Thursday, July 31, 2008

Urban Valley

This urban valley was actually 7th Street between Broadway and Lafayette Avenue in the East Village. The sun was setting and it created a beautiful silhouette of buildings against the golden sky.

So where and what were you doing at 6 PM yesterday evening?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

This is the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The artificial waterway, completed in 1867, used to be an important commercial harbor until the 1960s when large container ships became too big to navigate up the canal. It was also one of the most polluted waterways in the area with heavy sewage clogging the flow of water.

Only recently has the area begun to make a come back. The waterway has gotten cleaner over the years and constructions along the water's edge are slowly going up. It separates the hip and trendy Park Slope from its less glamorous stepsister, Carroll Gardens.

So did you have a favorite fairy tale when you were a kid?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lights & Shadows

This photo shows a renovated parking complex (it was probably a warehouse before) across the street from Cinema Village on 12th Street between 5th Avenue and University Place. I was standing outside the small movie theater when I saw this interesting light-and-shadow image of the building. Also, the sky has this perfect blue that was just breathtaking.

No question today. Am having writer's block. :-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Public Preacher at Union Square

The young man on the left is a preacher and the man on the right with a microphone was an audience member asking a question. This sort of Q&A sessions or public forums are fairly common in NYC, especially at Union Square where freedom of expression is embrassed wholeheartedly.

But what is most interesting about this session was that it was very well-organized. Notice the large square area defined by the white tape and the smaller square where the man on the right was standing. If an audience member has a question, he or she was encouraged to stand in the small square and a microphone would be presented to him. I stayed and watched the debate for about half an hour and I am glad to report everyone was respectful, despite their differences in opinion.

It is common knowledge that certain topics are not appropriate for polite dinner conversation. Do you know what they are?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Supermarket Mural

I saw this interesting mural on the side of a small supermarket on 16th Street between Park and 3rd Avenue a couple weeks ago. I thought it was interesting and especially appropriate since New York City is considering a proposal to increase the number of licences for fresh fruits and vegetable vendors in the city in an effort to combat the epidemic of obesity among inner city residents.

In addition, a University of Washington study reported in the New York Times found that a 2,000-calorie diet costs $3.52/day if it consisted of only junk food, while a similar caloric diet of fresh vegetables and fruits costs $36.32 a day, which is 10 times as expensive.

So are you eating your vegetables and fresh fruits?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Champs-Élysées de Brooklyn

This photo, taken on Prospect Park West (9th Avenue) looking north at the Grand Army Plaza, reminded me of the fame Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées in Paris. The Grand Army Plaza is a oval shaped island with an arched structure in the middle of it. It also serves as a focal point of 5 avenues radiating out from the middle.

So what are your plans for the weekend?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Piss Clam for Dinner??

After dinner with a friend in Cobble Hill (Brooklyn) last night, we came upon this sign outside PJ Hanley's, a restaurant bar on the corner of Court Street and 4th Place. It was a sign advertising the dinner special for the day: lobster roll and piss clams. PISS CLAMS? It doesn't sound very appetizing, does it?

So have you ever had piss clams? Would you be interested to try them?

N.B.: Click here if you are interested to find out what piss clams are.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sammy's Food Cart at Jackson Heights

This is Sammy's Halal, winner of the 2006 Vendy Awards for the best street vendor in New York City. Mr. Samiul Noor sells his chicken and lamb with rice combo in a cart on the corner of Broadway and 74th Street in Jackson Heights.

I tried Sammy's chicken platter ($4.99) last night and I have to say, it is not as good as the ones I used to get from the Middle Eastern street vendor in Astoria. The Middle Eastern chicken combo came with pickled beets and raw onions sprinkled with harissa spice mix, which is super addictive.

So where would you go for delicious but yet inexpensive food in your city?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Borders Bookstore

This is the ceiling of the atrium at Borders Bookstore by Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. My friend's fiancé had a meeting in the area yesterday afternoon so she and I met up at the bookstore to hang out until he was done. Then all three of us went to dinner later in the evening.

