5 cents

NYC: The Final Countdown! July 9, 2008 (10 Days to go)

After over 8 years in New York City, we have 10 full days left here. To honor this, we plan on counting down and documenting our final days in NYC. To get in the mindset of this final countdown I think it's imperative that you first watch this video. Watch it loud. Just replace "Europe" or "Venus" with Africa.

It is a thing of beauty. The lyrics couldn't be more applicable:

Were leaving together,
But still its farewell
And maybe we'll come back,
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
Were leaving ground
Will things ever be the same again?
Its the final countdown...

I'm fucking serious. It's 5:17 a.m. on July 9th. Our "goat-less" going away party is on July 19th in Central Park. We have a mini-van reserved for early July 20th. Check. Visas, check. All furniture and worldly possessions are liquidated, check (except the cuisinart...). Plane ticket, check. Car rental, check. Everything paperless, check. Virtual "Earth Class" mailbox, check. The funny thing is our address is in Beaverton, OR. My hometown. Though we will be nowhere near there. There'll be some gorillas there that open our mail and stick it on a scanner for us to see from all the way in Nairobi. Growing up in the 70s in Beaverton, I never would've imagined such a thing. I probably never would've imagined living in Africa. Though that's where I first acquired a taste for displacement. On a school bus in my first month of Jr. high in a benign and banal suburb, a woman, my mother, came on the bus and pulled me off much to my adolescent embarrassment. The next day I was enrolled in a school in Guadalajara, Mexico. I guess you can say it rocked my world just like that Final Countdown video did.

And now we are voluntarily rocking our world again. I'm chomping on the bit. Sitting on the floor, sweating. No air-conditioning.  What's left of our things scattered around half-boxed, connected by wires to the vitals.

empty apartment

The goal is to be weightless. Over the past 10 days I've been downloading everything on my computer to a virtual space in the Amazon jungle. It finished late last night, all 40+ Gigabytes of it. The cable guy came last night and severed our connection, but we still can pirate from our neighbors. The TV was gone a while ago. Not a big deal unless Nadal is playing Federrer. Jess and I had to barhop around the city between the rain delays to watch it. We ended up at that rocker bar on 7th and B near our old apartment. I was getting a tattoo across the street at East Side Ink when Nadal won. I guess you could say the tattoo symbolizes the end of an era, though I didn't get 8 stripes, only 3. I also bought some Sambas, this time black.

tattoo

 

tattoo detail

 

I've been thinking about "space" a lot. Not in the way that Chris Fritton thinks about the leveraging of geography or the economy of scale in his fine new blog. I think more in terms of environmental influence or adaptation to your surroundings. I don't have the luxury of creating space around me. I haven't had that since living in California for a year or two where I had a garage and used to collect artifacts and junk and musical instruments to tinker and experiment with. But then I moved into a trailer in the back of a pick-up truck for three years in Santa Cruz. Then a small $140 studio in Tucson. And then in a van ("down by the river" as Chris Farley says) with carpeted walls for a few years That's when I met Jess, much to the chagrin of her parents. We lived in small lofts and houses here and there and then cramped apartments in NYC for these eight years. I've never had the "space" to do art. I've had some space, enough to do something on a sheet of paper and then scan it into my computer. The book closet I have now is a luxury. As is our roof. I'm more about adapting to or exploring public space, not creating my own personal space. Jess is too. Adaptation is key, as is a yearning for a new backdrop. If we can adapt to NYC, we can surely adapt to Nairobi. But adapting to the New York way is not healthy. When you start to seek refuge in your small apartment, then you know it's time to go. When you want to punch people it's time to go. Private space in NYC is a privilege. And public space becomes a right you need to fight for at all times. The right to your $2 pocket of air space on the subway, your side of the sidewalk, the designated running lane in the park, etc. It's a constant battle for turf. I've given up on the loop road that everybody runs on in Central Park like a bunch of knuckle-headed zombies. I can do the whole loop now without touching the road or rarely even asphalt. Last week I scared a raccoon. A few days ago I came across a wild turkey. Speaking of, I'm going for a run. Will continue this later...

