Best cities in America?

 Lifestyle, Travel  Comments Off on Best cities in America?
Oct 222007

Travel & Leisure has surveyed 60,000+ respondents and the results are in for what’s the best city, it’s best and worst features etc. Here’s the original link and my interests are below.

Clubbing – At one point, New York was the clubbing capital of the world. And now, even being relegated to 3rd in America (according to this list), it’s definitely lost it’s luster and still doesn’t compare to the UK, Japan, Spain, Russia, Germany and well much of the EU. The Guliani and Bloomberg campaigns against nightlife in the city have killed the nocturnal nature of the clubs. They are no longer mysterious, dark and exciting as they once were. Even the promoters have played it safe with their music, opting for more bedroom DJs (CDJ, iPod and Serato mixers) than national & international superstars with deck skills and proper music selection. Seeing Austin and especially New Orleans on this list, I know there were some ballet suffers in the category. My list would be more like:

  • Miami
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta

Culture (over all)… you can’t compare to New York and I think the next best city really should start at #3. I hardly think Boston and Philly have nearly as much culture as SF. Do people even understand this question. I mean how are Charleston and Santa Fe in the top 10?

People (Overall). There is no doubt SF is tops on this one. But I’ve been to Seattle and there’s no comparison to the people in NY. NYC should be the easy #2. Something note worthy about the sub categories of this – Attractive tops were: Miami, San Diego, Charleston, Austin, Honolulu, LA, SF, St.Paul/Minneapolis, New York, then Denver….again another WHAT?!? There are a lot of lesser known places in the south that missed the list and NY near the bottom of the 10 – that’s ridiculous. Stylish fit the norm – NY, Miami, SF, LA (even though I think Miami should be # 4 on that list) but I guess the more stylish you [think you] are, the less Friendly. I think we know from Katrina that New Orleans is not Diverse and need not be in the top 10.

After Dark (Overall) – I really can’t say from experience that New Orleans is the best place for after dark, however, I can not see how New York & Las Vegas are not tops above NO.

It’s hard to say what are the best citys by “Characteristics (Overall)” – but apparently Portland Oregon has it. The most affordable spots are really all placed I don’t want to live and my top three (New York, SF and San Diego) are all on the bottom. The best weather is also my pick (San Diego) and except for Denver, all the top ten are southern cities that don’t get a winter. I found it interesting that the most unsafe city was New Orleans (Safety) but the perception is still there that New York is not the safest city, even though I feel easier moving around the boughs here than I do in parts of Chicago, SF, Las Vegas, even Austin, TX.

Wow –Pedestrian friendliness? Except for the snow, how is New York not more ped friendly than the hilly SF, the expansive DC and Austin cities, and the wet Seattle?

Food/Dining (Overall) – again, I’ve never been to Austin, but how can down home cookin in Austin even compare to the diversity and range in food in NY or SF for that matter? I don’t understand this one. Seattle, Portland, St. Paul and Charleston again are too high on this list. Notables, Chicago beat NY for best pizza, Seattle tops the coffee market of course, NY and SF are the most ethnic (there’s no Asian food in New Orleans people come on!), the south has the BBQ with Austin, San Antonio, Nashville and Charleston (but hello Memphis Que? didn’t even get to the list), and Big name restaurants topped the bill in NY (but again some ballot stuffing with New Orleans).

Shopping (overall) of course went to NY but I had no idea people are destine to go to Charleston over LA for shopping… wonderment.

Best Type of trip (Overall) goes to: San Diego, Honolulu, SF, Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Charleston, New Orleans, San Antonio and Miami… Boston, Austin and NY are close behind but definitely don’t deserve that following.

So what this survey tells us about some of my favorite cites is people think New York is best in shopping, culture, people-watching, and big-name restaurants but if only it were affordable (worst on list). SF is ranked best in gay oops I mean people overall and fantastic neighborhoods,yet again is unaffordable compared to most. Miami has great nightlife and hot sexy people but has the worst drivers and transportation. LA has great luxury shops but some of the worst people and traffic is a nightmare (no there is no viable public transportation). Las Vegas is a great travel destination, for big weekends but don’t expect the best produce; besides who needs a salad when you’re drinking bottle service all weekend. New Orleans gets away with best live music, drinks and cheap eats but you’ll get robbed, stabbed or worse ; more than any other major town. DC has the best history but still wouldn’t want to pay THAT much to live there. Chicago gets marks for eats, city sites and some of the worst weather. Austin is great for the single person, hearing live music and BBQ but getting around is a pain, and bring your own style out because they don’t have much to offer.

I was quite disappointed in the amount of positive attributes selected to New Orleans and Charleston but quite pleased to find my top places to be in the top SF and NY.

To be, rather than to seem – NC

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May 252007

This week I was in North Carolina for the first time for business. One of our partners put together a trade show for customers, where my company was one fifth of the show. Held at the Grandover Resort Golf Club one of the sweetest courses I’ve played on, and thankfully my game was on. Excellent accommodations, free range practices and a great round where we won the tournament, it was an excellent showing.

