The Earliest Christmas Shop Ever

Amazingly I’ve already done pretty much all of my Christmas shopping… In fact at this very moment packages are speeding their way back home to my family in England – fingers crossed they arrive safely! The hardest part of shipping stuff home for Christmas, other than getting it done a month in advance, is filling out the customs form. In theory they want exact details of every item, including not only its price, but also its weight. Given it was hard enough fitting everything in to sensible size boxes and packing to minimize damage risk, the added task of weighing everything individually was beyond me. In fact it was a near miss on my customs form when I wrote ‘Pot’as one line item, before realizing the second meaning and quickly adding ‘..tery’. Good to know I’m on the ball sometimes.

Merry 30th November everybody!

An Interesting Week Ahead in the U of K

For many folks in the world, or at least in the US, the most important thing happening this week is the imminent release of Paris Hilton. Exciting stuff indeed. Checking the BBC’s weekly planner for this week, we find that for us with a more Brit-focus – Tony Blair is also about to tender his resignation to the Queen, Wimbledon is starting, it’s been ten years since Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese and, at the end of the week, England finally bans smoking in enclosed places. Surprising they didn’t do it this weekend when most smokers where getting wet at Glastonbury

Oh, and today is the nine year anniversary of when I first moved to New York. Surprised they missed that out.

New York Post-Teenager

Continuing the New York theme this morning (even though I’m in Toronto) – according to Time Out my New York age is 20, a side effect of continuing the Peter Pan life-stylings of Williamsburg methinks. Although strangely I didn’t recognize old school Upper East classic Elaine’s, which I have eaten at with Marc and Sid, prior to going outside and bumping into a very drunken Russ with his other 20 years old-ish friends at the Irish bar next door. Hmm.. maybe that estimate is spot on.

Go calculate your own age here.

Sunny Weekend

It’s been a lovely sunny weekend here in New York, so mostly I’ve been out and about having sandwiches in the park and enjoying the weather. That and getting my bike out properly for the first time this year and realising that maybe I’m a bit rusty…

As usual, now that the first warm days are here, the thought of putting my air conditioner back in my window arises. This activity constantly scares the sh*t out of me, through worry that the large chunk of metal I’m man-handling into my window will suddenly decide to take gravity’s advice and jump. To date this has never happened and I pray that it never will. I wonder if everyone here shares this fear, or if it’s just the side effect of not having grown up in a country which is obsessed by living in fridge cold air?

Healthy Hipsterdom: Toxic Williamsburg

Vice have put together a video series discussing the pollution issues that abound in Williamsburg & Greenpoint. In it they ask whether people would want to spend so much money to move into the new condos that are being built, if they knew how polluted the air and ground around them will be. Well I live in a cheap apartment out near the sewage reclamation plant & oil polluted waterways that they film, and its certainly got me worried. Now spring is back and the familiar background smell of half-processed sewage is returning – it’s never over bearing, but after a heavy rain storm I always find myself wondering if I’ve forgotten to flush the toilet…

Watch it now but probably not while you eat your locally made pierogi.

The Skinny on the New Gap Jeans

Proof positive that Williamsburg rents are about to go truely ballistic… Gap has renamed their new range of skinny jeans as ‘Williamsburg’. I’m pretty certain I won’t be getting a pair myself (even though I have been known to whore myself out to Brooklyn Industries on a regular basis) as a) I don’t want to encourage Gap and b) not sure I’d fit into them. Yep, it’s gym time again.

Who knows what the marketing folks at Gap were thinking with this one. Maybe they’re hoping that hipsters will think it’s so ironically un-ironic that it comes back all the way round into irony? Or maybe they’d just drunk to much PBR.

Pedulatory Changes

Over the past few years New Yorkers have seen a rapid increase in the numbers of pedicabs scooting around the streets, especially around Central Park and midtown. What once used to be the province of small, individual enterprises became more corporate and advanced. The old guard, of which my friend Paula is one, have been increasingly pushed out by the more aggressive tactics undertaken by a new wave of people driven by making a quick buck rather than the enjoyment of being on the street and seeing it all happen in front of you.

Well now it’s gotten to a stage where New York will regulate pedicabs, requiring licences and laying out plans to limit the total number of pedicabs to only 325. This compares poorly to the 13,087 licenced yellow cabs currently in the city. Most of whom are busy chatting to their friends on their cellphones and trying to run over pedestrians by not paying attention. Bless.

New York vs. Mobile Audio

Apparently New York is over it’s love relationship with mobile music players. Both the iPod and Zune have come in for some slagging over the last few days, if for different reasons.

First up, Microsoft are being blamed for disturbing Lower East Side residents with their beefed up boombox SUV blasting marketing music at 3am up and down the street. This was on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton, which as anyone who lives here knows, is not the quietest place in New York most nights. I used to have a friend who lived above that corner and I was amazed she could ever sleep – it’s crazy loud until 4am with folks partying, then at six the trash collection starts up and morning rush hour. Ouch.

It’s all too easy to bash Microsoft, but also this week we have to watch out for Apple. Their evil iPods are being blamed for two recent pedestrian deaths in Brooklyn, so a local senator is proposing banning pedestrians from listening to iPods or cellphones while they cross the road. Wow. That’s the most amazing piece of transferred blame I’ve ever heard (other than the whole Iraq war thing). If you want to stop pedestrians from getting run over on New York crosswalks then enforce the ban on drivers user cellphones! It’s amazing how often you can be crossing the road only to look across and see a car suddenly turning into you, with the driver having one hand pressed to their ear with their phone and the other distractedly turning the wheel. I’ve got three words for you idiots: hands free headset. At least taxi drivers have learnt that one, but even they seem to be less aware of pedestrians than before – plus I really miss the random conversations that used to happen to pass the time whenever you got a cab.

It’s high time we started to name and shame these drivers, who are supposed to be in control of these large metal boxes but who insist on risking lives by using cellphones dangerously while they drive. Maybe we could create a site where you can upload videos and photographs of these people driving with one hand on the wheel, the other on the phone. Or maybe if the fines/penalties were in line with the human impact, people would start to take notice. I look forward to a day when I can cross the road in New York again without worrying, back like it used to be in ’98 when I first got here.

Gentrification Wars Continue

The Washington Post has a piece on the rapid gentrification of Williamsburg, the part of Brooklyn I’ve called home for most of the last six years. It’s an interesting backgrounder for those of you who haven’t seen the effects on the neighbourhood, and a warning to other neighbourhoods that might soon fall prey to the war between those with artistic aspirations (trans. drinking all day) and people with more money than dress sense. Obviously nothing the artistic members of Williamsburg society say will have any affect on the incoming folks, but it’s sad to think that someday this area will be as devoid of real spirit as SoHo and NoLiTa.

Snow Day NYC

The first snow storm of this winter season has hit New York. Can’t really say it’s that dramatic having just flown back from Montreal where it was near -40c with the wind chill. So cold your eyeballs start to freeze. Ugh. Still, it was fun on the subway this morning watching everyone bundled up interspersed with delivery guys with huge bunches of flowers (mostly roses).

Happy Snowy Valentines Day!