The Roosevelts Everywhere

Since Sunday, many PBS stations across the country have been broadcasting The Roosevelts, Ken Burns’s new seven-part, fourteen-hour series. The series runs through Saturday, and many stations will likely be showing encore performances in case you any of the episodes.

As a not-for-profit broadcast service, PBS has been ahead of commercial broadcast and cable networks in making available their content online. Between now and September 28, you can watch the entire series, even before it broadcasts on your local station, on a variety of connected and mobile devices.

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Most commercial television stations have been offering a TV Everywhere product that allows you to watch TV on your Internet devices as long as you pay for a cable or satellite TV subscription and authenticate accordingly. On the other hand, PBS lets anyone with the necessary hardware and broadband connection to watch the whole series for free, albeit for only a limited time. Because PBS broadcasts do not live or die based on raw audience numbers or on retransmission fees, they can afford to cannibalize their broadcast product and let audiences stream their content for free or buy digital copies on iTunes.

I just started watching the series with great interest. It’s hard to live in New York and not be touched by their name or legacy in some way. Roosevelt Avenue spans most of western Queens. Roosevelt Island sits in the East River between Manhattan island and Queens. FDR Drive shuttles cars along the East River on Manhattan. And if you’re ready for a day trip, head to Oyster Bay on the north shore of Long Island to visit Teddy Roosevelt’s summer retreat at Sagamore Hill. Or, as my mom and I did over the summer, head north to Hyde Park on Hudson to visit the FDR Museum and Presidential Library.

My mother with Eleanor and Franklin at the FDR Presidential Museum and Library in Hyde Park on Hudson.

My mother with the Eleanor and Franklin at the FDR Presidential Museum and Library in Hyde Park on Hudson.

By the way, if you don’t get to watch the broadcast television run this week and if you miss streaming the series before September 28, you will be able to buy the series on iTunes. Consider it your annual contribution to public broadcasting.

Music: Quintron and Miss Pussycat at Baby’s All Right

At least year’s Gonerfest 10, Quintron and Miss Pussycat headlined the Thursday night show at the Hi-Tone in Memphis. Their performance absolutely blew away the crowd. Their energy and hard-hitting beats powered the audience, many of whom are in the late 30’s and older, through the 1:00 AM set time. I had heard of the duo before, but this performance made me a fan.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat will be coming to Brooklyn at Baby’s All Right on Saturday, November 29, at 8:00 PM. Yes, this is the Saturday after Thanksgiving so get back into town in time for this show.

Having been burned by Shannon and the Clams selling out each of their three shows last week, I jumped the gun and bought tickets for fear of being left out in the cold.

Details

  • November 29, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Baby’s All Right, 146 Broadway
  • 12.00
  • Buy Tickets

Gonerfest 11 on Spotify

With Gonerfest 11 less than two weeks away, it looks like I will not be attending this year’s music festival. Much like I have been buying a new iPhone on even years, I will probably only go to Gonerfest on odd years.

But not going doesn’t mean I completely miss out on listening to and discovering a bunch of new-to-me bands. User Treasure Hance has compiled a Spotify playlist with over 500 songs from Gonerfest 11 bands.

Listening to the entire playlist will take about a full twenty-four day, which is about how many hours you’ll spend on your feet at the Hi-Tone, where the evening shows take place.

The playlist will have to tide me over until Gonerfest 12 in 2015.

It’s an Even Year…Time for a New iPhone

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Like millions of others, I ordered a iPhone 6 yesterday. This is the fifth iOS device that I bought for delivery on launch day, including an iPad 2, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPad Air, and each time it’s been a different experience. Ideally, the best way to receive one of these devices on launch day is to have it shipped to my work because I don’t risk missing a delivery. But I’ve only been able to do that once. Every other time, I have to visit an Apple Store.

This time when I ordered the phone, I had to verify my billing address, which is currently a PO box in Manhattan. When I tried to finalize the order, it would not let me change the shipping address to my work address at NYU. Instead, it forced me to ship the phone to my PO box. I feared that, because Apple usually uses a service like FedEx and UPS for home deliveries, my order would get stalled since those couriers cannot deliver to a PO box. The only other option I had was to pickup the phone at my nearest Apple Store, which is at Grand Central Terminal. Well, I guess that’s where I’ll be on Friday morning to get my phone.

