMG_3257.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Taking the L into Manhattan turns out not to be as speedy as I had hoped. It took me just over an hour to get to work today. That's no good.

On the plus side, I did see these guys performing on the train.

April 3, 2007


IMG_5506, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

After spending the last 4 days unpacking and dealing with plumbers, electricians and cable guys, I'm taking s little downtime.

I'm spending the afternoon in Williamsburg. Not walking around, not looking for graffiti, just sitting on my ass and drinking beer. I'm hoping to eat some barbecue at Fette Sau, which just opened, whenever I finally get up. I tried to check it out a couple days ago, but it was packed.

Right now, I'm at Spike Hill, one of my favorite bars in Brooklyn. I find that weekday afternoons are the best times to go. The crowd is sparse and the vibe is relaxed.

The photo above is a reshoot. A year ago, I also had a day off and ended up at Spike Hill. I shot a similar photo of people sitting in the window. It was around when I first started seriously shooting. Expect a few more reshoots in the next few months.

Scotland Run

IMG_4661, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This is a little behind the times.
On Sunday Tammi ran in the Tartan Week Scottish Run in Central Park. It's a 10k. She ran her best time to date.

Congratulations babe!

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March 30, 2007

A Train Service Changes


If you ride the A Train in Brooklyn, you've probably already know about the
construction that's going to screw up your weekends for the next month or

Just in case you haven't heard, here's the deal:
There will be no train service between Utica Avenue and Jay Street. In its
place, there will be a shuttle bus running along Fulton Street - except
where there's street construction, between Bedford and Vanderbuilt. Annoyed
yet? You will be.

The MTA recommends taking the L train from Broadway Junction into Manhattan.
Allegedly, there will be extra service to compensate. For those unfamiliar,
it's 15 stops to Union Square.

It's also 11 stops to Lorimer in Williamsburg. I plan to take the opportunity to check
out the newly opened Fette Sau or play video games at Barcade.

Regardless of what you plan to do, I expect to spend a lot more time in


March 22, 2007

Chicago: TV Flashback

IMG_8717, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It's a testament to my lost youth that as soon as I saw Buckingham Fountain the theme song to Married...with Children started ringing through my head. I didn't even remember that the show had had been set in Chicago and it took a moment for me to even conect the show to the song. But inexplicably the sight of the fountain triggered a Pavlovian response.

Obviously, I watched way too much TV as a kid.

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March 20, 2007


I'm moving on Saturday. Today is Tuesday. Many things have yet to be packed.
In order to avoid an obvious form of procrastination, I'm going to take the opportunity to post some brief or pre-written pieces over the next week or so. I may post about the move here and there, but really, I need to focus on the actual move more and writing about it less. In the meantime, enjoy some of what I've had to say about San Francisco, Chicago, Hawai'i, and Montreal among other places.


March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Day

IMG_3842, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I just happened to be in midtown yesterday morning, just in time for some of the festivities on 5th Avenue for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It reminded me of the little rant i wrote in the Photo of the Day post the night before about immigration.

It was an interesting experience: soldiers, cops, firemen, state troopers and law enforcement officials from all over the country were waving another nations flag and wearing another culture's traditional garb. Their kids stood out in the cold, bare-legged, wearing kilts and playing bagpipes to demonstrate their allegiance to their ancestral home.

And they've been doing it for 251 years. So much for assimilation.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading "St. Patrick's Day" »

March 14, 2007

The Move: Verizon sucks


Fucking Verizon.

I'm trying to be on top of things. Today I started the process of moving over subscriptions and utilities. I called Verizon and scheduled an installation for a week and a half from now. I told them I to disconnect my line at my current apartment the same day.

Tammi calls me tonight and it's disconnected. Apparently 'the 26th' sounds like 'today.'


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March 11, 2007

DST has arrived

It is 6pm and the sun is shining. Thank goodness. The lost hour is a small price to pay for that.

I feel like I should go outside and take advantage. Maybe tomorrow.

Happy Spring everyone!

March 10, 2007

The Move: wading through the past

My Alma Mater....

I can't say I was totally surprised when I found a batch of stuff from college. Even so, it took me back to find a stack of flyers for a party I threw when I was a sophmore. Somewhat gratifying, I found a few of them with numbers on them from various Mt. Holyoke girls I tried to talk to back then. I was never successful with any of them, but still.

