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Friday, May 30, 2008

NYC Crane Collapse

Not long after I heard about the Manhattan crane collapse this morning, my boss and I agreed I should go up there and shoot it. By the time I got there, unfortunately, cops were in a-hole mode and not allowing a whole lot of photographers too close. I take that back; they do have to keep things secure and allowing media free reign is not their top priority.

I did get a few shots, but they're all from a block away, so while I wish I could give you something closer, this is all I've got.

But I will tell you I followed some dude up the elevator in a Marriott right across from the site (91st and 1st), and when he asked me what floor after he hit 15, I said I'll go to 15 as well. He got a little suspicious, but then when I told him what I was up to, he suggested I try the roof.

Considering the hotel's location, I would have had the money shot if it wasn't for that huge red "DO NOT ENTER" sign on the inside of the door leading to the roof, but I didn't risk it.

And for those keeping score at home, this is just a few blocks from my apartment, and today's collapse was the second one on the Upper East Side in three months.

Here are the rest of the pictures.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Must Shut Up

Dear Sports Media:

A must-win situation is only a situation where the team facing it will be eliminated from the playoffs if it loses that next game.

A 2-0 series deficit in a best-of-7 is not a must-win for the trailing team, so please quit trying to make things more dramatic than they are. That's called lying.

And a "virtual" must-win is the same thing as being somewhat pregnant. It's either a must-win or it's not. Please make a note of it.

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Hot Women = Flakes

I think today is the exact two-year anniversary that I moved up here from Louisville. That, coupled with the release of the sure-to-be-annoying "Sex And The City" movie means there's no better time than now to rail on the women up here.

OK, just kidding, but regardless of how long I've been here, I have made some serious observations on the singles scene in what many believe is the best city in the world. It is a great city in many regards, and I don't really have many complaints. The people are a different breed than what I'm used to in the midwest. Sometimes in a good way. Sometimes in a bad way.

Some up here tell me it's hard to meet people, or so said the network meteorologist I had drinks with last summer. I made her laugh for three hours, but haven't seen her since. I will return to this point shortly about flaky women.

But I fully disagree about the difficulty with which one can meet people. First of all, I think the latest census shows that 95 trillion people live in Manhattan. Wait, that doesn't sound right, but if it's packed with people and it's nicknamed "The City That Never Sleeps," how can you not meet people?

I will, however, say that what is difficult is building and sustaining friendships with those many new people you do meet. I used to hear this about LA, that folks will say "Yeah, let's definitely get together next weekend," and before you know it, you don't see or even talk to that person for two months. But there's plenty of that here in New York as well. And I've pulled that shitty move a time or two as well, so don't feel too sorry for me.

People here have no problem whatsoever flaking on you. Whether it's canceling shortly before you have plans, or just straight up not showing up, people will do this and do it often. I wish I was better at canceling or just saying no in the first place, because I am sooo uptight about doing things on weeknights, and much of the time, that's where the better social opportunities are.

Also, and this is a new thing for me to see, but your guy friends will hit on girls you take to parties. And female friends will tell you it's about time you met for a drink, but when you call a bluff, there's always something. In case you're wondering if I'm sounding only like a victim, don't worry. Despite the reluctance, I've been an a-hole plenty of times up here. I have had to cancel at the last minute before, but I think what separates midwest friendlies from east-coast dicks is the level of guilt that follows. I've worried for a couple of days after urinating all over plans, whereas I think many people who are either from here or who have lived in New York long enough will register a Guilt Level of 0.0.

Take, for example, many of the gorgeous single women I've met here. I'm not trying to sound arrogant; we all know that comes naturally for me. But seriously, I have met plenty of people; a few have been lovely gals that any man would ask out.

Let me describe to you some of the exploits of just a few of these women. Some might call them superficial, perhaps materialistic. I won't judge that harshly; the only thing I say for certain is that it's just illogical. My friend Miles used to have a good line back in the day, if we were out and spotted an attractive woman. "Stay away from her; she's crazy," he'd say, then when asked how he knew, he'd follow with, "That's easy, because she's hot."

