Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Updated to add the writeup on the show.

Masturbatory - that was the first word that came to my mind as I searched for ways to describe the Roots' performance as I left Central Park last night. I used to say, there's no such thing as a bad Roots show, just ones that don't meet expectations. I have to say, there is such a thing and I'm not the only one who felt that way.

I used to love going to Roots shows because they were, above all else, fun. They knew what the crowd wanted and gave it to them. More importantly, they brought the crowd into the show. Now, they're just putting on a performance. It's not "feel us", it's "look at us play". I'm all for artists exploring new territories and challenging the audience, but there has to be a balance. Instead of getting the audience moving, they were content to perform musical masturbation.

Along the same theme, there was the set list. We became fans because of Illadelph Halflife and Do You Want More?!!!?! and that's what the Roots are about for us. So don't play a set that's heavy on Tipping Point. You can't call yourself The Legendary Roots Crew and dismiss what made you legendary in the first place.

In hip hop, more so than other genres, a concert has to be a conversation between the artist and the audience. The audience is an integral part of the show.

To be fair though, I guess the venue and the crowd didn't help much. You're always going to lose a little atmosphere with an outdoor concert and it was about as humid as could get. I was worried about getting caught in a thunderstorm, but honestly, I would've preferred some rain as I was drenched in sweat anyway.

The openers MF Doom and De La Soul were much more enjoyable. Doom didn't exactly rock the crowd but his goofiness kept things loose and De La's set felt way too short. Great seeing Premier spin some classic tracks between sets, and Mos Def make cameos for both De La and the Roots. I feel the same way about Mos as I do about Rasheed Wallace; his joie de vivre is just infectious, and even though his output's often disappointing, I just can't hate the guy.

But overall, a disappointing night. Though at least we saved some Rhinos.

Bush's big dumb speechery

So I was at the Roots/De La/Doom show last night (more on that later) so I missed Bush's TV interruption but I did catch up via the transcript and doesn't look like I missed much. Same old smoke and mirrors, calling Iraq the centerpiece of War on Terror (um, Saudi Arabia, anyone?).

You know, I don't completely disagree with Bush's main point, that it would be disastrous in so many ways if the US pulled out of Iraq now. For the sake of Iraq and for American security, the troops have to stay.

But the rest of the speech? Pffffft. And Walter Shapiro has a nice little piece on HuffPo (my first Huffington link!):
But the line he used to explain the timetable for American withdrawal ("As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down") came across as far too gimmicky for such a major occasion. Another maladroit sentence was Bush's assertion "that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills.' Assessments like "need additional skills" used to send minority youth into job-training programs, not to describe potential allies.

Really though, why waste 30 good minutes of American people's lives and interrupt wonderful summer network programming? Why not send out an email and do it all viral? Like this:
To: Sheeple
Subj: Kicking ass in Iraq!

Guys, sorry about the mass email but I want everyone to read this because my poll numbers have been taking a hit, and if they don't improve, Congress won't pass my bills and if my bills don't get passed, I can't help my corporate friends! Rove told me I can stop paying attention to poll numbers after 2004! He's a big fat liar! But I guess that's why I hired him.

Anyway, here's the deal:
  • We're doing just fine in Iraq. But you know, you don't always have your way. Don't believe the media! Our troop levels are just fine!

  • It would be really really cool if you sign up for the military. It's, like, about the most noble thing you can do.

  • We don't have a timeline. But don't worry, we're still on schedule.

  • That doesn't mean I'm going to increase spending though. I'm actually cutting VA hospital budgets. And I know, I know, the troops on the ground still don't have a lot of essential supplies but I want y'all to check out this website I've been working on: America Supports You. I hope the guys in the military like it!

  • September 11. Iraq. September 11. Iraq. September 11. Iraq.

    I'm not saying the two have anything to do with each other - that would be lying, and that's what I have Rove and Rummie for. I just like to talk about these things at the same time.

  • Osama. Iraq. Osama. Iraq. Insurgency. Terrorists. Insurgency. Terrorists. September 11. Iraq.

  • Dicky was totally kidding about that "last throes" thing. We've got a looooong ways to go before we can get out of Iraq. Ooooh boy. Those insurgents really know what they're doing, don't they?

  • So I have these totally new things we can try and beat those terrorinsurgents:
    1. Our guys should work with the Iraqi guys who like us.
    2. Maybe some of our guys should go over to the Iraqi guys and help them, like, as embedded advisers. They're so clueless!
    3. We'll work with the interior and defense militaries of Iraq, exchange notes and stuff.
    This is totally going to revolutionize things!

  • Man, it's a good thing I got this term limit, because whoever comes after me has a MESS of a war to clean up.

  • I'm not going to mention social security.

Send this to 10 people within the hour you read this. If you do, your wish will come true. If you don't it will become the opposite. God bless America.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Where Brooklyn at?

All over the country, apparently. And to think, a not so bright footballer and a Spice Girl started it all.

Last year, 3,211 kids were named for the BK, making it the 101st most popular name in America. Brooklyn came in 8th in Utah (8th!). No word on where all those Brooklyns were conceived.

  • Did you find what you're looking for?

    These are some of the search terms used to reach this page according to Statcounter.

  • Breaking news from NY Times: non-English speaking TAs are hard to understand. Okay, not really breaking - that was from Friday.

    I must admit, I've only heard anecdotes about the indecipherable Math and Chemistry TAs since I finished most of my math and science requirements in high school. See, it helps to be prepared.

  • Crying, while eating creator Daniel Engber on attempting to become an internet phenomenon, even if it means finding his girlfriend on a Japanese fetish site.

  • The Roots, De La Soul and MF Doom at Central Park this evening. Woot.
  • Monday, June 27, 2005

    I have lost my Libation virginity

    It is true. I have penetrated the cherry that is the velvet rope outside 137 Ludlow Street. As I told my friend Tiernan, much too defensively, "I didn't pick the place!". I was meeting Neil, my old college roommate who had flown up from North Carolina, and crew, and who was I to judge without having experienced it? (Okay, so I totally did judge the place before going there.) So there I was, in Libation on Saturday night.

    It was as advertised - a little taste of uptown below Houston - and the space is not half bad, though the obvious railroad apartment influences or the "VIP"-only seating did not make for the most comfortable experience. Also, I observed frequent digital camera flashes, many sensible haircuts and a sing-along to Bon Jovi. Like I said, it was as advertised.

    After Neil professed "This isn't my kind of crowd," and once Tiernan bought up his drink minimum, we crossed the street for the safety of The Living Room, and then the kimchi flavored goodness of Pushcart NYC. Ah, home again.

  • Birthday Friday didn't go as planned. It didn't help that people didn't show, but Good World is now dead to me. The staff was rude to my friends, the music was too loud, and the seating was way too limited as they'd rented out the back porch.

