Happy Birthday Lady!

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Jul 202008
 

Just a quick shot out to the woman for her birthday this month. I took her to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in the Four Seasons over the weekend and it was by far one of my top restaurant I’ve been to in the city. JR focusing on French with Japanese influences. We had the 6 course tasting and each was more unique and exquisite than the last.

By the time of writing this, this restaurant is voted the best in NYC by the user community at Yelp.

Black Tie Wedding

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Apr 292008
 

I was looking for weeks for an alternative to that small print on our friend’s wedding invitation “Black Tie”. What does that really mean? Can I get away with a black suit? Do I have to buy this tux I won’t wear again? … Ultimately yes, was the answer so I went out to Syms and picked up a clean Joseph Abboud Tux and some Boss shirt and accessories for the gig.

After going through the same pain I’m going through in picking a spot, the bride picked the Union Club for their digs – the oldest and most exclusive of the leading men’s clubs of New York. Founded in 1836, it is the city’s oldest social club and its male membership has been largely drawn from the city’s most socially prominent Protestant families.

The wedding was commenced on an upper floor where we joined the party late, just a few minutes before the wedding party started walking down the isle. The ceremony was short and sweet but the highlight for me was not the actual commencement but when the priest during the ceremony asked one of the youngest of the flower girls to provide for the crowd what do kids her age worry about.

Her response was “Global Warming”.

Not the response the priest was looking for and it resulted in a spirited laugh from the crowd. Also ironic is that there a many disbelievers among the largely Republican crowd on the global warming “theory”.

The wedding started with an open bar in a nice foyer/room with a grand piano with light “jazz/lounge” music playing. We enjoyed some petite h’orderves and Chivas Regal. A cordial staff ushered us to the dining area after meeting many of the other family and friends of the wedding couple. We were all seated with our mutual friends while we had an excellent 4 course meal topped with Fillet Mignon.

The meal was excellent and when the band started up in the Greek cross shaped main hall the guests reluctantly waddled out to the marble entry way to sway to some latin, pop and jazz music. Over all the wedding went off without a hitch, all the guests had an excellent time, the food, venue and staff were all excellent.

Congratulations to Andrea and John and many happy years!

A clip from Trading Places as this was how I felt entering the Union Club:

Celebrating Azerbaijan!

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Apr 152008
 

The week one of our friends had a birthday at the multiplied in NYC restaurant Serafina. I just recently learned she was from Azerbaijan which I wasn’t familiar with. I’ve since learn the country claimed independence 90 years ago and is surrounded by Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran and the Caspian Sea. She’s apparently in the minority being Russian Orthodox.

We’ll we enjoyed a standard Italian meal with plenty of wine and family and then headed up to the Dream roof top to pop the bubbly. Unfortunately I’ve been sick and pulled out early but here’s a few pictures.

Adamant About Being on Top

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Apr 072008
 

This past weekend I joined friends for the 30th birthday of one of my friends, Aysel. Aysel upon first meeting could be considered an Eastern European or Mediterranean Charlotte York (of SATC fame). Exactly she’s Azerbaijani; today Azerbaijan, which represents one of the largest countries around the Caspian sea region (aside from Russia) resulting from the USSR dissolve in 1991. She has a very straight forward, no-nonsense toughness with a slight air of family royalty, and overall engaging to have as company.

We entertained dinner with her gracious family and friends at Serafina; some whom came up from Miami. The wine and hospitality overwhelmed the dinner. Although it was a quick night for me, we later had the roof top overlooking Times Square, of the Dream Hotel for an after party and I washed down a square of birthday cake with some Perrier-Jouët.

Happy Birthday Aysel!

The St. Maarten Vacation Mash Up

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Apr 022008
 

I just heard a horrific story about a friend of mine traveling on the island of St. Maarten and is currently recovering from the attack in a Miami hospital. Here’s the details:

JL was walking with two family friends down a relatively dark street when they were all approached out of the shadows by three armed men. The men quickly demanded all their money. As JL was going through his pockets to oblige, one of the men pistol whipped him on top of the head with his glock. The impact of the gun broke his skull, and shattered pieces of his skull into his brain cavity.

