10.28.12-10.31.12: on sandy, from nyc {updated throughout the storm, at least in theory}

14:21 new york sports clubs are opening their doors to locals (18 and over with ID) in need of a shower, electricity, or a workout. the southernmost manhattan locations currently in operation are at 41st street.

14:00 the transportation situation is expected to improve this afternoon (as metro north and the long island railroad are restored) and tomorrow (when parts of the subway will come back up, above 34th street, at least). this is good news, but i'm still inexplicably furious at the new york city marathon (still on for this sunday), which i have decided to blame for the uneven distribution of city services.
[new york times sports reporter mary] Pilon said the downside of canceling the marathon not only includes an economic impact for the hundreds of companies involving in putting on the event, but also for the many runners who have trained for months. "There's a lot of emotion tied to this event," she said.
there is indeed; i, for example, think of the nypd escorting athletes instead of directing traffic after dark on the lower east side or figuring out if elderly nycha residents are stranded in their high rises and i feel like starting a bar fight.

11:57 the crane at one57 continues to dangle, and the blocks surrounding it are shut down as far as eighth avenue to the west. a bus is parked diagonally across 57th street to prevent traffic from continuing east.

the one57 crane

10:35 central park east is the new 4/5/6 train; the sidewalks were packed with commuters in business suits and old sneakers. i thought at first that the park's magnificent old trees had fared better than the ones surrounding our apartment complex on grand street, but they've simply been cleared more quickly. chainsawed trunks litter the grounds north of columbus circle.

09:05 "i love you," says joe. "don't walk under any trees." i'm taking the 40 blocks to my midtown office on foot, which is actually quite reasonable; we've walked manhattan top to bottom several times, and i dislike buses under the best of circumstances. today they're free and the only public transportation in town.


22:41 there was, i will concede, a bit of post-storm weepiness this afternoon; call it two parts "will the windows explode?" sleep deprivation, one part leaving the cats alone in our apartment for the next day or two (we migrated north to my dad and stepmother's place on the upper east side, as we aren't expected to regain power for a few more days), and one part gouging my head on a cabinet as the sun set and our kitchen darkened. passing between 38th and 39th street on our way up first avenue felt like crossing into oz from kansas: a sudden riot of lights and commerce, the promise of the grid replacing the horrid possibility of hitting a pedestrian in the gloaming (pedestrians in the dark zone of lower manhattan, please wear reflective gear).

19:09 a gal with a duffel bag watches me hit the button for the 35th floor. "boy, YOU'RE glad the power stayed on up here." "yeah i am," i reply. "we live on the lower east side; this isn't our place." "i'm downtown too," she says. upper east side expat fist bump.

10:48 power remains out, / though matches will light the stove. / showering's the rub.


22:25 wind's still indignant, / but the moon let the tide go. / we've got this, new york.

21:05 unsurprisingly, / i'm alone in fondness for / compulsory night.

20:42 and the power's out. stay safe, team; expect update haiku for a bit.

20:25 the lights are flickering regularly now. it's like a séance. at a municipal airport.

19:54 the east river has climbed over its bank across the street, we're expecting to lose power in the next 15 minutes or so, and the wind is picking up again; alors, it's time for the magic of apartment tent.

apartment tent rides again

19:21 the beige sea foam erupting from jamaica bay is, if anything, even more frightening after dark; abc's on-scene reporter appears to be having a slap-fight with a root beer float. it could be time for me to rethink my leisurely swims at rockaway beach.

19:02 the weather channel is reporting gusts of up to 64 mph in new york city, and i believe it; joe claims he heard a window pop on a building next door, though i think it was just a beleaguered air conditioner. it's loud, is my point.

18:17 as of half an hour ago, the east river is over the sea wall down at the south street seaport near pier 11; battery park is underwater.

17:50 in re eating habits forced upon us by sandy, we're somewhere between 'csa survivalism' (i baked bread and roasted a bunch of beets last night) and 'snack opportunism' (my college roommate texted this morning, concerned that we might not have enough candy on hand; i assured her we made it to cvs last night for screme eggs and sour patch kids.) this is not our first rodeo.

17:35 our friends in jersey still have power, which is actually kind of shocking; they went without for something like three days last summer. chris christie is now telling the rest of the state to save their own asses tonight. he is the angriest man on television.

16:02 because i am twelve, i spent the first part of governor cuomo's press conference wondering how first girlfriend sandra lee is preparing for the storm. predictably, she tweeted a cocktail recipe (and, to be fair, disaster-preparedness tips).

15:48 reuters backs our neighbor up; it sounds like we could lose power around eight tonight (that is, high tide). "Blackouts could affect streets as far north as 34th Street, in line with the Empire State building, a Con Edison spokesman said, though would likely be limited to those avenues closest to the East and Hudson rivers."

15:31 saxelby, our neighborhood cheesemonger, is keeping us abreast of the culinary situation on the ground via twitter and facebook (a cheese evacuation in red hook relocated their stock to brooklyn soda works three hours ago; pickle day is rescheduled for this sunday, and so on). september wines & spirits, in turn, wishes us well with gene wilder, as one does.

15:15 a neighbor i don't recognize materializes at the front door and tells us con ed is thinking of cutting the power; we should fill our tub with water. we do, and make a huge batch of popcorn for good measure. mostly unrelated, since tub-water is for flushing the toilet: when we lived in our horrible tenement apartment in hell's kitchen, the water in the bathroom was ice-cold and tasted fantastic.

14:50 my friend lisa checks in from washington, dc: "not even 12 hours in and people are already going stir-crazy." the wind through the bridge is now a banshee's moan.

14:01 in brooklyn, in turn, our friend dan files a report: "Streets are empty but barely any rain and only moderate wind. More importantly, it seems that roughly 20% of restaurants are open, but 80% of bars are." here in manhattan, there's still a decent flow of pedestrian traffic on the williamsburg bridge.

13:34 the first round of "is-everybody-okay?" group emails is scrolling into my gmail account. "My bathtub is full of water like they said to do," our friend tony reports from wall street, "but i dont know why. It tastes so bad."

13:21 pcmag.com reports that the new york times, the wall street journal, and the boston globe are all dropping their paywalls for storm coverage, though the globe's site doesn't seem to have caught up with the announcement yet. joe is home, thank goodness; the fdr is already closed uptown, and we're expecting closure down here soon. the times's midtown webcam is similar to the view from the lower east side, for now.

12:40 big hiccups in our internet access (i'm making this update with my iphone); it's going to be a long day. i balloothanized justin bieber, who was hovering around listlessly at eye level, and steve refuses to look at me.

11:51 the citywide reaction to bloomberg's most recent press conference has been resounding: everyone is captivated by his expressive sign-language interpreter.

11:31 governor cuomo announced that the battery park and holland tunnels will close at two. joe is on his way back from work now; the wind is comparatively tame for the moment, but i made him promise he wouldn't take a bridge.

10:18 the gym is once again packed to the gills, which makes sense, i suppose; since we're all indoors, why not? most of us are indoors, that is; i circled our building after my run and met a guy en route to the mailbox with a netflix envelope(?). we clucked at the downed branches and wicked potential projectiles scattered about the back garden.

08:55 @JitneyGuy (in atlantic city): "80 feet of boardwalk floating free at Atlantic and New Hampshire Ave."

08:32 gothamist posted the mta's grand central terminal photos; the halls are empty and gleaming. they're reporting that this is only the second time in history that subway, train, and commuter rail service has been suspended all at once (irene was the first).

07:28 woke up to whitecaps on the east river; fdr heading south is nearly deserted, and the northbound side is full of emergency vehicles. joe is leaving for work soon.


23:01 per an update at nymag.com, the gowanus canal started flooding an hour and a half ago (a senior editor for the new york observer lives in the neighborhood and has been tweeting updates). ew.

20:49 nasdaq reports that all new york city and long island starbucks locations will be closed tomorrow. now everyone really does have to stay home: there's nowhere to pee.

20:18 we've got most of the windows open - we figure we'll have to shut them up soon and want to ventilate the apartment for as long as we can - and the wind has sent steve's mylar justin bieber balloon whirling around the apartment. this does not please him; he's now on our bed in loaf position, his tail wrapped tightly around the balloon's long purple ribbon.

18:16 suspension of critical services continues. from my inbox:
Due to Hurricane Sandy, we will be closing our spas starting Sunday at 3:00pm and continuing all day Monday. We will be monitoring the weather closely to send you updates as the storm develops. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please stay safe during the storm.

