Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for the ‘NYC’ Category

A few reasons I will live in NYC someday soon…

Posted by shannonclark on November 13, 2007

I love city life, the hum and buzz of people around me. I take comfort in the knowledge that I can feed myself and solve nearly any problem I might face with resources which are nearby. Not for me a lifestyle deep in the heart of wilderness unsurrounded by my fellow man – I am an urban creature.

I am also a night owl. As such, life on the west coast, though it has many advantages, may not, I fear, be where I end up living – at least not solely. Many times every week I find myself looking to eat well after 10pm – the hour by which the majority of businesses (and apparently people) on the west coast have closed up shop and gone home for the evening.

This current trip to NYC has reminded me of the many reasons I love NYC and convinced me yet again that I need to live here someday soon – likely not full time (and perhaps less of the time in the heart of the wintertime and the peak of the hottest parts of the summer) but enough of the time that my urbanist instincts can be satisfied.

A few of the many parts of the city that convince me of why I want to live here:

32nd St just east of Broadway – also known as Koreantown this one block (and a bit) stretch of NYC has almost literally more late night, 24hr options than the entire city of San Francisco. If not literally very nearly so (my mental count of dining options in San Francisco after midnight is not a long list in the least). And if the Korean may not be quite as good as I’ve heard you can get in LA (and perhaps for some dishes in parts of Oakland – though I haven’t yet tested this) and Chicago also has some very good Korean options as well – the block more than makes up for that by having quite good dining options available at all hours. And, if you are interested, many other options – such as 24hr spas and Karaoke.

The fact that Momofuku Ssam Bar is open for dinner until 2am 7 nights a week.  I ate here for dinner for my first time this trip. It is incredibly good, well worth all the accolades. (for example see what the NY Times critic Frank Bruni wrote in his beyond glowing review back in Feb 2007) Are you back from reading that?

Yes, it is that good.

And open everynight until 2am. So here in NYC instead of making do with instant noodles or a greasy diner (about the sum total of SF’s options after midnight though there are a handful of other options) you could head to the East Village and get a 2 star (NY Times) meal.  And yes, it will be more than you pay at that diner, and no the bread & butter is not free (in fact it is well worth the $8 that is the price for amazingly good bread and two types of fresh, full of flavors goat and cow butters).

And that is only scratching the surface of this city. Gems (and duds) lie around every corner. There are multiple 24hr Starbucks (and yes, they are Starbucks, but still – internet + coffee at all hours in many parts of city = happy Shannon).

Sure, NYC doesn’t have great Mexican dining and it does get very cold in the winters, very hot in the summers. And though there is Central Park, for many miles and long stretches throughout NYC greenery is in short supply. And the traffic can suck, people can be rude, there are always tourists, and you can easily add to that list (high rents – really really high rents, 5th & 6th floor walk-ups, window AC units, bugs, rats, poor schools etc).

But. And it is a big but. This is New York!

I love how diverse the city is and how populated. Not as populated or dense as, for example, New Delhi, but denser in all ways than either Chicago or San Francisco the two major cities where I have lived. Sure the prices mean that you can’t go out every night (unless you really strike it rich) and the prices mean that if I think it unlike I’ll be able to buy in San Francisco it is even less likely I can buy in NYC (though certainly one goal of being an entrepreneur in technology is to eventually be able to buy whatever I want wherever I want).

The bookstores are more common in San Francisco (though in NYC you get sidewalk used booksellers in many parts of the city – but fewer used bookstores and independents) and the coffee and cafe culture in San Francisco is truly amazingly good. Plus the tech scene in the bay area is unrivaled, there is tech in NYC but there is also advertising, fashion, wall street, banking, media,  Broadway, and countless other options pulling at and attracting the best and brightest (and the not so good and not so bright or talented as well).

For every Momofuku Ssam Bar there are countless other unmemorable restaurants in NYC (though luckily the worst usually – though not always – soon close). On a personal level I have heard that dating in NYC is difficult though there also do seem to be a great many women of around my age here in NYC (always hard to tell who is single however but they can’t all be dating or married). For someone, like myself, interested in smart, ambitious women and open to a great diversity (heck attracted to women from around the globe) NYC is a place full of some of the smartest and most ambitious people from across the planet. Even today as expensive as NYC is and has difficult as the US Government makes it to live and work here if you are not a US citizen (heck to a degree even if you are) NYC is still a place that attracts people from across the globe.

So sometime soon, likely sometime in 2008, I am going to look into finding a place of my own in NYC – perhaps a place to share with others on a timeshare basis of some sort, but a place of my own nonetheless. I still need to be in the Bay Area and I love my apartment there and my friends – but every time I am in NYC I realize more and more that for an urbanist like myself, this is most definitely the place to be (and not a horrible place for me in my role as a cofounder of a new advertising network either).

