Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 17:21 - GeneralMan, what an awesome autumn for new music: Russian Circles, Pelican, Om, Do Make Say Think, The Mercury Program all have new albums coming out.
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Monday, September 21, 2009, 19:15 - GeneralLast Monday my Macbook Air did arrive at the office while I was out to lunch, and I spent the afternoon happily setting that up. I met with Dennis and Alex for the first time in the late afternoon and then went home to play with the Mac. Even now after a week I'm still not very used to it, and I'm pretty disappointed with the NFS performance between my music server and iTunes, but the thing is so light and sexy it's awesome.
Tuesday I attended a meeting which explained the changes NYU made to grad student pay structures, and this involves TAships being paid positions above and beyond the standard stipend of in our cases $12.5K/semester. This totally changes the way things work, in that before RAships were awesome cuz you were paid the same and just didn't have to TA, whereas now the TAships carry around 50% more pay than you'd otherwise get. I happen to be a TA this semester, and with my plans to keep up my transatlantic jetsetting this is obviously welcome news. In the afternoon I went to the Apple store in Soho and bought an iPhone. It was a pretty crazy place - it was huge, with tons of toys for people to play with and tons of very well groomed people waiting in line for Apple tech. Like a hipness factory or something. I played with that a bit, but soon found out that I couldn't sync it via Linux. I then worked until I met Sarah, my ex-breakdancing partner, at some bar in the Village which ended up too loud for our purposes so we went back to Vol de Nuit which happened to be where we first met with Caitlin and Shlomit etc. While I was waiting for her outside the first bar I noticed an internet cafe with its sign (saying internet cafe) in 5 languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Hebrew. A rather strange choice of languages to represent. We ended up drinking 4 Belgian beers and got rather tipsy, waxing about her love of Apple and having a good time. Biking tipsy is always fun.
Wednesday morning we went to practice in the storage locker and it was awesome. Sal is really good, and it's just so fun to play again. I then had group lunch, worked, and went to the class I'm TAing (Advanced Database Systems) before going home to play with my new toys.
Thursday evening I biked over to Bushwick to a gallery opening to which I was invited by Matt. I was there for around an hour before he showed up, and my iPhone wasn't able to pick up phone service after I'd upgraded the firmware so I couldn't really tell what the deal was. I was able to get data so I chatted a bit with Galia as she was still up after having gone out, and eventually Matt came and it was cool. There was free booze, and the paintings were actually pretty cool (lots of urban decay and dead deer in them). Julie came too, along with her new boyfriend and Matt's new girlfriend. The boyfriend plays jazz guitar so we talked quite a bit about music. The five of us picked up a guy Joel and went to this place Roberta's in the hood which is a quite cool pizza place with a backyard beer garden. We weren't allowed to order food in the outdoor area for some reason and indoors was full, so we just got drinks for a while before going to a falafel joint rather buzzed and then heading home. Good times.
Friday I went to practice in the morning again, then went home and talked with Galia for a while, and reflashed the firmware on my phone to fix it. I also reinstalled iTunes to try and get rid of its memory of my huge server-based library as it kept rescanning it annoyingly, but that caused iTunes to erase the contents of my phone so I'm again syncing music to it - still even now. Whatever. That evening I went to Julie's apartment to a Rosh Hashanah dinner party. I accidentally ate something non-vegetarian for the first time to my knowledge in a while - rice cooked in chicken stock - but I didn't get overly upset about it. The party was fine, pretty low-key, drank a bunch of wine, talked some philosophy etc. New Yorkers are conversationally ruthless and I'd forgotten, so I had to crank up the wit a notch but after that it was all good.
Saturday morning was again band practice, with Sal and I getting there around 9 and Arthur coming closer to 10. We again played for a number of hours and it was again awesome, this time having the oscillating fan out in the hall to keep the power from cutting out. Things are starting to come together, but the songs are pretty complicated to it won't be an overnight thing. That afternoon after practice we all went over to this practice space being built out of an old factory on north 14th next to Gutter and it was so cool. The rooms are only framed as of yet, so we won't be able to move in until early-mid November, but man it's gonna rule - 9x11 room to ourselves, 24hr access, like 40 other bands all around us. Think nonstop loud ass party. We signed the lease and paid the deposit and I can't wait. I kept playing around with my Apple stuff and then at 8 Nguyen came by to drop off my drill and saw (he took the subway with them, walked 12 blocks, and then had to walk up 5 flights of stairs cuz the elevator is broken) and then we went out to eat at Lodge before heading over to Gutter to drink a few and bowl a couple games. We both sucked it up really badly, and toward the end of the second game Sal and his friend Andy came by and we all hung out for a while in the bar area.