7:43 AM. Where was I. Space. The final frontier. I haven't seen the space we'll live in Nairobi. Jess has. She was sending me photos, video even, as she was seeing it. It looks cool remotely. I'd share pics but I don't want to spoil the surprise. Ok. Heigh ho. Off to work I go. Only bearable because I know there's only a few more days of it, in this city anyway. Though I have to admit, New York City is a fun place to work. Beats an office park in the suburbs somewhere that's for sure.

8:37 PM. When you only have 10 days left somewhere, your perspective changes. I'm already nostalgic. When I walk by Grand Central or the Flatiron, I see it as a tourist. I'm always just traveling through. If I start to feel like I belong somewhere, that's when it's time to leave.

Grand Central

 

Flatiron

I met Jess at the Flatiron after work and we walked down 6th avenue to Lupe's, our favorite Mexican place. I used to go there at least once a week when I worked down in that hood, but haven't been in a while. It was as good as ever.

Lupes

We have our schedule planned out for the final 10 days, at least food-wise. Stay tuned ...

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Pre-Goat Get-Together. July 10, 2008 (9 Days to go)

Walked to work again. The weather was more forgiving. Through the park then straight down 5th avenue. Too early for most tourists. By St. Patricks, which is enveloped in scaffolding. By Grand Central. Down to Park and 30th. Wrapping up loose ends at work. Filled up on free sushi for lunch.

I take back some of the "checks" I said before. Our government doesn't make it that easy to ex-patriate yourself, especially in this day and age. I've been having to file all this paperwork for our virtual mailbox, to prove our existence in order to appease the United States Postal Service. And even then, they won't allow us to forward our mail there. Needs to be a residential address. Same thing happens if you try to change your address with banks and credit cards. If you don't have a residential address in this country you're fucked. God help the homeless. It's illegal to not have an ID but you can't get an ID without an address. You can't do anything without an address. You can't get a bank account, you can't receive mail, you can't get a license to drive. And it's all because the police and the FBI and the IRS want to keep tabs on you. When I lived in a van (down by the river) and in a camper it was the same way. I had to use other people's addresses in order to get a P.O. box. We're still not sure what we'll do about a bank. With the patriot act, there's all sorts of restrictions on wiring money from the U.S. to foreign banks. We have a bank account already in Kenya, but how can we get money from one to the other? It's all very complicated, all at the expense of our government's paranoia over it's own citizens. I know other countries are far worse and more bureaucratic, but it's a sham that our country calls itself the "free" world.

For lunch I went to get some barcodes. I love barcodes, especially when the signify the movement of books.

barcode

 

Door on Bond Street

door on bond

After work we didn't tick off a favorite restaurant because somebody was throwing a going away party for us. Mostly Jess's colleagues, the "health" crew. It was quite the soiree (thanks Kate and Allison!) and to put the icing on the cake, Kate got us a goat piñata! Does it get any better? Maybe seeing (after much provoking) B's legendary tattoo took the cake. Until last night no one had verified it's existence (except for C) due to it's precarious placement. Before hitting the party I stopped at Foot Locker to get some shorts suitable for revealing such hidden areas. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos, suffice to say it does exist, and is indeed a claw gripping a crystal ball with his zodiac sign. You had to be there, and you have to know B. Here's the goat piñata as a consolation...

invoking Pan

Goat pinata

 

Jess whacking goat with fire poker (me holding it since nothing to hang it by)

pinata

 

d and J and sancho

 

the health crew

mvp health crew

Afterwards, half-drunk, we carried our wounded goat piñata shamelessly onto the subway to schlep home.

