Friday, December 29, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The day

Returned my videos to the only video store below Houston, apparently - took me four months to find it. It's in Battery Park City, which is a very upscale neighbourhood west of here, a world apart from the peddlers and steaming sewer grates of Fulton St. Instead, it has cute gelato places and cafés, gyms facing the waterfront, upscale Italian groceries. Go on a weekend and watch the trim, L. L. Bean-wearing yuppie 42-year-olds take their toddlers to the park. Go on a weekday and watch the Filipina nannies take them.

I then went up to 34th to Macy's, and took a picture of the Empire State Building nearby. It really is spectacular, non? Despite its fancy holiday windows, Macy's only has half a floor of toys. The rest is dedicated to women's clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc. Twas boring, but the escalators are perfect.

Comp Lists

For the philosophy students - other readers will want to skip this post (new posts below).

Remember me complaining about my comps reading lists? I have transcribed the Ancient and Medieval ones here. When the feeling returns to my fingers, I might do the other ones.


Kirk and Raven (eds.)
The Presocratic Philosophers, Chapters II-VII, IX-XI, XIV-XV, XVII

Apology of Socrates

On Interpretation
Posterior Analytics
, Books I-IV, VII
, Books I-IX, XII (i.e. Alpha through Theta, and Lambda)
de Anima
Nicomachean Ethics
On Poetics

Principal Doctrines

The Nature of the Universe

Sextus Empiricus
Outlines of Pyrrhonism



Concerning the Teacher
On the Immorality of the Soul
On the Free Choice of the Will
The Confessions,
Books VII-XI
On the Trinity,
Books VII-XV

D. Proclus
The Elements of Theology

The Consolation of Philosophy

John the Scot (Eriugena)
On the Division of Nature

Anselm of Canterbury
Basic Writings
(ed. S. S. Deane)

The Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle

On the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy
The Decisive Treatise in Medieval Political Philosophy

Thomas Aquinas
The Division and Methods of the Sciences
Concerning Being and Essence
Summa Theologiae,
Vols. I and II

Duns Scotus
Philosophical Writings
God and Creature

William of Ockham
Philosophical Writings
(Library of Liberal Arts)
Predestination, God's Foreknowledge and Future Contingents

Nicholas of Cusa
Of Learned Ignorance

Meister Eckhart
Sermons and Treatises

Francisco Suarez
Selections from Three Works
(Classics of International Law, No. 20, Oxford, 1944)

The Guide of the Perplexed

Leonardo da Vinci
The Notebooks

Marsilio Ficino
Commentary on Plato's Symposium

Pico della Mirandola
Oration on the Dignity of Man
Of Being and Unity

D. Erasmus
The Praise of Folly

Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince
The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy

Thomas More

Tommaso Campanella
The City of the Sun

Giordano Bruno
The Ash Wednesday Supper
On the Infinite Universe and Worlds

Johannes Kepler
Mysterium Cosmographicum

Galileo Galilei
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

E. Cassirer, P.O. Kristeller, and J.H. Randall, eds.
The Renaissance Philosophy of Man

Monday, December 18, 2006

Gran Turisma

Tonight Grace and I went to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes. Jealous much? We drank $8 rum and cokes with glow stir-sticks the better to let the spectacular wash over us. Santa was played by a gay Jewish man, but I don't think the under-ten set knew that. The show catered to younger kids in parts, and to the post-9/11 fundamentalist demographic in others. I shit you not - after an hour and fifteen minutes of crazy Santa shopatMacy's Rockette broughttoyoubyCocaCola action, they dimmed the lights, locked the doors, and put on a dead serious nativity pageant. They actually read the gospel - including the 14 verses about registering all the taxpayers. They named each of the Magi. And the crowd, until now completely normal, went crazazazazy with the flash photography.

But I have to tell you, those Rockettes were something else. Grace and I loved them. There were like, 400 of them in a line, doing their high kicks perfectly in synch. Actually, one of the coolest things they did involved toy soldier costumes with floor-length pants and no high kicks at all. Can't describe it, but it was robot-like, it was amazing, and it was obviously completely coked out. Just kidding! We were north of 42nd street!

