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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, November 21, 2009

Subway...

Some nights the MTA really gets me angry. But still, even when the D train wasn't running at Grand Street, in the end, it wasn't that big of a deal. I never stroll around Chinatown and I found myself right in the middle of a Billy Joel song (Big Man on Mulberry Street)

Mulberry Street...
...trying to remember the lyrics, which are a veritable map of Chinatown in themselves, in an attempt to find my way to the Canal Street Subway station to catch the N...which, by some bizarre stroke of luck was running on the D track and I was able to take it all the way home...only after grabbing the first Q train at Canal Street to Atlantic Pacific. This in no way compares with my train escapades last weekend though. Attempting merely to get to Fort Greene by using only two trains, the D and the G, and not having to walk a block to transfer, I wound up still having to walk that block plus on the way home, I ended up walking about a mile to avoid the G train altogether. Because let's face it, the G is the worst train in the whole MTA system, and it never runs on time even when it is running normally. They had it running both ways on the same track and only going to Hoyt-Schermerhorn. Which led me to believe that maybe it was just the one train running back and forth between Hoyt-Schermerhorn and the other end of the line in Queens. This is why, when I missed the train, I assumed it would be a half hour or more before it came back around again and just left the station in favor of trying to catch a bus to Atlantic Avenue...a bus which didn't even stop when I tried to wave it down while running frantically in the direction of the nearest stop.

These late night weekend subway adventures, as inconvenient and harrying as they may be, do teach me things about the city. One lesson is never to despair. There is always a way to get home. In last weekend's case and this weekend's, the nearest subway stop was not that far and both cases afforded me a walk, albeit not so leisurely last weekend, through a neighborhood I scarcely get to enjoy.

Which is good because now, less than four months before my lease runs out, I'm looking for a new one to call home. And luckily, my cousin and I will be looking together. We met the other day and discussed everything from what we need from a roommate to our respective budgets and target neighborhoods. Clinton Hill was nice, I noted, while beating the pavement and dragging my guitar around last weekend. Lots of older apartment buildings and brownstones, bars and restaurants (I saw a couple of French ones) all lined DeKalb Avenue. The subway stops wouldn't be that far off either and I feel certain we could find a decent place there for a reasonable price. But we are not limiting ourselves to Brooklyn neighborhoods alone.

No. The possibility of being a Manhattanite entices both of us. But we're being realistic about it. I'm aware of how ambitious it is but you all know me. I have to try. It won't be until January that we really start aggressively looking so that gives me a month or so to drool over Manhattan neighborhoods and weigh the pros and cons of them. It's also good to have a veteran New Yorker agreeing to room with me because there are so many factors involved in choosing a place to live, some which I may not have thought about yet. Not so much whether or not I want to live with rodents or insects, but more whether I want space or location more. Tough calls both, no doubt.

At any rate, we'll have to certainly consider things like subway access and what floor we're on, doorman or no, elevator or walk-up, pre-war or new building, etc.

But there's still time for all that. With that, I must go to sleep. I've had a nice relaxing and also productive two days off. My scores are almost ready to be unleashed on the world. Plus, I've come up with a fantastic idea that I'll say more about as it unfolds. Good night.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's going on...

Finally getting around to update you in the midst of working day jobs and socializing with my new friends and paying bills and finding out bills were paid late and finding out that I put the wrong zip code on my rent payment and finding out that the leasing office is not really that far away and that I can save a stamp and just walk it over there no problem and cleaning my apartment and messing it up again and occasionally playing music.

Yes, Saturday night, despite the G train and the D train trying to thwart my plans to make it up to Fort Greene to collaborate with a composer I met through Karishma, I finally got my jam session on. It was fun. Will invited over a few of his string player friends as well and he and I plugged up to his loop station and improvised for about two hours on some of my impromptu ideas as well as his original material. It was a great sound. A guitar, two violins and a viola, and the occasional mandolin played by one of the other violin players.

We'll probably all go at it again next Saturday night if I'm not too exhausted after work. I hope I can go because it's going to be good for me to start playing again, plus there's some definite opportunity for collaboration down the line. I won't say much else yet, so as not to jinx anything that we have going on.

Meanwhile, I started to post my scores on Sibelius music but it's looking like it's going to be a bit more involved of a project. It's not .pdf files I'm having to upload, but .sib files so everything with playback and the separate parts has to be in order along with notational details etc. I'm also in the process of registering all those songs that are not registered with ASCAP. And then, I need to update my website again soon. Thinking of totally revamping it.

Once all this is in place, the next big "makeover," I'm going to try and get in contact with a composer whose contact info I gleaned from a conversation with a co worker at NY 1.

So those are the plans and the goings on, at present. And if I can manage to get a few weekends to myself, without extra freelance hours, than, I promise you, I will post some of the electronic music I've been working on. Stay tuned. Must drink beer, watch netflix and unwind.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day off...

