A Queens Kind of Party

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A friend asked what Franco and I do these days.

I said, “Nothing really. Just read and drink coffee. Sometimes we see other humans, but mostly we just read and drink coffee.”

Gone are the days of drinking until 4 a.m. (though we’ve had nights like that). Or lying around recovering from nights like that (I guess one can’t exist without the other). Or riding planes, trains and buses en route to and from each other (because, hey, we live together now. WOO.).

Which means we have more time to do the things we do by ourselves, together.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re in New York! Aren’t you supposed to have lofts and go to parties in lofts and know people who know people who have parties in lofts?

Sorry, my friend. It’s not that kind of story. This is a Queens kind of story. An I’m-livin’-in-the-same-apartment-as-my-invisible-Greek-landlord-who-lives-next-to-some-gruff-but-nice-older-Greek-Italian-gentlemen-who-hang-out-on-the-stoop-all-day-talking-all-kinds-of-politics-and-societal-situations-but-still-remember-to-say-hi kind of story.

And in my story, we party, all right. We just do them alone. Or with one other person. Preferably somewhere quiet. Definitely air-conditioned.

At our parties, instead of drugs, we got sandwiches. Instead of kegs, we got coffee.

And for entertainment, we got them all. Fiction! Nonfiction! Sometimes with pictures.

So, hang onto your trousers. I’m about to show you a weekend in the life of us.

It doesn’t get any more exciting than this.

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After two years of writing, I’m in a period of consumption.

Often, it involves super important current events. Like, did you know Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen are dating? And Andy and April got married? And Miguel exists?

What a hoot.

When it comes to writing non-work-related stuff, though, I’ve totally hit a wall.

Hence, the DSLR.

It makes me feel like I’m making stuff.

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On this day, we’re about to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

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After growing up reading 800-page books about dragons and saving his lunch money for comic books, Franco’s 11-year-old self is finally vindicated.

Take that, super cool classmates with your super cool social lives! When you’re 30, you too will enjoy these delightful works without all the angst.

Hm. Well.

Moving on.

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After buying tickets, we sat across Kaufman Studios.

We sipped coffee. We people-watched.

Then we lined up 30 minutes early.

At 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, I thought it was excessive.

gotgI was wrong.

In a distant theater, my brother was also watching the movie.

The following conversation took place some days before, but it gives you an idea of just how big a deal this was.

(He’s in grey.)

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The movie, by the way, was awesome.

I loved it. So did Franco.

We wanted to discuss.

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IMG_0247We Yelped.

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But ended up stumbling upon a quiet bar on a quiet street, and decided to go inside.

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With a name like Snowdonia, how could we not?

IMG_0271We had a table by the window I didn’t want to leave.

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So we stayed until the sun went down.

IMG_0274The next morning, we walked by the swankiest laundromat on the block.

IMG_0276And waited for a very special person.

The lady at the counter told us she’d be there at 1. Maybe.

It was 12:50.

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Eventually, she did roll in. The maker of delicious sandwiches.

“You look 18!” she told me.

“You must get carded all the time!”

If she weren’t so damn delightful, I’d still eat her banh mi.

But I wouldn’t be happy about it.

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OK, I’d still be happy.

Because look at that banh mi.

Just look at it.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

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Grad school…

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Takes a lot out of you. 

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Which is why you need lots of coffee.

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On most days, I make  (meaning I press a button) coffee to-go. But on this day I’m on spring break, so I get to drink out of a mug.

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As well as eat cereal out of a bowl while, get this, taking my time.

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I spent most of break on this couch. I read a lot and wrote a lot and slept a lot. I originally wanted to take a trip, but turns out being a grad student means having very little money. Just like being a professional means having very little time to spend that money.

The universe thinks it’s funny.

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Being a wallflower goes against what our professors tell us. The industry doesn’t favor wallflowers, they say. We must seize the day. Say our piece. Be in people’s faces.

But I think that assumes too much. Wallflowers see the world differently. They listen and absorb, and speak only to add value. They too seize the day, say their piece and get in people’s faces. Just sneakier. And, dare I say it, smarter.

