Friday, August 7, 2009

my "coming home" to Newfoundland

One of the difficult aspects about growing up in southern Ontario is grappling with what some have referred to as the Canadian identity crisis. Endless books, blogs, essays (including this one) have been devoted to lamenting "just what exactly is a Canadian?"

There are some groups of people for whom this is not a problem: the Québécois is one of the more obvious that comes to mind. I would also imagine that different First Nations groups, such as the Inuit, don't really struggle with the Canadian identity either. This is because identity, to these folk, is attached to the Québécois and Inuit cultures, and not to an ethereal "Canadianness." What Canadians don't realise is that each of these are our cultures. Canadians should not be defined by qualities common to all citizens; Canadians should be defined by the celebration of the multitude of subcultures within our national borders.

Newfoundland is home to another subculture that emerged from a province late in joining Confederation (not "being Canadian" is still well within living memory), as well as a province that is removed, both geographically and (I think as a result) metaphysically. This relative isolation, alongside the special relationship Newfoundlanders have with the sea, fostered an intense amount of community-building and island-specific culture that survives to this day. Some examples I witnessed first hand on my recent visit:
  • an entire room will slowly tap their feet to a rousing mandolin performance
  • the colourful local language and turns of phrase
  • the flying of the "pink, white and green," the unofficial flag of Newfoundland
  • fishermen will hum along with the traditional songs that they can hear coming over the water
  • the art and crafts (even some of the local, non-tourist work) that reflects iconic Newfoundland images
  • the deep desire to "come home" back to Newfoundland after any time away on the mainland

So in response to that lack-of-identity instilled upon me in southern Ontario, I find myself compellingly drawn to Newfoundland because I'm discovering what I consider to be a piece of my Canadian identity. This was only my second visit, but I'm already looking forward to my next chance to "come home."

Monday, August 3, 2009


I've kind of disappeared, didn't I? And to tell you the truth, I'm not really sure when I'm going to be coming back. The thing is I'm no longer enamoured with this "daily" thing. It has lost its sincerity. But I *do* have things I want to tell you, about the people I've seen and the places I've been, and there *are* thoughts in my head that I would love to get out; I'm just currently struggling with the process of expressing myself.

So really what I'm saying is: I think there is more to come (less often, more substance). But when, I'm not so sure. Hopefully you'll still be around.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Toronto skyline (east view)

Toronto, I love you.

CONSUMED: 333 Adelaide St East; Moss Park

Thursday, July 9, 2009

photo/art by Thomas Allen

I know you've seen his work: vintage paperback covers X-acto knifed into melodramatic dioramas. I've been seeing them all over the place (here, here and most recently here). It was showing up so often that I became worried that someone was stealing his bit. But no no, it's all him. If I had the money, I would definitely purchase one of his stunning prints. In the meantime, I'll resign myself to lusting over my pirated self-made desktop wallpapers.

CONSUMED: various media, including the covers for (a) Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton, (b) the May 2009 issue of the Walrus Magazine, and (c) Born Ruffians' most recent album Red Yellow & Blue

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Delancey "bike bus"

When my rear axle broke, that incredibly unlikely accident, it happened when I was coming down off the Williamsburg Bridge in the middle of Delancey. Thank goodness it happened when the traffic behind me had stopped, and not as I was dodging cars. The thing is there isn't a bike lane on Delancey, a straight and speedy through-fare that delivers Brooklynites into lower Manhattan. WIthout this little piece of infrastructure, cyclists are forced to weave in and out of the cacophonous car traffic coming off the bridge.

It was this, as well as hearing other less adventurous riders express their hesitation in riding in Manhattan, that got me riled up for this very simple demonstration organised by Marin with Transportation Alternatives. We started at the corner of Chrystie and Delancey, and once we had the light, we rode as a pack (aka a "bike bus") into the centre lane, where we coasted all the way down Delancey to the entrance to the bridge.

