introduction to the cemetery district

• Price of unleaded, regular gasoline in Queens: $2.99

How much the price of gas affects me: $none

• Ate at a really great authentic Greek place over near the Ditmars Station here in Astoria. Luckily they had some English translations on the menu – its tough to master the Greek alphabet in less than two weeks. Pretty good place – open windows out onto the street. I had Lamb Souvlaki in a pita – and they give you some interesting dessert thing with all meals, it seems – kinda this “spice cake means the consistency of grits” stuff, that is in small triangles, similar in size to baklava.

• There’s this industrial section of Queens down near the border with Brooklyn (where the Queens UPS hub is located, just south of that kinda Indian area), where trucks passing each other honk their horns in odd patterns, kinda like morse code. Kinda weird. [PS: thanks to the SportsEndeavors crew for sending those catalogs!]

indie rock in brooklyn

• Checked out the Brooklyn Responds show down near Prospect Park at a venue called Southpaw in Brooklyn with Laura – good times: some bands that stuck out “Harlem Shakes” (with a track called “Sickos”), and “They Might be Giants.” I didn’t heard “Istanbul” by them, but they did play some other good stuff. The host guy was kinda tearin’ it up between sets with an effects machine – where he’d beatbox into the mic, record it, then have it loop, while he sung/rapped over it, and incorporated other sounds… it was pretty funny stuff as well.

• Food-related comment of the day: I highly recommend “The Original Yonah Schimmel Knishery” over on East Houston (137 E. Houston, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, to be exact). It was recommended to me by a former coworker (thanks, Dennis), and it’s the first authentic Jewish restaurant I’ve been to. I didn’t even know what a knish was, but they are pretty decent (and super cheap). I understand they’ve been serving up kosher food since 1910 or so…

• Keep on keepin’ on.

you’ve got some pretty lips, boy

• Met some fellow designers during the AIGA trip over to Coney Island – a girl who lives in Jersey, a guy that just moved from Ohio, an AIGA: NY staff member, and one of the AIGA: NY board members. We met one of the people associated with the hand-painted sign revitalization projects going on down there, over the past few years – saw many of the signs, as well as viewed the ridiculously detailed mural by the subway station, which was created by a group of South American street artists.

• At a bar (called Ruby’s) on the boardwalk out that way, a bunch of white bikers with tons of tattoos were getting pretty belligerant. They were shoving each other (this is broad daylight, 4PM or so), and picking up barstools. The bartenders yelled at them a few times, but it didn’t seem to stop them much. At one point, one chased another out onto the boardwalk in a heated confrontation, but surprisingly, an actual punch wasn’t thrown. I found out from one of them that he had just gotten married earlier in the day, and they were celebrating. I don’t think I’ve been in a bar that questionable before.

• True, the Coney Island freak show isn’t what it was in the Roaring Twenties, but it does still exist. And now, I can say I’ve seen it. People standing on nails and swords, extremely tattooed people, snake handlers, people with electrical powers, sword swallowers…

animated skeletons

• Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride was pretty decent. Interesting that the “land of the dead” was more alive (and colorful) than the “land of the living.” Plus – look out for the skeletons with mustaches – a sure hit with the kids.

• Also, happy birthday, Pop! Sorry I couldn’t be down in NC this year – we’ll have to catch up in a few weeks.

dave eggers might be the man

• So, all those 2A batteries you see in the tracks at each stop (well, the underground stations), yah, you know the ones I’m talking about. “Why are they down there, and in such numbers, ZiP?” Well, I’m glad you asked. My hypothesis is that since batteries are supposed to be disposed of in a special manner, when they clean up the trash around there, it would cost more money and/or be illegal to toss all the batteries in with the normal garbage, therefore, they have to just kinda lie in the exhaust-ridden filth that provides the home to many a subway rodent.

• So the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company actually lives up to its name – it sells superhero supplies – such as grappling hooks, wall-climbing suction cups, capes, masks… yah, I know, sounds ridiculous, but its just the pseudo-storefront for the Dave Eggers 826NYC nonprofit project that helps kids read and write (the San Fran location is a pirate supply store). The kids go into a secret door by moving a large shelf, and then they’re in the back area where they learn and stuff.

