Thursday, February 27, 2014

Manhattan 2013

What makes Manhattan wonderful is the feeling of independence.  When visiting New York, I was happiest when I realized that I started my evening drunk and ended my evening still drunk running around town seeing different people because nothing was holding me back.

Huan and JonJon in front of Bryant park right before I hopped on the L train to see Carl in Williamsburg for his birthday.  But what was in my body?

...ramen, the cocktail pictured above called the East Side San Jose (Espolon tequilla, honey, lemon, muddled cucumber, sriracha), two cheap frozen margaritas that gave me intense brain freeze (I had to step outside for a minute to relax my head), the best beer I've had from Ippudo and 3 vodka soda.  The city was my toilet if I needed to evacuate the excessive amounts of liquid, but I was able to keep it down and my buzz up.  "Let's move here!" stated Jimmy.

We ate at...

Jeepney - Gourmet Filipino food
Shake Shack - Meh
Coppelia - AMAZING Cuban... but we were drunk
Ippudo West - Yum!  Jon Jon used to work there so we got some special treatment!
Prosperity Dumplings - Life changing.  So cheap.
Hot and Crusty - Quick bagel breakfast
The Halal Guys - "What's the big deal?!  It's chicken/rice and RANCH!"  Jimmy is not impressed even when drunk.  But that hot sauce though - send you to the emergency room
Congee Village - Geneticboi treated us out!  So sweet of him.
Cafe Henri - Charming and amazingly affordable brunch!  Eggs Benedict FTW!
Woorijip - What an idea, it's a grocery store.. with an eating area and you can drink.  So buy your beer and soju and drink it on the spot.  BRILLIANT.

Jimmy is my travel boyfriend.

My trip to NYC included a shit ton of eating, drinking and spending of course.  But luckily we were housed by JonJon/Huan the first few days in Washington Heights which saved us a ton of money.

New York tap water is delicious.   This is the area where Huan and Jon live.  They're the sweetest.

We were in Brooklyn a lot.  Jimmy checked out a museum; Williamsburg reminds me of Berkeley.  We did Smorgasburg which is alright, but the view is wonderful.  I refused to wait in line for that ramen burger.

We saw...
Chelsea Market
Brooklyn Museum
Juilliard School - Jimmy was really excited
FAO Schwarz Flagship Store - Played on the piano from the movie "Big"

Of course we walked along the Highline and stopped the traffic of tourists to take some pictures.  This particular stretch of the highline is very interesting as it weaves threw new and old buildings.

We checked out the Lady Gaga exhibit which was disappointing since we were hoping to see the Jeff Koons statue.  But there were interesting things such as old costumes and large cover art.

Where we partied

Stone Wall Inn - The drag queen bingo reader called us the Chess club... ironically, Joe was playing chess on his iPhone.
Rosemary's Green Tavern
Union Pool
Industry Bar
Griffin - Sunday gay night - open bar for one hour... hello HiddenNYC!  Did it right.
G Lounge - Amazing hip hop in a great venue... my type of gay bar.
Employees Only - Speakeasy? Crowded and stuffy and expensive... aka a speakeasy.. but I was thrilled to check one off this list inadvertently: 9 NYC Storefronts with Secret Identities.


Geneticboi wrote a sweet entry about our visit.  Looks like we had a handful of friends in common.  "DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH MY BODY!"  He yelled as we wandered the streets.  He was so happy to see us.  I was happy to meet him - a fellow, and really talented blogger.

Here, I'm encouraging my friends to get that action.

The last few evenings we spent with Joe who lives in the middle of it.  Like.. it.. walk out of his apartment and there are people everywhere in Hells Kitchen.  But also outside of his apartment was $1 pizza.  I was so happy.... it was the only thing I wanted.  $1 pizza, crisp New York water and drunken nights.  Well at least until we saw someone throw up in the subway.  We were running from the stream that was coming toward our feet.  I felt genuinely sorry for the guy that I didn't record him.

By the end of it, Jimmy retracted his declaration.  "Fuck public transportation, I miss my car."  We were over the harsh cold.  My throat was dry at the apartment, I was shivering in the streets, then claustrophobic and exposed to germs in the subway, cold again while walking and then HOT and sweaty at the bar/restaurant  destination with no where to put my coat.   Over it.   So back to California we go.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Exploring the LA River

I really wanted to check out the bike trail along the LA River and dragged my friends out to explore. We specially walked along the greenway trail.  There are projects to revitalize the river to make it more appealing to the public, but for now it remains what a lot of LA is - Ugly Beautiful.

The LA River is all concrete, but there is vegetation and life in between.  The bike trail was intense but clearly underused.  One day I will take a bike out there.

We saw about 10 people total hiking, fishing and hanging out in the perfect weather on a Saturday.  So much neglect.

