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Month: May 2007

bumpy ride

bumpy ride

Sunday morning started off with sleeping in late and pita bread cheese pizza. We went to Astoria park to play one last round of frisbee before heading off to the airport. The Metro bus line to the airport stops at the same Subway stop we’d been using the whole weekend (a mile walk). On the walk I had to take a photo of the “bumper protectors” that many cars sport in NYC. Because the space on the island is so limited, many (if not all) automobiles sustain heavy paint damage when parallel parking more than once. A new industry sprung up to protect those bumpers – and you see the ghastly result in this photograph.

After we got there to our dismay the bus was running late. After my experience on Monday at LAX I was not looking forward to a tight squeeze in schedule. When the bus finally came after nearly a half hour I was told by the operator that my dollar bills were no good – I had to use a metro card to get on. The metro station was right there – so Aaron and I booked it up the stairs and ran to the card machine. We had a card out of the machine and were back on the street in under sixty seconds. The bus was pulling away by this time though. I turned back in dismay when Aaron pointed ahead of me and told me to keep running. The bus had stopped at the red light up the road. I ran and caught it. When I knocked on the door however, the driver refused to open up and motioned for me to go back and wait for the next bus.

Thankfully, when I turned around I could already see the next bus coming since the first one had been so late.

So, at just past 2:30 I was on the bus to Laguardia for a 3:30 flight. It turned out that American Airlines was the last stop in a long line of terminals filled with Metro users that didn’t know the meaning of haste. I ran through the terminal and breezed through security. I glanced at the departures info and saw that my gate was gate 10. I ran. Then I ran more. Then I ran more. Gate ten was the last gate in the building. However, when I arrived I was dismayed to find out first that the flight had been delayed by over an hour. Then I was dismayed more when I saw that the terminal seating had been designed with a decidedly smaller crowd in mind – so I was going to have to stand while I waited on the plane.

Once the plane finally arrived we all shuffled in and prepared to takeoff only to wait in a long line of planes

Once in the air I chuckled when I saw the in-flight movie was “because I said so,” an abomination starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore as mother and daughter trying out online dating. In a pivitol scene Diane is driving down the freeway (of Los Angeles) in her Prius trying to catch up to her daughter and spy on their date when she is spotted and ducks… the car keeps going… Only moments before that she tried to figure out where her daughter was going via the in-dash navigation unit and became so frustrated when it couldn’t comprehend her menopuasal babbling that she actually started yelling and kicking at it. Yes, kicking at her own car’s dashboard and swerving all over the road. I pray to god that this is not a scene that many of the women in the initial theater audience could relate to. The film continued on in this manner in a caucophony of almost B-Movie worthy cliches.

I rolled my eyes and reached for my phone. When I obtained my Motorola Q I had also bought a 4 gig SD card in anticipation of plane rides like this. On the flight out I realized that my $80 studio headphones did not have a “2.5” plug that was necessary, but a “3.5.” While walking on the streets of NYC I had stopped at one of the many electronics shops and purchased a convertor. Now I discovered to my dismay that the convertor wouldn’t work with the design of the phone because of the shape of the rubber molding around the plug (the jack’s base was too wide). Technology had thwarted me again. Rather than go back to watching Mandy Moore’s attempt to be cuter than a baby panda and Diane Keaton’s attempt to be ditsier than a dead busty blonde I decided to try and set my watch back to California time and go to sleep. I managed to reset the watch – but I discovered the next morning that I didn’t do something properly because I’m still living on May the 27th….

When I got to DFW for my connection I was dismayed to find out it was on another terminal. DFW likes to boast that it is “the size of Manhattan.” As you can imagine they’ve done the best they can – but getting from one place to another isn’t exactly an instantaneous process. When I made it to terminal D I ran straight to my gate – #18. The signs said “Vancouver” however. It was then that I heard over the PA “This will serve as last call for flight 1667 to Burbank, last call.” In my panic I started panning around and I happened to see what looked like a flight attendant putting a com- mic back down on the table at an empty gate two gates away. I ran over to discover that she had just made the announcement, and the gate for my flight was changed from #20 to #18 at some point while I was riding the tram between terminals. This was infuriating since I had literally checked the departures screen immediately before getting on the tram! What would American Airlines have done for me if I “missed” my flight?

In any event I actually did make the flight and three hours later (yeah, for some reason it takes an extra hour to fly FROM DFW to BUR than from BUR to DFW) I was back on home soil. For the first time in my life I felt real appreciation for my laid back California brethren. $45 later I was out of the long-term lot and on my way home.

Go Metro

Go Metro

Saturday was a bit more relaxed. We had only one plan – to go to the Met, so we hung out at the apartment, talked philosophy over home-made spaghetti with meatballs and played frisbee in Astoria Park until early afternoon.