And while I won't use names, let's just say the following things have taken place in two short years. By the way -- and this is important -- this isn't a re-hash of dating woes; these instead, I promise to you were merely friendships that went sour just with people from work, actually, one-time friends I still see on a near-daily basis:

+ Lovely female I'd hung out with several times agrees to meet for drinks on a Friday night. Who knows where this was headed, if anywhere, but we talked earlier in the day how such-n-such train always is unpredictable on weekends, so we might be a little late. She got there 10 minutes after our agreed time, I arrived 10 minutes after that, but apparently too late. She'd already put her coat back on and started to walk out when I was 100 feet away from the bar. We walked to the train together so she could go to another party. By herself.

+ Lovely female with serious boyfriend asks me to do some fun things with her over a couple of months, as we both seemed to have similar work schedules, leaving in early- or mid-afternoon. Purely platonic, but truly building a very solid friendship. She got engaged 18 months ago, I offered sincere congratulations and of course she's barely talked to me since, including no-shows at my two parties for which she replied to neither E-vite.

+ Lovely female from work seemed thoroughly interested in hanging out on a weekend. We did that a year ago, then enjoyed some more 1-on-1 time twice or three times more. Clearly a good, positive connection. Haven't seen her since and it's been more than a year. Not one thing happened physically, just a good friendship in the making, then a complete disappearance.

+ Lovely female and I say hello and make small talk here and there, as co-workers do. Then I say it's about time we shake hands and get to know each other's names. Now she walks right past me in the hallways.

I know a few folks from work read this blog, so I'll stop there, but let's just say that the above examples are far from all of them.

And let me remind you; this again is not a woe-is-me-can-you-believe-she-did-that-to-me vent. It's just a recap on one of the most disappointing aspects of the people I've seen in my two years here. If anything, it serves as an easy reminder that the midwest is where it's at if you want to learn how to treat others.

Flaky people are not usually my male friends. They are usually not unattractive women. They are almost always good-looking women who at some point began to think it is OK to act as though the rules of friendship and common courtesy do not apply to them. They're constantly bombarded with attention from many men, so they can afford to weed out even the most decent of people from whom they cannot gain. By showing me how little they value good, honest friendships, they're actually doing me the favor by making themselves look like self-obsessed idiots, easing any disappointment I might have otherwise had about the disintegration of any potential connections.

The frustration has nothing to do with dating. As I said, the above examples are just work people. The dating situation is fine for me right now, and I try not to shit where I eat.

Lastly, if you're wondering how "Sex And The City" fits into all of this, that's a question I'd actually like to ask you. Do you think that bad show that clearly overstayed its welcome has helped facilitate the shallow culture? Can one once-popular television show that hasn't been hip for at least six years have such a lasting effect that women are still craving cosmos, expecting expensive dinners, weekends in the Hamptons and $400 shoes from the new ab-ripped boyfriend while fending off love letters from the last?


Monday, May 26, 2008

See Jane Marry

Moments after walking a gal to her train after our first date over the winter, I got on my own uptown train and stood next to a lovely gal -- we'll call her "Jane" -- who ended up accepting my kind invitation to join her for a drink at 1 a.m.

We've played a little phone and text tag here and there since, usually at times like when we first met. I believe there's a name for those types of calls.

Nothing really materialized, but we do still talk occasionally and say we're going to get together soon, which some friends lately are too clear to remind me is fast becoming my favorite line. Sorry.

Anyway, here was a text Monday night from Jane, who by the way is from Venezuela: "Hi how r u? is jane. Im looking 4 a fake husband just married for business ($$) to make my paper of resident. if u r interesting let me know."

Her mediocre English caused me to jump to two conclusions when I read this: 1) That her English is only mediocre, and 2) she's looking for an American man with some money to help her start a business.

Turns out I was way off. Jane needs a husband, and fast, or else she will be deported.

Now if you scroll down and look in the right rail, you'll see that Debt Valley is around $5,000 and falling.

But Jane says she can drop $8,000 on me if I marry her Friday. She's got a good job and seems to have her act together, and wants to keep it that way. She's here legally, but is now seeking political asylum because, well, wouldn't you if Hugo Chavez ruled your home country?

Jane can't go back to Venezuela because once she's there, she won't be able to leave. She also tells me that she can't have certain documents mailed here by her family because the Chavez regime looks at all outgoing and incoming mail.

Needless to say, that eight grand would come in handy for me. This is all a true story, but what might seem hard to believe is that I'd actually consider it. I probably won't be getting married on Friday or anytime soon, but just wanted to get your reaction.


Quiet Weekend In The City

Almost exactly two years into my life here in New York, I fully understand the occasional need to get out of the city.

