Recently while walking down Broadway I almost met my doom. If you live in this town long enough, the occasional near death experience is par for the course and seldom noteworthy. You might think to yourself, “Whoa! Close one,” and then wonder about lunch. But this happened to be a good one. It was morning and I was walking south on Broadway headed toward Spring Street. Doing the commutation shuffle: looking down, coffee in hand, up in my head and navigating on autopilot. I was vaguely aware of being in parallel lock-step with a woman walking next to me. We must have paced this way absently for about a block, tunneling under the ubiquitous scaffolds, when suddenly and without warning something massive passed centimeters in front of our noses at warp speed. It landed on the pavement with enough raw force that the resulting shockwave blew a Learning Annex kiosk over. Looking down, a 150 pound bag of dry concrete lay at our feet. Quikrete, actually. I turned to the random woman standing next to me and her face was probably a reflection of my own. Yikes. We didn’t swear or gasp or yell; perhaps the realization that if we were one half-step faster we’d have been flattened to the sidewalk was enough. After who knows how long standing there, we engaged in peculiar small talk. “That could have killed us,” she said. “I know,” I said.I became aware of another pedestrian screaming, and I realized a random guy who saw us almost get squashed was now loudly raging against the workers high up on the scaffolding above. “You ought to be sued! You almost killed those two people! I ought to call the police!” and so on. It was nice he cared, but it added a layer of intensity that was hard on the nerves. “I’m going to go,” said the woman. I agreed, and we both started walking again. We developed a block-long friendship, the kind I think unique to big cities. We talked about how weird it would have been to go out in that fashion. And it’s true, most of us probably don’t imagine meeting our Maker at the hands of a sloppily tossed bag of cement from the sky while ambling down Broadway. Anyway, our gallows camaraderie was short lived. At the corner of Broome, I turned to cross the street to work and bid her farewell. In return she said, “Be careful.” Which is certainly good advice.
Waging war against cancer is, by most accounts, the battle of a lifetime and Holter Graham’s fight with leukemia is no exception. The difference here is that Holter himself is telling the story and anyone who knows Holter knows that this man can talk.Portrait of Holter Graham by Craig LaCourt for On the Real. www.craiglacourt.com.
This is a cringe-inducing, laughter-invoking hour filled with brutally honest insight and a few gross-out moments from a warrior whose experiences range from growing up as a child actor in Baltimore, to sneaking into a late night movie with Emilio Estevez in rural North Carolina to having one painful push-up signal the beginning of the journey he’s on to this day. We caught Holter just a few days before he left for Houston to undergo a grueling bone marrow transplant in order to rid his body…once and for all…of the disease that has come very close to killing him on three separate occasions. If you’re going to listen to the story of anyone’s struggle with cancer, then this is one you shouldn’t miss. Holter Graham tells it just like it is, but in a way we think inspires and encourages to the core. If you want to dig deeper into Holter’s three-year struggle, check out his blog www.grahamkemia.blogspot.com.
We’re always looking for something weird and fun to do indoors on the weekend. There’s no shortage of weird and fun things to do in this town, but rare is the weird, fun thing also simultaneously a terrific charity event. One such affair on our agenda this particular weekend is the 20th annual Canstruction competition down at the World Financial Center. Here’s the deal: it’s a contest where 25 leading architecture, engineering, and design firms are enlisted to transform more than 100,000 unopened cans of food into larger-than-life pop art masterpieces like this one.Each of these design firms have spent months planning their entries but are allowed only one superfreakout night to meticulously stack and color-coordinate their cans into ingenious feats of engineering. Are you listening, Bravo? Why isn’t this a reality show? Regardless, it’s exactly the kind of supernerd stoner thing that will no doubt produce some bizarrely clever pieces of transient art. And the feelgood kicker is, at the end of the exhibition the structures are dismantled and all the food is donated to City Harvest. At last year’s Canstruction, 73,970 pounds of food were collected, translating into nearly 74,000 meals for the city’s hungry.Admission to the show is free, but all visitors are asked to bring a can of “high quality” canned food (no spaghetti-o’s, I guess) to the exhibition’s collection station to reach a goal of collecting over 50,000 pounds of non-perishable edibles. Do good for humanity! See gigantic ladyparts comprised of tin cans! It’s a win-win this weekend for the Cold Weather Companion.