Here is a descriptive photo of a friendly warning posted on a neighbor’s house. The blurry enlargement is of an illustration of a pit bull gnawing on a bloody human arm. How cute!

Here is a shot taken in Astoria Park from under the Triborough Bridge looking out at the East River and the Hell Gate Bridge.

Afterwards we headed back to the apartment for the spaghetti lunch and then took the R into Manhattan once again. The first gallery we visited at the Met was the American Wing. To my surprise after only a few minutes I came upon a painting very familiar. This painting has been hanging in my parents’ living room for many years. I always thought it had been an original (never bothered to go up and feel it) that my mother had found or bought at an antiques store. Personally I never liked it because it always looked like there should be a house in the middle. After learning that it is nearly a century old and the subject matter is Eastern Oregon I’m even more befuddled. I tried to sneak a call to my mother as I stood in front of it only to find out that my cell phone was dead even though I’d charged it the night before. This was a common problem and Aaron explained it was due to the fact that I wasn’t on my usual network – so my phone had to constantly search for the signal – thus wasting lots of battery power. Maybe when pops reads this he can shed some light on how a print of a Childe Hassam painting displayed in the Met made it into his living room.

Aaron and I had an in depth conversation about our lives and our parents that left me feeling a little shaken. He has a year membership to the Met so he didn’t want to walk through any longer after the first ninety minutes. I wanted to see as much as possible so we agreed to split up and meet again at his apartment. I planned to stay until the museum closed at 9, but after another hour of walking through the galleries I was having a hard time finding new pieces.

I left the Met and crossed Central Park to the western side of the park to see if the Natural History Museum had anything to offer. On the way I stopped at the Belvadere Castle and the Great Lawn

It was closed, so I kept on walking along Central Park West until I came to a building that looked familiar. I couldn’t place it at first – but then I looked up at the top and realized it was the infamous “built by Ivo Shandor and held rooftop rituals in the 20s” building from Ghostbusters. Turns out it was built in 1929 by Schwartz and Gross.

I continued down Central Park West to Columbus Circle.

A handsome cab stopped for a breather right in my path after pulling through central park.

Knowing this was likely my last day in Manhattan I took a stroll down to Central Park Station again instead of getting on the subway at Columbus Circle.

Here is my last view of Times Square as dusk overtakes New York.

After returning home Aaron made some home-made cheese pizza with pita bread and a toaster oven.

We then walked to a convenience store and bought fruit and ice cream for a treat to watch the pilot of X-Files on his computer. Apparently Aaron is going through the X-Files and STNG addiction that I had in college. Of course, I had to catch it all at random on Spike network – he is watching them on the internet.

On the way to the store I saw a great view of the Triborough Bridge that I wanted to capture on film. There was nothing to stabalize the camera for a long exposure though – so after the x-files I borrowed Aaron’s tripod and we ventured back out.

Some might say it is risking your life to hang out in a dark alleyway in Queens at 1am. All I found were some ghosts that looked like me.

Thats okay, these rough dudes can take on any restless ghosts wandering around Astoria.

and – here it is – the shot I wanted

Liberty is unattainable

Liberty is unattainable

The plan for Friday was to get up at a reasonable hour, eat breakfast, and head into the city to eat lunch at L&L Hawaiian BBQ. By Friday morning – the New York smog and Pollen were really tearing me up and my feet weren’t any less blistered from the mileage they racked up on day one, so we stopped at a few Duane Reades looking for Claratin and Tylenol. Once found I hobbled to L&L where we had some really great Hawaiian fast food. At the time I thought “man, I hope I can find something like this in LA.” Ironically when I later did a google search I found that L&L is a national chain with many California locations – including two within five miles of my home.

As we left L&L the medicine started to kick in a bit and I was in slightly better spirits as you can see from this alleyway shot.

We walked to the financial district and looked at the construction of the new Freedom Tower going up where the Twin Towers once stood.

From there we walked down Trinity Place stopping at Trinity Church and learned about it’s history and role in/on 9/11.

The roots sculpture

Sculpture of Adam and Eve in the middle of the cemetery (many graves were hundreds of years old).

We walked down the Canyon of Heroes through the financial district. Past the American Stock Exchange and past the famous Bull. Soon we reached Battery Park.

At the entrance to Battery Park was a mangled sculpture of the globe by Fritz Koenig that had once stood in front of the World Trade Towers. It stands now in Battery Park with an eternal flame as a grim reminder of how that world and ours changed on September 11th. Of course, the irony is that it looked sort of mangled to begin with.

