You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘nyu’ tag.
There is a Duane Reade (New York’s Walgreens or CVS equivalent) that we normally go to, not too far from my house. There used to be a small, high-end grocery and delicatessen right next door. It seemed, from the time it opened, that it had a pretty large following, so its closing about a year and a half ago was a bit unexpected. In that area, there tends to be a high turnover of stores and small restaurants, so I figured something new would take its place soon enough. Today, the space still has not been filled. I think that’s probably when I first started to get scared.
I think I’ve railed against Long Island a lot, when it comes to their feeling of invincibility owing to the region’s staggering wealth (with some exceptions). Three years ago, I rode on the LIRR through the whole summer, and the conversations among other passengers were mostly monotonous, vapid, or sometimes (on those rare occasions) riotously funny. Now, some of that conversation has turned somber, speculative, and almost scared (don’t get me wrong, there are still those who manage to carry on the vapid and stupid conversations in spite of anything else). I’m seeing large sales and discounts popping up to lure uncertain buyers. New York/Long Island mainstays (like Fortunoff and Steve and Barry’s) have filed for bankruptcy, and both are (or have completed) the process of liquidation. At the supermarket, the number of people using coupons seems to have increased exponentially. Even big-wig restaurant owners and chefs in the city (Mario Batali et. al.) have started to introduce special discounts at their restaurants that were normally only accessible to a select few with deep pockets (though I think the discounts were only through Restaurant Week, I don’t know about now).
On the other end of the spectrum, though, things like train fares (both commuter and subway) have been poised to increase over the next few months (I believe June is when the MTA is hiking up subway fares), making a more environmentally-sound (and sometimes, cost-effective) form of transportation more expensive. Schools are (still) hiking tuition costs at a rate that’s outpacing inflation (hooray for debt!), though some are increasing their financial aid packages in light of the fact that people are less likely to be able to pay for further education now than perhaps a few years ago.
So essentially I’m stuck in a slightly confused world where some are lowering costs, and others are increasing costs, and I’m struggling to keep whatever little money I have on my person. I try to cut down the amount of coffee I consume outside (such a hard habit to break) the number of times I eat out (another hard habit to break), and the number of times I have to go into the city, trying to plan my trips around off-peak hours for the sake of my wallet (though sometimes traveling at peak hours is unavoidable).
I was riding into the city on one of the Babylon LIRR trains and was listening to a conversation the two men sitting in front of me were having. They were speaking in hushed tones about how, given the state of affairs, crime was very likely to rise in the area. It was a rehashing of a similar conversation I had with my father. As much as I’d like to think that they are being incredibly paranoid, they’re all probably right.
Whenever I leave Penn Station, I walk out and make my way to Herald Square so I can catch the R or W to NYU. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that there is always one wheelchair-bound hobo at the corner of 34th and 7th uttering the same thing, over and over again. “Guys, can ya please help me get som’in ta’ eat?” Hobos are as part of the city as the Empire State Building and Times Square, but generally I never saw many, at least on the route I normally take through the city. Now–perhaps because there are more or because I’m taking greater notice of them–I have seen an increase in the number of hobos and street performers. At that corner just outside of Penn Station, I have seen on some days, two other wheelchair-bound hobos patrolling that intersection, hoping someone will give them something. The West 4th Station has seen an increase in performers who, sometimes, go to great lengths to attract attention (a full jazz band and a guy playing on a regular piano, for starters). The worst I have seen (at least to me) in recent weeks are the rise of teenage (or perhaps younger) street performers. On the F, I have seen on at least two occasions, a group of kids who breakdance on the moving train for money. I can’t deny that it’s entertaining, but I mean, they’re kids! I don’t know if this was their own choice, or their parents or friends put them up to this, but God forbid one of them fell and broke their neck…
Yet getting back to crime, in desperate times, desperate people will make desperate moves. More people are being driven into poverty, some ending up on the streets. It’s almost understandable that crime would be the next step. I don’t know if I can ever entirely trust the media coverage of local crimes, since it seems like crime activity in an area is always inflated for sensationalist value, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. Usually, when I’m walking to and from the subway, I try to walk with someone. It’s not a terribly long walk, so I don’t mind walking alone sometimes, and usually the streets are very well-lit and well-trafficked. However, I have considered buying pepper spray, just in case I do end up staying later (for class, studying, or just in general), when the streets become less crowded. I’m not exactly a formidable figure, at 5’1″.
