Posts tagged New York City

James and the Big City: Part 2 – Electric Boogaloo

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So it’s a bit later than I thought I’d be writing this but at least I’m not taking months to write about a vacation I took 8 months ago. The day after I drove into the city for the A&E upfront presentation, I found myself driving down there once again. This time it was for a panel discussion hosted by Collective, which is an online ad network that we’ve used on a few campaigns. I looped Rob into this as well because it seemed like something he’d be interested in.

I left work a little early and got down there at least a half hour before the event was supposed to start. I got to the building and walked around. It was in Columbus Circle so I considered taking a quick stroll through Central Park but Rob was on his way to meet me so I didn’t have the chance. We walked by the shops for a little bit and killed enough time to arrive at the event around the start time.

This was held at 10 on the Park which is this swanky little place near or in the Time Warner building. The whole floor was decked out with the Collective logo, but in a classy way, not like with a bunch of stickers or something. I enjoyed a handful of appetizers and did not enjoy a few others while talking with Rob, our reps at Collective and a few other people. My one complaint was that the panel didn’t start up right away. We got there at 6:30 but the panel didn’t start until 8. What am I supposed to do for an hour and a half? Network? I can only eat so many appetizers!

The panel started just after I tried to eat this appetizer that consisted of spiced beef in a little tortilla shell and broke the tortilla, sending the beef everywhere including into my soda. Mmmm…beef soda. It was actually a really interesting panel discussion about the future of display advertising. I don’t talk much about it here, but the Internet ad space is an ever changing, Wild West-like area where success metrics are constantly evolving but still not completely where everyone wants them. There’s really no “ratings” in the online world like there are for radio and TV. The discussion talked about how the space is changing and where the panelists thought it would go.

After the discussion wrapped up around 9, Rob and I chatted with some reps for a little while. The waiters were walking around with these tiny muffin-like baked goods in a variety of flavors like mint chocolate chip and confetti. I must have eaten at least 10 of them. There were also cookies that could have doubled as coasters due to how hard they were.

After about an hour, I said my goodbyes and head home. I got back to the apartment around 11. On the way back I realized that even though I had seen Monica before and after I got home the day before and during the day, I actually missed her a lot. Yeah, that sounds totally cheesy and stuff, but hey, I’m marrying her for a reason, yo

James and the Big City (Part 1 of 2)

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I work in advertising and since I’m in this business and I work so close to New York City, I get invited to various events that the sites, networks, and stations put together down there. Normally I don’t even consider going to these things. I feign interest and act like I want to go but deep down I don’t care enough to do anything about it. I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving down to the city, finding parking, and then dealing with the commute back. I also don’t feel like taking the train in just for some event that might not be entirely relevant to me. Plus, I usually just want to go home after work and rest and watch DVDs or play video games. I’m a simple guy. That being said, I went to the city (by car, no less!) two nights in a row last week.

Co-worker Rena was invited to the A&E / Lifetime upfront presentation at the IAC Building on Tuesday but she couldn’t go. She offered me the invite. At first glance, I figured I’d do my usual “Oh yeah, I should check that out…” and then not do anything about it. Something caught my attention on the invite though. There would be a performance by John Legend and the Roots. Now, I had no idea who John Legend was, but I’m a big fan of the Roots. I thought about it for a little while before finally deciding to RSVP. Like I said, I get invited to stuff like this and it’s not always relevant to me, but here is something that I’d actually be interesting in attending. Good deal. I responded and I was good to go.

Tuesday came and I drove down to the city for the event. The place was decked out and a ton of people ended up squeezing into the lobby of the building. If you’ve never been to the IAC Building, you’ve probably at least driven past it on the West Side Highway and thought “That’s a really weird looking building.” It is, but it’s a beautiful space. I hobknobed with some of the reps we work with and talked to some co-workers all the while snagging some of the appetizers that were making their way around the room. Thanks to the fact that everyone was wearing nametags I spotted a rep at an agency that we’ve been working with and made an introduction. That worked out really well. Great networking.

The presentation began and I started spotting some celebrities near by. I saw the twins from the show Sister, Sister from like 15 years ago. They apparently have some show on A&E or something now. I also saw the winner of Project Runway which Rob pointed out to me after I saw him and thought “That guy looks really weird.” William Shatner and David Hasselhoff were also in attendance. After the promo reels were show displaying the upcoming shows on A&E, Lifetime, and History it was time for some entertainment. Bob Saget (who also has a show on A&E now) did a few minutes of stand-up. Despite claiming that it was his clean act, it was still pretty dirty and very funny. After that John Legend and the Roots took the stage. As I mentioned before, I had never heard of John Legend. He put on a great show. I would have liked to have seen more from the Roots though. It was basically John Legend with his backup band, The Roots. I head out after the music stopped and got home in about 40 minutes which surprised me.

