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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Monthly Archives: May 2010

This electrorock duo creates this magic in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Really good stuff – a slight deviation from LP3, but with some added richness and tonal quality. It’s streaming on NPR this month.Check it out and let me know what you think.

Ratatat LP4 Streaming on


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This is a very interesting site. From an ecommerce perspective, I am intrigued. Most of the stuff they sell is way too cool for me to even look at. At least I can browse this stuff in the privacy and security of my own home. I don’t know if I can take any more of the SoHo condescension.

Take a look, and if you want to join, allow me to refer you:


It is a well-accepted practice to save money every month by living above the third floor in a building with no elevator. How much money can you save by renting a walk-up? In our building, a nearly identical apartment one floor below our fifth-floor one bedroom was almost $400 more a month. So it’s worth it. But what are the downsides? Beyond the obvious hassle of walking up and down 4 flights of stairs every day, there are some things I have noticed that no one told me before I moved here.

First, the temperature. We get all of the heat from the apartments below us, no matter the season. That will probably come in handy in the winter. In the rapidly approaching summer, though? I can only imagine how hard our air conditioners will have to work to keep us alive at night. And I cringe at the thought of people who either lack an air conditioner or the finances to run it.

Another downside is that you are often precluded from delivery services that others take for granted. Our laundry service will not deliver to the fifth floor. And they won’t even let you pay them extra like IKEA. I have no problem carrying my own laundry up the stairs. After all, I didn’t have to actually do the laundry. But the option would be nice. Restaurants and grocers are more than willing to deliver to us, which is great. I just tip them extra and give them a commiserating look when they deliver our things, panting and loathing our existence.

Moving up all those flights of stairs is not to be underestimated. You will suffer. Your friends will suffer. My advice: pay someone to suffer for you. It might save your relationships. An old friend helped our neighbor Kurt move in 16 years ago; they haven’t spoken since. That’s a long time to hold a grudge, and I can’t say I blame the guy. Hire movers, and make sure you packed well.

Should you rent a walk-up? If you’re able to walk, absolutely. All in all, we love our place. All of the downsides of uptown are worth it.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to do what I can. Just leave a comment here.

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I promise I am not completely obsessed with food. Tamara recently asked me about a few places a friend recommended in the city. On the list was Magnolia Bakery, which is widely considered the best cupcake baker in New York. I think this is both an overstatement and an oversight of one unassuming bakery in the east village.

Butter Lane Cupcakes

The name just sounds delicious, and the cupcakes truly are. Get a shot of frosting if you don’t like to eat cake. They make smaller treats than most of the famous bakeries, but in doing so they have achieved the perfect density and richness. Their frosting is unbelievable, too. My top pick is a banana cupcake with lemon frosting. If you want to give them a shot, today is your day. Go to and buy the coupon they are advertising today. 6 cupcakes for $8 is a steal.

For those still convinced that Magnolia is better, I can’t disagree. Personally, I think their banana pudding is better than their baked goods. Happy Tuesday!

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Today I stopped by Pick a Bagel on 2nd ave and overheard someone order an egg sandwich on a flat poppy bagel. Intrigued, I ordered mine flat as well, only I get mine toasted with butter. The result? A breakfast revolution. The bottom cut of the bagel has always been my favorite. Now, both sides are like the crunchier bottom half, and they are both bigger. I’m not sure if everyone serves flat bagels and I am only now discovering them, but I plan to look in to it.

Can it be found? And how?

Yes. you might say it’s hard to find. A quick search will yield plenty of alleged points of sale. Most are sweat tea counterfeits. However, those who diligently seek it are rewarded. It would be unfair not to mention Daisy May’s BBQ first. My friend Devin wanted to check this place out when he came to visit last winter. Deep into what I thought was Chelsea, on 11th avenue somewhere in the 40s, we traversed the broadening spaces between each avenue, one after the other. We arrived. Devin’s beef rib was enormous, delicious, and probably worth writing about. So I will write about their tea instead. It comes in a mason jar (they appear to be mass-produced for a day’s supply), and it is sickening sweet and minty, just the way I like mine.  Next.

I ate at Wendy’s by the Empire State Building for lunch today (2.99 value meals? At least once a week), and I perused the beverage selection as  I waited in line. Behold, a vat of brewed sweet tea, poised next to the NYC standard unsweet tea. Incredulous, in the Shakespearean sense. I pursued it. I am drinking it now as I type, and it is every bit as delicious as it was in South Carolina and Florida. I have no idea if all of the locations in New York serve it, but anyone looking for the real thing is sure to find it at 5th Avenue and 34th.

Where else can you get good sweet tea in New York City?

My wife starts working as an assistant teacher today. After an  interview late last week she was asked to return yesterday for a second one. I think my friend from work put it well:

“At a second interview,
the job is yours to lose.”

In my experience, that has always been true. She got it, and I am so proud of her. We have been praying for an opportunity like this – one where she can interact with children of many different ages and gain invaluable teaching experience, rather than focusing on one child’s needs as a nanny. The learning center is in our neighborhood, too.

You can visit them online at