Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bravo to Million Dollar Listing

Tonight was the premiere of Bravo's latest reality show Million Dollar Listing, focusing on the luxury real estate market around Los Angeles. The show was very very like totally omigod L.A., from the yellow Hummer to the horrible plastic surgeried blond agent to the enormous fake boobed client to the douchebag in a BMW. Guess which this one is:
Do not let that bitch on plane! Those are potential weapons. Seriously. Million Dollar Listing's first episode focused solely on 3 agents, including Scotty Brown (below) whose taste in hats is as off as his client's taste in vehicles. Scotty Brown apparently always uses both his names for some strange reason.
Million Dollar Listing showcased two for sale houses and two inept salespeople- brokers, whatever. Scotty Brown for all his lack of style, was at least competent- a competent douche yes- but he knew the game and schooled 24 year old Madison Hildebrand, who "discovered real estate when he calculated the commission for the sale of his parents Malibu investment property", by basically stealing half Madison's commission by representing someone who was previously Madison's client. But hey, at least Madison sold his house in the end (although the only reason he had the listing in the first place was through a friend). Way to go rookie. Here Scotty Brown gives Madison the secret real estate listing handshake:
The other less successful agent was Shannon McLeod (aka bad plastic surgery agent). In her inept attempt to sell her ex-fiance's Beverly Hills house, with decor that just screamed out "I'm not your fiancee anymore because I cheated on you with Kid Rock's leftovers". In fact, big boobed lady above thought his bedroom would be a great place to film some things. You know, like educational videos for kids I guess.

Shannon failed to put her first open house in the paper and then proceeded to get wasted on a bottle of champagne. Her next open house involved her mostly sitting around until a strapping young man came in to view the house, at which point all sorts of bells must have been ringing in her head (and not just cause she was drunk again), thinking that not only could she score a deal for her ex-fiance's house but perhaps a date too. Finally a buyer was found but Shannon failed to seal the deal when ex-fiancee (below- note picture does not do her plastic surgery trainwreck face justice)
refused to have minor corrections done on the house to sell it- like fix the outlet covers or fix the fence around the pool. Since genius Shannon was representing both buyer and sell, legal in California but not most other states says the friendly yet perky Bravo onscreen blurb, she stood to make $114,000 from this sale. With both parties at a standstill, she should have just paid for the fixes out of her commission and taken home a cool 100g. Instead she got nothing but drunk- toasting to ex-fiancee after he took the house off the market. Classy.

In summary, Los Angeles is nuts, I don't know how anyone can live there and the only way to get a real estate listing is to know someone. Bravo's six part Million Dollar Listing series looks pretty good so far but only if the remaining agents who haven't been shown can live up to the douchebaggedness of the first three. And enough with the limited series Bravo, convince NBC to give you some of that Earl money to put on a full 13 episode series with long story arcs.

category: tv real estate on a summer's eve

Monday, August 28, 2006

Little, Yellow, Different

Hey remember the 80's? Freedom Rock, turn it up baby! Micro Machines. Do they still make Nuprin? Nuprin: Little, yellow, different. Just like this 3 wheeled supersonic vehicle making the rounds in money making Manhattan today. It's almost as if DHL pooted out a baby truck. One day little Nuprinmobile, you will be big like me.
Remind you of anything?
Yeah, that lady has duck lips and a waddle for sure.

category: nuprin was really just ibuprofen in a yellow pill with a marketing scheme

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rainy Sunday

Blech..another rainy day in New York City. At least the cops get to bust out the snazzy raingear, although it doesn't look like the NYPD has sprung for rain hats yet. Our cops deserve better than just a grandma style showercap over their regular hats. We need dedicated NYPD rain hats not some cheap fix. You don't send troops out unarmed- today the enemy is the weather. Mayor Bloomberg- I demand that you arm our cops heads now.
category: arms for heads

