Megnut

New York

On Manhattan Fashion

At least since last winter, if not before, I've observed a trend I like to call "Arctic Extreme!!!" People dressing like New York City is some vast frozen tundra, wearing huge Sorel boots rated to -60°F, donning 800 fill power down jackets, covering their heads in fur hats donned by Russian czars. I observed this and chuckled, especially when it was 35° and sunny.

Well who's laughing now, with New York buried under 60" of snow so far this winter? With an ice storm underway, and paralyzing amounts of slush and snow blocking the streets, making foot passage nearly impossible? Last year, if I'd seen someone mushing with their dogs down an avenue I'd laugh. Today I'd think, "Huh, not a bad idea. Where do you get sled dogs in the City though??"

What to do with your old tree

Hey New Yorkers, wondering what to do with your Christmas tree now that the holidays are passed and it's dropping needles all over your apartment? According to this press release, Sanitation Announces Christmas Tree Recycling Schedule, you can just put your tree out on the curb!

Residents should remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from holiday trees before they are put out for removal. Trees must not be put into plastic bags. Clean, non-bagged Christmas trees that are left at the curb between Wednesday, January 4th and Saturday, January 14th will be collected, chipped, and then mixed with leaves to make compost. The compost will be processed and subsequently spread upon parks, ball fields, and community gardens throughout the city.

It always makes me sad to take down the Christmas tree, but I guess it's about time for it to go. Godspeed little tree, and happy mulching!

New York's diabetes problem

There's an astounding article about diabetes over at the New York Times Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis. I was unaware not just of the amount of people being diagnosed with diabetes, but also its damaging effects. More than one in eight (!) adult New Yorkers now has diabetes.

New York, with its ambitious and highly praised public health system, has just three people and a $950,000 budget to outwit diabetes, a disease soon expected to afflict more than a million people in the city.

Tuberculosis, which infected about 1,000 New Yorkers last year, gets $27 million and a staff of almost 400.

Well worth a read, as the article says, "There is an underappreciated truth about disease: it will harm you even if you never get it. Disease reverberates outward, and if the illness gets big enough, it brushes everyone. Diabetes is big enough."

The trouble with Whole Foods

One of the things that makes New York -- or at least Manhattan -- workable, given its density, is that people know what they're doing. If you walk along any crowded Manhattan street, people are moving at a brisk clip, swerving left and right as necessary. No one has any tolerance for lollygaggers or fools. And that makes NY work -- it can be crowded and you can still get through a busy subway station and make your train. Everyone wants the same thing, everyone moves towards the same goal -- except at the Union Square Whole Foods supermarket.

It dawned on me today as I tried to maneuver through the stalled crowds in the produce section, when I attempted to pass the woman just gazing at the row of Dungeness crabs at the fish counter. At Whole Foods, people turn into, well, something else, something like non New Yorkers! They move slowly! They stop short and then just turn 180° back the other direction. They just stand around, not moving, only looking at the mountainous displays of organic produce, like a tourist in Times Square. And it's excruciating if you go into the store as a New Yorker, knowing where you're going and what you want to do. It's nearly impossible (if you go at any point in the afternoon/early evening) to zip in and get what you need because you're stymied by gawkers overwhelmed by the cheese selection.

It's a good store people, but come on! Remember yourselves! You're New Yorkers! You're brusque. You hurry. You Get. Things. Done. And that includes shopping at the Union Square Whole Foods! I know I'm fast and focused and aggressive. That's one of the reasons I *like* living in NYC, I feel like I'm surrounded my people -- except when I go to the Union Square Whole Foods!

Overheard in the neighborhood

Eating at a typical New York City diner the other night, I hear one of the women at a three top behind me call the waiter over to her table.

"We've decided we'd like some wine," she says to him. "Could we please see the wine list?"

He says nothing for a few moments, then replies, "We have two wines: red and white."

A photo of the jeans police in action

Shortly after the time I wrote about the New York City Jeans Police, GQ contacted me about doing a short article and photo shoot about the idea. On a nice October day in 2003, we set out into the streets of Tribeca to photograph and Gina brought her camera along. Now she's posted a photo from the shoot to Flickr, a great one of me throwing Choire's jeans into the trash while he stands on the street in his boxers and handcuffs.

