Week 3 – 2/21 – 2/26

Still living on the edge on novelty, but a certain routine is forming. It’s not a bad thing…and at least my plants are getting watered again. The adventures continue however and show no sign of slowing down.

Saturday
Early afternoon I visited the Brooklyn Museum. Historically (and despite last week’s effusive praise) I’ve had a mixed approach to museums. At some conceptual level I appreciate any institution dedicated to collecting, collating, preserving, and exploring knowledge, but art museums are a particular challenge – I far prefer art to be within the context of a broader environment. A room with nothing but artwork is too forceful and contrived an experience to really impart much more than raw aesthetics. Far better that Portraits are with their histories, pottery with the culture using them, and statues beside their temples. Context, especially with non-western art, is challenging enough for me to grasp without the additional barrier of curated cleanliness in the way. Sometimes it’s better to let history be a little cluttered…

That said, the museum is genuinely expansive. The first floor has Ming bases and an impressive collection of African art. The third floor (second closed) houses the Egyptian art predominantly which is truly astounding. The sheer amount of items (just in this one collection) and the incredible details behind them can only give the barest approximation of how large and long-lasting the Egyptian civilization lasted. The sort of culture that can build pyramids and preserve language and give such a visceral look into their experience over such a long distance of time is perhaps the most awe-inspiring and humbling part of the museum experience.

The third floor has a scattering of things including paintings by Thomas Cole & Frederic Church…names from my upstate life. Also a tree growing out of a piano.

Marilyn Minter holds the fourth floor place of honor. Despite wandering the halls and reading the info plaques, I’m not sure I’m in any place to offer the slightest comment or criticism. The work is sexual…at some level…but the sensation is one of violence. It’s not all gross but most is uncomfortable. That is presumably by design but it doesn’t feel tremendously truthful either. This is manufactured gross not captured or incidental gross. And even that isn’t universal. Her early photos are quite striking and her more recently images are nearly humorous, but the middle period 1980s-90s is…particular, for sure.

Regardless of my abstracted take on museums or these specific exhibits, it was a wonderful way to pass a saturday. And enhanced greatly by the company beside me. I feel bad summarizing a 560,000 square foot space so cavalierly, but like the museum itself, I impart merely the barest glimpse…

Moving onto the food portion of this weekend, I passed dinner at the crowded (popular) Avli Restaurant. I was eager for Greek and the Chicken Souvlaki was everything I wanted it to be and the tzatziki was exceptional. I had been told Bayside had exceptional Greek. I appear to have found it.

Sunday
Sunday was mostly an errand day – detritus moving tasks like switching of over a few mailing addresses and grocery shopping.

Later for brunch I ate at Royal Queen, (Music warning on that link) a dim sum place up in Flushing. I’ll let that website describe the experience… Truly though it was fantastic even if I barely knew what half of everything was. The dumplings are by far the best.

The weekend’s eating continued; I cooked a Clafoutis to bring to dinner at a friends. For those not up on their regional french cuisine, it’s a dessert rather like a thick fruit pancake. Perhaps similar to flan in a way but not quite as custardy. Sadly I wasn’t able to find the customary black cherries so I used grapes, but the effect was the same. I suspect a professional would have used more sugar than I did…and a larger thinner pan…but my variation was gently sweet and let the fruit come through. A success, je pense!

Other Stuff
The earlier friday, I passed an enjoyable end of week happy hour at Plattdeutsche Park. I’m not exactly sure why they had an Oktoberfest on tap, but seemed a charming enough place to meet my new colleagues and ample parking. The Bon Jovi/Journey tribute band Bon Journey supplied the music…I really am on Long Island.

And with that I’m grumpy again…adieu.

Final Thoughts

Week 2

Last week was an introduction. New job, new apartment, new city, new adventures. This week I attempted to make good on my self-made promise…

Saturday

My first real adventure – Fort Totten. Built to defend NYC during the civil war, it was never completed and instead served a variety of later purposes including its modern incarnation as home to the New York Fire Department. Otherwise I strolled the snowy roadways and snapped photos of the largely antebellum era park structures.

Before heading home, I purchased plants for my office and taro buns from the local Korean H-Mart. Lychee drink!

Later that evening, I visited Williamsburg. It’s clearly popular…trendy and recalls, to my mind, the vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods of Jane Jacobs. I couldn’t personally imagine living somewhere like that – a wonderful panoply of smell and sound too endless to imagine – but it makes for lovely place to visit. Bit like an old public square really…soon followed by the digestive walk home.

In this particular case we visited Sweet Chick, a chicken and waffles joint. I’ve never eaten that particular cultural lifting but it’s surprisingly effective. The waffles are predictably given the à la carte treatment with associated batters and butters, but it’s really the chicken that make the meal. These were crispy and moist which made the waffle more like a sweet breeding and the combination, and culmination, quite satisfying.