Saturday, August 26, 2006

TJ Maxx Tornado

Today was my first experience in a TJ Maxx, and wow what a shithole that place is. Are all TJ Maxx stores like this or just Chelsea? This is the type of scene you would expect to see at the aftermath to a Barney's warehouse sale or Bloomingdale's when there's a huge sale but not in the 6 for $1.99 sock isle at TJ Maxx. The entire store looked like this- like a tornado had gone through.The craziest part is that TJ Maxx (along with Filene's Basement, and Bed Bath & Beyond) is in the awesomely ornate old beautiful massive Siegel-Cooper building. People are animals. Animals I tell ya.

category: shopping and dropping

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pratt Sculptures Do Dallas

The leafy campus of Pratt Institute in leafy Clinton Hill, Brooklyn contains many large scale sculptures that apparently rotate throughout the leafy area, as I had seen a few before at the not so leafy Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria.
The library, now located in the leafy area behind the giant white head, opened in 1888 and was one of the first public libraries in the U.S. but is better known for it's part as the setting of "the spanking scene" of Debbie Does Dallas. I claim no firsthand knowledge of said scene. For the youngsters out there, a library is like a combination of amazon.com and wikipedia.
If you blink your eyes real fast you can almost visualize famous Pratt alumni Robert Redford and Rob Zombie walking across the leafy campus in outfits designed by fellow alum Betsey Johnson. Almost.

category: leafy does dallas

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cougar Hunting in Clinton Hill

I've walked past the Graham Home for Old Ladies building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn a few times lately and today it finally occurred to me that this place would be some prime hunting grounds to do little impulsive cougar hunting. I thought for sure I could score myself a jaguar or better.
I spit in my hands, ghetto moussing my hair into a perfect fratboy unicorn spike, preparing myself for the motherload (or grandmotherload as the case may be). I snagged a flower from a neighbors yard, picked up a box of jimmy hats from the bodega down the street, and proceeded to the front door to make my conquests. I quickly learned that I was about 2 years too late as the Graham House for Old Ladies has been converted to condos.category: excuse_to_blog_about_cougar_hunting ghetto_moussing

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shadows and Light on 88th

The sunlight today was almost directly overhead . This is on 88th Street on Manhattan's tony Upper East Side. Perhaps tony is an overstatement for anything east of Lexington and in particular a building this marginally shoddy despite it's attempts at beautification through floral arrangements adorning the entrance and sweet art deco style fire escape. As a side note, I may have screwed up the atom feed for this blog, so if it's not working for you go to the sidebar and re-subscribe via the RSS link.

category: only_the_first_floor_gets_through_wall_ac

Velvet Sea 2.0 Spares Some Change

Took a few minutes to spruce up the ol' blog. You may notice a few changes here- the ticket stub up top in permanent tweezer flashback date mode. Halley's comet and snowball fights and we're all just slaves to the traffic light. Good times.

I eliminated the categories since blogger seemed to forget about all the old posts anyway. The new beta blogger says something about labels but it doesn't seem to be integrated yet. Beta blogger has a great spellcheck too. Sweetness. I added more links (finally). More to come too!

The biggest change is I am now contactable, hit me up with any book deals at velvetseablog @ gmail. The lines of communication are open. As is my wallet. Make a deposit.
category: selfaggrandization

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rijsttafel at Bali Nusa Indah

I was super pumped this weekend when I found out there's restaurants in New York serving a rijsttafel. A rijsttafel or rice table is an Indonesian meal (with a Dutch name) consisting of many many small dishes and rice. We had tried this out in Amsterdamaged in March for the first time and loved it. They go all out in the 'dam with the rijsttafel, serving so many dishes that they have to bring you a small stand next to your table to hold some of the dishes.