With the other two men holding guard on JL’s other friends, there wasn’t much they could to to assist while they were robbed. JL was carried to the local hospital in St. Maarten; unfortunately these island hospitals don’t regularly staff neurosurgeons. His family was notified and they gathered what money they could on short notice to charter a private (low level) flight direct to Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. While there, he underwent brain surgery to remove the shards of skull from his brain tissue.

Fortunately they acted quickly and the operation was a success! As a result of the attack, JL does suffer from neural damage which has paralyzed his right hand, however, with days of therapy we’re hoping that he will regain full use of it in the near future. Unfortunately, this isn’t guaranteed and is more hopeful than anything else. He is is good spirits, and we all made sure to keep conversations light and friendly to keep him from stressing about his situation.

If this casualty wasn’t enough, he now has to deal with the American Health Care system. As a student and massage therapist he’s unable to work without his dominant hand. With the limited health insurance he does have, his out-of-pocket medical bills have already run over $20,000, not including the immediate travel expenses endured.

JL’s family and friends have put together a donation site to help him with the looming medical bills and living expenses, while he concentrates on therapy and recover. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to help donate; it’s much appreciated.

Being confronted in an alley by armed men in your own town or even in America is frightening enough, but in another country, with lacking care and facilities, it could have been down right deadly. We are all fortunate that his friend and family acted quickly and pulled together to get JL to safety and he’s well on his way to recovery. JL: Recover Fast and Well my friend

Rooftop Demo -> Voyeur

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Mar 272008
 

Living on the top floor of my building has huge benefits. In the SOHO neighborhood, all the buildings are pre 1950s and have a height limit of 6 floors (a fluid dynamics issue where originally legacy pluming technology and NY’s shallow bedrock results in extremely low water pressure which limits the pumping of water to past the hight of a six story building. Until the advent of modern plumbing, water towers were needed to build pressure in the pipes – I could go into more engineering geek talk then I never excelled in fluid dynamics so the experts are better sources for this: History of Am plumbing & Longtime Emblems of City Roofs [NY Times])…. So I’m on top and the benefits include unobstructed views of the city from my living room, sunlight (a rarity in the tall concrete jungle of nyc) and just an overall feeling of superiority looking down on all that rent/own below me.

I also have the fortunate option of having unobstructed roof access – which is not a right or guarantee of anyone’s lease in this building but it just happens that the roof access door is not locked. Recently the buildings inspector has reviewed our building. I never met him/her but I know they have been here because there’s a new plaque in the lobby with their stamp and inspection numbers. Resulting from the visit, our landlord has had to implement some fixes in the building like hand rails on some of the steps, and child proof window guards. He’s also had his ukranian work force up on the roof all week doing demo work and resealing the roof for cracks and leaks. As a result, all our community roof top furniture (tables and chairs purchased from Kmart) have been removed without warning.

Fuck.

I’m considerably nervous that when they are done with the work, they will be closing off and locking the roof from renter access all together. The access has been an added benefit of renting here and a constant source of summer time parties for our crew of friends. I can deal with the loss of $50 in furniture but if the access goes away, I’m going to get illegal on this and break open the doors next month when it gets to the 70s…

Tonight I was on top surveying the city night as I usually do after a few drinks out. It’s calm and cool from the passing rain. Clear enough again I can see down town and past Empire. Over the years I’ve seen quite some action from near by apartments – none of which I’ve blogged about until now:

The NYU dorms are about 4 blocks away and tower above SOHO. There’s not much action in the summer but every now and then you can catch a house party rocking in one of the rooms with strobes and blacklights or the rich guy 19 yr old with his parents financed 42 in HD TV.

