The bad: on the J train

I live in Hamilton Heights and work al the way to Bushwick. It’s a LONG commute, about 1hour and a few minutes of my day. But had I not endured all these hours on the subway, I doubt I would have witnessed pretty much every vignette of new york life you can imagine. Oh the things I saw, heard, and smelled!

One time on the 1 train, a guy sitting beside me insisted on demonstrating to me the newly acquired flexibility of his broken arm. I declined and let out a nervous laugh. Broken arm guy shrugged one shoulder in sign of indifference but another stranger sitting across from me scolded me for making fun of him. This is one of many examples of the most unlikely interactions I had with other riders.

The weirdest, most shocking incident happened during a morning commute to work, on the J tain between Flushing and Myrtle av., I think. There was at the most, three other people on the train – usually people travel to Brooklyn from Manhattan in the morning, not the other way around. I was changing into my work shoes when I noticed the homeless man who had been sitting diagonally across from me since Marcy Av station. We locked eyes. I knew that look

I have been working with children since 2007, as a day care assistant and as a babysitter. I am very familiar with that look. I just had never seen it in an adult man before. To the untrained eye, it may be confused with the “glazed look”, but it reflects a person experiencing full concentration, pleasure, and slight embarrassment. More often than not, this look is accompanied by a semi-open mouth and a slight frown. This man was, without a doubt in, pooping. Seconds later, the most foul smell invaded the subway car, making it impossible to disprove my hypothesis.

Not giving a fuck about the $75 fine, I made my way to the next car. Of course, not before exchanging one las glance with the homeless man who now sported a very different look of utter satisfaction and mischief.

MTA subway map, zoom on Manhattan-Brooklyn line

The ugly: Prosperity Dumpling

Prosperity Dumpling is as delicious as it is ugly — and it truly is a hideous joint. It is also my ultimate, unequivocally, irreversibly, and unsurprisingly favourite dumpling establishment, so far. It beats, without a doubt, any dumpling house in Toronto, and it can’t be all attributed to their probably indiscriminate use of MSG. No, friends. I don’t know what their secret ingredient is. Love, maybe? Special lard? Who knows but food is sanitary, savoury, and very inexpensive. You can easily satiate your hunger for $2-4. If when you get to the place you doubt it’s sanitary, let me tell you I once saw a health inspector eating there so… YEAA.

The restaurant/hole-in-the-wall is located in Chinatown at 46 Eldridge Street (between Canal St & Hester St). Google that shit and then go and eat the hell out of it.

The good: 4th of July in Bushwick

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Hello there dudes! The week of the 1st of July was so packed for me that I haven’t even gotten the chance to tell you what what went down! I had quite a few friends visiting from Canada, Germany, and … Continue reading

What to do in New York City 2: the great city outdoors

New York City in the summertime is a great place for free outdoor events. For example:

Now all we need are friends. Aw :(

Racist New York: Mmmhhmm gurrrl

Last week I went to a free show in red hook (Brooklyn) and not surprisingly, the fact that Das Racist was playing didn’t stop some white demons from being racist. Before you go all “OOOH MY GOD did she just write white demons???” bear in mind that it’s a reference to Das Racist ‘cus they have used the line during live shows. Also, COLONIALISM! I mean, if that wasn’t demonic…

Alright, alright, back to the show. There I was having fun and dancing to the sophisticated and badass sound of Action Bronson. Ok, I was most likely simply swaying back and forth ‘cus I got little rhythm. In front of me, there was a group of three girls enjoying the music as well as me, although more competently aligning their bodily movements and gyrations to the beat. To my right, there was this group of high school kids trying to move like rappers (especially this one tall kid) but looking instead like they had weirdly coordinated muscle spasms in their neck and one of their arms.

In case you assumed these girls were white ‘cus you know white is still the norm in our society, they were black. During the short break between the Action Bronson and Das Racist show, one of the girls got REALLY excited for some reason. It might have been because there was a hot guy on stage or in the VIP area or she remembered something hilarious – I have no idea. Regardless, she displayed her excitement quite strepitously. I think she was even jumping up and down at one point. All of a sudden I hear the white tall high school kid going:

“Mmmmmmmhhhmmmmm Gurrrrrrrrrrrl”

All while snapping his fingers and ungracefully wobbling his head in a “Oh no you didn’t” fashion. What the hell? These girls were having a ball, joking around, having a hilarious moment together and this idiot feels the need to interject with the so-called Z snap (according to urban dictionary), often used to portray the racist “Black Ghetto Girl” stereotype. Why? If other than black or non-white latina girls were making a raucous, would he have done the Z snap? I highly doubt it.

I guess if your black or latina and you’re being loud, mind you, WITH YOUR FRIENDS and at a show it’s like “Oh the z snap is coming!”

The bad: bed bugs in my apartment

“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”

Some fool

Yes my friends, I had (probably still have) bed bugs in my apartment. It has been hell. HELL. When I came back from my graduation in Toronto, I started noticing these weird bite marks all over my body. They felt and looked like mosquito bites but they were abundant and in clusters of three. I was like “dafuq is this???”. Of course, I googled the symptoms and quickly realized that the cause of these bite marks were definitely a bed bug infestation. My roommate was in denial tried to stay positive at first because she hadn’t been bit yet and we hadn’t spotted any on the couch mattresses. I was certain from the beginning that it was bedbugs! Of course, a day or two after I had made my correct diagnosis, she started getting bite marks and she spotted one while folding a bedsheet. She was convinced We were soooo depressed!

