Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Results Finally In

So Ken at The New York Bike Messenger Association was good on his word and posted the final results for Cranksgiving. It turns out that Laura and I finished better overall among finishers, a respectable 28th and 29th place overall. If Loren is a girl's and not a boy's name (I've never seen it spelled that way to my recollection) then Laura actually placed 5th amonth the women, again, damned good for a first shot. Full results and pictures here

The ride into work today was especially nice this morning and evening what with the unseasonably warm weather. I passed the freshly reopened entrance to the south side of the Williamsburg Bridge bike path and went up and down "the chute" to see what I had been missing for the last two years. The Chute, the narrow two laned bike/pedestrian path on the Brooklyn side of the bridge comes down at a rather steep angle and has corderoy texture to the concrete. The loose headset on my bike jiggled as I attempted to go down the bridge without using my brake. This bike path is an ugly stepsister compared to the wide, gently sloped, asphalt ramp on the north entrance that will probably be closed all winter for repairs. On the Brooklyn side, they have yet to put the large circular mirror up to warn pedestrians that bikes are about to deposit themselved onto the dark sidewalk. I'm going to chat with Transportation Alternative's Noah Budnick about the best way to get that thing back. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ahh Mondays

I have this one-day-a-week job delivering magazines to VIPs in print and broadcast media and it brings me to a lot of buildings. Mostly this means making nice with the women who work in the messenger room, but there are a few buildings that take a chance and let dirty, thieving messengers like me in. This morning I ran into WNYC reporter Andrea Bernstein in the lobby of 1 Centre Street and thanked her for asking all of the democratic mayoral hopefuls about congestion pricing at the debates. How freaking nerdy is that?

Delivery went well this morning, it semi-rained and then didn't. I get my health insurance through this job and they pay me handsomely for what I do. It has, however kept me from doing any other kind of job that would expect me to come in before 12:00 on a Monday. It also exposes me to the elements and there is no calling in sick. I had a conversation with a messenger the other day, an older guy and we talked about how tired you can get when you know you have to go to work. "Man" he said, "I got ta get me the hook-up sometime soon, it's gettin too cold for this shit." Been thinking about that a bit, getting the hook up that is. I'll need to find yet another ancillary job after this holiday season, something that'll carry me over to June. After the trip, there'll be a major referendum on employment and living situation. What to do?

Finally a PSA for Williamsburg Bridge riders: Starting tomorrow the bridge will be open only through "the chute" the entrance below the bridge on Bedford Ave.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Turkey Day Roundup

Turkey day was an interesting affair. I was driving, so it wasn't very wild and crazy, but it was a lot of good food shared between me, Laura, her mom Valery and her brother Alex. There were many complicated undercurrents and back stories, but these are not solely my stories, so I'll adhere to the blogging etequitte of good buddy Josh and keep to other matters.

When Laura and I came back from Thanksgiving, we split a bottle of wine she pilfered from here mom's collection and we declared ourselves not nearly drunk enough. We were house-sitting at John and Noreen's so I hatched a plan and not too much later we were whipping through Jamaica Plains, Massachusettes on their bikes, roving the main drag for an open bar. We found this nice little Irish bar and two beers later we were drunk off of our asses and on our merry way. We woke up feeling like winners. This is a lie, a baldfaced lie.

On the way back from Boston, we went to New Bedford Mass. and got to hang out with Anias Nova Kinsgston, the 1 month old baby of Laura's best friend Alicia and Jude. I'll have pics up as soon as I can get my $@#$ing iPhoto working. It was incredible stuff. I got to finally meet Alicia's mom, who was extremely nice, great to talk to and had an incredible Mass accent that Laura thinks should be recorded for the benefit of actresses playing women from New Bedford. She made a cheesecake in honor of Laura's belated 26th b-day and bought linguisa rolls (a local Portugese delicacy) made sausage, coffee and had this great Portugese cornbread that she served with cheese.

Playing with the baby stirred lots of emotions up in me and Laura. It's pretty incredible holding a baby that young at what my former coworker, Amy liked to call the "meatloaf stage" of child developement, where babys just eat, poop and sleep. More on that stuff later.

The ride back to New York was rather stressful. The dog only puked once, but Laura didn't like being a passenger in highway traffic and frankly, I don't like being a driver. We made it though, dropped the car off in the West Village and had a good night back in NYC.

