Category Archives: NYC

A Valentine’s Day To Remember (a post by Anna)

Nothing says love like sewage plants and government facility tours on Valentine’s Day.

Anne and I rolled into Greenpoint bright and early, and the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant was a madhouse. People on the waitlist and others who hadn’t even registered, all hoping to get a coveted spot on the Valentine’s Day tour. The staff, dressed in 50 shades of pink, handed out Hershey kisses and commemorative pins in the shape of a manhole covers.

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After a riveting talk about the sanitation process and how wastewater physically makes it to the plant, we headed out and up the giant digester eggs. These bad boys double as the set for chase scenes in a bunch of big thriller movies.

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Our quickly beloved tour guide was the Deputy Supervisor of the plant, and I’ve never met a man with more passion for wastewater treatment. He told us the plant cleans 1.5 million gallons of wastewater a day. He told us baby wipes were the single worst thing that has happened to the water system. He told us that they speed up the process during heavy rain. I asked if anyone had ever proposed here; he said no.

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At night, the place turned purple. Lighting design is by Hervé Descottes, who also designed lighting for the High Line.

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Thanks to treatment plants like this, NYC’s river water is the cleanest it’s ever been. So it should come as no surprise that they’re planning to install a floating public swimming pool in the East River in 2016. Now let’s all go drink some tap water!!

PS. If you want a real recap of our tour, Anne wrote about it on Quartz!

 

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The Oscars Were Alright Alright Alright (a post by Anna)

Lines, crowds, and commitment are a few of my favorite things. And they all converged for the annual Oscars movie marathon!

I can’t even pretend like this wasn’t my second year of madness. Sammie Sweetheart came in from Boston again just to sit in a movie theater for 24 hours, and I somehow gathered 11 friends for a day of non-stop movies. We met at the Times Square AMC with 400 others and scrambled to find a row to call our home for the day.

The order of the films is clutch when you’re watching eight in a row. They decided to order them by length this year, which would’ve been fantastic if I had seen any film other than Boyhood in advance. There was no rest for the weary. Watching every film in a sold-out theater was especially fun during fake baby scenes in American Sniper.

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My first year I showed up with merely a granola bar and a tiny blanket, while the pros around me had bags of Trader Joe’s snacks and pillows. Lesson learned! So, this year I brought a bunch of food I didn’t eat!

Also, the Times Square theater has a vertical layout, where you go up at least eight escalators to get to the theaters. The whole day was an escalator party!

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During breaks, they hosted movie trivia like you’ve never seen it before. The questions all required naming the Best Picture Winner in specific year. And somehow, film buffs knew every answer. They had to call a tie between the two finalists because they only had 87 years to choose from. Who are these people!?

Many people stayed the whole night for their own pride, others for the free “I Survived!” t-shirt. My greatest accomplishment was this selfie of only my forehead.

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Even though the awards ceremony proved to be the most boring awards show of all time, at least now I can say I’ve endured a marathon.

IT’S FRENCH FRY TIME!!!!! (a post by Anna)

 

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The One Where Lee Rides A Bus (a post by Lee)

This past Monday, I took my first unchaperoned bus ride across state lines. The experience was much more trying as an adult than it was, say, on field trips as a teenager. I decided to make y’all a helpful step-by-step guide on how to handle your journey.

LEE’S EASY 25-STEP GUIDE TO RIDING A BUS

1. Go to buy a train ticket. They cost $300. Panic.

2. Call your best friend during her lunch break and ask, “So, do I just get on a bus or what. How does anything work? Are there seat belts?” Your best friend replies with a cutting remark about your inefficacy as a human being. Your feelings are not hurt, as you aren’t even listening due to being in the middle of a high-intensity search for pictures of Zac Efron. Your priorities are sound.

3. Buy a ticket for a bus leaving at 1:45pm from a station 40 minutes away. It is currently 1:08pm.

4. Grab the bag that you packed the night before in a naive attempt to plan ahead. You do not remember what is in the bag; you were on the phone when you packed it.

5. Walk — but not with any particular speed — to the Metro stop. Pause to greet your elderly neighbor because you were raised well.

6. Board the Metro and successfully change lines. Feel in control until you realize with horrifying clarity that you do not actually know where the bus depot is located.

