Capn Design

New York

Digging a Tunnel Below NYC

Posted January 29, 2010


The MTA has been building a tunnel to bring the LIRR into Grand Central. They're expecting it to be complete by 2016. The photo above is from a slideshow on showing some of the images of the dig. Ron Cohen, who is pictured, has been a foreman on this project for a year. If sees it to fruition, he will have worked underground for 9 years. That's insane.

Also worth noting, the workers have a choice of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks coffee. According to the caption (Image #4), the workers prefer Dunkin Donuts.


Slideshow via Sean and you can read more about this on Gothamist

How I Read the Approval Matrix

Posted July 19, 2007

One of my favorite features of New York Magazine is the Approval Matrix. They place a bunch of items on a two-dimentional axis with Brilliant/Despicable on the x-axis and Lowbrow/Highbrow on the Y-axis. I've always wondered if everyone else reads it like I do. So, I thought I'd show you how I read it. Here is this week's matrix if you want to check it out yourself.


The Blizzard of State Street

Posted February 12, 2006


Yes, we got 26.9 inches of snow today. Good times. I've posted a photoset on flickr.

My Transit Strike

Posted December 22, 2005

It's now day three of the transit strike. I won't bore you with idle banter about who's at fault and who's not, but I will tell you about how I got to work.

Tuesday: I didn't. For day one, I decided to do work from home. I could do that just about every day. Despite the potential distractions, working on my laptop while watching transit strike updates was quite productive. As an added bonus, I got Taco Bell for lunch, something that is relatively difficult in this city. Fast food is definitely awful for you, but it's tough to beat a double-decker taco.

Wednesday: As much as I enjoyed the comforts of my apartment, my boss wanted me in the office. Understandable, but disappointing. Being 8 miles from my office, I didn't feel like a 2 hour stroll. So, I opted to ride my bike. Aside from the expected discomfort of riding in 20 degree weather, the ride there was relatively easy. Madison Ave. was closed off to general traffic, so I only had to contend with a few buses and police vehicles. The ride home was far worse. Fifth Ave. had a lane blocked off, but there were tons of people crowding the streets and traffic was awful. The only real positive was the few entertaining cyclists I encountered along the way. Some folks just love to weave.

My Transit Strike SignThursday (today): Even if I could have biked today, I wouldn't have. Instead, I decided to try and hitch hike. A coworker had done it successfully yesterday and I thought it might be fun. So, I made up a sign* (as you can see to the right) and started walking. Luckily, before I could even take out my sign I head, "Anyone going to the Upper East Side?" I raised my hand, found out I'd get as far as 3rd and 46th and hopped in the back of his Geo. It was tight, hot and he had on Hot 97, but there was very little traffic and I got to work by 8:45. Mike, Bobby and another unkown were all nice. None of us had much sympathy for the TWU.

Tonight I'm staying in Soho and will probably walk downtown a bit (into the next zone) and catch a cab. If anything of interest happens, I'll be sure to share.

* Before making my sign, I had read a post on Speak Up about signs with really poor typography. Being a designer, I would have none of that. So, I broke out Gotham, since it was clear, readable and appropriately named.

It's, Like, a Bajillion Degrees

Posted July 19, 2005

I know it's been hot everywhere these past few weeks, but New York City has been painful. Today, the heat index was over 100 degrees. Obviously, that's hot. But when you're in a city packed as tightly as New York, the X factor plays a significant role.

The mysterious X makes your shoes sweat and turns the air into rotten butter. It makes my air conditioning cry blood. Other cities aren't like this. I've been in Chicago for Taste of Chicago when it was 95 degrees and it wasn't as bad. Imagine being surrounded by one million fat, sweaty tourists and thousands of pounds of hot italian beef, then know that New York is somehow worse. I don't know how or why, but it is.

This is why I am currently singing songs to my window A/C unit. I think it just whispered, "Put me out of misery." I wish I could, but it's only July 18th. There's way too much summer left.

Wanna See the Eels With Me?

Posted May 25, 2005

I'm gonna go pick up two tickets to see the Eels on June 30th at Town Hall. They're going to be touring with strings. Does anyone want to be that 2nd? Tickets will be $30.

Even if you can't make it, I would like to strongly recomend you pick up their new album, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. E is a mad genius and this double album is pretty awesome. If you don't trust me, listen to Metacritic, who show it is the 9th best record of the year and the 82nd best since they started tracking reviews in 2000.

Only in New York vol. 1

Posted February 10, 2005

Today I saw a man playing Hava Nagila on his steel drums to a listless set of subway travelers waiting for their trains.