To our surprise, no one honked, the officers directing traffic smiled at us (we obeyed all traffic lights), and we picked up a few commuters here and there and escorted them to their destination. It was a really fun and positive awareness action, and I really wished I had more Monday evenings to contribute.

CONUSMED: Delancey Avenue, between Chrystie and the Williamsburg Bridge (Manhattan)


If you want to get involved, they are doing it the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the months in the summer. Just show up at the corner of Delancey and Chrystie at 6pm of afterwards. You can also in touch with Transportation Alternatives for more info.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

honey lavender shake

Honey lavender (or toasted marshmallow, depending on your mood) shake in Washington Square Park? It's just shy of the goodness of a coffee shake in Madison Square Park (but it avoids the 90+ minute line).

CONSUMED: Stand; 24 E 12th St, Greenwich Village (Manhattan)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Death & Co.

Death & Co. is legendary amongst the speakeasy cocktail circles, or so I've heard. I've also heard that D&C was meant for a more reserved clientele, keeping the number of guests strictly to the number of seats (i.e. no standing spots). This is only half true. When Laura and I tried to go there for the last stop of our lovely evening together, we were almost denied entry because of the lack of seating. The person at the door said he would have to take our number and call if/when there was space. Fate smiled on us at that exact moment and two people came through the heavy stained wooden door, leaving us two seats at the bar.

Instead of a quiet, intimate affair, Laura and I were greeted with a loud, raucous crowd. Nonplussed, we took our seats and peered over the drink menu. I ended up choosing a whiskey sour-like number, The Faithful Scotsman, in honour of my company that night. Laura asked the bartender to throw something together for her (which was also tasty, made from the brambles after which it was named). However, despite the fascination I had with the mixologists' library of tinctures, I wasn't convinced of the virtues of the establishment. Perhaps I'm just one for a sparsely populated dive bar with a good local brew on tap.

CONSUMED: Death & Co.; 433 E 6th St, East Village (Manhattan)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Andrew Bird (at Radio City Music Hall)

Nothing says "whimsy" to me more than the music of Andrew Bird. "Brilliance" also comes to mind. And his show at Radio City Music Hall was nothing short of brilliant. Each piece was crafted in layers (of both violin and whistling!) and slightly reinterpreted from the recording. With each song entrance, it took a few moments — a sort of musical trivia game — to figure out which song he was launching. And satisfaction of the epiphany, the swell of excitement with the moment of recognition ... well it was such a wonderful way to experience a concert.

CONSUMED: Radio City Music Hall; 1260 6th Ave, Midtown (Manhattan)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Economy Candy

I'm only ever down in the LES in the evenings, apparently, because this was the first time in nearly five years that I ever saw Economy Candy without its grill pulled down. I tried in vain to find my favourite British blackcurrant pastilles. I seemed to have over-estimated the store; all they seemed to have were American (albeit often nostalgic American) products. Sour watermelon slices would have to do.

CONSUMED: Economy Candy; 108 Rivington St, Lower East Side (Manhattan)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New York City

Dear NYC,

I know we've had our differences over the years. But despite our tumultuous times, we really nailed it in the end, didn't we? At least I feel that way. There are so many things that I want to say to you, but I can't bear to say out loud because, well to tell you the truth, the only way I've been able to cope these past few days/weeks/months is through denial. So rather than listen to me fall apart in front of you, just know that you will always be there with me as I leave you. And know that I'll visit soon. Because yeah, you're that good.

Thanks for the good times; and even some of the bad. All the best.

CONSUMED: New York City, for the past 5 years


Dear Canada: Oh how I've missed you so. C'mere you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Doughnut Plant

I don't understand why the Doughnut Plant is not a legendary institution, considering the love New Yorkers have for their sugar (see: cupcakes, frozen custards, shakes, cheesecake). But it seems that no one knows (or at least the small sample size that I've told) about the Doughnut Plant and their fancy donuts. Tres leches? Yum. Peanut butter and jelly? Bizarre but satisfying. Crème brülée? Oh for god sake stop your tempting and give them to me already!

