I went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens with my friend Gino. There was no real reason to go, especially for a $15 admissions fee, but it was a relaxing time for what was otherwise a perfect Saturday.
Yesterday was the official wedding of my friends, Liz and Carolina. They’ve been together long before I met them in 2011, and I wondered when the hell they were going to get married. And they’ve been through a lot: the launching of their respective art careers, the terrace barbecues at Gino and Monica’s, the sudden loss of Carolina’s son, and even the opening of their very own gallery in Bushwick. Those two were destined to be together through thick and thin.
The wedding itself was ideal: a ceremony outside, a procession accompanied by an a cappella version of The Chemical Brothers’ “Snow,” Carolina’s daughter Acacia singing Bruno Mars during their vows, personalized crystals and artwork to each guest, no seating arrangements (a perk to having to be forced to sit with people you don’t know, and a perk to any couple not worrying about grouping their guests), and a taco buffet catered by Dos Toros — Liz and Carolina’s nuptials was something that I’d only to aspire to imitate. Seriously, there was so much heart and carefree-ness to the entire affair, their wedding was one of the best weddings I’ve been to. It was a fucking party.
And now for the photos:
Congrats Liz and Lina!
A few weekends ago I went camping. I took Nico, met up with the Scott and Ann Marie (and their pup, Sebastian), and drove upstate to join my roommates and other friends to spend a long summer weekend on a lake.
The campsite, Forked Lake, is situated around a cluster of lakes in the Adirondacks. During the three days that I was there, me and my group of 11 (plus two dogs) were completely isolated from everything — electricity, modern bathrooms, and even cellphone service. It was a nice break from technology, and I didn’t have to worry about work emails or talking to my family or the occasional spam email for my Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon (I’m moving, after all, and I need new stuff at a discounted price). My only worry would be the nest spiders in the outhouse and them crawling on me as I pooped in a simple hole in the ground.
It was about a 7-minute hike from the parking lot to the forested campsite, and because we arrived at night, we initially got lost in the pitch-black wilderness. Using the flashlights on our near-depleted cellphones and following the muddy trails, we found our campsite by discovering the lone bear locker.
We pitched our tents in the darkness and unpacked for the long weekend: I had prepped food for an immense and otherwise fantastic breakfast the following Saturday, so I brought two coolers and cooked on the stone stove situated directly across the water.
I also brought a 4-person tent, but considering I’m alone and hopelessly single, it was just my dog and me occupying the spacious insides and living like royalty. We also had a picnic table on our grounds, and for whatever was going on inside her tiny, dog-brain, Nico decided to dig an entire hole underneath. For the majority of our time there, Nico was perched inside the hole; her little head poking out.
I wanted this camping trip to be a weekend to relax and not focus on moving out of my apartment or work or family. I succeeded in that respect. I also wanted to take some great photography shots, and even though I was able to produce some great images with my cellphone, I had a hiccup with my DSLR. You see, I figured I can get some cool shots of the wooded area and my dog on the lake. With my cell in my shorts’ pockets and my camera in hand, Scott and I took Nico and placed ourselves in a canoe. After launching only a few feet away from the shore, Nico decided to jump off the canoe. This, of course, destabilized the entire vessel, and we all tipped over into the water. My camera and my phone were only submerged for only a few seconds, but water did get inside each device. My phone ultimately survived, but my camera was less fortunate: even though it’s a freshwater lake and I let it dry out completely, my DSLR won’t take video and its preview screen refuses to turn on. The situation sucked, because I mainly used my camera to produce videos every other week. Overall, it’s a minor financial setback ($400 for a new body on eBay), but I wasn’t too upset. I did learn a valuable lesson: Nico hates boats.
Camera aside, camping was what I needed during these last few weeks of summer. I needed to get away from the city, from responsibility, from cloud and Wi-Fi based technology. I give you respect, Nature; you’re cool.
I turned 34 on Tuesday, at 9:19 am.
I wasn’t too sure how my birthday would be celebrated, but if I had it my way, it’d be spent ordering a pizza, playing Persona 5, and potentially making dog videos. Of course, my friends had something else in mind:
At the stroke of midnight on April 25th, my roommate came out of her room and presented to me a slice of birthday cake from Butter & Scotch; a great start, in my opinion. The next day at work, my officemates took me out to lunch at Totto Ramen and were gracious enough to pay for my meal.
