New York City


If you haven’t already, take Time Out NY’s quiz, “Do you belong in New York?” It’s a little Brooklyn-heavy but still much more amusing and more accurate than all those stupid Facebook quizzes you’ve been taking.

My score, as if you care: 83. Here’s the diagnosis that came with the score:
DO YOU BELONG IN NYC?
Yes, but sometimes you wish there were a better option.
You do love New York, and you fit in here better than you have anywhere else. You’re committed to the city, and you take advantage of all of its amazing food, culture, nightlife and arts. But you have nagging doubts about this relationship. Spend your whole life here? Not sure about that. Sometimes you wonder about that farm in your fantasies or even just a smaller city. But in reality, you know there’s nowhere better.

Sounds about right.

Advertisements

Beehive

According to findingDulcinea, private beekeeping has been illegal in NYC since 1999, but may be on its way back thanks to a new bill, and maybe to the Obamas.

Apparently many New Yorkers had been ignoring the ban, and “It was the already-present beekeeping community that encouraged councilman David Yassky to introduce a bill that would allow beekeepers to keep bees if they are licensed.”

I guess, in an election year, Yassky figures he’ll catch more flies with honey. (Thank you, I’m here all week.) I do like his idea of licensing them, though. I mean, you don’t want your neighbor to suddenly fill his apartment with hives without anybody knowing about it. Plus it’s almost worth joining the NYPD just for the off chance that I’ll get to respond to a complaint about bees and ask the proprieter if I can see his bee license.

Of course, allowing bees as pets isn’t all roses. (Sorry, I just can’t help myself.) I mean, if you think the DMV is bad, try spending a day at the BBL (Bureau of Bee Licensing, natch).

The most interesting part of the article, though, comes a bit further down, when it mentions that the same 1999 ordinance that banned bees also banned poisonous snakes, ferrets, and elephants. Elephants! Was this a problem prior to 1999? I can’t imagine that pet elephants were very widespread even when they were legal. I mean, just the mental image of the pooper scooper you’d need should be enough to dissuade you from the elephant section at Petco.


Bookmark and Share

Fleet Week 2009

It’s Fleet Week in New York and, like most New Yorkers, I love seeing scores of sailors in bright white exploring the city, and not just because this blog takes its name from “On the Town,” the underrated musical about three U.S. Navy sailors who find love and excitement while on the loose in New York.

My favorite staples of Fleet Week, in no particular order:

  • The requisite photos in the local papers of sailors in full uniform with Times Square mainstays like the Naked Cowboy (yesterday The New York Times had some guys with the Naked Cowgirl on their front page).
  • The Fleet Week sailors on the morning shows. (Friday morning they were on pretty much every channel, and on Saturday The Today Show will feature Navy vs. Marines tug of war.)
  • The large group of uniformed sailors at the Mets game (or Yankees game). I love the big applause they always get from the rest of crowd almost as much as I love the chants and cheers they do when one of their own throws out the first pitch, or gets shown on the big screen. It’s too bad they can’t do it this year, because the Mets were out of town and the Yankees are just too damned expensive.
  • The jokes about Fleet Week on late night television. Highlights of Letterman’s “Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During Fleet Week In New York City” last night include “Katz’s Deli has knishes that’ll make you plotz” and “I spent a month’s pay on Yankee tickets.”


Bookmark and Share

This week’s Newsweek has a great essay by historian and Brooklyn Bridge “biographer” David McCullough about the perils of the proposed luxury condo in Dumbo that would block the view of the iconic bridge for most folks on the Brooklyn side.

Sadly the project was approved by the City Planning Commission this week and now head to the City Council for final approval.

On the Newsweek Web site is a counter-essay, written partly by Kurt Soller and mostly by the development company, that argues in favor of the project. Their argument aside from pointing out that the development will include some affordable housing units and a public school in addition to the luxury condos, essentially amounts to a claim that everyone (including the Community Board and the Borough President) wants the condo except for a handful of neighborhood kooks who have “hoodwinked” McCullough, a New England resident.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the very few New York institutions that has not been surrounded by T-shirt shops and other tourist-trap BS. In fact, a walk across the bridge is something I always recommend to out-of-towners or new transplants, because it’s so landmarky without being touristy. Living nowhere near the bridge, I don’t really have any skin in the game but I’d hate to see the view of the truly inspiring American landmark marred so that some rich developers can get richer.

Every region has its own linguistic quirks. I’m not talking about accents (don’t get me started on people who say “Lawn Guyland”). I mean words and phrases that are unique to the area. Here are some of my favorite bits of NewYorkese.

1) New Yorkers don’t stand in line. We stand ON line.

2) New Yorkers say “the floor” when they mean “the ground.” Example: you’re walking down the street with someone, and they drop a piece of food, and then they pick it up. Your response: “You can’t eat that! It fell on the floor!” Many New Yorkers do this without even realizing it. And when you tell them, they don’t even believe you, because it seems like a nonsensical way to talk. But it’s pretty widespread.

3) We call a whole pizza a “pie.” Comedian Brian Regan attributes this to New Jersey, but it really belongs to the whole tri-state area.

4) “The City” means Manhattan.

5) Queens and Brooklyn are geographically part of Long Island, but when people say Long Island they always mean Nassau and Suffolk counties. NEVER Queens or Brooklyn.