I also found a box full of thesis drafts and notes. I wrote about online communities and the degree to which people have always used technology to create and extend social groups. It's funny because Mike and I were just emailing yesterday about online communities and the failings of BlackPlanet, a site which everyone I know gave up on years ago.

One thing I had forgotten is that, true to my geekiness, I had code-named each chapter. Every chapter of my thesis was named after a character in the Bloom County comic strip. Opus, Bill the Cat, and so on. If I recall, I had a set of Bloom county icons that I used to signify them on my computer.

Back to work...

March 9, 2007

The Move: Paint Fight!


Not as much fun as a paintball fight, a paint fight is when you go to Home Depot and try to pick out paints together. Much like Paintball, you should be sure to pick out exactly opposite colors. Unlike Paintball, you don't get to shoot your opponent, no matter how much you want to.

Ok, it wasn't nearly that bad. I will say this though, compromise is hard. It's particularly difficult for someone as overbearing "strong-willed" as I am.
This whole excercise is a challenge. It's a good thing to go through, though. Better that we figure out how to work together from the start.

Continue reading "The Move: Paint Fight!" »

March 6, 2007


I'm finally getting my taxes done tonight. I usually do them myself online. It's such a simple thing to do for the most part. Copy fields from the paper to fields on the computer. It bugs me to have someone do them, but I found one complication that I don't want to deal with, so I'm being lazy.

Hopefully he can get me a better refund than I'd have gotten myself. Wish me luck.


March 3, 2007

Photo of the Day: Tourists

Tourists, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

March 1, 2007

Escape from the Land of the Office Parks


I've survived my trip up north. Right now I'm waiting for my train back home. Few things make me appreciate the comforts of home more than a visit to the 'burbs. One of the most unsettling aspects of life out here is the phenomenon of the office park. I can't speak of all office parks, as I've only been to a few. I only know one fairly well.

It's nearly as big as my college campus and locked down like a fort. IDs must be worn at all time and cameras are on you at all times. The campus is out in the middle of nowhere, so we are all sequestered from the world. You can't walk out for 5 minutes to grab a snack or run an errand or go to the ATM. You have to drive if you want to get off campus. There's a shuttle bus that takes you to the cafeteria if you want lunch.

This is all particularly uncomfortable for a New Yorker like me who doesn't drive. I could go on, but you get the idea. It's isolated from the outside world and there's no privacy within.

What amazes me are the people who are in their 20's and early 30's who are there for the job. I can't imagine a job important enough for me that I would voluntarily live like that. I just don't understand it.


Continue reading "Escape from the Land of the Office Parks" »

February 28, 2007

The Apartment Hunt: Accepted!


This afternoon we were notified that our application, which included references from our bosses, our landlords, 2 months of bank statements and credit checks was accepted. This weekend we'll meet, sign the lease and pay our fee and rent.

I'm sort of totally shocked that this happened so quickly. I'm typically the skeptical, conservative one. I couldn't imagine going with the second place we saw. But here we are. After the paperwork is signed, we get to the big part: The Move.

I need to buy a shredder. I've probably got 8 year old mail sitting in my closets somewhere. I'm going to have to call in the Salvation Army to pick up all the stuff I'll be donating.

And then there's the apartment. Since it's empty, we'll have the opportunity to get in there before April 1st to clean up, to paint the rooms and to set things up before we start moving our stuff in. We have to figure out how we're going to pay rent, how we're going to set up the entertainment system, how we're going to set up our network, which washer and dryer we're going to get... everything.

It also means that we'll be able to start moving in before the first. We'll need to figure out how we're moving too. A company or a man with a van.

This is going to be the real challenge. I hate moving. There's a reason I've lived in the same place for nearly 8 years.

Stay tuned...


Continue reading "The Apartment Hunt: Accepted!" »

February 26, 2007

The Apartment Hunt: The hard sell


We're both pretty convinced about this now. This evening Tammi went back to get a better look at the place. She shot some more photos of it and looked at the basement. She's sold. I'm sold. So why is the real estate agent still shoving it down our throats?

This is the first time I've dealt with corcoran and I have to say it's not something I hope to do again. The apartment is all we could have asked for, we're ready to move along with the process, we're filling out the applications. Yet every interaction we have with the broker, we're reminded of how desirable the apartment is and that other people are still seeing it.