As I was slurping down my spicy ramen and drinking half a beer I shared with my supervisor, I kept on getting an unrecognized call from a New York City area code. At first, I thought it was a robo-call (who else has been getting a lot of these lately?), but as I we walked back to our office, I answered it after the 5th attempt: it was a delivery guy from Domino’s. It was hard to understand him at first, and the order initially took me by surprise; I thought it was a mistake. I then realized it was probably Brett Harmon delivering a pizza from his vacation in Hanoi. He confirmed it after sending me a text on a phone number with a bajillion numbers and a “+” sign. It was indeed a surprise pizza attack.
Immediately after work, I met up with Gino at his office. He said he was going to take me out to dinner, but refused to tell me where — yet another surprise. After he put on a classy suit, he lead me out into the rain and onto a train heading uptown. We got off 34th street, passed through Macy’s to avoid the rain, and dragged me to Keen’s Steakhouse: one of the oldest restaurants in NYC and voted one of the top ten steakhouses in the city.
After two glasses of wine, and 45 minutes surpassing our 7:15pm reservation, we were seated in “The Moose Room,” a semi-private dining area whose walls were adorned with century-old photos and a giant moose head. The entire ceiling was covered with fishermen pipes. Seated next to us at adjoining tables were European tourists in fanny packs and what looked like an unmarried couple from Asia who kept on ordering steak and lobster and more steak and more complimentary bread.
Gino took care of the order entirely, so I can’t recall what exactly we had: it was just a slab of steak — perhaps the tenderest, juiciest steak I’ve ever had — french fries, and cauliflower. We ordered an entire bottle of wine and ate like men.
For dessert, he let me choose. I decided to get a Lady M dark chocolate cake, thinking it was one of that restaurant’s famous layered-crepe cake. Now I’ve never seen Gino eat chocolate, so it came as a surprise to see him eat a few bites. I figured that since he was pretty much paying for the entire meal, he’s entitled to eat things he normally doesn’t eat.
After Gino paid the check (still no clue how much it cost), we walked towards the exit and passed Christian Bale. He was a lot shorter than I had imagined and sort of scrawny, so I guess it’s true that the camera adds two inches and 10 pounds. Perhaps he was physically transforming himself for a new role; who knows?
We walked 4 blocks north, in the rain, to The Skylark — a swanky cocktail bar atop a skyscraper overlooking the entire city. I’ve been there before, but with the rainclouds obscuring the even taller buildings, the view looked amazing. The clouds just seemed to devour anything over 20 stories.
Two martinis later, and we called it a night.
All in all, it was a good birthday: small and relatively low-key in the sense that it wasn’t a boozy rager. It made me feel like I can gracefully transition into my mid-3o’s, to an adult. So to quote Blink-182, “Well, I guess this is growing up.”
I went to the first preview day of the Queens Night Market, a ticketed affair that showcases food and retail vendors at the New York Hall of Science. For $5, one can taste all sorts of Asian, South American, and Eastern European foods before it’s open to the public — for free — later in the spring.
All the food and drinks cost under $6, so a twenty can take you a long way here. Nonetheless, waiting in line for a single food vendor can be up to 20 minutes, plus an additional 15 minutes for your food to be prepared. I recall waiting in line to get a pork bun, only to wait for my number to get called once it was prepared; I ended up going to another food line and the ATM in the meantime.
It’s all worth it though, as the worldly, street-style cuisine is unique; finding Japanese octopus balls, Chilean Arepas, or Urkanian perogies in one, localized area is hard to find — even in any neighborhood in New York.
Here’s what I had:
Cbao’s Korean-Style Bulogi Bun: the meat was so juicy, and they loaded it with spring onions. The rice bun is much larger than any bun I’ve ever had, so at $5 it was a deal.
Lahi’s Filipino Lumpia: ground pork and garlic and onions in a fried eggroll wrapper. It’s very reminiscent of what I can cook.
Yes, the atmosphere was a little hectic, and the place was completely packed by 7:30pm (it opened at 6). I particularly didn’t like the music; it reminded me of a local county fair. Still, the food was awesome, and if you don’t mind waiting a lot and standing while eating, I highly recommend getting there early.
Here are more photos: