December 22, 2009

Checks Cashed

When you either don't have a bank account or you don't want the government to track you down, there are plenty of these check cashing joints scattered around the city.

Buy The Books, Please

You are apparently supposed to buy the books and not just copy or photograph them. I've done this before, but certainly not at St. Marks. Sometimes you don't really need the whole book, you just want some information contained inside. Wouldn't it be a waste of paper if you bought the book for just one page? As I see it, you're saving the environment. Photograph away, just don't do it at St. Marks Bookshop.

Christmas Entrance

The entrance to Van Cleef & Arpels on 5th Avenue decked out for the holidays.

December 16, 2009

Black Santa

Midtown Manhattan was inundated with what seemed like a couple dozen black Santa Clauses standing on every available street corner around 5pm tonight. No joke. Here's one on the corner of 57th and 7th, right in front of Carnegie Hall.

It almost could have been a terrific scene out of a Christmas-themed "Reservoir Dogs." Unfortunately there was no multi-million dollar jewel heist in progress. Next year here's what they should do. Move the lot of them 10 blocks south to 47th Street (Diamond District) and provide them with a couple of graffiti trucks and a cache of sub-machine guns and we will have the makings of a great Chris Rock, Chris Tucker and Ice Cube caper flick.

See you at the movies!

December 15, 2009

Always Open

I was looking at this "Open" sign and I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was. I thought to stop and take a picture and then it came to me. How can a cart on the street really be open or closed? It's not like they ever leave their street food carts unattended so they are never closed.

It basically works like this. Early in the day, they drive or pull their beat up metal stove contraptions through midtown, set it up in their designated spot, make a bunch of grubby food and sell it to hungry people all day. When they are done they pack things up and off they go.

A much more effective sign would say: "Always open! We sell food that is a lot cheaper than the guy down the street and you won't get food poisoning."

December 10, 2009

Pizza Delivery

Pizza delivery vehicle on 3rd Avenue. It might get there just a little bit on the cold side, but it gets there.

November 25, 2009

Fatty Crab's Fatty Bar

Dinner at Fatty Crab in the West Village on Tuesday night was delicious. Their signature dish is messy, but everything else including the service was damn near perfect. Fatty Bar is their dark chocolate dessert. I recommend it.

November 24, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel's Graffiti Truck

Jimmy Kimmel is based out of Los Angeles which isn't such a bad city, but he's damn lucky that when he comes to New York he gets to tool around town in this deluxe All City Trux. Of course, you'd expect that from a born and bred Brooklynite.

Rolling solo down Broadway on a Tuesday morning surely won't cure his narcolepsy, but I have got to admit that he looks rad behind the wheel with a bolo tie and his bachelor cap on. We'll never know, but he must have been shopping for knock off perfume and skinny ties in this super commercial part of the city. I just pray he made it over to Stumptown for a latte.

Two For One

This bike for two converted into some sort of delivery/storage vehicle looks like a good way to shuttle stuff up and down 6th Avenue. Though I'm not sure what to make of the stuffed snake twisted around the frame. I think that's the point. Highly interesting fashion statement going on here with the sweatpants actually worn under the 3/4 length cargo capri pants, of the moment camouflage cap and always in style puffy purple sweatshirt (click the image for a better view).

November 22, 2009

Plenty Should Be Enough

It should be, but it never is.

The latest artwork installed at Lever House on Park Avenue between 53rd and 54th is Barbara Kruger's immersive installation entitled "Between Being Born and Dying." Using enormous bold white Helvetica ultra-condensed adhesive vinyl letters on a black background, many as tall as seventeen feet, the artist has plastered them over the inside and the outside of the entire lobby.

As Arthag points out, it also reminds me of those reconstituted 80's Frankie Goes To Hollywood t-shirts.

November 20, 2009

Conservatory Garden

More from the better late than never file....

Conservatory Garden is this totally hidden gem of a place located way up on the East Side of Central Park on 105th Street and 5th Avenue. You could probably live your whole life in New York City and never know about it.

My friend Shalini and I went there on the Saturday afternoon of Halloween and we were completely surprised to find an amazingly abundant array of flowers that were filling the crisp autumn air with their strong fragrance. Never would have expected this sort of floral treat the day before the beginning of November. Conservatory Garden is pretty great all year round.

Cats Walking

Oops, I forgot to post this a couple weeks ago before I went to LA, but better late than never.

Grace Coddington, the surprise star of the fashion-doc The September Issue , was signing copies of her book "Catwalk Cats" a day before Halloween at Clic Gallery downtown.

All the pretty young fashionistas showed up dressed in their finest Halloween garb. Katherine Zarrella from Interview Magazine was there taking notes and documenting the scene (pictured in background).

November 18, 2009

Autumn Leaves

Today was a perfect day to walk through the newly fallen leaves. Don't you love doing that?

November 17, 2009

Manhattan After Dark

Sometimes you are lucky and you're sitting on the right side of the plane as you fly over the city. It's always a treat to look down at the city, day or night. Just don't do it in a helicopter.

Skyscraper Lobby

I'm obsessed with these blue chairs. The blue tape artwork on the walls is new. I forget the artist's name, but I really should know it since I think it's fantastic. Remind me to look that up.

Christian Marclay at MOMA

I went to see Christian Marclay speak at MOMA on Monday night. I almost didn't go, but then I decided at the very last second to head over there. Three minutes later, I was sitting in the theater and enjoying a very engaging presentation that provided a relatively comprehensive overview of nearly three decades of his work. He's a pioneering turntabilist and has a much larger body of work than I realized. He's performing as part of Performa this coming Saturday night. I need to look up where it is taking place as I've never seen him perform before.

I think every contemporary artist who is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art ought to be forced to give one of these talks at the museum. Clocking in at around an hour or so, they are super informative and very insightful. MoMA should post the videos online so people around the world could enjoy them, even though I don't believe they currently do that.

Three Blind Mice

They are sleepy too.

Welcome to NYC. Everyone gets a warm welcome at JFK International as you exit the excellent AirTran monorail.

Parking Lot Booth

A random parking lot booth on 11th Avenue. It must be kind of boring to sit in these tiny little booths all day unless you have a really good stack of the latest magazines.

Another excellent font choice. I'm calling it Parking Lot Attendant though for all I know it has a worse, but more Swiss-sounding name. Any designers out there know what this one is called?

Museum Entrance

I've been taking advantage of my membership to the Museum of Modern Art recently. They have a lot of excellent events and if you're a member most of them are free to attend.

On Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m., I went to see the movie Valentino: The Last Emperor. It was crowded, but I still got a good seat. I was thirsty so I snuck in a Snapple even though they don't allow food or drink at the museum. I feel like it is no fun to go to the movies if you can't have something to drink or snack on during the movie, don't you think?


8:30 p.m., Monday night.

Straight Edge in Your Face

A well-designed sign that is sure to prevent smoking.

I usually don't really mind if people smoke, but why do they have to litter and throw their butts all over the street? Don't they realize that it's trash and they are totally littering? It's not like those things just disintegrate on their own.

Rainy Day Rainbow

A rainbow of balloons on the street on a recent rainy day. I didn't even notice the couple sneaking a quick midtown make out session in the nail salon vestibule until afterwards. One of Pee Wee Herman's bikes is parked in the shot too. I kind of want this bike.

Secure Communications

A pretty serious lock on this box will deter all but the most serious of street to station communications.

I appreciate the Baron Von Fancy sticker right on the front door of this odd metal box. I don't really get the website, but the sculptures are decent especially the colorful bike racks and the baskets on the beach.

Green Tea

After the book signing/photo exhibition event I attended on Saturday night, I walked for a little while and decided to have sushi at a small place near St. Marks. I sat at the sushi bar which is where I usually prefer to sit. They don't take reservations which is as good a policy as I can think of.

November 16, 2009

Supreme Late Night

A look inside the Supreme skate shop on Lafayette Street after closing.

