grey marble

August 29, 2005

It began in Africa . . .

This afternoon I purchased my ticket from Paris to Morocco. The agent asked me if I knew the restrictions and exchange policies. I said no. She attacked her computer and then read from the screen. The ticket was non-refundable and I could make no changes. "You better make your flight," she said. "Otherwise you're out 386 bucks." I thanked her and took my leave.
Posted by eugene at

August 27, 2005

Wedding surprise

Coming up the stairs I ran into one of my neighbors. She was dressed as if she had just come from a wedding. A garment bag hung on the bannister, and she was struggling with a suitcase. I offered to help and asked her if she was going to a wedding. "Yes," she replied. "Mine." Congratulations, I said, and helped her carry her bags downstairs.
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August 22, 2005

The age of relativity

Last night, Jean, Patty, and I were standing on a corner on Irving when an Asian couple asked us for directions. They were looking for a sushi restaurant near where we were. I pointed out Yama, which was closed. I mentioned another sushi restaurant up the street, but they said it wasn't supposed to be as good. I concurred, and then Jean and I pointed them to the plethora of Japanese resturants on 8th street. They thanked us and then asked us if we were students at NYU. "I wish," Jean said. She paused. "We're old."

After we parted ways, Patty hi fived us. "He thought we looked like college students!" she exclaimed. "And he was Asian!"
listening to: na ying, naying
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August 19, 2005

The King's Meal

Last night I met Diana at SuRa: The King's Meal, a Korean restaurant on 9th street. I arrived early and settled into a table by the window. Bach as performed on what could have been a traditional stringed instrument filtered through the sound system. An older white couple sat nearby, talking about the food. "This rice is incredible!" the woman said. "It's a vegetarian meal isn't it?" "I think there's a little pork," the man replied.

The waiter brought over a glass of water. "I need to tell you that we're out of the white tuna and the Chilean sea bass," he said. "So if you were thinking of the white tuna salad . . . " I told him I had just been eyeing the salad. "We do have two specials," he said by way of apology, and introduced a kalbi and red snapper entree.

Diana arrived a few minutes later. I told her about the lack of white tuna and sea bass. "We're out of here," she joked. We ordered drinks and then dinner. She ordered the spicy octopus and I ordered a stone bowl bibimbop. The waiter said the octopus was very spicy. Diana said that was ok. The waiter returned a moment later to apologize. They were out of the octopus, but they could substitute calimari. She said that was fine.

We drank. The white couple left and a table of Asians arrived. Otherwise, we had the restaurant to ourselves. After the table had been cleared and we were on our second round of drinks, the waiter approached the table with a polaroid camera. "I have to take pictures of the customers for our wall. Would you mind?" I looked at Diana and she shrugged. The waiter took our picture and left the polaroid on the table.

When it had finished developing I said I liked it. It made us look like we were eating at a small bar in Vietnam. Or something. The waiter said he'd take another photo and posed us on a banquet. He asked us to write our names on the frame with a black magic marker and took it away. "Let's get ice cream," Diana said.

On our way out, I noticed the photo board for the first time. It hung in the vetibule, and the waiter pointed out our picture. The other group of Asians was also leaving and he pointed out their photo. "Happy birthday" was written on the frame. I wished them a happy birthday and Diana and I walked out onto the street. For a moment I was disoriented, but Diana led the way. We walked east. Posted by eugene at

August 18, 2005

Penguins are cute

Last night I went to see March of the Penguins with Catherine. It's a fascinating story, but I felt it was too cute in the end. While the journey to their breeding grounds is difficult, the danger of predators is given short shrift. Those dangers are added as an afterthought to the 70 mile hike and the freezing conditions. I wanted to know about the penguins and their life.

The footage is amazing, and I had hoped that there would be an IMAX release of the film. We saw it at the Angelica. The print and the projection were both bad. The colors were muted and the picture seemed a little soft. I've vowed not to see films there, and yet the past three films I've seen are at that theater. It's just lack of distribution.