More New Yorkisms to come in a future post. Meanwhile, enjoy Linda Richman.


Bookmark and Share

umbrella-man

One of my favorite things about New York is the guy in the above photo. OK, not so much that particular guy, but the fact that you can buy a crappy umbrella for $3 outside any popular subway stop.

Another great thing about Manhattan in the rain is the construction. The ubiquitous scaffolding around the city is usually ugly and in the way, but when it’s raining it can be a God-send. In some areas there’s so much of it that you can make it from office to train station without an umbrella.

But in general, getting around New York in the rain is no fun. It appears to bring out the inner moron in all of us. Which means I get poked in the eye, smacked in the head, and late. So here’s a few pointers for your commute home:

  1. Giant golf umbrellas are great on the golf course. But they are not OK in Midtown Manhattan during rush hour. Yes, I know the bigger size helps keep you drier, but there’s just not enough room on the sidewalk for you and that retractable stadium roof you call an umbrella. When you’re commuting, use a human-size umbrella, please.
  2. Your hands work independently of your feet. So why do you think you have to stop walking in order to open or close your umbrella? There are people behind you. Keep moving.
  3. Two umbrellas cannot occupy the same space at the same time. If you’re walking toward me, at least one of us needs to either lift or lower so we can pass each other without collision. Most people know this, but it’s hard to avoid having two well-meaning pedestrians raise umbrellas at the same time and crash anyway (kind of a vertical version of that awkward dance when two people step aside for each other in the same direction). Here’s a simple rule: the taller person should raise; the shorter person should lower. Or, even better, if there’s nobody next to you, just move your umbrella to the side a bit so we can pass by at the same height without bumping.
  4. Along the same lines, it’s important to remember that you take up more room when you’re holding an umbrella than you do without the umbrella. Just because your body hasn’t bumped into me doesn’t mean your umbrella isn’t smacking me in the face. Just be aware, is all I’m saying.
  5. I’m walking right behind you. Stopping short is dangerous for us both.
  6. After you hit me with your umbrella, apologize. Don’t just turn, look at me, and then keep walking.
  7. Don’t close your umbrella every time you go under scaffolding. For one, it makes you stop walking (see #2 above). Then you stop walking again a block later, when the scaffolding ends and you have to open the umbrella again. But also, most scaffolding leaks, so you probably won’t look too stupid keeping the umbrella open.
  8. If you don’t have an umbrella, holding a newspaper above your head will not keep you dry. Newspapers are made of paper. You look stupid. Plus, you can buy an umbrella for $3 at any subway stop.


Bookmark and Share

Citi Field

I got my first up-close glimpse of the Mets’ new ballpark, Citi Field, this weekend. Needless to say it’s a vast improvement over Shea. The views are better, the concourses wider, the sound system more audible, the bathrooms more plentiful (and cleaner), and of course it’s a whole lot prettier, inside and out. Overall, I love it. But I’m not IN love with it.

First, the good:

Jackie Robinson Rotunda
The much-hyped Jackie Robinson Rotunda is stunning, inside and out. Symmetrical curving staircases, giant paintings of Jackie, enormous windows, and lots of dark gray steel and orange brick. There’s also a 10-foot-high, 3-D, Dodger blue number 42 where people will no doubt be taking pictures all year long. It did strike me as a bit odd to have such a grand tribute to a man who never played for the Mets and had no direct connection to them, but if any player deserves such a tribute, it’s Jackie. The whole thing is truly majestic and worth walking through even if you’re parked on the other side of the stadium.

Home run apple Citi Field
The new home run apple looks great in dead center, and will look even better popping up after each Met homer. And the old apple from Shea is here too, just inside one of the outfield entrances to the stadium.

Citi Field interior
The field itself is beautiful. Gone are the dead patches of outfield grass we saw in Shea. And the outfield dimensions are quirky, with enormously deep gaps, and fences of varying height. Lots of foul ground in the infield, very little in the outfield.

Citi Field bleachers
The bleachers not only go all the way around the stadium but have multiple levels. I have to say it’s nice to see fans in the outfield. And, unlike at Shea, you don’t have to buy 100 tickets to sit there.

Citi Field bathroom
The bathrooms are located evenly and frequently throughout the building, and they’re all controlled by sensors, so you don’t have to touch anything. By midseason that will be a huge selling point.

Now, the bad:

Citi Field is kind of like John Mayer: there’s nothing specific to point to as bad, but there’s an overall feeling that it’s lacking somehow. What I mean is, it’s just as nice as the Nationals’ new stadium. And the Phillies’ new stadium. And the Reds’ new stadium. And the Rangers’ new stadium. In fact, it looks just like them. And that’s the problem. Aside from the home run apple and the rotunda, there’s little tying this stadium to New York, or even to the Mets. I feel like, with a few minor logo changes here and there, the stadium could be airlifted out of New York and dropped in any major city and fit in just as well.

The whole reason all these new stadiums were built was to replace bland, soul-less cookie-cutter stadiums. But what the architects at HOK Sport have done in several recent cases is simply replace the old, round cookie cutter with a nicer one. I expected more from the Mets, more from New York. I expected the stadium to have a soul.

Still, it’s gorgeous and comfortable and nicely appointed and modern and classic, and I’m going to truly enjoy my new summer home. It may have no soul, but its body is a wonderland.


Bookmark and Share

Next Page »