I spied a fish out of water on East 5th Street this morning. It was a Citroen DS. Lovingly referred to as the ‘goddess,’ it was first introduced in 1955 at the Paris Motor Show and must have been at least part of Hanna-Barbera’s inspiration for The Jetson’s which didn’t air until 1962. Somehow, this 1972 version has managed to make it a full 41 years after being one of only 38,000 to hit these shores out of 1.5 million produced worldwide in their 20 year run. The DS was incredibly innovative in that it used a full hydraulic system to run everything from the power steering to its clutch.It also sported the hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension system introduced the year before on its big brother, Citroen’s Traction Avant. That’s why when these babies are parked, they look like someone chopped a foot out at the knees. Don’t let that droopy look fool you, though. The Citroen DS took home 1st at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1959 and 1966 as well as a 1962 victory at the 1000 Lakes Rally. Automobile Magazine put it at #5 of the coolest cars of all time and it ranked as the most beautiful car ever by a renowned panel of judges at Classic & Sports Car magazine. This one is pretty banged up, but I’ve seen it parked around the East Village for a while now. I love its guppy-like design features and how it so seamlessly blends in and contrasts with the turn of the century tenements of Alphabet City. These Citroens were considered to be some of the most luxurious executive cars of the time, so if any of you know who owns this one, please let them know that Jesse and Greg want a ride. Maybe we can muster up a donation for them to take us to the First Annual On The Real Gala we’re planning to hold at Donald Trump’s mecca of gold and poo on the Fifth of Never! Here’s to you, Old Frenchman. We love having you in the neighborhood.
Every New Yorker has a story about their first couple of New York City apartments. Well, we built this super bad-ass studio in Eve’s room for the recording of the first podcast of Radio On The Real to tell you about ours. We found inspiration from a Colson Whitehead quote about how the memories of your New York City apartments past should be treated and love the respect he throws at them all.
We’re hoping the podcasts will be a great new forum to continue the discussion we start here on the website, but with 40% more profanity! And we plan on having a different guest every episode, so if you’re into what we’re doing, we’d love your suggestions on some local characters who want to gab. The more colorful, the better! And tell us about your first couple of New York City apartments. We’d love to hear!
Here’s a thoughtful gift for your favorite wanna-be-green-thumbed New Yorker: the Scout Regalia patio garden kit. Perfect for smaller outdoor spaces like a city balcony or fire escape, these kits are an easy way for an urban gardener to get some green things growing fast.The freestanding raised garden bed was designed so it rests above the surface of your floor and is lined with a recycled drainage textile to help the soil aerate and plants to breathe. Constructed with certified redwood planks, it’s only going to get more handsome as it gets weather-beaten. And the kicker is it comes fully assembled, so all they need to do is add dirt, seeds and love.
You may have already heard that there is a nor’easter coming to the New York area tomorrow. This is some seriously shitty news. The way the weather has been lately, it’s my personal opinion we need a more comprehensive look at what’s brewing than what’s available with Pat Kiernan and the “Weather on the 1s.” If you haven’t already, you should check out the incredibly detailed website Weather Underground, which was likely created initially with hard-core weather geeks and/or the wantonly indolent in mind. At this point I think it’s a terrific resource for all New Yorkers, and we should all bookmark this sucker on our browsers. On Weather Underground, you can access the same precise Doppler radar, satellite imagery and real-time weather tracking devices that guys like Roker use to determine the fickle patterns of Mother Nature. Wind speed, rainfall, barometric pressure: it’s all there on dozens of different real-time maps. A particularly good one is the “Wundermap” option, which allows you to animate a given weather pattern so you can see the speed and direction it is heading. Compared to Sandy, hopefully this storm will be a tempest in a teapot, but let’s all be prepared. Fool us once…