My one regret from the evening was not taking my camera with me. I left it in my messenger bag which I checked to avoid having to lug it around with me all night. There were plenty of times that I wished I had it with me as there were many photo opportunities that would have accompanied this blog post.

That was my first of two nights in the city. Part two will come (hopefully) tomorrow. Will our hero eat more appetizers? Will he perform small talk with various people he may or may not know? What if he gets lost? Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion!

Adventures in Graffiti and Other Sordid Tales

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I have to admit that I haven’t been very active on the blog as of late. I blame this on a variety of things. Mostly it’s video games though. I went from using my PS3 for about 80% DVD / Blu-Ray viewing and 20% video games to at least 50 / 50. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the trophies in each game that I’ve played so far. I fully understand that it’s a somewhat meaningless endeavor, but damn is it fun.

4170226645_c7af43ea8cIn other news, Dave & Jess came up to visit this week. They arrived Sunday night and left this morning. Yesterday Monica and I took off from work to go gallivanting around the city with them in search of various chocolates. While we walked around downtown NYC in search of pizza (which proved entirely too difficult given the abundance of pizzerias in every other part of the city), I spotted this awesome piece of graffiti. Yes, that’s the phrase “Rock N Roll Grandma” spray painted in crazy graffiti font on a door. What could possibly be the reason for that? Needless to say, this fascinated me. I immediately imagined some tough thug-like guy with his tag of “Rock N Roll Grandma.” Don’t you dare mess with that guy. Of course, we soon found that he was no match for Dick Chicken.

We ended up stopping at 5 or 6 chocolate and candy places. I picked up some strawberry candy at papabubble and then I found something truly special. We went to Vosges Haut Chocolat where I purchased Mo’s Bacon Bar. It’s a chocolate bar with bacon. Monica and I just tried it and it’s…interesting. There are pieces of bacon in the chocolate and I don’t think my tastebuds knew what to do. It’s a similar experience to when I had a deep fried Oreo only this is better because it has bacon. (more…)

Not a Laughing Matter

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I was in the city on Wednesday for a panel on Social Media hosted by Agency Bootcamp. The panel was pretty good and I picked up a few business cards and what not. I met a rept from a site for lunch and then I had some time to kill. Since I was in Times Square, I figured I’d walk through Toys R Us and Midtown Comics. On my way to one of those, I was approached by one of those sidewalk vendors that was handing crap out. I wasn’t offered a fan or a city tour. This woman said “Excuse me sir. Do you like standup comedy?”

Now what the hell kind of question is that? At first, I wasn’t even sure she was talking to me. Then I turned and saw that she was looking right at me. So without missing a beat and with all the seriousness of a cancer patient, I reply “No. I hate to laugh.”
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Down Flies and Racing for Comics (2/5/2009)

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The alarm clock sounds at 6 AM. There’s no time for Mulder and Scully this morning. I’ve got a train to catch. I’m up and in the shower moments later and after I have a quick bowl of cereal, I’m out the door by 6:45. I walk down to the train station to catch the 7:12 express train. As I’m buying my ticket, a train comes in and seems to be an even quicker one. I manage to get my receipt and hop on the train just before the doors close. Earlier train. Woo!

I read The Stand on the ride down. The guy sitting next to me asks me to wake him up at the 125th Street stop. Fortunately he’s awake when we get there so I don’t have to yell or shake him or anything. The rest of the ride in is easy. I end up getting to Grand Central around 7:40. I’m due at this panel downtown at 8:30, so I’ve got some time to kill. I sit in the dining concourse and read for about 15 minutes before getting on my way.

After a couple more trains, I get to the Rubicon Project office. I make my way upstairs and meet up with former boss Josh. We chit chat for a little while and he introduces me to a couple people. I also meet David from Weather.com who used to be our rep but got promoted or something. David introduces me to a colleague and we talk for a little while. When said colleague steps away, David shakes my hand and comes in close to tell me that my fly is down. (more…)

We Came, We Saw, We Kicked It’s Ass (8/20/2008)

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I wake up at 6:30 to the alarm clock. I slept a lot better last night, but I’m still sore from Monday’s exercise. Monica and I watch some King of Queens and get on with our morning. I head out to work around 8.

