Friday, July 30, 2010

Brooklyn Bowl

Last night we went to Brooklyn Bowl which is a fancy bowling ally, to dance during ?uestloves's dj set. I didn't get a lot of pictures but Laura and her new school friends and I had a good time dancing. ?uestlove was right by us in a dj booth, close enough to touch and radiating cool from every pore. Wow, what a presence. I hope to get a chance to go back another night. I'd love to take Jake to see.

Today I had about 25 errands to run all before noon and was very very sleepy. I managed to do everything on my list and came home and took a two hour nap. Now I'm up and groggy, wondering what I'll do with the rest of my Friday.

Here's a picture of some brownstones I saw on one of my many errands today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The Reflex came to town again and this time I was on the guest list at the club which is totally cool. The show was amazing and everybody was having fun, singing along and dancing. They had a substitute lead singer which was mind-blowing but all the band members waved to me from the stage. I'm so famous.

After the set we were down in the bathroom area when we saw Marco who took us to the Green Room to party with the band. We had a great time sitting and talking with the band. Silly me, I let Darron give me drinks and before long I'd had a bit too much. Darron drinks straight vodka.

We got home fine and slept until 3pm. Laura just made us a delicious stir-fry and we are watching a marathon of Mad Men. Its so novel to be home on a weekend day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coney Island Art Reception

So word has kind of gotten out that I adore Coney Island. I certainly don't mind it when people associate me with my favorite thing about New York. So many nights I get off the train at my stop and think about how nice it would be to stay on and go all the way down to the breezy beach and watch the Wonder Wheel turn in the dark. But I usually just come to bed and get on Facebook. I need more friends with weekdays off like I have.

Anyways my good friend Laura DeWitt heard about an art project taking place at Coney last weekend and immediately thought of me. The father of one of the students she's had as an NYC public school teacher was doing an art installation/project in which he put large canvasses on the boardwalk at Coney and invited passers by to help make them into art. You really must click the link and read more about it. Anyway people were encouraged to drive radio-controlled cars through paint on the canvases, jump and dance, use toys like balls, jump ropes and koosh balls to spread paint on the canvasses. One woman even used her hair, which was weird to read about.

So I was in Virginia this weekend and missed it. Laura had texted me to invite me but I couldn't go because I was away. Tonight though, the art was dry and hanging in the Brooklyn studio of Laura's former student's father and he had a little opening reception. I got to meet him and his family, talk to his collaborator, and see all the paintings. Also his son Sam, Laura's former student at Laguardia, is now majoring in film and made a short documentary film about the project. This way, even though I didn't get to be there I could see how these wonderful paintings got to be.

The whole thing was AMAZING. I thought the artwork was cool and accessible and the means by which it was made are great. The whole project was inclusive and fun and the artists were SO warm and welcoming when we met them. They really wanted to talk about the art and were so excited about the whole project. Nobody at the reception was even remotely stuffy, they treated me like family. The artist even kissed my cheek when we were leaving which made me feel terribly sophisticated, indicating I'm not so sophisticated at all.

Close-ups of footprints and kooshball prints

I loved the film and wish I could share it with you. Several parts brought tears to my eyes, which is inappropriate because it was nothing but joyful. My personal favorite were the two older folks on hover rounds who were asked to drive over one of the canvasses. You should have seen the pleased look on their faces and they spun and swirled and reversed while sitting back comfortably in their motorized chairs. The hair lady was kind of weird. The break dancer was great.
Hover round Painting

Laura and me in front of the hair painting

Everyone who participated in the paintings at Coney looked so happy and you could also see that they were totally into the project even though they were just passing by. They all looked methodical as they spread paint around and you could tell they really cared about the outcome of this project. I imagine the warmth of the artists asking them to participate contributed.

Anyway I'm thrilled and if I had $5000 I'd be one painting richer tonight. I was completely charmed.

