Thursday, March 29, 2007

Go away, Wally.

What on earth is going on? Have you ever in your entire life heard an advertisement for WAL-MART on the radio? I just did. I was relieved yesterday when Wal-Mart finally gave up on trying to get a store in NYC. So why are they wasting money by advertising on our airwaves?

For what it's worth, when I moved here I was happy to see that there was a K-Mart only a few blocks away from me. In Manhattan. I remember thinking, "Sweet! Now I'll be right near all the things I need to buy." I reveled in the ease of access to places like Best Buy and Home Depot, the giant superstores that would surely save me from having to trek miles up and down the island or to the outer boroughs to find what I needed.

It wasn't long, though, until these things started to seem out of place in Manhattan, as illustrated in this very scientific diagram that I found at Indexed.

New York is one of the few places in the world where you can still find stores that exist solely on focused, specific inventory (e.g. stores that only sell light bulbs). When Wal-Mart moves to town, they not only destroy those stores but they rob us of part of the charm that makes NYC so uniquely wonderful. Frankly, as much as I love Dallas, I do not want NYC to become Dallas. Most people here rage against the suburbanization and gentrification of NYC. Sites like WalMart-Free NYC and Reclaim Democracy are trying to spread the word about the problems surrounding corporate invasions.

(On a side note: When tourists come to the city and frequent places like TGIFridays or the Applebee's in Times Square, they're not only getting ripped off by doubled prices, but they're missing out on the city that gave birth to places like S'mac, a restaurant that primarily sells Mac-N-Cheese.)

Sure, there are bigger battles to fight, but I will do my part here: I will walk past the K-Mart. I will buy the things I need from the bodega or even at a K-Mart (or, more likely, a Target) that is not in NYC. I can't stand the thought of the Evil Empire taking over my city, and I'd rather pay a slightly higher price now than to see this city transformed forever into something common and ordinary.

(I will, however, continue to visit Starbucks on an all-too-frequent basis.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This city is a circus!

Last night, Jessye and I hiked up/down to 34th & Park to watch the annual March of the Elephants. Every year when the Barnum & Bailey Ringling Brothers Circus comes to town, they drop off the elephants in Queens, then march them through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel into Manhattan, down 34th Street, and into Madison Square Garden. It happens around 1:00 a.m., so I was surprised at how many people turned out and lined 34th Street.

Here we are waiting for the elephants:

The elephants in all their NY-loving glory:

The lead elephant in the March of the Elephants.

And the um... aftermath:

Usually there are lots of PETA protesters for this event, but I didn't see any. Perhaps they were further west on 34th. I don't often find myself on the same page as PETA, but after watching this short video, I definitely don't think I'll ever go to the circus again.

If you need to contact me...

...I might be busy watching this video over and over for the next three days. It's Ted Nugent in the studio with David Crowder. THE NUGE!!! (via Lee.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Love The Edge.

Yes, the U2 guitarist is awesome and perhaps one of the coolest individuals currently alive, but what I'm referring to is this:

If anyone wants to buy me one, I will personally bake you the first batch of brownies and mail them to you. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming: Photo-A-Day!

Took a long walk around SoHo, TriBeCa, and the West Village. Had a sample from Rice To Riches. Decent. Grabbed this shot of the Friends apartment. Sadly, there's no such place as Central Perk.

There was a terrible shooting in Greenwich Village recently and I inadvertently walked past the pizzeria where it took place.

Night of the Super Powers

Steph is faster than the human eye can see.

Zac can shoot flaming arrows out of his eyes...

...while kicking people in the face (who wished not to be photographed because of the destruction).

Tanner is invisible.

Robbie plays air-pool.

And Josh can tolerate me!

Saturday, there was Brunch at Barmarche. Good stuff! Then off to the Bubble Bath in Union Square.

(photo courtesy of Rick1600)

Amanda and I went for Pinkberry, the first stop on the FroYo Challenge. I will post results later.

We hit up some galleries in west Chelsea and then saw vibrant things on the street as well.
One of these things is not like the other.

Dinner at Boom. Great!

Sunday, I walked up to the Flatiron District for brunch, where I took this shot of my 3rd favorite structure of all time: The Flatiron Building.

