Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Apollo and The Canal Room

Friday was the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson. Sarah told me she thought there would be a celebration of life of some sort at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Our friend Kelly was visiting Laura and me from VA so we all decided to go up and see what was happening. After work and class we met at Welcome to The Johnson's to have drinks with Laura's new friends from school. We all had a good time and enjoyed cheap PBRs. Next we went across the street to Mason Dixon to have some supper and watch people ride a mechanical bull. After supper we were off to Harlem. It was exciting to see the Apollo Marquis, emblazoned with a tribute to Michael, but the rest of the affair, I'm sorry to say, was weird. There was definitely not the love filled street vigil Sarah and I were hoping for. When we got to the Apollo there was a small gathering. Maybe something more formal had happened earlier and it was breaking up but whatever was going on it was small. There were a couple of street vendors with t shirts etc and people and music playing quietly. What was weird was, for about 150 people, there were at least 25 cops and a riot van. When we arrived they were busy putting up fencing because they didn't want anyone in the street. After they had fenced everyone in, they moved the fences in further because they decided that there needed to be a walkway ON the sidewalk too. So basically they took a smallish, VERY peaceful gathering, and created a tense security issue. I have been to several gatherings in the city, and any moment of the day is more crowded in Times Square and it was absolutely clear that the problem was that the people gathered were mostly black and gathering in Harlem. It was really really upsetting. I must stress that it was VERY peaceful. NOBODY was rowdy or out of hand or even loud. The people were friendly, festive, relaxed. Everyone was rolling their eyes at the two dozen cops there to make sure nobody had ANY fun. We stayed a while but there wasn't much to see. The people were in good spirits but subdued both by the seriousness of the occasion, and the fact that too much fun would probably be seen as a riot. There were a few impersonators for comic relief. Also plenty spangled gloves.

Saturday was a busy busy day. Laura and Kelly got up to pick up a desk Laura had gotten from Craiglist in another neighborhood in Brooklyn and then met India and Jessica for brunch. I got ready and headed to meet them in the city for the USA/Ghana World Cup match, a part of Drew's birthday party. By the time I got to the bar where Drew and his friends were, the place was full and not letting anyone else in so Laura texted to head uptown and meet at a bar called Tonic in Times Square. We got there at the same time and headed into the very crowded sports bar. We were lucky though, and scored a giant booth when Jessica's husband, who was also there, had to leave with a friend who was being ejected from the bar. Lucky us. We had terrific seats for the match and even beers the guys didn't get to drink before leaving. Unfortunately we did not win the game but we all had a good time cheering and chanting USA and dancing to Waka Waka.

After the match we got back in touch with Drew so we could meet him to celebrate. We met up and headed to the Standard Biergarten in Chelsea, under the High Line. After beers we went up on the High Line, which was gorgeous and walked around a bit. Then we came down and found a diner for some supper.

I was super excited because my favorite band from home, The Reflex, booked a gig at The Canal Room for Saturday night. We went there next and waited a long time for the show to start. Once it did though it was terrific. The crowd was completely out of hand. We had as much fun people watching from right by the stage as we did dancing and singing to the music. The band played until 2 and by then it was time to go home. Laura and I were both hurting to sit down for a while and Kelly needed some sleep before she hit the road back to Virginia in the morning. Fortunately the band plays again in July and I hope to go again, and bring more people with me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Short and Long Blog About The Wonder Wheel Photo Booth

The first time I rode the Wonder Wheel I was awfully excited. When Rachel, Laura and I stepped out of the car and were exiting the ride I saw an old school photo booth and got in immediately. Photo booths are a rare find these days, especially non-digital ones like this! I put in my money and the booth quickly snapped the four pictures of the three of us on a red backdrop. In 4 and a half minutes I got the best souvenir of my first ride. Each time since then I've done the same thing. Now I have a little collection of strips taped to my mirror. Photo booth strips are wonderful, I love how spontaneous the little composition of photos is and how ephemeral the strip itself is. These are already starting to fade. I took them to work and scanned them today so I could have them for always.
And yes, I've now ridden the Wonder Wheel five times and counting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fun, Fireworks, Film and Hair.