After the reception Laura took me to a bar she used to frequent when she was a student at NYU and we chatted over burgers and nachos. Its so great she lives in my neighborhood, we even got to ride the train home together.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Jake!

I'm back from my trip to Virginia. I had a great time and was sad to leave again. Seriously, how does time go SO quickly?

I got in early morning on Thursday and rested a bit. Then Jake and I got up and spent the day relaxing at his Grandparents. We went on a fruitless search for a camera battery for my pink camera and then had dinner and that was pretty much the whole day. That bus trip really takes it out of me so it was a short day. Also shame on Kodak for making their dang batteries so hard to find and for making so many unique models. Really now.

Friday we took Oren and went for a swim in the James. It was totally fun, though cut short by thunder. Jake is so hard headed, I had to plead with him to get out of the river. Blockhead. We made it to the car before the storm really hit and it poured and poured but when we got back to Grandma's it hadn't even rained. After that we went shopping for all the food we'd need for the party. It was a two-part shopping expedition: part 1 at Costco where Jake was a pig in mud and wanted everything he saw and part 2 and Food Lion where he was less enthused. We brought everything and headed back to Grandma's with some Chic Fil A.

Saturday was my big prep day. First I made a carrot cake from scratch, my first scratch cake ever. I followed that up with a buttermilk vanilla cake with blackberry buttercream frosting. Then I got really tired and took a break. THEN I got back up and made Michigan sauce for hot dogs and Jake mixed up some apricot mustard sauce for grilled chicken. By the time this was all done I was very tired.
Blackberry Vanilla Cake

Carrot Cake

Sunday we got up much later than I planned and lugged all the meats, buns cake and whatever else out to a city park called Belle Isle. Its an island in the middle of the James in the middle of Richmond. Something I didn't now about Belle Isle is that there isn't automobile access. We had to carry everything almost a mile out to the picnic shelter for the party. This resulted in two moderately cranky party people. Pretty soon though our friends began to show up and we weren't cranky anymore. Not quite as many people as I'd hoped were able to make it, but those who did were key and we had a great time. The cakes went over well, especially the carrot and Oren took several dips in the river. We stayed until that evening when storms were threatening to get us on the mile walk back to the cars. We made it back with only seconds to spare and said our goodbyes in the parking area. Jake's friends Larry and Tracee had just joined the party so they went back to Grandma and Pete's with us and we hung out for a while there. I was so tired at this point though I had to go upstairs and lay down. I had worked really hard.

Good Looking Birthday Boy

Melissa, Ryan and Tony

Tony and Kevin

Monday we just relaxed all day and Monday evening Jake took me to Ichiban, his favorite restaurant for sushi dinner. We had a great time there and when we got back Jake's grandfather Pete took us to Best Buy to get Jake Beatles Rock Band, the game he really wanted for his birthday! How exciting because I really wanted that game too. We brought the whole set up back and stayed up until 2am with Jake's little brother Evan playing. Just so you know, I'm an expert at singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Tuesday was my last day and we spent it relaxing around the house again. We dug up the game Rummikub and figured out how to play it and spent a few hours playing it with Jake's aunt Amy. We also played some more Beatles Rock Band. Then Jake's grandparents got some fresh burgers and we had a delicious dinner of grilled burgers, beans, chips and deviled eggs. Jake finally beat us at Rummikub and he and I got ready for my overnight bus trip back to NYC.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Retro Camera

Two things have happened on my trip to Virginia. Number One: I made some delicious foods and threw a successful party for Jake's birthday. Number Two: I discovered the 'Retro Camera' App on Jake's droid. I think I'm in love. Here are some photos taken with Retro Camera of my trip so far.

Jake and Oren on our way to the River

How cool and mysterious does this one look? Taken in broad daylight.

Melissa, Ryan and Tony at Jake's Party



I can't even choose which of the four camera settings is my favorite. This will hopefully satisfy my wish to buy some of the novelty cameras they sell at while I'm trying to save up for my big camera. Too bad its on Jake's phone and not mine!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Got a Secret...

