Tagged: New York City

The Best Time to Travel

If March is “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” August represents another transitional month if you’re in the academic game. The beginning of the month treats us as gently as a lamb, but the end of the month beats us like a rented mule. However, the month of August also has the reverse effect on travel. As the kiddies go back to school at the end of the month, it becomes a lot easier to travel, especially par avion.

  • Airports become more pleasant. You begin to see fewer over-burdened families clogging the airport lines and more experienced business travelers zipping through security checkpoints and boarding areas.
  • The weather at most places begins to cool significantly. The heat waves that make most people too grumpy to do anything begin to dissipate in late-August. New Yorkers begin returning to our heat island around this time and stuff begins to happen again. It’s the same in Europe, they tell me.
  • Airfares drop from the stratospheric prices over the summer. It’s been years since I’ve flown to California over the summer because it costs about $500-$600 for a domestic flight to LAX this time of year. That’s double the usual fare. I still don’t get how people afford European summer vacations at these nutty prices.

As happens at this time of year, the off-peak travel season is nigh, and airlines have been discounting airfares for fall travel. That’s great because, as we all know, early fall is the best time of year to travel. Over the last month, several airlines began discounting flights between New York and Los Angeles, the markets I travel most frequently, to some pretty reasonable levels. Because I wasn’t deliberately tracking these fares, I don’t have exact figures, but I recall that it started with the LCCs and ULCCs.

  • Virgin America started a fare war with $300 round-trip fares, between JFK and LAX, for travel between August 25 and November 18.
  • Spirit Airlines offered a $260 fare, which shouldn’t even count as a discount because they will add fees for carry-on luggage and printing your boarding pass.
  • Sun Country did something similar, but every time I’ve searched their fares in the past, there was a ridiculously long layover in Minneapolis–St. Paul. It wasn’t worth it.

Then things got more interesting as the legacy carriers got involved, and these guys know how to wage a fare war.

  • American Airlines and US Airways began offering flights between LGA and LAX, with a connection, for $238.
  • American lowered the price on tickets on their own stock to an even lower price: $216. That is about as cheap as I’ve ever seen a non-mistake fare between NYC and LA.
  • On Wednesday morning, American offered two fares, LGA-DFW and DFW-LAX, that when combined could zip you across the country and back for $150.

I implored friends and family to take advantage of these fares, especially when it dropped to $150, because there’s no way that fare was going to stick around long. And it didn’t. By Wednesday night, that fare had evaporated and flying between LGA and LAX, via DFW, cost $370 round-trip.

On Thursday morning, I saw that United matched American’s aggressive pricing and offered its own $150 round-trip fare, between LGA and LAX via Chicago-O’Hare.

I couldn’t resist and booked a trip in mid November. Although September and October are the best months to travel just about anywhere, they’re also among the best months to be in the city.

I’ll head west as the temperatures begin to drop.

Here’s New York in One Photo

Welcome to New York

I saw this squished rat on East Third Street in the East Village as I biked to NYU this morning. I initially rode past it, but I went back to snap a photo of it. It seemed like the perfect image of what life in New York feels like to me right now.

Did I mention that it started to rain as I biked over the Willamsburg Bridge to approach Manhattan?

Scavenging… Again

Modern Architecture Scavenger Hunt 2013: Team Mies van der Bros and Hos

Much like we did last year, Sarah and I spent an entire Saturday searching for icons of modern architecture around New York City. The hunt was pretty simple. There were about forty clues. We had to solve each clue by going to each building and snapping a photo of ourselves in front of it. To ensure we didn’t submit snapshots of ourselves either before or after the hunt, we had to sport a very specific “ONHY” button.

We learned from last year’s that there’s a lot of traveling involved. While we used a 7-day unlimited ride Metrocard to get around last year, we brought our bikes for this year’s hunt. We found that we could get around a lot faster, especially going crosstown, but it didn’t see like we covered much more ground than we did in 2012. Go figure.

Because we were getting around by bicycle, I saw a lot of places I haven’t in years. For instance, there were reminders of when friends would come to visit, the hotels they stayed in, and the places we visited. We also spotted a few potential candidates for future contests.

Modern Architecture Scavenger Hunt 2013: Team Mies van der Bros and Hos

Highlights of this year’s contest included Paley Park, a little courtyard with a waterfall right in the middle of midtown, the Synagogue for the Arts in TriBeCa, and the Kelly and Gruzen–designed branch of the New York Public Library at 10 Jersey Street. While most of the photography was pretty basic, there were some difficult shots. Perhaps the most difficult was getting a shot of the AT&T Building (now the Sony Building…but not for much longer) and the Rockefeller Apartments in the same shot. The only way we could get that shot was by going inside of the Museum of Modern Art and snapping a photo just past the museum’s entrance.

I uploaded the photos to Flickr just before the Sunday 2:00 PM deadline, and you can see the spots we visited on a lovely day in early March.

Bowery Boys on the Origins of Radio in New York City


When I was first thrust into teaching media classes covering subjects that I did not study in college or in graduate school, I had to quickly learn about industries, such as newspapers, magazines, and advertising. I suspect that every teacher has gone through this experience at one time or another. After all, nothing makes you a better student than to become a teacher. Although the finer points of these “new” media industries were fascinating, none rivaled radio as an exciting subject. It really seemed like magic and was reminiscent of what the Internet seemed to me when I first used it.

The Bowery Boys, who produce one of my favorite podcasts, released an episode on the origins of radio in New York City. They cover all of the major milestones in the development of radio, albeit from the perspective of New York City history. They cover Nicola Tesla’s early experiments in the late nineteenth century, the establishment of American Marconi, Lee deForest’s audion, the Titanic disaster, David Sarnoff, RCA, Edwin Armstrong, the early radio stations in New York, and the beginnings of the radio networks with flagship stations here in New York.

Focusing only on radio history in New York doesn’t leave out too much from the standard accounts on the development of radio. For better or worse, the history of radio is very New York City-centered. Only the major accomplishments of Heinrich Hertz, who first transmitted a radio signal in Germany, Reginald Fessenden, who first transmitted the human voice in Canada, and Frank Conrad, who started the first bonafide radio station in Pittsburgh, receive mention in the mainstream histories of radio. Curiously, New York also looms large in the history of newspapers (as the birthplace of the American penny press and yellow journalism), American advertising (Madison Avenue), and motion pictures (as the base of Thomas Edison and his Trust).

Download or subscribe to the podcast from their website.

One more thing: if the Bowery Boys, Greg and Tom, ever find this post, I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced “Goo-yell-moh.”