Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sunday Brunch 2

Last month, I posted a photo of what I had for brunch before I went to the museum. Then Chef Paz of The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz told me about the Sunday Brunch theme photo for June 30th started by Rosa of Rosas Yummy Yums.

So here is another photo of what I had for brunch a couple weekends ago: scrambled egg burritos topped with salsa verde and Mexican queso blanco served with black beans and home fries (potatoes). Oh, and most importantly, I had my three cups of coffee with milk, no sugar. Also check out what Todd of Postcards from Hell's Kitchen had for brunch.

So what is your addiction of choice? Coffee? Chocolate?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Apartment Stoop 2

Here is a photo of an apartment stoop in Washington Square. These buildings, which were originally townhouses, are now owned by New York University (NYU) and turned into offices. The beautiful gardens in front of the buildings are probably tended to by gardeners who work for the university, making it one of the most beautiful streets in the city.

NYU is one of the more expensive private schools in the country. According to its website, the cost of tuition at its art school is around $40,000/year with an additional $12,000/year for room and board. So a student could easily spend over $200,000 over 4 years to get a Baccalaureate degree here.

So where did you go to school? Was it a famous school? What did you study?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Empty Subway Train

I was on the N train going home from visiting a friend in Astoria and was pleasantly surprised to find myself alone in the subway car. So I whipped out my camera, which accompanies me everywhere I go, and took this photo. The N train runs on the elevated track in Queens (you can see the blue sky in the windows) and then goes underground when it crosses the East River into Manhattan.

The orange and yellow seats may not be my choice of colors but I do like the overall look of it. Notice some of the glass windows have graffitis written on them. Graffiti is a huge problem in NYC, especially in public places like the subway stations and trains.

So what is the color of your car or the subway train you ride on? What is your favorite color?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Washington Square Hotel

This is a photo of the Washington Square Hotel, which is located on Waverly Place in the Greenwich Village near New York University (NYU). I stayed at this hotel when I came to New York City for my first job interview right out of graduate school. The company I was interviewing with flew me up here (from Louisiana) and put me up at this hotel for the weekend before my Monday interview because the airfare was cheaper with a Saturday night layover.

I got that job and moved to New York City in August 1998. This means that I have been in New York City for almost 9 years. So am I considered a New Yorker? According to Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & the City, anyone who has been in New York City for 5 years is a New Yorker. So I guess I am.

Tell me about your first job after you finished school.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hot Summer Day

Sunday afternoon was warmer than usual so after a nice brunch in the Village, I walked by Washington Square and saw a large group of people hanging out by the fountain. Most of them were basking in the sun but some dipped their feet in the water while a few college kids played under the fountain spray.

I took my shoes off and gingerly dipped my feet into the cold water. felt like heaven. With my feet in the fountain, I sat back and leisurely read my book entitled Vroom with a View by Peter Moore, recommended by Belinda of Bel's Fish Bowl.

To see a photo of me in the fountain, click here.

So do you have any recommendations or tips for cooling down during a hot day? Or to warm up during a cold day (for those in the Southern Hemisphere)?

Monday, June 25, 2007

God's Love We Deliver

This is the God's Love, We Deliver float at the Gay Pride Parade from yesterday (Sunday). The parade route started on 50th Street and marched down 5th Avenue to 9th Street before proceeding to the Village where all night parties continued until the wee hours of the night. I caught only about 45 minutes of the parade near Washington Square where this photo was taken before I left to meet my friend for a late brunch.

God's Love, We Deliver, where I volunteered as a kitchen helper for 5 years, provides free nutritious meals to men, women and children in New York City and Newark, NJ who have AIDS, cancer or any other serious illnesses. Volunteers usually work one three-hour shift per week where we chop, dice, peel and mince hundreds of pounds of potatoes, onions, carrots, celeries and other vegetables, which will then be cooked and packed for delivery the next day.

So what do you think of the girls on the float? Do you think they are "real girls"?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hydrangea Blooms

I was out in the city this afternoon and saw a hydrangea bush outside a building. Not all the blooms have opened yet and I noticed this particular batch has three stages of growth. There are the little buds and new blooms in the middle the fully open flowers on the edges.

