Friday, June 25, 2010

Tokyo VS. New York

Well, I have to admit that I am a bit biased since I am a lifelong New Yorker, and have only been to Tokyo one time for a few days. My impression of Tokyo was lukewarm. It is an amazing city, the only problem I had was that it was not as tourist friendly as I thought it would be. Japan is notorious for not liking foreigners living there, but I thought it would be a little bit more friendly to tourists. There is a pretty decent amount of English language signs and announcements on the subways and in the airport. Contrary to what many westerners think, most Japanese speak little to no English. This is frustrating when it comes to negotiating directions and prices.

Not many Americans speak Japanese either, but who should learn whose language? Both countries are rich self contained economies where the citizens don't have to really learn any other languages to make money. That's the reason why the Japanese don't need to learn English. It's understandable.

Some other differences between NY and Tokyo besides NY being more tourist friendly, and that its subways run 24/7, Tokyo's shut down at night. Tokyo is safer yes, and cleaner. The Japanese are pretty nice people who are pretty helpful when asked for assistance. New Yorkers are notoriously rude, but that attitude is dieing down. NY has diversity Tokyo doesn't. NY could teach the world a lesson on how to live multicultural, it's a microcosm of the world. There isn't even a "Little America" in Tokyo that I know of.

In terms of the cityscape I didn't really see enough of Tokyo to accurately judge. It is laid out more like LA in that it's spread out and a bit decentralized which makes navigation a bit intimidating. NY however, is nicely broken up into manageable pieces that allows the visitor to digest the city a little bit at a time. Tokyo's skyscrapers are clustered in several districts spread throughout the city, NY's are too in a way but are more centralized in various parts of Manhattan. There are a lot of nice areas in Tokyo that have trendy shops and what not, like NY. Tokyoites are among the most stylish in the world, but so are NYers. The Japanese do have an interesting distinct style about them, but again so do NYers.

Japan does have a lot of hot Japanese girls, but so does NY. Both are style capitals. I'd say NY does have a better skyline, and that will be even more true after the World Trade Center is redeveloped.

I was hearing that Hong Kong is better and more tourist friendly than Tokyo is to westerners. I will be in Hong Kong in a few weeks and I can't wait. I really want to compare HK to NY. Both are amazing cities. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It's been a long time since I wrote. As I write this now I am in Tokyo Japan. I've been here for a few days. It's amazing and I'm not sure if its what I thought it would be. Trying to navigate its subways is an incredibly complex task. I got lost several times. Japanese people don't speak English as much I thought they would. Communication here is almost always a difficult challenge. I guess I should have learned more Japanese before I got here. Actually I should have learned any Japanese.

Tokyo is not really a walkable city like New York is. The sightseeing districts are spread out several miles apart so you have to take a train or taxi to get there. Plus the trains stop running at 1:30 am and some, like the one back to my hotel stops running at 11 pm. Tokyo is not a 24 hour city like NY is. It is however pretty clean and very safe. I was walking around late in the early morning hours and didn't feel afraid in any way. They say that in Tokyo you can leave your cell phone on a bench overnight and it will be there the next day waiting for you. Let's just say that I'll take their word for it.

The weather was decent while I was here. The prices were pretty high. I guess factoring in the exchange rate Tokyo is about as expensive as NY is. The only difference is I don't know the tricks around this dilemma like I do for some of New York's more pricier things to do. There is virtually no diversity in Tokyo, only tourists basically. I did see one black guy, working of all places at a McDonalds. I'd come back here again, with more money and with friends instead of my family.

I'll put up some pictures later.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Am I a Good Writer?

I wonder sometimes if I am a good writer. I know I'm not a bad writer, but I think overall that my writing is average, maybe even a little mediocre. Sure there are many variables to measure writing. I think one of my strongest measures is my subject matter. I would like to improve on my articulateness. I wish to be a wordsmith one day. I've always respected writers who can, with just a few well chosen words, paint a beautiful description of an experience, a concept or a picture.

Poetry is nice also, but I don't read much of it. I don't read much in general also, unless you consider reading on the internet. But the internet is often interjected with pictures and video to give you that visual representation to make sure you stay interested. Just words on a page with no other media there to hold your hand gets harder and harder to digest, in this age of constant stimulation. There are stories all over the the internet about how far most people are addicted to technology nowadays. From iPads to smart phones to free wifi, it's unbelievable.

My internet went out today for just a few minutes and I freaked out. I cannot live with out the internet. Back in 2005 and 2006 I didn't have the internet. I got my hands on a 6 month trial of AOL, using dial up on a computer that I literally found in the garbage. I used it mostly for porn. Today I'm addicted to information. I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia constantly looking up things. There is so much information there. Some times when I already know something, I'll look it up on Wikipedia just to see what the article about it says.

All of this information that I'm absorbing is virtually useless for me in terms of making money off of it. Maybe I should go on a TV game show to use my extensive knowledge of useless information to monetize. All I need is a good hair day and I'm set!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When I was about 9 or 10 years old I was obsessed with the Subway and I used to go out and ride it all by myself. There were times when I even cut school when I was in 5th grade to go ride it. I think I rose every single line and went to every single subway stop. I remember once when I was transferring trains at Myrtle Avenue on the JMZ line this older black woman asking me if I was too young to be riding the train by myself. I really don't remember what I said.