Afterwards we went and ate in Times Square, because when Grace's parents were in town, they went to a taping of a really bad show that has probably already been cancelled called "Dr. Bob" or something, and watched a parade of pregnant teenagers and slutty moms and were given $50 in gift certificates to Planet Hollywood for their trouble. Doesn't buy nearly enough $9 rum and cokes, but we had a great time anyway.

The Trial

Terrible book, but if you read it, you'll have some idea of the kind of circular, inconsistent, no-progress, crazy-making bureaucratic crap I've been dealing with over the past few weeks, over every single aspect of my life (bank, phone, housing, school, job etc. etc. etc.). Josef K. had to come to terms with the fact that he couldn't beat them at their own game, but at least, mercifully, they kill him in the end.

So yes, I have a new job - teaching for a community college affiliated with SUNY. The woman I applied to was extremely enthusiastic upon hearing from me. The interview consisted of her telling me all the reasons I wouldn't want the job, then pleading with me to still take it. And she made it sound all Dangerous Minds like - me and a bunch of Black and Latino kids "who in the past have had mixed academic success." In Yonkers. Logic.

The interview was way up in Westchester county, so I got to take the train out of Grand Central, where they have this incredible sound and light show over the holidays. The acoustics are amazing and the classical music piece starts with the brass section making a sound very much like a train's horn blaring - so a propos. And they kaleidoscope holiday images all over the ceiling and walls. As one NY blogger put it "Another reason for people not to look where they're going."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Une histoire d'hobo

Catching the A train the other day, I saw a hobo methodically emptying a pay phone of all of its quarters. He was taking them out of the coin return slot, and the phone looked relatively undamaged. I wanted to ask him how he does it, but I didn't figure he'd be interested in revealing the tricks of the hobo trade.

UPDATE: I have since seen several other hobos doing the same thing to several other payphones. Huh.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Bushwick, Bedstuy

A remedial post...

My first week back from the Thanksgiving Canada trip I was never, ever at home, such that my suitcase still lay on the floor, its contens strewn (ok, that's still the case - I'm holding out for Christmas), and some of that time was spent in Brooklyn, so I will tell you about it.

A couple we know has a loft in Bushwick, just off Knickerbocker. (Brooklyn is great for sui generis New York nomenclature: Canarsie. Rockaway. Flatbush.) Bushwick is a neighbourhood where you can't find Cheerios in the supermarket but there is an entire aisle dedicated to these (and not just Jesus, obviously - they have the saint candle for whatever ails you):

Another friend shares an apartment in Bedstuy (Bedford Stuyvesant). We bought 40s of Ballantine at the bodega for $2. Some guy who claimed to be a welterweight champion followed us back to our friend's stoop. Told Grace and me the next time we came around we should bring our cousins.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Little packages left on the all of the door handles in the dorm:

1 discount coupon for Stomp
1 individually-wrapped Cinnamon Stick tea
1 condom

This one's for the ladies

Thought you might like to know how the whole lip wax thing pans out here in New York.

I don't know about you, but I develop a brilliant red handle bar for about two hours afterwards, so it's important to me to be able to go someplace with good, nearby parking, such that I can dash home without seeing any public. Of course, here that means someplace within reeeaaal close walking distance. Luckily, there are "Nails" places everywhere in Manhattan; being in fact more frequent than gyms, corner groceries, or cell phone dealers. So I went to one of the ones in my building.

A tiny Korean woman asks me, from across the room, what I want done. And the half dozen Financial Districters (an equal number of men and women) getting their lunchtime mani/pedi breezily look over to hear my mumbled request for, uh, a lip wax. Tiny Korean woman takes me into the closest room, motions me to the paper-lined moustachectomy bed, and does her thing, (in the mean time, another Korean woman has wandered in just to, you know, watch).

When I leave ($6 plus $1 tip), I briskly walk the half block to home, fumbling with my stupid scarf which is too chenille to stand up over my mouth and which is such an implausible disguise anyway since it is 20 degrees out. I end up sort of holding it over my face, as though I am being evacuated from a smoke-filled building. And when I arrive back at the dorm, since rule number three in New York is that everyone is allowed to comment on everyone else's shit, one of the security guards starts laughing and asks me WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE, GIRL?