I love hydrangeas especially the pale green colored ones. I also love parrot tulips and bourganvilleas. But for beautiful aroma, nothing beats the scent of peonies.

What are your favorite flowers?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Woof Woof Bar

It is rare to find a pet friendly restaurant in New York City but this one seems to welcome them. The Health Department prohibits animals in a restaurant so most pet friendly establishments bypass the regulations by setting up outdoors seatings on the side walks to accommodate diners and their pets.

Hope all of you have a woof woof weekend. No questions today. :-)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Apartment Stoop

This photo of an urban (or apartment) stoop was taken yesterday when I was in the Village to catch a documentary movie about Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky at the Film Forum. Because of my perfect train connections, I arrived at the movie theater super early so I decided to walk around the neighborhood and take some pictures.

According to Wikipedia, an urban stoop is a short stairwell leading up to the entrance of a townhouse or an apartment building. The architecture was originally brought to New York City by Dutch settlers during the colonial times. Even the word, stoop comes from the Dutch word stoep, which meaning "small porch".

Socially, the stoop played an important part in New York City life. Residents used to hang out here to enjoy the fresh air and socialize with the neighbors and friends. But due to gentrification, increasing busy life styles and air-conditioning & heating in the apartments, such activities have diminished to a minimum. Most people now prefer to meet at restaurants and cafes instead.

So where do you usually meet your friends or non-immediate families for social interactions?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meet My Neighbor, Jules

This is my neighbor, Jules. She is a sweetheart despite her size and has the calmest demeanor I have ever seen in a dog. Jules is a St. Bernard and was rescued from the pound a couple years ago after she was abandoned by her original owner. Today she lives in my apartment building with her new owner and is loved by everyone who meets her on the street.

Here is another photo of Jules. You will appreciate her size from this photo.

Jules and my other neighbor Spike never fail to make me smile every time I see them even if I had bad day. I don't know what it is but they always make me go goo-goo-gaa-gaa over them. My voice rises and I start to make weird noises and say unintelligible words to them. Most importantly, my worries miraculously disappear...for at least a couple of minutes or so.

What or who makes you smile every time you see it/him/her?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fire Escape 5

This is the fire escape leading up to my bedroom windows. Okay, it is one window; the other window has an air-conditioner stuck in it. Nonetheless, this is where I'll be if you ask, "Romeo, Romeo, where art thou?"

In my last fire escape post, Alice from Arradon Daily Photo wondered how one doesn't get burglarized every week with such easy access to the apartments from the fire escapes. The answer is most fire escapes face the main streets or avenues so the neighbors and pedestrians can easily spot someone on the these stairs. If the person looks suspicious, the police will be called to investigate.

That said, I once locked myself out of my apartment so I went to my downstairs neighbor and asked if I could crawl out of her bedroom window and climb up the fire escape to my bedroom window which wasn't locked. She wasn't too pleased with the idea but she said okay. It's a good thing I was always nice and polite to her when I see her in the hallway or the lobby. Otherwise, I would have to call a locksmith to break the lock. I can't imagine how much that would cost.

Have you ever locked yourself out of your apartment or your car? What did you do?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mistress Row or Park Avenue South

This is Park Avenue South, which is a stretch of street south of 42nd Street near Grand Central Station. The area is sometimes called Mistress Row because of the number of apartments (those colorful buildings in the background) that are rented out to pretty young girls and paid for by their gentleman friends. The reason Park Avenue South is a popular spot for that purpose is its proximity to Grand Central Station. New York Times did a story on this phenomenon entitled, Dangerous Liaison: the Perils of Pied-Affaire. It is a fun read if you are really in the mood for some NYC gossips.

In the photo, you can see the ramp going up to the bridge that was in yesterday's photo. You can also see part of the Pershing Square Restaurant on the lower right corner.