Perfect NYC Meal #1

Posted August 25, 2004

Sunday night I had one of my favorite meals in New York City. What's better is that both locations are next door to one another.

The first half of the meal began at John's Pizzera on Bleecker Street. Unlike it's midtown brother, the original location uses a coal-burning oven, which provides a different flavor. I much prefer the downtown location because of this. In fact, it's my favorite pizzeria in the city.

While there, we got two small pizzas. One had onions and sausage while the other had onions, peppers, mushrooms and olives (the last two only on half). The pizza was fantastic. Their toppings aren't as good as Grimaldi's, but the rest of the pizza easily makes up for it.

Afterwards we walked next door to Cones, the best ice cream in the city. It's not your traditional ice cream it's not hard-frozen. As a result, the ice cream is very soft and the flavors stand out a lot more. If you're into sorbet, this method works quite well.

While there I had one of my favorite combinations: dolce de leche and banana (truthfully I like anything and banana). I definitely recommend getting two flavors, even if that means sharing with your dining partner(s). The juxtaposition makes everything exponentially better.

While this is my favorite, I'm sure tons of other people prefer the Grimaldi's and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory combo. This is definitely a safe bet and I highly recommend these places as well.

My First Scary New York Moment

Posted July 26, 2004

Amazingly, it took me nearly two years to really have an unsettling encounter in this city. I guess I should be thankful, but I still feel uneasy.

Yesterday, while walking to BAM after checking out the new Target in my neighborhood, a man tried to tell me something as I walked by. I had my headphones on and couldn't hear what he said, but I slid them down as I was curious. After a quick inquiry, the man told me, "Oh, I thought you were an undercover cop that one time. I wanted to apologize." He wasn't nearly so eloquent, but it's hard to write in gibberish. I showed confusion, and he asked if I lived around here. I told him I lived a few blocks West and he was like, "Yeah, I sell weed on Hoyt Street!" Uh oh.

He apologized again and then went to knock fists with me. He knocked mine and then I knocked his. When I did that, it knocked his inhaler to the ground. We picked it up and he realized it was broken. I apologized, but said it under my breath as I wanted out of the situation, and started to walk away. "Hey man! Can't you apologize?" Then he snatches my glasses off my face and says, "What if I took something of yours?" I was shocked. "Excuse me, sir. Give me those back. I told you I was sorry. It was an accident." He must have snapped out of his stupor because he gave them back to me. I quickly walked away, ignoring his repeated requests for an apology.

After getting over the shock, I thought about the episode of Six Feet Under from two weeks ago. After seeing it, I wondered how you can trust anyone you meet on the street. Yesterday's event brought that home. This won't stop me from talking to people, but I will be a lot more cautious.

I am a Self-Appointed Racial Ambassador

Posted July 16, 2004

My neighborhood is diverse (see horribly generalized and fairly inaccurate map made because it was fun to make below). Okay, most of New York City is diverse. That aside, I am living in a neighborhood that is more diverse than I am used to. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, where everyone except for the low-wage employees were white, and I went to school in Madison, which is a city that loves diversity but doesn't show it in the campus area. So, living in Boerum Hill has been a change.

It's pretty obvious that a ton of people are inherently a little racist. In my neighborhood, a lot of the non-white residents view me as someone who has come to gentrify things, raise rent prices and knock them over on the way to the subway. One of those is true, but that's not the point. The point is that this bugs me. I don't want to be viewed that way, but when I walk to work in my business casual clothes listening to my iPod, it's kinda tough.

I tend to get upset when I see a Hispanic man walk right past me and then ask a Black lady for directions, which happened this morning. I was also annoyed when I was walking into a store next to a Black lady and she asked someone a few feet ahead of me to open the door, even though it was much more convenient for me to do it. These are the small things, the tip of the iceberg, but it bothers me nonetheless. So, what to do?

Lately I've been going out of my way to be nice to people. I'll say "hello, how are you?" to passerbys on the street or I'll lend someone a nickel or a dime at Dunkin' Donuts. Sometimes, I'll just talk to someone in a line. It's amazing how shocked some folks are by this.

Thus far, I haven't made much of a difference in the neighborhood. I still get ignored when people are seeking favors/advice, but I feel a little better about myself. In fact, the other day I exchanged pleasantries with a racial ambassador from the other side. Our eyes met and he smile and said "Hello, how are you?" I smiled back and said "I am fine, thanks." At that moment, I knew he was on my side. The two of us were working together, probably unknowingly, to build a racially tolerant neighborhood. Okay, so he was probably just being nice, but I'd like to think that an army of us-es could change this neighborhood for the better. One day.

