Month: May, 2007

On the B61

Sunday, May 27th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Friends

We rounded out our day with some museum-sponsored art at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, where my MoMA dual membership came in handy. Out front, the museum’s annual architectural installation, designed by the winner of the annual P.S.1 and MoMA-organized Young Architects Program, was being constructed for this summer’s Warm Up series to run ten Saturdays — June 30 through September 1, 2007.

PS1 installation

PS1 installation

B was sad to miss out on the photography exhibition by Vik Muniz which closed May 7, though the sign outside still promoted it. But since we were there, we explored the other exhibits on view inside the converted brick and stone public school building. Much of the original structure was left intact, making it easy to envision the space’s early function as the first school in Long Island City; it was shuttered in 1960 due to low attendance, a victim of an improved railroad and subway system that detracted from the area’s appeal as a residential district.

PS1 stairwell

Afterwards, we hopped the air-conditioned B61, not to its Red Hook terminus, but to Williamsburg for lunch at Sea Thai. The city was emptied of many locals this Memorial Day weekend, so we managed to avoid the usually painful waits for tasty, reasonably-priced Thai in this sleek, hipster haven.

Sea Thai

Sea Thai appetizers

Our post-meal trip to the waterfront was thwarted by graphic-printed barriers erected around a huge construction site, soon to be the 892-unit Williamsburg Edge — “Sexy on the Outside + Beautiful on the Inside,” “The Hippest Dress Code + The Coolest Zip Code.”

Williamsburg Edge

And finally: once more unto the breach, dear friends. Our trio wound down the day at Spike Hill, a cozy tavern from which we could watch the parade of scornful “hipper-than-thou rockers” on Bedford. It didn’t sting nearly as much as my shoulders did that night.

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Institute of Higher Burnin’

Sunday, May 27th, 2007 | All Things, Arts, Friends

It was AC’s first visit to Long Island City, so B brought him by to check out 5 Pointz — the colorful block of converted warehouses full of artist studios, abutting the elevated 7 line.

The ever-changing walls are a living collage of (entirely legal) graffiti and a refreshing departure from the sometimes over-sterilized Manhattan art scene. Not everyone is a fan, though.

The three of us took in the scene as we wandered among the graff writers, hard at work this hot afternoon.

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

5 Pointz

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Wear sunscreen

Sunday, May 27th, 2007 | All Things, Friends

I met the Reuters boys in LIC early this afternoon, for the Memorial Day kickoff weekend of the Water Taxi Beach.

After a couple of coffees at Cafe Henri, we wound our way west past quiet warehouses and construction sites, during which B and I did our best to explain the concept of the “beach” retreat to our British friend: tons of trucked-in sand dumped onto a lot overlooking Midtown Manhattan, set up with picnic tables, bar and grill stand, and DJ booth. Is there any finer fake beach in the world?

Water Taxi Beach

Despite what appeared to have been a few cosmetic improvements outside the gates, the stock management was as spotty as last year. At half past noon, i.e., 30 minutes after the bar could legally begin serving alcohol, there was still just a scant handful of people scattered on the hot sand, and no food or beverage service available. We staked out our spots at a wooden picnic table by the chain link fence, and drank in the sun and views as the staff gradually trickled in to begin their leisurely business of setting up for the day.

Eventually, the bar opened, and was promptly swarmed. We enjoyed a few rounds of frozen margaritas, but sadly, none of Harry’s famed burgers – “maybe later,” we were informed vaguely – so we had to be satisfied with the black Angus beef dog and fries. (We were.)

Water Taxi Beach bar

Water Taxi Beach tables

Eventually, the late risers began strolling in as well, as did a ferry full of visitors from the adjacent water taxi stop. The hoses were turned on, spraying their cooling mist from the white PVC piping lining the fence.

Water Taxi passengers

Water Taxi Beach view

Water Taxi Beach view

In June 1997, the Chicago Tribune published an essay by Mary Schmich, in which she put forth a “Guide to Life for Graduates.” The entire essay was set to music and released two years later as the successful single, “Baz Luhrman Presents: Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen): The Sunscreen Song (Class of ’99).”

Most of Schmich’s advice is of the usual graduation speech variety: “Do one thing every day that scares you… Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.”

But it begins:

Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

Ah, so true. As I was reminded later that night, even a fake beach can give you a very real sunburn.

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