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Releasing the Fishes. July 11, 2008 (8 Days to go)

Staying home today waiting for UPS. I already hoofed the barcoded boxes down the 5 flights of stairs to our lobby and then ran the 6 mile loop (not too crowded since a weekday) and then another loop around the reservoir for good measure. They were starting to barricade the whole park for the free Bon Jovi concert on the central lawn tomorrow. Now we're just waiting for the men in brown. Here's what Calamari Press looks like dismembered into boxes.

Calamari

If you opened any one of those boxes, it would look like this...

This massive shipment going to Michigan is probably 1/3 of what we have left of our worldly possession. The weight is dissipating. I hope it's not too much weight on brother Markus. If you want to help alleviate this weight, please buy some Calamari! I took the opportunity to do an internal audit of inventory. Being that Calamari Press is open source and transparent, here's the cumulative results of what's been printed, and where stockpiles will exist in the world:

Author
ISBN
Total # printed
# in MI
# in NM
# w/ Lim
# in Kenya
# @ SPD
Marsupial
Derek White
0-9798080-4-3
300
101
13
7
10
60
Sleepingfish issue ZZZ
(Lit Journal)
0-9798080-5-0
300
90
4
7
5
40
Tortoise
James Lewelling
0-9798080-2-9
300
70
33
4
2
50
Bear Stories
J'Lyn Chapman
0-9798080-3-6
196
16
2
2
4
14
The Hour Sets
Michael C. Boyko
0-9798080-1-4
351
60
4
4
3
19
Vaast Bin; n ephemerisi
Michael Peters
0-9798080-0-6
351
50
38
4
2
39
Sleepingfish issue 0.9375
(Lit Journal)
0-9770723-9-8
300
10
2
3
3
19
Part of the World
Robert Lopez
0-9770723-8-X
500
75
13
4
2
38
The Revisionist
Miranda Mellis
0-9770723-7-1
651
75
15
5
3
32
Poste Restante
Derek White
0-9770723-6-3
300
70
19
3
5
11
Good, Brother
Peter Markus
0-9770723-5-5
400
45
6
4
2
35
Sleepingfish issue 0.875
(Lit Journal)
0-9770723-4-7
325
5
2
2
2
23
John Olson: The Night I Dropped Shakespeare on the Cat
John Olson
0-9770723-3-9
400
66
20
3
2
65
Trilce
James Wagner
0-9770723-2-0
351
50
8
2
8
38
ma(I)ze Tassel Retrazos
Carlos M. Luis & Derek White
0-9746053-9-5
161
8
2
2
1
30
Land of the Snow Men
Norman Lock
0-9770723-1-2
400
110
15
3
3
47
Sleepingfish issue 0.75
(Lit Journal)
0-9770723-0-4
275
10
6
3
2
The Singing Fish
Peter Markus
0-9746053-8-7
1100
75
4
2
2
55
P.S. At Least We Died Trying to Make You in the Backseat of a Taxidermist
Wendy Collin Sorin & Derek White
0-9746053-7-9
182
8
1
2
1
0
Sleepingfish issue 0.5
(Lit Journal)
0-9746053-6-0
160
12
1
0
0
0
Bodh[i] Circu[it]s / Alg[a]e[bra] D[ra[in]
Derek White
0-9746053-5-2
115
9
1
2
1
0
O, Vozque Pulp
Carlos M. Luis & Derek White
0-9746053-4-4
200
7
1
0
1
0
Sleepingfish issue zer0
(Lit Journal)
0-9746053-3-6
142
11
1
0
0
0
Spiritual Turkey Beggar Baste Mechanism & Trapezoidal Juggernaut
Sandy Baldwin & Derek White
0-9746053-2-8
83
6
1
0
0
0
23 Text Tiles
Derek White
0-9746053-1-X
99
7
1
0
0
0
Mining in the Black Hills
Derek White
0-9746053-0-1
83
7
1
0
0
0
3rd bed #1
lit mag
31
8
1
1
3rd bed #2
lit mag
26
9
1
1
3rd bed #3
lit mag
33
9
1
1
3rd bed #4
lit mag
0
0
0
0
3rd bed #5
lit mag
33
7
1
1
3rd bed #6
lit mag
42
6
1
1
3rd bed #7
lit mag
15
5
1
1
3rd bed #8
lit mag
40
5
1
1
3rd bed #9
lit mag
8
4
2
1
3rd bed #10
lit mag
34
7
2
1
3rd bed #11
lit mag
34
7
2
1
Motorman
David Ohle
0-9709428-2-6
300
90
1
170
the false sun recordings
James Wagner
0-9709428-1-8
36
Stories in the Worst Way
Gary Lutz
0-9709428-0-X