Sunday

Today’s adventure was of the cultural variety. With a prompt 10am departure, and after weaving beneath the 31st street subway tracks French Connection style, we found parking and walked the remaining distance to the Museum of the Moving Image.

The subject matter is largely the art, science, and magic of film, and like any good film it was made immensely better by tight editing, a narrow theme, and a reasonable viewing time. The exhibits variously cover the history of film, hair/make up, stage design also advertising, promotion, sound recording etc. It doesn’t force itself to be exhaustive and wisely contents itself with a few evocative samples (makeup of Mrs.Doubtfire for example) before moving on.

The current marquee exhibit is Martin Scorsese. It occurred to me as I wandered through that I’m not as familiar with his films as I thought. I’ve seen Goodfellas, The Departed, Wolf of Wall Street, and parts of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. The storyboards were probably the most striking example of craft for me…something I should maybe consider if I ever decide to write more fiction.

In any case, the best exhibit in the entire place is a recording booth where you dub over the lines of famous actors/actresses. On one level it’s technically very impressive to near instantly match my voice with that of someone onscreen. On the other, I really feel like I brought something to the role of Sugar Cane…

Lunch followed at Saffron just a few blocks away. It had that same quiet echo every Indian place seems to share but also warm naan, subtly sweet bismati rice, and a well balanced chicken korma.

If happiness is a short list than New York is hell. Since moving here it’s grown unmanageably long but I’ve obviously been hitting the list with vigor.

Following lunch, we glanced over the map and identified Roosevelt island as geographically distinct enough to warrant a visit.

At the north half is lighthouse park. The parking lot is unpaved, feral cats live in abundance nearby, and the signage fails to say what or why exactly anything is there. (Later learned most everything old was either a hospital or prison.)

On the other, gentrified, end of the island is Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms park. A fitting destination for Presidents Day, it’s actually quite charming and has an excellent view of Manhattan. The trees aren’t in bloom obviously so it might be worth a second look but considering the state of our current politics, it’s a pleasant reminder of presidential greatness and a national vision sadly never quite attained but inspiring nonetheless.

Other Stuff

Earlier in the week I visited a few other restaurants:

Golden Crest – Jamaican restaurant near union ville. Like seemingly ever Caribbean restaurant, it’s rather dark inside and I felt decidedly out of place rolling in wearing a tie, but the curry chicken and rice and peas was everything I wanted it to be.

Michael Anthonys – Haven’t tried their Buffalo Chicken pizza yet, but it looks a bit like what I miss from Rocco’s upstate. In the mean time, I suspect it’s nothing like “New York Pizza” (Too many toppings), but no complaints for lunch.

White Castle – I first say the place while visiting the library last week. I technically have been a White Castle previously, sometime in middle or high school on the way back from a fish store in Paramus with my parents, but I recollect nothing and decided i needed to again experience that particular mixture of pop culture fast food. I can’t say I’m likely to do so ever again – it’s perfectly average – but the staff were endearingly sincere for working at a throwaway stoner joke.

Final Thoughts

Next weekend I’m in Montreal!

Week 1

Well…isn’t this a change of pace.

Cue theme to the Ipcress file:

I live in the city now – Queens specifically – although nowhere near the bustling gentrification of Astoria. I’m on the opposite side – a statement both geographically true as well as representative of the circumstances that brought me here.

In a word or two, I’m not a city person, and I’m especially not a New York City person. It’s always felt like a vaguely evil place something akin to a modern Mordor. Plenty of people seem to like it fine, of course, and that’s just grand, but I’ve certainly never thought I’d want to live there…

And now I do.

The reason is a job change – isn’t it always – but it comes with a certain rotation in outlook. NY is no longer the other, and now instead the is. I’ve yet to decide what I think about that exactly, but it hardly much matters. This is where I reside now and until that is no longer true, this is where I explore. Seemingly everyone has a NYC story.

This is, dear readers, is my own.

Week 1 – 2/11/2017

I’ve yet to decide what format this rambling discursus shall take, but until then I present a short listing of preliminary explorations with annotation.

  • Queens Library – Bayside Branch
  • I felt a professional obligation to stop by. The gold library cards are quite sharp and the sign up was simple. Sadly parking was not which means I’ll likely never come back.

  • TSA Precheck at JFK
  • It’s a mentally disjointing process to go to the airport solely for paperwork. Bit tricky to find the TSA Precheck office in terminal 4 near the delta terminals, but very quick to accomplish. I can’t help but suspect program is just a regressive class barrier in the guise of travel security, but…sigh…one can’t fight the culture war everywhere.

  • Hill and Dale
  • Bar in the Lower East Side. Not exactly my usual scene and it was too packed for me to notice anything but how in the way ofI was of the poor wait staff, but The Floozy was quite good (it’s a drink!) and comes wryly with a flower. Definitely want to visit the tenement museum nearby.

    And that completes week 1. Excelsior!