Sunday morning I talked with Galia and then had brunch with Dafna at Fabiane's which she loved. We then meandered along Bedford, me showing her El Beit and the bookstore on the corner of 5th. I did laundry, annoyingly finding the spin cycle broken and thus having to pay for 3 dryer cycles instead of 1 to get my clothes dry, restrung my acoustic guitar for the first time since buying it like a year ago (I'd restrung my Les Paul and it sounded awesome so I was inspired), and then Ian, Joscha, and Tim came over at 7 for some beer and Settlers. I won the first rather handily, and then Tim left and Joscha won the second. I blame it on very favorable die rolls but whatever. Good times.
Today talked with Shlomit for a while, went to the office, had lunch with Y-Lan which was nice, and then programmed some before meeting with Dennis. It's almost 8 and I'm debating whether I can stay focused enough to be productive or whether I should just head home. I think the latter.
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Monday, September 14, 2009, 11:10 - GeneralI swung by Dafna's new apartment which is 2 blocks from mine and it's amazing - $900/mo for a huge bedroom and living room (she's sharing with some guy too) and she even has a private balcony overlooking a nice little garden. We ate at the Roebling Tea Room of course, and I had the baked cheddar eggs of course, and we then had a coffee and cookies at Oslo. Was very nice and it's great to be back. Unfortunately she's moving back to Israel for good on Oct 31, so we have to make the most of the proximity.
I spent the day really lazily, Arthur and I stopping buy Main Drag but not really doing anything cuz it was so packed in there, and eventually capping it off by ordering a pizza and watching Europa (Lars von Trier) with Arthur. I think I liked it - very surreal - but I fell asleep cuz of the jetlag and getting up so early.
Yesterday Arthur and I walked over to the practice room which took us through the Hassidic neighborhood which ended up being a slight distraction cuz I was trying to sound out all the Yiddish signs. I did determine that they use one of the letters Hebrew uses for the T sound for the S sound instead. We needed an extension cord and didn't see a hardware store along the way so we had to walk like 15 mins each way at least to get to one but then we were all biz, plugging in and practicing for like 3 hours. I think we'll have things solid within a month. We did experience a minor nuisance in that the outlet Sal and I wired is on a circuit which is cut by a motion sensor so someone has to stand in the hallway and move around or the amps die. I think we'll get an oscillating fan in there to help us out. The space is only temporary, but the romance of playing in such a place is quite appealing.
After that I went home, took an hour nap, and then went and filled my bike tires (luckily they stayed full). I then went to El Beit and read a research paper and then a bunch of the Philosophical Investigations for like 3 hours. Lewis swung by, but by then I was pretty much ready to go. I biked over to Europa in the hopes of getting Om tickets without having to pay a Ticketweb fee but they said they no longer have a box office. The evening was whittled away at home with more reading and early slumber.
This morning I made some cut off jeans, figured out that what was wrong with my laptop was likely a bad memory stick and removed it, talked to Galia for an hour, and biked into the office for the first time which was great. Now I'm hungry and just anxiously awaiting my Macbook Air to arrive via Fedex...
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Saturday, September 12, 2009, 10:47 - GeneralYesterday Arthur, Sal, and I were planning on going to look at a practice space at Halsey, but Sal called me up around 2 and said he both didn't really like the idea of such a long commute and that he'd talked with the guy at his storage place about renting a 10x10 storage room in which to practice for $200 a month which is about a 20 minute walk south of my place. It's a month to month lease and we only pay like $28 for September so we figured why not try it for now. There's supposedly a place nearly finished (move-in in November) at N 14th where we can get a private 9x10 soundproofed 24-hour access room for $375 so we're hoping we can jump on that later. The only main problem with the storage room is that it closes at 6 on weekdays and 3 on weekends, so we'll have to practice in the mornings for the most part.
