Everybody loves the Grid!

A friend just turned me on to a documentary called, “The Cruise” about a former NYC tour bus guide name Timothy “Speed” Levitch. He has a high nasally voice and is full of information on famous people who lived in the city at one time and waxes philosophically while trying to pick up on foreign women, and women in general hoping to get laid. Not that the movie shows him having much success at that, but at one point he is complaining how the tour company making him wear a mandatory red uniform shirt is not helping his “game”. My words, not his.

Anyway, it’s very insightful and I highly recommend it, just try not to get bugged by his voice. The reason this was recommended, was not only that I am nuevo in New York, but I was on the anti cruise. This is another Levitch concept from the movie. If you refer to my previous post, I was on the anti cruise, where nothing went right in my attempt to get to the West side of Manhattan. I was on a cluster fuck journey to make it to Chelsea Market, where nothing I tried went the way I planned. I complained to my friend, she laughed, and said “You were on the anti cruise.” And then she recommended the movie.

After all that crap I wasn’t going to take the same journey back, so I started walking, and I enjoyed the way back to Brooklyn much more. I wandered down Hudson a bit before cutting East and it helped me navigate my way around the more confusing aspects of lower Manhattan.

Look at the building, not the dude in his underwear!

As you can see in the picture above, the building has a triangular shape to it. If you have ever tried to find an address or drive around lower Manhattan, it can be kind of confusing. Blame the Dutch, since they settled the area initially. Maybe back then they were big into those coffee shops like they have in Amsterdam. I do know a bit about why this is and when it changed because I went to the NYC Museum and saw the exhibit, The Greatest Grid.

http://www.mcny.org/exhibitions/current/The-Greatest-Grid.html

It was an interesting history lesson, as well as a lesson in urban planning. In 1811, a plan was formulated to make everything to the North in Manhattan as a massive grid. Gone was the madness created by an area such as Five Points where all the pickpockets, drunks, con men, whores, and drug addicts flowed together like trash caught in a sewer grate after a rain. No sir, enough of this European styled design. This was America. We would be built on right angles and precision measurements. It was proclaimed that circles, stars, ovals, hexagons, and unkempt parallelograms would be exclusively forbidden. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we would be a nation of squares! And all the pickpockets, drunks, con men, whores, and drug addicts would have to find their own block to hang out on.

In a nutshell, that is why once you get North of Houston, things begin to have more order. Not entirely mind you, but it gets slightly easier for newbies. In the movie, Levitch rails about his disdain for the grid and even gets in a debate with a woman who tells him, “Everybody loves the grid. Who doesn’t love the grid?”

Let's have a drinking contest

Continuing on foot, I passed by the Whitehorse Tavern. I had been wanting to go here because famous writers, musicians, and drunks such as Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison had spent time there. Jack Kerouac was kicked out routinely. Dylan Thomas reportedly drank eighteen whiskeys one night and died. How cool! That was a John Bonham move when Bonzo was just a baby. Writers were the original Rock Stars.

Alas, the White Horse is just an old bar in an old building that is too overpriced for even the spirits of those dead guys to want to hang around anymore. I felt no connection with greatness, just a bunch of yuppies and some over sized meat head frat boys from Jersey who sized me up when I walked through the door. Yawn. So I drank my Guinness and left. Another been there, done that, don’t need to it again moment.

Looking South down 6th Ave was a great view of the under construction World Trade Center tower. Part of the appeal of these wide avenues is how you can look down them and enjoy the wonderful views of the architecture this city has to offer. Everybody loves the Grid!

I wandered over to Broadway and found the Pearl River Mart, which is kind of an Asian Gift Store/Target. It has some funny Chinese and Japanese novelty stuff and then just about any other household items you could want in a big spacious store. That’s why I say it’s like Target. Personally, I would rather go find it on Canal street and haggle with the salesman over the price. I’ve been to China, that would feel more authentic.