We went yesterday to Bali Nusa Indah on 9th Avenue and 45th in Hell's Kitchen. Bali's rijsttafel has considerably less dishes than the Dutch provide but they did offer 11 for $25, including soup, salad and dessert. Oddly there was no price listed on the menu and my excellent pronunciation of rijsttafel neither suprised the waiter nor got us a superior deal on the meal.
The dishes are served on a heated rack which has tealight candles under it. Most items were fairly good but the quality and variety of flavors and types of dishes paled in comparison to Amsterdam. There seemed to be a preponderance of peanut based sauces. They started us off with a salad, in peanut sauce dressing, natch, which was nothing special. Then came a cellophane noodle soup that was very tasty.

After soup they clear the table and bring out all the remaining dishes at once in an impressive display of arrangement. The eggplant in chili sauce was excellent, as were the two beef dishes (which tasted sort of similar but were good regardless). I tended to enjoy the darker chili sauces more. The shrimp was decent but portions were small- mostly sauce. The red snapper didn't seem to hold the flavor well- the middle was a bit bland. The other dishes were broccoli, chicken satay, and a rice cake derivative that was real nice for soaking up sauces on the plate. Dessert was a flan type thing and was perfect.

Overall it was a pretty good meal despite not living up to the original. I would have preferred a bit more spicy heat to most of the dishes. For $25 we got a pretty fair amount of different flavors to taste and most were rijsttafelicious. I am the 1st person, according to google, to ever use the word rijsttafelicious. Can I get a prize?

On the way back from our Indonesian meal, we saw a crowd gathered outside a theater door in the theater district of all places. The crowd was waiting for Martin Short to exit into his waiting towncar after his Broadway show. They had barricades and all set up. My finger obscures the bored looking cop. We waited with the crowd across the street for about 2 minutes before deciding that our desire to see Martin Short walk to a car was not worth more than about 2 minutes of our time.
Besides, he's pretty small and we probably wouldn't have been able to see him over the car anyway. Rock on Marty.
category: martinshorteatsricetables

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Guy in the Sky

Roof of some church just off Madison Square Park in lovely this time of year wish you were here New York City.
category: nyc_

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Montreal's Metro v. NYC's Subway

I recently took a trip into the magical international land of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As is tradition here at Velvet Sea, when we travel, we compare (we also butcher the English language and continually say "we" when in fact referring to only me). We will be using the same scientific criterium as we used during our comparison of London's Underground to New York's subway.

First off, Amtrak is the least effective way to travel to Montreal. Maybe a bus would be worse. The trains are plenty comfortable and certainly affordable ($110 roundtrip) but the border crossing is a nightmare. The Canadian guards ask so many ridiculous questions and take their sweet ass time- 35 minutes before they even get on the train. The train took 3 hours more than the scheduled 10 hours in both directions. If you're not in a rush and not sitting near the stinking bathrooms, the train might work for you.

The Metro has some freestanding stations and some inside other buildings. The signs were not always easy to spot. Most stations were only 1 flight down to the platforms with wide staircases. I could not use the turnstiles due to the type of ticket I bought, so I had to wait on line at the booth for the attendant to let me in each time. Exits were quick and well marked, although a local street map posted near them would have been a big help.
Ticketing Montreal's Metro is a much newer system than NYC's, having been built in the 1960's. Their ticketing system is in the stone ages though. To buy a single ride ticket, you pay the person at the booth, they give you a small Chuck E. Cheese skeeball type ticket which you promptly place into a slot in the plastic box attached to window. The attendant clicks a button and you can walk through the turnstile. When the next customer comes for a single ride, the attendant gives them the same ticket you just deposited in the box.

The Metro has no automated ticket machines and the daily tourist pass ticket requires you to wait on line to flash it to the attendant each time. There's a line every time but it moves sort of fast. It's tricky for tourists because the sign showing the ticketing options is posted on the window in front of the booth but is so small that you can't see it until you are right at front of the line.