One Sal and I set it up and moved the gear in there, we drove over to Home Depot cuz there isn't an outlet near the storage room. The guy told us we could wire one up ourselves as there are electric boxes all around for powering the lights so we just needed to get supplies (Sal was in charge of wiring as I've never done any before). The Home Depot experience brought back bad memories of building (but also good ones too) and we went back and he spliced the outlet on. The box was quite full of wires and while he was jamming everything in there something shorted and sparks flew and the hall's lights went out. It was really funny and would have looked quite sketchy to anyone walking by - two dudes with tools splicing wires in the dark. We just finished cramming it in, screwed it shut, and went and asked the guy at the front desk where the circuit breaker was. He was quite nonchalant about it and told us it was on the floor below ours so we went there and ran all over the place in these little warehouse hallways looking for it for maybe 5 mins before we found it. We tripped it, went back, and the lights were on so we were good to go. We moved his drums into the room and checked the outlet with an electric razor (it worked - as demonstrated by Sal using it somewhere I'll not mention) and then we had to roll cuz the place was closing even though we really wanted to check it out and jam. He dropped me off at home and I killed time until Lewis came over in the evening and we had some beers and watched Breaking The Waves (I'd still not seen the end). It was very sad, but I still say Dancer in the Dark was way more intense. I was too exhausted to go out with him and Brandy when he left at 12:30, so I passed out.
This morning I woke up at 7 - still haven't reset the bioclock apparently. Off to brunch with Dafna (who now lives like 2 blocks away) in a bit. I also tried to remove the window air conditioner from my window which my sublettor had left and of course it felt 6 stories to its death. Luckily only it and no people died. Man I'm sure smart sometimes...
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Friday, September 11, 2009, 11:16 - GeneralMy week in Israel was great. I feel totally at home there now and know the city quite well, so I don't feel much need to travel around or whatever any more and we just stayed in Tel Aviv the whole time. I landed at midnight, Galia picked me up, and we had a couple drinks at the Peacock after that. Throughout the week I hung out with her and Shlomit and Nirski at the Silon, went to Shlomit's goodbye party in Jaffa (she's spending the semester in Toronto), had dinner with Galia's parents at a restaurant on the port, went to a concert by some 2-piece Israeli band of an attractive girl on a Gibson and a bald dude on drums (pretty straight up, but a cool venue), etc. It was great and hot and too short, but Galia will be here in like 2.5 weeks.
I got back into New York on Tuesday night, touching down at JFK around 6:30pm and making it back to my apartment at a bit before 9. I made a rather absurd error (fadicha in Hebrew) when in my happiness to finally see my bags on the carousel I forgot my laptop bag on the ground and made my way through customs and out into the hall. Luckily I remembered it, and asked a very nice staff woman to go back in and get it for me which she did. In the end all it cost me was like 5 minutes, but it could have been far worse. Can welcomed me home and we talked a bit before I passed out around 11, having been awake and traveling for around 25 hours straight.
Wednesday I got up at 8, so I'm pretty much back on normal hours even though I'm pretty sleepy during the days. I went into Manhattan with Arthur so we could attend Dennis's research lunch and then swung by the bank to deposit my 1030 CHF into my account (they gave me a 0.9 exchange rate... man), got a brownie at Think, hung in my office for a while, and then went to Dennis's class for which I probably will be the TA this semester. From there I went home, played guitar on my amp for the first time (which was great), and then walked over to Lewis's to get schooled in Puerto Rico by both him and Brandy. I was really tired but forced myself to do it anyway.
The next day I got up at 10:30 which was welcome, Skyped with Galia for a while, then unpacked all my crap and organized it. At around 4 Sal came over and we caught up and then had dinner at Bliss before he drove me into Manhattan (which cost me lots of time compared with the subway, but was nice cuz we got to hang). He started working part time as a mover for some extra cash and had a job. He, Arthur, and I are going to look at at least 1 music practice space tonight at the Halsey L stop (and maybe some in the neighborhood too) and I'm pumped. After that I took the subway up to Columbia where I was taking Arthur to the Do Make Say Think concert for his birthday which is on Monday. The opening act was one of the guys from Do Make Say Think doing some random stuff with spoken word clips which was sort of boring, but the DMST set was great. I really love those guys, and fell in love with Danelectro guitars a bit, but it was perhaps not the best thing to see when you're super tired from jetlag. We rode the subway home and I hit the sack.
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Friday, September 11, 2009, 10:45 - GeneralBack in New York as of Tuesday night. Lots of catching up to do here, but I'm not sure I'll be able to capture the last few weeks with the level of detail they deserve. Here's a start.
My last weekend in Switzerland I went to Stephane's parents' mountain chalet in this tiny town in Valais called Ovronnaz. I invited Job and this girl Katherina whom Lewis and I'd met at the fondue restaurant at which we ate when he was in Lausanne. We met at the train station at 7 and took Stephane's car there, driving like 1.5 hours through the valleys and then up into the mountains. Stephane cooked us a huge fondue dinner which we ate outside, drinking quite heavily throughout it all. Eventually it came out that I don't mind nudity, and somehow this translated into Job and I getting completely naked and running around in and out of the house for a while. I hope this didn't cause Stephane too much discomfort.
