Category Archives: Upper West Side


The rain cut short my Sunday picnic, but we wandered and found the John Lennon Memorial. I’m going to miss New York City. Everything is here.


Emergency surgery

I got a call just before midnight last night. It was CJ, with whom I have been spending lots of time for my master’s project on pit bulls in New York City. His oldest (and dearest) of his two dogs, Snow, had been peeing a lot and he had just passed it off as a UTI. However, he had just received news from a vet that in fact it was something much worse. Snow had Pyometra, a bad infection in her uterus, and the vets gave her two days to live unless she had surgery. The Manhattan vet he was visiting estimated $2000 for the surgery. CJ knew he could do better so he found a vet in Queens where he could get the same surgery for nearly half the price.

I met him and Snow up in Harlem around 11:30 a.m. Thursday and we hopped in the car and zipped over to Queens.

At the vet, Snow and CJ waited patiently. She didn’t give off the impression of a dog who was two days away from death, but she did do a lot of whining and squirming while we waited for her turn in the examination room.

Much of the argument I am trying to present in my piece on pit bulls is that they are treated almost as a minority. People fear them and hate them without ever really trying to understand them as a breed. It was quite refreshing to see CJ conversing openly with the two other couples about their dogs in the waiting room. They all had much smaller dogs, but it was clear that everyone in the room was speaking the same language: the language of passionate, concerned pet owners.

Questions like “What is she in for?” and “What about your dog, what is he here for?” were thrown around.

They joked about spaying and neutering and their apprehensions, projecting their human fears of their own castration onto their beloved pets. The surgery Snow was facing was essentially a glorified spaying. Her uterus would have to be removed in order to take care of the infection.

After much waiting, Snow got up on the table. She wasn’t too keen on having her swollen and painful private parts probed and put up a bit of a fight by growling and thrashing. Her metal chain and long nails on the metal exam table sounded like hail on a tin roof as she struggled to get down and away from the vet’s probing hands.

The vet very quickly and methodically produced a leather muzzle from the drawer for her to wear as a precaution. CJ and another veterinary technician held her tight. Snow leaned into CJ’s embrace, as if hoping to bury herself in his thick black leather jacket to escape from the uncomfortable probing.

A quick x-ray showed her uterus was in bad shape, and her spine was a bit arthritic from giving birth to puppies.

The uterus is the dark mass near the right half of the x-ray.

CJ haggled a bit with the vet to get the bare minimum of services rendered to get Snow healthy again. Then, he told Snow he’d be back first thing in the morning on Saturday to pick her up.

CJ dropped me off at home. I ran out to the 110th Street station to snap a quick stock shot of the subway for my latest Covering Education blog post.

I’m covering transportation and safety issues for the course and the post was about a new report released by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy that projected MTA fare hikes to be at least 15 percent to make up for their $400 million budget gap. Last month, they voted to phase out free and discounted MetroCards for the city’s public school students. The report calculated that this hike would cost a working family of four with two school aged children an extra $2300 a year in transportation costs.

For a simple blog post, I spent entirely too much time on an accompanying infographic on the history of MTA fare hikes. I’m pretty proud of it though.

I only took the subway up to 116th St. Then, I walked back down to my apartment. Since I had my camera, I figured I’d finally take the picture I’d seen countless tourists take before on my daily walk to and from school. This is Tom’s Restaurant. Probably best known as “the Seinfeld Restaurant.” Although, the diner scenes were shot on a set, they used this shot of the actual Tom’s Restaurant in the show.

Look familiar?

The restaurant is also the inspiration for the song “Tom’s Diner,” which was released in 1981 by Suzanne Vega.

My personal favorite, and probably a bit more familiar is the 1990 remix by British group DNA.

I caught a cool glimpse of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as I turned to cross the street to head back home.

I finished the day off glued to my computer, working on various projects. The computer work was only broken by a nice run in Central Park. I listened to the first episode of the new Freakonomics podcast. I’m a fan and it will fit nicely into my running repertoire.

I like busy days. I never seem to get through everything i’m supposed to, but I always go to bed feeling complete.

Blizzard hits 109th street

It’s snowing here in New York City. Schools are out all over the city. Even I had my classes cancelled. As a Michigander who spent four years in Burlington, Vt., I can’t say I’m overly impressed by this “blizzard.” But when a city the size of this one gets hit by a decent amount of snow, it does become clear what a hinderance the slushy white stuff can be.

My block has been embracing the snowfall with enthusiasm. The guys in the neighborhood have been out since 11 a.m., crafting this beautiful couple in celebration of the blizzard, Valentine’s Day and Jennifer Lopez (check out the ba-donk-a-donk on that beauty).


Every Tuesday around noon, I return home to grab a meal and retreat into my thoughts before returning to class. It also happens that at noon the children of PS 135 descend on the playground outside my window.

I never get the retreat I’m hoping for.

From my perch at my kitchen table, my window is a frame. There is no need for television during lunchtime. The children provide the entertainment. There is every ingredient for compelling drama in the fifth grade: love, heartbreak, jealousy and anger.
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Some NYC Shots

I took a walk around my neighborhood near Riverside Park. Perfect autumn mid-afternoon light.
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As you can see from the post below, my buddy Matthew Huisman and I covered/rode in the 2009 Broadway Bomb longboard race.
We got our story and video published at the Westside Independent. Check it out here.
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Broadway Bomb 2009

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On Saturday, my buddy Matt and I went out and covered the Broadway Bomb, an unsanctioned longboard race that ran from 116th Street and Broadway all the way down to 10th Street in lower Manhattan. Call it what you want: illegal, underground, grassroots, it was pretty incredible to see. In all, I think the skateboarders traveled 8 1/2 miles, alongside taxis, buses, police cruisers and throngs of tourists in Times Square. I followed along on my bike and Matt actually raced on his board with flip cam in hand. I threw together a little video of the event.
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