• Also: checked out the Arts and Design Museum near MoMa, (on “Pay-What-You-Want” day) with Ginny – and was rejected from the Jewish Museum (on account of it closing early). Good times though, over in the city.

• Also: went to lunch at a British restaurant called “Chip Shop” (with authentic British waitstaff) down in Park Slope, Brooklyn with Ray. Good times – Stilton cheese, though, is a bit strong.

• Now, I think there’s something significant about being able to hear a Peruvian flute player (he may or may not have been Peruvian, but the instrument he was playing is that flute thing that most people associate with Peru) on the N train. I mean, this guy, who had a Peruvian flute plus some other string instrument was playing like some freakin’ “welcome to the outskirts of Lima” joint – ya know what I’m sayin’? The ubiquitous Gypsies in the London Tube system that roam from traincar to traincar playing worn-out accordions don’t have anything on this guy. Good stuff.

• Overheard on the F Train, by a tired, older black guy with a ponytail: “She might as well walk around in just a pair of panties – its the same thing!”

• And, for some reason I love the fact that I’ve only gotta walk a few blocks before seeing some joints on DVD that haven’t even hit theatres yet – on the sidewalk. Quality.

ghoulish string of wooden flatbeds

• There’s a “trash train.” That’s right – it’s the ghoulish string of wooden flatbeds (with maybe a 1.5 ft. high wall around each traincar) – and it goes through the stations later in the evening. It looked to contain old boards, metal poles, and random junk. I’m not convinced that it has a conductor, or is officially known on the records…

• I ate with Matt and Coco in an Indian restaurant in the East Village that was super narrow and had ridiculous decorations all over the place: red ribbons, lots of strings of chilli pepper lights, christmas lights, more ribbons, hanging paper decorations… and if it wasn’t for the Hindi music playing, at times it would have felt like hanging out in a trailer in Fayetteville, North Carolina. But, that being said, the food was very, very good. The place was called Panna II, and its open 7 days a week, noon to midnight.

proper amount of pressure

• So, in the South, if you’re in the same aisle in Home Depot as someone else, and you’re walking by, you say “excuse me.” I’ve never quite known why, because it’s not as if your presense is possibly bothering the other person – its just sort of a humble acknowledgment in some way. Things are a little bit different in New York though. When I’m in some super tight aisle, having to maneuver around people – if I say “excuse me,” it becomes awkward – because they assume that they must have some how annoyed me to the point of speaking – and therefore they say “sorry” in a half-way sincere tone, half-way “why did you speak to me, stranger” annoyed tone. And I know what you’re thinking – no, I’m not basing this on a single encounter with a single person that may or may not have been a New Yorker at heart. In fact I’m basing it on like 2-3 encounters… but still… its different. I may continue to say “excuse me” out of politeness, and we’ll see what happens.

• The other day, some Latino kids (a younger brother, maybe 4 yrs old, and older sister, maybe 6 yrs old) were pretending to “drive” the subway, with a complex set of rules, as the N train made its way North. The girl kept shouting them to her brother, apparently he was doing everything incorrectly. Here are the rules:

• You must be in the front-most bench seat (facing inward) of the given traincar, but still facing forward.

• You must apply the gas and brake with the proper amount of pressure as the train seems to be using.

• If the doors open on your side at a station, you have to push a button to allow the passengers to leave.

• The vehicle must only be referred to as a ship.

• If you aren’t paying attention, everyone will die.

the kid that made that deserves that maybach

• Its fascinating how these tiny stores that sell random stuff can survive in pockets of the city. I mean, there are ridiculous amounts of specialty stores – a tiny store that only sells futons, another store that just sells trips to Greece, these tiny “discount” stores that sell odds and ends… I was told by a shopkeeper that he did in fact have more of a particular type of plastic storage box, but that it was down in the basement and he could get it for me tomorrow, hahaha.

Afghani food is kinda similar to Indian food. I suppose it’s a mix of Indian and Mediterranean (Lebanese or Greek…). I had Lamb Shing, I believe – pretty good stuff.

• The nicest car I’ve spotted in this area of town has been a black convertible Viper – but that’s nothing compared to the Maybachs that can be seen in Manhattan (maybe the most expensive automobiles I’ve seen in person?).