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I brought Begonia and Rich a bottle of Urki from the Basque country via Rockridge. We put it in the freezer for a half hour and then enjoyed it on the roof with the Euskadi cocktail picks I found in a little store in Hondarribia. We baked in the sun, waited in anticipation for the occasional breeze, and misted ourselves over the kiddie pool with the hose. No better way to spend an impossibly hot Augest New York day.
I love riding the subway in New York. I don’t love subway station smells, or waiting for the subway (too much indecent exposure)–but once you get on that air conditioned train it’s great.
I’m otherwise totally uncomfortable in crowds, but the subway is an exception. All crowded in a train you really see New York–all those differences just jammed in together too close not to see or hear.
Best part is that people stare–unabashedly–at each other. Women at men, rich at poor, white people at brown people, twenty-somethings at teens, hipsters at suits, and everyone at tourists. People avoid too–noses in books and word searches–but find me a New Yorker who’s never taken part in the great city past time of the Subway Stare.
I got stared at right away when I got on the F downtown at 63rd, this time by a woman about my age and dressed similarly to me. That’s another great stare–the girl on girl what are you wearing stare–very common in New York, and frankly, not offensive to me. The women are beautiful here and they dress better than anywhere else in the U.S., so what better way to pass the time but by checking out the scenery?
Riding the NYC subway is not an experience you can replicate anywhere else. It’s created as much by the diversity of riders as the design of a system that is, in essence, thoroughly democratic. It’s affordable, efficient, and has stations almost anywhere anyone in the five boroughs lives (okay four, Staten Island gets no love, but it’s an island for pete’s sake).
Thinking I might benefit similarly from public transportation when I moved to the Bay Area was a naive aspiration. The trains are wide and the great majority of the seats are in one-direction facing rows. The NYC system by contrast has narrow train cars, and many with seats that face each other, with narrow standing room in the middle and bar above for holding on. This creates another great type of stare: The Staring Down At That Person Whose Seat You’re Waiting For Stare and the Staring At Your Lap Trying To Avoid Being Looked Down Upon Stare.
I got a seat after we passed Grand Central and then transferred at W. 4th to a downtown A train and got off at Canal. In contrast to the F, this A was quite empty, but there was a great loud family of Italian tourists to watch experience the greatness of the MTA.
While there are many reasons I live in Rockridge, and prefer to live in Rockridge, Bay Area public transit isn’t one of them. I miss the MTA. Looking forward to more rides today and the next few days…
Vintage NYC Subway Maps courtesy of the Subway Nut, a fun and thorough blog about the subway
The map as it appears today via MTA
It never ceases to amaze me that I grew up in L.A., let alone lived there for so long, because I just don’t like it at all. And in spite of wide-spread world-wide hatred of the place, in my circle I seem to be alone in this. My friends who grew up in L.A. and still live there love it (naturally), but so do my L.A.-to-New York transplant friends, who will never leave New York, but still find L.A. and amusing oddity. I just don’t think I could ever live there. Between the bad air, the traffic, and the silly airhead population (it could be just the waiters and waitresses, but either way, very unappetizing) I just don’t know how I ever did it. I managed to enjoy spending time with my family, and doing a few other activities I can share here.
I’ll never get over the loss of the original Western location I grew up with. That said, Woo Lae Oak still feels a little like going home. I got a great Chopin dirty martini too.
Santa Monica Beach
Everyone seems to love this place. I think they had an off-night, but it didn’t matter too much because I had great company. My dear dear friend Noelle and I met up for the hour-long wait, and then happened to run into two of her good friends Cheryl and Elizabeth, who were a total blast. It made up for the fact that the sushi chef was rude and “doesn’t do omikase.” What kind of sushi chef doesn’t?
Already covered that (see last post).
Another Day on Santa Monica Beach
I like the seeds.
A very fun night. Great work by all the artists, and a fun crowd.
The show features the work of “eight of the most exciting and emerging filmmakers, video artists, and design collectives from around the world.” The super eight are:
The Blackheart Gang (Cape Town, South Africa); Max Erdenberger (Portland, USA); Saam Farahmand (London, UK); Sophie Gateau (Paris, France); Miwa Matreyek (Los Angeles, USA); Terri Timely (San Francisco, USA); United Visual Artists (UVA) (London, UK); YesYesNo (Amsterdam, NL + New York, NY + London, UK).
Open late, and a truly spectacular burger. But too many rules. At Hama it’s no omikase, here it’s no vodka? And you aren’t allowed to put ketchup on your burger. Still, a great experience–thanks to John and Noelle in large part.
I’m glad to be home…if not for long.
Last night I had the absolutely unusual experience of watching C.W. Stoneking play music at the Redwood Bar in downtown Los Angeles.
An old and good friend whose initials, AB, fittingly begin the alphabet, and who has led me astray for the eventual betterment of us both (lover of walri*, gambling, and roots music) many times before, brought me to the show.
What you need to know about C.W. Stoneking: He sings, plays guitar and tenor banjo. He lived in Trinidad and traveled to West Africa and New Orleans. He plays pre-war blues, jazz, and early calypso. He writes his own songs and has a voice that makes your organs shake. He’s also a young, white, Australian guy. But don’t let that fool you.
Here is a short clip of one of my favorite numbers of last night:
This is Stoneking performing Robert Johnson’s song “All My Love in Vain” at a culb in Rosendale, New York in 2008:
Here is his music video for the title track from his most recent album “Jungle Blues:”
*walri: plural of walrus