I am NOT going to ask if you ever had an affair so maybe you can tell me (and the readers) something interesting about yourself that is PG-rated.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pershing Square Restaurant

Here is the Pershing Square Restaurant that is under the bridge in yesterday's photo and located across 42nd Street from Grand Central Station. The front of the restaurant (in this photo) may look like a greasy diner from the outside but there is a beautiful dining space inside. But if you prefer to hang out and get something to drink, it has great outdoor seatings at the corner too.

I used to work on Park Avenue and this was a favorite place to meet up with friends after work. A lot of New York commuters who work in city and live in the suburbs of Long Island or upstate New York come here to relax before taking the trian home at the Grand Central Station. Here is another photo of the restaurant under the bridge.

Do you have a place to meet for drinks with coworkers before heading home?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pershing Square at Grand Central Station

Pershing Square is small section of space outside the Grand Central Station on East 42nd Street (below) and Park Avenue (overpass bridge). Under the bridge is a restaurant called Pershing Square Restaurant where many commuters stop to relax before getting on the trian home.

Tomorrow, I will post the photo of the Pershing Square Restaurant under the bridge.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Looking for an Alligator in NYC

There is an urban legend in NYC that a giant alligator lives in the sewer system under the streets. I don't know how true this is but every time I walk by a manhole cover, I think of the alligator.

But seriously, manhole covers do not pose any danger to pedastrians except during heat waves or underground fires. They cause the underground pressure to build up so quickly that the manhole covers pop up into the air and land on someone/something.

So do you have an urban legend to share?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Step Sisters on 42nd Street

The Chrysler Building (1930) is only half a block away from the Grand Central Station (1903) on 42nd Street. The buildings were built only 27 years apart but they couldn't be any more different. The Chrysler Building was made of steel and glass in the Art Deco style while the Grand Central Station is mostly concrete and bricks built in the Beaux Arts style. Here is a photo of both buildings. They are like step-sisters, both from the same family but from different pedigrees.

Do you have any siblings? How different are you from him/her/them?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Art or Smut?

This is a somewhat beautiful sculpture of a pregnant woman called, the Virgin Mother by British bad-boy artist, Damien Hirst. The bronze sculpture is roughly two-and-a-half storeys high and stands on plaza of the Lever House at Park Avenue and 5oth Street. I said the sculpture is "somewhat beautiful" because you are looking at the pretty side of the woman. The other side of the sculpture shows the anatomy of her body beneath the skins and muscles. Click here to see the other side of her body.

Damien Hirst is considered the "shock jock" of contemporary art because most of his work, in my opinion, are created to elicit shock and horror from the audience. Among his most recognizable and shocking art pieces are a tiger shark cut into three sections, and a cow and calf sliced into half cross-sectionally, all preserved in formaldehyde. Despite his outrageous stunts, he is extremely successful (i.e., wealthy) and his work, highly collectible.

What do you think? Has contemporary art gone too far or will future generations look at this as a ground breaking trend, like we do now with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Manicured Lawn

I saw this gentleman mowing the lawn and was so intrigued with the beautiful lines on the grass that I took a photo of it. I think it takes some skills to do it so neatly. If it was I moving that lawn, you would find patches of grass and bald spots all over the place.

Mowing the lawn was one of my least favorite chores when I was a kid. That is why I prefer to live in an apartment. The janitor and gardener take care of everything inside and outside the building. I wish I have a maid too. I hate dusting and vacuuming as well. But I don't mind doing the dishes or the laundry. Anyone interested in swapping chores?

What is your least favorite chore around the house?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Toto, I Don't Think We're In Kansas City Anymore

Here is an exterior shot of Balthazar, a wonderful french brasserie in New York City. It is one of my favorite places to eat breakfast or lunch during the middle of the week. But I avoid it during dinner or the weekends because of the crowd. The front of the store reminds me of many restaurants I've seen in Paris.

Although French cuisine is still very popular in New York City, a lot of the super expensive haute cuisine restaurants have shuttered due to changes in gastronomic style and taste. Young people who eat out a lot prefer to dine at casual environments instead of restaurants that required them to wear a tie and jacket or a dress.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in your city?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fire Escape 4

Here is another photo of a fire escape in front of an industrial loft in SoHo. The architecture of the building is classic SoHo style -- large windows, original crown moldings and detailings, super high ceilings, and large expanse of floor spaces with minimal wall partitions.