The # in the MI column are those going to brother Markus. The # in the NM column is the stockpile I'm taking to store in Albuquerque near the land we purchased. The # in the Lim column is a stash I'm bringing to Eugene Lim to sell at the Brooklyn Book Festival in September. Since I won't be here, he's kind enough to show the titles along with those from his new Ellipsis Press, that I'm just noticing now has an awesome new splash image of an octopus engaged in battle with a cuttlefish (if you don't get it, keep refreshing). Touchée. If you miss him in Brooklyn, then he'll also be at the Small Press Bookfair in midtown in December.

I just took some more books to the PO to send to SPD and sent another M-bag to Kenya with the above listed stash. I feel like these books are all fish that have been cooped up in a small stagnant holding pond in Manhattan and are now being set free to take residence in new holding tanks, waiting to find suitable homes. The majority of which are going to the pond (fruit cellar actually) in brother Markus' home. The man in brown has come so now they are officially in limbo, in the back of a truck, like cattle being taken to market. This is what it looked like when I looked out the window to see the brown truck pull off down our street.

74th street

For dinner on our 8th to last day we went to Hasaki. Hasaki was our favorite sushi place for many years when we first came to NYC, only recently surpassed by Takachi. Lately they've increased their prices because they know they're good. They still are.

Seaweed Salad at Hasaki

seaweed salad at Hasaki

Afterwards we went around the corner and up through the Japanese fast food restaurant that is the front for Angel's Share, our favorite bar. I've blogged before about the sublime nature of their ice, which is the key to their drinks. And the ambience is nice. Sue Rae met us there, our friend that I used to work with back in our early NYC days at Universal/pressplay/Napster.

angel share

 

Sue Rae and Jess at Angel Share

Our taxi driver on the way home was from Mali. He got very excited when Jess told him she just got back from Mali. Africans are such good-natured people, we are really looking forward to our move.

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Severing the Ball and Chain. July 12, 2008 (7 Days to go)

I don't know how people who blog on a daily basis do it. How to find the time to do what you do and document it at the same time, have your cake and eat it to. This is a 10-day snapshot of our existence in NYC, granted it's a bit biased as we are at the trailing end of our relationship with this city. That's really what it feels like is the end of a long souring relationship that was good while it lasted but now it's time to move on. D-I-V-O-R-C-E. And on top of it, how does one find the time to read? There's an article in today's NY Times about the symbolic closing of RENT, and how before RENT even got into it's heyday it was already dated. We first saw RENT in Tucson before we even came to NYC. And even when we came to NYC in 2000 it was hardly like the musical (not that I ever wanted to live like that). And now it's even further removed. If they complained about paying rent in RENT, they should try it now. We've paid our last month. All we need now is our deposit back.

On our 7th to last day we woke up on the floor, went running, went trolling for empty boxes and did odd errands like stocked up on mini-DVs and did our final clothes shopping. In the afternoon, trekked out to Fort Greene with two boxes of books. Dropped off a handful of books with brother Lopez and then walked over to Eugene Lim's place to leave some books for him to sell at the upcoming Brooklyn Book Festival (see above). Then we went to Bonita to grab some beers and guacamole and talk about poetry. I had some squash blossom quesadillas.

bonita

Then we went to a wedding reception in Park Slope. Brother Lopez got it into his head to be a wedding crasher and came with us but couldn't crash his way through the door of the Patio Lounge. It wasn't your typical wedding reception. The cake was a ball and chain.

