Tag "Voyages"

Lobby of the Angelika Film Center, prior to seeing Midnight in Paris (it was GREAT!)

I promise I have some more substantive posts coming up (like about haircuts and gardening and raindrops and other important stuff), but for now I want to share some of the snapshots I’ve been taking around New York City this past week. In addition to all of the things I wrote here about loving using Instagram on my iPhone, I’ve discovered something else that’s kind of neat: I’m looking at my surroundings all the time. I know I’ve delved into this subject a bit in my previous “Let’s Pretend We’re Tourists” posts, but having lived in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City for my entire life, I sometimes think I don’t really experience everything this area has to offer with as much appreciation and downright fervor that visitors do. It’s so easy to walk 20 blocks in NYC without ever looking up—you get so focused on moving forward and blocking out everyone around you that you forget to be an observer.

I’m trying to be more of an observer.

When I was in art school, I had a great professor, Bill Deere, who encouraged me to take notice of “environmental typography”—everyday type on the street, whether good or bad. Salon windows, department store logos, menus, information systems, and so on. He wanted me to think about how design relates to environment, and how typography can dictate first impressions.

I started taking photos of signs in 1996, and quickly got hooked. I continued until 2002, which, not coincidentally, is when I got my first digital camera. It’s not that I think I was ever a particularly good photographer, but when I was using a cheap film camera, I seemed to think more about composition and angles and such a whole lot more. Somehow the instantaneous nature of digital photography (not to mention how inexpensive—free, even!—it is to take shot after shot, do-over after do-over) has made me much more careless. That’s my own shortcoming, though—I don’t blame the tool or the format.

While looking for something on an old backup drive earlier today, I came across a folder of scans of my old sign photos that I had posted on my old blog, Absolutely Vile, back in 2001. They’ve all been resized to be quite small, unfortunately (hey, I was working on an 800×600 monitor back then!), and the corners are rounded (how very early ’00s of me), but seeing the photos made me feel happy. Happy and inspired.

Most of these pictures were taken in and around White Plains, New York and Las Vegas, Nevada between 1996 and 1998.

The holiday season in New York City can get a little nuts. Despite being a secular Christmas-celebrating atheist half-Jew (or perhaps because of it), I do my best to succumb to the madness at least a little bit. I’ve been working in Rockefeller Center for 13 years now, and I figured out a long time ago that this is not the time of year of cynicism on the streets of New York. You kind of just have to accept it until you eventually love it. Or at least tolerate it and kind of like it. But you can’t hate it, because that will just make you crazy and angry.

I got out a little early from work today, so I walked from 48th Street up 5th Avenue up to Columbus Circle. Despite it not even being Thanksgiving yet, Christmas spirit is already in full force.

That tree doesn’t light itself, you know. The amount of work that goes into preparing the Rockefeller Center tree is amazing. Scaffolding everywhere! They drill holes into the trunk in areas that are a little bare and stick in branches from other trees to fill it out so it looks perfect from all angles, and then they string up 30,000 lights on five MILES of wire! Craziness!

Can you believe I’ve never gone ice skating in Rockefeller Center? It’s just one of the many New York activities (including riding in a pedicab, taking a double-decker bus tour, attending the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square) I’ve never partaken in. One of these days.

I love when stores go all out for Christmas. The Cartier store is wrapped up in a big bow. It looks incredible at night, all lit-up and sparkly. A few years ago they had ginormous diamond panthers climbing up the side of the building, too, but I guess the panthers are on hiatus.

Okay, I’m sorry, I know this is depressing. Takashimaya, one of the most incredibly beautiful (and incredibly expensive) department stores in the world, closed over the summer after 50 years in business in NYC. What’s opened in its place? That’s right—Forever 21. It’s probably temporary, but still. Requiescat in pace, Takashimaya. I’ll miss your restaurant most of all.

I don’t care about what’s inside, but I love the façade of the Louis Vuitton store. The original structure was built in 1930, and the layered glass panels were applied to the corner in 2004 by Japanese architect Aoki Jun.

New York doesn’t usually get all up in arms about old-meets-new the way some smaller historic cities do, and I’m glad. Progress + Respect = Modernism.

GET IT?!?!?!

Yes, I am a HUGE dork, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!! My sister Lisa showed me this trick outside of Bergdorf Goodman about 30 years ago (I think my grandmother showed her), and I’ve never stopped getting a kick out of it. Usually I just hold my hand up and giggle a little, but today I felt the need to actually capture the DORFMAN and take it home with me.

Dorfmans of the world, unite and take over!

A lot of the shop windows were either still under construction or totally mobbed with tourists, so I’ll have to go back one night next week and check them out under better conditions.

At the end of my walk today, I made the terrible mistake of going to the grocery store to pick up some vegan ice cream for tomorrow. Now, the Columbus Circle Whole Foods is a total nightmare even on the best of days, so I’m not exactly sure why I was compelled to go in there on the day before Thanksgiving. It was a pretty traumatic experience. Thank goodness for the Salvation Army Santa outside incessantly ringing her bell in time to Olivia Newton John’s “Let Me Be There” on repeat, because that really took the edge off, let me tell you.

Thanksgiving travel for us this year amounts to taking an 8-minute subway ride to my dad’s apartment. What a relief! There’s nothing left to do except avoid temptation for another 24 hours—I baked a vegan pecan pie tonight, and it looks (and smells) sooooo good.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
—Anna & Evan & Bruno & Fritz

See also:
+ Let’s pretend we’re tourists, #1.
+ Let’s pretend we’re tourists, #2.