CONSUMED: The Doughtnut Plant; 379 Grand St, Lower East Side (Manhattan)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The High Line

I have a crush on the High Line.

It was nearly 4 years ago when I was first told about the prospect of turning the raised railway line into a public park. I and a few adventurous friends took a self-guided tour of the northern segment, starting at the sloping ramp that frames the westside rail yards, shimmying under the corrugated metal siding meant to keep out trespassers, and walking as far as 25th street where the neighbouring buildings squeeze the line from both sides.

Then I saw the design plans. And I was smitten.

I thought I wouldn't get to see the park before leaving the city, believing the red tape would hamper its proposed June 2009 opening. However the Friends of the High Line delivered and opened the first section of the park to the public a few weeks ago. And yesterday, I got to walk along those old rail ties with Katie and Virginia. My infatuation grew with each step as I witnessed the attention to detail in the perfect execution of the proposed design. I am looking forward to the completion of the park, even though I myself may not get to enjoy as often as I would like.

CONSUMED: The High Line; Meatpacking District/Chelsea (Manhattan)

Friday, June 26, 2009

MJ tribute

So it's already clichéd to post a tribute to Michael Jackson. But you know what? He fuckin' deserves this praise, even if it's being done posthumously. What's even more awesome? People are remembering Michael for his peerless brilliance and not for any of the shit that has gone down in the past 15 or so years. Michael, wherever you are, know that you touched so many, and that you have left us with an incredible legacy that we will be proud and honoured to parade until the end of our history.

CONSUMED: various bars and walking the streets of Brooklyn


P.S. Apologies for my failure to blog over the past couple days. I could say I was all torn up about Michael's death, but really I've just been very distracted. Anyway, I will try to do better in the future.
P.P.S. Best Xmas album ever (and my favourite memory of MJ) = the Jackson 5 Christmas. Oh shit, maybe I'm giving away a future post....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WNYC tote bag

I know I shouldn't admit this, but part of the reason why I decided to pledge WNYC is so I could get this tote that I can use-slash-flaunt around San Diego. Yeah, lamest reason. But whatever gets me to give, eh Soterios?

CONSUMED: on my bedside radio every morning when I wake up

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


OK folks, it's official. Diner is my favourite restaurant in all of New York. It is, admittedly, a completely biased judgment, but one that I will maintain as long as it remains open.

I shared my first Diner experience with Katie and Emily. Both Katie and I, Diner virgins, were floored by the food. And for reasons that remain a mystery (we think it was because Katie whipped out her camera, thereby making us look like food journalists/bloggers?), we scored free desserts that night. I remember falling a little in love with our server, and a lot in love with the restaurant.

My last (?) Diner meal was last night with my roommate, Dory. It was sort of a last roommate hurrah as Dory is going to leave this week, just a few days before I depart from New York for good. I asked to sit in the booth that Katie, Emily and I had shared one year prior. And once again, we had an incredibly gracious server, matched with plates "compliments of the kitchen" (this time, the thanks goes to Ken!). Every dish was fantastic, and Dory and I left sated beyond what our belt buckles would allow.

Thankfully, it appears that the Diner family is still thriving (they recently got the cover of Saveur, article here; moreover the place was completely packed last night, a Tuesday night!). So I am looking forward to making this my favoured drop-in when visiting the city in the many years to come.

CONSUMED: Diner; 85 Broadway, Southside Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

to-go margaritas

One of the most brilliant ideas to ever come out of Williamsburg (the land of the drunkards, apparently) are putting margaritas in to-go styrofoam cups so that you can bring the party to the park when it's drop-dead gorgeous outside. I'm sure the police know; for some reason, they turn blind eyes.

CONSUMED: Turkey's Nest Tavern, then McCarren Park; Bedford and N11th, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 22, 2009


Our rooftop can provide a beautiful skylined sunset ... if you crop out the billboards that infringe upon your view. (There are apparently two types of people: those that can ignore ugly billboards, and those that can't.) I particularly enjoy watching the JMZ train snake its way slowly across the Williamsburg Bridge. Also a rooftop must? A cold bottle of Brooklyn Lager.