The end.

It's December 1st

68 = 20 in real degrees

Friday, December 01, 2006

Death to...

Okay, so I still don't have the cash on hand for the scholarship I was supposed to receive on September first. 6 weeks of that is due to some mix-up and SSHRC bureaucracy, about 3 weeks is due to my delay in depositing the cheque, as I contemplated opening an account elsewhere than the Bank of America, and the past 1 week is due to the stunning, stunning incompetence of the latter. I mean, I'll spare you the details, but
1) The woman who I was dealing with before no longer works there - in a "Ah yes, ummm, she no longer uh, works here [raise eyebrow]" kind of way.
2) The guy I deal with now doesn't know how the bank works. And tried to tell me my SSHRC cheque bounced.

Celebrity sighting!

The other day, I was walking through Washington Square Park on my way to borrowing some books from the well-endowed school down the street (NYBoo), when I passed a very scruffy homeless man sleeping on a park bench... in a full Santa get-up. Red hat, white hair, white beard, red suit, black belt, black boots, goggles... Ok, he didn't have goggles. Naturally, I didn't have my camera on me, though I probably wouldn't have taken/posted a picture of him anyway, since who am I to distribute an unauthorized reproduction of his image just because he is homeless and dressed like Santa. So I googled "homeless Santa" just now in the hopes of showing you an approximation, and got nothing. But if you picture Dan Ackroyd at his nadir in Trading Places, you get the idea.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Wheeee! Gah!

So each of the three times I've made the trip from Calgary to New York, I have had the same US border guard. In fact, today I walked past one available guy and went straight up to my regular. Why? Because he doesn't care that I am incapable of dotting my bureaucratic i's and crossing my t's. He takes one look at my photocopies-instead-of-originals, at my nearly-expired passport, and sweeps my documents back across the counter to me with "You're all set, kid."

Then, each time I have arrived in New York, I have taken a different mode of "GTR". First, a flat rate $45 cab ride, then a $19 shared van service, and today the plain old subway. I recommend the latter. I don't even have to transfer to get to Fulton. Also, as I was waiting for the train (an interminable 25 minutes - that should never happen), a heavily-accented thirty-something brown guy asked me to confirm that this line goes to the World Trade Center. Hee.

Now I am coming down with my third cold in the space of ten days. Cold number two was my favourite: my glands got so swollen they bruised the outside of my neck, and I had to go to the doctor to get antibiotics. Tomorrow I have to turn in a grant application (as yet unwritten), not to mention reckon with the monstrous pile of work that accumulated while I was drinking in Edmonton and Calgary.

But seriously, what a great freaking time. A little brawl in the Garneau Pub, a cosy apartment on the North side, icicle fights behind the Black Dog, bummed cigs, free tequila, home-cooked meals, and most of all, weepy declarations of how it just ain't the same without me and Grace around.

Oh yeah, tomorrow the forecast here says "partly cloudy and 18 C".

Friday, November 17, 2006

You heard me

So I am a very few hours away from a big trip home (10 whole days)! Literally: it is 1 am because I stayed up all night with my roommate watching S&tC (how apropos) and drinking vinho verde and talking about this city. This city. It's unreal. To quote a fragment of a conversation about me the other night between Grace and our friend:

Grace: She's not bitter!
Friend: No, I said the city bit her.

I've travelled, you know, and it's nothing like here. Roommate and I talked about the fact that when we go home and try to tell people like this, it can only come off as outstandingly pretentious. Ah, well.

Looking forward to seeing the Calgary and Edmonton humans, of course. But I am addicted to this place and it will not be hard to return.

Because, for example, a woman can walk down the street and have a 100 decibel conversation on her cell phone saying "Let's get something straight here, this conversation is between you and me. You hear me? I don't want anybody else hearin about this. No one." And there is nothing inconsistent about it.

That, and the hobos. Best hobos here in the whole wide world.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Here's one from the mouldy draft folder...

So yes, the election happened recently, and I wasn't planning on comment- ing except that it is being seen as a big deal even outside of this country, and I thought some of you people might be curious about what I have been witnessing/hearing/experiencing, living as I do in the U S and A.

