Sunday, August 22, 2010

NY Saturday and Sunday = Perfect 10

As Emily says, "New York City is the shit! It's expensive here but it's also so cheap!"

To clarify: There's so much free amazing stuff to do here it's like a giant threw a bunch of perfect Saturdays in the air and yelled, "Scrambles!"

The other day, I got an email saying that I had been waitlisted for an event called Joyride. It was an apologetic email, like, "I'm so sorry but we've had such a large response. We really, really hope to get you on the confirmed list. Stay tuned for cancellations." I wrote back and said, "Oh, ok, well, thanks so much for the update - and yes, please let me know if I make the list."

I had no idea what it was but you know, I'm for it.

Turns out that Isaac signed us up for something he saw online (where? who knows? where does one see anything these days? no idea, it's just a constant stream).

Well, Saturday morning, Summer Streets NYC shut down Park Avenue from down below Chinatown all the way up to Central Park. Cyclists, runners and rollerbladers took over, along with 50 people with Joyride, which is an event where you show up on your bike, they hand you a curated 45-minute long track of music and you all click play at the same time and take off together, cruising up Manhattan and listening to music. Normally, I think riding with earbuds in is sheer crackers. But when you do it with a big, super-cycle friendly gang and the street is shut down, you may as well be floating.

The music was all feel-good stuff, singer-songwriter, Afrobeat, life-affirming rap, whatever - it all sounds great when skyscrapers, bridges, Grand Central and Central Park are all whizzing by.

At the end of the bike ride, a giant picnic was laid out on brightly coloured plaid blankets, complete with jars of daisies and cloth napkins. Wha-?!

And. It. Was. Free. It was the best Saturday morning ever.

We interrupted perfect Saturday for a few errands which were still pretty fun (sweet peaches in Union Square market! New organizing file folder from Staples, hmm) after which point we were back on track for further fun.

We met our friends Farha and Adam for PS1 Warm-Up, which is amazing people watching. Some of the art is meh but there is this really cool thing there called Meeting by James Turrell. I loved that but mostly just wanted to gaze out the window all evening to watch people dance.

And then we went out to Way Far Away Land (Queens) for a late-night taco truck tour that Farha had read about on a food blog but we got too hungry to wait for it to begin and ate at the first taco truck we saw, which WAS INCREDIBLE. Sopes for $1, so flavourful. The four of us wandered the streets together and felt like we were in a different country. The taco truck lady didn't speak any English. Most of the signage in the area wasn't in English. After our sopes, we stopped in at an Ecuadorian restaurant where overhead TVs set the mood. One played a bloopers reel of people getting gored by bulls, one played a Latin American child pageant, one was an ultimate fighting match. Chomp, chomp, slurp.

Then I woke up this morning and finished off my latest book, Super Sad True Love Story. Book report: There are many reasons why I liked it but the yellow fever, on the part of one of the protagonists, is TOO DISTRACTING. Having run into men like this in real life, now I have to read about them? You know - the non-Asians who fetishize Asian women for whatever weirdo sexual stereotypes they have? Oh but didn't you know? I'd love to rub your feet and feed you kimchi and will look young forever and never talk back.


Anyway, ignore the impromptu book review because the point is that yesterday, Saturday, was the most brilliantly beautiful Saturday afternoon possible, followed by a long, food-filled evening. Then, this morning, it rained monsoon-style and I lay in bed reading my book, drinking coffee. Then Isaac and I walked a few blocks to meet Emily for pizza (mmm, pizza), which means this was officially a perfect weekend.

Oh, and I popped into a vintage store? For 8 minutes? And found a perfect pair of fall boots for $30? And I was hardly trying?

I should hardly say any of this stuff for fear of jinxing it or at least look before I next turn a corner in case of falling pianos. But I just had to say it. This weekend was a pretty NY-tastic couple of days.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our New Roommate

We've decided to take on a new roommate. His name is, "Ahhhh! MOUSE!"

He's pretty cool. Keeps to himself except when our paths cross late at night. Don't know much about him but he has cool style, I guess. Grey. Into ghetto-fabulous fur. I just hope he doesn't start bringing girlfriends home. I mean, have some respect, you know?