Stations The Metro's stations are all very clean and well lit. They have nice artwork throughout and are in a variety of styles. Signage is clear (in French and English) and passageways are wide. Transfers were all quick and easy. There are not many seating options in the stations but they do have these awesome metal bars that just far enough away from the wall to make a really comfortable lean. Paper recycling bins are a nice touch.
Montreal is known for it's rubber wheeled trains that are supposedly quieter than New York (and other places) steel wheels. I did not find this to be true; they do make a much lower pitched noise but it's still noisy.
The trains were relatively clean. The cars are narrow, about the size of NYC's numbered lines but with a 2 and 1 seating instead of a long bench. The airconditioning was barely functioning, making the trains a bit steamy. The cars were well lit without too much advertising and with big windows. Some had electronic lcd screens showing animated advertising in French. Seats were a bit narrow. The ride is smoother than New York's and way less crowded. I found it a bit unnerving that the doors open a split second before the train fully stops.
The Metro trains came quite frequently, within 5-7 minutes every time. Some stations had giant TV screens showing news, with a ticker on the top telling how long before the next 2 trains come in each direction. Hot! Announcements on the train were all in French and their pronunciations made it tricky to figure out what stop we were at, but it was easy to see signs through the train doors and windows to compensate.
The Metro's official map is not overlaid with the city map, so it's a bit tricky to figure out where you need to get off. There are many close together stops but they are brief enough to not be an annoyance. The train stop running at 1am.

To recap, I'd wuss out and say it's another draw! Montreal has the edge in cleanliness, stations, and entry/exit but New York has an edge in ticketing and trains, while service is a toss up due to NYC's local/express system and 24 hour service.

category: nyc_

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Ben & Jerry's MilkShake Experience

Ben and Jerry's has opened up the MilkShake experience in Union Square. I was extremely compelled to check out the experience since it combined two of my favorite words, "free" and "milkshakes". Ben & Jerry's took over the 99 year old Daryl Roth Theater, formerly home of the De La Guarda show
and originally the Union Square Savings Bank building (the architect was Henry Bacon, who as we all know also designed the Lincoln Memorial).

Upon entering the MilkShake Experience, you are presented with a choice of three B&J stations to choose from- Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, or Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Cheers greasy looking guy!
Ben and Jerry's workers diligently poured out the shakes from their Starbucks drink looking containers into jello shot cups on top of cloud shaped tables.
Meanwhile, behind the stations, visitors relax in one of three complementing rest stations- a chill lounge for the Cherry Garcia complete with vibrating chair (right side of photo), jungle theme Chunky Monkey lounge, and a couch with board games on a coffee table for the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. They were also giving out free massages by a lady with a too huge to be real but maybe it is I'm not sure afro; directly behind lady with the bag in the photo.The milkshakes themselves were really good. They were almost more like a really thick chocolate milk than a milkshake, lacking that true ice creaminess. The Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor was extremely rich, almost overpoweringly so. The Chunky Monkey was a bit underwhelming with it's banana flavor but the Cherry Garcia was spot on with a high level of refreshingness. The Chunky Monkey would probably taste incredible combined with the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. I would recommend any of these to be combined with vodka for a quick easy to make mudslide type beverage.

The Ben & Jerry's MilkShake Experience runs through Aug 27th on the east side of Union Square Park at 15th Street.
category: food_ nyc_

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Twelve Tribes Take Manhattan

I could almost not believe my eyes when I saw the familiar big bus heading up 1st Avenue this afternoon. The Twelve Tribes are rolling through my hood! Lock up the kids. I'm not just saying that, seriously don't let your kids near the bus.
They masquerade as a religious community but in fact the 12 Tribes are a cult. Check out the website for ex-members who's lives were devastated by the Twelve Tribes. Read the crazy and sad article from a former member who grew up in the cult. Child labor, sexual abuse, beatings with sticks, giving up all possessions and outside contact, the leader who is a direct pipeline to god and in favor of black slavery, subjugation of women, brainwashing, creating skin cream for Estee Lauder, child custody lawsuits- it's all there.