Moving down below Canal Street, I stopped in for a bowl of congee at a little Chinese restaurant. Congee, while being a funny name, is traditionally made from leftover rice and turned into a soupy porridge that in my case, I ordered with pork and 1000 year old egg. So good! I like to think of it as Chinese Menudo, good for a hangover. I know a lot of people who are into these hoity toity, fancy schmancy, standin liney too fucking long places for some overcooked, over priced eggs and cold white toast with a pretty garnish next to it. It’s just eggs people! Give me Chinese Menudo any day. Especially if it’s 2PM and I just rolled out of bed.

This massive bowl cost $4. As you can see I was nearly done at this point, but I had one more thing to eat, soft shell crab.

Salt and Pepper fried with some onions and jalapenos, mmmm that was good. And only $5!

I set back out on foot. Bought 5 oranges for $2 before leaving Chinatown because they have the best produce prices in New York that I’ve seen. I was heading East for the Williamsburg Bridge and came across this building as the sun began to drop.

I walked over the bridge and enjoyed the views of the city, graffitti, and this Hasidic man out for a jog.

These guys were pretty cool, but it brings up the eternal question: Gay, Pimp, or Rock Star?

I’m not positive, but I think they’re saying I can live here for free.

I crossed the bridge and had about another mile to go before I could kick off my shoes and relax. I was over the subway riding fiasco and my cruise had been a fun adventure. Nothing beats walking for all the fun things you can discover.

-The Unread Blogger

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Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!

Today was my first ridiculous subway experience. Oh sure I’ve gone uptown when I should have gone downtown. I’ve walked up the stairs and outside and gone completely the wrong way. Those usually ended with a laugh as I reversed course and righted the ship. This time, however, my patience wore a little thin. It started with the L train being flat out closed. The L train generally runs East to West from Brooklyn to Manhattan and would have taken me from Williamsburg to 8th Ave. Instead they told me ‘Jump on this shuttle and it will take you to the J train.’

After the shuttle wandered through Williamsburg picking up everyone else needing to be rerouted, I realized I should have just walked to the J in the first place.  So I take the J train to Canal street on Manhattan, thinking I can get to the Blue line at Canal Street. What I learned is that just because there is a stop there, it does not mean you can get to that similar named stop from a different line. Sometimes, maybe. Always, no.

So instead I took the Green line uptown to Bleecker street thinking I could get to the Orange line. Once again, NO! At this point I get back on the Green, ride a couple stops, move to the Green express and ride to Grand Central Station. There I go to the 7 line because it goes East to West, but it’s closed too! I’m getting an idea how these things work now. Ultimately, there is another option, the shuttle to Times Square. Funny thing is it’s a subway car, why do they call it a shuttle?

I arrive at Times Square, walk some dungeons and dragons journey through hallways and down stairs, past beggars and pan flute piping minstrels and arrive at the Blue line. This time, I’m on the North side of my destination but at least in range. Only five stops to ride and I’m back on track. Fortunately I wasn’t on an exact time schedule but I figure what should have been a fifteen minute trip took an hour and fifteen.  Live and learn.

– The Unread Blogger

Overheard on the Subway

Everybody loves people watching. Checking out people’s styles and attitudes, the way they interact. Sitting in a crowded bar on a Friday night or on a park bench on a hot summer day can provide nearly endless entertainment. How do you feel about people listening? Sure, we could call it eavesdropping, but that makes it sound so dirty, so contrived. If you’re in a public place talking loudly with your friends, or even worse on your friggin’ cell phone, then you deserve to be made fun of for the stupid shit that comes out of your mouth.

A little background for you. The Unread Blogger spent many years as a bartender, a fact that has been largely ignored by the local restaurant community.  But my unemployment will be a subject for another post. My point was when I walked up and down serving the bar, people sometimes forgot I was there. Now some people flat out told me their troubles and I listened like any good bartender should. But some of the funniest, nastiest, dirtiest, most scandalous things were said when I was not expected to be listening. And women, your stories were the best, or the worst, depending on perspective. However, I am a professional, at least I was, and I overheard your stories in confidentiality and would never sell you down the river. Just remember your bartender hears everything. Even washing glasses on the other side of the bar. Well except that hipster dude with the handle bar mustache, he’s too cool to pay attention to anything.

