J.P. Chan 

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Bloomberg Tower

Bloomberg Tower

I’ve liked 731 Lexington Avenue since it went up almost ten years ago. But until this week, all I’ve ever seen of the interior is the subterranean Home Depot on the Third Avenue side of the complex.

So this week I felt especially lucky to visit the building twice, getting to see both the space-age Bloomberg LP offices and Le Cirque Cafe. Unsurprisingly, the building is even nicer on the inside.

 

New Times Square

New Times Square

Even though the first part of the permanent Times Square pedestrian plaza only opened today, it feels like it’s always been there. That’s the sign of a great plan.

 

Dognitive Pissonance

Dognitive Pissonance

I get that this sign is aimed at the owners and not the dogs themselves, but still: why make the thing you’re trying to prohibit look so fun?

Even the dog who’s following the rules looks jealous-as-heck of the ones who aren’t.

Note: this happens in Taiwan, too.

(East 91 St, Manhattan)

 

Mission Beach

Mission Beach

For our first night at SDAFF to screen A Picture of You, we were lucky to stay with a festival board member and his wife.

They generously opened their beautiful home to us and treated us to a view we’ll never forget.

 

City of Bronze

City of Bronze

Even though I’ve lived in NYC all my adult life, I never get tired of rooftop views. No two are ever alike.

(Pod Hotel, Lexington Av & 39 St, Manhattan)

 

XFR STN

XFR STN

Recently, I visited XFR STN at the New Museum with a group of archivists. The folks behind the exhibit gave us a brief but very thorough overview into their data recovery workflow.

I totally geeked out seeing their workstation of old drives for reading obsolete digital media like floppies (3.5/5.25/SD/HD/SS/DS), Zip disks, Jaz drives, and (soon) optical. I got nostalgic for the Commodore 64s and Amigas I owned during childhood. I also got a little sad thinking about all the data lost forever on the floppy disks I threw away.

I’m glad exhibits like XFR STN exist, because I don’t think there’s nearly enough awareness of the digital dark age we’re potentially living in. I made Digital Antiquities a few years back in an attempt to bring attention to this issue and I have a feeling I’ll revisit these ideas in future work. I hope this is a topic that becomes part of the cultural conversation in a bigger way, soon.

 

My Tern

My Tern

I’m the first to admit that I don’t really need a new bike. Between my trusty Bike Friday and a Citi Bike membership, I’m well-covered when it comes to access to two-wheeled transportation.

But my Bike Friday turned twenty this year (I bought it second-hand in 2005) and it may finally be showing its age. So I’ve been looking for an affordable way to let the Bike Friday transition into semi-retirement. The goal was to find a good-quality folding bike that could be my commuting and grocery-hauling workhorse, which would let me use the Friday as my stripped-down, go-fast recreational bike.

Introducing my new used 2012 Tern Link D8. I found this bike on Craigslist from a woman who was leaving New York. She’d purchased the bike last fall after Hurricane Sandy knocked out the subways downtown but stopped using it once the trains returned. The dust all over the bike seemed to back up her story, so I took the plunge. For $280 in cash, I got the Tern, a Kryptonite lock, and a Bern helmet.

The Tern is extremely sturdy and easily carried 25 pounds of Trader Joe’s groceries over bumpy Manhattan streets. I hope I get a good twenty years out of it. And another twenty from the Bike Friday now that it doesn’t have to carry produce anymore.

 

Riverside & 94

Riverside & 94 (1)

Visiting a friend’s house on the Upper West Side and seriously enjoying the view.

Riverside & 94 (2)

Rooftop water tanks have their own secret community high above it all.

Riverside & 94 (3)

A Brooklyn brownstone is still my NYC dream house, but I’m pretty sure a Manhattan penthouse like this would satisfy me as well.

 

Coney Island Yard

Coney Island Yard

Even subway trains need a place to rest when they’re not working. For many NYC subway trains, that place is Coney Island Yard.

For a taste of how a smaller yard works, see this time-lapse of Corona Yard, home of the 7 train.

What does Coney Island look like in action? Stay tuned…

 

My Badass Brother

My Badass Brother

I spent the afternoon watching the vaguely Muay Thai-related Only God Forgives. My brother Jack spent it prepping for his first-ever Muay Thai fight.

A little after 9:30pm, Jack won his match amid a cheering crowd at a sweaty boxing gym in The Bronx. I’m so proud of him.

