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?)

Year of the Ox

X and I celebrated the Chinese New Year last weekend with two days of feasting. On Saturday, we took the long train out to Flushing for the first time to see the Chinese community out there. What an excursion – it takes over an hour to reach Flushing on the subway. When we arrived, we checked our info and started walking along Roosevelt Ave, looking for a specific restaurant: Xiao La Jiao (Little Hot Pepper). We walked for like 20 blocks looking for the place in the freezing cold, only to reach the end of the street without finding it. A phone call to the restaurant told us that we had gone all that way in the wrong direction. Sweet.

So we walked all the way back, and it turned out that the restaurant was almost right outside the subway station. Seems that the address X had pulled off the net was wrong – perhaps user-submitted.

Ma La Yu - Spicy Fish
Ma La Yu – Spicy Fish

Anyway, we sat down and ordered a huge pot of ma la yu – spicy fish. There was enough food there for five or six people, though it was just the two of us. We took it home later, froze it, and X just finished the last of it yesterday.

Sunday we met up with some new friends for lunch in midtown – Sichuan Express. There were four couples in total, all people that passed through Shanghai at one time or another. Some of them we’d met over there, some here. One couple brought their four-month-old baby boy. We shared a big hotpot meal and toasted to good luck in the new year.

No Beer Here

Last month a great crime was finally paid for by yours truly. Over the summer, way back in June, a group of friends were having a late-Friday-afternoon get together in Central Park. My friend Charlie S was soon to embark back to Beijing for an open-ended assignment, and this was a small gathering for goodbye. Four of us sat on top of the big rocks up by 62nd and Fifth drinking canned beer. Soon we were approached by four men in t-shirts and gym shorts, who looked like they were about to go on a run. Something about them looked bad to me, and a second later I knew what it was: they pulled badges out from under their shirts on necklaces and identified themselves as the police. Continue reading No Beer Here

Uncle Bob

For months, I’ve been telling Uncle Bob he’d get on the blog – he has been a loyal reader since day one and so now here he is! This shot is from Christmas, where we had another wonderful time at Jody and Mark’s (where we’ve been staying since October) with the whole Kellow clan.

It was a mad rush of travel at the end of the year and into 2008. We were in Cleveland for Tristan and Caroline’s wedding party, I went to London for my new job while Xianyi stayed with friends in NYC, and recently we were down in DC to watch the Hoyas absolutely THRASH the Fighting Irish, stayed with Joe and Mary Beth and even saw Boom and Jane for brunch before peeling out and making it to Mom’s in time for the Giants-Packers game – what a match!

As we wind down the first month of the year, we’re achieving a new milestone, but I’ll save that for its own post…

Working Man Again

Tomorrow marks the end of my five month, 18-day unemployed streak.

I will begin work at my first job in New York City – right in the heart of Manhattan – and I’m very excited.

What I’m Working For

This is a shot of me at the MOMA in front of a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Roadster – and this image perfectly shows how I’m feeling about going into my first day of work tomorrow. Finally, we are getting a foothold on our new life in America. Tomorrow is the day we start laying the foundation for our future.

I tried to savor this last week of freedom (I received confirmation that I’d gotten the job about a week ago), but mostly I ended up idling about, not accomplishing anything. I know full well that soon, when I’m in the throes of the daily grind, I’ll wish I had the kind of time I had in the last week – hell, in the last five months – to do whatever pleases me at the given moment. But I just couldn’t think of anything to do, so I sat around watching TV, which was perfect.

What a great week to start a job! Thursday is Thanksgiving, so I imagine the office will be excited about a short week. There will probably be a bunch of administrative things to get to before I even start doing any real work, and with the Christmas season fast approaching, it should be a fairly generous introductory period for me to get settled. By the time the new year rolls around, I’ll know my way around and will be totally in synch with everybody as they buckle down…

Or I could not know what I’m talking about at all, and be in for a hell of a grind right off the bat.

True Romance

True Romance
True Romance

I just received my first issue of True Romance magazine.

Some readers might be wondering why I would pick up such a magazine. But it goes further than that, folks. I am a full-on subscriber. Certainly I am not a member of this periodical’s target market. But I’m still a fan.

And I’m not the only one. All across the world, people are starting to catch on to the phenomenon. True Romance is THE new MUST-READ mag. And all credit is due to Assistant Associate Editor Gia Portfolio. Continue reading True Romance