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Cuomosexual

I didn’t really appreciate the term until I got here. The briefings, when clipped and shared out of context, seemed just, informational. Now that I’m here, in New York, I understand the side references better. The tone of his briefings fits right in along with the Raymour & Flanigan commercials – it makes more sense. Cuomo is speaking to New York, he is colloquial.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was awarded an Emmy for his briefings “in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world.” Everyone was so relieved to get a bit of un-hyperbolic truth that Cuomo was awarded a prize for doing his job. In the waning days of Trump, that was enough.

I wish I could say that my daily COVID presentations are well-choreographed, scripted, rehearsed, or reflected any of the talents you advance. They didn’t. They offered only one thing: authentic truth and stability. But sometimes that’s enough.

Andrew Cuomo Accepts Emmy Award as Coronavirus Cases Continue to Rise

I was first exposed to Cuomo’s “we’re all in this together” style of presentation in his NY Tough video. He was like your dad talking you through an adolescent moment.

Governor Cuomo’s style is different from the California Governor Newsom. Gavin Newsom, who also respects the science and focuses on the facts is more to the perfunctory, less color and character.

Cuomo’s relaxed, punch-you-in-the-arm brotherly humor was comforting and familiar. You may have already seen the governor and his younger brother, Chris Cuomo, the commentator at CNN, going at each other during Chris’ interviews with the governor.

About their mother,

And about testing,

And as with anything that takes itself too seriously, New Yorkers started to make fun of it. Parody is a form of endearment here on the East Coast.

The New Yorker even did a profile on him, The King of New York.

Now, even the governor is poking fun at himself. Hamming it up for the camera, he has become a parody of himself,

But the latest numbers are very concerning. We’re heading into the holidays and people are criss-crossing the country and god-forbid they bring something home with them.

NY State Covid-19 cases (SmartNews)

I wasn’t here last year but I read about how grim things were. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to see them setting up a field hospital in Central Park. As we head into this second wave, this second winter, I wouldn’t want anyone else at the helm than someone who gives you the facts in a no nonsense way you can trust. I’m not quite a cuomosexual but I admire what he’s doing and will do my part to support him.

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Current Events

NYC Takeout Chinese

There’s an unremarkable-looking Chinese joint a block away from where we live on 2nd Avenue. We pass it often on our way somewhere else. When SmartNews kicked in a stipend to encourage us to order in for dinner so we could stay online and monitor things for Election Night, I chose to give the Mee’s Noodle a try.

On their menu they excerpt a review from the New York Times so I looked up the rest of it online. I’m still getting used to the fact that the Times (as it’s called by the locals) is now my local paper.

For people jaded by the clumsy, oily fare dropped so unceremoniously on the tables of many Chinese restaurants, the food at Mee Noodle Shop and Grill is a reminder of how good simple Chinese food can be when cooked with care and attention.

This small restaurant on a busy East Side corner is the newest and best of the three Mee Noodle Shops around New York. Like the other two, in the East Village and Clinton, this one is uncomplicated and efficient. The difference is in the freshness of the ingredients and the delicacy of the preparation.

It is a wonder how such delicacy is achieved given the assembly line nature of the kitchen, which lines one wall of the rectangular room. Behind the shiny silver counter, which separates the kitchen from the bright white tile dining room, men and women in red Mee baseball caps cook with precision. One woman sings a song in Chinese, the sinuous tune audible above the sizzle and clatter of the stir-frying.

Mee’s Noodle Shop review in the New York Time, March 18, 1994

As far as a late-night Chinese, it was delicious.

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Walkin’ NYC

Did I mention that we’re walking the streets of Manhattan in order to get to know the neighborhoods? I use this iOS app called Trails to track where we go and then trace it old skool style with a sharpie onto a tourist map.

The nice thing about Trails is that it automatically logs everywhere we go so I can just put the phone in my pocket and go about our day. The location tracking doesn’t take as much battery on my iPhone XR as I thought but I do bring along an extra charged up external battery to top things up just in case.

One app that I also recommend is Urban Archive. They have a database of all the old buildings in NYC and using it, you can quickly lookup the history of buildings you see while walking around.

Here’s the master map with all the traces of where we’ve been so far since arriving on September 25th. Lots to still see (we’ve only spent a short time in Brooklyn) but it’s been a blast.

If there are particular walks you recommend, please add links in the comments!

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Talkin NYC

I can’t believe that New York City is my new home. We’re still nailing down details of a place to live (more on that later, don’t want to jinx it) staying in a furnished apartment in the meantime so it feels temporary.