 

To Each His Own (Lane)

To Each His Own (Lane)

I’m a regular user of the First Avenue bike lane in Manhattan and I love it. It’s by no means perfect — there’s still too much pedestrian dodging required in the East Village and Upper East Side — but it’s a huge step towards a safer and better use of that very wide avenue.

These days, my favorite stretch of the lane is the segment in front of the United Nations. The urban planner in me just loves how the bike lane merges beautifully with the vehicular lanes on the south end of the First Avenue tunnel, taking you comfortably past an area that used to be tricky for cycling. As an added bonus, there’s also now a Citi Bike station directly across the street from the Secretariat Building.

The only improvement I can think of would be giving one lane of the tunnel to bikes if cycle traffic one day warrants it. I’d love to see that in my lifetime.

 

Stonewall Inn 10:36 p.m.

Stonewall Inn 10:36 p.m.

Not yet at the finish line, but a pretty great day nonetheless.

 

Eighteenth & Tenth

Eighteenth & Tenth

The transformation of far west Chelsea is really breathtaking, especially since it’s nowhere near over. It’s part of a decades-long metamorphosis of the west side of Manhattan that stretches from the Village to the Upper West Side and which shows no sign of stopping.

I remember how these blocks on Tenth Avenue used to feel so desolate, forgotten, a little dangerous. It always seemed like this part of Manhattan was secret hiding in plain sight, not far from the busy corridors but never really seen.

Then over the course of twenty years came Chelsea Piers, Hudson River Park, clubs, galleries, Chelsea Market, the High Line, Google, IAC, and high-end residential.

And with Citi Bike stations all over the neighborhood, now even those long blocks from the subway on Eighth Avenue don’t seem so long anymore.

 

Manhattan Circle (Mostly)

I haven’t circled Manhattan on my bike in several years, so I decided last-minute to try it again yesterday afternoon.

The good news: it’s easier than ever to do this route now, despite the few missing links. The path almost everywhere is in very good condition and you’ll have plenty of company except along the Harlem River parts.

The bad news: at one of the missing links uptown, I ran into a dead end (on the FDR!) which extended my ride. Those few extra minutes were enough to fully drain the GoPro’s batteries, so you won’t see my triumphant finish in this video.

But it’s all about the journey not the destination, right?

 

John Chin Trio

John Chin Trio

Sadly, I can count the times I’ve been to a jazz club on one hand. But after seeing John’s trio tear it up Monday night at Small’s, I realize I really need to get out more often.

 

Baggage Claim

Baggage Claim

If you gotta wait for your bags, the JetBlue Terminal at JFK is not a terrible place to do it. Sleek and efficient.

 

Houston Bike Share

Houston Bike Share

I sadly missed the debut of Citi Bike yesterday, but on my last full-day in Houston I catch something equally cycleriffic: a Houston B-cycle.

Who knew Houston, of all places, had a bike share system? I won’t have a chance to try it out on this trip, but I hope it’s even better and bigger the next time I visit.

 

Cinema (Houston)

Cinema (Houston)

Somewhere on Westheimer, a mostly empty but way cinematic strip mall. I’d love to shoot something here.

 

Crawfish Night

Crawfish Night 1

I’ve eaten crawfish only a handful of times in my life, usually as an ingredient in a dish like gumbo, never by itself. I’ve always enjoyed it, but in NYC you have to go out of your way to find crawfish. As a result, I don’t eat it much.

So you can imagine my delight when my sister told me that my family here in Houston have been cooking up large batches of it every Friday this crawfish season.

It helps that the price of live crawfish has been as low as $.99 per pound at H.E.B. , because last night they bought thirty-nine pounds of it.

Crawfish Night 2

That’s my uncle skillfully cooking the crawfish. The meal was accompanied by equally yummy garlic corn-on-the-cob and Seafood Alfredo. He says he learned how to make all of this from watching Top Chef.

Crawfish Night 3

The best part about eating food that requires disassembly is that it forces you to eat slow and chillax with your dining partners. Here, my sister and stepmom fill me on family gossip news since my last visit to Houston.

Crawfish Night 4

Here’s what the pile looked like after we finished. I stayed at the table to continue shelling the crawfish, which my uncle will cook into other dishes like Crawfish Fried Rice.

My uncle ate last after cooking the entire batch of crawfish. Dessert was Häagen-Daz ice cream bars.

Needless to say, this was my favorite meal of the trip so far.

 
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