All posts tagged: NYC

City Stargazing.

Astronomy is cool, you guys. So when the earth passed between Jupiter and the Sun a couple weeks ago, I wasn’t about to miss it. Fortunately, the High Line Park played host to the Amateur Astronomers Association, whose members schlepped their big-ass telescopes to the Meatpacking District so commoners like me, Eva, and my friends Maya, Emily and Harriet could look at Jupiter in all its many-mooned glory.

The brilliant work of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the High Line is built upon the old elevated train tracks on the west side of lower Manhattan, out of use since 1980. Construction on the park didn’t begin until 2006, and the intervening years saw the abandoned tracks reclaimed by nature, inspiring calls for its destruction. But as Alan Weisman eloquently writes in The World Without Us (which is a great book, by the way):

So many New Yorkers, glancing down from windows in Chelsea’s art district, were moved by the sight of this untended, flowering green ribbon, prophetically and swiftly laying claim to a dead slice of their city, that it was dubbed the High Line and officially designated a park.

Now open to the public (partially, a big northern chunk is still under construction), the High Line re-imagines traditional notions of urban public space and challenges our very definition “park.” Architecturally, it’s a gorgeous space– mixing poured concrete, steel, rusted iron, wood, and glass, and then setting these industrial materials against indigenous plants (which, admittedly, were destroyed during the revitalization and replanted with a nod towards an untended, natural aesthetic). It’s an embodiment of the type of urban planning so often discussed but so rarely acted upon: the clever reuse of an unutilized space that embraces its physical limitations while beautifully maximizing its potential for leisure, recreation, a quiet stroll, a private view, a public display. If you live in New York and haven’t been, go. If you’re planning a trip, work it into your itinerary… if for no other reason than to get yourself out of Midtown. It’s super beautiful in the daytime or at night, and WAY different depending on what time of day you go; I might be partial to night. I’ll stop babbling. Let’s just look at some pretty stuff.

These benches! Poured concrete, wood slats, steel support.

One of the bi-level bits that goes through a building. The blue neon is awesome at night.

The Standard Hotel, designed by Todd Schliemann, floats above the park on two concrete supports. Stunning building on the inside and out.

The Frank Gehry IAC building. Definitely awesome.

Possibly my favorite part of the park, this large seating area sits directly above 10th Avenue. This is one of four enormous glass panels.

I promise I’ll get back to the regularly scheduled programming of before-and-afters, DIYs, and recent acquisitions very soon. It’s been a whole week! The shame.

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That’s What’s Up: Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition

Partially as evidence that I actually leave the apartment (well, sometimes), partially to point out design-y stuff outside our cozy walls, and mostly just because I want to, I’d like to start writing occasional posts about some of the other things I enjoy besides the aroma of drying latex paint and the sweet melody of my electric screwdriver. To kick things off, I present to you the annual Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition.

Aside from being one of my very favorite places in this fine city, Coney Island boasts a pretty cool mix of design elements. Colorful hand-painted signage everywhere, graffiti, extensive use of neon– it’s dazzling. It’s a haphazardly layered testament to 90 years of history, a constant contrast of old and new. At once charming and revolting, it never fails to warm my heart.

I sport neither a beard nor a mustache, but hold a great deal of respect for people who do. Growing one seems like a difficult and humiliating process, a true labor of love. It takes gumption. Which is why, once a year, it’s important to recognize and support these brave pioneers of facial foliage while drinking locally manufactured beer on the southern tip of Brooklyn.

This dude should have won, but he didn’t.

I was enchanted by this couple, and I wish their fetus the best of luck with its hair-growing aspirations.

As a show of support, we donned fake mustaches with the help of some eyeliner. Here I am, applying a trucker-style ‘stache to my friend Emily.

The judges were some of the characters from the daytime sideshow acts, including the sword swallower, an elderly gentleman who looked like Buffalo Bill and performs a lasso act, and, appropriately, the bearded woman. That’s our emcee, Donny Vomit, assisting the sword swallower.

The “Best Natural Mustache” (as opposed to styled mustache) came down to an extremely tense arm-wrestling competition. The guy on the right won, but it was close.

The assorted winners. In the back row: Best Natural Mustache, Best Natural Beard, Best Sideburns, Best Styled Beard, Best in Show. Front row: Best Styled Mustache, Best Bearded Woman, Best Fake Mustache, and Worst in Show. The awards were their red fezzes.

I didn’t want to show this. But since I had to see it, so do you. The show ended with the other emcee/sideshowman feeding a small rubber tube through his nose, out his mouth, and then feeding whisky into it through a syringe for people to take “shots” from. It was disturbing and I could have watched the procession of audience members all night. No, I did not participate, I was raised right.