Being on top, I’ve got clear view into all the apartments down to about the 3rd floor. Across the way, there are 2 girls in an apartment with fuschia curtains. Smartly, 80% of the time those coverings are closed but every now and then you’ll catch a lingerie show when they are preparing for a big night out. They must have bf’s because it’s been quite the last few months – not that I’ve really been keeping track.

The apartment directly across from us has gone through a few tenants. This year it’s an emo couple that hand out in their minimalist apt. Mattress on the floor, a refrigerator and a bamboo plant in the window. They probably do heroin all day in between trips to the LES galleries or Brooklyn bars.

Top floor, across the street from us is a lonely burger flipper. He’s always got the lights out when watching tv and tonight I noticed through his window a woman figure on the 52 in TV bobbing up and down relentlessly. Mouth agape… fast forward dialogue…. more bouncing and nakedness… YES! he’s watching porn again with the window blinds open and the lights out… don’t you know that shit is see through!!!

A few months back the3rd floor apt was vacant for the longest time. It looked like someone was renting it as a storage spot with all the crap, dust and wood planks laying around. Then within a few weeks it was gutted, a kitchen was put in and soon after a new female tenant. She wasn’t that cute but in the first few months hadn’t purchased blinds or drapes and often caught her masturbating on the couch and passing out with her hand in the crotch… Ah Namen! I’ll never forget you!!!! Recently she’s either got a partner to satisfy her, she’s purchased covering or I just haven’t been keeping track.

I think the most mesmorising neighborhood scene was last summer. Two buildings away but across W Broadway is a very nice loft apartment building – the bottom store is the local SOHO Coach retail shop. I’m sure all residents own their lofts in this white washed building. I was up on the roof with friends enjoying some Brooklyn lager when I noticed several guys scrambling around the apartment setting up make shift lighting fixtures… Instantly I thought MOVIE set! It happens regularly around here. We pulled up chairs and watched the chaos in the apt when we noticed two naked people sitting in chairs getting their make up done. 20 minutes later, they were banging away on the kitchen counter in the other room with full camera coverage. Live Porno set! Rock-paper-scissors and Greg had to head down to the bodega for another 12er.

All in all I’d say our neighborhood is very quiet. Aside from Milady’s across the street there’s not much going on after 11 here. Most of the residents are established, older and sit comfortably behind closed blinds. There’s limited reality watching but I’m not staring at a dark apt all week awaiting for a glimps of an ass though when you can catch that at any MPD club all week.

I primary hope is that the building inspector doesn’t force the closure of the roof access this summer. More than anything that’s a sanity savor in this rat cage of a city and an instant tanning bed for this pale face.

Sinking ships, plugging dykes and drinks all around.

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Mar 082008
 

Thomas Pink striped shirt draped by a BOSS suit, guy at the bar shouted to his friend “Eh, yo! how’d youse do in the Market today?”
The Ted Baker wearing brit responded “I took a hit for 50 today”
“Aaaoooohhhh! I’m only down 25”
“Eh guy! pour me a stiff vodka red bull!”
“Make it two!!”

In New York, finance guys are all a dime a dozen – shit 75% of my friends work for some bank, hedge fund, analysts or what ever. I’ve met many of the cocky witless monkeys that blab on about the bonuses that eclipse pedestrian salaries, like these guys, at the latest nautical “dive” bar scene, The Rusty Knot, fit the stereotype to a T. The Knot with Busch Beer on tap, box wine on the shelf, Tiki glasses, Spider Bowls, a pool table and decor from the Love Boat is Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig), Taavo Somer (Freeman’s), Tobey Maloney (Milk & Honey) and a Momofuku alum bar’s new venture which quietly started up last week on the west side overlooking the Hudson River.

Despite the yupster vibe, I’ll be back to the Knot for the cheap happy hour and to point fingers at the Jersey commuters that are stuck in traffic headed back to the tunnel.

Village Rich

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Mar 052008
 

There are very few times were I’m invited into the worlds of upper crust of lower Manhattan wealth and last night happened to be one of them. Our friends A&J are getting married very shortly and we were invited by J’s CEO (we’ll call him George) and wife (we’ll call her Norkys for now) to their not so humble, 5 story home in the west village for their engagement party.

