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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Some friends invited Amber to a Hanson concert (and she went), and Alan and I met up in the east village for a show Wednesday. We went to Webster Hall to see Frightened Rabbit. Last year, they hooked us both at Pitchfork in Chicago. The show was highly anticipated, and I won’t say they disappointed us. One of the openers blew me away. Maps & Atlases is some sort of progessive indie rock band. Call them what you will, they are worth a gander. So take one if you’re so inclined.

Cheers.

My wife and I watched “You’ve Got Mail” a couple of nights ago. Beyond giving me an odd sense of nostalgia for the lost days of AOL (dare I say, a simpler time?), the movie almost made me wish I had found us a place on the Upper West Side. The film casts a warm, amber hue on that side of town, and I have found myself gazing at those apparently greener pastures, just across the park and out of view. We live in the Upper East Side, in a beautiful neighborhood called Lenox Hill. East 76th at 2nd Avenue, to be precise.

Clearly I’m a sucker for movies, and I know that every neighborhood has its ups and downs. So rather than wish our life was like a mid-nineties dramedy, I have decided to look for the some more “ups” on our uptown digs. 

1. The people. Every time I walk to and from the subway, I am surrounded by people that I like. Many of them are old, most are professional, they dress well (but not too well), and they make eye contact with you. People are courteous on the train, and they are not in a hurry. The culture up here is very different from Brooklyn, and it is even distinct from residents downtown.

2. No tourists. I had never visited this neighborhood before I came to preview the apartment. As far as I can see, few people make it up here who don’t have a destination in mind. Given the lack of touristy destinations, we seem to end up with a feeling of community that is uninterrupted by the influx of visitors to the city this spring.

3. Convenience. Everything we need is within walking distance of our apartment. There is a fantastic hardware and houseware store on the corner called Rainbow. Restaurants and cafes line the avenues on either side of us. A park on the East River is only two avenues away, and Central Park is only four.  Bed Bath & Beyond has a huge store ten blocks south of us, and that is particularly handy when you have lots of gift cards from there.

4. Atmosphere. UES is clean, relatively quiet and relaxed. We both feel comfortable walking there at night. I’ll admit I was uncomfortable at times while living in Crown Heights.  

As I think of more, I will post them. Look for some pictures of our neighborhood soon, too.
I hope you are having a wonderful day.

Any time you go to a new place, it is a good idea to make a note of municipal law. Things might be very different where you are going, and breaking the rules often has unexpected consequences. In New York City, there are a few that I have come across that would have been helpful to know before I got here. First, if you are driving here, don’t talk on your cell phone. It’s illegal, and they will pull you over for it. When you are driving, don’t honk your horn, either. It’s illegal, and you will be fined up to $350. Always yield to pedestrians when you are turning. I know it seems like a nobrainer, but they have right of way and will excercise said right to their deaths. So what do you do when you need to park in New York? That’s a question I can’t answer completely; we got a $125 ticket for parking our moving truck in a way I thought was legal. Street parking is supposedly free unless there is a meter, in which case you must strictly adhere to the signs posted in that zone. A quarter should get you 5 or 10 minutes (the meters only take quarters), and the machines often only last for 30 minutes. Look for the large machines that handle an entire block – here you can pay for an extended period of time. Something tricky to look out for is fire hydrants. They are all over the place and often difficult to spot, but parking in front of one is worth actively avoiding. Beware the City of New York. They were allegedly placing dummy hydrants along fifth avenue for a while to boost revenue. Check out these links if you need more information:

http://www.newyorkparkingticket.com/
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/park_tickets_violations.shtml

There is no shortage of parking garages, especially in our neighborhood, so if your vehicle will clear the height of the garage entrance, consider that. When it’s time to move in, though, just find a good spot in the middle of traffic, right in front of your building. It may be illegal, too, but law enforcement will turn a blind eye as long as people can get around you. In  my experience, they will allow this to go on for at least 5 hours. Just remember to keep someone with the truck at all times. My advice is to hire movers.

Oh, and don’t chew gum in Thailand.

My friend Dave just sent me a message. “Hmm…to judge a town on its Thai food or not?”