Not sure how this co-habitation is going to work out but Isaac and I are pretty cool. We won't try to Andy Samberg him or anything. Next time we have a party (based on square-footage-of-personal-space-per-person, that should be the next time we invite 0.5 of you over), we'll introduce you if he's around but I think mostly parties elsewhere. Not the train tracks, where the rats with human hands mill around. They're a rough crowd. I suspect "Ahhhh! MOUSE!" likes those bakeries that have their windows filled with real pastries, all day and night, as displays. I find those joints a bit gross, but "Ahhhh! MOUSE!" is way into them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Swap Monster

Yesterday, my friend Jessica asked me to help her with a day of shooting on her doc. Her film is all about second-hand clothes and where they go to die. It's not where you think. In fact, most people don't think about where clothes end up but I remember having a glimpse of it when I stood in an African market with lots of used clothing strung up for sale. Where did they come from? Us, of course. So our clothes are made in the developing world and then they go back there when we're done with them. What's the harm? I'm going to leave it to Jessica's film to have that say.

But in the meantime...

On a gorgeous, if humid, Saturday we met in the morning and shot all day at what must be the biggest clothing swap on earth. It's called Score! which is exactly what you say when you find that perfect item, you know? In the past, they have had 1000 people show up. I'm pretty sure yesterday's swap must have been close to 2000. It's a feat of organizational brilliance and major good vibes. People drop off their stuff, pay a few bucks to get in the door, take whatever they want (there was awesome stuff there! not just clothes but housewares, children's, games, electronics, books) and save everything from heading to landfills, giving them new life. Everyone saves money on the things they need and gets rid of a bunch of crap taking up space at home. The items are all put through "quality-control," and the stuff that doesn't pass muster is never put out on the "floor," which in this case was Brooklyn Yard, right by the water and shaded by trees. All the stuff that wasn't good enough to be combed through by a million Brooklyn hipsters and families goes into bags and is sent off to a fabric recycling company.

The proceeds go to charity (this year it went to a youth activism group). There are tacos, beers and great music (the people wandering in the sun holding a beer had the RIGHT idea - I, however, was wandering with a boom mic, trying not to smack people as I turned around).

By the way, it is super fun to do the jobs of people you work with but have never done yourself. I've never been the audio guy! Ahem, audio girl. It was fun.

Aaaaand, even though we didn't have time to look through the treasures together, a girl standing next to me declared, "Now these are great shoes but they don't fit me. Here, you have to take them." She just handed them to me, new dead-stock multi-coloured leather espadrilles with rubber soles. And they were my size. I got to go home with what will be my new summer shoes. Whee!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Little Devil and Marina's Tear

On the subway, we saw a little man in a black suit and his tall partner, a woman at least 6 feet tall. It was kind of cute when they walked arm in arm because he didn't come up to her shoulder. Kind of cute except...he had devil horns. His head was fully shaved and he had horns, one on each temple, and even though he was absolutely tiny, yes, the horns suggested evil. At first we thought his horns were hair, shellacked into place, but no, they were just really finely-detailed plastic glued onto his head.

We all stared, trying to figure out his horn situation, Isaac's entire family, as we were traveling en masse. And when we ascended to ground level, I saw we were at 666 Fifth Avenue. The devil was coming home! To New York City.

In fact, he was just going to the MOMA. I know because I saw him there.

I enjoyed the Marina Abramovic retrospective, and Isaac and I had a nice chat with a lady as we sat in the room where Marina was performing her stare-down. Our new friend told us about the next man in line to sit with Marina. He had met Marina on a train outside Amsterdam, where she used to live, five years ago. He was broke, had been evicted, and didn't have enough for train fare. She paid. They started chatting and he asked what she did. She said she was an artist and "into pain." After their encounter, I don't think they ever saw each other again until he took a seat in front of her.

Isaac and I, with our new informative friend, stared, trying to see any sign of recognition in Marina's face. There wasn't. But a few minutes in, things started to change. The man wasn't verbally saying anything but his body language was a different story. He was sitting tall, leaning towards her, beseeching her with his posture. Finally, she smiled and dropped a fat, juicy tear.

Knowing the story of this man made it a different experience, watching these two people sitting silent in chairs.

In other news, Happy 1st anniversary, Isaac!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Live and Rest in Peace

Katie emailed recently and told me that Will Munro had succumbed to his brain cancer. Hearing news like that reduces everything to plain truths, doesn't it? There's no time to waste. I didn't know Will but saw him around a lot, went to his parties. He did so much for Toronto in his short life. It's not fair to lose someone like this so young, and although I didn't know him, I'll remember the way he contributed to communities, shaping them, making life more interesting and fun for those who knew him and beyond. It's inspiring that he worked at it every day.

A great-uncle of Isaac's passed away recently as well. He lived a long life. I met Marvin once at dinner and have been learning about his life, for example, yesterday at dinner with Isaac's family as they're in town this week.

And we're still thinking of our amazing next-door-neighbours who just lost their son in an accident. We've heard of too many deaths in the last few days.

