Biking: First Day Observations

Although Brooklyn and biking seem to go hand in hand, I never jumped on that band wagon. I rode a bike around my suburban neighborhood as a kid, I’ll ride when at the beach or doing a winery tour in Argentina (because that’s safe), but since I moved to Brooklyn 1.5 years ago I have never thought of getting a bike. Well, that’s a lie. I’ve thought about it, and then realized how scared and amateur I would feel. So, I’ve stuck to what I know well – public transportation and walking.

Until this month. When my sister and I were in Portsmouth in the beginning of August our awesome hotel had bikes for guests to borrow. We took them around town, riding along the water, through the residential area, to breakfast, and on to a little island. It was a fast, fun way to explore the city, allowing us to discover things we probably would not have on foot. I thought, “Hey, how convenient would this be in Brooklyn.. riding to the store, the gym, friend’s places, the park, work.. so much faster than walking and so much nicer than the subway.” Since then I’ve been doing some research, ie asking all my biking friends what they think. My friends run the gamut – from casual Kmart to fancy $4,000 and everything in between. I realized there were a lot of important features I needed to know about – road bikes vs cruisers, gears vs no gears, the height, the fenders, the wheels, how old and heavy (I live on the 4th floor of a walk up) is it, does it need work done?

After a couple weeks of online shopping and asking friends and families tons of questions, I went to check out a Pacific Shorewood Cruiser I found on Craiglist. It was within my price range, had all the features I wanted, and was super cute! I took it for a test drive and was sold. Today I rode to work for the first time, a little over 3.5 miles, and it was awesome. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought, and in fact felt really comfortable. I have a lot to learn about bike etiquette and do’s and don’ts, but here are my first day observations and questions:

  • On days I decide to ride to work, my commute will be cut by 15-20 minutes.
  • Cars actually seem to be aware of bikers, even on streets with no bike lanes. Brooklyn is sure to be better about this than Manhattan, though. Or maybe I was in the way of traffic and they were being nice? I’ll have to figure that one out.
  • Who has the right of way when you’re in the bike line and you’re going straight but traffic is making a turn in front of you?
  • How closely do bikes have to follow traffic laws? Is it OK to go through a red light if there are no cars coming in the opposite direction?
  • I don’t care how many vents your helmet claims to have to prevent you from getting hot, your head will still sweat.
  • I will be slower than most bikers at first, although I was glad to see that all bikers go at different paces.
  • Related to above, what’s the etiquette on bike passing?
I dropped my bike off to get tuned up and realized I am going to miss it for the next few days. I see the start of a great relationship.
M

Reading on the New York Subway

Again I am posting about something else I found online, but the internet is just so full of fun stuff. This photography project Underground New York Public Library encompasses 4 of my favorite things:

  • Reading
  • New York subway
  • Photography
  • Reading on the subway

This project is pretty awesome and touches on so many topics, while somehow still managing to be straightforward and simple. At first sight it is a tumblr of various photographs of people reading on the New York subway, with the caption naming the book and author. But go a little deeper and it’s much more than that. It’s street photography and all the questionable ethics that go along with it*, it’s people we see everyday, it’s people learning, it’s getting lost in a good book, it’s connecting with strangers, it’s capturing the various walks of life that make up NY, it’s introducing us to new books and authors, it makes NY feel a little smaller, it brings up the book vs e-reader dilemma, it’s relatable, it’s hopeful (maybe because it seems less people are reading these days, and these images capture all ages, genders, ethnicities reading), it’s “like meditating” (I agree with this, because looking at the photos I’m reminded of how soothing it is to get lost in a book), it’s friendly, it’s inspiring, it’s a calm moment among the chaos of NY, and the photographs themselves are full of talent.

The subway seems like an obvious and perfect choice for this project in New York. I’m sure the same could be done in parks or cafes, but the subway is just so New York. Reading is obviously a big part of the subway for a lot of people, including myself – it’s where I get most of my reading done because it provides time, a familiar atmosphere, is generally pretty quiet, and maybe the movement of the train is soothing. I’ve actually gotten on the wrong train when reading on the platform, and have almost missed my stop because I was so engrossed in a book. I’m sure I’m not the only one..

*I struggle with this and often miss out on photo opportunities due to feeling like an intruder on someone’s life. P, a talented and curious photographer who likes to capture people on the streets, told me he bought a portable printer so that when he took a photo of a stranger he could give them a copy right then and there. I thought this was a great idea, as it breaks down barriers and makes the subject feel special.

M

The Great Googa Mooga Festival

The Great Googa Mooga Festival went on this past Saturday and Sunday in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. What is Googa Mooga? The definition according to the event’s website:

The Great GoogaMooga: n. an amusement park of food & drink; adj. something wonderfully great; excl. “oh my goodness!” or “how bout that!”

Googa Mooga

General admission tickets were free, but you had to register for them, and choose one of the 2 days to attend. Or you could pay $250 for “Extra Googa Mooga,” which included free stuff. It was the first time this festival went on, but the hype was huge, proven by the press both leading up to and at the event (a Food Network interview happened right next to us), and the high number of well known eateries, breweries, wineries, musical artists, and well known contributors (Anthony Bourdain!). I attended Saturday, along with thousands of other people looking for food, drink, sun, music, and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were a LOT of complaints by some of the attendees, especially voiced on the Googa Facebook page, mainly about the crowds, extremely long lines for food and drink, confusion about having your ID checked, how to purchase drinks, and the sparse cell phone service. My friends and I experienced all of this – it took us awhile to figure out where to go just to purchase a drink, and we moved lines 3 times before figuring out we were in the right place where we then waited over an hour to get a beer, the whole time not receiving phone calls, and our text messages taking extra long to go through.

Fun for all ages!

But it didn’t really matter to us; we were there to enjoy each other’s company, the (very) warm weather, and the experience. We also know there are kinks to work out, some of which they even did for the 2nd day. While in the beer line, we took turns waiting in the food lines. Once we finally figured it all out and got our drinks and food, a couple hours after arriving, we set up shop on our blanket next to some other friends. For the next few hours we enjoyed some of the best things of summer – being with friends, playing cards, eating and drinking, listening to live music, and soaking up the sun. If a couple of us dared to go wait in another long line for drink or food, at least we knew we had a home base.

The day turned into evening and ended after an awesome hour long performance by The Roots. Overall, a great day and way to get the summer going.

 

 

M

NYC is:

ruby red slipper glitter sunglasses and wizard-of-oz emerald green eye glitter // surfboards on the subway platform in 40 degree weather // fresh baked float-in-the-air-aroma-goodness granola at the bookstore // black during rush hour // rude // vibrant and colorful // green spaces // cafes and coffee // fashion implosion // the world culturally compartmentalized // love-hate // una vasca morenaoscuracasinegra hablando canstellano // pink polka dot shoes // tourists // mismatched cabinet knobs // ipad photography in a pedicab down avenue of the americas in the afternoon while waiting for a friend // las vidas de la gente // I LOVE YOU YOUR SHOES SMELL on red chuck allstar sidewalls // acceptance // the unseen // trying too hard // a visit with friends // conversation // inspiration // experimentation // on display // a smorgasbord // home // authentic // an old man on the street chuckling while warning he is about to shoot a little green man at you // 24 hours // the stories people tell