Old New York is right here around us

What a perfect article to welcome me back on my visit to NYC: Here Is New York, Right Where We Left It. Phew! Except of course the author is talking about old New York: hat shops, places to get a mug of beer for fifty cents, and pigs-knuckles lunches. It's a neat look at the small New York shops, bars, and restaurants hidden amongst the ever-increasing sprawl of national chains springing up around the City. At the very end of the article is perhaps the most important bit:

One thing the streets surely stand to lose when these frayed patches of New York's vast tapestry are finally replaced is a measure of their human scale. These remnants of a less mobile and more local New York speak of a more modest urban life in which goods and money traveled in smaller amounts between slightly less hurried parties moving in slightly smaller orbits.

No one goes to these old places to be seen or find the perfect pair of shoes or have a life-changing culinary experience or stock up on Turkish pistachios or toilet paper. If for nothing else, people go to these unfancy places because they embody a hidden truth about New York: that it is possible in almost any part of this monstrously huge, indifferent city to feel strangely at home.

How perfectly true.

Perfect photo

This is perhaps the best photo I've ever seen. Hopefully with a day off, the Red Sox can remember how to play baseball and come back tomorrow for a big win with Cornrroyo at Fenway. Otherwise, well I just can't even say. Soxaholix gets it about right, once again:

All hail the mighty John Lieber. Swing early and often at anything, fellas, that'll do it. Did I miss the memo where the Sox hitters were told to give the fuck up on patience and the importance of OBP?

Pale Male and the City

I missed a great essay yesterday from MUG entitled, Why Pale Male Matters. (For those who aren't aware, Pale Male (and his mate Lola) are red-tailed hawks that have lived for 11 years in a nest they built on the cornice of a Fifth Avenue co-op overlooking Central Park. A week ago, the co-op board removed the nest, leaving the hawks homeless. Protesters have been at the scene ever since, as the hawks float overhead.) Editor Charlie Suisman writes:

'What sort of city shall we be?' isn't a question that most New Yorkers take time to answer in their course of their daily lives. It's a question that gets asked and answered at moments of disruption (blackout? block party!) and deeply, urgently in moments of tragedy...

[Y]ou truly become a New Yorker when the city seems more to you than your workplace and a collection of shops and restaurants, when you start caring about the city itself, beyond your daily route, outside of your neighborhood, about the city we were and the city we might become. You know you're a New Yorker when you know what kind of city we are...

927 Fifth Avenue board president Richard Cohen and his wife, Paula Zahn failed to understand the public, communal, and civic space that is the sine qua non of New York. They failed to understand that they, like all the rest of us, are guardians of this city first and foremost. And when something belongs to the city, as Pale Male and family so manifestly do, and they are treated so cavalierly, as Cohen and Zahn so manifestly did, the arrogance becomes untenable. And untenable arrogance has a way of meeting comeuppance in this city.

The outpouring of support for Pale Male has been incredible and it's moments like these (and essays like Suisman's) that remind and clarify for me why I love New York. And the good news? Today's New York Times reports, Co-op to Help Hawks Rebuild, but the Street Is Still Restless. Yay!

Also, a humorous examination of the price of Pale Male's perch at Curbed.

Tonight in SoHo

A reminder: I'll be at the Apple Store in SoHo tonight from 6-8 PM participating in the New York Bloggers event. I'll be discussing the technology of blogging with the dashing Anil Dash and the fording Paul Ford. Please join us if you've nothing better to do on a rainy New York evening.

The subway centennial

You have until the end of the year to check out the New York Public Library's exhibit, The Subway at 100: General William Barclay Parsons and the Birth of the NYC Subway, but why wait?

Celebrating the centennial of the opening of the New York City subway system in 1904, this exhibition both salutes William Barclay Parsons, the first chief engineer of the subway, and recognizes the importance of the subway system to the life and growth of the city.

Sounds great, and since the subway is one of my favorite things about New York City, I'm keen to learn more about its construction and history. I'm adding this exhibit to my to-do list.

See Spot and his electric sheep

Electric Sheep image by Spot DravesSpot Draves' presentation of his electric sheep was one of the best presentations I attended at last February's O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Electric Sheep is a screen saver that uses a distributed computing model (a la SETI@home) to create and render new "sheep."

When the screen-saver is activated, the screen goes black and an animated 'sheep' appears. Behind the scenes, the screen-saver contacts a server and joins the parallel computation of new sheep.

Every fifteen minutes 24/7 a new sheep is born and distributed to all clients for display. Each sheep is an animated fractal flame.

The sheep are amazingly beautiful, and hearing Spot speak about his work is great. Lucky for you, if you're in NYC tonight you can experience it yourself. Spot will be doing his presentation at the dorkbot-nyc gathering. Also there will be a presentation on "Gameboy Hacks" at the same meeting! It's a geek's delight! Wednesday, May 5, 7pm at Location One in SoHo (NYC).