In route, I was able to sample several pork bbq spots in the state with that signature vinegar-based sauce. I stopped by Bar-B-Q Pit center in Lexington to sample some chopped pork and hush puppies. While in Greesboro I was encouraged to eat at Smoky Bones. Yes it’s a chain, but the spot was fantastic and I rolled out of there 10 lbs heavier.

The ride to Charlotte was calming, reminding me of a road trip through the valley of CA. I hadn’t drove this much in some time and pulling into the 10th largest metro in the US, I was getting hungry again. Bubba’s B.B.Q was next on my recommendation list and they had an excellent plate of ribs and barbeque.

When I finally rolled into Charlotte, the whole city was traffic ridden. I never thought it was going to be this bad… but just my luck, it was the weekend of the Coca Cola 600. I had to park down the street because my hotel was located on Trade St. in the middle of the city’s 600 Speed Street fair which had all the surrounding streets blocked off for concerts and events. Right across the street was the Coca-Cola stage with one of my old skool favorite groups – Tony! Toni! Toné! was playing their new jack swing! Feels good!!! yeah!

The street fair was sweet. Open beer, games, southern hospitality, food and good times for all. I had a few meetings with clients while I was here and was able to spend a few hours checking out some of the fair and enjoy some bud with the locals : “I don’t drink no Bud Lite, I need to taste my beer!”

Here’s some pics from the scene – cheap beers through out the streets:

Giant slim jims to climb for the kids:

All the cars are showcased:

Even Orange County Choppers got into it with a tricked out Chevy:

The Dale Ernheart Jr. Experience

Spray zone to cool from the heat:

Wait for hours just to get your gear signed by the drivers:

View from inside Jr’s car:

Even the kids get into doing lotto:

SHOTS! This guys just skips the Bud buzz:

This is a small plate of greasy food… no wonder half the people here are over 250+ lbs.:

Urinals that separate the men from the boys…

Heavy Metal in Baghdad by

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May 132007

This s a series of 5 minute short vids from the VBS tv, and online news broadcast team from the guys that bring you Vice Magazine which started out as a concert show of Iraq’s only (and alive) heavy metal bands, and turned into a sobering series revealing the deadly lifestyles of local Iraqis in Baghdad, and their acceptance of early death as their new fate, thanks to the US preemptive war on Iraq.

How do you get to Baghdad, Iraq…through charter in Germany of course, via Kurdistan

“My experience in Baghdad is what I’d imagine prison to be like.”

The Baghdad Blast!

“Good morning Baghdad”

“I’m ready to die”…what a way to live…

Airline Security over reacting = Don’t Fly

 Culture, Lifestyle, Travel  Comments Off on Airline Security over reacting = Don’t Fly
Sep 102006

How fucking stupid is the forcing of passengers to exclude potential items (specifically liquids) from carrying onto their flights because of abatement risk. No food, no bottles of water, no shampoo, no cologne, and no contact solution?

When the shoe bomber was discovered, they didn’t ban shoes did they? No, now they make us take our shoes off to be scanned.

So then the latest is our laptops… Another Airline Grounds Dell, Apple Laptops

Why even fly? If a carrier is not going to allow my business tools to be transported with me, then why even consider using that carrier for business. Many have chosen JetBlue because they offer better snacks than the “meals” traditional flight carriers offered (ok yeah TVs help too). And as fuel prices go up, airlines bumping our seats, loosing our luggage and the service has goes into the toilet… what are we actually getting here?

If it’s not service, or costs we are worrying about, it’s now safety too… The economics of flight have forced carriers to stretch the time lines for maintenance and extending part usage to an unsafe levels of use.

My suggestion – don’t fly! Take the train, drive, boat, or walk but just don’t give airlines your money. Unfortunately easier said in done when I’m forced to fly every month. Yeah and my next vacation will be at the Jersey shore… uh well I’ll have to suck it up and roll the dice when I’m flying out to Costa Rica…

South Lake wildlife

 Personal, Travel  Comments Off on South Lake wildlife
Aug 012006

On the runwayFour hours on the runway and not a bolt of lightning piercing the Airbus A320 port hole windows. Apparently the eastern corridor has been squeezed on the south and north by heavy thunderstorms and here we sit, in line with 29 other large aircraft waiting for the call from the tower to launch in time for a clean pass through the Appalachian mountains. What a way to start what’s supposed to be a relaxing weekend in South Lake Tahoe.

It’s Darin‘s Bachelor party and per his instruction, its to be a pure male bonding weekend with no lady friends or no whore/strippers… I think some where out there, this totally goes against the guy code… male bonding = whore strippers – come on! Anyway, I headed up Friday afternoon with Adam 12 in his Audi TT and being that I haven’t been back in CA since the Xmas holidays, I needed my fix of a few things. With road trips, this is namely a mandatory stop at In N Out burger for one of my favorite fast food artery killers – the double double animal style!

With the glisten of burger grease on my shirt, 12 n I powered on through the Placerville slow down and we were the first to arrive over the ridge to our play land for the weekend. We quickly cased the strip – and I mean in 20 minutes because its that big and found a spot on the Lake Tahoe Blvd to kick it and have some local porter beer. Met a couple locals that had a pirates of the Caribbean party rolling that evening, however, I knew there wasn’t going to be enough organization in this group to rally to a house party.