The next morning Stephane got up quite early, I arose around 11 or something and ate breakfast and played a few rounds of bocci with him, and then eventually the other two got up. We then drove up into the mountain and went on a few hour hike up to this lookout point which was spectacularly beautiful (check the pics). There was a farm with cows on the way, and at some point I mentioned Miksang even though I don't really know what it is and this led to all of us snapping photos which were mostly empty space with a little bit of something in a corner (again, check). We hiked back down, Katherina went swimming in the city pool, we had roesti for dinner, and I schooled everyone in Settlers before we called it an evening far more sober and clothed than the previous night. The next morning we had to get back pretty early as Katherina had a horsejumping competition. Stephane kindly drove my dishes back to EPFL and then left Job and I there, and then we took the metro back to my place and gathered up all my shit so I could move out and over to his room in Geneva for the next couple days until my flight to Israel.
The moving process was quite the bitch even with his help, but I left a bunch of crap at his place after that. He's living for now in a room in a little apartment with some old Moroccan woman and it's a little awkward as she doesn't speak English and I felt like I was sort of intruding on her space. We went out after a while and had dinner with this Dutch friend of Job's at an Ethiopian restaurant where we learned that the Ethiopian Christian calendar has the year to be 2001 this year. The next day I went with him to the ILO for lunch to check it out, wandered a bit around the city and talked on Skype with Galia a bit, and then met him for a cocktail dinner as part of some conference on climate change. It was pretty fancy but I liked it, free food and wine and all. Talked to some people who were pretty boring, talked to some Dutch man for a while, met a very adorable Korean high school student who'd won a scholarship to come there and found the conference "very very hard" to follow (she gave me her business card). We then walked over to his Hungarian friend Vera's apartment and had a really fun time hanging out on her balcony and watching her dog run around with a diaper on to assist in its period.
The next morning I had to leave at like 7 to catch my train at 8:15 to Cologne from where I was to fly to Israel. I strapped my backpack on my back, my guitar around the front of my torso, and carried my laptop and drug my suitcase and slung my manpurse over my shoulder and wrapped my coats around that... I'm sure I looked ridiculous. I had a first class train ticket as the cheap seats in the second class had sold out, which actually was quite nice as it meant way fewer people in my way when I was getting in and out of the trains (I had to change like 4 times on the 7 hour journey). Right away though my water bottle spilled all over my books in my manpurse (though luckily not on my mp3 player) but that ended up being the only mishap. I even was served breakfast at my seat - I could get used to first class. I ended up having to pay 80 euros overweight because I wasn't staying at least a month in Israel (though I could have just said I was - I'll remember what the correct answer to that question is in the future) but that was my only overweight charge in all my flights so I couldn't complain too much and I was carting my little Orange amp along to leave there for future use.
So that was that, I no longer lived in Europe as of boarding the plane. Was fun, but I was ready to go too, both to Israel and back to New York.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009, 03:26 - GeneralAfter a somewhat grueling 16 hour journey carrying all my shit to Cologne on a 1st class train (actually, 3 trains and 2 regional railway lines) and then flying to Israel (which involved paying 80 euros in overweight charges), I've ceased living in Europe and am back with Galia in Tel Aviv for a week. It's great to be here, and will also be fantastic to be back in New York on the 8th.
Had quite the weekend in the mountains at Stephane's parents' chalet with Job and this German girl whom Lewis and I met at the fondue restaurant and spent 2 nights at Job's new place in Geneva, but I'll write more about that later.
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Monday, August 24, 2009, 08:51 - GeneralLast week is a bit of a blur. I worked late the first three days, played some guitar. I've got around 30 minutes of completed song material (well, the guitar parts anyway), so I hope to be able to hit the ground running when I get back to New York and start polishing it off with Arthur and Sal.
Thursday evening I left around 8:30 (I guess that's sitll pretty late) to meet Stephane at The Great Escape for some drinks. We had 3 beers and I had a plate of french fries and we chilled for like 3 hours overlooking Place de la Riponne. Was nice. He invited me to come up to his parents' cottage in the mountains in Valais this weekend, and it's very tempting, but might be too much of a pain to fit into moving out of my apartment and over to Job's for a night or two.
