Tag Archives: Upper West Side

Lame Adventure 309: Eye Catchers

Every so often I hang out with my friend and fellow blogger, Natasia, from the demurely named site, Hot Femme Writing in NYC.  On this particular get-together we are walking down my block to my sanctum sanctorum when she notices the Recreational Vehicle that has been polluting my Upper West Side neighborhood for years.  It’s curbside blight that I have written about before.  Tas reacts like she’s had a celebrity sighting.

Easily confused with Angelina Jolie on a bad hair day.

Tas:  Hey, there’s that RV you hate!  It’s almost parked in front of your building.

Egging me on, she adds:

Tas:  That pisses you off, doesn’t it?

It does, but I am a self-control machine.  Therefore, I say nothing other than a low growl.  My contempt for this vehicle strikes me as ridiculous considering that I spend most of my time in one of four places – inside my apartment, inside a subway station or train, inside my office, or outside in general Gotham City.  I spend very little time on any given day standing like a doofus in front of my building hyperventilating about a legally parked eyesore.  Yet, irrationally, whenever I see that unsightly trash barge on wheels hogging space outside my door, it sets me off like a Roman Candle.  At that particular moment, I know my blood pressure is rising.

Tas:  Look, matzo!

I assume that she is firing her special brand of snark at me.  I detonate:

Me:  What are you talking about?  Why are you yammering about matzo now?  It’s out of season; it’s May!  You told me you wanted to eat a baguette!

I pause for breath half-wondering if the chest pain I feel is gas or a heart attack, and if it’s the latter, will she hesitate to call an ambulance from the iPhone that seems surgically attached to her mitt?  Ignoring my conniption Tas points at the vehicle and insists:

Tas:  Matzo!

Displaying her own level of self-control, she resists adding for emphasis:

Tas:  Look dumbass!

Window dressing matzo — move over Martha Stewart.

Me:  Huh!  How’d they do that?  Gee, good eye, Tas.

We conclude it’s probably very stale and walk on.

A few days later, I’m running an errand for dish soap.  As I wait to cross Broadway at 77th Street, I look up at a boring high-rise apartment building.

Another innocuous tall box that could have been designed by Ambien.

This is the exact kind of building I usually find invisible, but this time I do a double take.

That mannequin’s butt naked! Hide the small fry!

Logically, this naked mannequin might belong to an artist or designer, but illogically and based on nothing other than my own imagination run amuck, I make the assumption that it might belong to someone with kinky proclivites.  Hm, all roads return to artist or designer.  My next thought is I wonder if they own or rent?

My favorite eye catching sites are the Peter Woytuk bronze sculptures that dot the Upper West Side.  Three of them are in a three and four block radius of my home base.  Last year, he had a giant blue kiwi on display outside the 72nd Street subway entrance (or exit if you’re leaving instead of entering).  That big blue bloated bird (try saying that three times fast) has now been replaced with a raven standing tall atop a cluster of apples bringing to mind Edgar Allan Poe, fruit that’s available year round and an impressive balancing act.

How do you like them apples? I do! I also like the raven on top.

I admire his three fat hens planted in the median on Broadway outside Fairway.

“How dare you call us fat!”

My blood pressure appreciates all of these sculptures and I would welcome any one of them outside my building.

This might also scare away the rats and skunks.

Lame Adventure 299: Pointless Mysteries

Although I’m slightly less spiritual than a tube sock, as I was returning to my Upper West Side garret at Magic Hour after another productive day of clock watching on company time, I looked up at the sky and saw this holy card-style cloud formation.

Cloud porn.

It was the type of cloud-cluster that begs for a soprano singing choir soundtrack as a gigantic Supreme Being hand emerges with a pointed index finger.

This finger is pointing out what – the end is near, the end is far, the end has corporate sponsorship so now it’s negotiable and under contract?  Yet this being Manhattan, a more realistic soundtrack when those clouds part would be wailing sirens as that hand emerges, quickly upturns and flips the bird at the Jaded New Yorkers down below muttering in unison at the insult:

Jaded New Yorkers: Now I’ve seen everything!

After snapping my trademark crummy pictures of the mystical cloud formation, my thoughts drifted in the direction of my other recent encounters with life’s mysteries small and pointless.

Hand-free light shaft.

For example, every year, no matter what the holiday, my building has some pleasant reminder of the event.

