Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Look Who's Coming To Stay!

Wahooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
In about 11 hours Tom will be touching down in JFK!
I can't wait - it's been 6 bloody long months, so it's about time for some hotdog action. The sun's shining and there's a slight breeze so the weather's perfect for Tom's 2nd annual summer trip to New York... Abi and I have been sorting out a busy itinerary to keep him out of trouble, so there'll be plenty of photos on the way.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Myrtle Avenue Water Tower...

At the Laundrette...

Today started so well, we had a delicious breakfast of bacon, eggs and scrumptious pancakes from the pancake mix Mops and Pops brought back from their Autumn trip to New England - but then it all went down hill with the rubbish football!

The rest of the day's been pretty Sundayish really, buying boring cleaning stuff, doing work for a presentation tomorrow and doing laundry... so to make things a bit more exciting I bought a new app on my phone that makes pictures look like they've been taken on a Holga camera.

I kept myself ammused at the laundrette - as you can see...

I love it! I won't stop using my actual Holga though - there's something really exciting about not knowing how the real film's going to come out when it gets developed... but as a cheaper alternative (and a faster option) this little app is pretty blummin' brill!

Toy Story 3...

Last night, after spending part of a very hot and buggy afternoon in Central Park, Abi and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D! It was absolutely fantastic, all the old characters were in it - some of the characters from Toy Story 2 weren't in it, but they'd written them out cleverly. The story line was brilliant, and funny, and sad, and heart warming and it was just as good as the first film.

I'm not sure when it comes out in the UK, but it's well well well well well worth the visit to the pictures and spending a little extra to see it in 3D.

There were some adverts for other films coming out that look great too, Despicable Me looks very funny and there was an advert for Narnia (also in 3D) which comes out at Christmas, so I'm already excited about that one coming out - they had a fun interactive poster for it...

This poster wasn't supposed to be interactive - but someone had to go and interact regardless!

After the film we went across the road to the Tick Tock Diner and made the mistake of straying away from the burgers on the menu - the nachos and the fried chicken weren't quite as good as their delicious burgers... it's our own fault for not ordered salad!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Mysterious Yellow Piano(s)...

I was looking at my Sky News app this morning and spotted a story about the Yellow pianos in New York! I thought the one I saw in McCarren Park was a one off, but it appears it's one of 60 pianos that have been planted as part of an arts project set up by a Bristolian!

Here's a little video from the Sky News website...



Maybe I'll find some more over the next few days?!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Williamsburg Waterfront...

Last night Abi and I went to see Band of Horses play down on the Williamsburg Waterfront. It was the first in a series of summer concerts on the Waterfront (not too far away from McCarren Park), and it couldn't have been a more perfect evening for it.

The Williamsburg Waterfront was (and partially still is) a derelict bit of land right on an industrial bit of the river, it was going to be bought-out and made into a powerplant but due to everyone in Brooklyn petitioning it's now being made into another park - which is fantastic news.

The view from the park was amazing, looking out over the river at the Manhattan skyline...

The stage used to be positioned so that Manhattan was the backdrop for the musicians, but this year they moved the stage, so the musicians get to look at Manhattan instead (also so everyone's not looking into the sun I imagine).

Grizzly Bear were the second support act (we missed the first), they're from Brooklyn so a lot of people were pleased to see/hear them. We decided to get ourselves some Brooklyn Lager and a hotdog (and a pulled pork sandwich) and sit on the grass looking out over the river. It was so relaxing and a perfect way to spend a summer's Sunday evening.

As the music went on, the sun began to set behind the skyscrapers...

As Band of Horses played their set, we kept turning around and looking at the skyline, watching as the lights slowly started glowing from the buildings and as the Empire State Building took on a completely different feel as it became bluer and bluer...

Band of Horses sounded absolutely fantastic - just as good as their records, if not better - I'd been wanting to see them live for the past 18 months or so since I first heard their stuff and I can't think of a better, more unique venue to see them at.

By the end of the night, the sun had completely gone to bed and Manhattan and put on it's twinkly night-time ware and was ready for the nocturnal New Yorkers. It was great seeing the changes - almost like a stop frame animation of the sunsetting, each time we turned around it looked a little bit different (I've spared you all the photos and narrowed it down a bit).

It was a perfect evening, the music was fantastic, the view was beautiful and the company was OK too - the whole night was absolutely brilliant.

Football, Beer & Curry...

On Saturday afternoon I met Ben in Bedford Avenue to give him the grand tour of Brooklyn. Unfortunately Ben was a wee bit late (1 hour) so I had a bit of time to kill before he arrived, so I mooched about Bedford Avenue for a bit...

I saw this massive squirrel on my travels.

It was a scorcher of a day and beautifully sunny, so Williamsburg was a hive of activity, lots of people out and about, sitting out in the caf├ęs and bars, enjoying the sun and some people watching.

When Ben finally made his way to Brooklyn we went to the Radegast Hall & Biergarten (a big old German beer hall and garden) and had some litre glasses of beer with some sausages and chips whilsts watching the football.

