Sunday, August 31, 2008


what can one say?  when you're wrong, you're wrong.  i was wrong.

in my "sake and sushi" post i made quite a few cracks about dead sea creatures only being enjoyed as long as sufficient levels of sake are consumed to make just about anything taste alright.  this was before i was aware of sushi with a brazilian/peruvian smackdown!  think of it - two amazing taste cultures entering the octagon for spicy hand to hand combat.  the view of the spectator is pure entertainment as these two mix their distinctive flavors into a fantastically luscious succulent entertainment for the tongue.   my my my my my!  not sure what they're putting in the water down there, but it's working!  we should find out about these additives.  i mean, sure, it's nice to have a little fluoride in the water but honestly, how does that compare to the addition of latin love and flavor?!  if you want a sense of the experience, just go to  the opening beats are an auditory semblance of what the taste buds get to enjoy (there's also a place there to listen to five compelling compilations of lovely latin tunes. let me know what you think).  if you want the experience for yourself, you'll want to hang out on south 7th avenue and bleecker street.  

i was completely at the mercy of my friends who seemed to have a good sense of what should be ordered.  the only sushi i really knew was the old reliable california roll.  even typing that makes me laugh since that is first grade cafeteria sushi compared to sushisamba which can only be described, then, as doctoral level studies in flavor.  i was lost looking at the menu when, thankfully, tamsin and maria took over the ordering duties.  maria said i had to have the seabass and who was i to argue?  i wasn't prepared for how much i would enjoy these skewers of delight and any mental reluctance that lingered quickly evaporated into total trust of whatever else they ordered.  

tom, sarye, myself, and the aforementioned ordering gurus left this delight for one of new yorks many hidden treasures.  the "little branch" sits in the basement of the building at 7th ave. and leroy street.  very unassuming entrance.  just a little brass plaque on the door with the name so you have to be in the "in" crowd to know about this place.  or, like me who is not in the "in" crowd, be invited by those who are.  that's really my only hope in this place.  theologically speaking, it's the only hope that any of us have.  gotta love invitations!

if someone invites you to sushi samba, you should seriously consider.  if tamsin, tom, maria, and sarye do it, drop everything and go right then without hesitation!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


so last night i tried to find a subway station.  someone told me it was at 33rd and 6th.  made my way that direction, walking east on 33rd.  didn't see a sign for 6th, so i kept walking.  i get all the way to 5th which, obviously, is not right so i asked a group of guys where the station was.  they were great, eager to help, cool accents... 

the one that started tellin me where to go said i needed to go back where i had come from and take a left on broadway.  i repeated back just to be sure, head back where i had come from, make a left turn to the next block, "right?" i said.  i don't think this guy had been questioned much in his life.  he shortly said yeah that i needed to make a left and get to the next block.  he finished with, "it's on 33rd."  well...i had been walking on 33rd!  so of course i pointed this out, "isn't this 33rd we're on?"  

that was it for him.  he was done.  "it's in the next block buddy!"

i just called him out on his error.  that's all.  :)  so, that's how i got my first new york "buddy" comment.  

first audition

i had thought that my first audition would be the one at chelsea studios that i got up at 5:15 for.  when i arrived at 6:55 to sign up on the non equity list, i met another guy named danny.  nice fella who arrived in new york in february.  while we were waiting and chatting, he said he was heading over to ripley-grier studios for some commercial audition.  i asked him what that was and wasn't really sure.  so...went with him.  

ripley-grier is on 8th avenue in midtown and is a huge building full of practice rooms, audition rooms, etc.  actors, dancers, and singers are wandering all over the place which gives some commercial casting directors more people to see.  there were two commercials being cast and a ton of actors hanging in the hall way looking to pass off their headshot and resume and read for a part.  

so i read for a city tourism board ad from new jersey...and got called back!  my first new york audition...called back.  was batting a perfect game until 1:50 and the brain freeze.  then when i did return for the call back at ripley-grier, i think i was rattled.  what started as a good day became simply a day of learning.  :)   i guess those are good days, as well.  i may have had difficulty promoting perth amboy, nj anyway.  but it is the first state to ratify the bill of rights!  and if you're looking for a culturally diverse dining experience, they have over 40 ethnically diverse restaurants and cafes to choose from!  so if you're looking for 325 years of real history, culture and excitement, you know where to go.  i just typed all that from memory.  they should have hired me.