Its been a hectic and amazingly fun couple of days for me! My dear friend Sarah Nilsen came to visit me here in Brooklyn and the fun didn't stop all weekend. Sarah is moving to New York very very soon and this was her chance to get some quality time in with her new city home and meet her new roommate, my friend Rachel!! I'm happy to report that Rachel and Sarah got along like a house afire, which is great as setting up your friends is always a little stressful. I introduced the two through e mail and phone several weeks ago because I knew they were both looking to move around the same time and needed roommates. Rachel is soon graduating from culinary school and Sarah will be attending Fordham for a cutting-edge social work program. I'm so proud of both of them and happy that they'll be together. I like to keep my friends as condensed as I can. If it were up to me we'd all live in a compound somewhere centrally located, with access to mountains, rivers, the ocean and the county fair. Also none of us would have to work, ever. Also before getting into all the fun we had I have to congratulate my roommate Laura for being accepted into the NY Teaching Fellows program. All my friends are terrific achievers.

Sarah arrived by Megabus friday afternoon. Word on the street was there would be fireworks at Coney Island so as soon as she had settled in and had seen the apartment we headed down. Sarah loved Coney and we had just enough time to ride the Wonder Wheel before it was time to get a good seat for the show. We watched from a table at Ruby's and were not disappointed. The show was wonderful and the crowd was tons of fun.
Me and Sarah on the Wonder Wheel

Saturday was the world famous Mermaid Parade at Coney. UNFORTUNATELY I had to work so Laura and Sarah headed down to see what was up. I heard they had a lot of fun people watching and had seen some crazy things. I hope I get to attend the Mermaid Parade some time. As soon as I got off I went down to meet them and we all went to the Brooklyn Cyclones game against the Long Island Yankees. We all love minor league baseball, and this game also had a fireworks show at the end. The game was good, we staked out some seats and I got some dinner after waiting in a long slow line. The line was awful but I did overhear one of the worst/funniest quotes ever: "Our seats are so good! Its like watching the game on an HDTV!" Oh New Yorkers. Once again the fireworks did not disappoint. I wish I could have seen the crazy mermaids but baseball and fireworks is nothing to sniff at.

Sunday Sarah and I made plans to go to the TKTS discount ticket booth and try and get tickets to see Hair on Broadway. Sarah loves Broadway shows, especially Hair, and was hoping to see it before it closes next week. You can get tickets from this booth for 50% off some days, especially if you show up early. We got there in time but Sarah surprised me by treating me to some really good seats I wouldn't have been able to afford any time soon. She had it all planned so I couldn't refuse. What a treat! After that we met Rachel for brunch at a bistro called Marseilles. Rachel and Sarah met for the first time and were fast friends. Also Sarah's friend Casey from high school met us. She lives in Brooklyn too. Brunch was amazing. That's no surprise either, considering Rachel chose the spot. We were right around the corner from our theatre so we had a chance to relax in the outdoor seats before our matinee.

The show was terrific. I had never been to a show on Broadway and was definitely not disappointed. The show is fun and bright and a little interactive so I had several Hair cast members touch my hair and one told me I was very pretty in the middle of a dance number when he jumped over my seat. After the show we waited by the stage door and I got my playbill signed by the entire cast! After such a successful Sunday we headed back to Brooklyn. We went for an evening walk in Prospect Park to see and hear the weekly drum circle held there before finally heading back to the apartment to rest up.

For Monday Sarah said she wanted to ride the Staten Island Ferry because it sounded like fun and was free. We also decided to try and make our own little tour of the city. I did a bit of googling and found a guidebook to the New York of film so we planned to find a bookstore and see what we could find from the book. We got up Monday morning and headed to the city and were happy to find the book quickly. We got a little brunch at the Gee Whiz Diner and found some places of interest in our book.

The ferry was lovely and we enjoyed the nice weather and took some pictures. After our ride it was time for some inventive sightseeing. We headed to Greenwich Village, a neighborhood I hadn't yet visited to find the house from the Cosby Show! Even though the Huxtables lived in Brooklyn, their house is on a quiet street in Manhattan. Somebody lives there, which is intriguing to me and I firmly believe it still looks just the same inside. so don't even try to tell me differently. Right around the corner is the apartment building from friends! Bet you didn't know they were neighbors! Next my book told us the Waverly theatre, a movie house mentioned in a song in Hair was in the area. We stopped at Starbucks for a drink and then found it, but we didn't find Frank Mills. Oh well.

