Philadelphia August 3, 2008
I spent some time in Philly this weekend, visiting with stellargirl. We met up in Manhattan on Friday and went to David Byrne’s Playing the Building installation at the Battery Maritime Building downtown. It’s a fun exhibition showcasing one lone piano that is connected by myriad of wires to various parts of the building. Anyone can sit and play the piano, eliciting different sounds from the building. It’s free so if you find yourself in that neck of the woods, it’s worth checking out.
In Philly we had a great time eating good food and walking all around the city. We had brunch at Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat. I’m not typically crazy about brunch, but let me tell you, this was good. I had a simple plate of free range eggs with potato latke, and this lovely buttery biscuit with possibly the best blueberry compote ever. It was so fresh tasting and not too sweet and utterly amazing! And I was especially wowed by the ice cream at The Franklin Fountain – absolutely delectably delicious! It’s my favorite ice cream so far. Sorry Sundaes and Cones, you can’t even compete. I had the mint chocolate chip and Roz had the black raspberry with hot fudge. Mmmmm…ok, hers was really really good, maybe even better than mine. I’m getting that next time!!
It was a very short trip but I think I got a good sense of the place. It’s a great walking city where nothing seems too far. From what I could tell it seems pretty diverse and has a good mix of people. I saw a lot of ink and beards…what’s up with the lumberjack beards in this town, especially in the heart of summer? The tattoos – not only did almost everyone seem to have them – they were colorful sleeves of skin art. And on Friday night, Philly seems to get barraged by Southern New Jersey – I just can’t seem to escape the B&T crowd even in another city! All in all it was a fun trip but I feel like I’ve only skimmed the top so I look forward to my next visit!
Life’s A Beach, And Then You Die? July 18, 2008
I met my friend Greg out at Rockaway Park Beach today. What started out as a picture perfect beach day ended in a wild spectacle straight out of bad reality television. The beach was like a zoo today, mostly made up of local New Yorkers. In the mid afternoon, we noticed a large number of policemen and helicopters flying above. We heard that a girl had drowned and what ensued was a 4 hour search and rescue operation – to which we had front row seats. I had never seen anything like it before.
First, all of the lifeguards were called out and swam reconnaissance style in one straight line, diving down and bobbing back up in unison all along the shore. There were probably 25 of them and they were doing this for about an hour. While they were doing this, a few helicopters flew above and soon NYPD dinghy boats would join. When we saw 2 divers drop in the water, we knew it was really, really bad. At one time we could see 4 helicopters and 5 boats out in the water. It was especially insane when a helicopter flew in to the shore and landed so close to where we were sitting! While the helicopter edged its way onto the sand we talked frantically about packing our things up and making a run for it. I was beginning to panic. It was sheer sheer madness!! Everyone was cleared from the water and watched from the shore. But nothing surfaced and the body was never recovered. I overheard a parks ranger say the beach would be closed tomorrow for another search in the morning.
Photo by Greg Stadnyk
Vintage Sesame Street! July 14, 2008
Oscar the Grouch sings “Nasty Dan” with Johnny Trash, I mean Cash. Awesome!
Happy 4th, Beautiful July 4, 2008
I’m the type of person that usually doesn’t get excited about things until they are right there in front of me. I hadn’t planned on seeing fireworks tonight, but as dusk settled in, I started to sense the sweet smell of barbecues and see dancing silhouettes on rooftops. So at the very last moment I picked up the phone and called my friend who lives a few blocks away, to see if she wanted to go for a walk along the river to see fireworks. What a grand idea that turned out to be! All along the river there were families and tents, barbecues roaring and neon bracelets, necklaces and pacifiers gleaming against the impending darkness. It was a zoo of hardcore native New Yorkers and the local transplants that stayed back to enjoy the quiet city. It can’t get any better than that.
I didn’t know it at the time, but we chose a prime spot to watch the fireworks, standing directly across from the Macy’s sign. I had no idea that this was going to be the best spot I’ve ever had …even better than the various rooftops I’ve been on throughout the years I have lived here. The fireworks started and at first I was scared of how close they seemed. The ashes from the fireworks came down on us along with the rain. I was also scared from the loud booming sounds – that is something from my childhood that I can’t quite shake. It took some getting used to. As the pyrotechnics gained momentum, I found myself standing there like a little girl, all smiles, oohing and ahhhing along with the crowd! The rain didn’t bother me, I was so engrossed. My favorite part was the sequence that resembled a moving, starry sky – like something you’d see on the Hubble. The ones with the parachutes were awesome too… after the fireworks shot off, there were these strings of light falling slowly from the sky attached to parachutes. How brilliant! It made me wonder about the career path of pyrotechnic designers. That must be every boy’s dream. I was giddy, experiencing sensory overload and it was good clean fun!! I don’t remember ever enjoying fireworks as much as I did tonight. I must have been all smiles while walking home because a father and son duo passed by, the father’s eyes flashing as he says to me “Happy 4th, Beautiful”.
Waterfalls June 29, 2008
I went to see Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfalls, along the East River. We couldn’t have picked a better time to go, as the sun was starting to set and the sky was a beautiful shade of pink and purple. I love the twilight hour, whether it is dawn or dusk. And being along the river there is a such a nice breeze!
And then I had a discussion with another friend of mine about public art. His argument was that our tax dollars were going to this project, which would promote tourist dollars and therefore support big box stores that are invading our beloved city. While I’m no fan of big box stores, I’m not sure I totally agree. What makes this a great city to live in is the abundance of art and culture. While large publicized installments such as this one will certainly draw in crowds of tourists, it’s free to the public which is a treat. There’s no denying that Mayor Bloomberg is first and foremost a businessman, yes. But I guess it doesn’t really bother me that much. I like to view public art as something that’s available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. Here we were, enjoying the falls with people we’d never see set foot in a museum. I find a lot of beauty in that.
And as I walked down to meet my friend by the Brooklyn Bridge, I wound through the heart of the Lower East Side into the depths of Chinatown. It felt like another world – and I loved it. This is what the real New York feels like to me. People who have lived here for generations, playing ball in the local playgrounds. I don’t think they even spoke much English. I used my instincts and took streets that led me south and east, not knowing my direct path but keeping my eye on the bridges. It was a fun walk, I should do that more often.
:Photo by Kathy Wu:
In South Africa, Chinese is the New Black June 19, 2008
Say whaaaa? Yea. There was an article posted in the China Journal blog of the Wall Street Journal today. A high court ruled that Chinese South Africans will be reclassified as “black”. I know, it’s confusing. But the term “black” in South Africa includes not only bonafide black Africans, but also Indians and others who were subject to discrimination under apartheid. Apparently Chinese people have struggled with racism and lived in the outskirts since the early 20th century.
I’ve always been fascinated by the migration patterns of various groups of people; particularly in the spread of cuisine. People bring their culture and their food and it evolves with the new culture and environment. I wonder what Italian Chinese food would taste like? Are there various courses – first, second and third? I would imagine they would incorporate some regional flair into the food.
My friend Dave, who lived in South Africa for many years, refers to his Chinese South African friends as “chiggas”. Chinese niggas, if you will. I never understood where that term came from but now it makes more sense to me. It also made me realize how narrow my view was. I’m so focused on the plight of Asian Americans that I’ve managed to overlook the Asian experience in different countries. That’s a sign that I need to travel more! Either that or meet more international people.