I was really worried about two things: a) that I had brought them from toronto and b) that we were going to have to pay for the elimination of the bugs. It’s apparently very expensive. However, after talking to the superintendent, we learned that there had been an infestation in an apartment below us. So we figured the bugs had most likely come from there. Phew. I called my mother back in Toronto anyways and advised her to at least spray some raid in the house, just in case. The super also told us the landlord would take care of hiring an exterminator. Double Phew.

My roommate decided to warn the neighbour about a possible infestation with something along the lines of:

“yo we have bedbugs, so you might want to check your mattress to see if you have them too”.

To which the asshole replied something like:

“yeahh I definitely have them, I have had them for a while now”

In shock, unable to understand how someone might be OK with living with bed bugs crawling on them and biting them every night, my roommate asked:

“So I am guessing you have made plans to fumigate soon? They’re spraying our apartment tomorrow.”

And he said:

“No, not at the moment really. Actually The city recommends not spraying because they just move somewhere else. So now I’m just gonna get more bugs after you spray, ugh.”

He shut the door. My roommate might or might not have stood there in a catatonic state for like a minute, unable to process the information she has just received. We were both so disgusted by our neighbour! If you have never had bed bugs, let me assure you they are amongst the worst plague you can get in the city. They can survive without food (your blood) for a long time, they multiply super fast, they hide very well in sofas and mattresses, the bites hurt like hell, and they are very expensive to get rid of.

So as of now, the exterminator came and sprayed the house. We had to put all our clothes and linens in bags and wash them with hot water and dry them or freeze them — bed bugs die in extreme heat or extreme cold. I think there might have been some survivors so they are spraying again this week and hopefully this via crucis can end. As for my neighbour, the landlord is forcing him to do something about it, which is a huge relief. Did I mention they have like eight cats. #eew.

So this is one of the really bad things about new york city: getting bed bugs is very easy. So when/if you move here, do yourself a favour and make sure to buy a new mattress and new furniture. Do not pick anything up from the street. I have done this in the pass in Toronto and nothing has happened so far but I think bed bugs are a bigger problem in this city. I told some people about my problem and it is unfortunately a very common thing. Tell me about the real new york experience, right? #GlassHalfFull

**Trigger warning** Pictures of bed bugs below

ewwwww

Bites (not mine)

The good: Spread Love Party in Greenpoing, BK (and how I avoided a fine)

Based on TV shows, articles in magazines, and my own wild imagination, I constructed a pretty solid yet possibly misguided image of what underground brooklyn dance parties are like, or should be like. I have been looking to experience this ideal since the first time I visited New York during Summer 2011 and the quest only intensified once I moved here in May. It finally came to an end last night at the Spread Love Party in Greenpoint, organized by the Brooklyn Good Guys. I am not sure who the Brooklyn Good Guys are. I just know that they are a collective of artists, musicians (and good guys?) who organize dope events. Dope as in fucking amazing. I found out about this one through a 3rdWard post on their blog about stuff going on this weekend, which you can find here.

The Spread Love Party was advertised as a live dancehall/rap/hip-hop music event with no cover, in front of the waterfront, and to which you could bring your own booze, drinks, beer, liquor, poison…. Now if that doesn’t sound like the best event, I don’t know what would. Unless you hate rap/hip-hop and happiness, in which case you should just die or something. Check out the awesome flyer below.

I went there with a new friend, Julio, who I met through couchsurfing. He’s from El Salvador, just like me! Other couchsurfers as well as my friend Jerome visiting from Quebec joined us later. Julio and I got there super early (around 8:30), with a 6-pack of brooklyn pilsen. We wanted the party to get more ballin’ before going in so just we sat down by the water, a few centimeters away from the venue which was half a construction site & half a backyard (?) behind an apartment building. Low resolution pictures I stole from twitter are below.

We started a-drinking… enjoying the New York skyline and the good enough sunset –mediocre compared to salvadorian sunsets obviously. Two guys came up to us at one point and asked us how to get into the party. Seconds after we directed them, Julio spotted a police car. I know, WHOoaaA.

We instinctively hid the booze behind a concrete slab and i lit a cigarette. Not due to stress but to seem like we had nothing to hide — it made sense in my head at that time. We also started taking pictures of each other as well as excessively and exaggeratedly pointing at the buildings in manhattan, to pretend like we were there for the view, YOU KNOW. The cops didn’t even come to talk to us or anything so IT WORKED! Unfortunately, the guys who asked us how to get in did get a fine. ha! suckers. Just kidding, poor dudes.

I actually took this one

After the cops left, we finally went into the party. I am still not sure if it was somebody’s house or maybe a studio but we definitely went through an apartment-like space. The first DJ set was very good. he was playing some cool vintage Rap and Hip Hop. The second set was OK although he didn’t have any Das Racist and was playing almost all top 40 music, which I dont mind. However, one of the highlights of the night was the live show by the band Nyle vs. the Naysayers, which played at around 10pm (after the first DJ set) and again towards the end of the party (after the second set). They were SO GOOD that Das Racist might have to make some room in my heart for them. Check their website and music here. If I had to describe their musical style, which I am not very good at doing, I would say they are a hip-hop/punk/reaggae group. But who isn’t these days? The important thing is that they fricking rooockkeedddd.

I am not sure if this would qualify as an “underground party” as ir was definitely advertised and the purpose was to celebrate the CD release of Nyle vs. the Naysayers. To be honest I don’t really care. I had so much fun and my friends did too! I think they under the erroneous impression that I am some sort of cool girl who knows about all these ~underground~ events. But I try to explain to them that I am just a really good researcher!!!