One of the considerations for ordering phone was the size. Even before I saw the phones, when talk of the new sizes were circulating around the rumor mill, I had decided that I wanted the smallest size Apple would offer. Ars Technica provided a PDF with three phones printed to scale: iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. You can print it and cut out the phones to see which one you like for yourself.

I found that the iPhone 6 Plus was huge compared to the iPhone 6, and it didn’t feel like a phone. (I also found that I need a shave.)

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus Paper Cutouts

I could handle the iPhone 6 with one hand, but I found it impossible to reach the various corners of the screen on the iPhone 6 Plus. And the larger phone seemed like an entirely different species compared to my stalwart iPhone 5.

Speaking of my iPhone 5, as reliable as it has been, it’s pretty beat up after about two years of steady use.

It has been dropped a few times which account for the dings along the rounded corners. Those could have been prevented by installing a bumper. However if you notice the scratches on the side, those are there because of the bumper. It was only when I removed the bumper that I noticed that the phone had these scratches.

There is also a crack along the top of the phone, near the camera. I have no idea how that happened. I wonder if it’s from keeping the phone in my back pocket during my bike commutes.

Because of all this damage, I won’t be able to sell that phone for $200 like I did for my iPhone 4 two years ago, but I was able to get $70 from Gazelle. And I can hold on to that phone until my new phone arrives. I always get a little sad when I sell these, but the cash to pay for a new phone helps get over that sadness.

On Friday, I will be picking up an iPhone 6, 64 GB in Space Grey on AT&T.

The above link to Gazelle is an affiliate link.

Lecture: Carolee Schneeman at New York University

Experimental filmmaker Carolee Schneeman will be giving the fifth annual Experimental Film Lecture, jointly presented by the departments of Cinema Studies and Undergraduate Film & Television, two departments that coordinate much less that you would expect.

The announcement from NYU Cinema Studies is reproduced below.

Schneemann email

“Where did I make the wrong turn?”

by Carolee Schneemann

The 5th Annual Experimental Lecture
Presented by the Departments of Cinema Studies and Undergraduate Film & Television

Carolee Schneemann is a visual artist and moving image maker known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. She has been a leader and provocateur in the American avant-garde community since the mid 1960s when she created her groundbreaking performance Meat Joy. From Interior Scroll to Plumb Line to Mortal Coil to Vespers Pool, Schneemann’s work pushes form and consciousness like no other artist working today. Ever since Fuses (1965), her landmark exploration of the female body, Schneemann has pushed visual perception in radical directions that awe, disturb and mystify audiences.

In her Experimental Lecture, Schneemann travels backwards and forwards in time. Beginning with obsessive childhood drawings of a staircase, she will analyze recurring formal properties in her film, sculpture and installation work. The mysteries of a notched stick, paper folds, indentations, the slice of line in space are followed as unexpected structural motives, up to and including her recent photographic grids and objects.

Details

  • September 17, 2014
  • 6:15 PM
  • Michelson Theater, 721 Broadway, 6th Floor
  • Free

There Goes the Neighborhood Chinese Place

You could see New City from our bedroom window, as in this February 2010 photo.

You could see New City from our bedroom window, as in this February 2010 photo.

As if I weren’t sad enough these days, I learned that New City Kitchen Express, on Vernon Boulevard, will likely close within the next two weeks after seven years serving the neighborhood. Every New York City neighborhood needs a “cheap Chinese” place, and that’s what New City was for our corner of Long Island City.

LIC Post reports:

The restaurant’s lease expired and the business owners did not want to pay the much higher rent. The landlord is seeking $10,500 a month in rent as well as $3,300 per month to cover the real estate taxes.

This is sad because I’ve come to recognize the family that runs the shop and even watched the son and daughter, who work the register, cook the food, and make the occasional delivery, grow up over the years. I remember how they were temporarily forced outside of their space when the upper floors of the building caught fire. But the store closing is even more sad to me because this was where Sarah and I had one of our first meals in Long Island City.