So how has your week been so far?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fashion Shoot in SoHo

I happened on this fashion shoot on Lafayette Street in SoHo recently. The weather was pretty warm but the two male models were dressed in Fall/Autumn weather attires -- leather jackets, long sleeved shirts and jeans. Interestingly enough, they did not sweat at all despite the heat. They posed by the Vespa scooters without moving for the 5 minutes or so that I stood there watching them work.

Notice the guy on the left in his sandals/flip-flops? I wore those last summer and ended up with my foot being cut by a piece of glass on the street. Never again will I wear those things.

So do you wear sandals or flip-flops?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Anchovies at Mediterranean Foods

I was in Astoria last week for an appointment with the ophthalmologist and decided to visit my favorite Greek supermarket on 34th Street between 31st and 30th Avenue called, Mediterranean Foods. It has some of the best feta cheeses, marinated olives and almonds I have ever tasted.

This photo shows an assortment of marinated anchovies and baby octopi/octopuses on the counter in the deli section. I absolutely LOVE anchovies and this supermarket has some of the most exotic versions of them. I love anchovies in my Caesar salad, pasta puttanesca (the mere origin of the word puttanesca is worth reading, if you don't already know) and of course, the Vietnamese fish sauce.

So where do you stand on anchovies?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ciao Bella Gelato Truck

This Ciao Bella gelato truck was parked at the corner of Park Avenue, at the end of the street fair that stretched from 28th down to 18th Street last weekend. The weather was comfortably warm but dry so the crowd was out in full force. You can see the lines of people waiting to get their gelati (plural of gelato -- something I learned after googling the word).

It seems like ice-cream, coffee and gelato trucks are de rigueur in New York City this summer with newer and more exotic products being sold from a vehicle parked conveniently in a crowded area.

So have you ever bought something (legal, I hope) off of the back of a truck?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Open 24 Hours

This ubiquitous 'Open 24 Hours' sign can be seen in many restaurants/diners in the city. When I lived in Astoria (northwest of Queens) in the late 1990s, there was a wonderful, spiffy Greek diner a few steps from my apartment where I could order one half of a roast chicken with garlic mash potatoes and a side salad (for less than US$10) at 3:00 AM in the morning.

Granted, roast chicken isn't everyone's idea of a midnight snack but it was for me back then. Now, I rarely pull stunts like that anymore. With old(er) age, comes indigestion. :-)

So what is your idea of a midnight snack?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Do Not Feed Stray Cats Here

I came across this interesting sign outside one of the buildings in my neighborhood. Apparently, someone had been feeding stray cats outside this resident's window and he/she isn't too happy about it. I can understand the sentiment because the smell of cat's pee is something that is almost impossible to eliminate, assuming that is the main reason of the resident's objection.

One person I know who feeds (or had fed) stray cats is fellow NYC blogger, Kitty of NY Portraits. I will have to ask her how she feels about the sign above.

So do you feed stray cats or dogs in your neighborhood?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Union Square Towers

These luxury apartment buildings, east of Union Square, are some of the most beautiful and expensive real estate properties in the city. The dark red color of the facade looks especially breathtaking when the sun sets and everything is aglow in crimson.

I know Citygirl15 of Gramercy Cafe lives in the vicinity, maybe in a penthouse suite in one of those towers. I won't know since she hasn't invited me over for tea and sandwiches yet. :-)

So have you been invited to tea or coffee by a fellow blogger in your city?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This is Bibimbop, a popular Korean dish that I love and order every chance I get. It is basically a cold dish made with a mixture of raw and/or lightly stir-fried julienned vegetables, a fried (or raw) egg and ground beef (optional). And it is usually served with rice and some spicy sauce.

This post is for Chuckeroon of Richmond upon Thames Daily Photo because he likes my food photos.