    It was later made up for after meeting up with Neil and crew in West Village. To be honest, I don't remember much except a whirlwind tour of WVil and the Meatpacking District, but it was a probably a good sign that Maureen had to pick me up off the kitchen floor after we stumbled back. Well, she says she did. I don't remember this. She could be making this up. Also, she still hasn't given me an explanation for the ice cubes and the puddle of the blood in the bathub.

  • Casey, please tell your husband that I had a wonderful time and that I sent my thanks. In the most platonic way possible.

  • CLAW says to Neckface, "I'll see your coffee table book and raise you my lifestyle brand." (Adrants)

  • In Nightmare on Orchard St (, Rachel Aviv tells us what happens when Craigslist, demand for affordable rents, a fashionable address, greed and naïveté collide - tragicomedy:
    A woman I'll call Mary opened the door and told me she lived there... Mary said I was the 17th person to arrive. Shortly after, a man banged up the stairs, carrying a laundry basket of shoes. He was the 18th. We had identical subleases, which clearly stated how much we had given ($2,850) to Rita—who had never lived in this apartment.

    Twenty people showed up that day and 13 more throughout the course of the week. We had all responded to the same uninformative Craigslist posting: "STUDIO APT TO RENT LOWER EAST SIDE MANHATTAN—BELOW HOUSTON." Mary was not particularly helpful or hostile, but explained the situation—"There's been a fraud," she said—then sent us to the police station.

  • Busy day for the Supremes, with big decisions including a split ruling on public display of the Ten Commandments (a decision I'm comfortable with, other than how close the vote was) and file sharing networks (not as comfortable, though I'm on the fence). But no annoucement from Rehnquist.

  • Heh. An increasing number of Americans, particularly Republicans, think the media is too critical of America, survey says. I'm sure you can imagine my bemusement if you've followed my criticism of the mainstream press.

    Though to be clear, it's not about whether the media is critical of the Bush Administration or not. It's more about the press's insistence on missing the forest for the trees.

  • Don't get that $400 velour tracksuit before September 1. That's when NYC sales tax on clothing disappears leaving just the 4.375% NY State sales tax. Of course, that's still 4.375 more than New Jersey.

  • I'm glad someone else noticed this. Wendy's Wants You To F*ck Their Sandwiches. I couldn't help but chuckle when another one of their ads encouraged me to "Do Wendy" "Do Wendy's". Probably a good thing Dave Thomas isn't around to see this.

  • Finally, great news if you love watching commercials at movie theaters. Get ready for more!

    I'm curious to see exactly how effective these commercials are, when these 30-seconds spots seem to do more to alienate viewers than to appeal to them.

  • Friday, June 24, 2005

    How exactly does one drink Bacardi on a birthday anyway?

    So we all know what today is, don't we? That's right, it's my birthday. 28 years and 9 months minus 2 weeks ago today, I snuck in behind the bouncer and crashed the party that is life. Mama Toyoda and Papa Toyoda had no idea what kind of demon they had spawned and unleashed to the world.

    Wait, I'm 28? Already? What the fuck have I been doing with my life? I'm getting too old for this shit.

    Anyhow, I will most likely be drinking away my sorrows tonight in the patio at Good World, down on the dumpy end of Orchard St. Come and say hi if you're in the area.

    Verdict: people from Alabama are stupid

    So this Alabama dude cashed 1,308,459 pennies he'd been saving for 38 years, setting a new record for those Coinstar machines at grocery stores.

    Now, I have a problem with the way is reporting this. The article is titled 1.3M penny collection turns into jackpot. Jackpot? He didn't win shit! He already had $13,000 sitting in his house. "New found wealth"? Do these people not realize that pennies are perfectly good currency? Those pennies have always been worth $13,084.59!

    So he had all this cash taking up valuable space in his house, not accumulating interest and just asking to be stolen or lost to flooding or tornado or whatever they have down in Alabama. When you take inflation into account, you're losing money if you're not putting your money in a savings account.

    What makes this story dumber is that. He went to frickin' Coinstar, where they charge 8 cents on every dollar, which in this case amounts to $1,086.72. For that much money, he could've flown to NYC and hit a Commerce Bank Penny Arcade like Cranky Andy Rooney and still have enough money left over for a hot dog.

    I don't know, maybe I should just expect that kind of stupidity [red state insult deleted]. But should and other media outlets be celebrating this type of silliness? Where is the critical thinking? Where are the hard questions? Sadly, this is probably about the best we can expect from the corporate owned media. Independent thought is for homos and terrorists.

    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    The Believer plus Linkatharsis: The "I Hate Right Wingers" Edition

    I just got the current issue of The Believer, the music only issue. I haven't made a dent in it, but I got it mostly for the CD that's included. Looks good, as do interviews with Beck and Karen O and the regular contribs from Nick Hornby and Amy Sedaris.

    Track listing:
    1. The Decemberists: “Bridges & Balloons” by Joanna Newsom
    2. Spoon: “Decora” by Yo La Tengo
    3. The Constantines: “Why I Didn’t Like August 93” by Elevator to Hell
    4. CocoRosie: “Ohio” by Damien Jurado
    5. The Mountain Goats: “Pet Politics” by Silver Jews
    6. San Serac: “Late Blues” by Ida
    7. The Shins: “We Will Become Silhouettes” by the Postal Service
    8. Josephine Foster: “The Golden Window” by the Cherry Blossoms
    9. Cynthia G. Mason: “Surprise, AZ” by Richard Buckner
    10. Jim Guthrie: “Nighttime/Anytime (it’s alright)” by the Constantines
    11. Espers: “Firefly Refrain” by Fursaxa
    12. Two Gallants: “Anna’s Sweater” by Blear
    13. Vetiver: “Be Kind to Me” by Michael Hurley
    14. Ida: “My Fair, My Dark” by David Schickele
    15. Mount Eerie: “Waterfalls” by Thanksgiving
    16. Devendra Banhart: “Fistful of Love” by Antony & The Johnsons
    17. Wolf Parade: “Claxxon’s Lament” by Frog Eyes

    I would've gotten the mag even without the CD though - I'm a big traditionalist when it comes to reading. I just don't dig the internet at all. Hell, I'd prefer to do this blog on paper if I could.

    That said, today's links:
  • Coldplay wants to recharge your ipod.

  • Michael Wilbon on my favorite pro basketball player and former Tar Heel, Rasheed Wallace. I can't tell you how much I enjoy watching him play, and how much he infuriates me. That said, I'm rooting against Deeeetroit Baaasketbaaaall tonight.

  • Karl Rove can kiss my ass:
    "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers"

    I can't begin to tell you how inaccurate and unforgivable this statement is. And the sad thing is, I'm not all that surprised that Rove uttered this, in New York City of all places - this is what the Powers That Be in the White House and the Capitol do, demonize and misrepresent their opposition, and their supporters buy it hook line and sinker. Even sadder, this is going to get minimal play by the media, especially compared to whatever Durbin or Dean.

    I don't believe in hell but if there is one, I hope there is a special place for Rove and his ilk.

