The Gaslight Café

We spent the New Year holiday hanging out with Johann and Hazel, proprietors of the Gaslight Café, and good friend Shahid, one of the many musicians who call the Gaslight home.

This has been my go-to place for the last year. I’ve seen many perform here, and I’ve even been on stage myself. It’s a wonderful community, and if you should ever find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, it’s worth checking their calendar to see if you can catch a show.

Birthday Week

I had kind of an extended Labor Day holiday, even without traveling or really taking off much work. Jarrett and Candice were in town and we used that as our reason to be out and about nearly every night for a week, exploring, celebrating, and having adventures.

The real purpose of their trip was Amy and John’s wedding, and as we have become friendly with the betrothed (we even live on the same street now!) we scored an invite as well. The ceremony and reception were held at the Jersey City Hyatt and featured the colorful dress and melodic chanting that mark an Indian wedding.

Married couple with @_candice_ @wrisjarrett
Married couple with @_candice_ @wrisjarrett

We went out for lots of meals together, including Roberta’s for lunch, and some snooty place that Jarrett wanted to check out, which ended up being quite good. Zack’s parents took us all out to dinner on my actual birthday, so that was a really generous treat. The chosen restaurant was Lincoln (under the grass field/art installation at Lincoln Center), which has glass walls. As Jarrett and I approached the entrance, I noticed Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon sitting together, drinking wine, I shit you not. I tweeted that out to #OWS, but alas, the masses did not descend. 🙂

The following Saturday, my wife threw a dinner party at the apartment with Piers, Rachel and my mother. That was really nice of her. I’m a lucky guy.

Birthday flowers by @fogeffect
Birthday flowers by @fogeffect


Holiday Season

We had a great start to the holidays a few weeks ago when the friends began arriving in town. First Dave dropped in for the weekend, and we had two nights of drinking and discussion, and even some dancing. Dave and I have been talking about an app, an idea for a business, which we have been stalling on, and hey, maybe 2012 will be the year…

Then Jarrett and Candice dropped in, and pulled some old Kent boys out of the woodwork for an evening, as well as the China Contingent. Several good dinners and parties (including KTV at “the best bar in NYC”) leading into the week of the main event.

Vivian Sleeping
Vivian fell asleep mid-drawing

Thanksgiving was a blast at Aunt Jo-Rose’s, as always! Tons of good food, and wine flowing with conversation. Gia was out in Kansas, and Will was in Florida, but I spent some quality time with Piers. It was great to see Shea (who talked to me and X more than ever, though still dour and serious) and Viv (who is so much bigger than last year). Poor little Vivian fell asleep on the floor while coloring a picture, marker still in hand, scrunched up against her face.

We said some quick goodbyes to make the train on time, and didn’t end up partying overnight like last year! Back at Penn Station, we decided to walk across town, and wouldn’t you know it, with all the bargain shoppers hustling by, we ended up shopping in the first hour of Black Friday. Good and drunk is one way to make shopping tolerable, but one should always have the benefit of a woman’s good taste as a guide.

Live at the Best Bar in New York

The Mrs and I took a walk to the Guggenheim this evening (pay anything Saturdays after 5:30pm) and saw a stunning display. Maurizio Cattelan’s “All” involves 130 different sculptures and oddities – artwork which he produced over his lifetime – all hanging in the main atrium by rope. There are bodies, horses, Hitler, the Pope, Picasso, police officers, businessmen in bed, children hung by their necks. It’s all pretty creepy and disturbing, to be honest. It’s a mish-mash. But we liked it. And when I read that the artist is “retiring” with this display, I understood it better.

Now she’s out having a drink this Saturday evening, and I’m sitting in eating leftovers from the brilliant chicken-and-mash dinner she made last night, watching Notre Dame get its butt whooped by Stanford, listening to the new album from Real Estate, my new favorite band, … from Ridgewood, NJ!

Happy 2011

Happy New Year to all!

Mrs Portfolio and I moved into a new apartment for the new year, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan! Emphasis on east, but hey, we love the place and are really excited to be in the city after three years across the river in Hoboken. I’ll post some pics soon. Pull-out couch is available to friends swinging through town 🙂

Hung out with some friends yesterday watching football. I am further convinced that the Packers are going to win the Superbowl on the back of Aaron Rodgers. It really is looking like his year. The story of how he was passed over in the draft six years ago provides some great perspective on what is driving him. It’s going to be a great game against Evil Rapist Big Ben and the Steelers…

In other family news, Will finished just one shot out of the money in his latest effort on the Florida Professional Golf Tour. Hang in there buddy! Check out Will’s new blog for updates on his season. And Gia has a new blog too! Wow, Portfolio Family blog network!

A Long Summer

So much has been going on, and yet so little of it has been written about it. Rather, nothing at all has been written.

We’ve had a steady stream of guests coming through town for the last two months and it’s been fabulous – it helps to get us out of the house; otherwise we’d just stay home all the time!