So can you identify the ingredients in the big bowl?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mid-Month Theme: Subway Day

I was waiting for the train at the Queens Plaza station last weekend when I spied this man, on the opposite platform, looking somewhat confused. He was reading the bulletins next to the subway map and trying to figure out which trains to take that day.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) frequently re-routes trains or pull them out of service on weekends to allow routine maintenance of the subway tracks. Most of the work are done on weekends to avoid inconveniencing commuters who rely on subway transportation on week days to get to the office on time.

Today is July 15, which means it is subway day. The theme is shared by the following bloggers:

Monday, July 14, 2008


Here is a macro shot of an echinaecia flower from the City Hall garden. Echinaecia (I don't know which part of the plant though) is frequently used/consumed as an alternative medicine to help the body to fight an infection.

When I first moved to NYC about10 years ago (August 1998), I was constantly sick from "absorbing" every one's germs in the subway train. A friend suggested I take a dietary supplement of echinaecia and golden seal root to boost my body's immunity to fight the NYC germs. I took his advice and it worked. Now, whenever I feel a little tired or a scratch throat coming, I start popping those supplements like candy.

So do you use alternative medicine?

Disclaimer: This blog DOES NOT promote the use of any product for medicinal purpose or make any medicinal claims.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tumbling Mirages by Dennis Oppenheim

This installation art piece entitled, Tumbling Mirages by Dennis Oppenheim is one of the many public art projects sponsored by the Union Square Partnership and NYC Parks & Recreation department. The three 15-foot orbs, constructed from steel and fiberglass with multicolor panels, will remain at the southeast corner of the park until November 2008.

So have you ever tumbled (like circus artists) on a trampoline?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Floating Stairs

If you have fear of height like I do, this will not be a comfortable climb down the stairs for you. The stairwell constructed with glass (or plastic) gives the feeling that one is floating on air. This staircase was installed just inside the entrance to the Apple Store on 14th Street and 9th Avenue (otherwise known as the Meatpacking District).

Walking up the stairs was surprising not as terrifying as walking down. And ladies who wear mini skirts might want to take the elevator around the corner from the stairs.

So are you an Apple or an IBM person?

Friday, July 11, 2008

And God Created Adam

I saw this mural depicting one of Leonardo da Vinci's work, The Creation of Adam on the side of a building on Lafayette near Bond Street in Nolita (North of Little Italy) last weekend. The interesting thing about this mural is that both Adam and God were drawn as black men here.

The original painting (a fresco) was drawn on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. I believe I saw the real painting when my parents took me to Italy when I was about 10 years old. I even tossed a couple of Italian liras into the Trevi Fountain in Rome hoping one day to go back to the city again.

So tell me, in which city did you have your best vacation?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Van Leeuwen Gourmet Ice Cream Truck

I noticed this Van Leeuwen Artisanal Ice Cream truck parked outside Trader Joe's on 14th Street between Lafayette and 3rd Avenue last weekend. There was a long queue for the ice cream and the flavors sounded interesting. Even the sign board was arty and distinctive.

I didn't get a chance to try the ice cream here because I was on my way to dinner and didn't want to ruin my appetite. But I got to say, the ginger and giandujia flavors sound foreign to me.

So what is the oddest flavored ice cream you have eaten?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Afternoon At Barnes & Noble

When the weather gets hot and humid like it has been the last couple of days -- "tropical like weather" as the weatherman called it last night -- where does one go to relax and cool off? The third floor of Barnes & Noble on 17th Street between Broadway and Park Avenue is the place to be. I would pick up some interesting magazines, grab a seat at one of the tables and happily sip my iced tea from the cafe inside the store.

So what is your beverage of choice on a hot sunny day?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Available for Adoption

I saw this little guy at an animal adoption booth on the corner of Broadway and 17th Street in Union Square recently. I'm not sure if this group is affiliated with the ASPCA and I will do some investigation on it later this week.