In other news, my favorite go getter on earth Arielle would like for you to fill out this survey about why/whynot you shop for a TV online. click here

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Still No Cranksgiving Results

Laura and I are in Boston today. The ride in was a little trying. The dog puked no less than four times. At one point at a rest stop in Connecticut, Pig puked on Laura (again) and she took her pants off right in the parking lot while people were wandering in and out of the place, passing the car. I had to run to the trunk and grab Laura a skirt. There was a full on freakout after we got on our way again and Laura couldn't find her CDs, most of which were one-off's from her friend Alicia. There was a lot of screaming, mourning and utter impotent silence on my part. We got to Boston and Laura found her CDs. I am going to back them up on my computer as soon as we get home, it was a trying time.
Still no results for Cranksgiving. I got 32 out of 55 finishers, but it's unclear how Laura did amoung the 9 or so women. You can check out the pics here. Here's a pic of me at the starting line with my big yellow helmet and a classic white guy overbite. In my inner eye, I looked like a man eating barbarian invader, but I kind of look like I'm trying to do the hustle for the first time.

And here's another pic of the starting line, I beat the guy in the forefront because I was able to shove my completed manifest into the hand of the organizer while he was still futzing with his receipts.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


If you ride your bike in the city and you've every wondered what it's like to be a messenger, I highly suggest that you do an alleycat. This particular one is more like a really really fast canned food drive. Laura and I did it together and it was kick ass. Basically, the race went like this:

The Start:

2:00: 34th street and 11th ave.: Laura is nervous then I get nervous as we wait for about a half hour for the race to begin. I need to pee.
2:30: We're all given manifests and Laura and I choose our route. I think about peeing in the Javitz center but then I'm told the race is about to begin.
2:45: We're told that the race is about to begin and we put our rear wheels against this round raised platform.
2:46: The guy in the above photo (the organizer) announces that he's going to check every single person's bag to make sure that they didn't already buy canned food so that they could cheat. Apparently, in the 7 years of Cranksgiving there's been no crashes, but plenty of cheating.k
2:47: The last scragglers come in, are yelled at a little, and then belly-up to the starting line.

First Stop:
We race down the West Side Highway bike path. I really need to pee.
We zoom into the Gristedes on South End Avenue in Battery Park City. The plan is that I would lock the bikes, Laura would go in and use her superior grocery shopping skills to find the item (apple sauce). Once the bikes were locked, I would go in and wait in line. We do Just that and are out in no time at all. On the way in, some guy saw us locking our bike together and said to Laura "that's cheating". He's just fucking with her, but she doesn't know this. We take off.

Second Stop:
We go back up the west side highway and cross over at 18th street. I now have to pee so much that it is distracting me pretty bad. I pulled over, yelled at Laura that I needed to pee and she stood guard and yelled at me to hurry up as I pissed my brains out in some doorway. I emerge as a new fucking man, babbling on and on about how fucking good my piss was to Laura who doesn't respond. We have to get to the Gristedes on 20th and 1st avenue, we decide to cross over at 18th street and preceed to hit every single freaking light on the way over. Laura is getting a little discouraged right now, since she can't see any of the other racers and feels that we've "lost the race". We soldier on and reach the Gristedes. Laura at this point has taken to heart the "that's cheating" comment about locking bikes together and insists on locking her bike up at a pole on her own. I try to argue, but it's no use. We run in together and each grab a small sack of potatoes. The Gristedes is swamped with about 10 other bug-eyed messengers running up and down the aisles. As we're paying in line I realize that we are at this point ahead of this guy named Yak who is one of the fastest guys in town. I tell this to Laura as we run out. As Laura is unlocking her bike I remind her that this is a messenger race, there are no freaking rules and she finally gets that this guy was just fucking with her head. It's a load off both of our minds.

Third Stop:
We haul balls up first ave and hook over at 40th street, swoosh the wrong way over 40th street till we get to the Gristides on 40th and 2nd. We rush in and buy some canned soup.

Fourth Stop:
On the way out, I go north on 2nd towards 41st street, with the idea of going up 1st and Laura follows 3 other people the other way. I try to go right on 41st and remember that it's a dead end into Tudor City (c'mon Frank, you used to be a real estate agent over here. Think! Think! I double back and try to catch up with Laura but when I get to 1st ave (the last stop is at 87th and York) and Laura is nowhere to be seen. I call her on my cell phone, she picks up and the signal goes out. I call again and hear that she's on 51st and 1st. I hang up and go to 51st and 1st and she's not there. I call again and she's on 61st and 1st. I tell her that I'll just meet her at the next stop, which I find out later was her thinking too and I try to catch up with her. This was where it got hard. I figure that Laura is pacing herself against the three other messengers that she took off with. Laura is extremely competitive and fast on a bike and has a god given pair of calves that many biker would die for, I know that I have my work cut out for me. I shoot though as many timed-out green lights as I can and slalomed through the reds till I finally caught up with her at the corner of 79th and 1st right as she's stopped for a red. I pass her, turn right towards York and say "lets go" to her as I head East, thoroughly tired and bug-eyed. We shoot through that Gristedes, grab some stuffing and head on out.

