23 June 2016


And now I’m fully in the swing of things, having gone so far as to fill out my Google Calendar with potential events. You know, things you think you’ll do but then pull out at the last minute? Like this Romy and Michele's Saturday Afternoon Tea Dance that I really want to go to — just look at those playlists! — but I know there’s slim chances of me making an afternoon dance party. Still, dare to dream.

As I’ve already covered my NBA Finals exploits, the other things of note I wanted to highlight was Eclipse, a play I saw on Wednesday. Actually I’ll just quote myself (how gauche!), from the fourth issue of Cool It Now: "Let's be real, you're never going to get Hamilton tickets. So what's the next best thing? How about the first all-black, all female creative cast and team to premiere on Broadway? Eclipse is a play about four captive wives during the Second Liberian Civil War....the whole play was amazing, and Eclipsed will likely make the rounds, even if it's leaving Broadway soon. Just keep the play's name on your cultural radar!”

So that was Wednesday, and then on Thursday I hopped to AAWW again for a reading featuring Esme Wang, a writer I’ve been following online for awhile. Wang’s work is emotional, confessional, and often has a focus on creating while struggling with mental disorders, specifically schizophrenia. Her new book, The Border of Paradise, is partially set in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and I can’t wait to read it.

Also during the reading, a new writer I was introduced to, Wei Tchou, shared with us her Tiny Letter about Wendi Deng, aka "the world's most perfect woman.” Sign up with me and stay up-to-date on the former Mrs. Murdoch!
And last Saturday I went to a local B&N for Dhonielle and Sona’s book panel, as part of B&N’s inaugural YA book fest. (And in a month is their debut party for Shiny Broken Pieces, the follow up to Tiny Pretty Things). Afterwards we trekked, well Ubered, to Shanghai Cafe for some Chinese food. And after hanging out at yet another great NYC secret bar — Genuine Liquorette, which served wonderful music —we cleaned up with more Chinese food at Congee Village. Verdict: Chinatown Chinese food is greasy! But we knew that. Sigh, I guess you can't have Taiwan back again... Unless you go to Flushing! Please someone take me to Flushing?

Exactly a week later I found myself at Parkside Lounge, waiting for my friend’s DJ to spin. It was a long wait, as he didn’t come on until 2AM or so, and in the meantime I just sat on the sidelines, not moving. It got to the point where my friends were worried I was sick or something. “Nope, nope, just old!” I wasn’t feeling the middle set and had to conserve energy for the old school hip hop that was sure to come. And when it finally did, we got in a good hour or so of fun and finally I got some good proper dancing in.

Maybe this will portend more summer dancing, otherwise I’m not sure what I’m even doing with my (night life) here. Note: The usual crowd at Parkside is not one we like, but the once a month party is old school hip hop and had some amazing throwback jams.

Oh, popped by the Brooklyn Makers Market on Sunday, and bought a handy pouch with an egg on it, but otherwise passed on all the jewelry and various other tchotchkes. One guy was selling pens shaped like disembodied eye stems and eyeballs. No thank you!

20 June 2016

Finally, and Good Riddance

What were you doing when LeBron re-ascended the throne? I was surrounded by like twenty TVs in a previously raucous Golden State bar. Oh how the Cleveland fans emerged from their silent bubble after Kyrie hit the game clinching three over Steph. Fifty-two years between championships is basically a lifetime, so I guess I’m happy for Believeland.

Up until GM7, I was cheering for the Warriors, but after a piss poor GM6, I switched allegiances and wanted LeBron to win. Mainly to just get him out of the headlines, and have this “Cleveland hasn’t won…” storyline out of the way. Make no mistake, I have no love for the Cavaliers. I mean, I hate/fear LeBron, wasn’t sold on Kyrie as a star, pray every day the Celtics don’t trade for Kevin Love, and basically have cheered against the Cavs for years. But if it takes LeBron making the greatest comeback in Finals history to get him out of my life, so be it. Congrats King!

Trying to watch big sports games in New York is always an exercise in scrambling. Most people don’t have big enough apartments, or a large TV, to invite people over. And since I hate sports bars, my ideal setup is just to have a handful of people in a quiet space. For example, I watched GM5 at my friend’s hotel lounge down in Tribeca. It was just three of us, with the occasional stop in from some of the staff. The television was large and the room was quiet, it was glorious.

Here’s where I watched all the games for the 2016 NBA Finals.