I took a little walk in the West Village tonight. It will officially be fall in a few hours, and summer decided to give us one last hurrah with temperatures in the 80s and a thunderstorm that I missed by seconds.

One of my favorite shops in New York is Avignone Pharmacy (no website!). They’ve been in the same location at 6th Avenue and Bleecker Street since 1929, but originally opened in 1898 on MacDougal Street. Avignone is exactly what you imagine a perfect independent chemist’s shop to be like—pharmacy in the back, friendly clerk at a low counter in the center, white penny tiles on the floor, and pretty much every amazing beauty product you can think of. They have everything, including the complete Mario Badescu line (I’m totally obsessed). I used to stop in to Avignone all the time when I lived in Brooklyn since it’s right off the F train, but I’m going to make more of an effort to go there now even though it’s a bit of a haul.

Today is a nearly-perfect-weather day in New York City, and with work letting out early for the Memorial Day weekend, I decided to do some walking and touristy picture-taking again (don’t worry, I stayed in the slow lane). Armed with a fry cone (average-but-okay fries; too much ketchup), I started at Rockefeller Center and walked up Sixth Avenue to Central Park. This is some of what I saw in those 10 blocks:

It always amazes me how many ice cream trucks there are in Manhattan. Nearly every block in midtown! (No, they don’t roll around with Scott Joplin music playing, they just park & sell.)

William Crovello’s great “Cubed Curve” sculpture at the Time & Life building. Photos never quite manage to capture how vibrant the blue is.

Black Rock (CBS headquarters), the only skyscraper designed by Eero Saarinen. Construction was not completed until four years after his death. The black granite exterior is phenomenal, as is the lobby. (The upper floors are less impressive, sadly.)

Jim Dine and Robert Indiana…

I love the tippy-top of the Barbizon Plaza Hotel (aka Trump Parc). Great colors.

There are a lot of beautiful things in NYC, and Central Park is a pretty big one. So lush and green right now. Can you believe these photos were only taken 2 1/2 months ago?

1) No, I’m not dead!
2) Yes, I am super-duper busy.
3) Wow, it’s really hot out.
4) Indeed, I will be back soon.

In conclusion: How are you? What’s going on out there that I should know about? Can you even believe how cruddy this season of Project Runway has been? Ugh—I’m all about RuPaul’s Drag Race these days.

And another question: When you see someone out and about with a really cute dog, do you feel comfortable asking if you can pet/snorgle it? I get so shy and can never bring myself to do it.

(p.s. Spring!!!)

I’ve often thought that I’d like to be able to see New York City through the eyes of a tourist. I suppose this is probably the case with every city, but the longer a place is part of your everyday life, the less you tend to observe in your surroundings. This is especially true in “vertical” cities where above-ground traveling is primarily done on foot. Who remembers to look up? Tourists, that’s who.

So when Evan and I went to MoMA (something I do embarrassingly infrequently), I tried to pretend I was a tourist. I wasn’t really successful, but I did manage to get over my fear of looking like a dork (um, I look like a dork no matter what, so I might as well do it with a camera in my hands) and take a few pictures.

Morning coffee is a big deal for Evan and me. We like to take our coffee to go and enjoy it during our commute. We brew Illy Medium Roast at home every day. It’s definitely not the cheapest coffee in the world, but it still costs less than buying from a coffee shop every day.

A few weeks ago, I began a quest to find the best travel cup ever, and after sifting through a lot of recommendations on Twitter, I decided to order two medium (12oz; equivalent to the “tall” size at Starbucks) Keep Cups from Australia.

The Keep Cup comes in three sizes, and is made from thermal, non-leaching, recyclable, BPA-free polypropylene. There’s a silicone band around the middle for grip and heat protection, and a leak-proof lid that doesn’t drip when you drink.

There’s no handle (I hate handles on travel mugs, because they eat up valuable space in my bag), and best of all, the cup is sized small enough to fit in the automated coffee/tea machine at my office.

I always put a little bit of whole milk in my coffee. We’re lucky to have a very good dairy farm in the area that sells their milk in thick, glass bottles that can be returned for a $1 deposit each time. They sterilize and reuse the bottles.

Ready to go, and out the door!

p.s. The Keep Cup comes in a bazillion size/color options, and the cost for TWO medium cups (including shipping) to the US from AU is only about $32.

p.p.s. The truly is not a paid advertisement! I just really love my Keep Cup. And my coffee.

Evan and I are back from a long weekend spent in Carefree, Arizona for a friend’s wedding.

Arizona 1

Arizona 2

A series of errors on the part of the car rental company culminated in us riding around in a red Ford Mustang. If there were ever a car less suited to our personalities, this is probably it.

The upside was the satellite radio. I still can’t believe I actually heard “This Corrosion” on the radio (introduced by Richard Blade, no less) in 2009.

From Evan: “That Mustang made me feel like an underage joyrider. Since I could barely see over the wheel, the entire car was a blind spot. Note to Ford: Please post height requirements on all vehicles.”

Arizona 3

The desert gets COLD at night! I was not prepared. We made s’mores.

Arizona 4

Arizona 5

Arizona 6

Arizona 7

The best part about leaving New York is coming back (even if you fly into New Jersey).

It was a long, long weekend. Some good finds, some progress in the house. Photos to come…

(Hello, September!)