Fragrant Easter lily.

This past Friday, I encountered my landlady in the subway station that’s three blocks south from my home base.  In a cheerful tone I declared:

Me:  That’s a lovely lily we have in the lobby!

She looked at me with an expression that translates as follows:

My Landlady:  Who the hell are you?

Then, she walked away.  I’ve been renting an apartment in her 18-unit brownstone for almost 30 years.  Possibly I’m being overly sensitive, but one would think there would be a glimmer of recognition that I’m her tenant by now.

My landlady’s inability to distinguish me from the Town Loon  aside, I’ve entered my annual spring funk.  My birthday is approaching soon and friends and family are frequently reminding me about it.  Over the weekend my father called and bleated enthusiastically:

My Father:  I can’t believe you’re gonna be (ickity) four!  How did that happen?

Me:  (Ickity) four happens next year!  Right now, this minute, I’m still (ickity) two!

[Insert awkward pause here.]

My Father:  At least you’ve never been fat.

That’s true but as my metabolism downshifts, I’m not feeling as svelte as I used to.  I’m developing a bit of a paunch and from certain angles in states of undress, I’m looking marsupial.  I know I need to exercise more and it would also behoove me to eat less crap and guzzle less beer.  Over the weekend, I wanted potato chips, but I decided to get the 40% reduced fat variety and limit myself to the recommended serving of just 20 chips, but who ever eats such a puny amount, much less buys the reduced fat version?

Bet you can't eat just 20.

To psyche myself into doing so, I reasoned that I must think as if I’m lost in the woods and I’m obligated to make these rations last to survive.

What 20 chips look like in a bowl with a sneaker.

What 20 chips look like in a bowl sans sneaker.

Then I thought:

Me (thinking):  Who am I kidding?  I’m in an apartment in the heart of Manhattan and I want to pound a high octane beer with these chips.

Yet, I practiced some restraint as I proceeded to inhale my 20 chips in one gulp like an anteater on steroids.  Thanks to my remarkable willpower combined with Mad Men being the only show worth watching on TV, I have yet to chow down the rest of the bag.

Last week at work, after finishing a 16-ounce tea chased with a 10-ounce cup of water, this flood of hydration nearly ruptured my bladder.

Chug a lug.

Fortunately, I could easily win Olympic gold if there was a competition for hightailing from my office to the bathroom in breaking the sound barrier time.  I switched on the light and saw an orchid, a gift to my boss, Elsbeth, soaking in the sink.

"Can a plant have some privacy around here?"

Tortured, I raced back to my office and announced to my superior:

Me:  Your orchid is soaking in the sink!

Elsbeth:  Oh!  I put it there!

Pause.

Me (screaming inside my head):  Why are you doing this to me when I need to take a piss worthy of a herd of farm animals?

Me (speaking through gritted teeth):  I figured.

Remarkably, Elsbeth heard the earlier unasked question.  She moved the orchid quickly solving at least one more of my life’s pointless mysteries.  Now the orchid is sitting on the sink.

The bathroom orchid.

Lame Adventure 295: Tree Trash Update

I was feeling perfectly fine and then I wasn’t.  The Unforeseen Demon of Surprise Illness paid me a visit for a few nasty hours on Monday evening.  During that period I completely lost my breakfast, lunch, several pieces of dark chocolate covered edamame, a few handfuls of some crunchy crap I scarf at my desk called Oriental Mix, a fig bar, and two glasses of a Happy Hour Cabernet I quaffed after work with my buddy Coco.

Colleague-approved Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Edamame.

During this episode of violent evacuation I coincidentally lost interest in everyone and everything that gives me pleasure.  The list includes (in no particular order) writing this blog, shooting pictures, sex, food, alcohol, comedy, tennis, dogs, Gotham City wildlife, The New Yorker, music, movies, theater and film. To put in perspective how incredibly lousy I felt, if all four Beatles would have magically appeared in the center of my sanctum sanctorum to personally serenade me, I would have slammed the bathroom door in their Fab Four faces and groaned:

Me:  Go away!

The next morning I woke feeling feverish with a pounding headache, wondering, “what the hell was that about” regarding a hallucination I suffered prominently featuring a bullwhip. I am not by nature the violent type. The last time I fired a rubber band, several years ago, it hit a wall and ricocheted into my forehead.  Wow, did that sting. Once fully conscious I emailed my boss Elsbeth that I was taking a sick day for I was feeling like shit on a stick.  Possibly I used the phrase “I’m feeling sub-par” instead.