I have a day off and it's glorious. Do you want to know what I did this morning? I slept in. I mean the kind of sleeping in where you don't set the alarm, roll back over and fall asleep at least three times and then you jump out of bed when you realize it's 11am but then sit back down because you realize you don't really have much to do today. It's great. I'm not even dressed yet. But I did take care of some bills and phone calls and made breakfast. Currently, I'm listening to Mike Doughty's new album, Sad Man Happy Man.

I need to get up and do laundry in a minute or two and then I figure I'll head over to the Brooklyn Public Library and pick up a book or two, wander to a coffee shop in Park Slope and read and work on music. I started to look at my string quartet that I've needed to dust off for ages yesterday at work. It was performed at my recital, as a rather lackluster closer, and I've known for a long time that I needed to do something to it to save it from the graveyard of pieces that will never be performed again for whatever reason. It's not a bad piece, it's just got some kinks in it. Mainly playability and a general lack of connectivity between the parts. What I plan on doing with that is, of course, rechecking all of my articulations and notational quirks and then chopping it up a little in an attempt to make a three movement work. This is going to entail a lot of new composition though which excites me.

And speaking of dusting off old works, it's time I got some of my scores out there in the ether. Sibelius Music allows you to post your scores for sale or just general distribution. So I'm beginning the process now of selecting the scores that I want to post for people, considering how to advertise to interested parties that they're out there, and double checking their copyright registration status.

So, I've got my work cut out for me and if I manage to get this string quartet finished eventually, I'm going to submit it like crazy. But for now, I'd better get on that laundry before the laundromat fills up with screaming kids. God save me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Whirlwind...

It's about time I posted these. I haven't been taking very many pictures but I have taken some. These cover the changing leaves, my brother's visit in October and my friend Katie's visit last weekend. There's more of this weekend but they're on my cell phone at the moment and it's tricky getting them off of there.

Autumn in New York


A few things I did this weekend that are of note:

Thursday, Katie and I took a cab from the airport, ate dinner here at my place, then went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to see An Education. Pretty good film, plus I love going to BAM because the theaters are so cool.

Friday morning, I had to work at 8am so I set Katie up to roam around on her own, purse full of maps of NYC etc. I got off at 5 and came and met her where she was circulating midtown. From Rockerfeller center, where I haven't been since around March (yeah, I tend to avoid Midtown), we walked to Fifth Avenue and then up to 59th and Lex, stopping at a few of the expensive clothing stores that line the route. Then we grabbed the 6 to Union Square and walked down through Washington Square to Caffe Reggio on MacDougal where we had a quick dinner. Caffe Reggio is famous for its owner who popularized the cappuccino in America back in the early 1900s. The decor in this place was amazing and none of my pics came out. They had all manner of old paintings and an early espresso machine on display that was designed to run on a coal or wood fire. The Manicotti was great as well as the pastries. I had something called Sfogliatella while Katie went with the chocolate cannoli. Satisfied, we went to the Hookah bar across the street and smoked some honey berry hookah and chatted with a few New Yorkers that were seated next to us, talking about how early they got up for the Yankee parade (in case you're living under a rock, which there's nothing wrong with, the Yankees won the world series). Passing by a Picasso sculpture on NYU campus, we headed to Broadway Lafayette and went home to sleep off exhausting day #1.

Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast, sort of taking our time getting out. Katie had a meeting at one of the art schools she's checking out up here at 2. So, even though the Manhattan D trains were running over the N line, adding a bus ride to our trip into the city, we had time to get out at 8 St. NYU and walk to Astor Place to get coffee. We were going to walk all the way to 9 st. and 3rd av, where my favorite coffee shop in the East Village is but we didn't have to. The Mud truck was parked in Astor Place. Imagine my glee. We grabbed a few lattes and then took our time getting up to Union Square and subsequently Madison Square Park via Broadway, snapping pics along the way. In Madison Square, in front of the Flatiron building, we met a few guys who happened to have a Holga almost like Katie's so we chatted with them a bit. I was planning on having Shake Shack while waiting for Katie to get done with her meeting down on 21st street. So after we looped through Chelsea, checking out a gallery and a furniture store, I dropped Katie off and headed back to Madison Square to stand in line at Shake Shack. The wait was only about 50 minutes from the time I first stepped into the line until the moment I grabbed my food. Not terrible, because these burgers are worth it. So tasty.

So, having two hours to kill and an interest in locating a French restaurant for dinner that night that I had eaten at before, I set off through Murray Hill on what would be a mostly fruitless search. I had my cousin, who would meet us for dinner later, on the phone since she knew the neighborhood, asking her if she could scour the internet for the place that I could neither remember the exact location of nor even the name of (I later learned from Karishma that it's called L'Express and is actually on 20th street and Park Ave. I was way off). We settled on a place called Serge on Madison and 33rd for after the MET. At 4, Katie came and met me in Bryant Park where I sat with my feet up attempting to give them some reprieve from the relentless pavement pounding that I had been doing. We strolled around the corner to the Kati Roll company on 39th street so she could partake of some of the best Indian Street Food I know of in NYC. After that we took the 4 train up to 86th street and finally hit up the MET. I think we gave ourselves about two and a half hours and managed to sort of scratch the surface of the museum and see some of the exhibits I hadn't seen before. There was an exhibit of photography by Robert Franck from his book, The Americans, then the Modern Art, The European Sculpture, the Medieval art and, one of my favorites, the medieval weapons!

Serge, our choice for dinner was a bit pricey but nice. I had escargots. Planning to be up at 8am Sunday, we headed back home to my place, watched an episode of the British Office and crashed.

Sunday, we kind of decided to blow off a lot of our plans in favor of having a more relaxing time doing the things we did end up doing. So, we went with my contingency plan of touring Brooklyn mainly. I took Katie to a ton of clothing stores in Park Slope, and then we finally went to Gorilla Coffee on 5th ave. Gorilla coffee, as I've been hearing, is pretty fantastic. The espresso is great and the baristas know their stuff, but, bonus, they have a maple latte on the menu, made with real Vermont syrup. Katie got one and it was pretty damn good. After Gorilla, we hit a few more boutiques and a thrift shop and then headed up Union Street to Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park where we rested for a bit before taking the 3 to Clark Street.

There we grabbed falafel at Heights Falafel, took it to the Brooklyn Heights promenade (one of the best views of lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn side) and ate it there. The Brooklyn Flea Market was not far off and I had almost forgotten about it being Sunday. So we just stumbled across it on our way to the Bridge, spent some time there checking things out, then walked up to and over the Bridge.

That night we had tickets to Avenue Q, so we went home to get ready and had some dumplings in my neighborhood from Prosperity dumpling on 44th and 8th. Avenue Q was moved off Broadway a few weeks ago and is now showing at the New World Stages on West 50th Street, a newer theater built on the site of the old Madison Square Garden. Pretty cool, I must say. And the show, we laughed our asses off at. Racist puppets. Afterward, we strolled up to 59th street Colombus Circle, so I could show Katie where I worked and so we could investigate the cost of a carriage ride around Central Park. Pricey. But we weren't tired, no! So we went in search of cupcakes. A search that led us up to 72nd Street, past Strawberry Fields, over to Amsterdam Avenue where the first shop was closed, on the 1 train down to the West Village where we detoured to Two Boots Pizza on 7th and Greenwich Avenues, and then finally down the street to Bleecker Street where cut northwest to hit up Magnolia, which was thankfully open. We sat and devoured our cupcakes and then moseyed over to the Riverside walk at Bank Street and sat on a pier out there for a bit until we were thoroughly chilled and headed home.

Did I say whirlwind in the title of this blog? Yeah, I still enjoy being a tourist here. Especially when I'm showing someone around. I love seeing reactions to things, although I probably was getting a bit annoying with the amount of times I pointed out the Empire State building from various vantage points throughout the city.

Anyway, I'm back from my second shift of work since the weekend and am again exhausted but strangely energized. I'm working 10 hour shifts this week to make up 40 hours because of difficulty in scheduling. Long story. Luckily, I have one more shift this week and then a lot of bill paying to do on pay day, which I will have off. Saturday night, I'm finally getting to jam with my new composer friend. I'll have more to say Thursday on some things that have been on my mind, more related to more troubling aspects of my life here. So long for now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blurb #15

It seems like my blogs of late are always beginning with the fact that I've been working a lot. I'll skip ahead and assume that you've already divined as much since I haven't blogged in a bit. It's late so I'll make this short though. I have a friend coming into town this weekend, one who is considering moving to NYC in the near future, so you can imagine this is going to be fun for me. I've already been having these moments where I start thinking about where I was and in what mindset, etc. this time last year. There was a great deal of scouring craigslist and job search sites going on, daydreaming and internet research. But now I get to watch another friend go through it. From a different perspective. It is a great feeling though to look back on your own journey and see how far you've come, especially if you can distinctly remember bouts of hopelessness, where you thought you'd never make it and how you trudged on through them and how now you can say, I did it!

Anyway, other news, I may have a roommate for next year, tentatively speaking. Won't say too much because I don't want to jinx it. My apartment is clean and enjoy living alone but it's time for a transition in my lifestyle to something more cost effective.

And as for music? I've played my piano the past few days...and thought about some pieces. Really, I've been that busy. Sometimes the most creative I get is during my down time at work when I find myself drumming on various surfaces, which prompted an idea. Instead of buying a drum pad or an electronic drum set to perform drum lines for my recordings, it might be a cool idea to build a few drum pads into my computer desk and have them swivel out, have a kick pedal under my desk and have it all wired in via MIDI cables so that, when I get bored sitting at my computer, and I catch myself drumming some awesome beat, instead of having to map it all out manually or get up and walk across the room to a drum set, I could just play it by drumming on my pads and using the kick pedal under the desk. Sound crazy and like a lot of work to achieve something creative? So?

That having been said, I should go to bed...this wasn't really a blurb was it?