  • All the cool kids are moving uptown. Or not.
    "'I don't want to see guys in khakis getting loud over sports," he says. Instead, he cabs down to the Lower East Side to hang out at stalwarts like Max Fish or Pianos or The Hat - although he's nevertheless likely to run into his domestic-beer-drinking, khaki-wearing Upper East Side brethren down there on Friday and Saturday nights.

    "It's like Disneyland - it looks like the kids from the bar on 86th Street just came down and took it over," he says.

  • So useless, so


    Spell with flickr (via Cool Hunting)

  • Right wingers hate your freedom.

    You know, I have to hand it to the wingnuts. They manufacture a virtually nonexistent problem, flag burning and fight like hell until the strawman comes tumbling down but somehow get people to believe they're sincere, all the while distracting voters from their own naughty business.

  • Okay, this is some dumb ass shit.

    She's suing the radio station? "You just can’t do that to people"? Please. Of course you can do it to people, especially people dumb him to promise money that they don't have yet. I'm siding with the DJ here.

  • Shox News: We Distort, You Comply

  • I've already talked about what Congress is trying to do to public broadcasting, but I just have to link to this NY Times article just for the picture. Clifford looks so sad! And the TV camera adds about 3,000 pounds, it appears.

  • That's it, good night kids.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Clap your hands and say CYHSY

    The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!! lovefest on the internet has gone from batted eyebrows to a touch on the knee, and will most likely go to a full on ass squeeze, now with the 9.0 from Pitchfork (via cee vee).

    Good for them, I say, though I haven't gotten a chance to check out their LP and I missed Movable Hype on Monday. Always good to see a true, true indie (as in, not even signed to an indie label) get noticed. And for the sake of my cybercred, I've had the band on my link list for, like, ever.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    NBA labor agreement: the haves get screwed gently by the have-mores

    As reported here and elsewhere, the NBA and its players association have come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement that will run through the 2010-11 season.

    What's the opposite of a pyrrhic victory, as in the players lost the battle at very little cost?

    I think they "lost" in the sense that the owners always had the upper hand, especially since it's the players who come out looking worse in any work stoppage.

    My guess is that the players association publicly took a hard line on some issues that they weren't too overly concerned about, i.e. age limit, contract length, to make sure they were giving up too much and setting up a precedent for future dealings. And after taking the hard line, they could say "Well, we gave up X and Y. Woe is us." but still get back on their Escalades knowing they'd have enough money to pay their six baby mamas and have enough left over for a steak dinner.

    And even with these concessions, NBA players are far, far better off than their NFL cousins, who enjoy shorter careers and no guaranteed contracts.

    For the rest of us though, it's just a bunch of millionaires and billionaires redistributing their poker chips. The important thing is that there's no lockout.

    Links for Tuesday: 4 days without an East River helipocter crash!

  • Thanks to Maureen for this. Buy a Chipotle burrito today, keep the receipt and get a free one next Monday. I can dig.

  • Which concert to attend Saturday? Feist at Bowery? New Pornographers/Stars at Prospect Park? Or Jaymay at Tonic?

  • You don't say - over half of NYC subway stations are dirty. But to my surprise, my home stop East Broadway did not make the Dirty 5. Instead, four stops in the Borough of Boogie Down and one in East New York were deemed the dirtiest stations.

    I guess the missing ingredient at E Bway is human waste. We have everything else, and heaps of it!

  • Frist flip flops on Bolton nomination. I'm seriously curious about what exactly Bush puts in the Kool Aid to get GOPers to risk their own necks to push his agenda, especially when Bush doesn't really need a senate vote to install Bolton.

    In any case, it's good to see the Dems showing some semblance of backbone on this.

  • MUG on NYC novels published in the past few years.

    Notable titles that come to my mind are The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The 25th Hour, The Fortress of Solitude (though come to think of it, neither "Kavalier & Clay" or "The 25th Hour" are that recent).

    Speaking of "The Fortress of Solitude" - I was reading it last night on my way home and looked across the train to see an old lady reading it as well. I'm surprised that doesn't happen often since I see people reading books I've read before all the time. I see Me Talk Pretty One Day, Running With Scissors and AHWOSG quite a bit, and I've spotted All The Shah's Men a couple of times.

  • I know I'm like a dollar short and a day late on this but damn, Big Shot Bob!.

    As amazed as I was by Horry going ridiculously unconscious, I can't help but be frustrated by Rasheed, my favorite Tar Heel. I can't think of a more frustrating athlete in all of sports.

    Also, good bye, Shav! We hardly knew ye.

  • I heart Djbril Cisse.

  • Even more stuff past their expiration dates: Tom Cruise's money shot, that Debbie Gibson with Rilo Kiley and the political red herringery running in the Bush family.

    Now, I'm not so completely heartless that I don't feel any sympathy for Jerry Maguire, and those Punk'd-style celebrity prank shows do get old after a while. But why is the stunt still a story? Why are they still talking about assault charges? "I really work hard to make people feel good"?? Does Maverick not understand the concept of pranks? Are Scientologists afraid of water? Why do I ask so many rhetorical questions?

    Oh, and help save public broadcasting from the chopping block.
  • Much belated weekend roundup: bullet points ahead!

    So mere 36 hours after returning from Japan, I was off again, this time to Charlotte to see my friend Paul get married. Let's wrap this up as quick as I can.
  • Laguardia seriously needs some rail access. I hate paying $25 for 15-minute cab rides, Grand Central/Port Authority buses are at the mercy of both Manhattan and GCP traffic, and does anyone really like the M60 bus that makes the long trek along 125th St and Triboro Bridge?

    I miss living in Astoria. Well, not really.

  • I kinda like the little American Eagle commuter jets. Sure, the rides tend to be bumpy but I like that you can leave your big bags at the jetway. I hate checking my shit in but I also don't like dragging a lot of shit onto the plane. Best of both worlds, I think. I think of them as the Bowery Ballroom to Boeing's Hammerstein Ballroom.

  • The wedding isn't until Saturday evening but I fly in Friday to catch up with the Drakes aka my Thanksgiving Family. They's good peoples.

  • Unpacking at the hotel, I realize my shirt and suit pants are in serious need of laundering. I drop them off at the front desk after getting reassurance that they'll be ready by tomorrow evening.

  • Of course, I forget to ask what time tomorrow. The wedding's at 5:30 so "tomorrow evening" is cutting it a little close, causing me to mildly freak out. I call the front desk and after about 15 minutes, the official response is "They'll be ready between 3 and 4 but it could be as late as 5. Call back tomorrow morning."

    This does not comfort me and I can see myself turning into the Asshole Guest. I blame the jet lag. Well, at least I didn't do a Russell Crow or a Foxy Brown.

  • I meet up with my friend Neil and his wife Casey who are staying at the same hotel. Yeah, way too many of my friends are married already.