But no. NYC is our home. Weird. I’m now one of youz guyz.

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to describe what living here is like, from a Californian point of view. Certainly people talk a lot more than back in Bay Area. Walking down the street is like an exercise in verbal river rafting. There’s no time to look down at your phone. Everyone has a quip or comment and you need to be fast with a witty reply to make a connection. Everyone is always, ON.

In this fast moving stream of conversations, whenever a group of New Yorkers gather for more than a few minutes, an instant community forms. This evening was a perfect example.

As you know, the pandemic limits the number of people that can be inside a shop at any one time. There is an amazing cheesemonger down the street, they’ve got cheeses from around the world and a chalkboard listing specials that they fly in each day for their customers. A sign out front that says no more than “two people or one group” at a time in the shop. Outside the store there are three people that don’t know each other, each waiting their turn to go in. As three individuals it’ll take more time to go in because that’s three separate groups.

A man is chatting with two women. Right as Izumi and I walk by I hear the man say,

Wanna be a group?

That phrase, right there, captured the perfect NY moment. A little eddy of inactivity shunted to the side of the overall flow of people walking by. Three people, milling around, waiting. There’s a problem. A restriction, a rule that is slowing their progress. A community forms – collective problem solving is put to work, they band together. Problem solved.

This is NYC. People of all types, strangers, reaching out to solve problems, together, with a laugh.

On a more serious note, we’re heading into what many are predicting will be a dark winter of the third wave. It’s going to be tough but that same resourcefulness from that vignette above gets force multiplied in times of crisis. The blackouts of 1977 and 2003, Hurricane Sandy, 9/11. New Yorkers rise to the occasion to meet the challenge, together.

NYC got walloped by the virus earlier in the year but they know what’s coming this time around and will face what’s coming with grit, camaraderie, and a sense of humor. I’m glad we got to experience the tail end of the Summer but am prepared for what’s coming.

Sign in SoHo paraphrases Queen’s We Will Rock You

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On Leaving California

It’d be easy to say that last week’s orange-colored skies were the final straw that told us it’s time to go but this move has been in the works for awhile and only in the past few weeks has become reality. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

For a couple years Izumi and I planned to sell the house and move once the kids up and left for college. Our house in Alameda is just too big for two people and a small dog and we live on a block too ideal for a family with small kids to keep it to ourselves. The house gained some value over the years as well which will allow us to pay off our children’s college debt.

So when our youngest started at college in August we began to inquire about selling the house. Things progressed rapidly from there and within a few weeks we completed the transaction, contacted the movers, and started the process of unloading years of stuff in preparation for moving into more modest quarters. 

George Carlin on stuff

The plan is to move to NYC. SmartNews has an office there and many of our publishing partners are based there so when things start to go back to normal it would make sense to be there. We would also be closer to the kids, who both go to school in Massachusetts, and they were both excited to the prospect of spending vacations in a bustling city. 

We leave in a few weeks. Because of COVID restrictions we wanted to limit the amount of flying back and forth looking at places so we’re not sure where we’re living beyond the 30-day furnished apartment we just reserved online. Come to think of it, this is how we moved to Alameda in 2004 and to Finland in 2010 so I guess this is just how we roll.

We’re planning on living in Manhattan. People are fleeing downtown so hopefully that will make it somewhat affordable. We’ll see when we get there. I am optimistic for the future. NYC may be down but I can never imagine it would be out. The spirit of the city is just too strong. 

If part of the plan was to keep Izumi busy so she wouldn’t get depressed being an empty-nester than I guess you can say it worked. She’s been a Tasmanian Devil packing what’s important and ruthless about pitching the rest. 

I will, of course, miss friends and family (bye Sis!) I leave behind. I came out to the Bay Area in 2004 because no one on the East Coast knew what I was talking about when I ranted about the transformational impact of blogging. I moved here to be around like-minded people and rode that wave to where I am today. Now everyone “blogs” on Facebook. and tech is making moves to set up in NYC anyway.

Thank you to my colleagues at SmartNews for their understanding and support that allowed me to make this move. I should mention we are hiring to find someone to fill my shoes and work on my team in the SF office so please reach out to me if you want to learn more. 

Izumi and I were born in Brooklyn so this move is like returning home in some ways. On my last trip to NYC I stayed in Brooklyn and spent the evenings riding a bike around the city looking for my old house. Like salmon swimming upstream, maybe we’re feeling a little nostalgic?

I think I read somewhere that Italians like to say that you should live your life in pursuit of experiences that will make for a good stories. Stay tuned as I have a feeling we’ll get a lot of stories out of this move.