Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Clearly everyone and their mother has an opinion on Jersey, wether it be the casino-crazed Atlantic city or the guido-infested Shore. Low and behold there’s a little more to Jersey than that. I previously touched on the wonders of suburban Jersey, Westfield and Milburn, but now I want to point out one of the state’s finest assets: Hoboken!

The thing that is just great about Hoboken is how cool it is. Yes, I said cool. If you happen to be a California kid than you will definitely appreciate the laid-back vibe and fun-loving atmosphere provided by this one square mile town. Washington street is lined with bars and restaurants galore. Heavily laden with Irish pubs–some of which are run by actual Irish people–and every type of foodie genre. People line-up around the corner for a muffin from the Cake Boss, and I say “Skip it!” It’s a muffin, move on with your life. There’s lots to be indulged in, and keep your eyes peeled for franchise favorites like the Melting Pot. Albeit overly priced, it does remind me of good ol’ Orange County, especially situated on a lovely park-like path along the river. About the length of the city itself, the river-walking area is a great site to visit. I’d even recommend bringing a date. That is if you can convince them to come all the way out to Jersey! New Yorkers seem to think it is light-years away, when in fact the PATH train can get you there in less than fifteen minutes for the same price as the subway. So do take the time to visit, and if you aren’t in the mood for an Irish pub, head a little further south (yes, into dreaded Jersey city) and hit up the beer garden, or catch a soccer match at the Newark stadium. You’d certainly be missing out if you didn’t at least investigate their annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities. So visit, have fun, and do misbehave.

Manhattan sleeper towns have to be the best thing. Especially when the city is really wearing you out. There’s nothing like a forty-five minute train ride, to a quaint little town, to bring peace of mind and calm to your busy New York life. I recommend Westfield. It’s cute, with restaurants, shopping, and a little movie theatre. It also doesn’t hurt that I have family to stay with. If you don’t have family outside the city, you should adopt some. Or better yet, plan a trip. Think of something close. If it is close enough to get a $15 round trip train ride, then you can spend all your extra cash on a nice hotel. Maybe down by the seaside, or up in the woods. When you visit Westchester county, it isn’t too far to a fairly wooded area. Watchung in New Jersey, also has a state park that is rather pleasant to take a stroll through. If you are an outdoorsy person like I am, than it is essential to find these out of the way places to run to. For seaside adventure, try New London, Connecticut. It is maybe two hours up the coast, and a great picture of classic New England. It’s a seaside town, with really old, beautiful churches and cathedrals everywhere. You could go on a tour of just churches and fill the whole weekend. There are great little eats off the main road; nice sit-down coffee without the Starbucks’ emblem. And you could even catch a traveling show as it comes through town.

I can understand why people choose to live out here and commute into the city. It brings a daily rest to freshen you up for the morning. But, alas. Even the least expensive rentals would cost more than staying in Queens. Always the compromise. But at least I have my escape. My open sky… mostly. and my fresh air… partially. O.K… well it isn’t Montana, but it’s maybe a little slice of the Big Sky Pie.

Finally a decent doughnut!

Posted: 19 April 2010 in New York City

What I have come to realize about New York city, is that yes they have good bagels and good pizza, but they also have a lot of crap bagels and a lot of craptacular pizza. When you find those amazing places, like Astoria pizza on 30 Av and 33st, you just have to hold onto them, and hope they don’t burn the crust. To that extent I have finally found a halfway decent doughnut. Let’s face it, Dunkin’ ain’t gonna cut it. They just simply don’t cook the dough properly. I came across the Peter Pan bakery and cafe, in Greenpoint Brooklyn, which had a rather delightful chocolate raised doughnut. It was quite tasty, with light fluffy dough, and chocolate icing on top that tasted almost like real chocolate. I was very impressed. It’s at 727 Manhattan Ave, just off the G-Train at Nassau. If you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods. I highly recommend a peekaboo.

Greenpoint is an interesting little area. They have a rather large park, and what seem to be high rises moving in. When I say high though, I mean about ten stories. They look clean and dandy, almost to California standards. Let’s face it. You can find a much nicer apartment in California for the same amount of money. I don’t know why. That’s just how it is. New York tends to be a little behind the times. Some people call it character. I call it poverty. To each their own.

Another day awaits.

Voyage On

-Ryan

Brooklyn? What’s that?

Posted: 17 April 2010 in New York City

Even though I’m considered bridge and tunnel, I don’t go through every tunnel and across every bridge. I have been perfectly content with my days and nights spent in Manhattan and at home in Astoria. My work seemed to have different plans. It wanted to take me to new places. It brought me to Brooklyn. Williamsburg, actually. My first trip to Williamsburg happened a couple weeks ago. We were filming Rescue Me at the Lucky Dog bar. The atmosphere reeked of dive bar, with the clearly over spilled beer, and the shuffle board and ping-pong. The outdoor patio was so warm and sunny that day, it made for the perfect relaxation between takes. The streets of Williamsburg are quaint and vibrant. Lots of hipsters, dogs, and plenty of food. It looked like a foodie’s paradise. As luck would have it, I found myself back in Williamsburg today. This time around I was in the less affluent area. Much closer to the freeway overpass, and landmarks that are easily forgettable. The local digs did look like something out of an Andy Warhall get together, and thankfully an ideal place to film. We scooted ourselves around the corner, somewhere on Grand, between Havemeyer and Roebling, to discover Caracas. Not entirely an out of the way find, as it is a small chain, but it still boasts some great Venezuelan cuisine. I had fried plantains with avocado and cheese in an arepa. Arepas are like  pita bread mixed with a Norwegian pancake. Flaky and delicious. The cocktails weren’t bad. Hardly worth $9. I had the Rum Manhattan. It tasted kind of like bourbon. I think the flavor came out of the bay leaves that I kept accidentally sipping up. I highly recommend making a stop at this restaraunt next time you run away to Brooklyn, or perhaps find its Manhattan cousin. But do yourself a favor, and stick to beer.