CONSUMED: my rooftop; Southside Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Friday, June 19, 2009

East West Quintet (at Joe's Pub)

One of the kids that I know from Brooklyn is a musician. A real bonafide musician. It blows me away, actually, that people can indeed make it on their talent in this outrageously expensive city. Simon pays the bills with Broadway show gigs and giving guitar lessons; but his real deal is his band, East West Quintet.

So I was extremely proud to be there when Simon's band put on their CD release show at Joe's Pub. It was the tightest I've ever heard them play, and they seriously packed the place. Even more impressive is how these guys self-released their new album after their label went belly-up. It just goes to show how invested these kids are to their craft.

CONSUMED: Joe's Pub; 425 Lafayette St, NoHo (Manhattan)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

tuna melt

I had the first tuna melt of my life when we stopped at the Monticello Diner on our way to Buffalo via the scenic Route 17. I made the poor decision to replace the American cheese with cheddar; the sandwich would have done better with a milder cheese. Suffice to say that it tasted exactly as it looked.

CONSUMED: Monticello Diner; 405 Broadway, Monticello, NY‎

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the pedestrianisation of Times Square

On Memorial Day weekend, New York's Department of of Transportation rolled out an new street plan for Times Square and Herald Square (by Macy's). It basically involves closing off Broadway as it cuts diagonally through both of these squares, and turning the road into new pedestrian space.

The final space will have a new gravel-like tarmac with tables and chairs for the tourists to rest their weary legs, unaccustomed to the rigours of the New York pedestrian lifestyle. But for the moment, the area is littered with bright jewel-toned plastic lawnchairs. As someone who loathes Times Square for its crowded sidewalks, I am hoping this new development will open up the space, allowing bustling New Yorkers to peacefully coexist with lingering tourists.

CONSUMED: Times Square, Midtown (Manhattan)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BKLYN 11211

Taking pride in the hood, Southside style.

CONSUMED: Broadway near Berry, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aunties and Uncles

My favourite brunch spot of all time is in Toronto at a small diner-like establishment called Aunties and Uncles. Too many good memories with too many good people. I love being hit by the smell of frying bacon and the fogging of my glasses when I walk through the door after a long cold winter trudge. I love their dill potatoes, and I rave about them to anyone that is visiting the city. I love their mismatched tables and chairs. I love their kitschy decor, even though it's surely an affect of the place. And I love how when you sit in certain spots, you can see the streetcar run along College and spy the CN Tower poking above the buildings.

CONSUMED: Aunties and Uncles; 74 Lippincott, Toronto

Friday, June 12, 2009


To me, my thesis defense was a really big deal, an event that vindicated the past 23 years of my life spent institutionalised within the "classroom." So I wanted to dress up especially for the occasion, not just in any old generic Aldo-shoe'd, Express-tie'd get-up. With some incredible luck (and Katie's discriminating eye), I found a pair of beautiful brown wingtips at a local thrift shop. $30. I love the way they look on my feet, but sadly since my defense, I haven't had any reason to wear them. Here's to hoping opportunities will present themselves in the future.

CONSUMED: 10ft Single; 285 N 6th St, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grizzly Bear (at Town Hall)

What can I say about Grizzly Bear after the critics have completely lathered on the praise? I will say this: who chooses "other plans" over a Grizzly Bear show? Well apparently several of Nitin's friends did, which is how I ended up with a ticket to their Town Hall concert. I will also say this: I am having a hard time NOT listening to that album, especially after being blown away at their show, which was so tight musically, and so stunning visually. They are slowly but surely climbing my top artists list.

CONSUMED: Town Hall; 123 W 43rd St, Midtown (Manhattan)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Roebling paste up

There was a period of about six weeks where my bike was out of commission thanks to a busted rear axle. All of a sudden, everything became so much further away: what used to be a 7-minute ride was now a 40-minute walk. But there was one celebrated ritual, albeit a short-lived one, that I developed during those days as a pedestrian. The 25-minute walk to the Saturday farmer's market took me passed one of my favourite neighbourhood coffee shops to pick up a cup of drip or americano (depending on my mood), and then down Roebling towards the park where the market was set up.