People here are ecstatic, heralding this putative sea-change in the Congress (as well as Rumsfeld's ouster, etc.) with phrases such as "I can't wait for the Democrats to bring some accountability back to the House" and "About fucking time". New York is *not* the rest of the United States, and Manhattan even less so. The rest of the US (and I base this entirely on true crime documentaries) loves Jesus and goes to church on Sunday. (Lower) Manhattanites sometimes head up to the Abyssinian Baptist Church to hear good gospel singing (and to prove they're not afraid of Harlem). The rest of the US loves football and watches it on Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday night, and Monday night. Manhattanites will see it playing in the background, aloft on a flat-panel tv, at a French bistro or wine bar. I could go on.

The point is that elections are a caricature of democracy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Now you have it on authority

Another Friday night and another soirée in Brooklyn. Thank God parties here don't start until 10. Gives you time to get stuff done during the day. Like go to a brutalizing pilates (pronounced "pa-LOTS") class hungover, and have the instructor chastise you for not being flexible. And have grilled cheese and a milkshake at a diner. And go see the new documentary on Kazakhstan, which has a male nudity scene in it that I am still recovering from. Wawaweewah!

Yes, I have to post about something other than drinking and philosophy, but this quote from Hume will help explain why I keep doing so:

"I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, inviron'd in the deepest darkness. Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium. I dine, I play a game of back-gammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hour's [sic] amusement, I wou'd return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strain'd, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther. [And] at the time that I am tir'd with amusement and company, I feel my mind all collected within itself, and am naturally inclin'd to carry my view into all those subjects, about which I have met with so many disputes in the course of my reading and conversation."

In other words, it's literally methodologically necessary to drink with friends so as to emerge from the depths of philosophical skepticism. Just as it is impossible to stay away from philosophy once one has had one's fill of merriment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The lowdown

Ok, so I *wish* I could punctuate this post with pictures, and I will certainly try to at a later date. I just always forget to bring the camera with me when I leave the house 'cause I live here, ya know?

Off the Wagon (McDougall and something or other): One of many lame college bars right around NYBoo, with a frat house atmosphere and fake ID crowd. But on Mondays, they have $1 drafts. And there's a foosball table. While outside smoking, I chatted with a homely blond firefighter from Fredricton whose firehall buddy had booked them all on an excursion to Jersey. He thought this place was the shit. Yeah. Don't go there.

Spain (13th btw 6th & 7th): A pitcher of sangria serves three and as soon as you sit down, they bring you plates and plates of tapas - and I mean good stuff: meatballs, fried potatoes, shrimp, chorizo... Of course, the waiters really are old, authentic, accented European guys, so sometimes they treat you like family and other times expect you to pay for your drinks, down your tapas and get the fuck out. But the best part is... last time we were there this guy walked in. Looked like the short guy from the Sopranos: mid-fifties, comb-over, expensive Italian suit jacket and tailored shirt, pot belly. Oh, and a giant spider tattoo covering the entire front of his neck. As friend said, "That man has killed more than a few people." When we left, we found a shiny, spotless black Lincoln right out front, a guy inside passing time reading a magazine. Presumably the driver. So weird that that crap actually exists.

The Library (Houston and A): A punk rock dive bar with the best jukebox in the city: Fugazi, Operation Ivy, Minor Threat, the Smiths, etc. etc. etc. Always playing B-movies on the back wall. Natty Lights are $3. That's short for some crappy, weak American canned beer but I forget what. Everywhere we go, we drink either that or PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon). That's right - the beer you thought was only for the mullet set is a fan favourite in Manhattan. Well, the parts we hang out.

There are so many others but I'll write about them when they're fresh in my mind. This has been my week so far.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Sunday, November 05, 2006

How to kill a hangover in $4 and 4 neighbourhoods

Choose: partner in crime

Find: $1.50 bottle of water in the Financial District

Find: $1 dumplings in Chinatown

Find: $1.50 Coffee in Little Italy

Watch: garbage can shinny in the West Village

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween in New York

Halloween was madness. People here love it - there's a parade through the West Village of people in costume. People show up just to show off, and others show up just to watch. Two million people, all in all. That's how much they love it.

The best part, though, was just watching pirates and hooers and vampires packing the subway. Hee!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here, on the frontier of consumerism, you can...