2 taps down and we headed out to our first look at our temp residence. Our spot was on the California side, off Pioneer Trail – a 5 bedroom, 5 bath, 4100 sq foot cabin sitting on an acre of land in the hills of Lake Tahoe. Hot tub, pool table, foose, leather couches, triple headed showers, flat screens in every room, and did I mention a huge hot tub… pimp… I already know I’ll be heading back in the winter – with 10 ppl of course.

The plan was to bring up the equipment and the fear was with a house of 12 DJs who there’s got to be fights over deck time… the reality, the decks were still in san luis obispo and the sterio blew base tube blew out in the first 2 hours… So…the majority of the weekend was spent chillin, talkin shit, tossin a foot ball at Zepher cove, drinkin, bbqin, smokin cubans, gaming, drinkin, chillin and talkin shit… Great to get out of the city and see some friends again… Here’s to Darin’s life with big Red!

Rest of the photos from the weekend

Subway safety

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Jul 202006

I’ve heard of a few accidents with the subways… people fall down the stairs, get their limbs caught in the doors, even a few that fall down to the tracks. Then there’s the stupid human tricks that the MTA try to prevent like riding between trains, hoppin the gates, but subway surfing? I guess the draw to ride the side of the trian was so great, the MTA had to create a marketing campaign against it:

The Terminal

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Jul 142006

Every 15 minutes another half hour customer call… backing up and over loading my voicemail. The constant 2nd line beeps and stress was mounting as I struggle to handle the volume of inbound requests. I had a “hard stop” at 3:30 and scooped all my gear into the computer back in one grasp. Spiraling down the staircase, holding a bag of chips n salsa from lunch, my work gear in the other, I rushed to met my girl and catch a train for my “secret” trip to the bay area…

This was the surprise trip home I had set up months in advance with her friends back in San Jose and her mile stone birthday, 25. Coordinating a get-together with her friends, and with most groups is a pain but making sure everyone’s in town, getting them all to be in the same spot in one time and just participating in the coordination is a nightmare. After a while, I passed the baton to one of her good friends and just made the commitment I would get her to the party. The surprise of course never materialized at the airport terminal like I had planned, mark that one up to her constant picking and nagging like a child in Toys R US weeks before Christmas.

Sprinting home in 85 degree heat, 95% humidity and flash thunderstorms, I’m taking on water more from my over extended pores than the deepening sidewalk puddles. I’m cold-blooded and 85 in California can make me sweat but today I was losing 4 lbs. before making it to the 6 floor walk up.

I always forget a few things in such a rush but I know we remembered the essentials and headed down to the A train, our destination was JFK via Howard Beach Airtrain. She kept looking at me saying “we should have taken a cab” but my legacy KC watch said 4:30 and we had plenty of time to make it to the gate. We were riding the express A train through Brooklyn and I over heard someone comment “this train is like a refugee shuttle”… I’ve never experienced a camp personally but if it’s like having a full mix of different sized, colored, and strongly smelling people sardined into one car for 45 min then this is just like immigration.

We got to the terminal… dip the credit card at the AirTrain ticket machine…no-no-yes-boarding pass-double time the escalator-cut the line of 20 already disgruntled travels-shove all my metal into my most easily accessible of computer bag pockets at the same time I’m untying my shoes-laptop out-breath-walk non threateningly through security gates with boarding pass-lace up-sprint to gate 7 to make our flight by 15 minutes….huff-huff-huff-huff-huffffffffffffff……

Wait…. its exceptionally crowded at the gate and the first thing I notice is the fans and unlike our subway ride, the terminal air temp is MUCH hotter. Then I notice these people are ready to head to CA but are not on the plane. I approach the gate counter, a warning ominously blinks on the board… D… DEL….DELAYED.


I finally have a moment to shoulder my brow sweat and assess my situation. All the gates are full with frowning not so soon to be passengers, each vying for the next seats out of New York as they too are delayed. Next food court but there’s a line outside the New York Sports Grill 10 deep. Both mens and womens bathrooms backed up with reluctant travelers not wanting to experience the capacity overloaded stalls.

We knew there was a storm on the horizon but assumed prematurely the nor-easter would not effect Chicago and the midwest flight plans as to carry over to the Northeastern ports… The boards are showing us our flight is 5 hours delayed and now we’re stuck in Terminal hell. What else to do but to check the internet or goof with some puddy and take down some sake at the sushi bar!!!

It’s been 3 hours and we’ve expended the majority of our comedy and patience. People are irritable, arguing with the staff and getting screwed with their travel arrangements. Flights are canceling and the chance of ours dying on the tarmac is growing more realistic. The girl is sleeping and I’m fighting with other electronic device commissioned passengers for power plug space. Finally we get the announcement, it’s a few minutes past 10 pm and I’m closing this one up… I do hope I make it on and out.

UPDATE: We made it to Oakland, it was 2 am when we finally landed, almost 7 hours after we should have. At least Jetblue trys to flater us along the way: