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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pounding pavement...

Every once in a while, despite lack of sleep and despite working a long day, I still get the energy to do crazy things. Like:

After work, I strolled down 15th Street from the Chelsea Market to Union Square where I was planning on meeting Karishma. We've been trying to hang out as much as possible because, out of some unfortunate circumstances she's had to drop out of school and, because of her visa, she has less than 15 days to leave the country for India. It makes me sad but I'm sure she's going to make it back at some point. It's all very complicated and I won't go into it. But anyway, she was running behind so I made a few phone calls to kill time, sat for a bit and then, on a whim, decided to walk up to Madison Square Park, on 23rd Street. Once I arrived, I realized I was in the perfect spot because Karishma had never eaten at Shake Shack, and since the name of the game has been doing things that Karishma has yet to do after living here for a year, I figured I would just wait there. So she came and met me and we stood in the mile long line for the Shake Shack which appears to never move because it's always the same length. But this is just a testament to the fact that Shake Shack is awesome. These are the best tasting fast food burgers I have had, (and you will ever have). They almost melt in your mouth.

While sitting and digesting our food we started brainstorming what to do with the remainder of a very young evening. Some of her friends from her brief period as an NYU student were out and about, one's band had a show but we ultimately opted to take a really long walk. Because that's what you do on a night like tonight in Manhattan when you don't want to spend too much money. (Who wants to pay $7 a beer at some random bar anyway?) So, the path we decided on was Broadway from Madison Square Park all the way to Chinatown.

We stopped in Union Square on the way to check out several different bands, one a budding pop star named Chloe Temtchine, who was interviewed recently by my TV station. She recently came up with a genius marketing idea, to play out of the back of a truck that would randomly show up in different parts of the city and to promote the events on her website. So she likes to come to Union Square and perform on the back of her truck with her other guitar player. I wasn't terribly impressed by the music until she started to beat box then sing in Spanish. Another group we saw a few feet away consisted of a drummer, bassist and two saxophonists jamming out (sounded like Morphine), and yet another a group of guys with acoustic guitars, an electric bass and a box drum singing strange ska influenced songs in German and subsequently covering a Beatles song, A Little Help From My Friends. The last guys were the best of all, they had a vigorous stage presence that manifested in frenetic dancing and walking around the space in which they were performing, all the while harmonizing their raspy vocals. They were pretty tight and really amusing.

Contented, we continued on down Broadway past NYU and into Soho, stopping briefly at UNIQLO, where I fell in love with an article of clothing for the first time (weird). $100 pea coat. It'll be getting cold soon. Walking further we watched the architecture and the demographic change and drank in the fall air which is quite intoxicating right now...or is that the urine smell wafting up out of the subway vents?

Either way, the smell in Chinatown itself was a force to be reckoned with but that didn't stop us from stumbling into another hole in the wall Chinese restaurant once we got there that served five fried dumplings for $1.00. I'm not even kidding. On the way we spotted my favorite building on Eldrige Street, which I see out the window of the train from the Manhattan bridge every day on the way into Manhattan.

View Larger Map

We decided not to eat in the dumpling restaurant, mainly because it was so small. So, we carried our snack to Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Chrystie Street, sat on a park bench and chowed down while watching some kids play football in the park and talking about how adventures like this can only be had in a big city like this. All total we walked about 5 miles. I went to www.mapmyrun.com and mapped out the walk. I'm that geeky.

But all that said, I love this city. And it breaks my heart that my best friend has to leave it, even if for a little bit. I know she'll be back though. We dreamers can't be held down. Good night everybody.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Composing in spurts instead of all at once...