As I pull into the parking lot at the office, I realize that I forgot my lunch. Damnit. I’ll have to pick up some food and wait until tomorrow for my taco melt leftovers. Normal office stuff begins. Emails are checked and all that.

I head downstairs around 12:30 to get something to eat. While I could venture out and get a bite to eat elsewhere, I don’t really feel like it. Plus I don’t know where I would even go. I’d probably end up going to Taco Bell or something and I just had tacos. I end up getting a slice of pizza with chicken. I sit and read Peace Like a River in the cafeteria until my break is over.

I return to my desk and catch up on a few things. I get an email from former co-worker Jordan (Look! You made it into the blog!) and then shoot a quick email to Mike and Jeff. Since this is my first time driving into the city and I seriously have no idea how long it will take me to get in, Alan said I could head down at 2 (for a 3:30 meeting). I then head out on my journey to the Big Apple.

The ride goes fine without any problems. My iTrip gets a little fuzzy as I neared the George Washington Bridge, but aside from that, there were no real issues. After driving down the West Side Highway for a bit, I leave my car in a parking garage and get to the Visible World office around 2:45. I’m way early. Fortunately, Jeff and Mike are around so we chat for a little while and catch up. While I saw Mike just last week, I haven’t seen Jeff in over six months.

Charles arrives a few minutes late and Mike begins the presentation. They go over what they do and show examples. Fun stuff. It was interesting to sit next to Charles during the meeting because I could practically hear the gears moving in his head thinking up all the things that we could do. There’s some discussion afterwards and we part ways. All in all, I think the meeting went pretty well.

After I pick up my car and drop the $30 (to be expensed later) on my parking, I venture north and away from the city. It’s interesting that while I’m still nervous, since I’m in New York City, I’ve become a total New Yorker. It was the same way last week when I was down here and weaving through the pedestrians to get to my destination quicker. In this case I was yelling at other cars as they sort of weaved and flowed in and out of my lane. Even with the yelling, I didn’t honk my horn though, so I guess I can’t be considered a true New Yorker just yet.

I was fortunate not to have to deal with too much traffic. I got on 87 and made it to Scarsdale and the comic book store. I made it in and out of the city without being shot, stabbed, or blown up. Hooray! Then disaster struck. There was a big sign out front that explained that UPS had delivered all of the comics to another location. There are no new comics here. Feeling sad, I didn’t even walk into the store. I just turned and skulked back to my car then head back to the apartment.

I get back home around 6:15 or so. Monica was gathering her stuff together. She’s heading up to her parents’ house for the night because she’s got to be at a doctor’s office in New Windsor in the morning. After checking traffic a few times, she’s off and I’m alone.

I wasn’t all that hungry, so I snacked on some Tostitos and watched City of God. The film is just amazing. My review will hopefully expand on this more, but it’s seriously such a great movie.

After the movie, I watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica and was again impressed by just how good it was. The end of every episode has my jaw dropping and me exclaiming “This show is just so damn good.” I chat with Monica online for a little while and then get to bed.

I finish Peace Like a River and then got to sleep. This is the first time I’ve gone to sleep without her next to me since she moved in. It was just weird. I’ve gotten so used to her just being there that it was tough to get to sleep. I manage to finally to get to sleep after midnight or so.

James in the Big City (8/12/2008)

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The alarm clock sounds at 6:30 but I’m in no hurry to get up. Monica and I lounge around and watch some King of Queens. Regular morning routine begins, but I hang out while Monica heads in to work. I’m heading to the city today and not the office. I quickly write out my blog for yesterday as well as a review for the first season of Justice League on DVD, then head down to the train station.

Since I don’t have a parking permit for the station, I hoof it down the hill. It takes about 10 minutes for me to get down there with my ipod shuffling tunes in my ears on the way. I buy a ticket and then pass the time before the train arrives by reading Peace Like a River. The train comes right on schedule and I continue reading on the way.

I arrive in New York City just before 10. After double checking my subway map (which I’ve already checked about 4 times and will most likely check again at least 3 times), I head to the correct tunnel and take the S train to Times Square and then the A train to 34th street. I’m so proud of myself for being able to actually navigate through the city with my total lack of a sense of direction. Granted this is apparently something that’s incredibly easy, but still.