Huxtable House

Friends Building

The Waverly was conveniently by a subway stop so we got on the train across town to the East Side. We were right by the UN and thought we'd try to stop in if that was allowed. We got through the airport-like security and into the UN lobby which was very very quiet. We didn't go on a tour or anything but there was a really interesting exhibit in the lobby about the Earthquake in Haiti, the UN workers who died and the UNs efforts to respond to the emergency as both aid workers and victims.

After the UN we walked up a hill, which you don't see every day in Manhattan, to find the apartment that Marilyn Monroe shared with Arthur Miller. Sarah also saw on a map that we were close to the Queensboro Bridge on 59th street so we decided we'd go that way since we were feelin' groovy. Har. The East Side neighborhood where Marilyn lived was very pretty, very clean and quiet. Lots of fancy apartment buildings and more dogs being walked than there were people. I never saw so many dogs and am certain they are all wealthier than I'll ever be. There was a tiny park, really just a bench on a patio, by the bridge but it was a lovely view and we sat for a moment. As soon as we were seated we realized how tired we were getting. I had to be on the Upper West Side for a meeting that evening so we decided to jump back up before we got too comfortable and head uptown.

59th St Bridge

We stopped for a bite to eat at Texas Rotisserie and were revived a bit. I went to my meeting and Sarah and Rachel met at Riverside Park for sunset over the Hudson. Once I was done I met them and Sarah and I came back to Brooklyn for some VERY much needed rest.

I'm so glad we got that book and I'm going to read it cover to cover now and find even more cool things to go and see. I'm also really glad I got to visit Greenwich Village and the East Side. Oh, AND a Broadway Show. So cool. I'm so excited that Sarah will soon be living here too.

Here's a link to the book we got.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jake's June Visit + A World Cup Announcement

Jake came for a visit and ended up being able to stay for an entire week! (Special thanks to my sister who dog-sat her puppy niece for a few days). I've been having a rough couple of weeks so getting to spend some quality time with Jake was really helpful and relaxing.

Although we spent a lot of time chilling in the apartment, hanging out with Laura, cooking and eating together, we did manage to do a couple of really nice things.

Friday I took Jake to Coney Island and he finally got to ride the Wonder Wheel. He did not love it, exactly, but he didn't hate it nearly as much as he wanted me to believe. Look at this picture:

He wants to impart that he is terrified and there only by force but I believe his smile says differently, don't you agree?

Here's a funnier photo series from our Wonder Wheel experience:

Jake is the tough guy while waiting in line...
Not so tough now, huh?

Notice also that I look overjoyed as usual. In that picture there are a couple of my favorite things on Earth.

Jake LOVED the Cyclone however and we rode it twice in a row. I also love that roller coaster and could ride it lots and lots, but maybe only twice at a go. Its not too jerky but it does shake you up a bit. Plus I never can wait to ride it before I eat my Nathan's, on account of Nathan's is directly outside the subway.

Jake also loved the beach and we took some pictures with our toes in the sand and watching the intriguing beach behavior or people swimming.

Tuesday evening the weather was so beautiful that Laura suggested we all go to the park and toss around the football for a while. This sounded terrific so we walked up to the park and found a nice grassy spot full of frolicking dogs and picnicking Brooklyners and played a little catch. Aside from Laura being clobbered by an exuberant red dog barreling toward a fumbled football we had a perfect time.

Afterward we walked over to Sushi Tatsu for the $11 special and then home to bed.

Jake left last evening and it was hopelessly sad to see him get on the bus. I came home and once Laura was back from work we met and she took me on my first ever run. I'm going to try it out and see how it goes, in the hopes that some exercise would do me good in more ways than one. It went fine, I went about 2 miles, with running and walking mixed in to take it easy at first.

Now its time to straighten my room and do a ton of laundry. My good friend Sarah Nilsen will be here tomorrow afternoon and I have to de-Jake my room a little. I love finding things like boxer shorts tangled up in the sheets and a bottle of chocolate syrup behind the closet door. Boys are so weird.

Oh one more thing: Laura, Kirstin and I have cooked up a new blog for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

My New Favorite Photograph Ever

Jake is visiting this week so I'm much to busy to blog but I thought I'd take a second to share something with you that has made me happy this week.