I did manage to get a day off in the midst of all that work the past few weeks. Until yesterday, I hadn't had a real day off from every job including the film shoots since the day I got back from Boston. I guess that's what you gotta do sometimes. I knew I wouldn't burn out. So what's new since I last blogged in any sort of detail? Well, I've worked at all three of the paying jobs at least once, helped with the 16mm film shoot in Sunset Park (Saturday we were in Bay Ridge), drunk way more coffee and tea than I usually do, took one hellacious cab ride home from NY 1 the day of the primary election (I swear it took us an hour and fifteen minutes...stupid traffic), helped out with a rather ingenious workaround when our servers crashed at NY 1, helped out with the recovery from said crash, which entailed the staff of the media department re-digitizing all of the commercials and promos that had been corrupted, won my latest poker game, and tried my first bottle of the latest batch of homebrew, which was a surprising success. Good thing I have about 36 more bottles left. Time to brew more.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I've just about wrapped up the music for George's short now. I don't think anything remains but to give them audio files for each track so they can mix with the sound designer.

Meanwhile, I have to be at work this afternoon at NY 1 so I'm just sitting around the house getting things ready for that. Tomorrow and Wednesday, I work at both Technicolor and NY 1, one right after the other. This time it's a morning screening at Technicolor and then I walk up a few blocks to Chelsea for a 1:30 shift at NY 1. Cool how that works out.

Pretty soon, I'm going to start thinking about what music gets worked on next. I may just not think about it and when I get that first day where I can work on my own music, I might just dive into whatever I feel like doing on that day, whatever it might be. Half of me wants to splurge on the upgrade to Sibelius 6 before I get started on anymore notated music but at the same time, I shouldn't let software dictate what I do. I have the tools right now to get to work on the seven or so minimalist pieces that are floating around in various stages of un-completion, and the string quartet as well. I've just been...I'll go ahead and say it: lazy.

Back on this topic again, of whether or not it's laziness to think that there's no point in starting to work on something if you only have an hour or so to devote to it. I'm beginning to think the way to go is really to just dive in, no matter how little time you have to work. In the past few weeks while working overtime at my day jobs, I was still able to wrap up the score to George's picture, with ease, in fact. Why? Because I actually took those tiny time slots and did something with them, without concern for finishing everything I had to do in one sitting. It's all about phases when composing. Because it's folly to think you can finish everything in one sitting, no matter how much time you have to devote...at some point you're going to have to at least get up and go to the bathroom or eat something.

Anyway, I find it helpful even to just jot down notes about what I think I can accomplish at the beginning of each session. That way, even if I accomplish very little, I can at least have a minor sense of accomplishment by ticking things off of a to do list, and hence grant myself the momentum to come back refreshed the next time I sit down to compose.

This is key info that I wish I had had earlier in my career. I always had this mental block in my head at the beginning (say, post undergrad) that having a full time job would make it near impossible for me to compose, or at least to compose for a living or even as a side career. This is a fallacy, as I have proved to myself over the past year or so since graduate school. It's too easy to get overwhelmed by the size of your ideas and to succumb to the line of thinking that composing the way you want to compose is going to take you so much time. Such thinking is exactly what can trap you into thinking that there's no point in sitting down to work unless you have a full day of uninterrupted composing.

Sometimes, the opportunities to get up and walk away occasionally and go do something else are the best thing that can happen to your composing. I quite frequently walk away from my work, humming what I've just written and before I know it, I come up with another part to whatever it is, and before I know it I'm scrawling in a notebook so I don't forget it. Something that might never have happened if I remained in front of the computer, or the piano even.

So, that having been said, here's to composing something, anything, of my own as soon as we've wrapped this score.

And beyond that I have another endeavor I'm working on that I won't say too much about just yet.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blurb #13

I was going to blog this morning but, it's still very busy and I've run out of time. So, a quick one. Things are moving a long with the score for George's short, "Peeper: A sort of Love Story." I have basically gotten the okay on each different cue that I'm writing so now, it's on to polishing them, putting a shine on them, as it were. On top of that, I have the film shoot this weekend which has thankfully been reduced to just Saturday afternoon, so in the midst of my 17 day stretch that I was casually bragging about, I get a day off, thus breaking up the grind and making it only a 12 day stretch. I work a few more days next week as well but I have Thursday off, thank god. I don't want to say too much but, I've got a ton of hours in place for next month what with the launch of our new operating system, and my boss is even trying to pull some strings to either get me more hours or a full time slot. I'll take anything in between those two. I've gotta go get a haircut now. More later.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trying no to burn out, but having a blast...

The NY 1 music, all the stings and bumps, jazzy underlays and poppy promos, are buzzing through my head as I walk home from an extremely hectic shift. One of several in a row due to a huge server crash that left us all sort of picking up the pieces in media. Granted, I broke up the days with work at CNN and work on a film shoot that, lucky for me, wound up being located in Sunset Park (This means I've worked all four of my freelance jobs, both paid and unpaid, this month). I had a fun time this weekend despite being exhausted and despite it slowly dawning on me that I'm smack dab in the middle of 17 straight days of work, not always at the same job. I have 9 days left now.

The weekend's film shoot was fun for a variety of reasons. I got to work slate so the bulk of my work meant just keeping track of which take we were on and giving a hand with continuity issues whenever I spotted them, occasionally wrangling the kids involved with the shoot and bringing breakfast food both days (at one point I even had to go looking for an open 99 cent store that sold gray socks because our principal actor had forgotten to wear the same socks on day 2). And yes, I said kids. That was half the amusement. There was a flock of kids who came with parents, some of them with release forms already signed, and then there was a bunch of the neighborhood kids who would have been there anyway playing softball that day. So it was kind of neat getting to see and sort of interact with a cross section of the demographic in this neighborhood because, up until now, no one has really ever spoken to me in the neighborhood.

The second day was much better for weather, in fact, it was a perfect day to be outdoors, such that I didn't mind being on my feet for most of the day. Our shoot the first day had consisted of standing in the occasional drizzle, filming the kids playing softball and grabbing a few lines for the narrative here and there. The second day, we were filming a scene with the main character, (a boy named Mustafa, who was playing an Muslim child who was struggling to fit in with boys his age while having to wear the traditional attire), where he meets a young girl playing hop scotch and she tries to teach him the game. We spent the better part of the day trying to get lines of them meeting and interacting on two different days. The principal female character had her mom and older sister hanging out with us most of the time helping out as well, saying lines from off camera or shading the camera lens when the sunlight changed direction. The older sister was neat to talk to because she had been in several films as an extra, one of which (a film called the Babysitters), she said a line and managed to get the director to make her a principal and pay her even more for the day. Funny, because that can always go one of two ways; either you get made a principal and get paid more if the director takes to your improvisation, or he/she could kick you off the set. The whole experience of seeing these kids, on both days, interact with the film crew and show an interest in what we were doing made me almost wish that I had heard ahead of time about the movie Patch Adams shooting in Chapel Hill, NC when I was in high school. I had friends then who got into that one. I might have tried out to be an extra had I realized how cool it would have been.

All this time getting to chat with cool people and watch the park visitors come and go all day, I got to stand out in the beautiful weather watching the sun on the bay and the sailboats going by, for eight hours, occasionally clapping the slate and then erasing and jotting the next take on the board. It would have been spectacular, admittedly, if I had been paid as well but, in a way, I was paid. These film shoots with Joel are a great opportunity for networking and each time, I meet more people that I can connect with, not only for potential composing jobs but for other potential film and TV work. The cinematographer yesterday works at another production house that often needs projectionists.

So I certainly didn't waste my weekend, even if I didn't get much sleep and I'm half worried about burning out from all this work. At least the bills will get paid and maybe I'll put some money away. Let's hope. For now, I'll spend all day tomorrow finishing writing and recording the music for George's film and trying to wrap that up. Tomorrow night I go in to NY 1 to help with the primary debate coverage. City politics, oh boy. Good night all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Boston...

Now, where did I leave off. Oh yeah, Saturday night, after watching a bunch of ridiculous you tube vides we started to look over guide books for Boston. My friends hadn't seen much since they'd been there so they were up for just about anything. Taking into account some things we had missed the day before that we wanted to do, I made an itinerary for the next day that included the Mary Baker Eddy library and surrounding environs, the start of the Freedom trail, Quincy Market and whatever else we could fit in along the way.