I continued to rest but I quickly caught cabin fever and needed a fix of daylight.  I also needed to run an errand for bland foodstuffs.  As I walked up my block I noticed the now infamous Tree Decorated with the Hanging Trash.  Here are updated photos.

Bags still in branches eager for their close-ups.

The tree is starting to bud and as pictured below, both bags are in full bloom and still flipping off Mother Nature.

White fast food delivery bag hanging in there.

Fairway bag in full bloom in its dual guises: free advertising and litter.

It appears that rain is in the forecast for later in the week so she’ll very likely have the final say about the presence of these two eyesores.  They’ll probably blow into my open window for refuge.  Hopefully I’ll be back to feeling groovey by then. Stay tuned.

Lame Adventure 292: Food Porn

One of my dear friend Milton’s great passions is cake.  The man can speak rhapsodically about long-shuttered obscure bakeries with the same degree of affection others reserve for a departed mate, relative or pet.  He can be merciless in his opinion about red velvet cake for that confection proves reliably disappointing.  One cake that consistently delivers his seal of approval is the Magnolia Bakery’s Hummingbird cake.  Unfortunately, I have searched my extensive personal photo archive of thousands of images that I have shot over the course of the years but much to my regret, I have yet to photograph a slice of one my buddy’s favorite cakes.  To fill this void, I am posting a picture of the Valentine’s Day cake he had made last month.

Yellow cake with white butter-cream frosting and strawberry filling.

I would like to add that he ate this entire cake himself in a single sitting at his desk at work, but I jest.  That is something one of the more dysfunctional nabobs at my place of employ would do.  Milton is very good at sharing with others, so  his colleagues very likely view him as “the cake guy”.  I am sure that he’s quite a popular and adored member of the staff.

Unlike Milton, I’m not much of a cake woman.  I like cupcakes, but I’m not a fan of a large slice of anything with frosting. Last month at work, to celebrate my sidekick Greg’s birthday, he wanted a chocolate banana layer cake.  I could barely eat half a slice.  It was a struggle to get down.  When I had given up I emailed an image of it to my Special Someone under the subject heading “I. Am. Stuffed.”

Burp!

Me: Jesus, what a dense cake!  I feel like I ate the Alien.  I did the best I could with my piece of it.

SS: LOL. That’s it?! I wish I had your petit appetite.

Me: Oh, cut me a break!  That thing is enormous!  It weighs as much as a Buick and feels like a Buick idling in my gut right now.

SS: I could eat half that [entire] cake and not look back.

Like Milton, my Special Someone has a sweet tooth for cake.  Although I am not much of either a cake or dessert fan, I do like cookies, in particular the legendary six ounce warm chocolate chip cookies that are baked fresh throughout the course of the day at an Upper West Side institution, the Levain Bakery, conveniently located just a short trot from my sanctum sanctorum.

If this picture was scented it would reek of the aroma of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

During a casual email exchange with Special Someone, I mentioned Levain and sent her the link to the cookie portion of the site.  She thought their cookies looked amazing.  The next day we visited Levain so she could try one.  My favorite is the traditional chocolate chip walnut variety, but Special Someone hates walnuts to a near violent degree going so far as to claim they’re racist.  I resist the urge to fall into the trap of asking for an explanation of this intentionally absurd declaration. Since it’s the weekend, the line outside is long, and the aroma of warm chocolate is intoxicating.  We have both been subject to far worse New York City line-waiting experiences.  At least this one smells like paradise.  I don my little spender cap and ask:

Me:  What flavor would you like?

SS:  Can we get the dark chocolate chocolate chip?

Me:  Of course.  We’ll get whatever you want.  I like them all [muttering] and I’m perfectly fine with ditching the dream of eating my favorite flavor with you.

Special Someone is fixated on the cookies on display.

SS:  I think I want the dark chocolate peanut butter chip.  Let’s get that!

We get both the chocolate chocolate chip and the chocolate peanut butter chip.  We hightail back to my lair, open our bag and place them on a plate.  I am eager for us to dig in.

SS:  Hey, I thought you wanted to photograph these for your blog?

