Saturday, April 26, 2008

Amenities near our new Paris apartment

I took this 360-degree video when we were in Paris in mid-March, 2008. This is about a 12-minute walk from our new apartment.

The Popincourt open-air market occupies part of the park to the north of the Place de la Bastille, along the Boulevard Richard Lenoir. Consumers can find fresh fruit, fish, meat, cheese and bread along with clothing and typical flea market items.

Click HERE for a larger and sharper version of this video. We'll put this up to help promote the apartment once it is ready for rentals, which is projected for some time this fall.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What we have stopped noticing (well, almost)

Broken things: bent fence rails, crumbling walls, cracked store windows, you get the idea
Homeless people.
Crazily dressed people.
Just plain crazy people.
Noisy subway brakes.
Rats on the tracks.
Standing water in various places.
Honking horns.
Lines in basically every store.
The differences in people's skin color.

OK, sometimes we still notice these things. But much of it has faded into the background as we have adjusted to life in NYC. We now feel like we can begin to enjoy the city--the initial shock has worn off. We have become much more tolerant, in a good way, toward the things that make people, and this place, unique. (Even the crazy people don't seem crazy sometimes.)

This weekend's plans include Jeff doing a bike ride, if the weather holds, and Mary beginning to paint the apartment (finally!). Also may go to the Museum of Modern Art to see an exhibit of Esquire magazine covers:

Until next time ... the adventure continues.

P.S. Signed the loan documents on the Paris apt. Next steps: forking over a boatload of Dollars/Euros and setting up the closing date. The architect is already lined up, so we're making progress.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

One more of Rachel. Let's call it "Free Spirit"

Scenes from Central Park yesterday

Despite being ill, Mary decided to get outdoors yesterday and go to Central Park with Rachel. (Mary is convinced that the flu shot she got late last year is responsible for the almost continuous illnesses ever since, They say your immune system is diminished after you get a flu shot ... great.)

Anyway, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure (including Rachel chillin'--one of Mom's attempts at an artsy-fartsy portrait!).

The temperture was in the 70s, and people were definitely enjoying the nice weather. It was refreshing to see people relaxing on the grass and being calm, as opposed to rushing at the typical New York-minute pace.

The spring is probably the most beautiful time of year here (although fall is pretty, too). Unfortunately, it's brief: It will probably be over in May or so, and the temperature and humidity will start to rise. Guess it means we have to focus on the here and now, which is a good life lesson in general.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Some thoughts on Obama

(This is Mary.)

Can anyone really believe how this election cycle has played out? I can't. I won't recap everything here--I'm not sure that I could. But I would like to share some thoughts on Obama and why I think we need him as president.

Yesterday on the subway, I had the lovely privilege of sitting near a young man who was standing in front of me (with his back to me), talking to a girl he knew from school (they looked to be about 16). The young man's clothes were clean, but he was wearing his pants underneath his rump, and every time he moved even a little bit, I got a lovely view of his underwear when his shirt rode up a little bit. I have never understood this way of dressing--and don't these guys get embarrassed by the fact that they have to walk like penguins so their pants don't fall down? Not exactly manly looking.

Not only that, but every other word out of his mouth was, let's just say, not as clean as his clothes. It was disgusting. What made it even more uncomfortable was the fact that he was standing right in front of an elderly woman, who then had to listen to this language.

The kid wasn't mad or anything. It was just the way he talked. And it was just the way his female friend talked, too.

They happened to be black/African-American (I hesitate to always say African-American, because many people of color here are not simply African. So please, don't make comments that I'm not being politically correct.)

I hear this sort of thing all the time on the subway: young black/African-American people who use curse words like they're meaningless, who recite hate-filled rap music with or without their headphones on, who dress like wannabe gangsters and try to appear tough.

Don't get mad: I'm not talking about ALL young black/African-Americans. But there are a good number of them as I described who ride the subway with me every day.

When Bill Cosby made his remarks a few years about about young black people needing to use proper grammar, he was roundly criticized. But honestly, can you really see someone who speaks the way this kid on the subway does working in a Wall Street job? Or any job that requires pants that actually come up to his waistline?

My point is simply this: While lots of people are now calling Obama an "elitist," I think that comment is really a form of racism. Lots of folks are uncomfortable seeing a black man who went to Ivy League schools, who is successful and charismatic. It just doesn't fit the stereotype, you see, of the young man in the subway.

But couldn't seeing someone like Obama achieve the presidency do wonders for young black men in this country? Might Obama have the power to change the way some of these young men think about what it means to be black? What it means to be a man?

Obama could become the first real, high-profile role model these young people have ever had. Just his presence in the White House could have a major impact on how they view themselves and their race.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A few photos from Saturday

A few daffodils were blooming in Union Square. On the weekends, there is a nice fair that features all kinds of booths--although it's mostly foods and flowers.

The flowers for sale were gorgeous--trying to figure out how to add some to our apartment, since we don't have a balcony or room for flower boxes. We'll keep thinking ...

Rachel and Mary visited a bunch of thrift stores in Manhattan's East and West Village areas. But even the thrift stores there are too expensive! (We need to go back to Brooklyn to find the deals.) But the trees are all a-blossoming, so it made the day very pleasant (that, and it was about 70 degrees--niiiice).

P.S. The reason why Rachel looks unhappy in the photo is because not only were the items in the thrift stores expensive, they were OUTRAGEOUS. Example: A completely torn dress, not even cute, for $495! I mean, maybe if Princess Di had worn it ... but even then, I'm not sure!

Road to the NYC Marathon, Part I

I took a step further today toward my goal of running in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2.
This photo at left is actually from a run last month in Central Park, when it had snowed the night before.

Today's race was also a 4-miler in Central Park and I improved my per-mile rate from 9:45 to 9:03. I'll have to keep up that pace to finish a marathon in less than 4 hours. I can't imagine today keeping that pace up for more than 6 miles, so I have literally a long way to go.

It's been about 20 years since I ran road races, so it's interesting to compare how I feel as I approach 50. Not much different really - just slower. Slower pace and slower to recover. I may never run a 10K in 43 minutes like I did in my mid-20s, but I don't really care. Life is longer than that. I just want to get to the finish, wherever that is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Real Thing?

The two bands still alive that I've wanted to see live for a long time are the Rolling Stones and U2. After their new concert movies I feel as if now I have, particularly the U2 film. The 3D really puts you in the arena.

Below are snippets of each movie, courtesy of YouTube. Perhaps they will inspire you to see the full-length versions. We were lucky enough to see them both in the Imax theatre near Columbus Circle, a venue I highly recommend. Rock and roll lives on!

Rolling Stones

U2 3D

Monday, April 7, 2008

Celebrity sighting

On Sunday, we went to see the movie "Shine a Light," the Rolling Stones concert film. As we were exiting the theater, Jeff looked at this rather large fellow on the escalator wearing a rainbow stocking cap, and said, "Is that Vincent D'Onofrio?"

We kept looking ... and looking... trying not to be obvious ... and sure enough, it was. We caught a much closer look at him outside the theater as he was hailing a cab. We think he had taken his young son to the movies (maybe "Horton Hears a Who").

Here's his page on IMDB:

Although we don't watch the show, he is on "Law and Order." We know him from movies like "Men in Black" and, from even further back in time, "Mystic Pizza."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Finally warming up

It's in the 50s today, which is a nice, nice change from what it has been recently. Maybe spring has finally arrived, along with the daffodils? (Photos to come!)

We're still in the midst of the Paris apartment purchase, plus we're attempting to do our taxes (yes, we know we're running a tad late). The whole live-in-NJ, work-in-NY thing is a little complicated, but we'll sort it out. by April 15.

Tonight we're going out to dinner with a group of Mary's colleagues. Tomorrow includes seeing the new Rolling Stones movie, "Shine a Light," and meeting up with Rachel for afternoon tea at an NYU student hangout in the West Village.

Unfortunately, there was a tragic incident last night, right near Columbia University. A graduate student, apparently fleeing from an attempted mugging, ran across Broadway and was struck by a car and killed. It's startling that there was a mugging at around 9 pm in that neighborhood, since it's actually a rather low-crime area. We just pray for the student's family and friends, that they'll somehow get through this difficult time.