ball and chain cake

That's the bride biting the chain. And here's the dapper groom cutting it:

groom cutting

We filled ourselves on bar food and free drinks and wedding cake. I couldn't resist eating one of the severed links of the cake (that for me represented NYC). It tasted like play-dough. Hung out with Jess's old cohorts from her DDCF days.

jess cassie lillian

When the coast was clear, Robert came back to join us. But by then there was no more open door and the DJ was spinning some god-awful tunes, so we split. Took one last look at Brooklyn and ducked into the subway at Atlantic Avenue. Here's what it look like catching our final train from Brooklyn (the dude in green is testament to what living in this city too long will do to you)...

Halfway back on the 2 train, Yannis happened to get on our car, much to Jess's embarrassment who was crashed out on my shoulder in typical fashion. NYC might seem big, but it's not really. Jess was still hungry when we got off at 72nd street, and since we didn't officially tick off a last meal for this 7th to last day, we thought it appropriate to get a hotdog at Gray's Papaya.

Gray's Papaya

... though technically, it was into the 6th to last day. And not that I'm a hot dog connoisseur, but I always thought Papaya King was the quintessential NYC early morning hot dog fix. Speaking of food, Jess is starting a new blog, You Are What You Eat, and just posted her first entry.

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Yakitori Drum Scrum. July 13, 2008 (6 Days to go)

Rather than run the loop I ran over to Riverside park, a hidden gem of NYC. I ran through Riverside and then up along the Hudson up to Harlem, than cut across 125th street and then back down to hook up with the top of Central Park. Did some push-ups, sit-ups, dips and pull-ups on an overhanging rock. We gave up our gym membership a month or two ago. Sick of going to the gym. Eight years of NYSC will make you feel like a hamster on a wheel.

Met Betsy (friends from Jess's DDCF days) and Evan for a picnic lunch in Central Park until a troupe of actors scared us off.

picnic in central park

Started going through our stuff more thoroughly, throwing out some more clothes and stuff. For dinner we met Keeno (from my Princeton Review days) and Jason at Yakitori Totto. Had all sorts of delectables... chicken tail, shishitos, chicken stuffed with shishitos, age-fried sardines dipped in green tea powder, cold noodles over ice, rice balls with salmon roe, skirt-steak skewers, shitake mushrooms, etc. washed down with salted-plum flavored shochu. Went a little nuts. This stuff might be hard to come by in Nairobi. For dessert had ice bananas with tapioca and mochi ice cream.

j and k at yakitoro totto

Afterward we walked over to the Apple Store. Keeno thought she might get the new iPhone, but people were lined up literally like cattle in these stalls, waiting. We went in and looked around anyway, making sure we were fully accessorized before we split. Resisted getting a Bose docking station, and even though the iPhone has hit Kenya, no desire to buy into that. Here's the view from inside the Apple store.

view from Apple Store

Jess and I walked through the park home. Walking through parks at night is probably not something we'll do much of in Nairobi. We gravitated towards some distant drumming and discovered this cool drum scrum going on, with drums, bells, whistles, shakers and these cool horn things. Not sure what it was, maybe Cuban, or Brazilian, but really all of it leads back to Africa. We came across a few of these huddled gatherings of drummers and dancers. It was kind of dark, but this is what it sounded like ...

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Working for the Next Day. July 14, 2008 (5 Days to go)

Took the subway today because it was raining. I won't miss the subway. Not so much the subway, but the people on the subway. I don't mind the subway as long as it's not habitual, but it's depressing if you ride it every day. But so is commuting in a car. So maybe it's just habitual things I've grown tired of. And crowds. Most New Yorkers seem depressed or crazy when they ride the subway. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine no one's there, but you can smell people and feel the protective force fields they generate. If I get a seat I like to look at people's feet. Or sometimes I'll fixate on a certain body part. Like today was all about about noses. I felt like I was in an episode of planet of the apes when I concentrated on people's noses, like everybody was apes wearing those groucho marx nose masks and trying to act distinguished.