Finish Line:
We bust out on our bikes and head West on 86th street. It's an uphill, which sucks at this point, but we book it up anyway. We get to 5th ave, then shoot West across the 82nd street Transverse. I was a little worried that going across the transverse would be a little too scary for Laura since the cars go pretty fast through it, but at this point, only live-fire rounds would seem any more fucked up than what we've done so far. We shoot across to West End Avenue and head downtown towards 34th street. Every few blocks I should out something stupid like "only 35 more blocks babe!" At a red light Laura and I divvy up our receipts so that we can give them individually at the finish line and we burn it through to the end.
We get to the finish, hand in our receipts and everything slows down. We came in 32nd and 33rd overall, Laura got either 4th or 3rd for the women's. She'll play it down and say that there were only like 7 women altogether, but she kicked some major ass. You tell her so, dammit!

The Aftermath:
Laura and I hang out there for a spell, give our canned goods to other messengers to deliver to the homeless shelter and head over to Laura's friend Kristine's Turkey Day party. Good times are had, lots of food is eaten then Laura and I turn into old people and go home at 8:30. We make an aborted attempt to go to another party at former cast mate Julia's party but chicken out. We pass out at around midnight and sleep like the dead.

Hell yeah.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Africa We Go

So as of right, now, this instant, the plan is that Laura and I will be going to Spain and then to Africa through gibralter. More later.

Monday, November 14, 2005

House Guests

Kristine dropped off Milo to stay with us for a couple of days. Milo is a boston terrier which places him in the same weight class as Pig. Pig, who is usually at a loss for a simular sized dog to tussle with. They've been dog fighting ever since Milo got onto the scene. Milo is definitely more of a natural scrapper, but Pig has definitely come into his own over the last couple of days and tood advantage of his greater reach and height to make up for his general lack in ferocity. Here's a little action shot I just took:

Also on the scene was Laura's brother Michael. He was in town for a friend's birthday party and stayed over here. His parents gave him some money to spend on food for the three of us, and we had awesome dinner in Billyburg and brunch at Enids on them. Thank you Becky and Rick. It was a treat to have him around, I got to hear all kinds of good dirt on Laura as a kid and the strange little kid games they used to play growning up in Wellseley Mass. I'll be seeing him again in a couple of weeks when we go up to Mass for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Belated Birthday Dinner at Little Giant

Man oh man, Little Giant is about the best freaking thing on earth. I got to know one of the owner's Tasha, when I had this odd job working at the bar/cafe called The Cellar. She and her boyfriend used to come in cause they lived on the block.
Be that as it may, Tasha opened up Little Giant, and the place is excellent. The food, the atmosphere, music, wine list, it's like guaranteed anal sex. Laura and I came to the conclusion that had I taken her to Little Giant on our second date, we would have closed the deal. Little Giant, people, "the place to close the deal"!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sharing Notes

Riding back from work in the rain on Bedford when another dude on a track bike whizzed past me. Usually, I try to bomb it down the stretch of Bedford from Myrtle to South 5th, especially if I have a good song on my iPod Shuffle. When the guy whooshed past me, I jackrabbeted into gear and had to motivate myself to pass him on the wet road in the dark with the cheezy Eminem/Shaggy mix that krept onto my shuffle several months ago. We were back and forthe for about 10 blocks and it became apparent that we were both about as fast but coulsn't prove which one was the fastest because we didn't want to rush into a blind red light intersection with our fixed gears in the rain. Finally, this guy almost smashed into a couple of kids who darted across the street withouth looking and I struck up a conversation.
"This can be a pretty freaking hazerdous part of Bedford right?"
"Oh yeah, but that's the fun."
He had a point. We chatted for the next few blocks about the way that the South Williamsburg Hasidic community doesn't ever look before crossing the street and I shared with him my greatest fear in biking around Willaimsburg (that I'll be coming down the Williamsburg Bridge and plow into a crowd of Hasidic woman and their children. When we came to said bridge, we bid one another a good night and he headed out to the city. Now I gotta make dinner.

For Dinner Tonight: Steak Salad, with mixed greens, tomato, red onion, feta cheese. Oh yeah, it'll be good.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Yankin' It

So I voted a lil' bit today. Originally, my plan was to just vote yes on Ballot Initiative #2 (2nd ave. subway et all), yank the lever and leave the choosing of messrs Bloomberg or Ferrer to people who cared more about either of them. Thinking about it more today, I decided that it would send a shitty message to let Bloomberg win the vote by a 40 point spread in a Dem town. While I don't feel very strongly for Ferrer, I feel that he would not have invited a gazillion Republicans into the city and cracked down on bikers to make them feel safe. I also don't have any affiliations to any real estate developers and neither Laura or I have the means to buy one of the luxury condo's that are popping up around here.
In other news, I finally scored AAA batteries and my ass kicking light

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I Won!