November 13, 2009

Taylor Swift's Graffiti Truck

After spending a week in NYC to host Saturday Night Live, Taylor Swift jetted out of town to collect a bunch of CMA Awards. But you can sure bet that while she was visiting the Big Apple she needed a quick and incognito way to get around town. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me the other day when I was walking down 55th Street and there when I looked up was this blonde-tressed young lady sitting behind the wheel of this beautiful graffiti truck. Could it be Taylor Swift in a hot pink emblazoned graffiti truck? I can't be entirely sure because there was no signs of her current love interest Taylor Lautner anywhere. She made a quick dash into Au Bon Pain on 55th Street to grab a chocolate croissant and a large cup of coffee and parked the truck out front for a few minutes. Luckily, she narrowly avoided getting a ticket. Those country stars sure are good at avoiding dramatic situations. She's got a good color sense too.

This truck must be making the celebrity rounds because I saw it last year on 3rd Avenue from a different perspective.

November 12, 2009

The Fantastic Mr. Jarmusch, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Schwartzman

There was an advance screening of the new movie, "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" tonight along with a Q&A session with the director Wes Anderson at the DGA Theater on 57th Street.

Based on the best-selling children's book by Roald Dahl and featuring some pretty amazing stop-motion animation, the film was co-written, directed and produced by Wes Anderson. This is a new movie that is being released on Friday and strangely I haven't seen any advertising at all anywhere in the city for the film. Huh? I usually notice these things. By comparison, "Where the Wild Things Are" promotions blanketed almost every advertising surface in the city for weeks before the launch. Perhaps the studio isn't supporting this movie or they don't have any confidence in it, but I liked it all the same even without a hugely expensive ad campaign. It's quirky and definitely different than all the other films combined that I've seen all year long. That alone makes it worth seeing. I guess if I had to make a comparison, I would say that it's vaguely similar in style and tone to "James and the Giant Peach," but it has Wes Anderson's unique writing and directing style all over it which definitely means it is probably destined to be a hipster classic no matter how it performs at the box office.

The film features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Eric Anderson, Wally Wolodarsky, Owen Wilson and many others. Look it up. The website for the movie has any information you might need in order to decide whether you're going to spend the $12.50 (in Manhattan) to go see it this weekend, but either way definitely check out Whackbat which is one the more creative aspects of the website and part of a cool little scene in the middle of the film.

As for the event itself, it was a rare, completely packed house at the DGA for the screening and everyone stayed for a long Q&A session with surprise guest and moderator Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise, Mystery Train, Broken Flowers) who fielded about a dozen questions from the audience while Wes and Jason talked about the process of making the film. I liked Wes a lot more after seeing him talk at length about the unusual process of making this film. Plus Wes gets extra bonus points in my book for saying, "It's quite all right," at the start of the questions in reply to something Jim Jarmusch said.

Afterwards, I went out for Japanese food down the block at my favorite noodle house. All in all it was an excellent night with a new friend who accompanied me. Go see the movie and let me know what you think.

November 11, 2009

Lunch Time Peep Show

Who said Times Square was cleaned up? Peep shows are open for business at lunch time on 40th Street. Good font choice.

November 10, 2009

Fall for Plaid

If you follow fashion trends, you probably know that plaid is really hot this season. But it should never be so hot that your shirt ends up matching the furniture at the Ace Hotel.

November 9, 2009

Matt Damon in "The Adjustment Bureau"

55th Street and 6th Avenue is proving to be an exceptionally popular spot to film movies this fall.

I was walking home from the Museum of Modern Art late this afternoon and I just happened to wander onto the set of "The Adjustment Bureau," a film starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt that's been shooting in the city over the past few weeks. Matt Damon was sitting in the back seat of a taxi cab and the cameras were about to roll when I walked by the location. This answers your question in case you were wondering how they film these types of shots where the actors are sitting in the back seat of a taxicab. The cars are rigged up with special camera mounts and the cab is pulled along while the actors sit in the back. Of course, by the time it's edited and pieced together it will look as if Matt Damon just naturally hopped in the back of the cab and sped down 55th Street towards 7th Avenue.

