Month: January, 2007

Travel Notes

Thursday, January 25th, 2007 | All Things, Books, Friends

Photographer Christoph Bangert made an appearance at the International Center of Photography for a book signing to celebrate the launch of his new book, Travel Notes: 22 Thousand Miles Across the Americas. The book chronicles Bangert’s 2002 journey by Land Rover from the southernmost tip of South America to the urban landscapes of New York City, where he was set to begin studies at ICP. Bangert, now an ICP graduate, recently spent five months on assignment in Iraq as a contributing photojournalist for The New York Times.

School of the ICP

Travel Notes serves as a breathtaking diary of the photographer’s 22,000-mile journey, beginning in Buenos Aires, over two continents, across the borders of fourteen countries, through mountain ranges and over countless bodies of water, to his new home in Brooklyn. Along the way, Bangert describes his adventures: a frigid night on Tierra del Fuego, a scorching day in the Atacama Desert along the coast of Chile (the driest desert on Earth), stranded for two days in the deep mud of a Bolivian salt flat, making a precarious crossing over Lake Titicaca, along the Pan-American Highway, through every country in Central America, into Mexico, crossing one final border into the United States towards his final, triumphant arrival in New York City.

Travel Notes

Bryant Park Skyline

What an amazing, life-changing experience. Puts me in the mood to plan my next big trip…

Later that night, at SK’s housewarming, I talked some more travel with fellow party guests DJ and RK, swapping notes on Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Costa Rica. The apartment was located inside a pretty prewar on West End Avenue with an elevator operator, steps from the private enclave Pomander Walk, which reminded me that even if it’s a little while before the next far-flung adventure, there’s still so much left to explore right here at home.

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Pampered pooches

Thursday, January 25th, 2007 | All Things

This made me smile.

Pups Stroller

At least it wasn’t a double-wide. And I suppose a dog stroller is not nearly as ridiculous as K9 sunglasses or the BowLingual Dog Bark Translator. (Though apparently it works! Sorta.)

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Another day, another play, Another You

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Books, Eats

A full night, full of both low and highbrow entertainment, with some tasty eats in between.

First stop: a cocktail party and book reading for Grant Stoddard‘s new book, Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert. The event was being held at the McNally Robinson Bookstore in NoLIta, one of the few independent bookstores in the city — R.I.P., Coliseum — owned and run by Sarah McNally, a daughter of Holly and Paul McNally, who founded the Canadian McNally Robinson chain.

Plied with cocktails by Dewar’s (ginger beer fortified by Scotch whisky), the crowd settled in to listen to the puckish Brit read excerpts from his new book, the stories of which grew out of his formidable arsenal of material, most gathered through his experiences as a popular onetime sex columnist for Stoddard’s “I Did It for Science” column was a pseudo-scientific examination of his sordid, mind-bending (but often hilarious) tales of sex in the city — laden with catchphrases, euphemisms and double-entendre. His self-deprecating, humor-laden style suited the subject matter well; clearly, he still views his unorthodox career trajectory since arriving in the States at age 21 with some bemusement and more than a little abashedness.

The question and answer period was as you would expect, given the topic at hand, during which Stoddard doled out some practical tips and advice, culled from his years of [s]experience… and none of which I will repeat here.

Working Stiff

Grant Stoddard

In honor of the recent death of Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant ramen, a trip to Menkui Tei in Cooper Square for a steaming bowl of the real deal. The Village Voice dubbed them the “Best Star Wars Noodles” for their “Jar Jar” Ramen (cold wheat noodles heaped with spicy ground pork in thick soy sauce), but on this chilly night, I went for the “Menkui” Ramen (seaweed broth flavored house special noodle soup) and was not disappointed.

Don’t know if it’s the best in the city; personally, I prefer the Momofuku version, though at almost twice the price for the house-named version, Momofuku is not exactly “Cheap Eats.”

Menkui Tei

Menkui Tei Ramen

Back at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival for Another You, the stark, mercilessly autobiographical solo show by Allen Johnson. His string of vignettes dealt with themes mostly outside the comfort zone: incest and booze, brutality and bonding, the dull ache of loneliness and finding (or keeping) faith among the filth. Johnson recounted scenes in alternately raging and almost-detached tones, limiting most of his monologue to a box of light on the floor in which stood nothing but a white porcelain commode. All raw, sometimes funny, often ugly… and as riveting as anything I’d seen on the stage in a long time.

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