  • GM1: Landed into JFK airport, flipped on League Pass, and watched the Warriors dismantle the Cavs from the back of a cab. Then turned it off to get Korean chicken wings in the East Village.
  • GM2: Went to a friend of a friend’s apartment in Flatiron after watching The Nice Guys, and ate pizza and Italian food for a home style viewing experience.
  • GM3: After going to last week’s AAWW thing, I watched the first half at a Five Guys on my phone and then went to meet my friend cross town. She was watching it with a bunch of her younger co-workers, who were streaming off an illegal Reddit stream. Also, there were bongs.
  • GM4: Trekked out to Long Island City for my friend’s combo pizza and watch party. Cleveland lost and we thought the series was basically over. No surprise: Pizza parties are the best!
  • GM5: The aforementioned hotel lounge. So quiet we could’ve taken a nap. Ate McDonald's cookies to power up for the second half. Both us and the Warriors petered out by the end.
  • GM6: A Cleveland blow out as I sat around at a Times Square area bar, trying to squint across the room at the televisions. USA was playing Ecuador too, and half the bar was split between basketball and soccer. Not ideal.
  • GM7: Reserved a table for eight at Campeon in Union Square. There are almost TVs on every square inch of the walls. The place was packed, the volume turned up high, and DJs spun during commercial breaks. It was like we were at the game. For a big sports event, this was the perfect viewing experience. High recommend.
So yeah, that’s how you gotta scramble around if you’re devoid of a regular spot to watch, and also don’t like to be around rowdy drunk people. At first I was thinking how this long ass series was ruining my New York social life, but upon consideration, the games did provide a good reason to gather random groups of people together and hang out. Now I guess we'll have to just focus on Game of Thrones... Until that ends too.

This coming Thursday I’m attending the NBA Draft at Barclays Center. While tickets seem overpriced for something that would be far better to watch on TV, this is a rare opportunity. The Celtics have the #3 overall pick, plus two more first-rounders and four second-rounders. We’ll be in the action all night! Plus, for a mere $50, who knows when I’ll get a chance to go to a NBA draft again?

For the record, assuming Danny Ainge doesn’t trade away our top pick, I hope he swings for the fences and drafts Dragan Bender. Boom or bust baby, boom or bust! And if Ainge somehow trades that #3 pick for Jahlil Okafor I'm gonna cry.

09 June 2016

The Town

Here we are, one week into New York, aka another summer! My first take upon arriving last Thursday was that it’s a cesspool here, as I biked down toward the East Village on 1st Avenue. But I tried to remember that’s what I always feel when I get here — especially post-Taiwan and having such clean subways and stuff. With New York, you take the good with the bad and a few whiffs of garbage and drunks wasn’t going to diminish its greatness. As a Lucky Peach article comparing SF versus NY food stated, "People move to New York to be plugged into the pulsebeat of the world.” I needed to feel the pulse.

After a weekend of co-ed bachelor party stuff, mainly consisting of a burlesque show at Duane Park, I was ready to dive into some of New York’s cultural offerings. Oh, this time around, I’m subletting a room in Stuy Town, which is located between 1st Ave and Avenue C. Stuy Town is a private residential village, six blocks high by three avenues deep, and filled with massive brown buildings where nice Manhattanites are silo-ed in. It’s a bit far from most of the subway stops but my summer plans are to just Citibike everywhere so no matter. (While I probably wouldn’t live here full time, my sublet is only for two months so I figured I would want to be in the city at least.)

If there’s any restorative for my joy in the city, it’s biking up and down the streets at night. 2nd Avenue bike lane, you're the best!

On Tuesday night, I went to my friend’s open salon at his School for Poetic Computation. Brandon, who’s actually my classmate from Taiwan, has also moved here from overseas concurrently with me, and is engaged in this ten week course. (The school's motto: "More poems less demos.”)

The salon featured a variety of artists, coders, video game makers, and other speakers who were sharing their works. It was a packed room and it made me think of how just about any niche interest in New York can bring in a crowd. That’s the beauty. Plus the crowd was quite diverse, filled with minorities and women, which was a pleasant surprise.
And then last night I went to a reading at AAWW, after biking up to the Flatiron and picking up dumplings and boba on the way. Hua Hsu, of Grantland and The Atlantic among many others, was introducing his new book, and the co-guests were stellar. Jon Caramanica, music writer for the New York Times. Ashok Kondabolu, formerly Dapwell from Das Racist. Plus Kiese Laymon, whose work I’d been following for years. (Laymon couldn’t make it unfortunately.) It was an all-star lineup and even with all that, I found myself there by way of Esther Wang, a writer I’ve only recently started following on Twitter.

Again, packed house. And a thought provoking event. I didn’t stick around afterwards because I rushed out for a hamburger and to watch the GSW-CLE game, but I’ll be back next week for an event with Esme Wang.
And I guess that’s what I’m talking about, that stuff like this doesn’t happen for me elsewhere. Maybe it’s there, maybe I’m not digging hard enough, but in New York things are just easy, accessible. There’s too many things that bring my various interests together. Of course this is weighed down with the inconvenience of living here, and the high cost, but that's just part of the package isn't it?

My stated goal this summer was to revamp my circle. Find some community, find some new friends, get inspired, get some work/writing done. And underpinning that is to find out where to stay for the next few months. I guess it’s a beginning. Again.