This is the horribly generalized map that I spoke of above:

Horribly Generalized Map of my Neighborhood

It Must Be Summer

Posted May 18, 2004

Last week at some point I took the subway to the Union Square stop. When I left the station it smelled like a combination of B.O. and garbage. It must be summer.

Over the weekend I went to Central Park to play frisbee with a few friends. There were probably a thousand people in Sheep Meadow. Most of them were half naked. It must be summer.

Every single corner in my neighborhood has been ripped apart and repaved. The jackhammers are really loud. It must be summer.

I'm sure that more of these will come to me as we get deeper into the summer months. Add your own in the comments.

Metro Newspaper

Posted May 6, 2004

We have another freebie in the midst. Metro is a new free newspaper that has a bit more history than AM New York. Unlike a number of the free newspapers across the country, Metro is not published by a major daily in the city (AM New York is published by Newsday, I'm pretty sure). Metro itself is published "in more than 100 cities in 16 countries in 15 languages across Europe, North & South America and Asia" (according to the press release, in PDF format). I guess that makes it more prestigious, but not so much.

Metro has the same basic format as AM New York. It is 80% AP articles with the ocassional piece written by someone they've hired and, of course, it's free. I haven't read AMNY all that much, but Metro seems to be appealling to a more educated and refined audience. In other words, AMNY is to the Daily News as Metro is to the Times (that's not a commentary on quality, just on the types of articles they publish and the way the way they present the news). Today's covers have similar content, but present it in a very different way. AMNY relies on massive photos that pop off the cover while Metro has a more laid back approach, one that allows the headlines to speak more than the pictures. After the front page, everything changes.

AM New York Cover - 05/06/04Metro Cover - 05/06/04

AMNY's second page has articles entitled, "NJ starve duo indicted," "Martha gets denied" and New cigs to help reduce fires." Metro has "Prisoner deaths rise," U.S. soldier, 15 Iraqis killed," "Bush seeks $25 billion for Iraq war," "Congress votes to slow tax" and "Cartoonist receives death threats." Essentially, Metro is reporting on real news and AMNY is looking for the salacious headline.

It's clear these two papers are appealing to different audiences. Metro claims their paper "is designed and packaged for a young, urban, active, well-educated audience..." AMNY claims their paper is "A must-read for time-poor, cash-rich 18- to 34-year-old professionals with active social lives -- a demographic that does not read traditional newspapers."

Personally, Metro is much more appealing to me. It's providing news that I'd actually want to read and I don't have to pay a dime for it. Unfortunately, no one ever hands out free papers at the Nevins St. stop in Brooklyn.

Today's editions in PDF format:
AM New York

NY Bloggers Event

Posted May 4, 2004

Ahhh, another blogger event brought together by Jake from Gothamist. I went to the Photobloggers event a few months back and it was interesting, but I wasn't blown away. This was a lot more interesting. I sat up front, stroking my chin and sometimes guffawing, alongside Matt and Jeff.

First you had Jason Calcanis duking it out with Nick Denton. This was the publishers panel. The two men were debating the best model for professional blogging. Jason favors an ownership share, where the publisher and writer split ad revenue 50/50, and Nick favors giving the writer a flat paycheck every month. I think both models can work, but I think that Jason was a bit overzealous. I appreciate his enthusiasm, but he has that typical salesman-style pitch that is a real turn off for me. On top of that, I prefer the model of fewer high quality blogs (Gawker Media) to numerous blogs that can be hit or miss (Weblogs Inc.) So, Nick won in my mind.

We also had the technology and editor panels, which were interesting but there were less fireworks. I was quite interested in what Meg Hourihan had to say about technology and the future of blogs in general. After the event, at MercBar, she pointed out that blogging is a very personal experience and the real excitement won't lie in the battle between professional bloggers -- it will lie in people finding an easy way to communicate with those they care about while learning about computers and writing. After a month-long hiatus, she's pondering bringing the educational powers of blogs to an after school program. I'd love to see this happen.

I really appreciate what Jake is doing and I look forward to more of these. My only suggestion is budgeting some time for dinner between the event and drinks. A blogger's gotta eat.

Photos at Bluejake
Liza is cool
Jeff Jarvis seems cool (we didn't get to talk)

Am I a New Yorker Yet?

Posted March 2, 2004

According to Colson Whitehead, yes. As he professed in his collection of essays, The Colossus of New York:

No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, That used to be Munsey's, or That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge.