Friday I had to leave the office by 6 in order to be able to do laundy before I left for Paris the next morning. Galia wisely suggested I only do one load and save the rest for when I'm in Israel next week, as it's so expensive here. While the stuff was washing I tried to pick up my French train ticket for Sunday but couldn't, and then had a beer at the cool punk bar she and I'd discovered while she was here. The evening ended with some more guitar and an early bedtime.
I got up at 7 on Saturday and took the metro at 8:15 to Renens to meet the group. Tali rented a car to drive up to Germany to visit her dad for the week and was stopping in Paris for the day, so I, this German/Hungarian girl Julia, and the American couple of Martin and Steph joined for a road trip. Luckily Tali's request of a compact was upgraded to a small SUV so we weren't falling all over each other. The ride was somewhat uneventful, with the highlights being me showing the others via my mp3 player a bit of what I meant by "experimental rock" and Tali's insistence on relying wholly on her GPS for directions even though we were on the highway and there were signs for Paris all over the place, which took us on a few small detours into little French towns.
We arrived in Paris at around 3, and we dropped off the car in a suburb just outside the city limits but still connected by subway to the center as that's where Tali and Julia's couchsurfing host lives. Tali and Julia split off from the rest of us at that point, and we took the subway into the city, me splitting off again as Martin and Steph had a hotel into which to check and I was off to meet Alison, the really cool girl with whom I surfed in Berkeley. I was supposed to meet her at Camille's place (a French Parisian whom she knows from him coming to Berkeley for a couple months a while back) as that's where we were going to end up staying. It took me a little longer than I thought to get there, and somehow this lined up so that they were just stepping out of the apartment as I was arriving. I said hello to her, Camille, and Jasmine, Alison's friend who's a senior in painting at Hunter College and lives in Bushwick Brooklyn, and was asked whether I wanted to go to a museum. I said sure, and was taken to a photography museum which was showing an exhibition by Henri Cartier-Bresson of black and white photos from around Europe in the 20s-50s. It was really nice actually, even though photography is not usually my thing. After a while there I was hungry so Camille took us over to the Jewish Quarter where Alison and I each got a falafel and I got to sound out some Hebrew signs. After this we went back to Camille's apartment and chilled in his kitchen for a while drinking beer and rum and having fun, and then he took us to a somewhat relaxed bar where we sat in the back and had a beer. Alison was sort of accosted by some guy to forcefully kissed her while she was waiting for the bathroom and there were other somewhat awkward moments as well, but overall we were just really tired and so the conversation, while having been very lively before, was sort of melting into inanities. Jasmine really wanted to stay and party even though it would mean an expensive cab ride (the subway stops running at like 1:30 in Paris, blech) and she had to catch a train to the south at 8am the next morning, but we ended up just parting ways as we were too sleepy to maintain the hang.
The next day Alison and I got up at around 10:30 and were both rather surprised by how late it was. The two of us, Camille, and Camille's roommate Gerie went to the market and got some cheese and baguettes, etc., and had some food and tea back in the kitchen until maybe 2 or so when Alison and I left and met Simon, a dutch friend of mine whom I know from Amsterdam and now lives in Paris, downstairs. We all went to this alternatively-decorated bar/cafe on the canalside that he knew and had a great but short time over a couple coffees. We finally got ahold of Tali at this point, about which we'd been getting sort of worried, as she was supposed to give Alison a ride back to Brussels where she's an au pair. We left, took the metro up to Montmartre, and met Tali and Julia and walked up to the Sacre Coeur and snapped a couple photos. From there we walked back down the hill and took the metro to Gare de Lyon as that's where me, Julia, Martin, and Steph were going to take the train back to Lausanne. We said goodbye, as I won't see Alison until whenever and Tali until maybe November in Israel, and Julia and I got on the train.
I found Martin and Steph in the next car a bit after we'd departed, but they were in their own world and didn't join Julia and me. For around the first half of the 4 hour highspeed ride, this 4 year old girl and I played together, slapping hands and giving airplane rides and pretending she was a market vendor selling me carrots. It was adorable, and I'm really glad I speak French so I can have such experiences. I also chatted a bit with the mom who seemed pretty relieved to have her off her hands as she also had a 4 month old with her. The girl, Annelle, asked me as they were about to get off the train whether I would help carry the baby carriage and suitcase out, and I obliged. I then walked back home, chatted with Galia, and ate some muesli before passing out.
Back in the office now. Great trip, I love Paris still, and hope to be able to live there someday.
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