I'm in Richmond to celebrate Jake's 30th birthday. We're having a party on Sunday; a cookout if weather permits. I don't think Jake'll have time to check my blog so I am going to show you this:

Shhhh don't tell. Of course if he does see it its my own damn fault.

Shannon is so awesome!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trailer Park Lounge with Nicole

Last night I met up with my sister's friend Nicole for dinner and drinks. She took me to a place called Trailer Park Lounge in Chelsea. It was pretty funny. I think I could've counted twenty Elvis pictures from my seat. Nicole is totally cool, I hope we can hang out more often.

I, unfortunately went Floaty Pen nuts on the waitress. In the restroom there was a poster that reminded patrons to hit up the bar for souvenir t shirts, mugs and pens. I knew that a kitsch themed restaurant could only have one kind of souvenir pen so when I was back at the table I asked the waitress about them. She said they were the kind where the ladies clothes fell off and that they aren't made anymore. I told her I could give her a website to find them. How embarrassing can I get. I had to explain my love of and enthusiasm for floaty pens to Nicole on our first time out together.

Anyway I had a sloppy joe and two margaritas, which was about half a margarita too much for me. I came home and went to bed without finishing packing. Gotta get on that now! Tonight I take a late bus to Richmond for Jake's BIRTHDAY!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Come Learn from Shannon!

My friend Shannon (you remember Shannon) is having a collage art class at our store. If you live in NYC or have any means of getting here, I really suggest you take it. Shannon is so super talented that it might at least rub off a little and if not she's also fun so you can just be messy and enjoy yourself. She's super excited about the class and I know its going to be terrific. Just look at the poster she made. She didn't mention that that poster is on canvas and its beautiful.

Celebrate Brooklyn! Ok We Will!

Tonight The Roots and Talib Kweli played a live set at the band shell in Prospect Park as a part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series. I was trapped at work until 6:30 but as soon as I got off I rushed down to catch it.

Laura was already there with her friends from Teaching Fellows so I had to dodge around security (it was a free show but they weren't letting you just walk in anywhere) to meet up with them. Once I got in I found Laura and company on a blanket listening to an African band playing on the stage. It wasn't nearly as crowded as it honestly should have been and the weather was fine if a little humid.

We didn't wait too long before Talib Kweli and the Roots came out. Their set was amazing! They were terrific performers, moving all over the stage and the music was great. The crowd was dancing and singing along and it was the perfect evening.

I can't believe how lucky I was to get to see the Roots at all, let alone for free.

Laura, Lauren and Josh

The Roots!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Meeting Andrea

Today I met a new friend. It was a kind of international introduction so to begin with I'd have to tell you about my dear friend Gee.
Gee in 1999

To know Gee is definitely to love him, and I'm not just being effusive. He's hilarious and wonderful and has always been there for me. We met in 1999 when I worked at camp. Most of the other international staff were cool, but they tended to keep to themselves. Gee was always in the thick of it with us crazy American kids. He is a lot of fun and terribly funny in a very European, dry, deadpan way.

To truly appreciate Gee you must hear him speak. His accent is wonderful and the things he says can knock you out. I can imitate it a little but nothing is the same as hearing him call me Little Girl in that thick Hungarian accent.

Gee has a pirate tattoo and he likes small things. Once we were all down by the lake lying on our various beach towels and Gee came and spread out what amounts to a tea-towel on the grass. We all laughed and asked Gee what the story was on his tiny towel. Gee looked at us with disgust and said "I am not a big man. I do not need a big towel." Point taken.

Anyway a while back Gee told me he was sending me a present. A post-modern book that he knew I would love. He was sending the book via his friend Andrea who was moving from Brussels to New York City to attend Columbia.

Shortly after this I began e mailing with Andrea but she was so busy with school we weren't able to meet until today. She is so super nice and interested in exploring the city and trying new things, which is right up my ally. She also asked if I would take her to Coney Island. Um. Yes. Will I ever! How exciting!