    We make our way to one of, like, three bars in Downtown Uptown Charlotte. And they're charging $5 cover. What the fuck? It's actually not too bad and the post-rehearsal dinner party is out on the rooftop.

    Snap judgment: Charlotte bar crowd reminds me of the DC crowd, college town-vibe except with older people. I think Neil and I were the only non-white people there so not too different from the West Village.

    I promised to exchange numbers with a bunch of people but never got around to it. I kinda feel bad. Again, I blame the jet lag.

  • I wake up and call the front desk to pester them about my laundry. Yes, I really am the Asshole Guest.

  • Neil and I walk around aimlessly trying to find breakfast in Uptown Charlotte. No one serves breakfast here. This town officially blows balls.

    The problem is that although Charlotte desperately wants to be a big city and have a vibrant city center, most people drive in from the 'burbs and leave when they're done working. There's just no demand for a true downtown (which makes the "Uptown" name all the more appropriate), which makes it inconvenient for visitors and leaves the town utterly lifeless. Maybe the new basketball arena will help but I doubt it.

    Anyway, we end up meeting up with the rest of the group at a sports bar attached to the Marriot. It's really a shame - you either stay in the hotel ghetto or drive to the outskirts if you want to do anything.

  • I get back from lunch to find my freshly laundered shirt and pants hanging in my room and it's not even 2:30 yet. Color me impressed. And a bit embarrassed for freaking out over it. Then I realize I forgot to pack a belt. Dammit. Thankfully, there's a mini-mall attached to the hotel and although most of the stores are closed, the menswear store happens to be open. Another crisis averted.

  • Try to nap but I can't. So the logical thing to do is go running. Three observations:
    1. It's hot as crap.
    2. I'm in crap shape.
    3. Uptown really is crap.

  • Nothing much to report from the wedding itself other than the bride having trouble with the vows. Otherwise, the ceremony is short and sweet, the way I like my cucumbers.

  • The food at the reception is decent, not spectacular. Roast beef gets points, as does the cheese. The band is fine except a bit loud. People mostly keep to their groups, though really, I did come down to hang out with my friends, mostly. No high jinks to speak of.

    Overall, I give the reception a 6.3 out of 10. I've seen better, I've seen worse. Go back to the hotel, head out for a couple more drinks and I am done for the night.

  • Overpriced breakfast buffet at the hotel. Mmmm, bacon and grits.

  • I call Tate who had offered a ride to the airport to let him know when I need to go but he's not there. An hour later, I don't have a response so I call again. Another hour later, still no response.

    My flight is now an hour and half away and I start to get worried. I call Fish to see if he can give me a ride on short notice. Nope, he's about 45 minutes away and there's not way he can make it into town. I manage to find a cab but that's $20 I didn't want to spend.

  • After a slight delay coming out of Charlotte, I land in Laguardia. Now, my first instinct is to catch a cab but I feel like I've spent way too much money already. And look, an M60 bus is pulling in. And with a free transfer to the subway, I can make it home for $2!

    Well, there's a reason other alternatives cost at least 5 times as much. It takes about 45 minutes to get out of Queens and across town to 125th St and St. Nicholas (what's with avenue names in Harlem anyway?), and then another 45 minutes to get down to Grand St. I am beat beyond beat. The travel time to and from the airport should never be longer than the flight time. Seriously.

  • Anyhow, congratulations to Deborah and Paul, and thanks to the 3 readers who actually made it this far down. That was way too long. And to Charlotte - sorry for the harsh words, but you do suck, really. Happy to be back in NYC, funky aroma, falling choppers and all.
  • Monday, June 20, 2005

    The world is conspiring against me

    I came to the above conclusion on my way to work this morning. Let me explain.

    1. The Chinatown bakery by my subway stop is great when I need an unhealthy breakfast for less than a dollar. But why oh why does iced coffee cost 65 cents more, or practically double the price of hot coffee? It's just coffee cooled with ice. Chinese people hate me.

    2. I needed to buy a Metrocard this morning so I go one of the vending machines. What? You're not accepting debit or credit cards? Asswipe. I go to the next machine - not accepting plastic either. Can I at least use a $20? Nope, only coins. I get to the last machine and get the $20 card since all I had in my wallet was a $20 bill. Good thing I didn't take a cab from LGA yesterday. But really, what the hell? MTA hates me.

    3. Coming out of the subway today, I noticed that New York smells. And I mean that in the pejorative sense - cities don't have olfactory organs, silly. I didn't notice it yesterday coming home from the airport since I was quite sweaty and presumably stinky myself, and on my way to the subway, I figured it was just Canal St in the summer. But man, I come out at 16th and 6th, the smell hits me. You get used to the smell after a couple of days but when you come back after a long absence, it smacks you like a spiked bat. New York City hates me.

    4. I go to Wendy's for lunch today since I was on a fast food kick. It's hard to understand the lady behind the counter since she has a semi-thick Indian accent. When I ask her to repeat herself, she yells at me - "SWEET OR UNSWEETENED?!". Then these flies were buzzing around me the whole time I was eating. And the blandness of the burger put me off fast food for at least a month and made me realize I should've gone to Shake Shack, 20-minute wait and all. The only thing keeping me from mentally shaking my fist at Wendy's was that the guy who was wiping the tables took my tray as I was getting up. But overall, Wendy's hates me.

    Still, I guess it's not too bad for a Monday.

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Somewhere, Dawson and Pacy are crying in each other's arms

    "So 15 years from now, if Katie and I aren't together..."

  • Since I'm already like 2 weeks behind on this, let's talk about Coldplay's X&Y. Some people like it more than others.

    Me? I like it okay. I know Chris and the boys have taken a lot of poopoo for wanting to be bigger than god and the "shareholders are evil" thing, but whatever, that's part of campaigning to be the next U2.

    First, my take on Coldplay. They are very, very good at what they do, that is, make Coldplay music. Coldplay music is pretty easy to listen to. It's distinctive enough to stand out from the rest of pop radio but safe enough that you get it instantly.

    They essentially have three songs - In My Yellow Place, Speed of Clocks and Fix Your Scientist (and I don't mean no sarcasm by this). Chris Martin's voice and the driving guitars work very, very well the three songs they play. So Coldplay albums are basically guaranteed to be good, and often, very good. But at the same time, you have to wonder if they're ever going to aim higher than A Rush of Blood to the Head.

  • I'm trying to pick the joke here - a Japanese commercial for men's face blotting paper featuring Jamaican men and chimps was pulled off the air.
    In response to cries of racism, cosmetics maker Mandom Corp. has pulled TV and magazine advertisements featuring a chimpanzee in dreadlocks and Rastafarian clothing imitating movements of black actors.

    In the commercial, several black actors use a cleaning product to wipe sweat from their faces. The chimpanzee, dressed in a costume of gold, red and green, imitates their movements.