Yours truly

The completely bare team
18:06 plenty of water at the grocery store, though our neighbors appear to have stockpiled...diet root beer? storm-related carb loading is in full swing; bread, she is long gone.

fine fare, 6pm sunday

16:35 welcome to hurricane bloggin' II: electric boogaloo (previous episode here). once again, we're going to stay in the apartment; it looks i'll be working from home tomorrow, since the subways are going down as of seven this evening. at present joe is still expected at his office out in queens.


101 in 1001 {III}: 018 visit the ashmolean [completed 09.18.12]

feuchere's satan
{satan, jean-jacques feuchère, c. 1836}

a unicorn kicking the shit out of a gryphon
{unicorn violence}

sobek the crocodile god
{head of sobek the crocodile god}

guess what this is, win a prize!
{mummy wrapping detail}

emily nussbaum observed in the new yorker a few weeks ago that television networks, like people, have personalities. museums are people, i think; oxford's ashmolean could be my college roommate's casually fantastic mother, cece, who remarked at said roommate's rehearsal dinner last friday that she had spent part of the previous evening playing the hawaiian wedding song on a ukelele she'd built herself and inlaid with flames. elias ashmole, a seventeenth-century maximalist after my own heart, gave the university a magnificent shitload of curiosities and antiquities along with his financial support, and the institution that grew up around that collection is as byzantine as the collection itself. profusion of that kind is a mixed blessing: i spent half an hour pinballing angrily between recast statuary (c'mon, ashmole: your bag of tricks is that deep and you're giving me bootlegs?) and more pottery than i'll ever need to appreciate (sorry, pottery), convincing myself that my guidebook's insistence that guy fawkes's lantern was in room 27 or 29 was some sort of ultra-dry british humor. i then wandered into the egypt hall and spent another half hour lidless as a fish with the best mummy collection i've ever seen. that was the ashmolean's cece moment: respectable gallery, respectable gallery, p.s. let me just ninja in here with my mind-blowing awesome.

it remains a bit pathetic that in six months of living within a stroll of the ashmolean's statuary-and-pottery-and-lantern-and-mummies i managed not a single visit. in my defense, i spent half of those months with joe, and he's diverting (sometimes annoyingly so: when we were out in california for that wedding last weekend, my mother gave him her stanford class ring. my mother!). sloth had a way of working out for me, as it sometimes does; the museum underwent a massive rebuild in 2009, and the egypt hall reopened to great fanfare with its all-new (old) mummy army just last year. the 101 in 1001 list's lesson this time around, perhaps, is that armies of mummies arrive when one is best disposed to confront them. thank goodness, really, for that.


culture blotter {cat power @ hammerstein, 10.23.12}

cat power at hammerstein, 10.23

what we talk about when we talk about cat power (the singer/songwriter chan marshall) depends, even more than most conversations do, on how we got in, on where we're sitting, and on who's beside us. her substance abuse and crippling social anxiety are better known than her music in some circles, and it's widely understood in the indie community that cat power shows can be transcendent, or train wrecks, or both. over at the awl, dave bry wrote that he'd be skipping her show here in new york city after hearing reports that she's revisiting the bad old days:
[I]t worried me to read, in August, in Amanda Petrusich's profile at Pitchfork, that Cat Power was drinking tequila and whiskey. Steve Kandell's piece in Spin was more explicit: she was wasted. It worried me more to learn, late last month, that she'd been hospitalized in Miami for undisclosed medical reasons.

Her concerts have been falling apart again, too. Two weeks ago, the Miami New Times' David Von Bader described a show at Grand Central Miami:

With a golden beam of light shrouding her silhouette, the songstress rallied and got through the song, swaying and itching a bit in what could only be described as a mime's imaginary box, set in the corner of the stage.

On Monday, in Toronto, she was described as seeming "scattered and frail."


I don't think that she is feeling fine. Or, if she is, I don't think that she'll be feeling that way for very much longer. The connection between musical genius and drug and alcohol addiction will not be news to anybody, but this instance is striking me as particularly depressing. Here I am, enjoying one of my favorite artist's new music, celebrating its return to a level of brilliance previously achieved—quite possibly at the expense of that artist's well-being.