It was on the northern end of Roebling, where it turns into a warehouse wasteland with forgotten loading docks infringing upon the sidewalk, that I encountered some of my favourite graffiti in the city: paste ups by some unknown artist. Every week on that walk, I would pause, coffee burning my fingers through the paper cup and mitten, and admire these beautiful portraits.

Now I'm back on the saddle, and though I love my two-wheeled steed, I often wonder how much I miss when my feet push pedals rather than pavement.

CONSUMED: Roebling Ave, between N9th and N10th; Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

P.S. If you can identify the artist, please let me know! I would love to give her/him credit for their work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tropicana un-redesign

Anyone else happy that Tropicana changed back to their old design? Yeah. Me too.

CONSUMED: C-Town; S1st and Havemeyer, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Washington Square Park renovation

Washington Square Park was one of my first loves of New York City. I loved the park for its gritty unkemptness, its vibrant patronage, its rare unhurried atmosphere. It was maybe one of the few things that I liked about my school (despite NYU's terrible history with Greenwich Village and its residents), and I made all attempts to cross the park, even if it meant going out of my way, any time I was visiting the downtown campus.

So I was upset when the city proposed to renovate Washington Square Park. I'm a stickler for change, you see, even though I myself am an agent of that change (see: southside Williamsburg gentrification). So when they decided that they needed to give the park a facelift (which included moving the fountain 22 feet to line up with the arch on the north side of the park), I was indignant and worried that such beautification would push out those gritty elements and replace them with the polish of flower beds and tamed lawns. The years of construction could potentially displace the park's patronage, irreversibly changing the culture of the park.

I ended up in the park one afternoon in early May, having left work early in order to take care of some emergency immigration paperwork downtown. Little did I realise that I had quite unintentionally stumbled into the park on its first day after the chain link came down. And the park was brimming with people: a man had wheeled an upright piano to serenade park bench sitters, children were dashing through the relocated fountain as if no time had passed at all, a four-piece ragtime band played while impromptu dancers tried out their cakewalks. It was incredibly heartening, and I hoped it was a sign that all my fears were unfounded.

CONSUMED: Washington Square Park; Greenwich Village (Manhattan)

Friday, June 5, 2009

peach rhubarb pie

Rhubarb has finally come to my farmer's market! I couldn't resist buying several healthy stalks last week, knowing it would force my hand to make pie this week. And what a glorious pie it was. I still haven't figured out the secret of how to prevent any of my rhubarb pies from bubbling over ... but maybe that IS the secret considering how Dory loved the gooey mess it left behind. Rhubarb will be purchased again this week, because only God knows how much longer I'll have access to a farmer's market this year.

CONSUMED: Greenpoint greenmarket; McCarren Park, Greenpoint (Brooklyn)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Havemeyer Avenue

Havemeyer is one of those rare avenues in Williamsburg that is lined with trees that are taller than the street is wide. It was their springtime budding that drew my attention: the filling in of their empty branches with leaves all of a sudden created a green archway under which to ride on my way to the farmer's market. And when the spring blossoms dropped their petals, they created a rose carpet to walk upon. It was just a little magical.

CONSUMED: Havemeyer Ave, South Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

mosquito piñata

Every year on April 25th, the global health community "celebrates" World Malaria Day, a day for advocacy and awareness about malaria. To this end, my department (of Medical Parasitology) held a happy hour barbeque. Some very talented students in the department also took it upon themselves to convert the piñata of a pastelled butterfly into a monstrous mosquito. And in a round of broom-stick swings, we slew that mosquito and engorged it of its chocolate contents. A very fitting, symbolic gesture to mark the day.