Our first meal in the neighborhood was at Manducati’s, as were looking to take shelter on a bitterly cold night after looking at an apartment. We also ate at Dominie’s Hoek after John Casella at Crest Haven Realty showed us two apartments, one of which we took. After signing the lease, we dined in at Tuk Tuk to power us as we prepared the apartment for our move-in a few weeks later.

We were lucky enough to be allowed to move in early to do things that are much easier to do when you’re not surrounded by boxes containing all your worldly possessions, such as line kitchen shelves and to paint the walls. Each night, Sarah and I would do some work and then head to either my place or hers for the night. It was on one of those preparation nights, a Friday if memory serves, that Sarah and I got hungry and sought some quick food options. I hadn’t brought my computer, and this was before we had smartphones, so we couldn’t look up a place and its menu on the Internet. However, from our bedroom window, which faces Vernon Boulevard, we could see the New City’s sign from our window and copied down the phone number.1 We phoned in a take-out order but since we didn’t have a menu, we just ordered whatever you expect to find at every Chinese take-out place in New York: General Tso tofu for Sarah, the chicken version for me, and peanut noodles for the both of us.

One thing I did not know about New City was that it had recently opened when we moved in. It seemed like they were there forever.


  1. It’s also possible that I used Google’s SMS search. Back then you could send a text with a business name and the zip code, such as New City 11101 to GOOGL and you’d get a response with an address and phone number. Crazy, huh? 

Music: Shannon and the Clams in Brooklyn

Three years ago, I went to Gonerfest and saw Shannon and the Clams at the Saturday show at the Hi-Tone, which relocated last year. This day is almost always an overwhelming experience because the Saturday afternoon at Murphy’s has two shows going on at once: one outside in the patio and also one inside the bar. And it goes from noon to 6:00 PM. And then there’s the five-plus hours of music at the Hi-Tone, which include the Shannon and the Clams set. The whole day is a rock ‘n’ roll assault on your senses.

Gonerfest 8: Shannon & the Clams

Since I won’t be going to Memphis this year, I’ll have to settle for seeing this band that I saw play there in the past. They have two three shows in New York, all in Brooklyn. Go see at least one of them.

It appears that, as of Tuesday, September 9, all three shows are sold out.

Details

  • September 9, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Union Pool, 484 Union Ave, Brooklyn
  • 12.00
  • September 11, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Death by Audio, 49 S 2nd St, Brooklyn
  • 13.50
  • September 12, 2014
  • 8:00 PM
  • Palisades BK, 906 Broadway, Brooklyn
  • 12.00

Six Swipes in August

August 2014 was a really weird month.

While it was one of the most emotionally difficult months of my life, it was also one of most pleasant in terms of weather. The first weekend of August started with some rain, but after that there was only rain storm that interrupted my month on wheels. The weather was so perfect that I only rode the subway six times in the month of August. Back in the days of the fun pass, I would do swipe that card six times in a single day.

Because I was keeping track of my swipes for the month, I thought I’d share my trip record.

Date Ride Trains Why I didn’t bike?
Aug 2 Woodside to Vernon-Jackson 7 I had returned from visiting my uncle in Riverhead with my mom, and I took the LIRR train back.
Aug 12 8th Street-NYU to Broadway, Astoria N It was raining so I left my bike at NYU and went to my friend’s apartment in Astoria, where I was couch surfing.
Aug 13 Broadway, Astoria to 8th Street-NYU N I had left my bike at NYU and it was still raining. I rode back in the evening.
Aug 23 Vernon-Jackson to Woodland 7 to 4 I rode with Andre to Woodland to start the ride to the Peekskill Brewery. I rode the subway for the purposes of a bike ride.
Aug 23 Grand Central to Vernon-Jackson 7 Andre and I took Metro North and from Peekskill so we took the 7 train back to Long Island City.
Aug 29 West 4th Street to Sutphin Blvd-Hillside Ave, Jamaica F Again, I rode the subway for the purposes of a bike ride. This was for the ride to Blue Point on Labor Day weekend.

Keep in mind that I have been without a home for almost of all August, so it’s not like I spent days at a time at home or just putzing around Long Island City (which I miss doing a lot). I also didn’t go away except for two days over Labor Day weekend, which did account for one of the swipes. Finally, I have been traveling a lot more than usual around the city. I didn’t track my rides, but except for August 1, 2, and 30, I rode a bike every single day in August.

