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?).

bronx zoo

• A fairly late start to the day, but after a lunch near 86th in Manhattan, met up with Ginny, who introduced me to two of her friends, Meghan and Nadja – and we took the 5 train up to the Bronx Zoo.

• Thanks to Ginny’s (a.k.a. Virginia, as I found out later) work connections, we got to get into the zoo for free. Very large and expansive – you can almost forget that you are in NYC. Decent selection of animals – but the real treasure was the “Skyfari” – a chairlift over the treetops – good photo opportunity.

• NY style pizza with Matt just 2 blocks from the apartment, then a late night of freelance work.

brooklyn, brooklyn, brooklyn

• I took some pictures while checking out Astoria Park, only 2 blocks from the apartment – good views of the Upper East Side, as well as the Triborough Bridge, and some other service bridge.

• I happened to be walking by the location of my future apartment (as of Oct 5), and Coco was out front trying to sell some small items (picture frames, some kitchen stuff…), so I got a chance to meet her, as well as see the place. It looks pretty nice – it appears recently renovated (recessed, can lighting, nice floors; things felt new and fresh), and I also met a friend of hers who lives the other direction on Ditmars, named Daviar.

• I met up with Raymond down in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (at the Bedford Ave stop), which is the trendiest part of NYC that I’ve seen (its very close to Jan’s apartment), and we checked out Brooklyn Industries before heading over to Beacon’s Closet (NYC’s best, hidden thrift store).

• Next we ate over at Sea – known for being one of the hippest (but accessible to anyone) restaurants in the city. It’s where the opening restaurant sequence in Garden State was filmed. They have ridiculously good Thai food – and always have electronica bumping. Always packed, especially on Saturday nights. A lot of the restaurants/bars in that area have some type of water feature inside – one has a large pool that sometimes has typographic messages floating in it – others just have elaborate waterfalls. Sea has a large pool of water with an Asian boat floating in it, with an ornate statue looking over it.

• Lastly over to Royal Oak in a shadier area of Brooklyn, near some abandoned lots and such – a super dark lounge with lots of old-school executive style booths – apparently some nights they have karoke. Fairly chill place, youngish crowd as usual.

blood in the streets

• While trying to locate the Manhattan Apple store, near Mercer and Prince in SoHo, I heard a crunch in the street. A lot of people looked over as a non-descript van had clipped another van’s (who was double-parked) driver’s side mirror. The guy in the parked van (a black guy with dreads) jumps out of his vehicle, and runs up to the other van, now stopped in traffic. He proceeds to start wailing on the guy through his open window, and both occupants of that van jump out. The driver, seemingly of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent, begins to start throwing punches back at the guy with dreads, and his passenger (light skinned black guy) runs over to help out – and the two of them start beating the dreads guy’s head against a parked car’s hood. Keep in mind, this is typically a very posh shopping area, everyone on the street is shocked and feels compelled to watch. The damaged van’s passenger finally gets out, and runs in to help, making the total number involved equal four. At this point tons of taxis and such are honking to attempt to get through, but to no avail. Blood is running down the faces of at least 3 of the men, several have cuts near their ears that look pretty rough, the dreads guy has blood coming from his nose, perhaps mouth. One or two men scatter, and things seemingly slow down, so I headed out. Welcome to New York.

• Somewhat nearby the fight, but an hour later, a uniformed officer was chasing a man in full force (who had about a block lead on him) on the same street I was walking on.

• So NYC has several K-Marts. In fact, Manhattan has at least 2, that are kinda preventing Target and Wal-Mart from entering the city (though Queens and Brooklyn have a Target, I believe). I found the 34th Street K-Mart (I think 34th and 7th Ave), and like a lot of other larger stores in the city (Best Buy and such), it appears small at first, until you realize its condensed into three full floors of stuff. Its very different than NC’s never-ending ranch-style strip malls.