    "We thought it would create a good atmosphere to have a chimpanzee among friends having fun in a party," said a company spokesman. "We never intended it to be prejudiced, but we concluded that the ad would be taboo based on an international point of view."
    Heh. You can view the commercial here.

  • Believe it or not, there's a guy in Congress fighting for file sharing. Meanwhile, Congress is trying to kill Elmo and Charlie Rose while viewer contributions are taking a hit as well.

  • Okay, I'm off to NC. See y'all later.

    Thursday linkage

  • NPR will broadcast tonight's Bloc Party show in DC (via Largehearted Boy). Even better, NPR will make the mp3 available for download after the show.

  • Ian and Cintra, formerly of E Broadway are now posting about Argentina on Good Airs. It's a fun read. Check it out.

  • I enjoy reading outsider accounts of New York and I post links to ones I find interesting. This time, an article in Cape Argus of Cape Town. The writer really went everywhere, from the Met to Century 21 to our own Tenement Museum. The best was the hip hop bus tour guided by Grandmaster Caz. These travel accounts tend to be Manhattan centric so it's always good to see someone make it out to Brooklyn and the Bronx.

  • NYC is the second dirtiest city in the US, says... someone. Can't say I'm surprised. Being gone for over a week, I had to adjust to the distinctly New York smell this morning, and it's not pleasant at all.

  • Now, this is some stupid ass shit, literally, kinda. Look, I'm a little vulnerable to lactose myself but at the end of the day, it's just diarrhea. No one's dying from it. There's more than a fine line between hazardous and messy.
  • The jetlag isn't helping

    To my 3 or 4 remaining readers, thanks for sticking around. I apologize for the irregular postings. This would be where I promise to get back to a more consistent posting schedule except I'm taking off again tomorrow for a wedding in Charlotte, North Cakalacky. Such is life. I'm really hoping the jetlag wears out enough that I can party adequately this weekend. We shall see. Has anyone ever liveblogged a wedding? If the church has Wifi, I'm totally going to do it.

    I'm back in New York if only physically, and oh so tired. Going there, I went direct from JFK to Tokyo but I did a layover in LAX on the way back and I got back shortly before midnight and I ended up traveling close to 24 hours, door to door. Right now, I can sense the wall hitting about a couple of hours from now and I need to squeeze out a proposal before I get out of here.

    But enough complaining. My pictures are now up on Flickr. I managed to figure out why Photoshop wouldn't open my pictures but I couldn't be arsed to go back and color correct 96 pictures so they are as they came out of the camera.

    My last day in Tokyo, the rain hit hard. The annual June rain season was supposed to start about my third day in Japan but the good weather manage to hold up until I was ready to leave. I spent some time in Harajuku but partly because it was so wet out and partly because it was a weekday, there weren't too many kids out in full costumes - Bluejake got some nice pictures there though.

    At LAX, saw the Bachelor guy - is it Jake or Jerry O'Connell? Anyway, the brother of the fat kid from Stand By Me was behind me in the security line. I tried to stay awake during the LA-NY flight and took a big ass cup of coffee onto the flight but alas, I was out cold before the plane took off despite the six screaming kids seated in my section.

    Okay, I'm finding myself half dozing off. I think I'm going to go grab more caffeine. Now, there's a vein in my leg that won't stop twitching. Should I be worried?

  • I totally forgot that I had a ticket to last night's Bloc Party show. If
    Brooklynvegan is to be believed, I missed a good one though the previous night's show was reportedly not all that.

  • Which reminds me - I also missed the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. Dammit. I need to schedule my trips better.

  • Oh my. I like this viral for Blaupunkt.

  • Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players gets some The Daily News love.
  • Monday, June 13, 2005

    30 hours to go, give or take

    My last full day in Japan. Leaving Kobe today, spending this evening and tomorrow morning hanging out with Harajuku Girls.

    One thing that a lot of visitors notice in Japan is how nobody jaywalks. I mean, nobody. Even if there are no cars coming for miles, people will stand there waiting for the green light. I try to blend in, but the New Yorker in me takes over sometime and start walking. The funny thing is, when I do cross on red, the people who were standing their patiently will follow me. You know what? I can be these people's messiah.

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    So, um, New York is still standing, right?

    I've spent the past few days travelling around. After one night in Tokyo, took the train into the interior of Japan (well, as far interior as one can get in a country so skinny) and met up with my parents.

    I've grown up around mountains and I suppose that's why we end up climbing mountains whenever my family meets up. Absolutely gorgeous out there and it was great getting away from the big ass metropolis. Natural hot springs are, in a word, fantastic. We were also blessed with incredibly good weather, considering the June rain season was supposed to start this weekend.

    Back in my hometown of Kobe now. Apparently, I have what amounts to a portion of the proverbial Million Dollar View from the balcony of my parents' place here. Life here isn't bad. Eating ridiculously good food here. Also, I can't tell you how much I love Japanese beer.

    But really, I can't be arsed to give you details so here are the photographs. If some of the photographs look less than perfect, it's partly because Photoshop is being a jackass and won't let me open my images and I can't do color and level corrections. So yeah, it's all the machine's fault.

    I'm off to Tokyo in a day, then I'll be back in NYC on Wednesday night, immigration officer willing. Wish me luck!

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    It's already tomorrow here

    Konnichiwa bitches. In Tokyo right now. I've slept about 6 hours in the past 48 hours. Probably not the best thing for my body but it should minimize the jet lag. Flight was uneventful except for the talkative kid next to me - I rarely start conversations but some people seem to find me approachable. Freaks.

    The movie selection was surprisingly good. Well, it helped that every seat had a personal monitor which you could select from various movies. Caught Million Dollar Baby, the first movie to bring me to the brink of tears since, I don't know, Forest Gump, and Hitch which is not the worst romantic comedy ever made.

    But I'm safely in Tokyo, which feels like a big city. I know, it might sound a bit weird, especially coming from a New Yorker, but to me NYC feels like a collection of neighborhoods while Tokyo is just... immense.

    As luck would have it, the Japanese national soccer team was playing a crucial World Cup qualifier today. Japan could clinch a place in next year's World Cup Finals with a win over North Korea with one match left to play. Although this was an away match, live viewings were held at several stadiums in Japan and I decided to go to one at the National Stadium (below).

    The match was shown on the stadium jumbotron but you couldn't tell that you weren't at the match by listening to the crowd, which was 20,000 strong and chanting throughout the match. The fans had reasons to cheer as Japan won 2-0 against the overmatched but still troublesome North Koreans. As if we needed any more reasons to cheer, thanks to the magic of time zones and scheduling, Japan became the first team to qualify to next year's Finals in Germany.

    Tomorrow, I'm off to the mountains. I hear the rain season is fast approaching but it should hold off for the next couple of days. I won't have internet access for a while, obvs, but I'll be uploading photographs to my Flickr account whenever I have the opportunity.

    In the meantime, enjoy what should be the last batch of links until I come back stateside.