Some, however, make it seem like getting up to the Hamptons is just what the doctor ordered.

But what do you think you get up there on Memorial Day weekend, fucko?


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge Turns 125

Good friends Kelly and Timm let me come to their cool place in DUMBO Thursday night to shoot the fireworks celebrating the Brooklyn Bridge's 125th birthday.

I've shot better fireworks before, but I had pretty much free reign during Thunder Over Louisville in 2006. Thursday night, the Manhattan backdrop was far more dramatic, but I had a pair of obstructions. If I swiveled my tripod too far to the south, in order to capture more of the bridge, I got the corner of the rooftop cabana next to the one our small group was in. And if I tried to lower the swivel and show more of the East River, to add some colorful reflections on the water, the outer edge of the rooftop crept into the frame.

So please keep those two facts in mind when viewing. Other than that, enjoy!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear Adam Sandler:

Please let me know when you decide to make your first good movie. "You Don't Mess With The Zohan" will not be it.

Or, maybe you can just give me some tips on how to command as many millions as you do, despite not ever being funny.

Thank you.


Here's Me Being Cool

I enjoy ruining mysteries for others.

I also have a good friend named Ben in Louisville. We're buds enough to hope to see each other when I get back there a couple times a year, and we'll float each other the occasional email, but not the kind of dudes to be in touch with great frequency.

Ben is a serious soccer fan. I'm OK with the sport, but watching yesterday's exciting UEFA Championship between Chelsea and Manchester United wasn't a top priority for me. It began at 3 p.m. and ended thrillilngly with penalty kicks. Figuring Ben was working his normal schedule and unable to watch it live, I assumed he was going to watch it on TiVo later in the evening.

So here was a friendly text message to him yesterday shortly after the game ended: "In case you were TiVoing, Man. U. won today."

Oh, and if you haven't seen "Iron Man" just yet, everyone dies at the end.


Monday, May 19, 2008

My First Photo Shoot

OK, so I've been saying for a year how I've been ready to start doing portraits. I bought a slightly-better-than-a-beginner's light set and I have a black backdrop that I've nailed into my living-room wall.

Good friend Swarna, an aspiring TV reporter, needs some head shots. After months of talking about it, she finally became my first victim Monday.

Now this is where you come in. We're trying to figure out which head shot(s) to use.

I took about 160 shots in four hours or so. Most of them were straight-up head shots, but there were a few from the waist up and a handful of 3/4 shots. Below are eight face shots. Let me know which one(s) you favor. Oh, and one last item that should let you know how well I know my audience: Obscene commentary will obviously not be posted. And disclaimer number two: there might be a renegade shadow here or there that I might have missed. Again, this is my first shoot, and I'm far from a lighting expert.

Thanks for your help.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

Excellent Reading

There's a story here about a New York "designer" who is selling T-shirts that read "Jews Against Obama" for the low, low price of $250.

The story itself is interesting and worth a look, but the comments below it steal the show.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Review: Weekend Of Debauchery

A highly anticipated weekend with the fellas unfolded just the way I expected -- beer and food and lots of childish locker-room humor.

Barry and Zack came in from San Francisco and Jason came in from Cincinnati. Troy lives just over in Bayonne, but the Upper East Side was headquarters for all of us for a few days. A fun time for sure, but let's just say the air quality in my luxury apartment is a little better now that nearly two full days have passed since the debauchery.

After a low-key bite and some beers on Thursday night, Jason and I met the other three early Friday down at what I thought was going to be the uninteresting studio of Alex Grey. I'm typically not into any art form inspired by fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural or metaphysical. But I trusted Jason's judgment and kept an open mind, and it was certainly worth the visit.

Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors offers quite a unique experience. Even though my eyes weren't fully recovered from our walk there -- we got caught in the rain and my unmanly hair product was dripping down my forehead and burning my eyes -- they were well enough to appreciate the tour of the chapel.

After we admired the art for at least a half hour, we spoke to the friendly receptionist, who was rather forthcoming about the artist, his experiences and his work. There was plenty of literature at her desk about various workshops and social events. "We're a psychedelic community," she said, prompting a fresh line of jokes and commentary from her five idiot visitors.

"When's his next party?" I asked.

As it turns out, there are some goings-on this month that I just might attend. Please stay tuned.