I've done that now, but I am beginning to consider myself a New Yorker for other reasons. The newest one is that I now subscribe to the three big "New York" magazines -- New York, The New Yorker and Time Out New York. Each week I spend most of my reading time working through these three publications. My recent desire to take a break from fiction is part of the cause, but the choice to subscribe is a bit bigger than that.

Truly, I think it stems from my recent decision to renew the lease on my apartment and commit to staying in New York for another year. Up until now, I hadn't committed to staying here for any definite amount of time. I've only really lived in sublets up until this point. My new commitment inspired a barage of purchases at Ikea and Crate and Barrell, as well as these new magazine subscriptions.

Thinking about it all, it seems I've always been a New Yorker and I'm only now admitting it to myself. The only thing I'm nervous about now is when I actually have to leave.

NY Subway: What Does This Mean?

Posted February 25, 2004

What does this triangle and star stand for?

Triangle and Star on the NY Subway

Staten Island Ferry Loses Power

Posted February 5, 2004

A week ago I rode the Staten Island Ferry and it lost power. Here's what it looked like.

Powerless Staten Island Ferry

And So It Begins...

Posted January 27, 2004

The Snow Arrives

Pacific St. and 4th Ave. in Brooklyn

Update: Meh. It wasn't so bad. Yet, I am one of five people who actually showed up at work today.

Why Is New York So Tired?

Posted January 14, 2004

Yesterday, as I rode the 4 train home from work, I noticed that no less than half the people on my train had their eyes closed. Occasionally I would see a head start to bob back and forth or a jaw start to loosen as a mouth opens just a smidge. All the while I sat listening to Pearl Jam's No Code on my iPod, wondering the cause of all this sleepiness (and the reason for my unearthing of No Code).

Sadly, I could come to no real conclusion. My girlfriend helped me come close to one, as she pointed out that most of New York is overworked, stressed out and stays up way past its bedtime. I agree with this, but it certainly doesn't effect everyone. There are well rested, stress free, jobless people who still seem to nod off when the train starts moving.

So, I bring this to you faithful reader. Why is New York so sleepy? Better yet, why is the world living in this half-awake, half-asleep fog from 9am on Monday through 5pm on Friday?

Lunch in New York

Posted November 18, 2003

I have found that the most cost-effective meal of the day is lunch. Assuming that you purchase all of your meals, and don't make them yourself, you can find amazing deals around lunchtime.

I almost never eat out for breakfast, but if I did it would be around ten dollars, which is more than I can afford to spend for that meal. If I do "eat out" it means a muffin or bagel and an orange juice for the breakfast cart near work. Even this can get up to three dollars, which is money better spent on buying a box of cereal.

A tasty dinner is always going to cost you more than ten dollars and probably closer to twenty. If you like to cook, eating at home is far more cost effective.

The beauty of lunch is that you get good sized portions at lower rates because the restaurants need the business. So if you are only going to eat out once a day, this is the meal to do it. Here are two great deals in my neighborhood.

Kami Sushi (2nd and 55th): When I order from here I get the Roll Lunch Special. It comes with two rolls, soup and salad for only eight bucks. That's way cheap for sushi and it has been consistently good. They also do a bento box lunch for seven dollars that comes with shumai, salad, soup, white rice and either a california roll, three pieces of sushi or four pieces of sashimi.

Turquoise (Lex and 70th): This is a brand new Mediterranean restaurant that is pretty much just a lunch place. That doesn't stop them from having the best four dollar falafel I have ever eaten. The sandwich is huge and busting with falafel, hummus, and a bunch of veggies (that probably are a part of some named dish, but I don't know what). It is very filling. On top of that, they have root beer in a bottle (IBC), which makes me happy.

As far as your own neighborhood, check out the Chinese restaurants. You can often get a lunch special for $4.50 that will have enough food for two meals. Granted it's mostly rice, but that doesn't stop it from being tasty.

NYC Events Lists

Posted November 10, 2003

Today Gothamist launched their events calendar. It seems to be similar to mine in scope, but with less of a focus on music (also, their's is stocked with events by "professionals"). The biggest difference is they are using in conjunction with Movable Type to manage the page, while I am just using MT.

When I first created my events page there was no such thing as, so I didn't use it. When it was launched I was a little bitter because I had a similar idea at one point and never implemented it. Now, after seeing Gothamist's page and reading Kottke's talk on cooperative web services, I think I will also move my events to It is good for everyone.

In the meantime you can check out the stuff I do have up on my calendar and see what Gothamist has to offer. If you want to do this yourself, follow Matt's instructions.

Also, if you would like to contribute to my calendar is some way, you are more than welcome. Just shoot me an email (available in the sidebar).

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