Later in the evening, I mentioned to Catherine that I really enjoyed offering critiques. She said she noticed.

We tried to go to La Esquina, under the former corner deli on Lafayette. Catherine had mentioned it earlier and said she'd try to get a reservation. I was surprised it might be a problem, but she said it had become very hip and trendy. After the film, she told me the restaurant was fully booked. We tried the cafe, but the wait was too long. Catherine said she was starving like the penguins, forced to go months without food to care for their chicks.

We ended up at a nearby Indonesian restaurant. It was 10pm and we were the only customers. We asked if they were closing, but were assured they were open. We sat at a table under a wall of masks and ordered our food. It was very good.

We ate and chatted. The waitress hovered. At one point she pointedly asked if we were finished. We said yes and quickly paid the bill. The woman flicked the lights on and off. I told Catherine I thought they wanted us to leave. We passed a table on the way out where the woman's daughter quietly read a book. "Oh," Catherine said. "I thought she was a customer."

Back on the street, she asked if I wanted to try to get a drink at La Esquina's bar. I said sure and we walked back over to the diner. It was still packed. The (apparently teenage) hostess recognized Catherine and she made a quick phone call to ask if they could accomodate two for drinks at the bar. A positive answer was returned and she opened a door in the cramped space marked "Employees Only." We walked down a flight of back stairs into the basement. A man lead us through the kitchen and into the bar. We found a spot to sit and ordered drinks.

The bar was nice and secluded. 80's music mixed with hip hop played on the sound system. We talked and people watched and sipped our drinks. Catherine said the place reminded her a little of Milk and Honey, what with its "exclusive" reservation policy and its hipstery almost speakeasy vibe. She said it also put her in the mind of Freeman's Alley, where I had just ate with Li Ting. I told her it had been some time since I had hung out in new, hip bars, and I kept watching the crowd.

A little after midnight I said I had to go. I had been up since seven in the morning and was feeling drowy. Catherine said she was thinking of taking the day off. She'd just returned from three weeks in France, but still had some fifty odd vacation days left. She said I was lucky that I had September off. I said I didn't want to hear it, coming from someone who seemed to have 100 vacation days a year.

We parted ways under the Corner Diner sign. She mentioned a party Saturday night. I told her I had parents in town. She said maybe I could sneak out after they had gone to bed. And I thought to myself that I could live out the teenage experience of doing just that.
recently watched: march of the penguins ★ ★ ★
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August 17, 2005


I've spent the past few weeks looking for a pair of Saucony Shadows in black and white. I've been to every store on 8th Street and most of the stores on Broadway in the SoHo vicinity. I've looked at dozens of online stores. They have the shadows in other colors, but not my favorite black with the white stripe. Or if I can find the right color, I can't find my size (10 men's).

The other day, I was in a store on Broadway and I brought a navy/grey Shadows to a salesperson. "Do you have these in black and white?" I asked. She pointed to a pair of Jazz. "Yeah, right there." "No," I said. "Those are Jazz's. I'm looking for Shadows." She shrugged.

This morning I called the company. A woman answered and told me they had discontinued that color for 2005. I asked if they'd ever bring the colors back. She said they do if there's enough demand. A few years ago they had discontinued the black on black color scheme and received a lot of complaints. People in the service industry had sworn by them. But I haven't seen the colors come back. Maybe I should start a letter writing campaign. Posted by eugene at

August 15, 2005

Hot Hot Heat

I tried not to move this weekend. On Sunday I sat on my couch under the fan and merely moved my fingers when I needed to change the channel or type a note.

On Saturday I tried to hide in air conditioning. Looking for something to do, I flipped through old mail that I haven't had time to sift through. I found a brochure from the Rubin Museum of Art, dedicated to the art of the Himalayas and the surrounding areas. I had never heard of it. Reading the brochure, I learned it had opened in late 2004. I showered and walked up to 17th street.

The museum is housed in an old department store. The galleries surround a spiral staircase that winds its way through the center of the space, connecting all six floors and the basement. The rooms are dark; the art leaps off the walls.