I've walked past the building quite a few time before so it was nice to have an excuse to go in, there was a great atmosphere and the food was yummy. The litre glasses were a wee bit heavy though - I should have asked for a straw.

We went from Germany to the beach - Ben and I walked round the corner to the Surf Bar (one of my favourite places) for another couple of drinks, sitting in the sun surrounded by sand and plam leaves.

It's a great little place tucked away down one of the streets off Bedford Avenue, we got there at the right time too, it started getting busy not long after we sat down.

After the Surf Bar we went for a walk through McCarren Park to the train station. The park was full of people playing baseball, having picnics, riding their bikes and just enjoying the sun. I love McCarren Park at the weekends, it always so busy and brilliant for people watching.

At the Greenpoint end of McCarren park was something new...

A piano! I don't know how it go to be in the park, but it's there now, free for everyone and anyone to play, and as Ben and I walked back through the park a little later that night someone was sitting in the dark playing (not a very melodic tune though).

We'd originally planned to go and see the A-Team, but when we got the cinema in Brooklyn there was a huuuuuge queue outside, so we decided to give it a miss and go for a stroll around Brooklyn Heights instead.

Brooklyn Heights (as I'm sure I've babbled on about before) is the posh bit of Brooklyn, the area over looking the river and the Manhattan skyline, where celebrities and the super rich live. It's love and calm and feels completely different to anywhere else in Brooklyn (or Manhattan for that matter).

We walked over to the river to admire the view...

Then we went for another couple of drinks and a curry at Curry Heights. It was rather tasty but not as good as the ones you get back at home, Max's in Bakewell is much better!

Happy Father's Day...

Happy Father's Day for yesterday Pops.
I saw this at the weekend and thought of you...

I hope your parcel arrives soon!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Roof Top Bars...

On Wednesday night Abi and I met up with Steve and Karen for a farewell drink. Steve had requested that we go to a roof top bar, so we took them to 230 5th, a bar on the 20th floor on 5th Avenue.

Abi had been there a couple of times before, and had I'd been before when Jonny was here, the views of Manhattan are fantastic, but the drinks are a bit pricey and the people there aren't very nice - all the customers were arrogant, trashy, greasy looking people. So we had a quick drink and went on to somewhere else...

We found tried to go to a place called Hotel Metro, which looked really nice on the website and looked like it had an equally breath-taking view of the Empire State Building. Unfortunately I think we were a bit too scruffy looking and they told us that the bar wasn't open to the general public yet. I think we'll try and go back when we're a bit smarter dressed and see what they say.

Abi and I quickly dove into our iPhone apps and found another recommendation for a rooftop bar in Little Korea called the Me Bar. So we walked up Broadway and found it. We got the lift up to the 14th floor and arrived at a very small and friendly feeling bar, full of normal and nice looking people drinking resonably priced drinks - it was a much more 'us' kind of place.

The roof terrace had an covering over most of it (it was forecast rain), but we had a nosey around and found a spot to look at the views.

This is the view...

The Empire State Building looked incredible impressive and dramatic with the flood lights shining through the clouds forming above us - it felt like we were in the middle of a Batman comic. So despite wondering around trying to find somewhere to go, we managed to discover somewhere new and friendly to go.

Coney Island By Night...

Steven, Karen and Ben were all keen too see Coney Island while they were here, so on Tuesday evening, after work we got the Q train down there to have a look at the new Lunar Park and have some hotdogs.

We arrived at dusk, so the sky looked lovely and pink and blue and it wasn't too busy. We all went an got a drink at Beer Island (a sand filled car park really) before strolling along the boardwalk, getting a hotdog and having a go at 'shooting the freak'.

Shoot The Freak is a game on the boardwalk, in between two of the buildings is a pit full of obsticals for the 'freak' to hide behind. At the top of the pit is shooting gallery with paintball guns ready for people to have a go at taking shots at the 'freak' - the freak is just someone wearing protective clothing that runs around trying to avoid the shots. It was a little bit strange, but Ben insisted - I think it's safe to say that not one of us got anywhere near to shooting the freak... I think the guns were faulty! Nothing to do with the people shooting the guns of course.

We walked down to the rides, walked around for a bit, all of us taking photo after photo - and then we went to the new Lunar Park. Coney Island's been going under a bit of a facelift to try and bring in some more tourism and change people's perceptions of the place.

The Lunar Park has got some brand new rides and games an has a fancy entrance - it still feels a little bare, but I think they're still adding to it... I expect by July 4th it'll be all finished ready for Tom's arrival!

Then Ben, Steve and I braved the Cyclone rollercoaster. Tom and I went on in last year and I promised myself that I wouldn't do it again because it hurt quite a lot... but I bowed to peer pressure and subjected my knees to a crushing and my sides to a good bashing on the old rickety rollercoaster. Luckily we all escaped without any major injuries, the only fatality was Ben's sunglasses that came flying off on the first corner (luckily they were knock-offs from Malaysia).

Our final stop was Nathan's hotdogs, we book-ended our visit to Coney Island with some more super healthy meaty treats before getting the train back to the apartment.

It was great seeing Coney Island at night, it had a very different feel and I have no doubt there'll be more blog entries about Coney Island yet to come this summer...