After entering Fort Clinton we learned we had arrived five minutes late for the last ferry to Liberty Island. When we walked out of Fort Clinton we stumbled upon a group of street performers. They called themselves “The Positive Brothers” and were more show than go despite a few random hand stands and summersaults. After a bit they lined up five girls from the crowd and started preparing for….something. But, first they got out large canvas bags and informed the crowd (jokingly) that if they started to run away without giving any money they would run us down…since they are black…and we are white and obviously therefore not athletically inclined.

Here is a video (by someone else) of more of their “act.”

We walked away. We took a breather by the River. That speck in the distance is Lady Liberty. This would end up being the closest I’d ever get to her.

After a brief sit we headed back uptown from the Battery Park subway station to Grand Central Station

Aaron gave me a bit of the history of the terminal, that it almost got closed down by greedy entrepeneurs in the 80’s, and that at one time the US had stowed an inactive warhead right in the middle of the main causeway. The missile was so tall that a hole had to be cut in the ceiling – which can still be seen today.

At grand central we loaded up on candy and drinks for our next destination – the AMC theater in Times Square. Paprika came out that day and after recently being gifted a copy of Spirited Away by Cindy I was anxious to see what was heralded as the best Japanimation ever made. It wasn’t.

However, we discovered that customers were allowed out on the roof of whatever floor we were on. We must have gone up six different escalators to get to our theater – but the view outside afterwards was worth it.

After the film we headed home, tired from a long day.

Manhattan

Manhattan

Aaron had to be at work at 9:30am at his animation internship on 37th avenue and wanted me to take the subway into Manhattan with him. I declined citing the reason that it would be “too early” as it would feel like 6:30am to me. Really though I just wanted to say that I rode the New York City subway into Manhattan by myself.

I started out from 9th Street.

The subway is a mile from Aaron’s apartment. The ride was smoother than I expected and buying a ticket was fairly easy since any ticket any time any day to go anywhere is only $2.

Once in the city I got off at Times Square and came up into a new world. Then I realized how much it looked like Universal City Walk and Hollywood & Highland.

Right in the middle of times square a TV network (Good Morning America?) was shooting a live feed of sailors dancing with New York Knicks Cheerleaders. It made more sense when I learned later that this week was “fleet week

The first thing I noticed about New York City was noise pollution. Even in Queens at all hours of the night you could hear car alarms and horns. In the city it is so terrible that at several intersections there are signs posted to warn of fines for honking. If the NYPD ever bothered to enforce this law they’d be able to pay off the national debt in under a week.

I called my parents and left a message on their machine before calling Aaron and setting up a noon lunch meeting five blocks south. We walked another few blocks in search of “authentic New York Pizza.” We found it at a small place called Spinelli’s that was across the block (diagonally) from Madison Square Garden. We ate on the second floor by an all glass window wall looking out on the intersection. I’ve pointed to it in the shot (taken about an hour later) below.

After lunch I realized I was only a few blocks from the Empire State Building. So, I walked down and bought a ticket. After an hour wait I was at the 86th floor eye-level with the smog. Did I mention the smog? Somehow NYC manages to have worse smog and air pollution (at least visually) than Los Angeles despite the fact that everyone rides the subway.

The smog is so bad that in this photo you can barely see past central park.

After waiting another 45 minutes to get down from the 86th floor I decided to test out my walking shoes and attempt again to make contact with my parents and other notables.

I walked up to central park via 7th Avenue.

I crossed the bridge used for the “ring giveback” scene in Spiderman 3.

I walked further up in the park and then exited on the east side and walked up the sidewalk just outside of the park. At one point I passed what was obviously a photo shoot for the kind of silly perfume/clothing/watch/shoes magazine ads seen in things like GQ.

I soon ended up at the Met. I didn’t go in though because I knew I wouldn’t have time to see much before meeting Aaron for dinner.

From the Met I walked east for quite a few blocks and then south in search of a Jamba Juice, a restroom and a nice place to sit down and attempt some more phone calls.

At 6:30 I met Aaron again on 37th Avenue for dinner. We walked a few feet to the end of the block and at dinner at Gray’s Papaya. Two (small) hot dogs and a (small) Papaya juice drink for $3.50. Apparently this was a steal for NYC. Standing room only, so we stood and watched the mass of New Yorkers leaving for home.

We then hopped on the downtown train and reemerged in China Town. China Town was wholly unimpressive – at least after seeing San Francisco’s. We walked further south past the government buildings (and a square which reminded both of us of Cleveland) and onto the Brooklyn bridge.

Here Aaron is seen shoving the cabling back into the ground after Dr. Octopus cut the strands. No idea where Spiderman was….

By the time we reached the first gate (seen in the photo) my feet protested loudly at the idea of walking all the way to Brooklyn. We examined a mini-map that I’d bought earlier in the day and discovered I’d already walked six miles or more. We hopped on the subway at the end of the bridge and headed back to Astoria, Queens.

Back in Astoria we swapped music and stories whilst munching on grapes and cheese.