Here is the book Gee sent:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Treasures in Cobble Hill

Today I saw a new neighborhood in Brooklyn, AND got some free stuff! An old friend (and former camp counselor, naturally) was in town going through things in her late Grandmother's home in Cobble Hill today, and invited me to meet her for lunch.

Kim was my counselor at camp in 1997 and her Grandmother was a bit of a hoarder. The house where she lived had been in Kim's family since it was built in the 1800s. There were two stories to the apartment and a store beneath that was an Ice Cream shop in the 50s and is now a high-end women's clothing store. Kim's been up there working for days in 100+ degree heat and no AC. I was happy to come help out and was promised I could have any cast-iron cookware or cookbooks I liked.

I didn't find any cast iron but I did get a pressure cooker, a set of dishes, a set of baking pans, a set of canisters and an edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook from the '50s.

Cobble Hill was a really interesting and happening little neighborhood and since I was bringing so much home Kim drove me which is always a treat. Too bad about the cast-iron though. Now we'll just see what happens when Laura gets home and sees this stuff.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adam's First NYC Experience

Picking up where I left off the other day: My brother arrived Thursday evening while my sister was still here and we had a nice little surprise family reunion. Poor Laura: all three Bennetts in our tiny apartment. Friday I had to work so Adam and Sarah met up to hang out in Sarah's new RV. While I was at work I had a pretty heinous allergic reaction to the pain medicine I was given for my back. I took a bunch of Benadryl so by the time my shift was almost over I was looking pretty terrible, still itching and spaced-out.

Adam and Sarah parted company out in Jersey and Sarah and Andrew headed home to Virginia while Adam headed uptown to meet me. We first headed to Five Napkin Burger for lunch, which was delicious! After this we started down Central Park West on foot. As we walked along Adam was amazed at the tall buildings and architecture. We came up to a sign for the New York Historical Society's exhibit about the Grateful Dead. Adam wanted to go in so we paid our admission and headed in. Adam loved it. New York was really agreeing with him so far.

After the exhibit I got a soda and we were about to head around the block when I fell. The sidewalks in this fancy neighborhood are marble-smooth and there was a leaking trash bag on the corner and the next think I knew I was on my back and everyone around was shouting. It did not feel good and didn't help my back at all. Also, that soda I had just bought was all over me, I had garbage grease goo all over my butt and everyone was looking. Not cool. I did my best to shake off the embarrassment and the shock of falling and checked for injuries. I didn't find anything hurt besides my pride so we continued down the street.

I didn't tell Adam but we were headed straight toward The Dakota. Adam is the family's biggest Beatles fan, which is saying a lot for him. He was admiring the neighboring building as we approached when I finally indicated what was ahead of him. He was blown away. We took a ton of pictures and looked at the building and neighborhood for a while. Next I took him into Central Park to Strawberry Fields. We had our picture taken there and then did some fun people watching. Finally I was still feeling terrible from all the medicines and the fall and dragged him home to Brooklyn.

Saturday we got up and headed to the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg. We took a free tour and bought beer tokens to try some of the beers. Adam got a t shirt and we watched all the hipsters interacting in their habitat. Afterward we headed home for supper and then went to 773 for the evening. I was ready to turn in after a little while but Adam wanted to stay. We ended up staying pretty late.

Sunday was the 4th of July and we ended up spending a slow morning getting up and getting started. We watched the Hot Dog Eating contest on TV and didn't head out to Coney Island until late afternoon. The first stop once we arrived was the cool historical project exhibit. On this day some older gentlemen were manning the booth and the recommended I look at a book they were selling called Coney Island Lost and Found. The book looked amazing and both of them had their pictures within. They even hinted that the author was about and might sign it for me if they could get ahold of him. How could I resist? I bought the book and had them sign their respective pages. It was really hard to resist the urge to find a shady spot and begin reading it right there.