Yeah, so the cencus lady wan't the only thing that happened. Got a call from Josh inviting me out to meet up with Jeremy and Alex at Blue and Gold in the East Village. This was about 10:00pm. Walked the Pig, got on the bike and headed for the city. The whole thing moved back to Brooklyn and two bars later it was time to go home.

Here's where it got hazy.

I was on Bedford and North 12th when I crashed, In retrospect, being there shows that I was going the long way home. Dunno if I was trying to head elsewhere or if I thought it would be a good idea to do the extra biking. I was going down Bedford and somehow I veered into the sidewalk and went down. I have a little boo-boo no my knee and I rapped my knuckles on my right hand a bit. I woke up and there was an empty PFC box in the living room. I feel terrible.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Interviewed by the Census Lady

I was just about to sit down to a hashed together bowl of rice and beans, tomato etc. when the doorbell rang. I went down, and it was a census lady asking me if I could give 5 minutes of my time. Laura's out in Boston, couldn't get friends to come to my former teacher, Raina's show, so this was probably the social event of the night.
"Oh sure, c'mon up you want a glass of water or anything."
The Pig predictably swarmed her and she couldn't get enough of him. She said no less than 10 times that dogs and cats "just love me". I guess that's a good thing, working for the Census Bureau would be a pretty hellish thing if dogs were always nipping at you.
Ms. Kyszenia-Yavni was a total people person, she just couldn't get enough chatting in. She asked me about how I got to work and when I told her by bike she was a bit surprised. I asked her if there was a box for that, worried that the US Cencus was about to fuck over bike commuters by not collecting any info about us. She said that there was indeed a box, and I told her that 110,000 New Yorkers use thier bike every day to get to work. It led to a conversation about Transportation Alternatives her eyes perked up at this one and it came out that I had worke for them and had made the cars that were in the Car Free Bedford campaign.
We went back and forth for a bit about parking etc. She drives her car everywhere for her job, so she was, predictably, hating life and wanted more parking and less curtailment of drivable streets, namely Bedford. Her suggestion was to have free parking for people who live on the block they were shopping on. This would encourage people to just own more cars and hey, count up the people you think live on your block and then tell me if everyone could have a parking space if they owned a car. Um hmmm. I tried to tell her about the law of capicity, "build it and more, many more, will come". She agreed with most of my points, most particularly my endorsement of the transportation ballot initiative coming up on Tuesday. 2nd avenue subway anyone? It turns out that she lives on North 3rd and Bedford and had seen the cars and wasn't so keen on shutting down that part of Bedford. It was damned good times, and I look forward to bumping into her some Saturday while Laura and I are walking the Pig.
Alrighty, enough chatting, I'm off to Blue and Gold for some beers with friends.

Transportation Alternatives

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Unchallenging Day

Lost of things knocking around today as I completed tasks in a completely unchallenging day. Not a lot of stuff resolved. The ride in to work this morning was a little bit pokier than usual. Laura is dispatched to Boston for a family emergency and my boss is off to Rhode Island to pick up ever more vinyl records. I gave Laura my iPod Shuffle to listen to on the train, so I had little motivation in the form of cheezy upbeat songs in 6 different languages. The weather this week has been beautiful, if a little windy and my brand new lined hoody is overkill. I've had to remove it several times and bike the rest of the way in a t-shirt and gloves, as is my custom (my fingers get cold easily, I always feel good having warm hands).
I sorted and shuffled a few thousand coasters into the right color order and packaged them in thier shipping containers as I listened to everything that WNYC had to say. Fernando Ferrer got interviewed by Brian Lehrer and seemed cagey and defensive. Things must be getting pretty far under his skin right now, I know I would be a freak-show mess if I was him. It was a missed opportunity on Mr. Ferrer's part I felt, he wasn't able to use the interview to communicate a better message. He has a terrible habit of exhaling loudly when he's exasperated, it makes him sound like the complainer Bloomberg paints him to be.
My former boss, Govenor Howard Dean was in a sound clip on Lehrer's show, giving his endorsement and a rather hedged prediction of Ferrer's chances. I'll be voting yes on the #2 bond issue this time around, and for little, if anything else.
Rode back in darkness, cursing my lack of AAA batteries for the front light of my bike. I muscled my way past timid but dangerous Hasidic minivan drivers, safely making it back to pig