The Mary Eddy Baker library was okay. The building and the surrounding plaza were pretty impressive but we weren't terribly interested in seeing the paid exhibits (except maybe the mapparium but I think you had to pay for everything to see the one thing...incidentally, this is an indicator of how cheap [or broke, depending on how you look at it] we are that we couldn't spring 6 bucks to see the mapparium and then ditch). Ditch we did, just like we did the Harvard Yard tour, so that we could move on to other things. Instead of grabbing the Green Line for Park Street we opted to walk up Huntington Avenue and through the Back Bay area until we reached the start of the Freedom trail near the Boston Common. Debating following closely behind a tour group or two, we grabbed some roasted nuts on the common and started down the Freedom trail.

I tried to keep straight all of the old buildings and captioned the photos as best as I could.

Boston Day 2

We breezed through Fanueil Hall and reached the Quincy Market where we waded through the absolute cluster of people until we decided on a place for lunch. Most of the restaurants throughout the place seemed fast foodish but a few seafood places looked good so we chose one that had a lobster bisque and New England clam chowder, grabbed our food and then pushed through the crowd to the outside. We ended up eating in a park close by that is situated right above where they dug the tunnel for I-93.

From there we followed the Freedom trail through the North End, my favorite part of Boston so far. Incidentally, passing this many pastry shops is, as some of you might agree, is damn near impossible without stopping, despite long lines and crowds of tourists. We found one that had massive cannolis and killer tiramisu (well Debbie made a face and said it tasted like Rum and not espresso cake) and munched while standing outside of one of the (or the, I can't remember) oldest Catholic churches in America.

Further on and further in, we wound up walking by the harbor until we crossed I-93 again and turned a corner on Canal Street and headed to Boston Beer Works where we whiled away the afternoon drinking local brew and eating probably the biggest plate of nachos I've ever taken part in. After that we headed back up the Orange Line to Wellington Station to pick up my stuff from their car and then it was off to the bus station to wait for Karishma.

I gotta say, I'm enjoying the fact that I live close to New England and all the many places therein that I've always wanted to see and/or further delve into. That's one good thing about New York City. It's close to so many places worth going, so there's always somewhere to go when you need to get away from the city. But of course, I was glad to get back home and, as I pointed out in my earlier blurb, there's nothing like seeing the skyline approaching from the highway at night (Or from an airplane for that matter).

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Chinatown bus goes to Boston...

Back from Boston now. Sitting at home relaxing with a beer and reflecting on the weekend. I like traveling, especially now that there's that added element of having to take all sorts of public transit so I feel that much lighter when I do travel. I packed up a duffel bag and carried just that and my shoulder bag to work that day so I could leave straight from, no car to worry about parking or fueling. Just as long as I could make it to whatever terminal I was leaving from, I'd be fine. And traveling solo can make you feel even lighter, but traveling with a companion can be just as fun. This trip was actually conceived because Karishma was planning on meeting a friend in Boston, just to get out of the city for the weekend and I realized that going with Karishma would be the perfect excuse to get out and go meet up with Jeff and Debbie for the weekend. I hadn't been to Boston since I was ten either.

I was planning on leaving straight after work for Chinatown to catch the Fung Wah bus, the oldest running Chinatown bus service between New York City and Boston. I met Karishma outside the Grand Street subway and, from there, we decided to throw out our plans of hitting a specific dumping shop, across the street and down a block, and, instead, to get dumplings at the first place that looked good. We opted for a hole in the wall on Chrystie Street, the name of which escapes me, ordered a good amount of food and carried it over to the place where we were to meet the bus. There was a little window in the side of the building with signs for our bus company all over it so we went up to the window to check in. After telling us to sign our ticket stubs she directed us to go wait down on the corner for the bus. So we went looking for the corner she was talking about and had to circle almost half the block before we actually found it. Confident we were in the right place, we promptly got out our food and began wolfing it down, Karishma with hers coated in too much hot sauce. An older Chinese man stopped on the sidewalk beside us and started to eyeball Karishma's dumplings, all cradled in styrofoam and piping hot. I thought he was going to ask her for some, but instead, he pointed out that it was good food we were eating and then launched into his life history, starting in some obscure town in China that was near India, and led through every other city in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Sydney, Australia and a bunch of other places I couldn't remember. I was too busy eating some awesome pork dumplings. A little pre boarding entertainment from yet another one of the city's characters.