If you're wondering why I said "familiar big bus", then you have just won a fabulous prize. Show them what they've won Chuck. The Twelve Tribes aka Yashuas and their pimped out maroon bus (check out the interior shots!) has been a familiar sight at Phish & Dead shows (RIP Jerry), and other music festivals.
The can't miss bus normally featured a big red cross on the top under the guise of providing "first aid" for concertgoers but in fact they were recruiting and handing out literature. They would play Israeli folk music and dance in circles outside their bus and invite people in to drink tea. They would seek our more vulnerable attendees and try to get them to join, particularly those that perhaps took a little too much acid or mushrooms that day. The men and women have clearly defined separate roles visible to anyone. They all have a weird blank stare in their eyes and are supercalm. They dress like hippie Amish.

The Twelve Tribes also run Common Ground coffeeshops and would set up a vending stand at concerts with their magazines conveniently spread out all over the place (supposedly the coffee is quite good). The 12 Tribes are heading up to Ithaca (is Gorges) next, so watch our Cornell summer students.
category: nyc_

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

City Island: The Food Edition

No visit to City Island would be complete without eating some local seafood. Technically I guess it would be locally cooked seafood due to that whole pollution making our local shellfish unsafe to eat thing. Most of the numerous restaurants on City Island look like obvious tourist traps with huge parking lots and unnecessary valet parking...perfect if you happen to be a tourist visiting from Staten Island or Jersey: So I let my fingers do the walking and did a little restaurant research on the internets. I found out that the place where all the locals go is Artie's Steak and Seafood.
When in Rome....we ordered the seafood salad for two which consisted of a minor amount of lettuce topped with an outrageously large quantity of seafood- clams, mussels, scallops, calimari, and shrimp. The mussels had a slight grit to them but otherwise everything was very fresh and tasty. The sauce the shellfish was steamed in had a slight hint of tomato and scallion. We also ordered baked clams oreganato which had a fantastic italian breadcrumb mixture on top.
Bellies full, we continued to walk down City Island Avenue passing such monstronsities as the Lido catering hall and it's gaudy statues and carpeted sidewalk with the huge squishy wet spot.

Our final destination after walking the entire 1.5 mile length of the island was Johnny's Reef at the tip of the island. Johnny's is a huge cafeteria style cheap fried fishery with a boatload of tables outside right on the water.

We did not eat anything but instead went for the $3.75 frozen strawberry daiquiris which were pretty weak but very refreshing while we sat by the waterside and enjoyed the pretty views of the Throgs Neck Bridge and Long Island. Note the barbed wire fencing of Tony's on the Pier across the street which has made the critical error of giving the parking lot the prime real estate and tables towards the inside.
So that's City Island food in a nutshell. Or clamshell. Maybe it's all just a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago. A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through.
category: nyc_ food_

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

City Island, The Bronx

City Island is a small island in The Bronx that feels as if it should be somewhere up in New England. It only has one main street and is narrow enough to be able to see the water in two directions from most intersections. The main road deviates between charming and cheesy...however I'll save the cheese (and of course-the food) for tomorrow's post.Pelham Cemetary is right on the water and has some really old tombstones that are in great shape- too bad they lock the gate, I would have loved to go further in.
Loads of old houses on the leafy sidestreets.

Many of the cross streets dead ended at little beaches with no trespassing signs. Hard to believe this one was taken in New York City but the skyscrapers are right there in the background:
category: nyc_

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monkeys Humping on the Subway

Get closer? Seriously, how much closer could two humping monkeys possibly get? The Bronx Zoo is getting all raunchy with their ads on the Grand Central/Time Square shuttle trains. I remember back in the 80's they used to have quaint little commercials using the Simon and Garfunkel song "At the Zoo" and now they've resorted to monkey humping. No wonder kids are growing up faster these days. Why not just make the ad totally realistic with some 3-d monkey poo being thrown? Isn't that what everyone wants to see (as long as it's thrown at someone else)?

Although frankly, doesn't everyone sort of love to see monkeys humping? Well maybe the joy is in seeing monkeys humping other types of animals or inanimate objects. There's nothing quite like a monkey humping a hapless talk show host. Nothing.
category: nyc_