Here to there in a day

Here to there in a day

The trip to Laguardia was uneventful aside from some nasty gas and a bad in-flight movie (Bridge to Terabithia).

Due to a miscommunication earlier Aaron wasn’t waiting for me at the airport and so I took a cab ride to Queens. Fortunately Aaron doesn’t actually live in the further eastward part of Queens so the ride was quick and painless (despite my cabbie getting lost). I was greeted by my friend standing on his balcony with a guitar in hand.

After meeting his roommates Todd (whom I’d met once before) and Gaby Aaron and I headed out for a bite to eat. We walked two miles northwest to Ditmars blvd. and ate at The Igloo Cafe. The Cafe is located near the Ditmars 31st street intersection and the subway platform we’d be using every day for the remainder of our trip. Actually the Ditmars stop is the last stop on the N/R line and we’d usually get off at the closer Astoria blvd. stop.

Here is a shot from under the subway stop.

and here is the view from the end of 9th Street (my friend’s apartment) showing the East River and Triborough Bridge.

the Ore is Gone

the Ore is Gone

After managing to wake myself up at 5am I sat in my car in Culver City and waited for my coworker to pick me up en route to LAX for our flight to Portland. He called and said he was coming from the office – so I might as well park at the airport.

He was at the office because when I had talked to him the day before I had mentioned that I forgot to print out our flight information. This would become very important the next morning, as he couldn’t find our flight information either.

I tried to check in at the SouthWest terminal, but the machine was acting funky – so I started to stand in the information line. At this point we were 90 minutes from take-off. After waiting in line more I realized that weeks ago I had been debating with another coworker about what seats she had given us when the tickets were purchased. Why was this important? -Southwest doesn’t use assigned seating.

We checked the flight boards to find any other flight around 7:30am to Portland. It was a US Air flight. That created just one problem. The time was 6:20 and our terminal was on the opposite side of LAX. We knew what had to be done – and sprinted across traffic and parking lots until we got to our destination. Unfortunately the attendant at check-in informed us that because we were one minute too late we could not board the flight (which wasn’t leaving for another 44 minutes). We were informed that only other flight to Portland for the next several hours was a 10:30 flight on Alaskan. So, we went back across LAX to the Alaska terminal.

Through my coworkers refined optimism and persuasiveness we were able to convince the Alaskan attendant to buy our US Airways tickets at face value, saving $500. That left us with over three hours to kill – so we had a large breakfast of Omelettes at the Daily Grill (neither of us had eaten breakfast before our early morning sprints).

The first thing I noticed from the air was how green Oregon’s landscape is; a dense forest of green, quite beautiful even for someone raised in Ohio. For our meeting we crossed over the Columbia River into Camas Washington; we were told that on a good day we could see Mount St. Helens in the distance. Unfortunately it was a rather rainy day, but we were told that wasn’t unusual either.

When we touched down at LAX later we realized that we’d gone to separate parking garages. My coworker had recommended Wallypark but I had ended up at The Parking Spot. I wasn’t sure where the bus was going to stop so I ended up running to catch it after it went past. My only view of my surroundings once inside was the road directly in front of the bus. When I got off the bus it became quickly apparent that The Parking Spot had more than one location – and my car wasn’t at this one. In the throes of embarrassment I had to call my coworker and ask him to drive to the opposite side of LAX and pick me up and bring me right back to where he was starting from (Wallypark was right next to the Parking Spot I was supposed to go to).

It begins

It begins

I had a Monday morning flight to Portland Oregon so I decided to skip the early morning 405 south parking lot and stay with a friend in Culver City Sunday night.

We did some people watching at Costco, had some Mexican (again, I’m the only one that likes this place) at On The Border, discussed our frustration with the world and she tried to teach me how to hula hoop (with a giant hoop). The appliances in her living room were scared, very scared.

future lucas arts employee

future lucas arts employee

As most everyone knows, I’m about to visit a friend in New York City in about a week from now. What you don’t know is who this friend is. Aaron has appeared several times on this blog – so he shouldn’t be completely unfamiliar. But, he has finally put up a website with his excellent sketch and sculpting work. I’d seen some of this in person when I visited San Francisco last fall – but a lot of it (mostly uniball) was new – and very impressive. When we left Ohio State I would have said that of the two of us he was the better sculptor and I was the better drawer. Well, now he is light years ahead of me (and probably everyone in our graduating class). It isn’t a stretch by any means to assume that he could be working in character development for a major movie studio in less than three years – assuming he isn’t living with his hot Columbian girlfriend south of the border.

Anyway – see for yourself here

28 days later

28 days later

This is the real deal. It actually looks more “fake” than the abandoned cities in the movies… how weird is that. These pictures look totally photoshopped, but they are the real deal holyfield. Creepy…