Never mind the 12% broker fee(!), that's irritating enough. So are all the references and extra information that we're required to provide. But the incessant scare tactics and bullying piss me off. You don't get to work at the biggest brokerages in the city by being passive, but this is too aggressive. Now that Tammi's sold on the place, she's afraid that someone is going to jump in and scoop it out from under us, because that's what our broker has been not-so-subtly hinting.

(rant continues after the jump)

Continue reading "The Apartment Hunt: The hard sell" »

Death in the Family

Death freaks me out.

That's hardly unusual, I suppose, not many people are really comfortable about it. But I've never really been able to deal with death, really. I don't know how to be there for people who have lost loved ones largely because I never figured out what I'd want.

Thankfully, I haven't had much need to deal with death. The major loss in my life was when my grandmother died, back in 1995. I was 18 and had just gone away to college a month or so earlier. To this day I don't think I've really dealt with it. Occasionally I'll look at myself and see how much I got from her. She was a teacher and instilled a curiosity in me that is at the root of all of my obsessions. I wonder what I could have learned from her if I'd known her as an adult.

Two weeks ago my grandmother's sister Hyacinth died. She had a heart attack and died in her sleep Valentine's day morning lying with her husband of 50 years. She was 78.

(more after the jump)

Continue reading "Death in the Family" »

February 25, 2007

Apartment Hunt: Finished?


Before it's even begun, the hunt might be over.

Yesterday we saw an apartment 2 blocks away from where I grew up and a block from where Tammi lived when we first started dating.

The price is at exactly the top of our range, which has us paying about what we're paying now. That alone ought to be enough to tank it, but it's got some major things going for it.

It's got the usual frills of a new reno: new appliances, new bath, new heating system. It also has a second bathroom, a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer hookup in the basement. The basement that we'd have exclusive access to.

Seriously. Who has that?

Read on to find out why I've fallen for this place after the jump...

Continue reading "Apartment Hunt: Finished?" »

The Move: The Apartment Hunt begins


This weekend Tammi and I began our apartment hunt. After 3 years together, we're going to move in together. We're looking to move in the next few months, so we had planned on seeing dozens of places in the next few weeks. We have pretty particular requirements, since we both want to stay in a brownstone and we want a backyard and we want 2 bedrooms.

Despite what people say about New York, the backyard isn't so hard. Pretty much every brownstone has a garden floor with backyard access. Given about 100 houses to a block in the relatively large area of Bed-Stuy, odds are some of those are going to be for rent.

The problem is, I already live in a garden apartment. I love it. I've been there for more than 7 years. It's just not big enough. We need a second bedroom. That makes things more complicated.

Most brownstones fall within the same specs. They usually have the same or similar layouts, so finding an apartment with a second bedroom is usually going to mean one of three things: small rooms, an extension on the house or a duplex.

Continue reading "The Move: The Apartment Hunt begins" »

February 17, 2007

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.


Continue reading "Philadelphia: Downtime" »

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.

Continue reading "Wilton, CT" »

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.

Continue reading "A Quiet Afternoon in Coney Island" »

February 3, 2007

The Birthday Trip: Turning 30 Abroad

I turned 26 on an airplane. I was going to Paris and changed planes in Amsterdam. I still haven't seen any more of Holland than the airport, but the experience of waking up in a new country at a new age was amazing. We had an hour or two between flights, I spent it wandering around Schipol, listening to the announcements. "Flight 123 to Tehran is boarding at Gate 23." and "Flight 987 to Dar Es Salaam, boarding at Gate 89."

It's one of those birthdays I still remember clearly to this day. This summer I turn 30 and would like to have a similarly new experience.

Here's the short-ish list of places I was considering:

•Thailand & Singapore
•BeNeLux (Belgium/Netherlands/Luxumbourg)
•Morocco & Spain

I think I've settled on Japan, a country I've wanted to see since I went through my anime phase around when I got out of college, 7-8 years ago. Nothing is set in stone, but that's the plan, tentatively.
I have about a week set aside, so I'm hoping to spend most of the time in Tokyo with a couple days to see Kyoto.

I'll be posting regularly about what I want to see, where I want to go and what I want to eat while I'm out there.

January 28, 2007

Aspen, the winter home of entitlement


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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