Then we went to brunch at Sapa because that is the only meal that I could ever afford there. It was STELLAR.

Monday nights are UCB nights. Here we have 2/3 of "Human Giant."
I suppose that makes them "Human Slightly Taller Than Average Guy."

Zac loves UCB. Amanda is undecided. I am smelling something weird.

Brunch with Kristen at Popover Cafe. Quite delightful! (I swear, I actually do spend time working on music and the new book, but if I wrote about that, it would bore you) We went for a walk around the Jackie O. Reservoir in Central Park. Kristen is excited about her recent engagement (see previous post called "March Madness").

The train was really crowded today.

So was the grass at Union Square.

But I'm not complaining... it was SEVENTY-TWO DEGREES, which we all know is the most perfect temperature ever invented.

Thanks for reading! And now, don't you have some shopping to do?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Not Guilty

Please pray:

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March Madness

It's been a while since I've posted my Photo-A-Day shots, so there are quite a few here.

So I'm not the only one who calls Starbucks "home."

Went to brunch with Kristen for her last day of her 20's. We ate at Danal (my favorite, which she also loves), then I bought her a fruit tart at Veniero's and we crammed a candle in it while celebrating at a little park in the East Village. Kristen did not know it, but I was keeping a VERY BIG SECRET from her. (Ooh, foreshadowing!!)

Wednesday found me gathering with friends in Central Park... perhaps celebrating the 70-degree weather...

Or perhaps.... we were planning something very big...

...a surprise for Kristen's 30th birthday, orchestrated by her boyfriend Seth! Yes, THE SECRET!

And now they're engaged! Whee!

After 2 hours of sleep, I awoke at 4:00 a.m. to catch my flight to Houston, then make my 5-hour drive to Dallas, then play a show, then drive another hour. Here's the lovely Dallas sky. I got to look at it for a minute or two. Exhausted.

Played / spoke at Dallas Christian College this morning. Broke 3 guitar strings. Saved by the Zaq (he loaned me his guitar and changed my strings intermittently). I love those DCC peeps. Spent the afternoon booking and writing at Starbucks, then went to Stephanie's St. Patrick's Day party. Luke brought the meat.

I spent the night at Stine's, then we went to brunch at Breadwinners. WIN!

On St. Patty's afternoon, I trekked to a place called Trophy Club, TX, for a show at my friends' church (Matt & Kyla!). Matt was excited to show me that the Guys' Bathroom had a Nintendo. Curtis and Harlan demonstrate.

Why I Hate Flying - Exhibit A: 5-hr drive to Houston, 9 hrs of airline insanity (grounded planes), 2 hrs waiting for luggage, 1 hr to pick up my car, 1 hr to drive back to NYC, and a partridge in a pear tree. For those keeping score, that's 18 hrs of travel. Janice graciously waited while I scoured EWR for my bags in this mess. At that point, the clock said 2:00 a.m., so it was officially 03.19.07. Oh well. (Sleep, finally, at 6:00 a.m.)

After yesterday's travel trouble, I spent the day staring at this through my eyelids.

Went to hear Anne Lamott read from her new book, Grace (Eventually), at the Union Square B&N. Talked with her a bit and gave her a copy of my book. This is the crowd -- boring, but I couldn't get a decent shot of her.

Went to the SoHo Apple Store for a forum on NYC Photoblogging, sponsored by Gothamist (Jake Dobkin is on the left). The highlight was The Sartorialist (at right). He's dreamy.

Annnnd.... crash.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Photo Contest Winners (new)!

So... the photo contest was incredible. I'm definitely going to do something like that again in the future, so stay tuned!

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the autographed copy of my new book and CD combo Here's To Hindsight is:
Jennifer Nicole Scott - for her lovely photo of Joel Osteen and a $20 bill, both bearing googly eyes.

In a last-minute surprise, I've also decided to award an HONORABLE MENTION prize of an autographed CD to:
Teege05 - for the photo that looks like a character from Sesame Street (somebody help me out -- which one?).