7. Consult your confirmation ticket. It indicates the depot is across from a Dunkin’ Donuts. Ponder for a beautiful foolish second if you’ll have time to grab a donut. It is 1:39pm.

8. Finally arrive at your Metro stop and exit. Stand at the corner of the street for two minutes before approaching a bus whose doors are closing and is clearly about to start pulling away. Do not hurry to the bus because you are wearing shoes that you cannot run in. Doubt your decision-making abilities.

9. Approach a random man and say, “I am here to check in for this bus.” Be pleasantly surprised to realize that you approached the proper stranger. He gets you on the bus and you nearly kiss him. It is 1:49pm.

10. Recognize that you do not know proper bus etiquette. Are you allowed to smile at people? Are you allowed to answer incoming phone calls? Can you take a whole two-seater to yourself, or does that make you seem unsociable? Smile at everyone, particularly the hottie in aisle 3 who avoids eye contact; do not answer any incoming phone calls (sorry, Jordie!); take up a whole two-seater; your shirt is unbuttoned.

11. Sit down, the bus departs, and you immediately fall asleep because you have an impressive talent for napping in public spaces.

12. Wake up 30 minutes later with nary a clue where you are. Feel chilly but be unsure how to turn off your air vent. Your reading light doesn’t work and you hold your book up dangerously close to your eyeballs. Make a note to call your optometrist.

13. Somewhere in New Jersey, the bus pulls over into the James Cooper Travel Plaza. Mistakenly assume that the bus driver is filling up the gas tank. The bus driver announces that passengers have 20 minutes to walk around.

14. Text your best friend to ask why you are at the James Cooper Travel Plaza. Your best friend responds, “When you first board, they take a vote about whether or not you want to stop. Did you miss the vote? I assume yes.”

15. You missed the vote. As such, decide that you don’t deserve to get off the bus. Also recognize that you are incapable of making this bus twice in one day; stay firmly in your seat.

16. Everyone else gets off the bus. You are all alone. 30 strangers trusted you with all of their personal belongings. Feel very responsible and dependable; your heart swells with veritable affection for these 30 strangers.

17. Take this opportunity to see what in fact you packed. Contents of duffel bag: 2 mini pouches of baby carrots, a SodaStream bottle filled with water, a pair of pajamas, 4 dresses, and a leather American flag fanny pack filled with ChapStick. Feel shame and inadequacy.

18. Everyone reboards the bus; they all have good-smelling food. With a newly-realized intensity, discover you are hungry. Eat one of your bags of carrots, fearing that you are crunching too loudly and disruptively. Suddenly and passionately hate these 30 strangers and, despite not even being a meat-eater, sincerely covet your neighbor’s chicken nuggets.

19. The bus driver walks through the bus and counts everyone, much like your high school chaperones in days of field trips past. Laugh aloud heartily because this strikes you as very funny. Draw a strange look from the handsome man across the aisle.

20. After four hours of not speaking aloud, feel lonesome and decide to strike up a conversation with the handsome man across the aisle. He tells you, “I am trying to do work.” You apologize and then laugh again. He is not amused.

21. Realize with great alarm that your phone battery is at 17%. As someone who is prone to getting lost and wandering in cities, despite frequent admonitions from your friends of, “Stay exactly where you are. I will find you. Do not move. Stay exactly where you are,” this strikes profound fear in your heart.

22. Text your best friend to ask where the outlets are on the bus. Your best friend tells you the specific location of the outlets. You are unable to find them. The next day, on the trip home, you do. They are precisely where your best friend said they were.

23. Finally arrive at your destination, and immediately begin wandering despite your best friend’s calling and saying, “Stay exactly where you are. I will find you. Do not move. Stay exactly where you are.” Never obey your friends because you and you alone are in control of your own destiny.

24. Be found seven blocks away from where you were supposed to be. Make your best friend carry your luggage. Later, make your best friend’s roommate carry your luggage. Derive pleasure from how powerful you are.

25. The next day, repeat this exact same process with the smug self-satisfaction that only comes with being the type of person who makes all the wrong decisions and yet still gets everything right.

Monkeys Riding Dogs (a post by Anna)

When I lived in Texas, I learned that monkeys riding dogs was a thing. There’s a guy who refers to himself as “Wild Thang” and trains costumed monkeys to ride around on dogs. During my three years in Texas, I attended rodeos, barn dances, and hootenannies, hoping to catch a glimpse of said monkey/dog duo. I never fulfilled that dream.