The first week of June, Sam was in town from Kunming, China. I hadn’t seen him since we’d met up in London during my one and only business trip there in January 2008, so it was great to be back together. Of course, it also meant that I was going out almost every night of the week, but hey, that’s what’s required sometimes. Gotta make some sacrifices.

Sam on stage with Gates of HeavenWe went to one of Zack’s Gates of Heaven shows, in which Sam was asked to come on stage and play a hand drum with the band, but one of the members of the band walked off stage in the middle of the song, never to return, and that’s how the show ended, rather awkwardly. Plus they dress in robes and play very avant garde electronic music, and the gig was at the Stonewall, the famous landmark of the gay rights movement – all in all, a pretty strange evening. Zack also took the three of us out to his parents’ house in NJ, where we got to hang out by the pool, which made for a great Sunday.

Sam left after about ten days but soon after, Hiroshi showed up. While he had a hotel room, it still meant more partying for us and good times. We saw an art exhibition that one of his buddies put on, in which he dressed completely in red and even painted his skin red, and performed elaborate tea ceremonies with whomever would sit down with him. Except the tea was sake. All the paintings there were also red, and done in some kind of waxy medium (perhaps it was just paint, but it seemed like wax). Hiroshi is a baseball fan but said he hadn’t been to a game in 15 years, so when we noticed that the Subway Series was happening that weekend, we decided we had to go. Zack deserved all the credit for putting that together, as he happened to run into a buddy outside CitiField who had 2 extra tickets, free. We scalped the other two and so each ended up paying $20 to see a great baseball game (which the Yankees won – I like very much!)

Soon after that, Jarrett and Candice arrived for their US tour, and stayed the first night at our place. We went out for a crazy evening, heading out to dinner with Eliot and Lexa, then off to Pianos to see Zack, and finally to Arrow. There was a lot of carousing into the early hours, but I had to leave at the ass-crack of dawn to catch a flight to Chicago, to attend Sandro’s wedding (this was the original reason Sam was in the US). Let me just say in passing that I love public transport, but I will never again take it to Newark Airport because they just don’t make it convenient at all. I had to wait 45min for a connection in Secaucus. I could practically walk to Newark in 45min!

I met Eli at the airport and we flew out together. Sam arrived soon after us, and we were all suddenly at the Taste Chicago fair in Grant Park. Sorry, Chicago, but your cuisine was not well represented. I had an OK slice of deep-dish pie, a terrible bunch of Buffalo wings, and an awful lobster tail. Oh, and that all cost me like $30. Thanks for nothing.

We had more important things to do there, however. Since we were getting the whole band back together for the first time in five years, I felt we would need a drum kit. So I had gone to the trouble of finding the only place in town that was open on July 4th and might rent us some drums. Steve Maxwell’s Vintange Drums was not only open, but they were ready to accommodate us. Well, not at first. But we talked them into it. Actually, to assuage their fears that we would run off with their equipment, we just bought a kit for $1,200 – with the understanding that they would let us return it for a full refund on Monday, and only charge us $150 for the rental fee. This worked out perfectly.

The wedding weekend was a great hit thanks to the drums. The band was in full form again, we met some great people, and Michelle’s family really took care of us. All of the sudden I was back in New York, and met up with Wrisley for a Junta gathering on democracy. While I was away, he had been up at Eliot’s house with both our wives, drinking wine and shooting guns and doing other fun Lithgow stuff, like 4-hour Sunday lunches.

Nate has also been around a lot this summer. We’ve gotten in a few rounds as we do – including a trip to Union Vale up in New York last week. We were tagging along with Will, who was getting in a practice round for the Met Am qualifier. I caddied for him in that on Tuesday, but he failed to make it, shooting a disappointing 83. Still, it was a learning experience. I think he was a bit golfed out after having played 4-5 days in a row, plus double-looping on Sunday.

This has been a rambling post, but that’s what was required to get back on track. The goal is to get more focused and more frequent from now on. Also, if you’re wondering what happened to the design of this blog, I put it on the Classic WordPress theme because the Portfolio 1.0 theme was breaking down on us, having been built for WP 2.0, and us now running 2.8… things were just getting too heavy. I am trying to work on Portfolio Theme 2.0, but don’t expect it anytime soon. I am a man with too many projects.

That reminds me of one more project I recently decided to take on: business school. But I’ll leave that for tomorrow or next week (or next month?)

In the mountains of Yunnan

Good friend Jeff Crosby has written a great post about his recent travels back to Yunnan province, the place where Xianyi and I met him when he was living with Eli in Kunming. Jeff currently lives and works in Beijing, but makes a few trips back to our old home each year.

This writing is about a trip into the mountains to visit an ancient tea tree. Here is a sample:

This plant slowly evolved in this back corner of the world and was discovered and nurtured by an obscure and forgotten people. Somehow this little plant sired millions of offspring who went on to become one of the most economically, socially and politically important plants in the world, shaping cultures and markets, playing decisive roles in massive historic events from the Opium Wars to imperialism, the American Revolution and Indian Independence.

Check it out.


[UPDATE 2012]: Friendster links… Not so much.