Originally, SoHo (South of Houston Stree) was considered an undesirable area zoned for industrial and warehousing activities. Over the years, it has become one of the most expensive and hip areas to live, shop and eat in New York City. Many famous celebrities live here including David Bowie and Iman, Claire Danes, Sofia Coppola, and Boy George. If you are curious about where the celebrities in NYC live, here is a Star Map of Manhattan.

Have you ever met a famous person before? Which famous person would you like to meet most? What would you say to him/her/them?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Long Island Railroad Track

I was visiting a friend in Astoria last week and we went for a walk through the Astoria Park before heading out to dinner. On the way to the restaurant, we came upon this structure, which is one of the foundations for the elevated Long Island Railroad (LIRR) tracks high above.

Notice the tip of an apartment building at the middle left of the photo? We wondered how noisy it was living under the railroad tracks. Then a train roared by and it was deafening. The residents who live here must not get a lot of sleep especially during the day when the trains come by every 30 minutes or so.

Most Americans do not use the train to travel from one state to another except maybe in the northeast of the country. I have never been on a train until I moved to New York City. And the longest train ride I ever had was the 10-hour trip from New York City to Toronto, Canada.

Have you ever been on the Orient Express?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My Vespa Fantasy

I have a fantasy! In it, I ran away to the Amalfi Coast, rented a little villa by the sea and bought a Vespa, like this one in the photo above, to zeep around town. The strange thing is despite my fascination with the Vespa, I don't know how to drive a motorcycle. Maybe one day, I will have the courage to run away to Italy and learn to ride the bike.

Vespas have become very popular in New York City in the last five years or so. A lot of yuppies are buying them because they are a cheap and convenient mode of transportation in this compact city. There are even Vespa Clubs where members meet regularly at cafes to talk about their bikes.

If you could run away, where would you go?

Friday, June 8, 2007

La Vie en Rose

The rose bushes outside my apartment building are in full bloom this week. I guess it is a good sign that the summer is here. I played with the macro feature on my camera and managed to get a couple of good shots of the blooms.

Disclaimer: I did not plant nor nurture the rose bushes in the photo. The building gardener did all the work.

If you love macro shots, please check out L'heure Bleue's blog. She has an amazing photo of a morning dew drop sitting precariously on a leave of a rose bush.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Elevated Subway Trains

Although most of the subway tracks in New York City are below ground, there are some that are elevated or above ground like this one in the photo (Queensborough Plaza). The above ground subway tracks can make a lot of noise and affect the property values around them.

The most desirable apartments in the city are usually those that are between 2 to 4 blocks away from the subway stations. In addition, the availability of support businesses like grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, dry cleaners, book stores and cinemas can significantly affect the value of the properties.

I live about two and a half blocks from the nearest subway station and my commute to work takes about 50 minutes. How long is your commute to work?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Taschen Store Skylight

This is the inside view of the new Taschen Bookstore in SoHo. Taschen Books is the most prolific publisher of coffee table books in the world. It publishes books on topics ranging from art and design to film and pop culture.

There is a huge skylight at the rear end of the store, which floods the area gorgeous natural light coming through the glass ceiling. In addition, you can see the distinct SoHo loft architecture of the buildings abutting the store. The concrete wall on the right is the entrance to a staircase leading down to the basement offices. The walls of the stairwell is painted with wild, psychedelic shapes and colors, which is very indicative of the type of books the store carries.

If you like books, check out the site, Leaves of Grass by Sonia A. Mascaro who posted some wonderful photos of home libraries filled with books. I even noticed a few coffee table books in her photos.

Do you have any coffee table books at home?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Maine Monument II

Here is another photo of the Maine Monument that I posted about two weeks ago. This photo, unlike the earlier photo that just showed the boy doing the "I'm the King of the World" pose, includes the entire cast of the scene.