  • The great Rushkoff on cracking down on medical marijuana users. I don't smoke pot myself, but when I see this society's dishonesty in addressing marijuana, especially in contrast to acceptance of Big Pharm drugs, I want to smoke up. Half Baked had the same effect on me.

  • Thighmaster is so, so wrong. Bojangle's is just heavenly.

  • Here we go, the long awaited Pitchfork Review of Memphis Bleek's 534. Pretty harsh as one might expect, but surprisingly tame score, especially after the 0.4 given to Weezer's Make Believe.

  • Fans of Lost will probably enjoy this: The following numbers unlock the easter eggs: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. But if you're obsessed about the show, you probably already knew that.

  • Via Lindsayism, Corey Haim Feldman is now a Lower East Sider. As a fan of Lost Boys, License to Drive and that porn he did with Feldman Haim, I am excited. But an elevator? Are you really living in the Lower East Side if you're not living in a walkup?

  • As you might have heard, New York's Olympic bid not so good. Really, does anyone other than Bloomberg and the NYC2012 people want the Olympics in New York? And look at Paris' pep rally - that's frickin awesome.

  • Behind Dumpling Man's smile lies a dark side.
  • Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Audi 3000

    Off to Japan. Thank god for the JFK Airtrain.

    Seacrest out.

    Friday, June 03, 2005

    Coming soon to a spinachdip near you...

    Thanks to an opportunity that came up last minute, I'm taking a week off to go to Japan, leaving next Tuesday. I haven't figured out what I'm going to be doing but I'll be seeing my parents for the first time in a year, so there's that. I'll try to post pictures and notes but we will see what my schedule will be like. And as per my personal tradition, I'm taking postcard requests - I can't guarantee that I'll send them from Japan but they will be postcards from Japan.

    Two days after I come back from the motherland, I'm right back on the saddle to go to a wedding in North Carolina on the 18th. That should be good, greasy fun.

    Things return to normal, kind of, with my Huge Ass Birthday Celebration on the weekend of the 24th. I have not the slightest idea what I want to do, except that I'm throwing me a party. Any ideas would be appreciated greatly.

    Also, at the risk of mimicking TOTC more than I already do, I'd be contemplating a site redesign for some time. My friend Anne said she'd do a logo for me, but that was back in December and we haven't sat down since (which reasonable since she's in San Francisco and I'm over here in NYC). Maybe I could call her or something. Anyway, don't hold your breath but, um, it's coming.

    The State of the Dip

    Lately, I've been wondering about which direction, if any, spinachdip should take. As you might have noticed, I've been sort of everywhere, from music to OC episode reviews to soccer to Chinatown bus travelogs. I wonder if this blog could use more focus. Then again, I kinda like the free form format and it's not like I'm trying to appeal to all kinds of people - I just happen to have a wide range of interests.

    The good news is that I've figured out a comfortable posting schedule so I'm getting 1 to 3 posts every weekday. My feeling on blogging is that consistency is more important than quantity. I still need to work on post lengths and just throwing too much shit into single posts, but that's what happens when I'm my own editor. I get the occasional writer's block but I've managed to squeeze enough out somehow. Yay me.

    So what's my point? Eh, don't really have one, which that shouldn't be a surprise if you've been reading this site. Well, I guess I'm pretty okay with the way things are and I'm getting a moderate amount of visits. Thanks to everyone who's been reading and other bloggers for linking me.

    That's it for now. Enjoy the weekend.

    The OC: The Offseason

    The OC has wrapped up its disappointing Season 2 but there is still much to be talked about. First, I'm not digging the "let's play the season all over" thing Fox is doing on Thursday nights. I mention this all the time with Arrested and Lost, but those shows are just as good, and often much better on repeat viewings because of all the subtleties the viewer doesn't catch the first time. Well, The OC is the opposite. The episodes get worse with every repeat viewing.

    Don't get me wrong, when Schwartzy and the writers are on, it's fantastic television. But the show depends not on subtleties but obvious wink-wink-nudge-nudges and over the top payoffs. I liken watching The OC to sending drunk emails. The messages are the funniest things while you're writing them and there's a certain thrill that comes from being aware that you're drunk and you can't take back what you write. Then you read the messages the next morning and realize how incredibly silly you come off. That's what watching The OC repeats feels like - you're almost ashamed that you got into it so much.

    Bill Simmons has a new mail bag and answers an OC question (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Pete pointed this out but there was plenty of buildup to Kirsten's alcoholism. Shit, it was happening before the season started. The intervention was rushed but I thought it was handled okay otherwise. Still, what was up with dropping Marissa's alcoholism? When did it happen? I don't even remember. You can't not resolve a teenage drinking problem!

    I agree with Simmons re: the temptation of Sandy. Every show needs a rock and Sandy was that rock. Sure, characters need to be human and have the capacity to change for better or worse, but you can't fuck with the moral center of the show like that. It wasn't so much that he was tempted by his old flame - it was that he was apparently too stupid to recognize that putting his marriage and law practice in jeopardy wasn't such a hot idea.

    I do hold out hope for the next season. Despite the early season slump (the Chrismukkah episode was the only highlight), it did get better towards the end, though Seth was insufferable as ever. And Julie Cooper has become an unsung hero on the show. I just hope the reconciliation with Jimmy doesn't take the fire out of her.

    I guess one improvement over last season is that it's an actual cliffhanger this time - we don't know if Trey is dead or alive or what kind of legal drama awaits the kids.

    Friday linkage: 80s retro, 90s retro, more 80s/90s retro

  • Man, it's great to see Brother Jimmy's get so much love from Gawker in the past few days thanks to Christian Slater's drunk ass.

    There's just no better place in the Upper East Side for eating both easter and western style barbecue whilst watching ACC hoops.

  • Man, I love Shakira in so many ways that I cannot describe on a family website, but shit, what's with the Twisted Sister hair?

  • Blackalicious says: "Don't call us nerd rap."

    New album coming in September. Isn't that about when the new Little Brother's dropping too? (Did I just say "dropping"? I'm slipping.) In the meantime, check out Blazing Arrow. If your taste in hip hop is anything like mine (which is to say, good), you'll like it.

  • Which reminds me, did anyone catch Arrested Development (the 90s group, not the greatest show on television) on Hit Me Baby One More Time? They sounded surprisingly good. They even had that bearded old guy on stage.

    It feels like the 1990s all over again with Fugees, Digable and Black Sheep coming back.

    Back to Hit Me, I caught about 10 minutes of it, enough to not recognize Flock of Seagulls, be grossed out by Loverboy and gain a renewed appreciation for Kelly Clarkson watching Tiffany do "Breakaway".

  • Dave Chappelle's back Stateside. Says Dave, "If I do Half Baked 2, you'll know I've run out of money."

    He talks about Hollywood being a forgiving place, but at least as far as his fans are concerned, it helps that Dave is a guy who's easy to forgive (not that he needs any forgiving). As high as his stock may have risen, he still comes off as affable and down to earth (he lives on a frickin' farm!) so he will always get the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to, say, Lindsay Lohan or Michael Jackson. Great to hear that he's in good spirits.

  • Breaking! Association of National Advertisers doesn't think advertising is to blame for child obesity!

  • Oh good god this is beautiful. (via totc)

  • Malcolm Glazer's Manchester United Football Club has a new fan blog.

  • Finally, in my search for blogs named after foods but have nothing to do with their namesake (Cole Slaw Blog for example), I have stumbled upon avocado green which talks about many things that are neither avocado nor the avocado green color.

    First impression - I like it. Very concise but still thoughtful, the kind of writing that I aspire to but will never achieve.
  • Thursday, June 02, 2005

    Take James Dolan's money: the long overdue NBA post

    Every NBA off-season, some desperate team foolishly throws millions, and more shockingly, long term contracts to underachieving big men. Why? Because they happen to put it together during their contract year rendering all previous years irrelevant, and because of the old flawed adage that you can't coach size (you can't coach competence either, y'know). So one of the joys of the NBA off-season is seeing which NBA team throws too much money and cap space so they could finance a 7-footer's weed habit?

    Below, a quick rundown of the candidates for this year's Adonal Foyle ($51.2 million for 6 years) or Mark Blount ($38.5 million for 6 years).

    Contract info from here and here. I focused on big men, i.e. power forwards and centers.

    For players with opt-out clauses, I took the liberty of choosing players who I thought were likely to opt out. For example, Steven Hunter is a minimum salary guy coming off a decent season. He'll get himself a nice raise. Danny Fortson, I wasn't sure about, but I figured he could do better than the 2 years/$13,324,675 remaining. I also ignored most guys who weren't going to make too big of a splash (i.e. Vitaly Potapenko, DeSagana Diop, Yogi Stewart).

    • Zydrunas Illgauskas - LeBabyjesus wants him around but signing him is going to tie up hell of a lot of money on a guy who has only recently gotten off the injury bug. I think the Cavs would rather use the cap space but don't have a replacement in mind, and Big Z is looking at the final big payday of his career. I say sign & trade. Isiah will give the Cavs, Kurt Thomas, Trevor Ariza, Mike Sweetney and a non-lottery protected 2010 first round pick.

    • Tyson Chandler/Eddy Curry - The question here is, do Da Bulls need both or just one of them? Here is a classic case of the difficulties with drafting high school big men; they'll take their entire rookie contracts developing and when they're up for renewal, you have no idea if they're worth the max. Plus, as restricted FAs, some desperate team is going to put up a ridiculously front-loaded offer sheet like Miami did with Odom and Brand a couple of years back.

    • Dan Gadzuric - Surely the Dan Gadzuric Era is over in the Land of Beers. Or will D-Gadz and Andrew Bogut form the most formidable front court since Robinson and Duncan? Only time will tell.

    • Udonis Haslem - Seems like a smart kid and one hopes he knows well enough to keep on carrying Shaq's bags. Plus, you can't beat living in Miami.

    • Dikembe Mutombo - The highest paid player in the NBA this season, picking up paychecks from the Rockets and the Nets. Will his wheels hold up? Has the perfect role of spelling Yao in Houston. Probably good for a one year contract with a player option.

    • Stromile Swift - Will this kid ever develop? Good time to get out since he's not taking minutes from Pau Gasol.

    • Kwame Brown - The most intriguing name in the pool. Certainly has the talent and looking to get a fresh start. A veteran team should take a flyer on him. But boy, did Michael Jordan do a number on him.

    • Zaza Oachulia - I have never seen him play. Ever. What does he look like? What is his gam like? Wait, I don't care. I just love his name.

    • Eddie Griffin - Another intriguing name, not as talented as Kwame but has actually done time. He seems best off staying in Minneapolis backing up KG, but could be a valuable 6th Man in a lot of places. Wouldn't be surprised to see him get the full mid-level somewhere.

    • Ervin Johnson - Not to be confused with Magic Johnson. Doesn't have a game to speak of but he's been effective wherever he's gone. He's a guy you give a couple of million a year and pencil him in the starting lineup.

    • Brian Scalabrine - BREAKOUT YEAR! By far the best redhead in the league since Luke Walton wasn't getting much PT in LA.

    • Samuel Delembert - I'd like to see the Sixers keep their young guns. AI, AI2 and the Hatian Sensation will form a nice little core to build around. They're still a few pieces short but they can afford to pay Big Sam.

    • Steven Hunter - You know, there's a reason Amare Stoudemire plays center. Still, wouldn't be surprised to see him parlay his season with the Run & Suns into a long term contract.

    • Shareef Abdur-Rahim - How did the Blazers not unload his expiring contract? Are they looking to sign & trade him somewhere? His talent says "franchise player" but you have to worry about a guy who has never played in the postseason.

    • Robert Horry - It's good to be Big Shot Bob. Who wouldn't want him coming off the bench in the 4th Quarter?

    • Reggie Evans/Danny Fortson/Jerome James - the 3-headed monster that does the dirty work for Ray-Ray and Rashard. Seattle will keep 2 of the 3, methinks. I say work a sign & trade for James while his value is at its highest. They can probably sucker Isiah into giving up Ariza, draft picks and the naming rights to Madison Square Garden.

    • Vladmir Radmanovic - He seems a bit redundant with Rashard Lewis around.

    • Donyell Marshall - What Shareef Abdur-Rahim will look like in 5 years.

    • Antoine Walker - I don't know if he should really be on this list, since he is only a power forward by default and doesn't play up to his size. That said, he does fill the 4 positions better than, say, Austin Croshere. The Celts need him more than he needs the Celts but seemed happy to be back in Beantown. Where else is he going to go?
    Not the most impressive list. Why do NBA GMs keep overrating size? How did Shawn Bradley get a 7-year contract after conclusively proving that he is not a basketball player?

    Sure, the Spurs vs Suns playoff series showed that you do need size, but lest we forget, Phoenix did have Jake Voskuhl, Walter McCarty and Steve Hunter sitting on the bench and decided not to use them. Those are precisely the kind of centers and power forwards who get silly money. Furthermore, hybrid bigs like Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion showed that you don't necessarily need a traditional back-to-the-basket low post guy at the 4. Ultimately, it was less size than depth and flexibility that killed the Suns in the end.

    In any case, if you want a big, the draft is the way to go. Sure, you end up spending 2, 3 years developing them but you get first dibs when their rookie contracts are up, you lock them up and don't let them in the free agent market. Smart teams know better than to let other teams bid for their quality bigs.

    Unfortunately, you won't see too many sure things in this draft. Scouts seem to like, but not love Andrew Bogut. He certainly doesn't look like a franchise center. Marvin Williams is better on the wing than in the low post, but he could be an Odom-like hybrid. Sean May could a rich man's Corliss Williamson but he's joining Malik Rose and Danny Fortson in the Generously Listed Club. Ditto for Wayne Simien, the poor man's May.

