Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Dear suburban headquartered big box retailer,

Filed under : New York City,Stores
On August 4, 2010
At 9:30 pm
Comments : 4

On the heels of my recent car-free post, I’ve been reading lately about how the multi-story, suburban style parking structure at the East River Plaza in Harlem is shockingly empty. Now, the shock is on the part of the builder and owner of said parking lot, not of average New Yorkers, I’m sure. East River Plaza is a new-ish shopping center in East Harlem and I’ve been going to the Costco there for about a year, since I started needing large quantities of baking supplies. For a while, Costco was the only tenant but since this was designated as the landing spot of Manhattan’s first Target, I figured I’d be going there long into the future.

Well, to make a long story short, it’s a pain and a half to get there for those of us on the Upper West Side, because anything that involves a crosstown bus in Harlem will inevitably take years off your life. Years spent on that bus. Or waiting for that bus. Or waiting to get on that bus. But it is the only game in town as far as bulk groceries, so I do what I have to do. Today, I headed over there primarily to try the new Target but also picked up a few things at the Costco. In the future, when I need something from Target, I’ll be going back to the one in the Bronx which is a direct shot by subway. Target has a temporary shuttle (it goes till 8/22, a month after they opened) to hype the place but it only took me 1/3 of the way across 116th street, whereupon I waited 20 minutes for a bus, which is crazy in New York, sorry.

But while I was there, I checked out the parking lot which was indeed mostly empty while both Target and Costco were quite busy (there are other stores, Best Buy, Marshall’s, Petco…. I don’t know if they’re all open yet as they were on higher floors and I don’t care about any of them). If you’re wondering, Big Box Stores who insisted on the parking garage, how people are shopping, let me describe the following sights which I witnessed today to you:

  • The family filling a little red wagon covered in a blanket.
  • The lady walking down 117th Street with a ham under her arm.
  • The shuttle, chock full of downtown types.
  • The woman looking over the average supermarket size carts at Target in wonder, who said to me, “look how huge these are! They really want you to shop, don’t they?” (hint, if your customer is a person who has never seen a regular grocery cart before, she does not have a car.)
  • The large family with each member carrying one bag.
  • The innumerable little hand carts.

This all leads me to my letter:

Dear Target,

I have a great idea for all those empty parking spots in your big ugly structure! Why not fill them with shuttles which will ferry us sans-automobiles across 116th St. to all our respective subway lines? It can be every 15 or 20 minutes; I realize 116th is crowded as it is. Then, at night, they can have that whole parking garage to themselves.

You may also want to think about selling little red wagons.


As for you, lady with ham, I’ll see you on the shuttle.


The joy of the bodega, part 328

Filed under : Music,New York City
On June 13, 2010
At 3:50 am
Comments : 2

The set-up: while I was doing all that research on the two Talk Talk posts, I repeatedly came upon mentions of the No Doubt version of It’s My Life but I tried hard not to think about it or remember how it went because a. I dislike No Doubt b. I dislike remakes of songs that were already great and c. it was hard enough to erase it from my brain the first time around in 2003. So not only have I not heard it since then, I have been pretty good at forgetting it now.

Fast forward to tonight/this morning, when, as is my habit, I’m up during the wee hours and am hungry. So I started to make peanut-sesame noodles since I had all the ingredients… except I didn’t, which I discovered midway through and too far along to go back. So I ran out to the bodega on the corner in my skater shorts and Local H t-shirt, where, naturally, I was the only one there and thus had the full attention of the grocer. After about 30 seconds of scanning the racks, the song on the sound system ended, I heard a syncopated beat, and then – you know what comes next – Gwen Stefani started singing It’s My Life. I actually burst out laughing right in the middle of the store before remembering that the elderly Korean grocer was looking right at me. He was utterly expressionless and impassive. I guess this is far from the weirdest thing he sees at 3am.

In conclusion, I lead a dull life and you can’t escape No Doubt.

And no, there will not be a music link!


Of space and sound

Filed under : Music,New York City
On April 13, 2010
At 4:30 am
Comments : 4

Today, for work (I know I don’t mention it a lot, but I have a part-time job!) I was sent on an errand to put up posters at other area Ed schools. My last stop was NYU, a school that it never occurred to me to attend, I think because I still associate it with people I knew who wanted to spend college hanging out. PS, I now wish I had spent college hanging out. I know this is a weird thing to say, but the last time I was at NYU or its environs had to be at least fifteen years ago. How strange is it to not have seen a major area of the city in which you live in a decade and a half? But I think I’ve been resisting going down there because, as you may have heard, the area has changed a bit since I used to get my hair cut and shop down there with the other 80’s Goths. But it’s sort of like that Thing in your fridge that you keep avoiding because it’s been in there too long, and the longer you wait, the moldier it gets. I knew the area was getting more and more mallified. I heard, naturally, about the K-Mart and the Starbucks.


I could get all grandma on you and tell you about all the cool clothing shops and record stores that looked like your basement, only with vibrant-colored-haired people blowing smoke in your face as you perused the…. records, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. But that’s how it is to me eternally. So I knew it would be hard but I was unprepared for the lump in my throat and tears at the edges of my eyes as I passed the Chipotles and Au Bon Pains. It’s not that I didn’t expect it, I just liked that the last image of it that I had in my head was back when those stores in which I used to discover fun things with my friends dominated the landscape. So now that it’s over, I plan on deleting all those images from my brain’s computer. But I have two take aways from this day.

a. On the way home, I kept hearing this sung phrase in my head, “it’s a clear cut case.” Then I remembered a song that I hadn’t thought of in years and years. What odd piece of seeing the Village again shook this loose? Who knows! But it’s below, should you want to hear the song that got dislodged.

b. There are still great record stores in the Village and elsewhere. This Saturday is Record Store Day. Should you not be an observant Jew, please head over to your local record store and find some incredible releases special for this day. Or you could go anytime! To find your local participating record store, check out the Record Store Day Website. Odds are, these days, no one will blow smoke in your face.

c. I’m never going back there again. I know, that’s three, but I’ve begun deleting and can’t remember where I am.


The landscape is changing

Filed under : New York City
On December 2, 2009
At 11:45 pm
Comments : 2

While I have no news, the world zooms on and other people do. My friend Meaddows is doing an awesome thing and helping to organize a local event to support in their global Candlelight Vigil for Climate Change. It’s on a Friday night so some of my more Jewey friends may not be able to make it, but for the rest of you, it’s on the evening of Friday, December 11th in New York City, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on the Hudson River at West 26th Street.

They say….

People all over the world will unite tonight to raise awareness about climate change, send a message to world leaders, and be part of the solution. Join us and be one of them.

Please see this flyer (pdf) or get info from here and be there or be dead from climate change!

Title comes from the first song by Depeche Mode not about freaky sex or religion.
Depeche Mode – The Landscape Is Changing


A lane for the rest of us

Filed under : New York City
On July 10, 2009
At 5:30 pm
Comments : 2

Earlier today, I responded to a Tweet by the creators of my favorite podcast, NPR’s Planet Money, about why people walk in the bike lanes when there are “perfectly good” sidewalks to walk on. They posted a picture on the associated blog post of Times Square to illustrate it (we have lots and lots of new, green bike lanes here). I already answered them with my opinion but I really needed more than 140 characters. Especially after I had to navigate the Columbus Circle area this afternoon on my way to to Best Buy. (Please don’t think I am a fan of Best Buy, I was buying competitive product from their stock of 20 CD’s).

Around the curve of Columbus Circle near the park, I had to make my way through the following:

1. At least 15 different people holding “Bike Rental” signs. I guess they go along with the bike lanes but they seem to have proliferated overnight into an army. I have no idea if they are all one company or competing places or each one guy with a bicycle, but they are everywhere near the park. One enterprising guy had laid the sign on the sidewalk with 3 bikes “parked” against it. Fabulous.

2. At least 5 different sets of tourists stopped, looking up, looking at maps, snapping pictures, stopping to gawk at an office building and calling it a nice hotel, etc. Bottom line, not moving.

3. A woman with a Fox News mike and her cameraman interviewing a quintessential “man on the street” about the NY Post article featuring a photo of Obama and French president Sarkozy ogling a lady’s fine, fine ass at the G8. It goes without saying that a group had gathered around. Duh, there was a camera!

4. The usual sidewalk vendors of framed pictures of New York, such as a sign that said “Gay St.” (look, says the gay guy, I brought home a picture of a sign that says Gay St!), or John Lennon in his New York shirt next to a photo of the Imagine mosaic in Central Park ($2 with frame).

5. A scene out of the movie Airplane where people from at least three different charitable organizations tried to stop me and ask me for such things as “a moment of my time for the environment.” Also one from a comedy club where the guy actually addressed me by the color of my shirt. What a comedian!

I ask you, dear reader and NPR, where the hell am I supposed to walk?

NPR Planet Money Blog: Why Do People Walk In Bike Lanes?