When the little ladies with the red shirts and the walkie talkies came around to check our tickets, they gave an approving nod and a proud look when they saw that we had already had them stamped and signed and we proceeded to board. When we got situated, our driver came over the intercom and assured us that he wasn't going to lie to us and that we were in for a long bus ride. He had seen the northbound traffic on I-95 on his way down and decided that we should avoid it, adding almost another hour onto the trip. We drove through the city to the Bronx instead of getting on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and cruised at a decent speed for what was basically an uneventful four and a half hour trip. The lights of Boston were pretty impressive and I was surprised to see us plunge into an underground tunnel before coming up to the bus station. I had no idea before this weekend about the "big dig," the interstate being underground and all those other things that Jeff told me about associated with the Boston transportation system.

Jeff agreed to meet us at Davis Station because it was about as far for us from South Station as it was from his house in Medford. Sleepy Medford. It was a short ride to Jeff's place and we soon crashed after talking over what we might do the next day. I expressed a desire to take it easy and do mostly free stuff (except eating and drinking of course).

On the agenda for Saturday was to tour Harvard and then go into the city and try and tour the Harpoon brewery and if that was a bust we would just walk around the Back Bay area. Harvard was nice, we took half of a student guided unofficial tour and slipped away from the crowd around the memorial hall portion of the tour and then headed over to Harpoon which was off of the Silver line somewhere on the outskirts of downtown Boston. Karishma left us around Park Street to meet the friends that she'd be staying with for the rest of the weekend. Harpoon's tours were sold out so we checked out the bar area, used their restroom and headed back towards the Back Bay area and walked the Boston Commons area and on through the Public Gardens and down to the Boston Public Library, before heading back to Medford to let the Pug Lola out and eat dinner. That night we went out to Old Magoun's Saloon and had some tasty beers. Here are pics from Chinatown and the first day in Boston:
(The first three are in Chinatown NYC)

Boston, Day 1

I'll write more about the second day and overall impressions tomorrow. I'm too exhausted right now.

Blurb #12

There's nothing like driving into New York City at night and seeing the skyline approach. That having been said, Boston was tons of fun too. A different kind of city with lots of history. I enjoyed myself and took a ton of pics. Saw the Harvard campus, tried to go to the Harpoon Brewery, walked some of the Freedom Trail, and hit Quincy Market, and then landed at Boston Beer Works before grabbing the Chinatown bus back to New York. But now, I'm back to work early and too exhausted just now to recount all the details. Pictures are forthcoming (of course), perhaps tonight. So stay tuned.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Technicolor strikes again...

I picked up a shift short notice at Technicolor today. They called me yesterday and we worked out that I could come in at 4:30pm since I was working at NY 1 from 8 until 4. I was excited as I walked around the West Side with Karishma, because this meant that I would be working all four different jobs during the month of September. NY 1 all over the place, CNN next Friday, shooting with Joel on the weekends and this shift at Technicolor.

Before I get started, here are pics from yesterday's romp:

Upper West Side September best

Anyhow, today was pretty normal at NY 1 and most of the day I was looking forward to walking from one job to the next (One of the five gazillion reason I love this city). Upon arriving at Technicolor, I pretty much had to hit the ground running, as the print we were screening was ready and so were the clients. I managed to screw up a few things in the process of screening this film for them, doing changeovers late, taking too long to run the film back, delaying the following screening. Things like that. But I don't think it was a big deal. Hopefully it might will show them that I need more time getting familiar with the rooms and I'll get more hours there. We'll see.