My answer is ABSOLUTELY! If a town doesn’t have good Thai, it’s probably not worth living there. Honestly think about it and tell me if you can disagree. Gainesville has outstanding Thai food. New York obviously does, too. I will never forget the day we got to Cafetasia in the East Village to find out that their daily special of $5 pad thai and $2 beer was gone.

If you think in terms of Thai, it makes all of the other complicated criteria that we base our decisions on seem trivial. If nothing else, you know you can cope with the less-than-ideal attributes of your city over some delicious dumplings. Well played, Dave. Well played.

When I heard The National was working on another album, I imagined them crouched over a pile of vintage guitars and organs, armed with a wall of tube amps and analog recording gear, mumbling into antique ribbon microphones (standard hipster studio posture, I know). After listening to it, I feel like that is exactly what happened – and it is awesome. Add a few orchestrations, a “spash” of brass, and you have the tasteful and enjoyable “High Violet,” streaming now on NYT.com. Give it a try.

Having a distinguishable sound these days is tough. In a wash of bands that are trying to sound the same, breaking through the droning of mediocre buzz bands is difficult both for artists and for music fans. The National is a group of artists like no other recording and performing right now. It’s not because they are innovative (although they are – they were hip long before it was cool to be that way), and it’s not because there aren’t people trying to sound just like them. It’s a tasteful mix of husky vocals and an outstanding band that clearly listens to its own music. I should not enjoy listening to this guy grumble about social structures and aingst-ridden love tales, but I do. And if I think hard enough, I realize that the National’s last three albums have all sounded similar. Normally decried by people who are looking for constant musical “innovation,” it comforts me to hear a band developing its sound over time and staying true to its roots as it evolves. The National seems to have this figured out, and I am very excited to pick this album up when it comes out. In the meantime, I will listen to it a few more times while I work. Let me know what you think of it.

My friends, it has been 20 days since my last post. Part of me is disappointed – I feel like we were on a roll, and I have been getting some great feedback from you. However, the much larger (and correct) part of me knows that blogging had to move down on my list of priorities. As a recap, this is some of what has happened in the last three weeks:

1. Amber and I got married.
2. Amber and I went on a fantastic honeymoon.
3. Amber and I moved to New York City.
4. I went back to work. 

Now you might notice a trend here, or at least I could pose an elementary standardized test-style question like “which of these sentences does not go with the others” and you would probably get it right. As my friends and I would say, “We’re back.” And I am very excited to be able to say “we” with confidence now.

This blog is titled “Moving to New York.” I hinted at retiring it before, and I think that time is near, but for now there is plenty left to tell about the process. Now it simply involves another perspective, and I will do my best to integrate Amber’s take on moving to New York City into my writing. It will take us a while to get on our feet here, and until then I must leave you with fewer words than I had intended to provide. More to come very soon.

Cheers!
Coming soon:
1. Should you rent a walk up?
2. UES (the Upper East Side)
3. Justin Timberlake’s BBQ restaurant
4. Moving truck + Manhattan = Failure
5. Barriers to Renting in Manhattan (and what you need to get it done)
6. Your questions

In the words of one of my favorite contemporary actors: “I know it doesn’t feel like it, but we’re makin’ progress.” Sometimes a week will go by and I feel like nothing has been accomplished. I’m sure you know the feeling. This week has been good despite feeling at times like I’m in a tailspin. This was the last full week before the wedding, and I can barely believe it. There is plenty left to do, but I know we will get it done.

The church is nearly completed, and as I understand it the sanctuary will be ready for us. The only thing missing is chairs, but we took care of that. So, just a few more days and wedding tunnel vision will have set in completely. I don’t expect to remember much of the events that lead up to it, but I want to. Too many times I gear up for something and invest nearly all of my energy in it, only to wake up afterwards struggling to remember details. This time, I want the experience to last, and I want it to be special for everyone dear to me.

On a completely unrelated note, Alan, Robin, Scott and I went to see The Temper Trap last night at Webster Hall. It was good, but the show was expensive and they only played for 40 minutes. We left confused, broke and dizzy from the noise, only to buy a six pack from a corner store and take it to the roof. Good memories. I won’t bother providing a link for the band. They might get big, though.

If you’re bored in Gainesville this week call me – I’m sure I can find a job for you.

Warmly,
Chris