At intervals, monks from the Dupong Cromang Monestary chanted in the main lobby. Their voices drifted up through the galleries.

I took my time through the lower galleries, but soon felt overwhelmed. The heat from the past week had softened my head and attention span. I left for Barnes and Nobles.

The bookstore was crowded. I wedged myself into a corner and read a few chapters of the new Harry Potter. I had meant to compare notes on Morocco, but couldn't find the Rough Guide to that country. But soon, the crowds became too much and I walked home. And there, I sat on my couch beneath the fan and longed for the heat to dissipate.
Posted by eugene at

August 12, 2005

Into Africa

Wednesday I booked a round trip ticket to Paris. I had until midnight last night to cancel. I had dinner at a pizzeria. I went to a movie. I came home and packed up a few jobs to be sent to the printer. I looked at the time. It was 12.30am. I'm going to Paris. Now I just have to book my ticket from Paris to Morocco once I figure out my schedule.

Somehow, a trip never seems real until I've booked the tickets. Then the excitement begins.
Posted by eugene at

August 11, 2005

Fresh air fund

Saturday Risa invited the staff of ACV and the AAIFF volunteers to her parents' house on Long Island for a BBQ pool party. Joe offered to drive, and at 1.30 in the afternoon I found myself on the stoop of Eric's house in Brooklyn, waiting for Joe to arrive. Eric was out buying groceries. I called and realized I was on the wrong stoop.

The traffic was manageable. When we arrived, the badmitton net was set up, vegetables were roasting on the grill, and plates of roasted chicken and corn were ready to be consumed. We were the first carload there, and we quickly tucked into the food.

Risa's dogs circled around. One went for the occasional swim, dousing us whenever he chose to shake the water from his hide by the table. Groups of people arrived in intervals, and soon both grills were going and people swarmed around the food.

Having finished the first round of food, we took to the badmitton court to warm up in preparation for a swim. We batted the birdie for the better part of an hour before diving into the water. Food kept appearing on the table. Eric and Sonja brought bulgogi, and we hovered around the grill waiting for it to finish.

The afternoon wore into the evening, through cycles of badmitton, swimming, and eating. We played until it grew too dark to see and ate until we could see through to the bottom of the serving plates. At one point, I went to join Vivian on the hammock for a picture. I slowly eased my way into the hammock and brought down a tree on our heads. It was rotted through at the base, but the experience convinced me to stop eating. At least until cake was brought out for Dukyoung's departure and Tomoko's birthday.

As we were about to leave, Diana told everyone they had to stay. She and Risa had disappeared into an office, and when they re-emerged, they gathered everyone into the living room. They said that the festivals were always about giving awards to filmmakers, and that this year, they were giving out plaques to everyone. They then commenced to give out awards to everyone in an elaborate ceremony. Afterwards, Eric and Sonja left to take care of the dog. Plans were made to go bowling, and so I stuck around.

Dukyoung gave me pointers at the lanes. She had learned to bowl in gym, and I tried to synthesize (badly) her teachings. She said I should release the ball as if I was preparing to shake hands with it. In the end, I bowed out on a spare, bowling a strike on my last frame to eek out a 95, just shy of breaking 100.

Joe drove us home. The streets were clear and Dukyoung directed us over the 59th Street Bridge into the city. She said it was her favorite bridge for its views, and as we sailed across, the skyscrapers cut shadows out of the sky.
listening to: sigur ros
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August 10, 2005

The child I never knew I had

"Hi, this is Horace Summer Day Camp."
"Excuse me?"
"This is Horace Summer Day Camp."
"We're calling to ask why ——— isn't here today?"
"I think you have the wrong number."
"Oh. O.K."
Posted by eugene at

Seville, France

I'm planning my trip to Paris and Morocco. I had had romantic notions of arriving in Morocco by sea, crossing the Straits of Gibralter on a ferry and landing at Tangiers. Using internet search engines, the ticket was proving to be expensive. Cherry suggested I call Orbitz to see if they could help find a better route.