CONSUMED: The Underground; 613 2nd Ave, Kips Bay (Manhattan)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

thesis tattoo

In anticipatory celebration of my thesis, and in keeping with my theme of body modification to mark life milestones, I recently gifted myself with a new tattoo. I was initially inspired by scenes from Werner Herzog's film "The White Diamond" that, in part, documented a colony of swifts that lived in behind a waterfall. My fascination was further fuelled by those seemingly sentient flocks of starlings that appear to move as one organism. Knowing it was impossible to recreate such dynamic beauty, I resigned myself to designing a static flock of starlings that flew up my arm, across my shoulder, and down my back. 53 birds in all, each represents a member of my blood-related family; they are, in fact, the reason for why I am where I am today.

CONSUMED: Flyrite Tattoo; 492 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Shout out to Mike Lucena, my artist, who was awesome — easy-going and efficient, he was the epitome of a tattoo artist.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Prospect Park picnic

How does one return from a 3+ month hiatus? By helping you catch up on lost time!

Such as telling you about our quasi-impromptu Prospect Park picnic on one of those rare, gorgeous April weekends. It was the leisurely ride through Fort Greene, the (hidden) beer poured out into stubby mason jars, the bright Mexican blanket spread on the ground, the pyramid of food that grew as people arrived (I made a wonderful bean salad that I'm sure I will never duplicate) that signalled the change in seasons. Little did we know that there were weeks and weeks of rain to follow; we revelled in our naiveté, eager to shed our hibernation coats and our winter discontents.

CONSUMED: southern end of Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Monday, February 16, 2009


For the sake of my mental health, I am taking a break from this blog. There are other pressing things that I need to do right now, and I can't afford to be providing myself with structured methods of procrastination. Thanks for your gentle readership. And, you know, get in touch via normal means.

Friday, February 13, 2009

molding words

Whoever thought of writing the titles of plays up in between the ceiling molding at the Public Theatre deserves applause. (Also? I kinda want to know what font that is. You know, for posterity's sake.)

CONSUMED: The Public Theatre; 425 Lafayette St, NoHo (Manhattan)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

CSI pinball machine

I was greatly amused by the mention of lab equipment on a pinball machine (click the picture to zoom). Also on the machine, but not pictured here, was the DNA bonus!

CONSUMED: Mugs Ale House; 125 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Francis and the Lights (at the Bowery Ballroom)

When Francis came out and started to dance along to his music, I couldn't help but feel a bit awkward. Because he was awkward; his dancing was awkward; I felt awkward for him and his lack of communion with the crowd. But strangely, as the night went on, I stopped thinking about how weird the whole situation was and started thinking about how courageous he was to pull that off. And then soon, combined with his unbelievably catchy tunes (all of which felt somehow familiar, as if they were old friends whose names I had forgotten), I was willing him to dance more, to show me what other spirits he held inside. Not to mention that I was dancing too.

CONSUMED: The Bowery Ballroom; 6 Delancey St, Nolita (Manhattan)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Ear Inn

Purported to be one of the oldest (if not THE oldest) drinking establishments in Manhattan, I was brought to The Ear (Inn) several years ago by my friend Anne. And since then I have never regretted spreading the gospel and bringing others to this little pub (almost-)on the Hudson.

I can't really put my finger on why I love this place so much. It has something to do with crayons on paper tabletops. Or civil music levels that don't compete with your conversation. Or a decent but inexpensive kitchen. Or always being just more than slightly-tipsy when I leave. Or their cell-free zone sign on the door. Or lovely company all the many times I've been there.

What I do know with certainty is that I'm always looking for another excuse to go back.

CONSUMED: The Ear Inn; 326 Spring St, SoHo (Manhattan)

Monday, February 9, 2009

La Superior

Excellent (and cheap) Mexican for the South Side! This small BYOB spot has something good going, and come summer I'm sure they're going to be busting at the seams with clientele (here's hoping they put out a patio).

CONSUMED: La Superior; 295 Berry St, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Friday, February 6, 2009


Dory and I spent our entire Saturday together. We sometimes added people here or there, but we really only spent maybe a total of 15 minutes apart to run individual errands. It was a wonderful day of roommate bonding that ended with an impromptu field trip to Barcade.

Barcade is one of those places that actually lives up to that idea you get in your head when you hear about it for the first time. It's simple: arcade games (most seemingly from circa 1982) and beer. And great beer at that. (I had a mighty tasty dobbelbock from Climax Brewery in New Jersey.)

So after losing $5 in quarters, we ended up sitting at the bar nursing our second-round beers. And since it was the end of the night for the both of us, and since the day was an exercise in friendship building, we shared secrets. And at that point I knew the day had been a rousing success.

CONSUMED: Barcade; 388 Union Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Wow. Two bar posts in one week. What do you think I've been doing with myself lately?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

bus parking

Cycling down the back industrial streets of Gowanus, you don't really expect to see anything familiar. Imagine my surprise when I turned a corner and stumbled upon the sleeping place of all those damned double-decker buses that shuttle tourists around our fair city. (I am most familiar with how they use 1st Avenue as the "throughway" to get people from the East Village to Midtown, without stopping in the unsavory neighbourhood of Kips Bay. I don't blame them, really.) Seeing the lot made me wonder what's going to happen to spaces like this when the ever-expanding Carroll Gardens and Park Slope crowds start to converge on the canal.

CONSUMED: 2nd Ave and 6th St, Gowanus (Brooklyn)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

This book secured Steinbeck in my list of great authors (I was turned onto Steinbeck by East of Eden, which is now in my top 10 books "of all time"). I'm so glad I didn't have to read this for school, because I would have probably ended up hating it. Instead Wuthering Heights/Emily Bronte and Huck Finn/Mark Twain got served those odious fates.

CONSUMED: in my apartment, and on the trains of New York

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

roasted marshmallows

Perhaps the best gift Katerli received for her birthday was to have glorious springtime-like weather for her early February birthday party. So the smores-making that she promised occurred with jubilation and good spirits. Much whiskeyed cider, malted beer, and charred marshmallows were consumed. And all rejoiced in her anniversary, in the smoky company, in the simple gelatinous treats.

CONSUMED: Katerli's backyard; Clermont Ave, Fort Greene (Brooklyn)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beauty Bar

Somehow, Beauty Bar has become my department's watering hole of choice, which is strange considering that we're scientists, not hipsters, and that it's a good 10 blocks away.

OK well maybe some of us are hipsters.

The caveat of Beauty Bar is also what gives it its name: free manicures with the purchase of a beer. Instead of the odour of beer-soaked floors, the volatile scent of acetone permeates the room. I smell enough chemicals in my lab that I would prefer not to inhale more during our social hour. But it's the small price to pay for the good company of my workmates (and to capitalise on $3 Blue Point Toasted Lagers).

CONSUMED: Beauty Bar; 231 E 14th St, East Village (Manhattan)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

We've all seen men in drag. But how about men in drag ... on pointe? Throw in a little mime and a lot of slapstick and you have Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. My friend Daniel gave me his extra ticket and so together we guffawed through hilarious re-interpretations of dances from Swan Lake during their closing night. I know nothing about ballet, but I do know that I enjoyed this show.

CONSUMED: The Joyce Theatre; 175 8th Ave, Chelsea (Manhattan)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

book cover for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I'll admit it without shame. I judge books by their covers.

Because that's exactly how I ended up buying this edition of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," the first book written by my new favourite author Michael Chabon.

Now all I want to do, even before reading this book, is to buy its brethren (which are also designed by Milan Bozic).

CONSUMED: Chapters; Oakville (Ontario)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Man Luedecke :: Proof of Love

Listen folks. Of all the music-listening "advice" that I ever egotistically post on this blog, if I had to choose for you just one artist that I want you to listen to, then this is it.

I am not joking. He changed my life. (OK well Sufjan changed my life too. But he's not who I'm referring to.)

Old Man Luedecke is the pseudonym of Chris Luedecke, a quick-fingered banjo player that hails from that dear coastal province of Nova Scotia. His music touches my heart so that when I heard it for the first time, I was quick to ask my friend who it was. Then the second time I heard it, months and miles away from that first exposure, I asked my hosts (already knowing the answer), "Is this Old Man Luedecke?"

Maybe it's because that first time was during an impromptu Haligonian waffle party or maybe it's because bluegrass (and banjoes) go so well with brunch, but I can't stop myself from putting him on when I'm slicing bread for the toaster or whisking eggs to be scrambled. Not to mention that the refrain from his song "The Joy of Cooking" (see his myspace page) goes, in 10-person harmony, "If I'm not mistaken / The answer's bacon!" With sunlight pouring in through the window and a large cup of coffee in my hand, I forget about my endless to-do lists and live between the plucking of those strings.

First time: Capp's apartment in Halifax
Second time: Brendan and Garity's apartment in Bay Ridge (Brooklyn)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 700 Club

Not having been dancing in months meant that I couldn't resist the lure of the 700 Club. The first time I visited Kim in Philadelphia, she brought me to this dive bar in Northern Liberties, only a few doors down from her own, that on Saturdays turns its second floor into a sweaty shake-a-thon. This past Saturday I was back in Philly visiting Kim, and once again we shamelessly absconded from her own party, eagerly climbing the wallpapered stairwell to join the ranks of plaid-clad hipsters shaking booty to Beyoncé.

CONSUMED: The 700 Club; 700 N. 2nd St, Northern Liberties (Philadelphia)

Friends: I *need* to go dancing more often than once every three months. Please save me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

banner for the Prince George-Norwich Meadows CSA

Two out of the three summers that I lived in Manhattan, I was a member of the community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in my neighbourhood. It was an awkward sort of organisation only because it was trying to stir up food awareness and organise a local food culture in a community that didn't want any of it. (This was exemplified by the struggling Murray Hill Greenmarket, which is only able to support one or two small farmers each week during its short summer run.)

Thus while I was looking for some semblance of a progressive community during those first years in New York, I realised early on that Murray Hill was not going to be the place to find it. And so I shirked my duties as a CSA member and never signed up for the requisite 6 hours of volunteer time at the sign-in table. Yet the guilt grew over the months of vegetable collection that by the summer's end, I broke down and offered my (limited) services to re-design their pamphlet one year (with Dory's artistic touch), and their street banner the second (recruiting help from Ainsley).

Here is the fruit of my labour, displayed high above 28th Street between Madison and 5th. I unexpectedly passed it the other day and decided to snap a shot as I brimmed with pride seeing it out in the wild. This project is particularly sweet because it was the first and only time I've submitted by (*extremely* limited) drawing skills for public consumption. And it didn't turn out too bad, if I may say so myself.

CONSUMED: The Prince George; 14 E 28th St, Murray Hill (Manhattan)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Biochemical Pathways poster

click on pic for glorious detail

I hated biochemistry; too large a volume of chemical structures and pathways that were never really studied in context. In the end it became a memorisation exercise. But my aversion to six-carbon rings and all things cyclical did not stop me from pausing to appreciate this incredible poster from 1993 detailing some of the more essential biochemical pathways.

Perhaps to his credit, Gerhard Michal (editor) appears to have lifted a page from Harry Beck, including the choice of a similar typeface. Which is maybe why I'm curiously able to over look the content and appreciate the poster for its aesthetic. I'm just trying to decide now whether it would be missed if it was to be removed from my department, and where exactly I would put it if it was to somehow fall into my hands.

CONSUMED: my work; Manhattan

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fette Sau

I've been asked countless times whether I am vegetarian. I guess I understand how people may confuse my leftie leanings with vegetarian-like tendencies. But I am a carnivore through and through.

And as a lover of meat, Fette Sau is heaven.

I insist that it's the some of the best barbecue around (note: no claims to authenticity). And what with their equally tasty sides of broccoli, potatoes and beans, topped up with a fine array of beers ... well I'm just going to have to stop right here before I drool on my keyboard.

CONSUMED: Fette Sau; 354 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)