September is only a week old, and again, I have been able to avoid the subway entirely. So far, I have zero swipes for the month. It really shows how mild and dry this summer has been.

North Fork Ride to Orient Because I Skipped the NYC Century

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As part of my ongoing mental therapy-by-bicycle, I called a friend and fellow cycle club member to join me on a ride from Huntington, Long Island to Orient Point and then back to Greenport to catch the 6:11 PM train back to New York City. Having ridden to Montauk more than a few times in the past, I always wanted to reach Orient Point on the North Fork, and yesterday was a as a good a day as any to do that with yet another eighty degree day with low-humidity.

We started in Huntington because it was a direct train from Penn Station, it would put us close to New York State Bike Route 25A, and it would make for a ninety-mile ride. Once we got out of the train station, we quickly found ourselves on suburban roads with some signs of the farms we would see throughout the ride.

Chickens in Huntington

Long Island has a reputation for being very flat, but we found that there were a good number of hills between Smithtown and Riverhead. We even encountered one of the most storied climbs on Long Island, East Broadway, which leads from Port Jefferson to Belle Terre. It was a challenging hill, but I managed to climb it through the “sit-and-spin” method and I didn’t need to get out of the saddle. I reached the top before Brian did, and that allowed me to snap a photo of him reaching the summit.

Climb from Port Jefferson to Belle Terre

He looks as tired as I feel.

By about 65 miles in, Brian wanted to rest for a minute so we stopped at Hallock’s Cider Mill, a roadside farm stand in Laurel, where they had some very delicious preserves.

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

And a pretty awesome blueberry crumb pie that rivals that other pie place on the North Fork.

Blueberry Crumb Pie

Towards the end of our ride, we found that the one of the best views along Bike Route 25 was at East Marion Orient Park, a place so magical that people can apparently walk on water.

East Marion Orient Park

Even with all our rest stops and all the photos we snapped, we reached Orient Point just before 4:00 PM.

The End

I was a little disappointed with the view, but that’s probably because I didn’t scout the route beyond reaching the Orient Point ferry to New London, Connecticut.

Orient Point Ferry

We turned back from Orient to Greenport to get our customary beer and burger in town there and to catch the 6:11 PM train. When I was last in Greenport last month, I tried to go to the Greenport Harbor Brewery for a taste, but it was closing so I didn’t get any beer. This time, we had enough time for a flight.

We Biked 90 Miles… Beer Me

We finished the day at First and South, a pretty good place at the corner of First and South in Greenport with food and prices that rivaled what I found at Birdsdall Inn in Peekskill.

A 100-Mile Loop Around the City Would Be Too Hard

The ride came together over the last couple of days because I had other bike riding plans for this day. Sunday was also the same day as the NYC Century, a ride I first did in 2003, as my first century. This year, I had volunteered on Saturday to get a free entry to the ride.

NYC Century 2014 Route Map

As I kept thinking about the ride and the route, which is largely the same as it’s been for the last decade, I felt that it would be too emotionally difficult to ride it. It would have reminded me of the first time Sarah and I rode that ride together in 2007. At one point, she fell off her bike around mile 20 and wore a bandage on her knee for the rest of the day. It was her first long-distance ride, and I remember she was bonking with six miles left on the 55-mile route. At Astoria Park, I offered her some encouraging words: “Sarah, we have only six miles to go. That’s the distance between your work and my apartment. You can do that, right?” She then agreed that she could and gave me a big hug. I remember seeing a woman passing by who witnessed this tender moment between us. Her reaction to this moment made me realize we had something special. Sarah ultimately held on to finish the ride, and I was really proud of her. I was also inspired that my support helped her on that day. It was the first time my words picked up someone like that, and I wanted to feel that feeling forever.

The earliest photo I have of Sarah and I riding together in the 2007 Tour de Bronx.

The earliest photo I have of Sarah and I riding together in the 2007 Tour de Bronx.

By midday Saturday, however, I decided I couldn’t very well ride that route. It would be too emotionally difficult to get through that ride, thinking about how happy we were on that first of many other rides we did together.

For now, it appears, that I need to make some new memories.