Archive for the ‘Michel.Evanchik.Net’ Category

Getting Around New York City from the Last Hope

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I’ll be attending the Last Hope conference this weekend at the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan this weekend. Here are my tips for out-of-towners trying to get around. The conference web site has ample instructions on getting to the conference, so this is an attempt to give fellow attendees some tips on getting around once they get to the convention.

Prepare to walk. New York City is a city of walkers and meant for walking. As walking is a primary mode of transportation, people get as fed up with inconsiderate walkers as drivers do with lousy drivers. Try not to get in people’s way or block up pedestrian traffic. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for directions, just don’t assume everyone is giving the right answer.

To get an idea of how far you need to walk, keep these rules of thumb in mind — each city block is about 1/20th of a mile North-to-South and 1/7th mile East-to-West. The “Streets” (e.g. 42 St.) go North to South and increase in number as you go North. The “Avenues” (e.g. 7 Ave.) go East to West and increase as you head West.

An important note on address numbers. Most address numbers on east-west are followed by an E (meaning East) or W (meaning West) as in 389 E 42 St. . All these address numbers start at the center of the island and increase as you go outwards, so if you are looking for 596 W 36 St., and you are heading East and you see the numbers going up, and the street signs say “E 36 St.”, you’re headed in the wrong direction. Avenue address numbers behave normally.

Like any good cartesian system, navigating Manhattan is best with two coordinates, so if you know the street something is on, ask for the nearest “cross street”. This should get you to the closest street corner to your destination. If your address is on a “street”, you want the nearest “avenue”, and vice versa.

New York is a terrible city to drive for yourself in, but a great city for getting driven around. Taxi cabs are plentiful and fairly inexpensive. If you share a cab with friends, then the divided fare is often less than the collective cost of the subway. I have found New York cab drivers to be honest and reliable. Sometimes they drive fast, so if it bothers you, tell ‘em to slow down. One of the most annoying behaviours I witness are people trying to befriend their cab driver. Keep the relationship professional and polite. They’re trying to make a buck, but they will be helpful if asked and they are able to help. Don’t forget to tip. Taxi cabs and their fares are strictly regulated. You should never be intimidated into paying more than the price showing on the automatic fare box. I’ll remind a driver to turn on the counter if he doesn’t do so at the start of a trip.

Keep in mind that it may be very hard to find a cab right at the Hotel Pennsylvania, as you are right across from Penn Station. Taxi cab stations are usually crowded and present a long wait. Your best bet is to walk a few blocks away from the busiest intersection and then to hail a cab. Just stick out your arm and wave to cabs that your see. All yellow cabs have dome lights on their roof to signal their availability. If the light is on, and it doesn’t say “off-duty”, then it’s available for a ride. When a cab stops, get in and then tell them where you’re going. They’re required to take you anywhere within city limits and can’t ask for the money up front.

I would advise most newcomers to avoid the subway system, especially during the late nights and weekends. Track maintenance and irregular schedules make the subways unreliable after midnight and during the weekends. North-South trips may be worthwhile if you’re not transferring, but as subway personnel are about as helpful as guards at Guantanamo Bay, you’re best going only if you’re with a native New Yorker. Anyway, if you take a cab, you’ll actually see the city.

As to city buses, I don’t use ‘em and they have a schedule and route system all their own, so ask someone to explain it to you if you get the inkling, but they’re mostly a slow waste of time except for some trips.

You’ll probably be sticking close to the Hotel Pennsylvania for the weekend, but if you get the urge to locomote, hopefully these tips will come in handy. New York City is a great city to explore, and some fresh air and a change of scenery will help clear the head.

Pass the Ammunition, and the lip gloss

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I went out drinking with some Conservatives the other night. All the men were circumspect in their support for the War in Iraq. The women were more gung-ho in their desire to see American troops visit exotic locales and shoot stuff.

It’s easier to advocate shooting when it’s not your ass being shot at.

Happiness is…

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Happiness is having your wife sew on a new button to an old pair of trousers.

Alarming News

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Karol Sheinin is a very nice young woman, but after getting into a futile discussion on her blog, I must conclude that her readers, at least the ones who post comments, are mostly imbeciles.

I’m jealous, however, that she gets a much bigger audience than I do.

The Root of All Locquaciousness

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Money and Fame are the great motivators of our time. That is why I have posted so little recently. I haven’t been motivated to write and no motivation has seemed imminent.

Happy Birthday to Me

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Tomorrow, October 15th, will be my Birthday.  I will be one year older than I was last year.

“Is the Ivy League Superior?” — A Lolita Bar Debate Recording

Friday, October 5th, 2007

On October 3rd, 2007, at the Lolita Bar in New York City, the question, “Is the Ivy League Superior?” was debated. Mr. David Robinson argued in the affirmative, while Ms. Michele Carlo argued in the negative. Todd Seavey hosted, while your humble blogger, Michel Evanchik, moderated.

Below is an audio recording of the night’s proceedings:

“Is The Ivy League Superior?” debate audio recording

(Apologies that the file is so large at 93 MB. This is my first go at publishing an audio file.)

Morow — Progressive Rock

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Fuck it, I can’t escape my upbringing. I’m a white guy born in 1971. What kind of music sings to my soul? The progressive rock sounds via Internet radio at . Pompous, overwrought and melodic, this is my kind of music.

“Ooooo, what a lucky man he was.” — ELP

Nothing Really to Say

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Nope, nothing much to say here.  I’m moderating a debate on the Ivy League’s superiority tomorrow.  Freya is sleeping, having just finished her first gym class at the Central Queens YMHA.  Jack is in pre-school.  Monica is working.  So I’m enjoying a brief respite on a beautiful and sunny Fall afternoon.  I’m being careful, as I write this, not to enter into any consequential thoughtful discursions, because this really is just a time-wasting, space-eating, making-sure-I-have-a-blog-entry-everyday type of post.

Think of this as small talk.  I had a nice few words exchanged with the grocer on the lovely weather, empty phrases uttered on a benign topic for the pleasure of hearing each other speak.  Sports is one topic that one can also discuss universally, although misplaced fanatical passions often ruin a chance for pleasant and polite conversation.  The weather used to be another safe topic for pleasant small talk, a topic universally experienced but so beyond our control that it was safely discussed.  But now the environmental obsessions of our current age have made the simple weather a topic of controversy, best avoided like politics or religion.

I like my socks.  Alas, they were probably made in a third-world sweatshop.  I’m not sure what I’ll have for lunch.  Alas, the thought of food makes me consider my growing waistline.  I need to get a haircut.  That’s pretty safe to mention.  I think I’ll get it cut short, and I’ll shave my beard myself.

The weather really is beautiful,  even if the Polar ice cap is irretrievably melting.

Better luck next year, Mets.  Let’s go Yankees!

Back From Vacation

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

So I unplugged myself from cyberspace and went upstate for a week, visiting the Adirondacks State Park and Saratoga Springs, as well as Albany’s Pine Bush.

It was great. I feel rejuvenated. I was away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. I didn’t have the clarion calls of doom echoing in my head from constant Internet news flashes. It was nice and peaceful and life at a little slower pace. But now I’m back and the misery of the urban existence continues.

Who am I kidding? The vacation wasn’t an idyllic, carefree romp, but life itself, equally exhilarating and exasperating. But it was nice to be away from the noise and the hustle and bustle, and to see more trees and less people. It was nice not to be distracted by newspapers and email and surfing the web. But the food was only fair, and the finding suitable and affordable accommodations was unsatisfactory. The kids were a handful, as always, but I was glad to have them commune with nature.

Now I’m back to the rat race. I guess I missed the cheese.