There is a lady flanked by two near naked men on each side of her. This postures are fairly common in maritime statues from the 1800s. Does anyone know the significance of the posturing?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ming and His Raw Food Diet

Chinatown vegetables like these are fairly common and relatively inexpensive. Many families come here to buy their weekly rations of meats and vegetables on weekends. I, however, come here for the restaurants and cafes. And while I'm here, I take a lot of photos.

Some of you may already know this about me -- I don't cook. In fact, I dislike cooking so much so that I have developed a taste for raw food like sushi, beef tartar, carpaccio, uncooked vegetatbles like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, carrot, pea pods and salads. I even like my burger cooked medium rare. But I'm not a member of the raw food movement.

What are your favorite vegetables and how do you like them cooked?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Ming on a Photo Assignment

About six weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a young gentleman who asked if I could help him propose to his girlfriend. Of course, I said yes. My assignment was to shoot photos of New York City scenes with a note in the photos saying, "Say YES to Wai Leong!" I promised I won't post the photos until he had a chance to propose to her. So on May 25, Wai Leong proposed to Zee and she said YES!! CONGRATULATIONS!!

Wai Leong documented his "Project Proposal" on Marry Me Zee and created a beautiful video proposal for her. You can watch the video at Marry Me Zee (the second video down) or click on this YouTube word. My photos are among the three dozen photos or so photos he collected from around the world for her. Is that romantic or what?

Gosh, Wai Leong put me to shame. I was never THIS romantic!!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Literary Walk at Central Park

On Wednesday, I posted a new photo of the Central Park benches that were located at the Literary Walk. Here is the follow-up photo to the Literary Walk, which stretches from 66th Street to 72nd Street. At the end of this path are The Mall (a public square, not a shopping mall), the Bethesda Fountain and the Boathouse Restaurant.

If you are visiting New York City and have only an hour or so to see Central Park, this is the place to go. It is probably the most beautiful and popular places to visit in the park. To get here, take a taxi or the bus to the 72nd Street and 5th Avenue entrance and walk west into the park. You will see The Mall and the Bethesda Fountain after a short 10 minutes' walk.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Theme Photo: View From Your Bedroom

June 1st is Theme Photo Day. The theme this month is: View From Your Bedroom. Here is a photo taken a few minutes ago, i.e. 1:00 AM in the morning. I set the camera shutter speed to 2 seconds to capture more light in the photo. You can see the fire escape right outside my bedroom window. The other bedroom window has an air-conditioner sitting on it. The view ain't pretty but it's home.

I forgot to sign up for the theme photo day list but here are the 87 sites that are participating this month:

Seattle (WA), USA - Manila, Philippines - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Toruń, Poland - Baton Rouge (LA), USA - Seoul, Korea - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Vantaa, Finland - Madison (WI), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Chicago (IL), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Omaha (NE), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Stockholm, Sweden - Grenoble, France - Lubbock (TX), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Arradon, France - Hyde, UK - Joplin (MO), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Kansas City (MO), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Manila, Philippines - Sydney, Australia - Stavanger, Norway - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - London, UK - Chandler (AZ), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Singapore, Singapore - Hamburg, Germany - Sydney, Australia - Tenerife, Spain - Moscow, Russia - Lyon, France - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Villigen, Switzerland - Anderson (SC), USA - Oslo, Norway - Evry, France - Hayle, UK - Mumbai, India - Kitakami, Japan - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Los Angeles (CA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - La Antigua, Guatemala - Paderborn, Germany - San Diego (CA), USA - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Madrid, Spain - Lyon, France - Selma (AL), USA - Shanghai, China - Baziège, France - Cologne (NRW), Germany - North Bay (ON), Canada - Rotterdam, Netherlands - Stayton (OR), USA - Sharon (CT), USA - Austin (TX), USA - Hong Kong, China - Trier, Germany - Joensuu, Finland - Paris, France - Greenville (SC), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Cork, Ireland - Bastia, France - Vancouver, Canada - Brookville (OH), USA - Jakarta, Indonesia - Mainz, Germany - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Zurich, Switzerland - Torino, Italy - Montréal (QC), Canada