Category: Friends

The ladies from Lyons

Friday, March 21st, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends, Music

There are few things SYB enjoys more than assisting tourists: hardly a week goes by without his proactively offering directions to bewildered-looking foreigners. German speakers, in particular, will capture his attention… as will fetching French women, as was the case with RM’s guests, whom we met at his St. Patrick’s Day soirée in Sunnyside. MB and JA were in town for just over a week, and fortunate I think to have such attentive and enthusiastic boosters for New York City at their disposal.

I crossed paths with the touring trio on Sixth Avenue, as they were heading into the MoMA to take advantage of Target Free Friday Nights when museum admission is complimentary from 4–8PM. All other times, it’s a rather steep $20, which explains this insane queue for entry.

Target Friday @ MoMA

So despite the fact that my MoMA membership card would earn me line-jumping privileges, I knew that every single one of these people would make it inside the museum eventually, and I didn’t particularly want to be there when they did. Not when I could check out the acclaimedDesign and the Elastic Mind” exhibit any other time… through May 12, anyway.

I met up with SYB, MB and JA a couple of hours later at Amazing 66, where we gave our visitors an authentic taste of Chinatown. Tonight’s menu overlapped much of the Mardi Gras meal -– with the short rib-stuffed pumpkin and steamed whole flounder the unqualified hits of the night — but in the excitement of feasting, I neglected to order the “Salad Walnut Prawns” — sorry, HYB! Afterwards, the nine of us made the obligatory post-dinner visit to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory around the corner.

After the couples took their leave, it was up to the B brothers and me to plan out the rest of our evening. The night was still young, but, as it turned out, so were our guests; JA was a couple weeks shy of her 21st birthday, which strictly limited our options. Three native New Yorkers, and not one of us could immediately think of a place to spend a Friday night that did not involve drinking, or that at least required guests to be of drinking age. Embarrassing, actually – and a testament to how very long it had been since any of us had to take such matters into consideration.

I remembered what fun we’d had at J’s birthday celebration in December, and suggested Fat Cat Billiards on Christopher, both for its live music and its low-key vibe. Under 21 welcome! The $3 cover got us into the basement saloon, stocked with pool and ping pong tables, shufflepuck and foosball (“baby-foot” in France, I learned), chess and board games galore. The women, though, seemed most entranced by the live performances, and the well-over-21 among us were more than happy to settle into the worn couches for the next couple of hours to catch the sets by The Gospel Queens of Brooklyn and one very talented jazz octet.

Fat Cat Jazz

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Getting our Irish on (and up)

Monday, March 17th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

Erin Go Bragh! Despite the Catholic Church’s decision last summer to reschedule the March 17 holiday for March 15 so as not to coincide with the second day of Holy Week, New York City held its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade this morning. The Church has a history of involvement in these celebrations: in 2000 and 2006, when the holiday fell on a Friday in Lent, during which Catholics are to abstain from eating meat, the Archdiocese of New York issued a special dispensation allowing its 2.5 million Catholics residing in Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island and several upstate counties to eat meat on March 17. Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens received no such pass from their Archdiocese, and were instructed to perform another act of penance if compelled to indulge in corned beef on that day.

Unlike last year, the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day festivities fell during normal work hours, so I missed out on the parade fun along Fifth Avenue. Guinness is behind Proposition 3-17 — a campaign to make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday in the United States. No matter, I was able to catch the all inclusive parade in Western Queens earlier this month.

At Irish bars throughout Manhattan, the drinking had begun in earnest well before noon, but my plans for the evening involved a trip on the 7 into Sunnyside, which along with neighboring Woodside, is one of the city’s historic Irish enclaves. Since the 1990s, while other ethnic communities have moved into these neighborhoods, the Irish population has dwindled as longtime residents move out of the city or back to Ireland, spurred by the country’s renewed economy and the end of the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

The Empire State Building aglow in green, of course:

St. Pats ESB

At RM’s home in the Gardens, we caught up with friends recently seen and not so over cold beer and treats from El Shater. The night was marked by valiant attempts at Irish dancing and a rousing, lyrically mangled rendition of “Danny Boy,” (which sounded rather like this one)… by all accounts a fine, fun gathering marred only by a brief, but mortifying episode which included the most appalling party exchange since… well, in a long, long time.

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Easy as 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288

Friday, March 14th, 2008 | All Things, Friends

This blog post’s title is inspired by The New York Post‘s infamous 1989 “Easy as Pi” headline, which appeared over a front page image of illegally obtained answers to that day’s New York State Chemistry Regents. The publication resulted in a massive run by high schoolers to purchase The Post, followed by the abrupt cancellation of the statewide exam on my birthday — so awesome! — and raised all sorts of controversy regarding the paper’s journalistic ethics.

On the 20th anniversary of Pi Day, 3.14 (naturally), SYB hosted a Pi(e)-themed potluck. Fellow pi and pie enthusiasts gathered in Sunnyside to enjoy the bounty of foods that were either in pie form, or related to π, i.e., round, spherical, cylindrical or conical. For the occasion, I made a round vegetarian shepherd’s pie — if such a thing can still be called “shepherd’s pie” — substituting a combination of portobello, cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms for the ground lamb layer.

This year, The New York Times ran a “Win a Pie on Pi Day” contest, soliciting submissions of poems about pi (“piems”?) or pi-ku (in three-line, 3-1-4 syllable format.) The most useful of these, like the MIT cheer “Cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159!,” aid in the recall of the digits of pi. Among the the pi mnemonics I know of — most of which assign digits based on the number of letters in each corresponding word — my favorite remains: “How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!

The current world record for pi memorization belongs to Japanese mental health counselor (ha, now that’s ironic!) Akira Haraguchi, who managed to recite pi to 100,000 decimal places in 2006. I very humbly top out at about 35 decimal places — sufficient for computing the circumference of the known universe with an error no greater than the radius of a hydrogen atom.

Yeah, I think I can live with that.

In Times Square on Pi Day:

Times Square band

Oh, and despite never having taken those pesky Chem Regents, I can still chuckle appreciatively over the existence of Mole Day, celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02AM to 6:02PM, i.e., 6:02 10/23. I leave it to SYB to devise an appropriate potluck theme in honor of that occasion. (“Avocado,” perhaps? *Groan*)

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