However, when you ride the subway and you are surrounded by people who are fare paying customers, it is on. Last night I’m coming home to my little couch on the prairie and the subway is fairly full, and two boys, because that’s the way they referred to themselves, were talking about their exploits. They apparently are enrolled in school of some sort; art, film, somewhere you can find lots of girls willing to bang you according to them. So I got to listen to all their exploits and planned exploits as they carried on as if they were the only two people on the subway. At one point it lead into a little about a grad teacher only a few years older who told him:

“Don’t come to class drunk or high”

“But I swear I don’t”

“Dude, it must be your eyes.”

“Well, we have mutual friends, she told me.”

“Maybe she wants you, do you want her?”

“The teacher, hell no. But you know who I passed by yesterday?  The lesbian that plays guitar. We passed by each other and turned to look at each other after we walked by. And I was all ‘I knew you like boys.’ Right, I mean she totally was into me, why would she check me out otherwise. She must do boys occasionally.”

And it went on and on and on. And I know I wasn’t the only one listening.

So good luck boys, with the whole banging girls thing, but really, that was pretty tacky.

And for the lesbian that plays guitar, it sounds like you’re very pretty. I don’t care whether you like boys or girls, or men for that matter, just stay away from that douche.

I’ll be listening.

-The Unread Blogger

No Bad Pun Here

Huh. Say What?

This is not a sports blog, but today is about Jeremy Lin. And it seems to be De rigueur in the sports journalism world to write headlines that involve cheesy puns based on the teams or players involved. Y’know? “Linsanity”

The Unread Blogger does not subscribe to such ridiculous standards. The Unread Blogger extends his mighty middle finger to convention. But enough about me.

Tonight, Lin and the Knicks were handled by the swarming defense of the Miami Heat. They showed who the best team in the East is right now. And this could very well be the year LeBron finally gets a championship ring. Jeremy Lin shows he has a long way to go before he reaches the rank of superstar. He shot 1 for 11, but even uglier were the 8 turnovers. I know Lin is  young, but he needs to work on ball security. On the bright side, he made all 6 of his free throws and had 3 steals.

The Unread Blogger cheers on Lin’s success because Lin was often overlooked and took advantage of an opportunity when it came his way. The Unread Blogger believes he too deserves a shot at success. The Unread Blogger also sleeps on a couch.

Young Mr. Lin sleeps on couches no longer. He has rented a condo at the W Hotel that rents for $13,000 a month. The true terms were not disclosed, because he’s apparently getting a “deal”.

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/photos/index.html?propertyID=97502#photo_section_4Link

The W sure looks like a nice place. It probably has a great couch. Yo Jeremy! You need a caretaker?

-The Unread Blogger

Lost in NYC

Image

Greetings from New York City. I’m standing here in front of an original painting of the Five Points neighborhood that shows the madness of living in New York in the early 1800’s. Things haven’t changed much since then. Sure, it’s grown bigger. More people have moved here. The traffic sucks. And the rat population has grown exponentially, but hey, isn’t that the fun of living in the big city? After all, no kid from the sticks ever says, ‘When I grow up, I’m gonna make it big in Des Moines, Iowa.”

Fuck no! If you have any sort of balls or are completely delusional, New York City is the place to be. Fortunately for me I’m stacked on both sides of that coin. So when my job pulled the rug out from under me, I thought to myself, ‘Self, you have no job, no girlfriend, no life, and really no employable skills, let’s pack up and move to NYC.’

And only a short while later I arrived in town, armed with a cheap guitar, some untrendy clothes, my dead end street smarts, and a studly body ready to be sold to the highest bidder.

Since I arrived, the Giants won the Super Bowl, and Jeremy Lin went from sleeping on a couch and almost out of the NBA to leading the Knicks from out of the toilet and into the bottom of the playoffs bracket. Yes indeed, things are looking up.

Tune in as I wander around the city on foot and ride the wrong subways, getting lost, but always stumbling into something fun and exciting. Come along as I try and get drunk, get laid, and hopefully find a job so like Jeremy Lin, I can get off my friend’s couch.

-The Unread Blogger