1. Pay the list price for a book, and not the jacked-up local currency price which they print on a really gummy sticker and mask over the list price hmm I wonder why that is...

2. Order your groceries and have them delivered, and I don't mean using Fresh Direct or some other specialty service - you can literally call your own corner grocery store and tell them to bring you a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce what you forgot not 5 minutes ago when you were down there damnit.

3. For that matter, you can have a coffee delivered. I said "a".


5. Buy a $20 cell phone and fill it with minutes from a different cell phone company every month.

6. Get your dog a membership at the dog gym.

7. Go to a quaint little arthouse cinema on a Tuesday afternoon and watch a truly terrible little arthouse film.

8. Go to a club that only sells "bottles" and drop a minimum of $1000.

9. Go to a restaurant that serves nothing but PB&J sandwiches ("Peanut Butter & Co.", 240 Sullivan St). Or rice pudding ("Rice to Riches", 37 Spring St). Or macaroni and cheese ("S'MAC", 345 E 12th).

10. Leave your wallet at home and just soak up the sights, smells, and sounds of this fabulous city.

That last one is bullshit. You can't move in this city without spending money.


I have to tell you something. It's a great feeling when the clouds start to break and a section of philosophy starts becoming clear. Not least because academia is a constant vacillation between feeling grossly, grossly inadequate and discouraged ("I have read nothing/Everyone has read more than me"; "I understand nothing/Everyone understands more than me"; "I am a terrrible instructor/Everyone is a better instructor than me"; "I will never publish"; "I have no work ethic"; "I should just quit") - between that and a beaming sense of pride and accomplishment. It's probably 70/30, but the 30 is pretty damn good. And nothing else would be a challenge.

Went to see Babel this weekend, which was gratifying not only because it's an engrossing flick, but because it was a limited release (major US cities only, I guess) and afterwards I got to fill out a form about what characters I liked and what scenes I didn't and how I heard about the movie. Apparently sometimes they use that information to actually recut the film and sometimes (more likely in this case) they just take it as advice on how to market it better.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


The blog site has been stultifyingly slow lately, and I just don't have the patience to try to post.

Also, the keys in the upper-right corner of my keyboard are sticky from when I spilled pink lemonade on my computer. The delete key, which I am rather reliant upon, kind of sits there for a second, deciding how much it's actually going to delete, before making this sucky noise and popping back up again.

I went and studied at the New York Public Library the other day - the one with the lions, the one in the movies - and it is as grandiose as they all make it out to be. Those *classic* long wooden tables, green reading lamps, ornate gilded ceiling. Not as quiet as I would have thought, but perfectly good for reading through a few dozen pages of Freud. The books are non-circulating (you can't even wander among the stacks), which means they're always there, only you have to wait for the gopher to find them and bring them to you.

The other night, 2-ish, I was in a bar with some friends when about 20 cops came in, and started inspecting the place. The music went off, the cops started shining their flashlights around and eyeing all the patrons. Nobody who went out for a smoke was allowed back while this was taking place. It all went on for a good while (maybe half an hour), and then they left as unannounced as they came. Apparently - and this has since been confirmed for me - while bars are allowed to serve booze until around four, the "Cabaret laws" dictate that they aren't allowed to host dancing after 2:00. And what that comes down to is that the cops can shut a place down if they see - get this - more than two people dancing at a time. It's like a bad John Hughes movie. Or as Eddie Izzard says, "No smoking in the bars now, and pretty soon, no drinking and no talking."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Almost famous

Good god. I've been out of commission for a few days, since my very bad influence of a friend took me all over the East side and Brooklyn, in a drunken haze of meeting up and parting with various people, from bar to rooftop to bar, getting home finally at 4:30 am courtesy a cab driver who inexplicably turned off the meter and only charged me $10 for what should have been a $20 cab ride. Yesterday was spent in pennance, curled up in the 18 square feet of personal space that is my twin bed, watching true crime all day (I love you Court TV), and wishing that the roommates didn't have to file past my wretched self every time they needed the kitchen or bathroom.