Thinking about it is probably as close as I get to religion. I don't have anything profound to share, just the opposite. Death makes everything in life quite basic again, doesn't it? We have to live lots of life while we have it. We have to love lots while we have our family and friends. To end with a smile, can we just watch this together? (Close to the twentieth time for me, I'm sure). Big hugs to everyone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tiny Tot Studio Time

Bet you didn't know that the smallest apartment on earth could be turned into a recording studio. All you need is a handy Marantz from work and Isaac, whose hero is MacGruber. He set it up for me to record a voiceover for him. He even made a little guard for when "p's" pop by putting a pair of my tights around a wire hanger that he fashioned into a circle. Et voila! Home studio.

Monday, May 17, 2010

La Vie Quotidienne a New York

Every day, I have a million thoughts but don't have the chance to blog 'em.

Is "blogging" still a verb that is ok to use and not completely nerdtastic?

Anyway, a recap of our first two weeks in NY.

Our apartment still smells funny but we've kind of stopped noticing.

Isaac found a bedbug site online that is like the Facebook of bedbug-infested NY-dwellers and we found that our building has never been mentioned. Not a peep from our building. Knocking on a giant redwood. Hurrah!

We have, however, seen too many rats and cockroaches on the street and subway tracks. No little Toronto subway mice here. The rats are big. The problem is the garbage in this city. In whose world is it ok to leave so many garbage mountains, pest-buffets, just on the street? It's like lining the streets with cake. Rat party! Did you get your invite?

For example, yesterday we were riding our bikes on a gorgeous afternoon in Brooklyn yesterday and before I knew it, I'd run over a rat that had already been flattened by a car tire, rendered paper-thin on the pavement but still with an outline of grey fur and red insides. I KNOW. Too many vermin. Highly unacceptable!

Moving on (why must I write about all this gross stuff?).

Isaac and I have met lots of fun people and re-connected with old friends. Karaoke count thus far: Twice. That's a good once-a-week average.

Still discovering places to eat (and places to not eat - we are suckers from out-of-town, eating bad huevos rancheros, hopefully not for long).

We are riding our bikes everywhere and although NY traffic is scary (downtown Brooklyn even scarier!) the bike lanes are infinitely better than in TO. I've made Isaac promise that he will not let his mind wander as he rides because even if you're in the bike lane with plenty of space on each side, there may be a pothole or manhole depressed like, 5 inches into the concrete. Deathtrap! Riding your bike around town is like a game of Frogger, except that you're not a frog, you're on a bike and it's real life (only one life!).

Speaking of life, we just heard the terrible news that our wonderful next-door-neighbours in Toronto lost their adult son in a car crash the other day. It was shocking to hear. Life is snuffed out so fast and unfairly. It's a sad time on our street at home.

Before we left, there was a giant fire just up the street from us, which was devastating to the family of tenants. The other day, there was a fire here in the East Village that had city blanketed in grey smoke for blocks.

We had to leave our apartment because, as we discovered, all the windows leak and our apartment was soon too smoky to sit in. We escaped on a walking tour for the afternoon, popping into the Forbes museum (rich people can collect anything they want, including really old Monopoly sets) and the lobby at Parsons (really? art school can look like this?).
When we came back, the air was clear but I could still smell the fire in our towels. We are really at one with the neighbourhood. Smoke or thumping music of the I-need-ear-protectors-like-baby-Apple-at-a-Coldplay-concert, you can't block it out of our funny little apartment.

On our walking tour, we bought a smoke detector. Duh.

Last night we got locked out because our finnicky front door lock decided to cross its arms and not let us in. We ended up making friends with an older couple who came by with their dog and they came up with the scheme for Isaac to climb down the fire escape from one of our neighbours above and pop into our window. This friendly guy Steve knew everyone in the building. He took Isaac up to a guy's apartment, explained the situation, and the guy said, "Unh uh," and closed the door. The next floor down, directly above us, a young girl in hot pants came to the door and said, "Uh, well, Jenny is sleeping, but I'll see." Isaac ended up going through the apartment, "Jenny" lifting her head from slumber for a moment to go, "Mm, hey." Isaac just kind of sauntered through with a wire hanger that Steve had dismantled into a hook-like device. Isaac pulled a MacGruber and got in to the apartment through the fire escape. Another hurrah! (Note to concerned individuals, there was a system involving a key that is too boring to outline here, so it's not like just anybody can just get in through the fire escape....I think).

Isaac was the hero of the evening! All eyes on Isaac.

Here's a photo I'll leave you with from a party we were invited to on the rooftop of a building in Greenpoint, BK. As Isaac pointed out, being near the water like that felt like we were on a cruise. Look at this city. It's worth putting up with rat sightings.