My friend Maya and I wore our mustaches all the way home because they suited us so nicely. Which kind of goes without saying.

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Out and About

It’s been a busy week or so working on the apartment, so since there are a lot of little projects in progress, I wanted to post about something outside our (mostly freshly painted) walls.

I’m not a very good vacationer. I don’t really think of myself as an incredibly energetic person, but I’m not somebody who can kick back on a beach for hours or even get through most TV shows without taking care of something else at the same time. And right now, this little apartment is like one big exciting project and I recently realized it’s become a bit consuming. So in the spirit of not becoming a hermit, I’m trying to get out and explore our new ‘hood a little bit. And the first little adventure purely for the sake of chillaxation was only a few blocks away to the Carl Schurz Park.

Away from the boardwalk, it’s a really green park with lots of lawns, plants, and paths. Much more structured than the more natural landscaping of Central Park, but definitely not a bad place to have only a few blocks from where I live.

And I couldn’t be more pleased with how many dogs there are on the Upper East Side. I didn’t pet these giants, but I do end up petting somebody’s dog almost everyday. Summer seems to put everybody in the sharing kind of mood where they don’t care if you snorgle their pup for a few minutes on the sidewalk.

More house-y posts coming soon, promise.

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The Bad and the Ugly

I will parse no words: apartment hunting is a harrowing, wicked task. Even with a broker, sorting through apartment after apartment basically amounts to an exercise in sustained frustration, one that might make you weigh the relative benefits of living out of a cardboard box. And as rough as walking around the entire southern end of Manhattan in 90 degree weather is, it’s even harder for the brokers: they have to find the listings and deal with finicky landlords. On several occasions he was supplied the keys to the apartment without the benefit of keys to the building, leaving us to wait outside and hope somebody who lived there would come or go, allowing a window of opportunity for a sneaky entrance. It’s been totally exhausting.

This weekend, Eva’s family was here on Saturday and Sunday, so I went out looking with our broker all by my lonesome. While it definitely would have been nice to have us both there, she really didn’t miss much. And we’re on the same page 99% of the time, which made it okay for me to go it alone. Teamwork!

Anyway, I thought it might be fun to post some photos of some of the places I looked at, some with some fairly memorable features. We are not planning to rent any of them. Most are in the East Village, where we did the majority of our searching. Please excuse the terrible photos!

It doesn't look bad, but this second bedroom was only 6 feet across. No grown-ups allowed.

Design dilemma: what to do with a tiny nook with a nice window and huge pipe running down the middle? If you can figure this one out, you win a prize. Except not really.

Always super fun to walk into a place that's in the midst of serious renovations 10 days before you want to move in. It'll be done! Uh-huh.

I love the website Awkward Family Photos, but some of these places made me think there should be a site called Awkward Rooms. This kitchen: like, so awkward.

Scary bathroom. Check out those stains on the tub! Mmmmm.

My favorite bathroom. The floor is the same black and white checkers, but smaller scale. Not a good room for epileptics or drunks.

The perk of the apartment with the checkered bathroom was this shared roof deck with a nice view of a community park. It was also an 8th floor walk-up. It was also on Avenue C (I think), which is a really, really long walk from campus.

So those are some glimpses of all the fabulous options! In reality, we’ve definitely seen some places we wouldn’t mind living in, these were just some memorably bad ones. Is the search for the Nest almost over? Or is it just beginning? Your guess is as good as ours, stay tuned!

Location, Location, Location.

Hands down, the best thing about living where we do currently is the close proximity to Washington Square Park, especially now that the weather’s getting nice.

If you live in New York, or even if you don’t, you might know that the park is undergoing huge renovations. Three quarters of it are fenced off and look like a complete mess, but the remaining quarter is lovely! Evidence:

People chillaxing on the lawn in various states of undress.

Pretty flowers, hoppin' band in the back belting out Dixieland style tunes

This man likes to feed squirrels. He'd named them, and they came when called. Voodoo.

This man just really likes pigeons. As did this jogger lady, who stopped to learn what it was all about.

I wanted to be best friends with this fabulous old lady and her doggy.

Eva gets acquainted.

Who says the handicapped can't have fun? Especially when listening to this awesome band, Roosevelt Dime. I watched them forever, and wished I had $20 on me to buy the CD.

They were so good, they warrant two photos.

So while our apartment probably won’t be in such a stupendous location, comparatively, we’ll still go to school at NYU. And once the construction is finished (I’ve heard by Fall, 2010), Washington Square Park will be an even better place to hang around during the day. Still, we might miss being able to walk out our front door and suddenly be there. If you want to listen to Roosevelt Dime (the band in the park), here’s a link to their myspace.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with the broker and it looks like the apartment hunt will officially begin on Saturday, April 17th! We’ll try to keep you entertained until then– stay tuned!

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