So at least here in the Long Island/NYC area, the recession has been moving in like a fog through empty streets, slowly and steadily. I suppose there’s no way to predict where this will take us, absolutely, but I hope that this will only be a temporary situation and that an upturn will start within the next few months. I can only hope.
Starbucks has officially died in my eyes…or whatever you call it when a previously small, intimate business sells out to corporate America. This was apparent months, if not years ago, and manifested most recently as a widespread closing of Starbucks stores in order to retrain their baristas. I think they realized they have a problem when they say that there were more resources being devoted to promoting Khaled Hosseini’s “Kite Runner”–a book that does not need any more promotion because it is inherently amazing–than to preparing halfway decent coffee.
I have learned to avoid Starbucks on the whole. Their warm drinks are, more often than not, watery, if not burnt or bitter-tasting. The caramel macchiatos I used to like in high school are nothing like what they used to be. The only thing Starbucks seems to have going for them are their frappucinos and iced drinks. Winter, though, makes it hard to enjoy these. I’ll probably cave in during the summer, but not before I find other good coffee places so that I can break the Starbucks habit.
Granted, I’m not exactly a coffee aficionado, I don’t know the first thing about coffee-tasting or coffee-types, though I want to learn. I’m still a sucker for so-called “dessert coffees.” However, I still have my favorite coffees.
Gimme! Coffee is something I was introduced to in Cornell, while Oren’s Roast is a coffee shop I recently found near NYU. Both have amazing quality coffee, neither lacking in flavor, or body. Granted, the things I tend to get are drowning in sugar–even in spite of that–the flavor still comes through. Starbucks coffee, meanwhile, is generally masked by sugar. There are two Gimme! cafes in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn, and I’m hoping to visit one of them soon (would anyone like to come with?). I still miss the vanilla, peppermint lattes–called “dragonfly” on their menu–from the cafe in Mann Library.
Oren’s, meanwhile, is conveniently across the street from the Silver Center, where I while my time away. I joke with my friends that it is the only way I can get through classes, indeed the coffee is very strong but never bitter, or burnt. They also have a wide selection of coffee beans and you can buy coffee grounds from there itself.
I’ve always joked that if I ever make any money (perhaps from my still elusive book deal?) I’d buy a house with a bar, but since I don’t drink, I’d convert it into an espresso bar. While I do love going out for coffee, this seems like a cost-effective solution, especially if you learn how to properly make espresso drinks. That, however, is well in the future if not completely out of my reach. Until then, I’ll keep coffee-hunting and keep you posted on what I find!
Any suggestions for places in the New York City area?
I will probably develop lung cancer before I leave NYU, and I’m probably only going to be there a year. No, I am not a smoker, never have smoked and probably never will (yes, this includes hookah). Yet never have I seen so much smoking in one place, ever. This is especially a problem near the Bobst Library. As soon as you step out of the library, you are enveloped in a cloud of smoke, courtesy of at least five or six people within a foot of the building, and another six or so another three or four feet beyond that. Walk down West 4th and you’ll encounter at least another ten or fifteen, smoking. Holding my breath is out of the question, it’s not like there’s much room to breathe clean air.
Am I just being whiny? I don’t think so. Everyone is entitled to good health, and everyone has a choice as to whether or not they want to smoke or not. Likewise, people should have a choice as to whether they want to breathe in someone else’s smoke. While people smoking on the street can’t be stopped, people smoking near buildings can.
There are already laws being pushed nationwide to set restrictions on smoking near buildings, most between 10 and 15 feet of a building, some as high as 25 or 50. In fact, the CUNY system has banned smoking on its campuses. Why not NYU or other private universities in New York State? Even Cornell was bad, but at least there was open air to allow the smoke to dissipate…not so much the case for colleges in New York City. Why do we have to pass through clouds of smoke to enter almost all of the buildings on campus? Why do we have to gag and cough at every step? I’m almost certain that there is law in New York calling for a 10 ft. radius outside of which people can smoke, though for the life of me I can’t find it. If there isn’t a law in place, there should be one and it should be strictly enforced. Washington state already has a 25 ft. ban in place, why can’t New York follow suit? Why are our politicians (pardon the expression) pussy-footing around this issue? Smoking has no benefits, it is a physical and societal detriment…why encourage it?
I’d like my lungs and voice intact. I sing, I talk, I laugh, and I live. I’d like to keep it that way, preferably for several decades if I can help it.