What's amazing to me was Highway 5 was separated by a small metal fence.  As we walked back to our parking spot, cars were going 70MPH - too close for comfort.  There was essentially nothing protecting us from disaster if a driver lost control of the wheel.

I'm excited to see what the LA River becomes starting with 6th Street bridge.  Like all the other dozens of projects happening in the city, it's going to take lots of time.  But this is the city to be in.


I'm starting to realize that I have a lot of sufficient looking pictures on my iPhone and I should stop stealing Jimmy's.  I should take the time and do some edits and create my own.  So far, I like the results.

But Jimmy's LA River photos are amazing - there are a couple of boyband pictures that he took that are quite amusing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vista Hermosa Park with Huan

Vista Hermosa Park is probably one of the most under used parks in LA.  Which is great, this park belongs to me and the community that surrounds it.  It's well maintained and has a spectacular view of downtown LA.  I day dream of having a nice party here using the neglected picnic benches.  There's a secluded section of the park which is perfect.

Huan was in town so we explored the hidden corners of the park.

There's a pretty awesome playground with a giant turtle structure meant for climbing... we took advantage of that.

At night, the view was even more spectacular.

Another neglected thing is La Cita's Sunday Bloody mary bar.  For six dollars you get all that vodka... and then you add your mix and toppings and bam!  A nice Sunday buzz in DTLA.  They have shrimp, bacon, cheese, olives.  Pure perfection.

A little dancing and street wandering.

And Korean military stew at 2AM.  One day I will smuggle a pack of ramen to add to this simple and delicious broth.

I Left My Boys in San Francisco

The view from Mony's appartment at 6AM when I had to catch the AMTRAK back to San Jose

I've been using the Umano app to listen to interesting articles during my commute to and from work.  Today, I listened to "Getting off the Google Bus" from London Review of Books which discussed the displacement of poor communities due to rising housing costs that are driven up by a richer class of tech people moving in.  These buses are a private solution that doesn't really benefit the public and is a symbol of privilege as they take up the space of bus stops without having to pay a government fee.  I usually refrain from really complaining about these things because I feel like just as responsible for the problem by working for a Tech company and living in a poor neighborhood.  But I do my part by paying very low rent, accepting the fact that my car was driven into and buying tamales from the local stores that have been around for decades.... right....

I was reminded of my adventure in San Francisco in November of last year.

I got dropped off in the Mission district... not the cool section of the Mission, but the area that was clinging to its Latino roots as possible.  It was like Westlake in LA - full of people and strollers and trash.  I met up with Matt for a light brunch to catch up on things and later met up with the boys for two rounds of overpriced Dim Sum in the Castro at Mama Ji's.  The workers were amused that we basically spent 3 hours there.  I was entertained by Mav's shade slinging; I was in the splash zone.

We found ourselves taking silly pictures while watching our friends play tennis in Dolores park.  These guys make me laugh.

Mony showed us the hotel that he works for and all of the bars that surround it.  He gave us some history while we had cocktails in multiple venues.  Mony was showing us his territory - the gentrifying part of the Tenderloin and I was pretty impressed.


Randomly had some Peruvian food for an 8PM dinner at Pisco Latin lounge.  Eric joined us for more cocktails.  We cabbed it back to Mony's place and took a fatty nap until Chris J. arrived to take us out around 11PM

I really wish I blogged about this sooner.  The details in-between are pretty blurry.  I just remember having a really wonderful time connecting with good friends and feeling like I was vacation splurging, exploring and drinking non stop.  I also remember being upset for not bringing my point and shoot.  These mobile pics suck a bunch.

I remember Mony opening up a bit and getting a text from him a couple days after saying how much fun he had.  Which is nice since Mony has a really high wall... at least with me.

I remember being in shock after paying $30 for late night Denny's because SF has about 5 addition taxes and fees.... and watching JV stress about a boy.  Nights like these.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Yelp! Elite Events 2013

I'm very ambitious... for example for 2013 I wanted to make sure that I went to my first Yelp! Elite event.  These are my life goals ladies and gentlemen.

I was able to attend 3 events in the last quarter of the year!  And they were quite enjoyable.  Fellow Elite Danster would say, "I told you Chris.... you should have gone sooner."  I was able to relive some of the moments scanning the Yelp! Flickr page.  I also realized that Yelp! across the nation has some pretty epic events.

Horse Races

Jimmy and checked out the Santa Anita Park and bid about $4 on a horse and made about $.30.  Go big or go home is what we like to say.  We got one drink voucher and a nice lunch and an awesome tour of the park.  We met the jockeys and got to see the horses  pretty up close.