16 bars

that's all you get.  no time to warm up.  no room for error.  i went in with tremendous confidence.  i knew those 16 bars...and not the kind with beers.  you get a lot more than 16 of that kind in this place.  the audition was at chelsea studios on 26th st.  i arrived at 6:55 am in order to be among the first to sign up as a non-equity actor.  this turned out to be a good thing but i was still not heard til 1:50.  made for a full day.  

we all waited in the "holding room" for the equity actors to be heard first.  only then are the non-equity scrubs allowed to sing for the casting director.  many interesting people in this room.  one guy was looking at himself in the mirror and seemed to spot a rogue hair on one of his ears.  he appeared upset and left the room, presumably to address the situation.  another dude had his lucky stuffed animal strapped to the front of his backpack.  some are reading, others talking - some talking to themselves (which is okay in new york...everyone here is either crazy or rehearsing lines...if there's a difference)

so finally after nearly seven hours of waiting for this audition, my first in the musical theater world since college, my moment came.  walked in the little room, handed my music to the accompanist, she hit my starting note, the two casting guys looked on freeze.  the last time i had a freeze up like this was in the pikes peak center during a christmas concert but at least there i was surrounded by 2000 of my closest friends who seemed fine hearing me "la di da" my way through a section of music with a smile on my face.  this was a very foreign environment.  nobody asked how i was, what i was doing in new york, how i was enjoying myself, blah blah blah, no piano introduction beyond my one note starting point, no hugs, no "you're great, so glad you're here, delight us with your cords", none of that.  only cold stares...especially from the pianist after i didn't start from the one note...since i was expecting a warm intro with an obvious pause that meant i should come in.  the kind i would get from don dyck back home.  

ah well, that one is behind me now.  it was a learning experience.  i imagine i'll be learning a lot in the weeks and months to come.  16 bars go by quickly...and entire futures hang on them.  

Friday, August 22, 2008

party - new york style

so...last night i hung out with roger federer, spike lee, serena williams, maria sharapova, a few actor types, and some sports celebs.  who would have thought i'd be hanging out at the grand opening of the nike store, new york.  i've only been here 3 weeks and already i'm hobnobbing with the upper echelon of the sports culture.  certainly you should check it out at 21 mercer street.  this was a huge party with over a thousand in attendance.  security with their little ear pieces (not sure who they were talking to), ushers in spiffy green jackets (they all looked like they just won the masters), open bars, hip hop music from a skilled dj, astroturf everywhere...and all in the middle of mercer street.   huge.  i even met travis mccoy.  i found his phone...he was generous to me for finding it. 

and then it seemed that the swedish and brazilian volleyball teams came strolling in...turned out to be about 100 models just to add some glam to the event and make us all feel that we were part of something special.  which we were.  i mean, it was the nike store!

yep...i felt pretty important last night.  the fact that i was one of the hired ushers should, in no way, diminish how cool you thought i was a few moments ago.  i did get a free pair of shoes...but i had to give back the green jacket. 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

big apples

met friends for a late drink in the empire hotel at lincoln center.  if i ever find myself going hungry in this city, i'll need to reread this post since there is a constantly replenished big bowl of apples on the check-in desk.  yay for free fruit!


so i'm walking down 51st street between 2nd and 3rd avenue and come across a little park.  the plaque said, "private park. open to the public."  it's not large, but that's not what matters here.  some beautiful person has built a waterfall in this little park rather than turn it into a very profitable building.  the water falls some 20 feet and there is a lot of it, such that the sound of the city is overwhelmed.  if you close your eyes here, you might as well be at seven fall in colorado, or out on one of the moks off lanikai beach listening to the crashing surf.  from an auditory perspective, the city becomes nigh unto invisible.  

i had almost forgotten how much i love this sound.  it's magic in its ability to transport a person.  everyone can remember a waterfall somewhere in the world.  i think of the waterfall at the gideon springs in israel, or several on maui, or spilling into the fjords of norway...close your eyes and you're there with just the soundscape of this generous little park on 51st.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


i've noticed something about the subway stations that just about everyone does.  in fact, i've fallen into the same practice.  it's walking to the very edge of the platform by the track and looking down the tunnel for the train.  i do this, and yet i don't know what it accomplishes at all.  actually, i know exactly what it accomplishes...nothing.  but for some reason it makes me feel more aware of reality or something.  wouldn't that be nice.  

there's an old adage, "a watched pot never boils."  i think there should be a similar one for the subways here.  "a watched track never brings a train."

Friday, August 15, 2008

note to self - supplemental

rather than paying my fine by mail, i figured i would just go to the environmental control board office in person.  always fun to learn a little more of the city and try talking to people on the subway.  i'm sure they all think i'm crazy since this is completely unacceptable behavior, but it's kind of fun, too.  

so the back of the ticket said the office could be visited by going to the 10th floor of a building down on john street.  this is a great street in the heart of downtown.  this part of town is leftover from the original layout of the city which wasn't planned very well.  streets are narrow and intersect curiously and with the height of the buildings it can feel almost claustrophobic.  i made my way to the elevators and waited to board the magic lift that would take me to the shake-down location.  

when i got there, i waited in line for a few minutes before speaking to a kind lady who told me that if i was paying cash i would need to do that on the 2nd floor, window 27.  i figured i would take the stairs down both for the exercise as well as relive the good ole days of coming down the manitou incline.  i was quickly reminded where i was when i smacked my pocketed ipod on the metal railing.  

a couple floors down in the stairwell, i saw the sign that makes any stairclimber take pause.  "no reentry except for floor 9 and 6".  I was already committed to my descent and picking up speed and found myself hoping that the second floor would somehow be unique, living in a different universe from the "no reentry" world.  not only was there no reentry on the second floor...there was no door with which to even dream of reentering.  had to completely leave the building and enter at the front door again.  which i did and finally made my way to the 2nd floor and window 27.

another line.  apparently there were many other lawbreakers paying various fines.  i'm sure they will put the money to good use so i don't mind making a small contribution to the city of new york.  maybe they'll put some of the fine toward the free-to-the-public ferry that runs out to governor's island every weekend.  

i ended up at window 26 which is close enough for me.  spoke to a very friendly woman with very red hair.  i like red, but hers was clearly foreign to her natural follicles.  it wasn't the beautiful natural red to strawberry to auburn color that flows out of some of the more regal heads in town.  

i paid her the money, she printed a receipt, stapled it to the original ticket i had received and handed it back to me saying, "hold on to that receipt for eight years, three months."  i couldn't believe it, so i said, "pardon me?  did you say eight years and three months?  it sounded like you said eight years and three months.  is it in the computer that i paid?"  even though the computer had it in there, the city might come back at some point in the next eight years (and three months) and accuse me of not paying.  so just in case they come after my three cheeseburgers with bacon fine, i need to find a safe place to store my receipt for the next eight years and three months.  that's a long time.  in dog years that's like 44 years.  maybe i should get a safety deposit box.  

Thursday, August 14, 2008


my dad suggested that i reflect on the pioneers with respect to my recent move to new york.  it's a fruitful exercise, really, and a spirit lifter when things seem only dusty and dry.  why should i expect anything else at this point?  i've come to a new place where no close family member has tilled the land previous to my arrival.  that ground is hard.  it will take time to soften the soil and begin to plant seeds that might bring a harvest.  and even then, harvest won't happen before spring.  

pioneers are lonely people in the sense that they go ahead of others to establish something.  my community here is small but growing.  it's a difficult thing to know who will want to partner with me in the building of this homestead.  some have their own pioneering projects going on.  i respect that and wouldn't want to interfere.  but i'm hopeful for friends who will join me in the journey.  in them i'll enjoy strength, fellowship, challenge, accountability, and growth.  

there is another who was called a pioneer.  hebrews 12:2 refers to jesus this way as the “pioneer and perfector of our faith.”  he certainly went into the previously undisturbed land of justice to secure my eternal life and satisfy the righteous requirements of god.  he was alone with no one to share in his struggles.  even his friends fell asleep when he needed them most.  i can't say that i have experienced anything near the intensity of his pioneering...just the dull ache of aloneness in this foreign land.

but not foreign for long.  that same pioneer who led me to this place is the perfector, as well.  even as i write this, there is a growing familiarity with the streets and avenues, the subway and the difference between local and express, and the beginning of friendships.  what will be built with them is as yet unknown, but the perfector will grow me in this place and provide building partners.  