I've gotta cut this one short because I'm trying to get ready to leave for Boston tomorrow to go see Jeff and Debbie. Fun times shall ensue. Take care everybody.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Work and the impromptu tom-foolery that keeps me sane despite it...

An early, mid-week blog to sort of spew some of the contents of my head. I just had a shit day at work coupled with a great jaunt around parts of Manhattan with Karishma afterward, rounding out the day quite nicely while successfully tiring me out. I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight, that's if the stretch of 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue will have mercy on me tonight and turn down its loud rap music and send its screaming kids indoors.

The shit day at work was really only because of a few misunderstandings resulting in a little bit of unnecessary crossfire between my department and another (coming from the other direction obviously). Nothing that a little perspective couldn't fix though. I don't usually buy into horoscopes and other types of mystical stuff but I read them for the fun of it anyway. I actually get one in my mailbox from a website that purports itself to be Buddhist (it's fairly close) but it's often tinged with a bit of mysticism. Nonetheless it's full of uncanny wisdom and today, it happened to really ring true. This isn't a horoscope in the traditional sense, but more just everyday advice, which is why I read it, because even if there's not the eerie notion that some horoscope writer is predicting my future, it usually contains some gem of wisdom. At any rate, point being, it was right on today and then funny thing is, the horoscope usually ends up in my email box at the end of the day so I have to look back on my day and say, "oh, I guess I could have applied that earlier this morning," or something like that. It's even better when it's telling me how to handle a certain situation and I find that, despite not having read the thing, I already handled said situation exactly, or relatively closely to, the way it told me to.

Weird. Anyway, enough of this. The example. I won't reproduce the whole thing here but it opens like: "You may be on the receiving end of criticism or judgment today, and this could cause you to feel a bit insecure or inadequate." Uh, yeah. So that happened. So I got a little miffed but held it in and then went to my manager to find out whether or not I was in the wrong in this particular situation (instead of fuming about it all day and trying to sweep it under the rug, in case they went over my head with it). Turns out there were steps I or my coworker could have taken that we didn't, let's just put it that way. The details are not important. At any rate, I think I handled it pretty well, even though there was a lot of tension going on throughout the day. The horoscope goes on to say: "Remind yourself of the skills you possess and the work and dedication you’ve put into developing them. If you do receive criticism today, you might consider taking it as constructive feedback. Absorb the information that is helpful and discard the rest."

Sounds like a plan...and that's what I did. Good to know that I instinctively do these things. I knew that if I didn't address my own role in it and forget about how angry I was that my coworker had yelled at me over the phone, then I would gain nothing from the scenario. So that's what I did.

Then, I left work, the second I could and met Karishma at Union Square. We were talking about going to the UWS (okay, okay for all you non-New Yorkers, The Upper West Side), but I randomly suggested we do the Roosevelt Island Tram since Karishma never had. So we grabbed the N Train up to 59 Street Lexington Ave. and walked one block over to the tram. I took loads of pictures. This is the same tram that Spiderman saves Mary Jane from falling out of at the end of I can't remember which Spiderman movie. It glides along beside the Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge, Feeling Groovy?). Here are the pics:

Roosevelt Island and Other Stuff_1

After that we walked to 73rd and York Ave. to grab Mexican food at this little hole in the wall called Palazio Azteca that I've eaten at with my friend Matt before. Great stuff. The place is BYOB but luckily there's a little bodega two doors down so we grabbed a tall Corona Extra and brought it in with us.

So, our bellies full, and the weather beckoning we considered going to the Upper West Side anyway, since we were on the Upper East Side and all we'd have to do is traverse the width of the entire island. No small feat so we settled for walking to Central Park and sitting on the Great Lawn and watching the softball games finishing up and the players trickling off the fields.

Such a great night for a walk. And now I'm exhausted and I need to sleep. But first I gotta make a sandwich.