So have you ever adopted a pet before?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Obama T-Shirts & Buttons

The election for the new President of United States is only a few months away (November 4) and one of our presumptive candidates is, of course Mr. Barack Obama. This is a historic event for the country because Mr. Obama is the first African-American/black person who has come this far in the presidential race. In addition, Hilary Clinton was the first woman candidate to reach the final two nominations for the Democratic party.

All these events mean big businesses for retailers and artists who are capitalizing on the occasion to sell t-shirts, buttons, bags, etc. Earlier during the week, I saw a booth at Union Square selling mugs and posters of Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton for $15/piece. I don't think either candidate receive any money from the sale of those items.

So are you an out-and-proud political activist who would wear a t-shirt supporting a candidate or are you a quiet voter who won't discuss who you would vote for at an election?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Three Bridges of East River

Strangetastes of Saint Louis Daily Photo and his lovely bride visited me in NYC yesterday morning (Saturday) with their nephew, Michael. We went on a 30-minute cruise on the East River to view the Waterfall Exhibition by Olafur Eliasson. I think we all managed to have fun exploring the city despite the foggy and wet weather.

In the photo above, you can see one of the four artificial waterfalls -- this one is under the Brooklyn Bridge. You can also see three bridges that connect Manhattan Island to Long Island, starting with Brooklyn Bridge closest to the boat, followed by Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge.

So how is your weekend so far?

7th Street & Lafayette Street

This is a Saturday night scene on the corner of 7th Street and Lafayette in the East Village. Notice the yellow taxi parked at the bottom left of the photo and another on the adjacent street before the traffic light junction. According to the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), there are over 13,000 yellow taxicabs in New York City. The cost of a taxi ride starts at $2.50 upon entry and $0.40 for every 1/5 of a mile of travel or 60 seconds of sitting in traffic congestions. A quick ride uptown from lower Manhattan can easily cost $12 to $20 (before tips) depending on the time of the day and traffic on the street.

I, myself, rarely use the taxi service because I have an unlimited use subway pass ($81/month) and the subway trains run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The few times I've taken a taxicab are when I was heading to the airport or to any place that is not near a subway station.

A frequent question I get from out-of-towners is, "Won't it be faster to take the taxi?" and the answer is almost always NO. Because of the density of automobile traffic in NYC, it is usually faster to get around the city via the subway.

So have to taken a subway recently? What do you think of it?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Union Square Protest

Earlier this week, I saw a group of marchers protesting on the street at Union Square Park. This is not an uncommon sight since Union Square is the place for most demonstrations of political and social agendas in the city.

However, the march that day was different in that they were voicing their opposition to the city's plan to redevelop the northern part of the public park (Union Square) into a commercial enterprise, i.e. a new restaurant space -- as stated on the sign saying, "Keep Union Sq Park Public" and the green outfit with yellow hard hats.

So have you ever been in a "social disobedience" or a march to protest a cause?

N.B.: Happy 4th of July everyone.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Boardwalk at South Street Seaport

This photo was taken at the boardwalk by South Street Seaport near Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. I was there to pick up the tickets for a 30-minute cruise around the city to view the waterfall installation by artist, Olafur Eliasson this coming holiday weekend. A fellow daily photo blogger is visiting NYC so we are going to meet up and go on this cruise with his family.

Can you guess who is the daily photo blogger?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Charlie the Pug

Meet my new neighbor Charlie, a 4-month old pug whom I met during his afternoon walk recently. It was very warm and humid outside and poor Charlie was exhausted so he plopped down under a shade and decided to rest his poor feet. His owner tried to coax him up but he refused to move so she had carried him home in her arms. What a lucky guy!

So what is your favorite thing to do on a warm, humid summer day?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Theme Photo: "No..." Sign

I am not on the list of blogs that are participating in this month's theme photo because I forgot to add my name to the list last month. Nonetheless, I am posting a photo for the theme.

This photo was taken inside the subway train and the sign warns passengers not to hold the doors when it is closing. Unfortunately, many people disregard the sign and hold the doors anyway.

Happy Theme Day everyone.