The two of you should contact me through Flickr (so that I know it's really you) and tell me where I should mail your prizes! Thanks to everyone who participated. There'll be more opportunities to win coming up soon. I am enjoying this. :) `

Monday, March 12, 2007

Oh, Kottke... you make me laugh

Via Kottke:

A suggested entry for New York City for Conservapedia, a Wikipedia without the liberal bias. "The city's population is often reported by the mainstream media to be as high as 8 million -- but a rigorous count of actual Americans, using the methods of Adjusted Freedom Demography pioneered by Smorgensen in the Patriot Census of 2005 (i.e., excluding immigrants, Jews, ivory-tower communists, and nonrepresentational artists, and counting only three-fifths of descendants of African slaves, as originally intended by the Framers), reveals that New York City's population of legitimate Americans is actually only 312."


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Every once in a while, I just want to have a "girls weekend," so I tried to pull that off, and it was great fun! Here are some shots from the weekend, as well as my Thursday shot.

Thursday I snagged one of the good seats (read: view, outlet) in my favorite Starbucks and worked for most of the day. Despite the fact that the baristas there see 15,000 people per day, I'm happy that a handful of them know me by name. (NYC)

On Friday, I hit up a writing class at Barnes & Noble. 'Twas refreshing. Afterward, when talking with the teacher, the administrator interrupted and said, "Is your book the one that came out with the CD?" I was so happy! Yes! Yes, that is me! Whee! Afterward, I met up with friends and headed to Andy's show at the Cutting Room, which Mr. Big owns, by the way.

We had fun at the show. (NYC)

Saturday is always exciting because it's the first real brunch day. I had brunch with Kristen at Jacques, a mediocre French restaurant in SoHo. Bad sign: It was empty when we got there, except for the waitstaff, who all stood around staring at us while we ate. Awkward. But Kristen always knows how to make everything fun.

Then we walked down to Elizabeth Street Gallery.

The space.

Old shooting gallery from a carnival.

Kristen with a coldhearted woman. Er... man.

We shopped on the street in SoHo and NoLIta a little. I had plans to meet up with Amanda, so I headed uptown to Union Square. Then, without even trying, we ran into Zac and August, who are shopping for an apartment in my neighborhood. It's about time! Most of my friends are split between the Upper West Side and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and I don't like having to travel 45 minutes to see them, so I pray they find something nearby.

Here, August displays two of my street finds: a vintage ring and necklace. They were super cheap! Also, based on a discussion we had, I'm taking a vote: what do you think of August's sweater? Leave your answer in the comments. (NYC)

Amanda and I hit up the "I Love New York" exhibit at 33 Bond. Meh.

Then I walked over to the West Village to meet up with Jessye for dinner at Tartine. We ate outside, even though we had to wear our coats and hats.

All those people are standing in line to get in; but because of Jessye's suggestion that we sit outside, we got to skip the line! Good call, Jessye!

We were talking about places for dessert and our conversation went something like this...

Me: What's that place with the cheesecake?
Jessye: Um... you're going to have to narrow that down. This is New York.
Me: It's something that has a New York type of name. Like... Rockefeller or Knickerbocker.
Jessye: Like... Carnegie?
Me: YES! Carnegie Deli!

Jessye is just good. So we went up to Carnegie Deli. Passed these slabs of meat on the way. Ewww.

While we were eating, this woman's daughter's sandwiched arrived. Holy monkey. It looks like they laid two of those slabs of meat onto some bread.

Since I was feeling sick and was entirely disgusted by the slice of cheesecake that I ate, I decided to walk the 3 miles home. It started to rain, but I didn't mind... snapped this picture in Bryant Park around the time the sprinkling began. This city KNOCKS MY SOCKS OFF.

Today was Spring Forward, so I slept in. We had brunch plans, but no one felt like getting up. After a series of text messages, we called it off. Later, I went for a walk through the village and saw this pretty blue door. I want a shirt in this color, if anyone knows where to find one. (NYC)

Here's my State of the Street Address, brought to you from the Meatpacking District: BAD.

After that, I caught the train to church. Next week, we're going to start having 5 services. They've been having to turn away roughly 100 people at the 7pm service, because we're meeting fire code at nearly 1,000 per service. All that, even after planting several (19?) other churches in the city. That makes me very happy for the people of New York City... I hope they feel the Love.

Action packed. And now, my bed is calling.