You may recall that it was only three weeks ago that I ran into Miley Cyrus at the very exact same spot.

November 8, 2009

Stuffed Banana Family

A family of stuffed bananas downstairs at Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue. It's located right across the street from Bryant Park. Their website is not very functional though, unless you speak Japanses.

They have an excellent selection of all sorts of great products from Japan. This stores has all sorts of unusual things. I like the tea shop on the 2nd floor with a wide selection of teas and things to eat.

November 2, 2009

Day of the Dead or El Día de los Muertos

I stumbled upon a special Halloween/Day of the Dead event at El Museo del Barrio late on Saturday afternoon way uptown at 5th Avenue and 104th Street. There were loads of kids in costumes and a marching band and treats for the kiddies and face painting and lots of other fun stuff for everyone. All of the employees had great costumes and their faces were 1/2 painted in these colorful scary designs that reminded me of those little Mexican skeletons. Day of the Dead celebrations generally focus on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, but this seemed a lot more fun and upbeat than that.

My Halloween was a really great day and finding this unique event totally capped it off. One other thing that I can't forget was that inside, as I was waiting for the band to come out of the auditorium, (watch video here) I noticed that they had a couple of large woven baskets filled with this exceptionally tasty cinnamon bread that is traditionally eaten on this holiday. It's called Pan de muerto which I think literally means Bread of the Dead and they were offering pieces of it for free. I took two pieces!

October 29, 2009

Horror Guitar

Either he's got a morbid guitar case or he's walking around in the rain carrying a fancy white casket with a handle. Either way, he's stuck in the city trying to flag down a cab. It was funny to run into him again about ten blocks later trying to get another taxi after his cab broke down in the middle of a very busy 8th Avenue. We had a good laugh about that.

October 28, 2009

Esopus Magazine Issue #13

I went to the Esopus Magazine Issue #13 launch party at Esopus Space on Tuesday night in Greenwich Village. I met some people and enjoyed the artwork on display. I especially liked this piece by the super talented Alex Masket. He's only 22 and his colorful collage work is spectacular. He's got a very unique story highlighted by the fact that he is severely autistic. You can read more in the new issue of Esopus on newsstands now.

Too Much Halloween

Another Halloween window display that I liked. This is the Ralph Lauren store on Bleecker Street.

Even though this is a good display, I'm kind of overdosed on Halloween already. I haven't even eaten much candy (oh, except for the expensive Jacques Torres chocolate I bought last weekend). It sure seems like everyone is really pushing the holiday entirely too hard this year. I'm not even sure what we are celebrating. But I do like pumpkin pie and baked pumpkin seeds.

October 27, 2009

Macy's Owls

There are a pair of owls perched outside of Macy's if you know where to look for them.

Haunted Car Repair

Somewhere on 11th Avenue in the 50's, you can get your oil changed, get your car inspected and get mildly scared out of your mind.

October 26, 2009

Don't Feed The Pigeons

Don't run them over with your bike either.

Counting, But Not Counting Very Well

Widely excoriated as being clunky and just plain bad advertising, Unthink is the latest campaign from Kentucky Fried Chicken (is it even called that anymore or is it KFC or is it KGC?). Here's an example of faulty advertising technology at work. Unthink is the tagline for Kentucky Whatever that has been around for the last six months or so. Rather than Unthink, I think someone ought to take a moment on Monday afternoon and put their thinking cap on to figure out a way to get this sign working. Given what it costs to rent billboard space in Times Square, every minute this sign isn't working is money out the window and branding opportunities forever lost.

October 24, 2009

Elvis in the Window

A look in the window at Great Jones Cafe on Great Jones Street in Greenwich Village.

Nighttime Nine

This large numeral 9 is instantly recognizable to anyone who's ever walked down West 57th. It's right in front of 9 West 57th Street which is of course the famous sloping Solow Building. It was built in 1974.