Me (salivating):  Huh?

She whips out her iPhone and takes a picture.

Dark chocolate peanut butter chip on left and dark chocolate chocolate chip on right. Cookie bliss somewhere in-between.

We first try the chocolate peanut butter chip.  The center is warm, ooey, gooey, and the peanut butter chips are melty, too.  This cookie is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on steroids.  For those of you that are peanut and nut-averse, take it from us that the chocolate chocolate chip is equally satisfying; like a chocolate lava-filled brownie with a crusty shell.

Special Someone enters cookie-bliss and I follow her lead.  As we eat our cookies, I realize that cake-connoisseur Milton is onto something when he laments the loss of the many bakeries he’s loved that are no longer around. If the Levain Bakery ever shutters, that will be a sure sign that the Upper West Side is on the decline.  In fact, it might be yet another indicator that western civilization on a whole has entered freefall.

Levain Bakery ever going away! I can't face it!

Lame Adventure 289: Spring Preview!

Even though the weather is chilly again today and it’s not expected to escape the forties on Saturday, this past Thursday we had a lovely sneak preview of spring here in Gotham City with temperatures climbing 24 degrees above average to 71. Yet, it wasn’t a record high.  That was set back in 1987 when it was 76 on that date (March 8th) in weather history. I emailed this news to my Special Someone who has been away and added:

Me: Have I told you that I’ve become a meteorologist in your absence?

After taking a walk outside on this beautiful Thursday, my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), was feeling warm when she returned to our stuffy office.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Can we open the door?

She knows I have a peeve about people leaving the door to our office open.

Me:  Why open the door?  Why not open the window?

(not) Under Ling (anymore) gives me a look that asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore)’s Look asking:  Who’s going to do that?

Me:  You’re practically thirty years younger than me; you’re going to do it!

My Look barking:  You know that there’s no way I’m going to risk pulling, straining or dislocating any precious body part just to open the window.

Hearing that message from My Look loud and clear (not) Under Ling (anymore) carefully climbs atop a counter to open one of our windows.  I build her confidence from the confines of my chair.

Me:  There are bars; you’re not going to fall out [muttering inaudibly] I hope.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) is a very svelte individual.  As she struggles to dislodge the stubborn window she asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Why are there bars on our windows?

Me:  To discourage us from throwing ourselves out.  We set the standard for Foxconn.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, it’s stuck!

Me:  Get Greg to do it.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) asks our department’s hero, my sidekick Greg, to intervene.  Greg leaps into our office in a single bound resisting the urge to sing:

Greg not singing: Here I come to save the day!

Me not saying what I’m thinking if he would sing:  Just open the window, will you?

Greg muscles the window open.

Our first opened window of 2012.

The warm breeze is pleasant prompting me to take a stroll to personally check out just how lovely this day is in Tribeca.  It is a perfect day for many reasons.

Whenever I can forgo boots for sneakers I have happy feet, even though the seam from my sock was actually slicing through my little toe like a dagger.

There is torture happening inside this Jack Purcell sneaker.

Cute Italian compact cars look cuter.

A trashed coffee cop underneath barely detracts from this Fiat's cuteness.

Great weather is a great way to flaunt one’s sleeve tattoos.

Rachel who's got great tats flaunting them. My liver spots offer no competition.

Although I have easily walked down this stretch of Hudson Street hundreds of times before, I’ve never noticed this flower power wallpaper until now.

I feel transported back in time to Haight Ashbury circa 1967.

Flower stands just look even more colorful on a warm and sunny day.

I'll take one of everything.

A box of shamrocks offering a blunt reminder that it is still March.

Green beer, green bagel and green tongue-time is coming.

Pursuing a mate.

"C'mon, baby, check out my collection of pizza crusts in my nest."

Relaxing on a Duane Park bench with a Special Someone.

Special Someones Sasha and Vaughn.

It’s a good time to go bopping in a pink tutu.

But keeping it real with the winter boots.

It’s a great time to go tree climbing.

"Bet you can't do this, Lady!" "Bet you're right, Sonny!"

An even better time to pretend you’re an area rug.

“I’m dreaming I'm a shag carpet.”

A building built in 1891 carries its age well under a clear blue sky.

You still look fascinating for 121.

It’s terrific biking weather.

You don't even have to pay to park. Yet.