I think my attraction to the residual glue behind billboard ads has to do with relief from advertisement. Everywhere you look in this city you are bombarded with ads... in the subway, at street level, when you're taking a piss, when you're surfing the net, wen you're eating, when you look up at the sky. To see graffiti or a blank wall is refreshing. I won't miss American advertisement, but I'll miss the fine and drying art of residual meme adhesion in this city. This is the most beautiful thing I saw today.

Residual Meme Adhesion

Today was my second to last day of work. I've been thinking so much about leaving NYC and moving to Kenya, that I haven't thought too much about what it will be like to not have to work. In my adult life, there was only one two-month stint back around 1998 where I was unemployed. And since I've been in NYC, after leaving Napster, I've only been unemployed for a week. Even in these non-working stints though, I was always worried about finding work, so in a sense it was worse than working. But now, not having to work or look for a job will be liberating to say the least, especially in a new country. I'll actually have time to do things like read, write, run a press and well, do nothing.

They threw me a pizza party at my work. Most people are gone and we already have a small staff, so it was pretty uneventful. It might be my last NYC pizza though. We ordered it from Totonno's. I don't think people like it when you're working somewhere and then you leave, especially if you move away somewhere exotic like Kenya. It kind of sucks for those left behind. I had a few meetings and I was still fixated on people's noses. It was hard to concentrate.

After work I met Jess and we went to a place in our neighborhood called Nonna.

Nonna

We'd never even been there and it wasn't on our list of places to tick off, so in a sense this place stands for the 10,000 restaurants in NYC that we never got a chance to go to.

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Take this Job and Shove it. July 15, 2008 (4 Days to go)

Woke up to Blake Butler's review of my new book, which was gratifying to say the least. Wasn't really sure if people would dig it, but at least Butler does which is all I care about—reading inspired reviews that inform me as to why I spent ten years writing it, because sometimes I wonder.

Ran around the park then walked to work—my last day of it! Walked past my favorite tree and rock that I already chronicled here.

rock          tree

That's one thing you can't deny about NYC is that there's seasons, and memories attached as such. Cruised past Carnegie.

Carnegie Hall

Then for old time sake, I subjected myself to Times Square. I've had a few jobs where I've had to walk through Times Square, no way around it. When I was working at Comedy Central I had to go once a week to the MTV building smack in the middle of Times Square. Otherwise, we avoid it like the plague. Though I used to kind of enjoy riding my bike through it in a sick way. Here's what that view looked like more or less.

Times Square

Though for a better feel of what it's like to ride your bike through the city (on crack anyway), watch this video. My hatred for Times Square goes beyond the throngs of tourists, it goes back again to the ugliness of advertising. Ads are ugly. Some ads are nice if you can block out the context of who's doing the advertising.

camel tourists

Or like when Lehman Brothers is flaunting their shit even though they are going down the tubes.

Lehman Brothers Building

Maybe it's just me and my perception of it, but nothing in Times Square resembles a cultural object. Or if it is, than it's a barometer of how sick our culture is. When the U.S. falls and we're all dead and gone, what will go into a museum? Occasionally there is an artifact or relic that is interesting to me, like this, but only because there's some mystery to it.

Cultural Object

While I was in my last hoorah tourist mindset, I walked by the Empire State building, which OK, is a cultural object.

Empire State Building

Settled in for my last day of work. Had my last cup of coffee and gave my mug that I got at some diner in New Mexico to our CEO. I took my name down from our staff page. Made some last updates. Here's a snapshot of the homepage at the time of my departure. We have 6 years and 168 days left to end poverty.

Millennium Promise

Ate my last free chirashi from my favorite place that I ate at probably twice a week, Ko Sushi. Believe me, the irony of getting free lunch at an organization that deals with poverty in Africa makes it hard to digest your food. But fuck it, I'll take free sushi whichever way. When you have lots of light and free sushi, what else could you need, right? An aeron chair maybe.

desk

Cleaned up my desk, but there wasn't much to clear out. I don't have a lot of swag around my desk for this very reason. I don't want to be that guy riding the subway with a cardboard box full of bowling trophies. I had nothing to bring home.