this seems too serious since i have another side, as well.  on the lighter side of pioneering in this place, i have learned where to hunt.  everywhere!  there are markets, street vendors, and restaurants everywhere i look.  there has been no shortage of doritos, cheese, ice cream, meat, and other staple delicacies in my life.   there's even a 7-11 with those little cheeseburger dealies that are mashed into a cylindrical shape and kept warm on the steel rollers of magic heat along with hotdogs and sausages.  amazing creation.  i'm well taken care of here.  

i'll keep pioneering.  the ground will soften.  community will come.  maybe even a job...but we wouldn't want to rush anything.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

note to self

when friends invite you to enjoy a cup of wine served in "green" cups provided by whole foods at the hudson river front looking out at jersey city, don't do it.  they mean well and are good company, i'm sure...but apparently there is an open container law in manhattan.  while the view and company are splendid, there's a small fine that could be used to acquire about 3 good cheeseburgers with bacon.  that's how i really measure things.  in fact, since we've lost the gold standard in this country, i'm suggesting a new standard: the bacon cheeseburger standard.  three good cheeseburgers with bacon is a significant fine and deterrent in my opinion.  

for example, looking across the hudson at jersey city one is confronted with many buildings, mostly offices, that have lights on well into the night but with no one in them.  one of them even has a fluctuating set of lights that change color and can even appear to wave like the ripples in a wind blown flag.  it's lovely.  but can you imagine how many bacon cheeseburgers are not being enjoyed with all those lights just burning away all night?!  i can...and it's a lot.  makes my mouth water to think about it.  

at any wine at the waterfront!  enjoy your friends, enjoy some wine, enjoy the waterfront...but don't enjoy wine at the waterfront.  just enjoy your friends there...and maybe a bacon cheeseburger.   :)

ps.  i was very kind to the very cool environmental control officers.  i think that's what they said they were.  

Saturday, August 9, 2008

gardens and sangria

i was told before i came to the big apple that i had to go visit the brooklyn botanical i'm telling anyone who reads this.  this is a gorgeous spot.  i don't know how they compare to the gardens of the bronx or the parts of central park that are, as yet, unexplored.  they shall not stay that way, though.  sometime in the next 10 years i'm sure i'll get to them.  

brooklyn, for the uneducated with respect to new york, may seem like an unexpected location for a treasure like the garden, but it seems perfect to me.  it's fun to find beauty in unexpected places. who knew that there was a little japanese garden in the middle of brooklyn?  complete with little turtles and  little fish swimming in the little pond by the little temple.  and i loved the desert room that was supposed to be like the southwest, i guess.  lots of cactus plants and sorta warm but not really as warm as the southwest can actually be.  felt like home...since home is full of cactus and it can be warm.  the coolest thing in there were these little plants that looked like little rocks.  some of them were hard to see because of the resemblance.  it was like those pictures of moths that look like their surroundings.  these plants looked like rocks!  

the bonsai pavilion was sweet.  and the rows of cherry trees that must be 
magic in spring time.  must get back for that.  i guess i should expect to find extraordinary things in this city.  like who knew the best sangria in town is at a little place called alta on 10th between 5th and 6th avenues?   the menu says that they could tell you why it's so good, but then they would have to kill you.  personally, i think it was the sweet perfume of lilies in bloom and polo's finest in white.  could be my favorite compliment to fruit and wine.  

not a bad saturday at all.  now what will the lord's day hold? 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the first buck

so monday i met with todd who runs a catering company.  lynelle, who invited me to come to new york and stay in her and her husband's place, put in a kind word with her husband jason...who put in a good word with todd.  so when todd asked if i wanted to work tonight, i jumped on it.  afterall, i've been doing nothing but spending money since i arrived.  these would be my first dollars since arriving.  and for those concerned about it, my first earning activity did not compromise my dignity in any way.

the job was a large one.  about 400 guests who needed to be cared for with sodas, some wine, water, and various finger foods.  i was on busboy detail.  once again, the circle is complete.  i used to do that in high school at the el torito restaurant in maryland during my senior year.  i was good then...but wow, what 23 years will do for you!  i bounded from person to person, picking up empty glasses and soiled napkins, retrieved little sticks that once harpooned little shrimps and pieces of chicken, and shuttled empty water and wine bottles back to the staging area.  my smile was unfading even if my deodorant was.  