So I'm a photographer and I understand the importance of composition, angle, lighting and using the proper settings to get the clearest sharpest photographs possible. BUT I also have a huge weakness for pullbacks. A pullback is that picture I take a couple dozen times with everyone, holding the camera out in front of us and grinning a huge excited Katy grin. They make me happy. They're fun and a mix of posed and candid in the same picture. They're spontaneous and fun and wonderful. Or maybe my mother is right when she says I take too many pictures of myself.

Oh well.

Anyway, I took this picture of me and Jake the other day and I am just crazy about it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Missed Opportunity?

The other evening I was coming home from work on a downtown 1 train, sitting across from the doors when the train stopped at 72nd St. A girl got on there and the logo on her shirt caught my eye. It was a generic enough looking logo, circular with some mountains and a stream running between the peaks, but my first thought was that the mountains looked like home. I was a little surprised then, when I read the text beneath the logo and it said Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The girl sat down right next to me, she was drinking a coffee and playing with her iPhone and did not have headphones on. I wanted so badly to say something to her. To ask her where and how she got the shirt, if she'd visited Skyline Drive or even if she was from home but the train car was small and close and she wasn't paying any attention to me to make starting that conversation anything but awkward. I sat there next to her struggling with what to do and then the doors opened at 50th street and she got off. Its been bugging me for days and I expect I might not soon forget it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Weekend in the Islands

Memorial Day weekend fun continued Sunday as Prospect, Laura and I headed down to Coney Island. While Coney Island certainly hasn't lost its luster we were very excited that we were going to see the grand opening of the all new Luna Park. We saw a cool new (maybe temporary?) exhibit about Coney Island by the entrance to Luna which we loved and then headed over to The Cyclone. After the Cyclone we took a walk through Luna Park, which was very hot and very very crowded. Its lots of shiny new rides including a super tall swing and an old-fashioned swing. There were a couple rides not yet running and a roller coaster type thing called The Tickler that looked crazy. Once we reached the boardwalk we decided to get some lunch. The crowds were unreal everywhere at Coney but we persevered and made it to Nathan's. We opted for seating on a shady patch of sidewalk rather than a table out in the hot sun and enjoyed what has to be the world's best people watching while we ate.
At the new Coney Island history exhibit

Next it was time for another ride on the Wonder Wheel. This time it our car was extra swingy and made me nervous. It was wonderful as always and there were excellent views of Luna Park and the throngs on the beach. Afterward we rode Spook-a-rama for the first time. It was twisty and dark and we probably wouldn't ride it again.

On the Wonder Wheel

View of the crowded beach from above

We did some more people watching and had a couple beers before leaving that night. I also took a walk through Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park to photograph the rides after dark. Then it was time to get on home.

New swings at Luna Park

Entrance to Luna Park

Yesterday we got up early (well, as early as we could bear) and headed to Battery Park to stand in line for the Statue of Liberty. Tickets for the Ferry Ride to the National Park are $12 which is affordable but the wait is two hours. We were determined to stick it out and it wasn't so bad in the end. The line moved relatively quickly and there were vendors and some street performers along the way. Finally we got on the boat and headed to Liberty Island. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was excellent. We got lunch at the cafe and floaty pens from the gift shop and then met a ranger for a free tour. We were really disappointed we couldn't go into the statue, the pedestal or even the museum without special buy in advance tickets. I would have loved to at least see the museum! After our tour we took some pictures and then headed back to the boat to go on to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was really interesting. We got there in the late afternoon and ended up staying until closing time and running for the last boat back, but we all agreed we could have stayed there hours longer and not seen everything. I really want to go back and I really want to bring my mom there. I know she'd really get a lot out of it. My favorite part were some of the quotes from immigrants telling how they outsmarted the officials when they were almost denied entry. I also loved the photo exhibit about when the buildings and the island were abandoned for years during the mid 20th century and photographs of different people who came though.

After being kicked out for closing time we took the boat back to Manhattan and decided to head for Little Italy for dinner. The streets were closed and the neighborhood looked like a lot of fun but we were all so tired we just kind of ate and headed home, dragging the whole way. I hope they keep it closed like that at other times over the summer. I'd love to explore more when my feet aren't killing me.

I love when we have visitors that want to do touristy things! This weekend was right up there with Amy and Jason's visit for being packed full and amazing.