I love New York, but

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I’m really happy to be home. It’s even hot here but not swamply like the big apple.
My trip was great, really invigorating. Even got two small shreds of writing (posted over at Infinite Work with the dates and times close approximations of when they were written) out of the trip, as well as a lot of great meals and get-togethers with old and new friends (and family), including my mom and dad, one of my brothers, his wife, and his 11-month-old boys, a java programmer who was a painter when we first met, a telecom dude who’s also a poet, a writer and journalist who used to work on Wall St., the web designer who maintains my server and has a famous music collection, two writers who run a literary web site, a writer with big ideas about ontologies and data structures and storytelling, and the editor of an amazing art magazine who plans to finish his dissertation some day.
I missed seeing another up-and-coming writer by just a hair, but I’ll try to catch him next time.
Mixed in with those were college friends and roommates, antiwebbers from the early days of creative experimentation on the web, Dead Heads, and some younger writers who are so talented it sometimes scares me.
Now, all I have to do is finish this book and that seminar and I can take it easy the rest of the summer, trying to figure out new ways to stay cool.

There is no square

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The only night I had unbooked during my brief New York jaunt tis summer was last night (Friday). That’s probably not surprising, since this whole thing was short notice and that’s the night people were most likely to already have plans. After a nice dinner with my parents at home, I looked through some entertainment listings and saw that the Greg Osby Four were playing at Birdland, the legendary nightclub.
I caught his 11 pm set, and it was great. I’d heard of Osby but never heard him perform live. I’d recommend his group to anyone who likes adventurous jazz somewhere on the spectrum from bebop to contemporary, difficult but melodic. It often seemed like the drummer, stand-up bass player, pianist, and Osby on alto were all playing in different time signatures, but somehow it worked.
It was so nice out even around 1:30 or so when I came out of the club, balmy and warm, that I decided to stroll around Times Square a bit. No longer the thrilling furtive cesspit of my youth, the area is now something akin to Fisherman’s Wharf, with arcades, wax museums, and other tourist-y attractions. Lots of people out at that time of night, many of them young – teenagers or young adults, all ethnicities, all nationalities. Plenty of tourists, of course.
This beautiful young Italian woman walking with her tall handsome boyfriend stopped me and asked me they way to Times Square.
“You’re in it,” I said.
They looked puzzled.
“Was there something specific you were looking for?” I asked, trying to be helpful.
They looked at each other, hesitated for a moment, and then both said, “the square.”
“Oh,” I said, thinking quickly. “There is no square.”
They still looked confused. “This is all you get,” I said. Then I headed off for the subway.
Later I wondered if I should have pointed them toward the giant famous neon intersection at Broadway and 7th, but I still think they would have been disappointed. There’s nothing in Times Square like the plazas you find in Italian cities.
This morning I was talking to B about this, and our conversation ranged from the history of Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, to Union Square and Washington Square in San Francisco, and to other intersections and roundabouts, such as Piccadilly Circus in London, which we’d visited once, the night we ate at the Metropole during the mad cow square and the entire wait staff thanked me vigorously for ordering the calf’s liver.
I mentioned how the circus in Piccadilly is the roundabout itself (what they to call a traffic circle in New Jersey), and that there’s no circus there in the sense we mean today when talking about Barnum and Bailey (coincidentally, my father mentioned that P.T. Barnum used to have a hippodrome where Union Square in New York is located now).
“There’s no circus in Piccadilly Circus,” I said to B. “There’s no square in Times Square….”
“Isn’t that a Cole Porter song?” she said, reading my mind.
“If not,” I said, “it should be.”

New York, just like I pictured it

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So kiss me and cry for me, I’m leaving on a jetblue plane today, flying from OAK to JFK, getting it late tonight east-coast time.
Announcing my travel plans in my blog worked like a charm. People got in touch. I have plans. Usually I get into town and then find out that everyone is in the Hamptons or in Cabo or wherever these rich New Yorkers who used to be stoners go.
Hey, and it looks like I may get to meet Paul Ford, one of my personal heroes. w00t!
Eat your heart out, Gwen! I’m just keeding!

Note to self: Don’t forget to look for a < $20 nonplastic (ceramic or metal) Chrysler bldg. and/or Empire State bldg.
I’ll be in town for a week. Greg S., did we pick a time yet? I’ll still have email, cellphone, etc. in town, thanks to my parents’ Roadrunner cable modem (meep meep). Anyone else, give me a ring if you want to see if we can still squeeze something in.
Otherwise, there’s always next time, or maybe bothering to come out to California some time, huh?
I told B to start reading my weblog so I guess I may keep blogging while in NY. Photoblogging would be the fun way to go. I should make a category just for B, but then creepy voyeurs would watch. Or I could password-protect it and label it “B only – keep out!” so no one would complain when challenged for a password. Or just go back to using LiveJournal for sterile modern pseudopersonal electronic mediated interaction with my significant other [to be read by Stephen Hawking’s vocoder].
Anyone who thinks cats can’t speak should have seen the Fraidy just made me open the front door to let her out because she’s too lazy to walk down the back steps to the open back door.
What I’ll be missing: [somewhere in san francisco, on a backporch in july]

Oakland happy hour wednesday

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Deadlines have killed my urge to blog lately. I’ve been in more of an unblogging mood. But news that Gwen’s Ladies (and Gents) Who Lunch is having its long promised post-work happy hour edition this week, Wednesday night have got me back typing into this here teeny text box.
Teaser at Finally, a happy hour we can all be proud of. Details to appear Monday. I expect to be there.


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[some, but not all, of the oakrageous attendees]A week ago today, before I realized how sick I was getting, I made it down to downtown Oakland for (second?) Oakland bloggers’ (and auxiliary) luncheon at the Pacific Coast Brewery, aka Ladies (& Gents) Who Lunch (or: A much-needed excuse to leave the house).
What a great gang of folks, some familiar to me from their web presences, other delightful to meet for the first time in any medium!
I will steal Gwen‘s HTML to deliver some hyperlinked shout-outs:

George, Bob, Adrienne, Robyn, Jhames, Gareth, Lisa, Ben, Min Jung, co-Nonchalance-ateer Melissa, Lara from Oaklog, Starmama, Jessica, Joe (archive), his site-less (!) friend Joe, and a too-brief appearance by [her] luscious boy.

It was nice connecting with Adrienne, who was once my contracts contact at one of my publishers and who came bearing a copy of ZZ Packer‘s short story collection, which she will be reviewing for Salon.
It was a great time. What awesome people orbiting this cool little city. Supposedly, the next event will be a happy hour, and I hope I have my drinking legs back by then (a week from now?).
I snapped some pictures and, as I occasionally do, accidentally shot a snippet of movie footage as well, which I’ve thrown together into a quick-and-dirty photo album with Dreamweaver.