This is real life.

The Dream

Flash forward to when my pal Patrick invited me to see the NY Giants. It was my first professional football game, and my knowledge of the sport extends no further than Tim Riggins and various terms I picked up from my young adult book club’s fantasy league.

The day started at Penn Station. We met up with our Belgian friends Reggie and Victoria, who’d bought Giants t-shirts and read up on American football on Wikipedia. We had a lively discussion about European soccer on the way to the game.

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The stadium was mayhem, but we entered through the VIP entrance and headed to our private suite, which belonged to a charter jet company.

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The staff in our suite asked us what we’d like to drink and mentioned that if they didn’t have what we want, they’d run out and get it. I ate three plates of buffalo chicken mac and cheese and a dozen chicken fingers.

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I learned that Giants fans are intense. To our rear sat an over-served woman who provided constant commentary. If not for her, I probably would’ve had no idea what was going on. We cheered in sync with the crowd.

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I was sitting there, taking it all in, when lo and behold — halftime arrived. And then I got blitzkrieged with… MONKEYS RIDING DOGS. It was unreal.

Wild Thang and his monkeys and dogs

Wild Thang & Team Ghost Riders

I’ll end this story with this:

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Finger Lickin’ Good (a post by Anna)

I’ve got this good friend named Bentley McBentleson, and he’s a self-proclaimed Colonel Sanders enthusiast. His loyalty for KFC knows no ends. And by that, I mean he has a KFC tattoo.

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photo by Bentley McBentleson

Not long after KFC re-released the Double Down, Bentley McBentleson entered the Double Down Dare. If you aren’t familiar with the KFC Double Down, it’s two fried chicken fillets that sandwich cheese and bacon. Bentley submitted a series of videos for the KFC challenge. A week later, he was named the Double Down Dare Super Fan and awarded $500 and a party at any KFC location. He chose the charming East Village KFC.

Said KFC party just so happened to fall when Cary was coming to visit. Whether Cary wanted to go or not, I dragged him to this once in a lifetime experience.

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Time for a KFC par-tay!

Upon arrival, we got swag!!

We couldn't be more excited!

We couldn’t be more excited!

Bentley had the honor of wearing the Colonel Sanders costume.

The man, the myth, the legend.

The man, the myth, the legend.

We had unlimited soda refills! We had biscuits and jelly! We had mashed potatoes and gravy! We had potato wedges! We had Double Downs! WE HAD IT ALL.

Mashed Potato Time!

Nobody does chicken like KFC.

You may think they closed down the KFC for this big party, but nope – scattered around the KFC were regular patrons. Some were slightly confused by our themed attire and enthusiasm; others didn’t notice. Regardless, we congregated for this photo.

BREAD IS DEAD.

BREAD IS DEAD.

If this story isn’t reason enough for you to visit me in The Big Apple, I don’t know what is.

The Night I Got Carried Away (a post by Anna)

I hadn’t really planned on going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation event, but once I left work and realized it was 36 degrees and rainy, I couldn’t resist.

Upon arrival, they gave out free Dole Fruit Squish’ems: the perfect rainy winter night treat!
I can't turn down anything called a "Squish'em"

Lee once ate one of these at Starbucks for breakfast, only to realize it was actually baby food.

It took roughly two minutes of balloon viewing for me to start asking strangers to take my picture:

How It All Began

The Photo That Inspired a Montage

Face to the ground

The Porta Potties really make this shot.

The woman who took this photo suggested my pose.

The woman who took this photo suggested I pose on the railing.

I had an older French man take this photo. I don't think he was impressed.

I asked an older French man to take my Spiderman photo, and he couldn’t have been less excited.

The photographer cut off the dinosaur topiary that was supposed to the the focal point of this photo.

The photographer cut off the dinosaur topiary’s head, which was supposed to be the focal point of this photo.

Don't make faces - they might get stuck that way.

Remember that time I got my face stuck?

The fun

Photo credits go to lady with the best Southern accent!

Hello Kitty

It was a blessing that no one decided to steal my iphone throughout this montage.

Kool-Aid Man

A Vanna White Photo

My hands went numb after 30 minutes, so I decided to call it a night. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!