After that Adam and I headed to Nathans and got delicious food. Adam loved his hot dog and I am always happy to eat a Nathan's corn dog. Next we had our Wonder Wheel ride. I was happy that Adam seemed to love it almost as much as I did! From up there you could see the hordes of people on the beach and in the parks. It was cool and breezy and a lovely view of Coney Island in all directions. Adam even carried his beer from Nathan's along, a special thrill for him. Gotta love Coney Island, right?

After this we walked the packed boardwalk and took our ride on the Cyclone. Holy hell they had it turned up EXTRA fast or something. I was beaten UP, and combined with my fall from the other day and my delicious Nathan's food I felt not that great after that. We walked through Luna and then found a pretty great spot on the beach for fireworks. I sat and read my book some and we both watched the crowd. We sat there a long time and after dark and a little longer it became evident that there weren't going to be any fireworks. Around 10pm everybody just kind of got up and left so we did too. We were both pooped out anyway.

Monday we got up a bit earlier because we had tickets to the NBC Experience tour at 30 Rockefeller Plaza! We got there in plenty of time and after a hot dog stand lunch we were ready for our tour. The tour was really cool. We got to see Dr Oz's studio, Jimmy Fallon's studio and the studio where they shoot Saturday Night Live each week. We liked it a lot, the only bad thing was NO PICTURES. I was not happy. I was cheered, slightly, when they showed us a film that contained clips of Shaun White and Michael Phelps winning Olympic Medals.

After the tour I ran down some options of things we could do with the rest of the day that were inexpensive and Adam chose the High Line. We headed South and West to Chelsea and took a nice stroll there. Then it was in to VYNL for supper and air conditioning. Then to Union Square and a quick stop at The Strand before it was time to get back to our apartment to straighten up before Laura returned from her weekend trip.

Today Adam is on his way back to Florida. I think he had a terrific time. He was taking pictures on his Blackberry every other moment and happily updating things all along the way. I'm glad his first visit to the city was fun and that I could be there for it, especially seeing the Dakota and Strawberry Fields for the first time.

Its 102 degrees here in Brooklyn so for the rest of the day I'll be sitting very still and experiment with our freezer's ice-making capacity. Hope you are somewhere cool.

Here is a link to the book I bought too!

Monday, July 5, 2010

About the 4th of July

So lots of people have Holiday traditions and my family does too, but one Holiday we always kind of wing is Independence day. Its not that we don't care for it, it just always sneaks up on you, doesn't it? We don't often have hard and set plans like we do for the rest of the big holidays. When I was a kid we watched fireworks at different places from year to year. For a while we watched the National Fireworks practice fire in Harpers Ferry at my Grandmother's house. Other years we saw them at Half Moon Beach.

Since I've been an adult I have continued to treat my 4th of July plans casually and tonight I thought back on the 4ths of the last several years and had to smile at how wonderfully they've come together.

For the summers of 1999, 2000, 20001 and 2002 I would have been at camp for the fourth. We generally did sparklers and maybe sang God Bless America. My memories of these nights are pretty faded into the general celebration that camp always is.

In 2003 thought I visited Niagara Falls with my friends Amber, Trey and Jessica. We gambled and took in the amazing sights and sounds of the falls, but by far the best part was the moment when we happened to be walking across the bridge from Canada back to the USA to head home and both countries set off KILLER fireworks simultaneously, in an effort to outdo one another. It was a sight I'll never ever forget!

In 2004 I lived in SE DC with Laura and had an internship at Children's Hospital. We loved living in DC and went to the huge Capital 4th on the Washington Mall with our friends Meredith, Lauren, Kelly and Emmy.
In July of 2005 Laura took me to her family's home place in Upstate New York for a week. We did lots of cool things upstate like boating on Lake Champlain and going to Vermont for maple-flavored ice cream but for the 4th we traveled to Fort Ticonderoga for fireworks and a carnival.
In 2006 I went tubing on the Shenandoah with my friend Kelly which was an amazingly relaxing and fun trip. I really want to do this again!
In 2007 Sarah, Kris and I went to the park in Stephens City to see Jefferson Starship and fireworks. The fireworks were great, Jefferson Starship not so great. We all had a good time anyway!