One of the nicest surprises happens at 6:03 in the evening while exiting the 72nd Street subway station on the Upper West Side.

It's 67 degrees!

Lame Adventure 286: Foiled!

In recent weeks I have been stalking a particular townhouse in my Upper West Side neighborhood.  As February inched closer to March, I became more and more obsessed with this dwelling.  Why?  Take a look.

Christmas in January and February townhouse.

Inside my head I had written and rewritten this post several times.  I considered calling it March Madness because who in their right mind continues to hang a holiday wreath into the month that kicks off spring?  Actually about fifteen years ago I happened to have had a next-door neighbor, a rather pleasant woman named Tiffany, Kay or Zales … Okay, I completely forget her name, but I clearly recall that it sounded like jewelry and she was a nice person.  Tiffany, Kay or Zales  kept one hanging outside her door until June. She did not strike me as demented in the least, just someone suffering an acute case of holiday wreath blindness.  Perversely, every time my visitors and I looked at that heavily shedding eyesore we saw it in 3D. To this day, I’m still finding pine needles inside my humble abode.  Back to the present, could this townhouse dweller have been  blind to his wreath as my former neighbor was to her contribution to blight?

Then, the unforeseeable happened this March 1st morning.

March 1st. Hey, where did it go?

Upon closer inspection, still missing.

First, I wondered:

Me: Did it fall off?

Then, I thought:

Me:  If it fell off, could I get arrested if I happened to re-hang it for my blog?

I resisted that temptation, followed the sane, responsible course and walked on.  Coincidentally I could not locate that wreath.  Frustrating.

Lame Adventure 278: New York Hospitality

This weekend, my buddy, Coco, celebrated her birthday, a relatively innocuous one since this year’s ended in a three, not a digit from the trinity of dread — zero, five or nine.  We settled on a plan to meet at 6:30 at an Italian restaurant we frequent in Greenwich Village. This gave me time to run a quick errand before hooking up with my pal.

When I returned to my sanctum sanctorum to pick up Coco’s birthday gift* and head downtown, I noticed that The Trash Phantom had visited my building while I was out.  The Trash Phantom is That Wily One that leaves  junk prominently displayed within close proximity of the trashcans without putting said junk actually inside the trashcans.  The Trash Phantom must deem this junk as having value to some schnook passing by in this neighborhood, where the average resident earns $80k.  I do not earn anywhere near $80k, but I also have standards and an immense fear of athlete’s foot. Therefore, this pair of purple plaid rain boots from The Eyesore Collection stuffed with an umbrella near my building’s trashcans had zero appeal to me.

Eyesore Collection Rain Boots. Look for them in the finest neighborhoods on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Considering the massive bedbug scare that plagued Gotham City in 2010, I’m very skittish about most junk I see on the street.  Yet, I suppose if it was a pillowcase stuffed with gold doubloon, my skittishness would instantly evaporate and I could easily access my inner pirate.

Regular readers of Lame Adventures, all three of you, may also recall that The Trash Phantoms have left outside my Casa de la Shangri-La fedoras, office furniture, and my personal favorite, an odd looking stuffed fish that reminded me of a tennis ball, possibly because when it was put out for grabs the timing coincided with the US Open tennis tournament and I had tennis on the brain.

Back by no demand, odd looking stuffed fish that reminded me of a tennis ball.

As usual, I wondered about the mentality of someone that would leave a pair of rain boots and an umbrella out for the taking.  Did this person think they were being altruistic, were they ambivalent about chucking rain boots that they knew were still in decent or possibly never worn condition, or were they someone with such advanced attention deficit disorder, they were distracted by a low flying sparrow, and completely blanked on their intended task, dumping the rain boots in the trash?

A few years ago a Trash Phantom left a vacuum cleaner out on West End Avenue.

Adopt-a-vacuum-cleaner.

They attached this note that I thought was responsible.

Sincere sounding adopt-a-vacuum-cleaner note.

Possibly The Trash Phantom of the Rain Boots could have done something similar:

Umbrella – like new.  Rain boots. Woman’s size [whatever].  Never Worn.  Have strong purple plaid aversion.  Please rescue.

*Coco’s practical birthday gift from me — a harmonica and a Mars candy bar – obvious useful objects my fashionista cohort would never think to give herself.

Perfect for the woman that loves Chanel.