Said my final goodbyes and a few of my co-workers accompanied me to the Shake Shack for my last shake. I've indulged on their more complex "concrete" shakes, but I had to get a straight-up malted vanilla to settle the score. Verdict: Island Burger has the best shakes in the city, hands down.

I headed further south, walking all the way to the East Village. Walked down Avenue C, down where we lived before this. Then over to Avenue D and over to the East river where I used to run. I was thinking maybe I would see those waterfalls called art under the Williamsburg Bridge, but they were under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Walked under the bridge along Delancey, past where we lived before the East Village. Earlier in the day I had taken out 7Gs in travelers cheques for Kenya (thanks to Bush and his fucking patriotic act, we can't wire money) and this wasn't exactly the best neighborhood, especially around Pitt. But even the worst neighborhood in NYC is safe. I sat around the lower east side for a while just people watching. NYC is definitely the melting pot, every walk of life imaginable on this planet condensed into one neighborhood. Though there seems to be more and more sorority girls. And everything in general is cleaner and scrubbed of the graffiti. Took my final picture of the wall at Ludlow and Rivington that I've been taking a picture of with every issue of Sleepingfish. So you can witness for yourself the change. The city sees art and paints it black.

paint it black

Met Jess and her friend Tracy from Seattle at WD50. Her friend had an Amazon corporate card and insisted on expensing it, which is always nice. The waiter knocked a glass of ice water down Tracy's back and they eventually brought us a bottle of "new world" Syrah, which was actually quite yummy (Arnot-Roberts 2006). We had pretty much all the appetizers—corned duck, friend quail, grilled octopus and smoked eel—and I had "Wagyu flat iron, coffee gnocchi, coconut, cipollini, sylvetta." Wagyu is basically kobe beef that is not from the kobe prefecture. This is about as far from Africa as it gets (the hypocrisy of it all is not beyond me). Thanks Tracy (and Amazon)! I don't feel too bad knowing how much Amazon makes off me. The coolest part about WD50 is how the kitchen is basically in the restaurant.

WD50

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Bobber Bobbing before Plunging Under. July 16, 2008 (3 Days to go)

Woke up. Went running... Starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Or that Cheech and Chong skit on how he spent his summer vacation. I feel stuck in limbo. The days are long. On the equator there won't be long days, but there won't be short days. More of an even keel. I went down to the UPS store to ship off a box the size of a coffin. I went to the bank. I packed some boxes, etc.

After lunch I went downtown and met Peter Markus at Washington Square. Drank iced coffee in the shade. Chris Moore showed up. We hung out more, reminiscing about 80s hardcore. Chris' wife and kid showed up so we hung out in the playground. Normally I wouldn't have much tolerance for kids, but it was cool. Every 15 minutes I'd walk under the misters to cool off. I even went down the slide.

We mosied our way over to the Lower East Side. Met Robert Lopez and Joe Salvatore at Inoteca. Coincidentally, across the street from the Sleepingfish wall that was now painted black (see previous). Had some cheese and spumante. Jess showed up.

Mosied across the street to the Cakeshop. Pamela Ryder read. Then Peter Markus read from his new Bob, or Man on Boat. Here's what that was like.

Then Victoria Redel read. Afterwards we wanted to go to Schiller's, but it was noisy and crowded and there were nine of us by now. Jess's co-worker Raf had joined us, as had Justin Taylor and some other girls. We ended up at El Sombrero, quintessential in it's awfulness. I hope it's not my last memory of Mexican Food.

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Sunset over the Reservoir. July 17, 2008 (2 Days to go)

Seriously chomping at the bit. It's hard to even enjoy our last days. Went running, packed some boxes. Got our deposit back. Went down to midtown, past the publishing houses on Avenue of the Americas. I worked in the depths of the middle building for maybe two weeks when I first worked at BMG, otherwise they seemed impenetrable to me.

