Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blueberry Overload

We went to the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival yesterday, a far cry from the artisan delights of Sauvie Island in Portland. They had blueberries for sale, but they did not come from Whitesbog. They were packaged and trucked in from some other part of New Jersey. Fortunately there was ample picking to be had, and for a fair price too. So now, since there were three of us, we have masses and masses of blueberries to glut ourselves on, not to mention the feasting we did while among the blueberry bushes.
I went to a show on Friday night at Sound Fix Records, which I think is between Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. My friend had asserted that W.burg is just like Portland, and the club proved her right. However, the boys are finer looking in PDX, no doubt about it. The subway was hopping when we left, after midnight, for the return to Manhattan where said friend lives. Then we wandered around Greenwich Village for a long time in search of pizza. Fait accompli!
For the record, Highlander does little to recommend itself. I think it's too bad for even ironic appreciation. The female characters, being mortal, had no depth or substance. I did enjoy the performance of Clancy Brown.
Today I'm off to see what's left of Coney Island, and to spread blueberries among the masses.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I went on a tour at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on Wednesday. They have an interesting setup, with a few unrenovated apartments on the tour so that you can see the decay vividly, layers of wallpaper flaking off and windows sagging. People loved big floral prints at least up until the 1930s, when the building was condemned.
My tour included a tiny coffin, go figure. Apparently there was terrible corruption among milkmen at the turn of the century, and they'd add things like ammonia and chalk to milk to make it seem less rotten. Then babies would die, hence the tiny coffin on the tour.
Now I'm supposed to watch The Highlander. Will I succeed? It looks like a pile of crap so far.

Drugged with Sleep

I slept until 3 pm today, with a short awake period during which I ate breakfast. I stayed up all night reading a book called The Time Traveler's Wife. My friend lent it to me, and said that it was a real page-turner, reminding him of times he'd stayed up all night reading as a kid. So, how could I resist staying up all night reading it? The book is not that well written, in terms of believability of the characters. There's a lot of name-dropping of punk and post-punk bands, and it sort of rings hollow. Like the characters aren't as cool as the author wants them to be, like they're just pretending so she'll like them more. And there's a traditional wedding in the book even though one of the character is physically incapable of participating fully in such a ritual. Oh well, what the parents want the parents get! But the general flow of the book is lovely, and the ending is smash-bang good. I cried and cried. Anwyay, so I slept in till 3 pm today, and now I think I'll have some coffee.
I'm going to a scholarship fund concert tomorrown night in Brooklyn, so I'll be able to see Olafur Eliasson's new waterfall installation. The comments about in on the NY Times website are hilarious, very skeptical and concerned about the logic of spending $15 million on waterfalls in the river under bridges.
The New York subway system is not fully handicapped accessible. I'm shocked by this because the system in LA is fully accessible, and the train drivers announce when the elevators aren't working and what bus line the wheelchair-bound can use to get back to the right station. Does that mean it's just impossible to use the subway if you're in a wheelchair in New York? I haven't seen anyone on a wheelchair on the subway yet, and I haven't ridden a bus, so I don't know.
Tomorrow I'll ride my bike from Newark to Manhattan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Newark, New Jersey

I traveled by car from New Hampshire through Connecticut on Sunday, arriving in Brooklyn at night. Then I rode the subway to the PATH and my friend picked me up at Penn Station in Newark.
Here's what I've learned so far:
1. Friendly's is Denny's nasty cousin, reeking of table slop water and just as overpriced. However, I'd never heard of "Fribble" or "Fribblecino" before, so the visit was worth something.
2. Jeffrey Lewis is AWESOME.
3. People in New Jersey use the presence of rail as an excuse to move to the suburbs, which is one reason why Newark is so blighted. This goes against my utopian idea that if more white people used public transit there would be more integration. In this case, the rail system enables segregation.
4. Hoboken is lovely, with block after block of old apartments. And the view of Manhattan is superb. However, parking in Hoboken requires tremendous patience and ample time to waste. Here's to trains!
And, I saw lightning bugs in New Hampshire on Thursday night, so my primary objective for the summer (to see fireflies) has been achieved. Hooray!
I forgot to bring the cord that connects my camera to computers with me, so I don't know if I'll be able to put up pictures.
The loose goose made it to Manchester airport mysteriously, since it was supposed to go to Portland, Maine, but who knows what goes on in the minds of bicycles. It's intact, that's what counts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wrapping up in Portland

I just finished my dress for Sarah's wedding. It looks really lovely.
Finals are done, dress is done, and the Toward Carfree Cities conference will go on without me. Gil Peñalosa's address yesterday was excellent, very inspiring, and challenging. He didn't ignore the need for more age and economic diversity on bicycles, and went beyond patting Portland on the back for its thriving bike culture. I'm so glad that such a key figure in the sustainable transit movement worked to build bikeways through even poor neighborhoods in Bogotá. I was disappointed by the lack of attention to the poor in yesterday's talks at the conference; though I commend all those who choose to leave cars behind, it's a bit limiting to pretend that we are all upper-middle class and homogeneous. What about people who aren't part of the bicycle or sustainability subculture? How do we reach out to them? Peñalosa hit the nail on the head with these issues, arguing, along with Andy Clarke, that bicycling should become something normal, not something viewed as kooky or "just for those weirdos." If they're willing to sacrifice the authenticity of subculture, activists can gain so much by considering the needs and perspectives of other kinds of riders.
Now Bobby and I are going to dinner before he takes me to the airport. I might have to pay $100 just to get my folding bike on the plane, unfortunately. Little did I know that my purchase of the Loose Goose would coincide with the imposition of ridiculous levies on baggage. Nuts to you, US Airways!
Fortunately I'll be taking the train back to Portland in July. Hopefully the Loose Goose will be more welcome on Amtrak.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Gear

Here's my bike, the Loose Goose (let's see how long I remember to call it that). It's a Dahon Speed.

My Ortlieb backpack is also a success. It's my only bag for the trip, as I do not plan to take much with me to the east coast.

Today we helped depave a parking lot in N Portland. It was proved to me that vegetarian lunches can, in fact, be delicious, given the right combination of garlic and genuine hunger.

And, finally, Bobby in action!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back in Portland

So, here's where I'll be summing up my travels this season.
Here's the scoop so far: Bobby and I left Long Beach on Tuesday, and spent some lovely days with our friends in Oakland after that. Here's to landscape architecture students and their fabulous studios made of old windows! Well, one specific student. In San Francisco I bought the Loose Goose, my long-necked folding bike. Warm Planet Bikes specializes in folding bikes, so I got lots of good advice there.
On Friday we drove to Portland, and that drive just seems longer and longer every time I do it. Must be like birth, where the body tricks you into forgetting the pain involved so you go through the ordeal again willingly. Anyway, Portland is as good as usual, so many bicyclists and sunny breezes. I engaged, unhappily, in more consumerist orgies of spending here, outfitting myself for my travels.
Tomorrow the Carfree Cities conference starts. And now I must go sample the slow-cooked pork my friend made.