So we were way down in Chelsea and trying to figure out where to go and what to do next. It wasn't quite 3 p.m., and we had an 8 o'clock dinner reservation at Sparks.

Four hours later, and about an hour after calling to move the Sparks reservation to Saturday, we stumbled out of Molly's Wee Pub and meandered over to another restaurant Barry was hoping to find, Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles.

I won't even give you the particulars -- we ordered one of everything -- but just take my word for it: If you're with a lively group and you want to spend a few bucks and eat well, definitely hit Les Halles. Especially if Barry is in control of the menu ... and the bill. It was a complete food orgy from start to finish, and the service and atmosphere matched the meal. And the wine. And the dessert.

Saturday was fairly predictable. After consecutive nights of soaking large amounts of food with large amounts of vodka and draft beer, the group was feeling a little, shall we say, sluggish?

Jason and I met the others at O'Reilly's Pub, typically where Troy and I have met when he's had Rangers or Knicks tickets at the Garden right around the corner. This time, though, the afternoon beer wasn't going down for any of us the way it did the previous day. It had to be because of the bar.

So we rolled down to SoHo to grab a beer at The Spring Lounge, and the sluggishness continued. The visit was brief. We all parted ways and agreed to meet at Sparks a couple hours later in Midtown. The service was good, but I've had better steak in more energetic places. Nonetheless, Barry wanted to try it out and he again footed most of the bill, so overall, it was nice to hit three reputable restaurants in one week while he was here. I'd rank them like this: 1) Les Halles, 2) Mesa Grill, 3) Sparks.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Strength In Numbers

Watch this video now:


Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I've never been a huge fan of TNT's sports coverage, but my Cavs started their Eastern Conference semifinals Tuesday night at Boston, so I obviously have no other choice.

And TNT showed it's just like every other sports broadcaster just before tipoff.

I never know why directors call for prolonged tight shots of the coaches on their respective benches as the players take the floor. Especially in a Cleveland-Boston series, where you have such star power, including two of the top four vote-getters for the NBA's MVP Award today. I want to see players shake hands and pound fists and say a quick hello and maybe even talk some trash.

Congrats to Mike Brown and Doc Rivers for owning many nice suits and leading their teams to the second round of the playoffs, but I don't need to see those guys.


Review: Mesa Grill

Old dude Barry is in town this week. He's a big restaurant guy, and has been talking for two months about how we had to try Mesa Grill, near Union Square, and Sparks, in the 40s on the East Side.

So we hit up Mesa Grill -- a Bobby Flay joint -- last night and we were both only moderately impressed. Solid atmosphere, both for happy-hour bar scene (nice for a Monday night) as well as for keeping the dining room packed until later. And this isn't a small place.

Barry got the lamb and I ordered the Mahi Mahi. It was pretty entertaining watching big restaurant dude get the rap down with our server, who was better than competent, but brought only a get-the-job-done attitude, not necessarily an I'm-incredibly-happy-to-be-here-tonight approach.

If there was one slip, the server did come out and hope to set our entrees down, but our appetizer plates hadn't been cleared away so the food went back into the kitchen for at least five minutes. That affected both of our dishes, each of which was a little on the dry side after sitting under a lamp.

And if you're down in Union Square at night, you can't not stop in the Coffee Shop. So we went there for one and then had a last drink uptown at Wicker Park.

We'll hit Sparks on Friday.


Eight Belles

The story about Eight Belles is indeed tragic, but it should be on its last legs by now.

The story, that is.

One of our annoying habits is to always try to find blame or react so quickly and often ignorantly because we always think something needs to be changed.

We can't possibly be content to sit back, fold our hands in our laps and say, "shit happens."

Because a horse died on her sport's grandest stage, clearly there must be someone or something at fault, many argue.

Again, Eight Belles' collapse was heartbreaking. But for news people and even seemingly knowledgeable sports people to start the dialogue about possible changes in horse racing is just ridiculous. Even PETA has joined the fray, suggesting that Eight Belles' jockey be suspended.

When are people going to shut their mouths and just worry about their own business, and not get involved in things about which they know very little?


Friday, May 02, 2008

Editor Longs For Louisville On Derby Weekend

This is my first time not attending the Kentucky Derby since 2001.

I'm a little bit sad about that, as this is clearly the best sporting event anyone could ever attend.

If you don't know about the Derby, read my latest column here, then start making plans to go next year.