Cat Power is playing at Hammerstein Ballroom tonight. Tickets are still available. Maybe it'll be great. I hope it is. Let me know.
when i was in college, i lost my youthful invulnerability all at once. at one moment i was unaware of the sea of faces impossibly far below me, and at the next i was a tightrope walker without her legs. i eventually relearned how to be in public without crumpling - thank god for tolerant professors and a strong support network - but on some nights the anxiety still echoes down there, and the feeling that i could fall forever is one i won't forget. i've wanted to hear cat power's music live for a decade: her version of "satisfaction" is one of the cleverest covers i've ever heard, and her own songs feel like lullabies from a lost moon. i heard the new album when we were in iceland, and it was fucking great. i've also wanted to bear witness to her recovery, as if seeing her in her spotlight could distance me from my own darkness.

it doesn't work that way, of course. i can follow reports that chan underwent a horrible breakup just as she finished her album, or paddle around in her unauthorized biography (an interesting if not unbiased read) and play amateur psychiatrist, but her darkness is as foreign to me as mine would be to her. she halted one song last night, saying that it didn't sound right; we cheered loudly anyway, she and the band began the next song without incident, and we all kept going. "superhero," she said, pointing to a face in the crowd. "superhero," pointing to another. "superhero," pointing at herself. that is my reaction to cat power: i keep going.

my favorite song from sun, a song she didn't halt, is "nothin' but time;" give it a listen, if you have a moment. it's the first track of the mix tape i'm making for my best friend's daughter.


101 in 1001 {III}: 066 acquire a comme des garçons piece [completed 10.14.12]

stripes, a thumb

i was going to knock this list item out with a crazy misshapen green coat i found on ebay last week until a bunch of fools bid it up to like four hundred bucks and i realized i should probably try wild lumpy stuff on in person before committing serious change to it. so hey, here's another of them bloggers wearing stripes. i'm also wearing ballet flats. i feel dirty, but it's a good dirty.

speaking of good dirty, i miss you guys.


electric railway

[Roberto] Bazlen was a great Taoist master. He taught me more than anyone else, without teaching anything. He was rather against writing, he didn't think one should necessarily write. He thought one ought to try to be in some way, without necessarily writing about it. He had a stupendous line, which is published in his posthumous writings—"Once people were born alive and slowly they died. Now one is born dead and slowly has to come to life."

(roberto calasso to lila azam zanganeh in the paris review, fall 2012)


101 in 1001 {III}: 089 attend lunch beat [completed 09.27.12]

the lunch beat movement (workers of the world, get together at clubs instead of hunching over your desks with bad sandwiches!) began, as so many things do, with a bunch of people dancing in a garage in stockholm:
The founder says she was inspired by the film Fight Club to write a manifesto for Lunch Beat.

“The first rule is if it’s your first time at Lunch Beat, you have to dance,” Jaques says. “The second rule is, if it’s your second time at Lunch Beat, you still have to dance.”

There are other rules. You don’t talk about your job at Lunch Beat. Water must be served as well as a take-away meal. No alcohol or drugs. Lunch Beats can’t be longer than 60 minutes and must happen during “lunch time.”
dry afternoon dance parties from which one has to return to one's job (and the new york one's all the way over in long island city)? they sounded like the opposite of everything i stand for, really, but i try to build a bit of personal growth into my 101 in 1001 lists. it wouldn't kill me to go to long island city, and dance, and smile at people instead of biting them, probably.

iceland was all, 'HELL nei.' at noon on a grey reykjavik thursday, joe and i were on our way down laugavegur en route to breakfast lunch when the earnest oom-oom of a local dj set drifted up the street. LUNCH BEAT 4, said a flyer on the door at hemmi og valdi. done and done.

lunch beat 4, reykjavik (1 of 3)

lunch beat 4, reykjavik (2 of 3)

lunch beat 4, reykjavik (3 of 3)

single gentlemen of reyjkavik and elsewhere, how do you feel about dancing in the afternoon? the lunch beat ratio of ladies to fellows was something like five to one. were i a bachelor, i'd put on a tie and follow the flyers. (joe was wearing a tie, for that is how he vacations.) iceland, you continue to expand my horizons (and that was a very fine remix of "my baby shot me down," dj margeir).



Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I'm flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.

(rainer maria rilke; alternate translation here.)


smuggled firework, reykjavik balcony

as, per the commenting message below, the new and fantastically improved website (version guttersnipe point phlox) is still in the oven, i can't actually converse with you about my travels, dear ones; i can, however, present with great pride a shot of joe on our balcony in reykjavik, brandishing one of the sparklers i smuggled through three countries. the lights floating above joe's elbow are the observation tower at hallgrimskirkja. kidchamp dot net: affection, fireworks, and points of light on foreign shores.