In 2008 I watched the fireworks from my very own porch and relaxed with my mom and our neighbors.

Last year Jake was with me for the 4th and we went, along with Kirstin, Aaron, Chance and Kirstin's awesome family, to the town park in Middletown for fireworks and to the Civil Cricket for drinks. The fireworks were so so but the company was terrific.

This year my brother Adam is in town and I will write much more about this coming up. For the 4th though we headed down to, where else? Coney Island, my favorite! We hoped to see fireworks and were a little nervous about the huge Hot Dog Eating contest crowd. What we got were delicious hot dogs, a ride on the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone and some awesome people watching. We didn't get a whole lot of fireworks but neither of us were disappointed.

What a fun holiday! Can't wait to see what I'll do to celebrate it next year!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Visit From My Sister

My sister came to visit me this week bringing her boyfriend Andrew to meet me too. I was excited to have some family up and spend some time with Sarah. Sarah and Andrew got an RV and are super enthusiastic about RVing so they jumped at the chance to get on the road for any reason. I just needed a little TLC. Good enough for them.

Wednesday they came to my work right as I was finishing up so we headed to Times Square because Andrew had never seen the bright lights of NYC. We snapped some pictures and then hit up Tad's Steakhouse, Sarah's favorite. We had steaks and then took a nice long walk to Rockefeller Plaza. At Rockefeller we checked out the brand new Lego store which was completely fun. Its almost inspiring. You definitely want to grab handfuls of Legos and start building.

Next Sarah wanted to see Trump Tower so we headed up 5th Ave. We stopped in at St Patrick's Cathedral which was beautiful. We window shopped and people-watched all the way up 5th Avenue. After stopping in at Trump Tower we went inside Tiffany and Co. I don't know what kind of lights they have in there but they do something to make the stuff EXTRA sparkly. I saw things I liked but was very careful not to look too long at anything. Tiffany is definitely not in my price range these days.

After Tiffany we were pretty tired. We decided to head back down 5th to the New York Public Library to get some pictures with the Lions. We did so and then went inside but didn't make it past the first marble bench. After sitting quietly on the bench there we decided to get a taxi down to the Path train station. Sarah and Andrew headed back out to their campground in Jersey and I headed home.

Thursday I didn't have to work so I got up as early as I could bear and waited for them to come out to Brooklyn. Once they got here they both popped open their laptops and ravenously checked their e mail and facebooks. After they got their fill I forced them to take me to COSTCO because I knew my sister was a member and I was dying for some bulk frozen food. The super markets in this area have next to nothing available in the frozen food sections and frozen food is such a good value when I can't afford food that goes bad. I also wanted lots of granola bars and healthy snacks as I've been living on cheese and crackers. Sarah and Andrew were certainly good sports and didn't even complain about dragging my rolly cart halfway across Brooklyn and back.

After unpacking the groceries and more Facebooking and Gmail, Sarah made plans to meet up with her friend Nicole. We headed out to Cowgirl Hall of Fame for supper. Cowgirl Hall of Fame was pretty tasty and we all got little tiny toy steers which was fun. Nicole was totally cool and we made plans to meet up again soon for drinks.

By this time my brother Adam was actually landing at JFK for his visit. Sarah hadn't revealed her location to him so we headed home so we could surprise him. She and Andrew hid in my room and when Adam finally arrived from the airport I showed him into my room to put down his things and there they were. We all had a good laugh and then came out to play CatchPhrase with Laura. Laura and I beat everyone else two out of three games. Finally Sarah and Andrew headed back to Jersey and we all went to bed here because I had to work in the morning.