    And the giant Eastern Europeans? If I were a GM, I'd wait till at least one of the lottery picks develop into a solid pro before I waste a first round pick. The Brazilians and Spaniards, say Tiago Splitter and Fran Vasquez, I'm okay with. They can thank Nene and Pau. I'm not sold on Channing Frye or Chris Taft either. I'd rather trade down and take a gamble on Hakim Warrick.

    Otherwise, I'd take a perimeter player and wait another year to fill the big man needs (big n/h) - this is the year for point guards with Paul, Felton and Deron. As they say, it's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean. And you need a point guard to row your boat (n/h, I think). But this isn't going to be draft to push the Knicks or the Warriors, as improved as they are, into contention.

    Update: Can't forget Shav Randolph!

  • RIP George Mikan, the original big man.

  • Scoop Jackson on Rasheed, my favorite Tar Heel big man. Scoop is wrong when he says 'Sheed is hard to love. No, it's easy. You just have to love the technical fouls and the marijuana arrest too. BTW, my favorite Tar Heel of all time is Shammond Williams, but it doesn't look like he'll be playing in the States any time soon.

  • Advisory panel to pick '08 U.S. men's Olympic team. Okay, I thought handing the keys to the Team USA program to Jerry Colangelo was the right move. But an advisory panel? Why not just let the coach pick the team? It's going to end up being the same shit as last summer when Larry Brown didn't use half the squad.
  • Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Sizing up the 2012 Olympic host wannabes

    Wired magazine looks at the Race to Win the 2012 Olympics from a techie perspective.

    Personally, I'm rooting for London, though either Paris or Madrid would do. My biggest fear is that the European host cities will split the votes and NYC will end up hosting it. Really, don't we get enough tourists as it is (though I don't mind the Europeans as much as I do the flyover-state types who can't navigate the sidewalks)?

    Now, this might look good on paper...
    Express Lane
    As part of the $189 million transportation budget, the city created a traffic modeling system that dynamically maps the 53,000 roads and 2,300 bus, 900 commuter rail, 100 subway, and 50 ferry routes in the metropolitan area. Olympic priority lanes will put athletes and officials on the fast track; on average, participants will reach competition venues from Olympic Village in 21 minutes.

    I like Madrid's bid, especially this:
    Eat Right
    All Olympic village food will be organically grown, as part of Spain's organic farming initiative. (Athletes, coaches, and officials will consume 90 tons of groceries a day, for a total of about $48 million in grub during the games.)

    But anyway, go London! Or Paris! Or Madrid! Or Mosc... okay, maybe not Moscow.

  • Speaking of the West Side Stadium, da May-uh doesn't want the rest of Manhattan feel left out. He wants to throw money at the East Side too. At least he's promising to, since it's election year and all. "It's eminently doable," says Bloomy. That's the kind of gung ho attitude I like in a mayor.

    Sarcasm aside, I like the plans, and the area between East River Park and the Seaport can use some sprucing up. Manhattan could use something like the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or Fulton Ferry. But we'll just have to see if anything can get built in New York with public money.

  • Believe it or not, there are many foreigners living in New York and reading what they report back to their home countries gives an outsider's perspective of the city. One such account is a piece about summer in NYC for Belfast Telegraph, which isn't of much note except for the writer placing Union Square in the Lower East Side. I mean, really. I think that skips over like 3 whole neighborhoods.

  • Mark Cuban thinks sponsor logos on NBA uniforms is a good idea.

    I don't have a problem with it either - as long as it doesn't look like a frickin' Mexican soccer jersey that's only two patches away from looking like a Nascar jumpsuit, it won't look all that bad. Go ahead, I say. And it'll be nice when people stop thinking I'm supporting Carlsberg beer when I wear my Liverpool jersey.
  • Street art vs "Street Art"

    Graf writers don't like sell outs:

    photo credit: me, GammaBlaBlog

    To be fair, it's not really selling out per se, but who you sell out too. A point in comparison: a mural for sneaker shop Nort by the same crew remains unmolested on Ludlow St, just on the other side of Houston. The Hummer, of all brands, in East Village, of all places? That shit might fly on the Upper East Side but not Downtown.

    Well that, and the Hummer mural has a lot of open space for throwing shit up. The Nort mural is way too complex to go over.

  • Puma's summer catalog is pretty fancy. (via Adland/Cool Hunting). Not the easiest to navigate but it's fantastic branding.

  • The most amazing thing about the F-train and the NYC subway system in general is their ability to come up with new, innovative ways to fuck up. This time, a derailment at Smith-9th and a game of subway musical chairs. This meant the C ran on the F, the F ran on the D and the V ran on the C. Or something. Whatever they did, it did not leave me a happy camper.

    And I'm standing on the train, minding my own business and this dude sitting down facing me tells me not to stand in front of him. I'm like, "What?" I was going to be all "I know you didn't just tell me to move," and I was ready to stand there just to be an ass about it, but I had to get off at the next stop. Next time.

  • Nick Hornby at the Union Square Barnes & Noble next Monday? Don't mind if I do.

  • Why did Ticketweb feel the need to inform me about the upcoming Bravery shows? Do they not know that I am a man of taste?
  • Post-Memorial Day thoughts (or how Deep Throat stole my thunder)

    Watching ABC Nightline's rollcall of 'The Fallen', what struck me was the age of the soldiers. Initially, I couldn't get over how young they were - so many of them were 19, 20, not even old enough to drink legally. They're just kids - did they really understand what they were doing? Did they consider death as a possibility any more than an average teenager who gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time?

    Then I noticed the soldiers over 30. Surely most of them left families behind and it made me think, which death is more tragic - the kid's or the father's? I have no idea.

    Growing up outside the States, I don't have the same appreciation of Memorial Day that Americans do. I think it is great that recognition of soldiers who serve the country is an ingrained part of the culture, something we don't have in Japan. At the same time I feel a teensy bit uncomfortable when the usual "fighting for our freedom/democracy/our way of life" line is trotted out.

    Now, don't get me wrong - I have no doubt that the individual soldiers themselves do fight for freedom/democracy/way of life. For that, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives, I'm thankful. But my question is, do their sacrifices really ensure American freedom? Will the democratic system be significantly threatened if the Iraqi insurgency prevailed? Conversely, will we be freer if the insurgency is suppressed? And when you to consider much of US foreign policy in the past half century, you have to concede that US military action does not necessarily preserve security or democracy.

    I realize this probably comes off as overly nit picky and I am not all that concerned about semantics either. However, I do take issue with how the "fighting for _____" line is thrown around way too casually. When the media tells us soldiers are fighting for our freedoms without making damn sure that the men and women really are ensuring our freedoms, then the phrase just becomes empty sloganeering. And when that happens, we are just using the military to get over our white collar guilt and to advance jingoism disguised as patriotism. To me, that is as tragic as not recognizing their sacrifices at all.