Today I'm all business. Okay, so I took myself out for breakfast at this little diner around the corner - called "Andrews" [sic] - and had a remote date with my own Andrew, which involves doing the same thing simultaneously in our respective cities, and conversing about it via cell phone text messages. He had sausage and eggs; I had the ham and cheese omelette.

But since then I've been reading and cleaning the house, all the while squealing with excitement because I just received word that my first publication - a book review - is officially slated for next month's issue of the journal in question.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Soaking and crusty

Mmmmm... a glass of pinot and some leftover KD (okay, so I threw in some vine tomatoes and cheese and oregano and fresh ground pepper and a touch of cream). This is all very cosy after having been caught in the rain - of all the days I had to experiment with getting off at Wall Street, only to come out the west exit and get stuck on the wrong side of Broadway. I passed a schnauzer in a yellow raincoat, but myself had only a t-shirt on and no umbrella. I arrived with sopping tendrils and saturated cuffs; now I am warm and dry.

It's Wednesday, which means it's almost my weekend - no classes on Fridays - and I could pretty well imagine myself staying in for four days, preparing for my presentation on the Schematism, reading the Repetition, and getting ready for the Kristeva class, which starts in a few weeks. Not only because it would be good to get caught up, but because I've become sort of disenamoured with the social scene here. There are a few interesting people, but there is a whole lot of drinking and BRAGGING about how much Tillich or Buber you've read (who, for you non-philosophers, are fine authors but the corpus's equivalent of last year's American Idol winner). It makes me laugh and think of my friend Wesley's one-word summation of philosophy students: poncy. Brings out the crustiness in me.

I need to get myself in touch with some anarchists...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Travel plans

Do you like it? It’s my first knock-off. Now when I am forced to travel in a business suit, I won’t have to carry along my green army surplus bag.

Speaking of which, I am coming to Calgary and Edmonton November 17 to 26. A good time will be had by all.

Also, I have posted a few more photos under “Where we live” if you want to check back (accessible through the September archives).

New York to Tarare, come in Tarare. Kate, what the hell has become of your blog?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, then. Andrew leaves early early tomorrow a.m. Today we went for Dim Sum again, then wandered deep into Chinatown, into the parts that smell like fish poo, where there are really no round-eyes, to find a candy store that sells sour cherry blasters as well as candied tilapia and preserved Thai lemons, and a grocery store under the Manhattan Bridge – literally built right into its supports so that you can hear the subway go by overhead.

Tonight we had a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner – chicken thighs and Stove Top stuffing and mashed potatoes and packaged gravy and yellow beans. You can do a lot with an electric skillet and a small convection oven. We also had great meals the rest of the weekend. I had so start cooking again after all those restaurant visits when we were camped in the hotel (including a visit to the guacamole truck). Also, it was incredibly nice to come home again. I’m glad we stayed in the hotel for that very reason – to come home again and feel so cosy in this place. My stuff, my bathroom, my kitchen.

I am totally over the fashion thing. I think New York has a way of making you become what you already are. The flipside of the fact that this city is so crowded, and that you never, ever find yourself alone and in private, is that you can do whatever the frickety-frack you want, wherever and whenever you want. It’s fantastic.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Fish poo, then dumplings, then fish poo

Hasn't been much to report over the past few days since Andrew and I were holed up in a hotel and a Starbucks in Grammercy and nothing was happening in my life outside of the pages of the First Critique.

But I simply must post this HI-larious story from Grace:

"Twice in two days I've been stopped on my bike while trying to get to/from school by some random looking people with no apparent authority. They are the film crew for some movie/commercial being shot at 10th and Lafayette. They step right in front of you and start saying, "ma'am, stop, ma'am, this will just take two minutes, you cannot ride through until we're finished the shot ma'am." The first time I ignored the guy, he grabbed my handle bars and insisted that I stop, and the cops came over to ask the same thing (hmm, NYPD working for Hollywood??). Okay, so I waited impatiently, cause I thought it was lame and I was late for class. So, tonight after class, I was riding home and the exact same thing happened, only this time, there were more of us being held up. More complaints, delivery guys trying to get through, women on their cell phones with important places to be; we were all being contained by these two production assistants who were literally pleading with us to stop. So we all did (about 9 of us). Then this homeless guy wanders up, wearing a dirty old "I heart NY" t-shirt and tries to walk right past the assistants, who try to stop him by explaining that it would only be a minute. The homeless guy--and this is the punch line, finally-- said, "I don't have time for this," and marched right past the two, into the street where they were filming, and all we heard was the director guy yell, "CUT!" as he threw up his hands and everyone moved into the street. It
was great. The homeless guy led us all to freedom.