After venturing back up to the street level, I walk a block or two and call up former co-worker Mike who’s working at Visible World now. I get his voicemail so I pop a squat on a bench and give him another few calls before I get a hold of him. He comes out to get me and we head into his temporary office to show me what the company does. The product is amazing and it’s definitely pretty impressive. They basically do some incredibly targeted Television advertising on the fly based on what you enter in. He showed me some examples of different types of commercials for the same product and I loved it. It’s a great idea and a great system. It’s interesting to see a software application that actually works (SoftWave Radio and TV, I’m looking at you). We chat for a little while before Mike heads to another meeting and I head back out.

I hop on the A train again and mosey up to Times Square. After locating the theater where Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be showing, I kill some time by walking through Toys R Us and the Virgin Megastore. I don’t find anything all that interesting so I hoof it back to the theater where a line is already developing. The ticket that I received said that the theater was overbooked and seats would be available on a first come, first serve basis, so I wanted to make sure I got there early. Since I still had at least a half hour to kill, I read some more before calling Darryll to see if he made it into the city yet. He had actually just arrived and was on his way. He gets to the line and we chat a little before we’re let in.

The theater was f’ing huge. We go up four skinny escalators that pass by windows looking into restaurants and other stores on the way up to the theater. I wasn’t even sure we were in the same building at that point. We stop and cash in our coupons (provided with the ticket) for some free popcorn and soda. We actually do this on the third floor before heading up to the fourth floor. This turned out to be a really smart idea as everyone else ended up stopping on the fourth floor and there was a huge line.

My bag was searched by Warner Bros. security personnel and I went through a metal detector before I was allowed entry to the theater. I was also told repeatedly to turn off my cell phone all while holding my soda and popcorn in each hand. Darryll and I find seats and relax while everyone else files in.

Before the show starts, I send out one of the last tweets for Twitter for the day. A day like this has me thinking of finally upgrading my cellphone. Up until now I’ve been perfectly content with my phone and it’s lack of features. Why would I need to browse the Internet on a tiny screen? The most advanced feature on my phone is a flashlight. That being said, on a day like today where I’m all over the city and unable to check any sort of email or anything else, it might be somewhat beneficial to look into a smart phone. I’m sticking with Verizon as a provider though as I really like them. Monica and I will be getting a plan together in October, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

The movie starts and I’m not all that impressed. My full review can be read here. After the movie, I called Kaitlin from Sherman’s Travel. She lets me know where their offices are and I head down to meet up with her. Darryll is heading in the same direction and after a quick subway ride we part ways. After a brief stint of getting lost, I meet up with Kaitlin and we get a quick snack and eat outside. I had some chocolate milk and cookies. It was nice to put a face to the voice and email address. We talk for about an hour or so. As it turns out she went to Marist and has a sister that is currently enrolled at New Paltz. Small world. She has to return to work, so we say goodbye and I head back to the subway.

At this point it’s about 4 o’clock. There’s a 4:15 express train back to Tarrytown. Sure there are other trains, but I want this one. I somehow forget that I’m on 34th street and not 42nd street and end up walking the 8 blocks to Times Square instead of hopping on the subway. I take a quick ride on the S train and make it to Grand Central with 4 minutes to spare. Upon my arrival at the terminal I realize that I’m out of water and could use a refill and I’ve also got a wicked wedgie that cannot be fixed by any means I can do in public. I make a rash decision to just get on the train once I find the track though. I’ll have to deal. What if my watch is slow and I miss the train? I can’t take that risk!

The train brings me back up north and away from the city. I realized earlier in the morning that I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the Big Apple. Throughout the day there were times where I thought “Wow. I love this place.” and then there were other times where I thought “Ugh. What is this horrible smell? I hate this city.”

I return to Tarrytown and walk back up the hill to the apartment with wedgie in tow…or ass. After talking with Monica for a little while, I check my email to find that I’ve got about 10 new followers on Twitter. Granted, I was posting to Twitter about my day but I didn’t think it was anything that would warrant 10 new followers. I did a bit more investigating and I found that I was today’s Marvel Comics’ “TFOOM’er” (Twitter Follower of ‘Ol Marvel). Here’s a screenshot for posterity.

Needless to say I was excited.

Monica and I relax a bit and I play some GTA IV. I finish up around 8 and we watch the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Review to come soon, but I really didn’t care for it. Too much crazy pirate lore pulled out of thin air. After the movie, I did some more reading and got to sleep around 11:30.

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