The representative was curteous. I told her I was looking to fly from New York to Paris, then from Paris to Seville, and then from Casablanca back to New York. She said it would be a minute and asked if I could be put on hold. I said yes and then listened to the choppy piped in classical music. A few minutes later she returned. "I'm having some trouble with your itinerary," she said. "It's the flight from Paris, France, to Seville, France." "Oh, I'm sorry," I said. "Seville, Spain." She laughed and apologized. "I don't do many international bookings."
Posted by eugene at

August 8, 2005

No jacket required

Last Thursday, Eric and Sonja hosted an "adult-ish dinner" at their cousin's apartment on the Upper East Side. I asked him if it was a shirt, slacks, shoes or a Teva and t-shirt event. He assured that while the address would appear to necessitate a jacket and tie, their friends tended to roll in jeans and flip-flops. Dinner was amazing. Half a roast turkey, home-made prosciutto and pear pizza, and salads and sides to die for. The view from the balcony on the 37th floor was fantastic.
Posted by eugene at

August 5, 2005

Bright announcements

Last Friday, David managed the near impossible and booked a table for ten that night. He had been busy with work and family and hadn't had the time to find a restaurant for Simone's birthday. He called in the early afternoon to tell me the time and place. I said I'd be there.

At seven, I hugged Simone hello. You came, she said. Of course, I replied and smiled at her. People slowly arrived and the waiter lead us to a secluded table in the rear of the restaurant, by a glass door that lead to the sidewalk.

Scanning the menu, David excitedly pointed to the Hen of the Woods, listed under the sides. It's a mushroom, he explained. Unlike any other. We ordered appetizers and sides. The waiter served a light Beaujolais. David raised a glass and offered a toast. We drank. Simone raised her glass and time seemed to slow down. Wait, wait, I said. What did she say? I asked, before she had said a thing. She was calling for attention. I thought I had heard what she said before she said it.

I'd like to propose a toast, Simone said. To my wonderful husband David. Who is soon to be a father. Posted by eugene at

August 4, 2005


I've been searching for a pair of white on black size 10 men Saucony Shadows (not Jazz). If anyone has any leads on where I can get some, please leave me a comment. Posted by eugene at

August 1, 2005

Sunday in Flushing

Sunday, I took the 7 train to its terminal stop and then the Q25 bus to the end of the line. My destination was the Hermon MacNeil Park, a 29 acre patch of land on the northwest corner of Queens.

I got off to a late start. I woke up and read in bed before having breakfast and slowly making my way towards the shower. It wasn't until afternoon that I left the house and made my way to the 6 train. When I emerged from the train at Main Street, Flushing, I was starved. Wandering the nearby streets, I found a restaurant on the corner of 41st and Main that was bustling with activity. A soup bowl was affixed to the top of the building, the word "MONSTER" spelled out in colorful letters, though I forget the name of the restaurant.

After a short wait I was seated before an extensive menu. I looked around to see what people were eating. A woman beside me was eating the steamed duck country style. The dish topped the center column of the menu. The waiter came by; I ordered it. I added a steamed sticky rice as well.

The duck was delicious. The woman beside me finished her plate, paid, and left. Another woman took her place and moments later another serving of duck was before her. The sticky rice was great.

Sated, I went to wait for the bus, riding it past a Toys'R'Us and movie theater before it wound its way into more residential areas. I came close to falling asleep and then we were there. I found a shaded spot under a tree and wrote letters and read. Occasionally, I would pause to watch planes on their approach, the New York City skyline serving as a backdrop.

As the sun began to set and I packed up to go home. I just missed a bus as I approached the stop, and so I waited and watched as a jazz band set up for a sunset concert. Older people were dropped off with lawn chairs and snacks as a line of cars snaked by the park.

Back in Flushing, I ate dinner at the Flushing mall, snacking first on sao bin yo tiao and then a spicy beef noodle soup from a Sichuanese stall. The noodles were thick and doughy. A part of me hoped for across the bridge noodles, and then realized that Chengdu is not in Yunnan. I had confused my capitals. Posted by eugene at


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