Halloween - ABC Party

I borrowed these sushi chef outfits from work.  I thought they would be suitable for a Yelp! event.  Mixology drinks and finger food perfection.  Jimmy was having trouble with his chopsticks.  See him cheating with his hands!  This "speakeasy" is fun - pick the door knob that will let you enter.  It's pretty easy to figure out and of course they can't change the knob so once you know... you know.

Ugly Sweater Bash

Don and Ryan joined us at Yelp!'s Ugly Sweater party.  Lots of great sushi and a fun photobooth

 I'm really upset that I missed this year's Prom Event! (Celebrity couples) because I was preparing for Seattle.  But I'm excited to do more this year!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lucas who Uses Venmo is Cute as Fuck

People are confused about Lucas and a lot are creeped out, but man Lucas Chi, a real engineer of Venmo, is cute.  Maybe it's my love for Venmo... or maybe it's because I actually don't live in New York so I don't feel like the ads are intrusive, but I don't mind looking back at his face.

I pointed this out on facebook and I got an interesting response:

Man... how angry is this AngryAsian man who just finished his Asian American studies course on Asians in American Media.  He's really pushing it with the "finance" piece of it which makes me feel like he was just fishing for a reason to be upset at the campaign.

Hate "us".... interesting.  I didn't realize that these ads would resurrect racial turmoil.  I can just imagine the earth splitting into two in Manhattan with white people yelling with pitch forks.  "GO HOME YOU EMOTIONLESS SLANT EYE MONSTERS!  TAKE YOUR FINANCE APP WITH YOU!"

Bingo - this guy is insane.  Has no basis about what he's talking about.  Making up offensive stereotypes himself about what Asians getting their AA should look like.  I just really had to sit back and think... really?  

What a buzzkill - Can we just appreciate how cute Lucas is without dissecting preposterous social implications and hypothesizes about unrealistic backlash?  There are many many things for Asian Americans to be angry about, but let's not make ourselves sound ridiculous.

I wonder though, is this responder valid in his outcry?  Is racial tension that high on the other side of the country.  Regardless, my roommate made an observation - "this guy sounds self loathing."

On a similar note... actually not similar at all, I learned that the Hispanic community loves Speedy Gonzales.

On another similar note... note really I wrote a tumblr entry on Asians in gay web series:

Hunting Season... basically soft core porn so the playlist is appropriately available on PornHub:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Portland - 2014

Portland was our next stop during our Pacific Northwest adventure.  We decided that crossing the boarder to Vancouver would eat too much of our time so we headed south instead.  

We rented a car and spent some hours on the road.  The one thing our trip was missing was visiting nature.  There's this beautiful waterfall called Multnomah Falls that I wish I had time to see.

We round ourselves Kennedy School which was converted into a hotel, bar, movie theater etc.  Each classroom was a guest room and the larger rooms and dining halls were converted to food and drink areas.  These bars were cleverly named: Detention.  Check out the site there are loads of pictures and stories about this unique venue.  The theater played old movies such as Princess Bride.Though the paintings hanging in the halls were a bit creepy and made the halls feel haunted.

The Boiler Room- very large and labyrinth-like using original radiators as decoration.
Detention Bar- whiskey bar and cigar smoking.
The Courtyard Restaurant -  looks like it was converted from the dining hall
Honors Room- another small bar
Cypress room- didn't get to check this out

We were hungry so we had dinner at Good Food Here food carts.  Mmm Norwegian food!  Though it was a bit too cold out and empty to enjoy.  It's like buying from a restaurant, but being forced to sit outside protested Jonnie.  This local was clearly over the food cart thing.  We quickly left for Powell Book store and a bar in downtown.

There is Sandy and Jonnie, our wonderful hosts, Charles making himself at home at the Ace Hotel and we snagged a corner table a Bailey's Taproom.  What next?  

We snuck onto Pittock Mansion to see the view at night.  Last time I explored this with Alysia was during the day.  The night hike was exhilarating.  You couldn't really see in front of you and I was worried about something jumping out at us.

Breathtaking view!

The next day we kept exploring.

Ern was in nerd heaven at The Hand Eye Supply store in Chinatown.

Portland's Voodoo donuts are like LA's Pink Hotdogs.  Only idiots go here to wait 2 hours for something they can buy at the grocery store.  I don't understand.

Sandy suggested that we check out a this Grand Marketplace vintage store with her which made for some fun pictures.  Really unique space and carefully selected and arranged items.

We ended our trip at Pok Pok.  This famous Thai restaurant.  The owner used to cook out of his garage and eventually it became popular enough to be turned into a restaurant.   Very delicious.  Expensive, but very yumz.

We had time to kill so we walked around Mississippi Avenue which reminded me of Silverlake but quickly losing charm with gentrification.  These new condos really stripped the neighborhood of personality.   The street was so much cuter when I visited with Alysia a few years back.

Portland is fun.  Slower paced and less crowded.  It's a quirky town that really takes its time.