Oh Mister Sandman...

Before we got the train to Coney Island the other day we saw a familiar face in Union Square, the Sandman!

This looks like one the most complicated and decorative ones yet...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Spike Lee Joint...

There have been quite a few posters for the new Absolut Brooklyn bottles in the subway stations on our way home from work, so we thought we'd buy a couple of bottles to keep and remind ourselves of our time in Brooklyn. They just arrived now...

Absolut have collaborated with Spike Lee and have brought out a red apple and ginger flavoured vodka in honour of Brooklyn. Absolut are going to donate $50,000 to the housing projects in Bed-Stuy, so it's all for a good cause.

Jules...

Jule's Jazz Bar is a lovely little French Jazz place on St. Mark's - I think I spoke about a while ago when I got some peanut buttery chips one afternoon and sat on the stoop outside Jule's.

Steve and Karen were keen to go to a Jazz club on evening and I'd heard some lovely music coming out of here a couple of times so we thought we'd give it a try, it didn't disappoint either - the music was great and the food was DELICIOUS! (Abi and I had an amazing steak with a little risotto. Mmmmmmmm...)

Shhhhhh... Please Don't Tell...

Last night Ben, Steve, Karen, Amelia, Emma (another peep from the Leeds office), Abi and I went to a rather special place on St. Marks Place. To the untrained eye it may have looked very much like the 7 of us walked in to Crif Dogs again, and they would be right. We walked down the steps into Crif Dogs, and then Abi went into the telephone booth, and that's where things got interesting...

(This picture of the inside of Crif Dogs is nabbed off t'interweb)

The phone booth in Crif Dogs is no ordinary phone booth - Oh no, it's something far more. You go in, close the door, pick up the phone (just like any other phone booth), and then a lady answers the phone and asks if you have a reservation...

Looks like a normal diner, with a normal phone booth (those small double doors on the left)

If you've made a reservation (which we had) the lady puts down the phone and then the back wall of the phone booth opens and you're welcomed into a rather cozy and exclusive bar called PDT - Please Don't Tell, which looks a little like this...

(This is nabbed off t'interweb too, my phone didn't take good photos in the dark)

It was fantastic, we had a little booth with leather seats, and a waiter in a waist coat came and gave us a drinks menu, they do food too - they're super fancy versions of the hot dogs they sell next door, but for an extra $1.50 (so they're still under $10). We all had some beer and Emma has rather fancy and flowery lavender gin cocktail.

It was great, and the whole concept of a secret club that's behind a telephone booth is just fantastic - they had stuffed animals on the walls and it was all very dimly lit and quiet. They even had some PDT Rules up on the wall in the loo, the first one being 'Treat others as you'd like the be treated' - best rule in the world I think. There was also a 'No phone calls allowed' rule and a 'No hitting on strangers at the bar' rule - it was great.

In fact the loos themselves were rather special...

It was all broken glass mosaic, and there was this little sign above the sink...

It was great fun - after a couple of drinks we made our way back through the phone booth and headed next door to Jule's Jazz Bar for something to eat...

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store...

On Sunday afternoon we took a trip to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store in Park Slope. I'd only been here once before, waaaaaay back in February last year for Tom's birthday - Steve's been wanting to visit the store ever since I told him about it, so it was quite a special occassion for him.

The store was set up by a charity that offers creative writing classes for inner-city children and teenagers, they've got a couple of other shops across the country including a Pirate's Supply Store in San Francisco.

Inside the shop are floor to ceiling shelves full of fantastic products - well, they look like products but they're actually empty boxes and empty tins. They have cans of X-Ray vision, the speed of light, tins of doom and gloom, tins of antimatter and gravity, they sell cloakes and disguises, they sell secrect identity kits and good vs. evil maps of New York, they have all sorts of fantastic items...

They've created their own brands, ranging from FantastiCo which is your more entry level superhero supplies to The Aardvark Bros. which is your more top-end specialist goods. All the copy on all the packs is fantastic, all the little details have been thought about and it feels like they've had a lot of fun coming up with all the ideas.

Behind one of the shelves is a secret doorway which leads to the room where they hold the creative writing classes. So you pull the shelf towards you and it opens like a door revealing a room that feels like clubhouse with book lined walls, comfy chairs and tables to write at. It looks fantastic and I bet the classes are great fun.

There were some small children in the shop when we were looking around. They were recieving the full Superhero make-over treatment, picking out capes, learning how to pose, coming up with names, working on their flying techniques (with a fan blowing their cape around) and looking for gadgets, they were having loads of fun... so was Steve, he was stocking up on antimatter and doom as presents for people.

Before you buy any things from the shop you have to say the 'Superhero Oath' out-loud infront of everyone in the shop and give yourself a superhero name, then you place you items in a vault and they're sent up the the HQ offices for pricing.

The whole shop is a complete experience and is so much fun - it's just a shame I don't qualify for one of the creative writing classes. The whole place is really inspiring and although when you think about it they're selling empty boxes for $15 - you're really making a donation to the charity and having a lot of fun at the same time. It's BRILLIANT!