I recognized the house as we jumped out of our yellow chariot 100 feet away. I had walked by many times, as it’s right on the corner with a dramatic stair rise to the primary walk in floor. I’ve been caught by the help, walking their dogs when gazing in the windows from across the street; wondering what priceless items adorn the walks and rooms of such an established resident of the village. The party was a private affair with J & A’s friends, family, co-workers and personal bankers (or so it seems from the largely high-financially employed crowd) although it felt at times like an after work social. I was one of 3 men without ties but the ladies were casual and acceptable in their more comfortably dressed cocktail gear.

As we walked in, we were greeted by Samuel, who took our coats and brought me my first Sapphire and tonic of the eve; she an excellent Amarone. There was certain segregation of work, family and friends at first. I quickly got introduced to A’s parents whom have driven up from North Carolina where they are comfortably retired; the father I learned used to get his kicks in the evening by reading SEC audit trails and papers. J’s parents are from the land of crab cakes and football; the father a red tie wearing man; well connected with DC who has worked in furthering security and safety of the people….

The gathering room was more fit for a smaller gathering of maybe 15, this seemed more like 30-40 crammed between victorian couches, crystal chandeliers, greek art, marble busts of gods, terracotta vases (all of which could be on rotation for others residing in the MET) and an odd collection blown glass spheres on a coffee table. Central audio first encouraged talking rather than listening until Norkys’ got a hold of the universal controls later.

In the brightly yellow room, short Asian women bobbed and weaved between the guests serving bits on silver trays. Apparently we were eating catered food from the chef that prepares for the British embassy, and I’ll have to say the curry, lobster and quail egg with beluga were excellent. I had a chance to get down stairs and see the kitchen, which was larger than my apartment. Even the staff quarters there was pimped with worn rusted brown leather couches and flat screen tvs. Unfortunately I didn’t get a tour of the other 3 floors above.

I had an opportunity to meet our hosts, both seemed more preoccupied with counting down the time for their guest’s departure than entering into any meaningful conversation with new acquaintances. I headed back to the bar and had another drink mixed up between perrier swigs.

During the time I caught up with a few of A’s cousins, one of which had his first baby. He happened to have 50 of the 247 photos he took of his baby daughter’s birth on his phone and proceeded to show all the love and joys of the hospital care, sturuped ladened wife, documentation of crowning and quite possibly a few of the birth canal, however, my head was turned away during the rest of the slide show. A proud father obviously but somethings should still be private and I for one will not be keeping images even in my head of those sites.

Many of the conversations I found myself in were around hunting, sailing, football, finance and damn his wife is hot. However, the social gathering came to an end almost as soon as it began and no real damage was done except for the 4 G&Ts and one husband of the cousin had carelessly knocked over a priceless lamp and snapped the shaft in front of the host. I couldn’t tell if the incident was cause for any concern (I’ll just pick up another) or if there was some heart behind the breakage.

The end of the evening didn’t come there. We headed to a great restaurant with more wine and food. I won’t go into detail here for the rest, however, excellent work J&A, thank you for the invitation and congratulation on the engagement.

“Long engagements give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which is never advisable.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Ghosts in the system

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Feb 142008
 

The other night I was short on cash and lost my ATM card so I decided to take the subway back rather than a cab. I get down in the track and there’s not a sole on the platform. I think sometimes just having the unruly bum or a few tourists around is much more comfortable than the silence pierced by the occasional water droplets or rat scurrying noises. Creepy:

Burp Castle is Beer Heaven

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Jan 102008
 

I took some co-workers and clients out in the West Village and we ended up at Burp Castle taking down the clock sampler – a sample of 12 brews placed around a clock to be sampled in order from light to dark/heavy. This spot gets high marks for being one of the most unique beer halls with a great selections of brew with a friendly staff.