Jane Jacobs speaking tomorrow evening

Jane Jacobs, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities will be speaking tomorrow night about The Past, Present, and Future of Office Skyscrapers. It's free, but registration is required. Thursday, May 6, 6:30pm in the Great Hall, City College (NYC).

The wedding march 2004

I haven't had a chance to post how proud I am of Massachusetts right now as legal gay marriages get underway in my home state. It's an issue I haven't written about much but is very close to my heart and important to me. Sunday May 23 at 11 AM The Wedding March will cross the Brooklyn Bridge to demand the right for same-sex couples to marry everywhere else.

Marriage is the bridge to 1,138 federal rights and more than 700 New York State rights, ranging from access to Social Security benefits and the ability to make health care decisions to inheritance, immigration, and protections for children and families. To deny what the US Supreme Court has called "a fundemantal civil right" based solely on sexual orientation relegates lesbian and gay people to 2nd-class citizenship, and it goes against every ideal on which our country was founded. March with us in support and celebration of all American families.

The march starts at Cadman Plaza on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, crosses the bridge into Manhattan and ends with a rally in Battery Park. Since I'm not in New York, I will be there in spirit. And I hope you'll go and show your support if you're in the area. Discrimination has no place in our great country.

10 great things from MUG

My favorite daily email has been, and continues to be, Charlie Suisman's Manhattan User's Guide (MUG). Today, Suisman asks New York City bloggers to share 10 Great Things about NYC. There's some great stuff in there -- some new to me, some just reminders of places I need to revisit and things I need to redo. Tomorrow will bring Part Two of the series, and I hope many more wonderful tips about NYC.

March tomorrow in NYC

I've hardly heard anything about it, but apparently there's a rally and march planned for tomorrow beginning at 11:30 AM, a "global day of action on the first anniversary of the U.S. bombing and invasion of Iraq." Here are the logistics for the New York City demonstration.

Hello, hypertext!

Former New York Times restaurant critics William Grimes and Ruth Reichl select eateries for A Quick Guide to the Best Restaurants in New York. Handy, but why aren't these restaurant names linked to the Times' reviews?

Hidden Tribeca

Neat stuff today over at MUG with Tribeca Pentimento. This essay highlights what I love about living in old cities, the hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) history that's everywhere. Working in Tribeca I know these spots and wish it were a sunny day for exploring the neighborhood rather than a cold rainy day for coding.

Spies like us

Having been away from New York City for nearly six weeks before I returned, I can't say exactly when the City's train systems -- MTA, Amtrak, and LIRR -- began their new disturbing announcement campaign exhorting all passengers to keep their eyes open and report suspicious behavior immediately to police. But I heard the announcement over and over again, on every subway I rode and while I waited at Penn Station for an Amtrak train to Boston. It was more than the old "unattended bags" line, and it was more than even a "look out for unattended bags." It sounded like, "watch everyone around you and report them to the police." It gave me a very East German Stasi-esque feeling, and of course, got me thinking about what a New Yorker would actually bother to report as suspicious behavior.

Living in NYC you see a lot of weird things, things that if you just happened to be visiting NYC you might even find "suspicious" but which are just part of living in a big, messy, diverse, crazy city. Would the woman talking to herself walking in circles count? What about people walking between subway cars, speaking a foreign language? Or someone wandering slowly, eyeing each store in Penn Station? That was me of course, not because I was casing the place but because I was trying to kill time and find a sandwich. Is asking the general population of New York City to spy and snoop on each other a good preventative measure, a la The Wisdom of Crowds, or is it an opportunity for mistrust and misunderstanding, like Annie Jacobsen's Northwest flight from Detroit to Los Angeles in June?

NYC Jeans Police in the NY Sun

There's an article in today's NY Sun about the NYC Jeans Police, Fashion Police 'Ticket' Bad Jeans:

Thought the "fashion police" was just an empty phrase? Meet the New York City Jean Police. It's walking the beat and is ready to issue citations for denim that's too tight, too wide, or just too ugly.

The fact that only one citation has been handed out doesn't bother Meg Hourihan, the 31-year-old software programmer who posted the concept on her blog www.megnut.com -- and who issued the only citation (to a co-worker). But as it's all meant as a joke, she's just happy to bring some light-hearted attention to the problem.

In case you missed it last time around, here's the link to the citation [.922 KB] And here's a citation in "action".

Older Entries