Voyage On

Ryan

Caracas Arepas Bar – 291 Grand St, Williamsburg, South Side

Lucky Dog – 303 Bedford, between Grand & 1st. Dog friendly.

I was on my way to meet someone in Union Square, when they decided to cancel, and I found myself with a wasted trip. I took it upon myself to then try and find something interesting to do. I could go shop at the over crowded, I mean, ridiculously over crowded Trader Joe’s, or my preferred food destination Whole Foods. But, alas, I didn’t actually need to buy any food. Then I turned to my left and noticed that the construction of Union Square was finally over, and maybe now I could take a proper walk through it. As many squares as New York has, I don’t believe any of them are actually in a square shape. Some of them, like Harold Square, are barely intelligible as a definite land area. Yet, in their simple landscaped beauty, one can find the only place in the city to sit down for free, and perhaps feel a nice breeze amongst the sounds of traffic and angry homeless people. I also took this opportunity to devise where Union Square received its name. The statue of Abraham Lincoln, erected in 1869, was an obvious hint. Sometimes we need to take a moment and realize how we’ve come into existence. On a lighter note, Union Square is also a great place to visit for locals.

Any local on a budget likes to shop at normal stores. There’s nothing wrong with visiting the Gap, Express, or American Eagle; and if you decide to shop at one of the typical chain stores, be sure to do it in Union Square. The stores down here are large enough to offer all you need, but less busy than Time’s Square, or 5th Ave at the Rock. Of course the area also has all your favorite New York fast-food, like Pret A Manger, Jamba Juice, and Chipotle (the ultimate disgrace to Mexican food). There’s also some more exciting things in Union Square, like the Union Square theatre, Fuerza Bruta, Bowlmor lanes, and lots of bars and restaurants. One of my personal off the beaten path spots is the Old Town Bar & Restaurant.

A three-story, cozy, dank, bar and eatery at 45 E 18th; the Old Town Bar & Restaraunt is a great place to grab lunch, or an after work drink. I highly recommend their pumpernickel, muenster, and portabello grilled cheese sandwich! It is one of the best grilled cheeses I have ever had in the city! The choice in bread and use of mushroom was fairly ingenious; and muenster cheese has just enough sweetness to compliment the other flavors. Its taste is soothing and filling, and you can get a full sit-down meal in a half-hour.

New York has already been discovered, reviewed, and mapped out in a million guide books, top to bottom. But what New Yorker actually takes the time to read all of those, when it is so easy to just walk until you find something. The great things about New York for explorers, is that you can close the book, and pretend to be the first one who has ever eaten at these places, and half the people you tell about your experience, wont have heard of them either. And that is why New York, even for locals, will never be fully discovered.

Voyage On

-Ryan

If you ever seen a movie about the wonder that is New York City, and hope to experience it first hand, you might be somewhat dissapointed. For one simple reason: the crowds. Everything in New York, or any popular destination, can be exciting and fulfilling, unless it’s covered with so many people you are unable to see the landmark. I discovered the way to make Movie Magic happen in the Big Apple! The answer was so simple. If you want picturesque ice skating, with beautiful weather, a handful of people, surrounded by friends, unlimited skating, lots of food, and at a great price, you simply have to be in a movie!  When I had attempted the magic of ice skating on my own, we spent half the day trekking the four miles to find the “better” rink… we still ended up tripping over litters of children and lunatic bmx hockey skaters. But low and behold! Last week, I had the opportunity to ice skate in the movie The Dark Fields. Granted this included twelve exhausting hours of skating, yet I relished the moment. I had a picturesque sky line with beautiful weather; friends to talk to; free food all day long; and oh yeah, I got paid to do it. I made sure to take a moment and really soak in the full effect and enjoy my movie moment. And it was tourist free!

It’s not that New Yorkers dislike tourists. We just don’t understand why people turn off their brains when they arrive in New York. When you go to London, there are very explicit instructions, posted and yelled out, to keep right when you saunter. However, New York tourists seem to find a way to get in the way at all times of the day.  I came across a group of four women, clearly they spoke English, and clearly they were blocking all access in and out of the subway entrance. It took them a few seconds to realize they were headed in the right direction, and as they snailed their way down into the subway, they took the time to imitate agitated New Yorkers complaining about their lack of movement and walking skills. Ironically they couldn’t take their own advice. The humor of the situation was the only reason I didn’t throw something at them.

When traversing in New York on foot (as one typically does), try and avoid these footpath follies, and New Yorkers might not kill you in your sleep:

1. Time’s Square is the worst place to meet people. Don’t clog the road by gathering in a stand still of 18 people at the TGIF, because Sally is running late.

2. Don’t stop walking because you saw something shinny. Be curteous enough to see if someone is close on your heels, and perhaps step to the side.

3. Leave an open space next to you on escalators. Not everyone wants to just hang ten.

4. Don’t use your child as a weapon. Just because their little, doesn’t mean they are indestructable. Not everyone is going to step aside for the munchkin, especially if they are too short to be noticed.

5. Standing at the bottom of a staircase, in front of a doorway, or blocking the subway turnstile is just inconsiderate. And we are not afraid to hit you.

6. Don’t tell people to move out of your camera shot. If they’re a local, they’ll be halfway down the block in ten seconds anyway.

7. If traffic is busy. Think thin. Walking three and four across, whilst linking arms, is just absurd.

8. Don’t spit. No, really. Especially if you chew tobacco. You may think it’s going in the street, but as someone who has been unintentionally spat upon… just fight the urge.

Voyage on!

-Ryan