Then I rode through China town which smelled like rotten fish poo and then really good steamed dumplings. And then poo again."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New York is for lovers

Having a wonderful, wonderful time with Andrew here. He arrived after much organi- zational debacle at 2:00 am, so our first date was at a 24 hour Ukrainian diner (I know). The next day we lay low at the dorm, dying my hair and finally leaving the house at sevenish for risotto at my already favourite New York restaurant (fill up on the incredible breadsticks and pinot grigio, pack home the risotto). We followed that up with a few beers in Tribeca, then home.

Saturday we visited the farmer’s market and had brunch with another couple in Brooklyn, on a street that was very reminiscent of 4th avenue in Kitsilano. Then we subwayed back to Manhattan so that I could get my gym membership at the Y (as a student, I get to take advantage of the rock-bottom price of $50 a month) before their no-sign-up-fee promotion ended at 5:00. After that we went to the top of the Empire State Building, which is sort of the worst way of enjoying that particular site, since you are funneled through a lot of ugly, dry-walled, souvenir-laden corridors, masking the art deco sublimity that is the building itself. I know – you go for the view. I actually like the neck-craning view from the ground better. The 86th floor vantage just puts it all in perspective and proportion again, and the city loses its grandiosity.

That evening we wandered into Little Italy and found spaghetti bolognese, and today – having done the requisite East Village/Lower East Side drinking binge and noon sleep-in – we wandered into Chinatown and found dim sum. It’s great being able to do that. Of course, you can’t tell anyone about the fantastic places you find when you didn’t bother to take note of the sign on the door, or even what street you were on at the time.

We also spent a good chunk of the day in Central Park, me reading Kierkegaard, Andrew on my cell phone making hotel reservations, then the two of us wandering for hours on the picturesque walkways, under and over bridges, around ponds. We finally emerged at 78th Street (about 20 blocks north of where we started), and took Madison Avenue towards home. That is where all the obscenely rich people buy obscenely expensive clothing and jewelry and custom made fragrances. We bought two obscenely expensive cappuccinos. It feels like a different city compared to the grunge of downtown. There’s certainly nothing for me to do up there. I’m sure we saw some famous people (we saw enough body guards and limousines), but I was too busy powerwalking to my next meal to take note of who they were.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


…that’s how I feel and that’s why I haven’t blogged. Despite the MoMA, the past week ended up filled with little more than indolence, procrastination and wallowing. I am behind on my readings as a result, and as all students know, there is no greater disincentive to work.

There were some highlights, though. I found a dumpling place on Mulberry (I think) that serves up 6 potstickers for a dollar – one dollar! – and sells you frozen bags of 50 for $7. That was on the way home from the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy, which despite being 10 blocks long consists of only three things: sausage and pepper stands, carnie-type prize booths, and stalls selling Godfather and Scarface merchandise. I loved it anyway – strolling through on a calm fall day with my fancy new fall jacket on.

Some old stuff I forgot to post about: I went down to Ground Zero on September 11, and stood in the crowds for a while. (A mere block away it was chaos and open construction pits and suits scarfing down lunch.) I also caught that 9/11 documentary on t.v. again and recognized my neighbourhood in it – not just in a casual “Hey I know that place!” way, but in that way where you can feel the camera lens right on you.

I’ve very much settled in, and my own house and street and stomping grounds have all become mundane very fast. But the wonderful thing about cities like this is that all it takes is venturing one block over, and you find yourself immersed again in fascinatingly unfamiliar sights and sounds. Like yesterday on Sixth, with the autumn sunlight hitting the old brick buildings - including a 150-year-old apothecary - I hated going down into the subway. You can mix it up and do your shopping in Chinatown and swear you’re in Beijing. Or you can always venture way uptown and gawk at the stinking rich people in the windows of Versace.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006