Was I too young? I must have been about 9 or 10. I was far away from home and in neighborhoods that were really dangerous. Plus this was back in the early 90s when shit was really bad. I remember being on a station on the 2 and 5 line in the Brownsville area where the elevated tracks of the have a gap in between them where you can see down to the street. I saw this kid down on the street who looked up at me on the platform. Then a minute later someone throws up a container of ice cream up through the gap between the tracks and it hit the wall of the station about 10 feet from me. That fucking kid was probably trying to hit me with it. Other than that I never had any incidents on the trains when I was a kid. I never got jumped or robbed. I guess I got lucky.

Maybe I should do that again. Ride the trains. I have this renewed interest in all things New York. I'm in love with the city.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Walk in Manhattan

Yesterday I took a long walk in Manhattan. The weather was great, sunny skies warm temps. It had been a while since I went to Manhattan and really payed attention to the architecture. These are my shots.

This is the Upper East Side skyline peaking out:

This is the new Bank of America building in Bryant Park:

This is the top of Americas Tower peaking out. It's my favorite building in terms of design. It has an old school style art deco look to it adapted to the post modern era:

walking down 6th avenue I snapped some shots of the high rises along it between 42nd street and 23rd:

Looking west along 34th street:

The Empire State Building behind the Hotel Pennsylvania:

Herald Square:

A new high rise with luxury condos or rentals:

These high rises along 6th avenue are all relatively new, built in the past 5 or 6 years:

Looking back up 6th avenue towards Midtown:

I swung west on 23rd and passed by the infamous Hotel Chelsea:

Some of the that modern style architecture featuring the extravagant window arrangement and facade mixed in with the old on west 23rd:

I went up to the High Line which has just recently opened. It was an abandoned freight rail line on the lower west side of Manhattan that is now an open pedestrian walkway. It offers some unique views of the city previously unavailable to the public:

looking up 10th avenue:

Lady Liberty:

Jersey City popping up:

Looking down 14th street:

This new building is where voyeurs wait for glimpses of naked flesh:

Jersey City again:

The Meat Packing district:

Back on the street in the Meat Packing district:

I thought this building looked interesting:

That new Trump building in Tribeca:

The Freedom Tower:

This view will change dramtically in the coming years:

The Skyscraper Museum has wooden handmade models of the city:

Monday, May 31, 2010

What's my title?

I think one annoying thing about blogging is trying to find an appropriate title for every blog. Sometime I just cant think of one that suites the blog's content or I come up with the title first and then in the blog I end up migrating away from the topic in the title.

One thing I regret is not blogging before and throwing away my all journals. I should have wrote them online so they'd be up today. I also should have written more about my life growing up and my experiences instead of just about all my anger and fears. I guess that's what was on my mind.

I like to read memoirs of people about their times growing up and of the experiences during the times and places they take a place in. I like of those movies that take place years ago. I grew up in the 1990s and should have documented more of my experiences. I witnessed a dramatic demographic shift in my neighborhood from being mostly white Irish/Polish to turning Puerto Rican, then Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Asian. The Irish kids that I knew growing up started leaving one by one during the 90s. Many of them moved out to Long Island. I remember hearing their parents complain about how the schools here were terrible and talks of moving to nicer (i.e. whiter) areas were frequent as the immigrant population began moving in from Asia and Latin America. There were Puerto Ricans here as long as I can remember, but even they too started moving out of the neighborhood to the suburbs.

I used to think that Queens was getting bad. Now 20 years later that couldn't be further from the truth. White people are moving back into the area as the gentrification has spread from Manhattan. Crime keeps dropping and quality of life keeps rising. I hardly ever worry about crime anymore. I wonder if all those Irish kids who moved out of the neighborhood years ago wish they were back where they grew up. There are benefits to living close to the city. One is not having a car. Another is being able to walk to the supermarket and stores for what you need. The most important benefit is being close to the entertainment of the big city and not having to live in a dinky boring suburb.

Seeing all the positive changes to my area has made me realize what a great asset I have right over my head. I don't think anyone realized it back in the 90s when people were still worried about crime and were thinking of moving out of the city. I'm surprised that my mom didn't move out somewhere else. She grew up in the suburbs and moved to the city, which is the opposite of what most people do.

Hopelessly Addicted to the Internet

I'm am completely addicted to the internet. I can't imagine life without it. What did we ever do before it existed? I would've loved having the things the internet provides now back when I was a kid, and not just the porn. I've always loved geography and programs like Google Earth, which I can spend hours on allow me to see in 3D the Earth and all its features. Not only that but they have the Moon and Mars too! YouTube is also another addiction of mine. I can spend hours watching movies and documentaries and religious debates. Wikipedia as a source of information is amazing, I can spend hours following a trail of endless hyperlinks before I realize I just spent the past 8 hours on it and now the Sun rising.

Well I know it's pathetic but at least I don't waste my time playing those stupid Facebook games. I'm not a gamer at all. I stopped playing video games years ago. They just bore me. I like information. My breain is full of useless information that doesn't make me any money. I have to find a way to capitalize on my obsessions. I need a plan. Another problem is that I can get very lazy. Sitting on my ass for hours in front of the computer, I am a couch potato.

What can one do in this era of 24 hour entertainment and information. In the old days of television you had to wait for your show to come on to see it. Now you can pretty much watch whatever you want anytime you want as many times as you want. It just never ends. I can't help myself sometimes. Trying to study or do school work becomes impossible when anything you want on the internet is just a few clicks away. I remember just a few years ago I was able to easily sit down and read a text book for hours. Now that is becoming nearly impossible. Will I have to resort to disconnecting my internet connection? The internet today is a necessity and not a luxury. I need it. I need it like a crackhead needs crack.


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