Aveune of the Americas

For lunch I met my old Napster cohorts Biswa, Kinneret, Lev and Boris. Got falafel over rice from my favorite street meat place, the Kwik Meal cart on 45th and 6th ave. First time I've been there when chef Rahman (who used to work at the Russian Tea Room) wasn't there. But his minions were there.

Kwik Meal

We got our food and went to Bryant Park, which was packed even though it was in the 90s. The city is just getting more and more crowded. Five years ago we used to just go chill in Bryant Park every day for lunch, now it's a zoo. It felt like no time had passed hanging out with my old co-workers. Went and hung out and reminisced at their new offices at 42nd and Madison near Grand Central, then met Jess at 52nd and 5th avenue, where she had been hanging out with her old cohorts.

Came home, packed some more boxes. I went through our files, and I also went through drafts of stories and my artwork determining what to bring to Kenya and what to put in storage. We had a rez at Lupas, but were burned out with going downtown to eat and drink so just grabbed a bite around here and watched the fireflies and the sunset over the reservoir in Central Park.

Reservoir

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More Songs About Buildings and Food. July 18, 2008 (1 Day to go)

Woke up and went running. Since it was my last run in Central Park I brought my video camera. I ran the alternate loop with the camera running the entire time. Pain in the ass and nowhere near steady. I used 52 minutes of tape, and I'd guess the alternate loop is about 7 miles. Then I condensed it down to 4:13. I set it to the music of "Cities" by Talking Heads because that song was in my head while I was running. "People sleep, sleep in the daytime. If they want to. I'm checking them out. I got it figured out. There's some good points and there's bad points. But it all works out. I'm a little freaked out. Find a city. Find myself a city to live in."

Finished packing in the heat. Packed our duffel bags for Kenya. The Spicer came by and we drank beer and she advised us on our packing technique. She's in the roll camp. I'm in the let object dictate form camp.

Now we're all set.  Now we're just waiting, killing time in the unbearable heat. Walked through the park to Nobu 57. Feasted on shishitos, fluke sashimi, shitake salad, rockshrimp tempura and of course blackened cod. Everything was pretty amazing. Doubtful we'll get such food in Nairobi. But we won't pay such prices.

shishitos

Oh yah, we were sitting somewhere near Sheeps' Meadow and a bird shat upon both Jess and I. We have been anointed for departure. Now we're just waiting. Ready to leave NYC, no regrets.

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Our Last Hoorah. July 19, 2008 (the Final Day)

Our last day in New York City! Had our going away party in central park. The first to show up were Marc and Les, around 10:30. They brought bagels and cream cheese and lox. Our last in NYC. Here's what it looked like around 11:00 or 12:00. It was already hot, in the 90s.

Central Park

Most people didn't start showing up til after noon. Eugene came, then Kate, then Sally and her dogs Ruby and Oscar, then all sorts of people, So Young and Marc even brought their new kitten. Thanks to everyone that braved the heat to see us off.

 

 

 

Michael Peters didn't make it for the shin dig, but came by to see us all the way from Albany. He has a reading tomorrow at Bowery Poetry Club that we'll unfortunately miss.

Jess and I had reservations at the Boathouse, but when we got there it was too hot so they didn't have the dining room open onto the water, and the only reason we were eating there was for the atmosphere, so we split. We ended up at Carino, a classic little mom and pop Italian place that we used to eat at when we first moved to NYC and lived in the Upper East Side back in 2000-2002.

carinos

Ate our last meal, drank our last glass of wine, and took our last taxi. Now it's hot and we're beat and ready as ever to get the hell out of dodge. Goodbye Gotham. All we have left to do is wake up and pick up our mini-van. We'll be reporting from the other side and everywhere in between...

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(c) 2008 Derek White

Five Senses Reviews