who am i kidding?  catering is a young mans game.  i think my feet are about to fall off.  i also think it's time to invest in a pair of shoes with some cushioning, and perhaps a shirt that breathes a little better. was a job.  my first dollar in the city.  there's a sense of pride at working a job, earning a wage, being valued for your service.  sore feet and sweaty shirts are badges of honor for a laborer.  

someone has said that the laborers are few even though there's so much work to do.  i think i know why.  hopefully there will be a few more dollars to come.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


you just never know how things from the past will be beneficial in the future.  i met a woman at the galaxy diner on 46th (which is a great place for a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, by the way) and we got to talking about a variety of things.  another aside, i love that this little place would choose to call itself such an all encompassing name like "galaxy."  if you dropped a denny's on the corner of 46th and 9th, you'd have the galaxy diner, just fewer places to sit and not quite as well lit.  i don't think the galaxy diner has "moons over my-hammy" either...which is definitely to their detriment.  

so anyway, we got to talking about what we're up to and where we've been.  she is a relatively new attorney and is starting to partner with another attorney friend.  they just got a new office on the 4th floor of an old building right on the avenue of the americas.  good location, old building...very old building.  no elevator and the four flights of stairs have that slightly questionable look that make you wonder if they're really going to hold your weight.  or you strategize about where you should place your foot on each step to avoid toppling the building.  and you could swear there's a tilt to the whole thing that could never be blamed on drinking too much wine.  keeps things exciting, i guess.  the office space itself has newly refinished wood floors, high ceilings, and three windows looking out on the avenue.  

the whole reason we went by the building was because as i shared about where i'd been, i mentioned building homes in mexico with college students over the past 18 years or so.  this was met with great enthusiasm that maybe i could build the wall partitions they wanted for their office!  i tried to mention that there are a number of obstacles...
1. i'm not a professional
2. i have no tools (i only packed two bags and didn't think it necessary to throw in a hammer.  probably would have raised a few eyebrows at security if i had.  
3. i can't build anything without my steel-toed work boots.  (didn't throw those in the bag either)
4. a little thing called code inspections!  (i built homes in mexico...there are no building codes.  this is why all the church mission trips that involve construction go to mexico!) (ok...not all...but most)
5. i still have no tools!

my concerns seemed to be no issue for this attorney.  doesn't that seem strange?  someone who is concerned about the law isn't concerned for this minister to work a construction project in midtown manhattan on the avenue of the americas!  amazing.  and for me, fortunate.  i need the work.

so, it looks like i'll be acting as a foreman of sorts for this light construction project in manhattan.  haven't  even been here eight days.  i suppose i could wear my tuxedo pants and bow tie. 
perhaps i can start a whole new approach to construction in new york.  maybe i can combine some singing with the swinging of a hammer, or sing the "happy working song" from "enchanted."  regardless, it will be a fun story for the talk shows when i catch my break.

go on those mission trips!  you may learn skills that could come in handy later in life when you're unemployed on the streets of manhattan meeting people in various diners that have not creatively named their egg dishes.  

Monday, August 4, 2008


this morning is lovely.  not a single cloud in the sky.  it's a lighter shade of blue than i'm used to in colorado but it's clear and that's nice.  probably some kind of altitude issue, or more atmosphere between eyeball and sun.  "refraction" comes to mind...but honestly, i'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.  either way, it's great to see the clear blue.  

i hung out on the balcony this morning taking it all in.  the sunshine, the clear blue sky, the good book, my journal...and the noise.  it's amazing.  whatever is lacking in clouds in the sky is made up for in varieties of noise down below!  i'm trying to listen carefully enough to pick out the culprits.  there is a crane and it's engines.  the movement of cars on the road.  the foundation of all sound here seems to be the dull roar of the air conditioners working to keep us somewhat comfortable when we're not out in the slightly muggy air.  i can hear the occasional horn blast.   okay...not so occasional...the regular horn blast of taxis, trucks, and cars.  a police siren.  an ambulance trying to cut through the traffic.  a truck's air brakes.   and then another sound that doesn't seem to fit but which is welcome to my ears in the midst of all this other.  a bird is singing her song.

such a simple thing.  easily missed in the hubbub of the daily pulse of this town.  yet it's there, cutting through the traffic like that ambulance, bringing aid and comfort to some suffering soul.  would that i could be a singing bird, cutting through the din of life as a salve for another.  

i suppose the noise is the necessary expense of commerce, growth, life...this place just needs more birds.