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A reminder there’s life elsewhere.

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This needs no explanation.

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Postcards from different places, mostly New York, quotes and, ahem, manifestos, drawings by me and others, and some ad-like objects from first semester.

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My apartment has become a shrine for all the things I don’t have time to read. Here lie the magazines I subscribed to back in the days I had just a little more time to read them.

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I love that desk. It just sits there, looking pretty.

So there you have it, friends. I’m still alive. I still have much to tell you.

The one not defining thing I love about New York

The thing I love about New York, or should I say one of the things since this thing isn’t necessarily the one defining thing I love about it, is that it’s full of surprises.

Last night I had one of those hellish nights in which nothing really went my way. My body, ragged from four hours of sleep, was against me. Sunday not caring it was Sunday, and me having to work through it, was against me. And the subway, perpetually under construction and leading a rousing game of “Let’s see how many times we can make Karen transfer in what should be a 30-minute trip,” was against me.

In the morning, I fared no better. I had more work at the office and laundry (one of those frustrating New York things you can’t do on weekdays unless you don’t mind spending your post-work fatigue watching telenovelas or an extra $25 or so having someone else do it for you).

I carried the cart and its me-sized bags down three flights of stairs before stopping at the lobby long enough to think: It’s Labor Day. Which is kind of a holiday in some circles. Is the laundromat even open?

Fumbling through my always frozen BlackBerry, I tried to find the phone number for my usual local laundromat.

But which one was it? There are like, I don’t know, 30 in a five-block radius. No matter. I picked the first one that came up in search results, convinced its comrades kept a similar schedule.

Irregular hours, said the automated voice.

And the others?

BlackBerry. Ever frozen.

Fudgefudgetyfudge.

I lugged the cart and its me-sized contents back up three flights of stairs, stormed through the apartment, searched for the number on my laptop to no avail, resolved to walk the three or four blocks to see for myself, maybe grab a cup of coffee just to soothe my soul, perhaps some breakfast too, and hopefully stumble upon a laundromat open long enough for me to cross off one thing on my to-do list.

Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.

Four. letter. words.

Scowl scowl scowl.

And then I found this. I never did do my laundry.

Graffiti Mecca, Queens

We haven’t had a lot of nice days here in New York.

So, when I saw today was likely the only warm (well, mid-40s warm), sunny day this week, I dropped everything and headed out to take pictures. I picked 5pointz in Long Island City because Queens always gets the shaft when people think of New York.

If the metro area were a family, New York would be the impressive, wealthy sister while Brooklyn would be its hip, grungy brother. Queens is the forgotten middle sib, while the Bronx is the problem child (though let me point out that of the five boroughs, Brooklyn had the most homicides in 2009, thanks to East New York). As for Staten Island? Well… yeah.

My visiting friends always give me a hard time for living in Astoria.

“Move to Brooklyn!” they say. “That’s where everything is!”

I have no qualms with Brooklyn, but Queens has its own charm. Remember the “graffiti-laced ghetto of Queens” I mentioned in one of my misadventures? I didn’t know it at the time, but I was talking about 5Pointz.

Funny how I’d been so conditioned to associate graffiti with crime that I didn’t even realize it could also be art.

5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti Mecca,” where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building.

The name 5Pointz signifies the five boroughs coming together as one but, because of its reputation as an epicenter of the graffiti scene, the industrial complex has actually united aerosol artists from across the world.

Over the past decade, the striking, graffiti-covered warehouse has attracted several hip-hop and R&B stars, including Doug E. Fresh, Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Kaz, Mobb Deep, Rahzel, DJ JS-1, Boot Camp Clik, Joan Jett, and Joss Stone.

On any given day, 5Pointz visitors can expect to find prominent artists, musicians, deejays, Emcees (rappers), and B-boys (break dancers) on site, in addition to filmmakers, photographers, and entire tour buses full of admirers soaking in the more than 350 Technicolor murals.

(Source: 5Pointz.com)

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