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Posted in advertising, NYC, personal, restaurants, reviews | 1 Comment »

The New Kings of Nonfiction edited by Ira Glass (a review)

Posted by shannonclark on November 10, 2007

The New Kings of Nonfiction

Yesterday while ducking out of the rain in the Nolita part of NYC, I stopped by one of my favorite stores in all of Manhattan, McNally & Robinson Books & Cafe (52 Prince St NYC).

While there I picked up a fantastic new book – The New Kings of Nonfiction which is edited by Ira Glass. Inside are many of the best articles from the past few years, long form non-fiction which I have in many cases referred to in the past, even one which quite literally helped change the direction of my life. All gathered together in an easy to own and read collection celebrating what great writing and journalists can (and I would argue) should be doing.

In this collection to note a few of many highlights you can find:

Malcolm Gladwell with his long article which for me started it all – “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg”. This article which I read when it was first published helped spark my own interest in networks which lead directly to my founding the MeshForum conference series.

James McManus with the article that would later be expanded into his best selling book, and which is a direct precurser to the Poker craze which has come to so dominate US culture (and TV) – “Fortune’s Smile: World Series of Poker”

I have not yet finished this book (though likely by the time I go to bed tonight this will no longer be the case). I am eagerly awaiting each and every story – my trust in Ira Glass’ editorial ear is complete – I’ve been a fan of This American Life from the first episodes when it launched only on Chicago Public Radio. The topics and the authors he has selected also include many other journalists I highly respect, writers such as Dan Savage.

Plus all of the proceeds of this book are going to support 826chi. A drop-in literacy program (and spy shop) in Chicago.

So go buy your self a copy of this great book, support fantastically high quality writing, great (and true) stories, and a very good cause.

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Visiting NYC – some of my favorites – McNally & Robinson, Don’s Bogam and other usual haunts

Posted by shannonclark on November 10, 2007

I visit NYC almost once a month, though it has been a few months since I was last here, spring in fact. For about the past year when I have visiting NYC I have stayed with a friend who has an apartment on the upper west side. Without the costs of a hotel (and the hassle that is finding and booking a NYC hotel room) my trips to NYC can and have been longer and more frequent.

Often while I am here I have business events to attend, tech or advertising industry conferences and the like. This trip I covered Ad:Tech for Centernetworks. Most evenings I ate out with a group of people who were also in town for the conference, I did also manage to get to a few of my old standbys (and one new favorite).

I am here in NYC until Tuesday, this weekend my plan is to explore the city (and the city’s cafes) further. I may hop on a subway and head over to Brooklyn which I have not explored in the past.

Here are a few of my old and new favorites, spots I try to get to on most trips to NYC.

McNally & Robinson bookstore and cafe

On Prince St in the Nolita neighborhood, a neighborhood in the middle of many other, more well know parts of NYC, is a large, well organized and well lit independent bookstore and cafe. The cafe serves great teas, coffee and snacks and has free wifi with a purchase. The bookstore hosts frequent author signings and other events and is well stocked with an eclectic and carefully chosen selection. And not a small selection, this is not a cramped, small bookstore, but a multiple story, airy and wonderful temple of books and reading. In short, my kinda place and my kinda people.

I discovered McNally & Robinson on my last trip to NYC and now it is a place I return to again and again. I often here a lament that NYC does not support good bookstores anymore, but here is proof that at least a few can buck the trends (though one part of San Francisco I do relish and love is the multitude of fantastic independent bookstores both new, used and often both (something rarer in many parts of the country).

For one of the many group dinners at Ad:Tech I invited a group of people to join me at one of my favorite Korean restaurants anywhere – Don’s Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar. (I haven’t yet found their official website, will add that link when/if I can).

They are located at 17 E. 32nd St a block east of the heart of Koreantown. Unlike the more touristy places to the west, Don’s serves impeccably fresh panchan and meats all cooked on grills at your table. The design is modern, clean, minimalist yet functional. And though the prices are a bit higher than some of the tourist spots, the quality is very high as well. Typically I find it ends up being about $40/person (with light drinking, more if you drink a lot) and for that you get appetizers, tons of panchan, and very fresh and wonderful BBQ meats (and their non-BBQ dishes are also wonderful). I have yet to have a bad dish at Don’s Bogam. The service is usually great, though you may have to insist on help – and having a Korean speaker with you probably would help but is not at all necessary to have a fantastic meal.

Other notes on NYC

When I am in NYC and the weather is nice I often find myself walking. I have had trips where I have walked from Columbus Circle (or even points north of it) to as far south as Ground Zero – generally via a non-straight line through the East Village.

On this trip however I have taken a lot of subway rides and only a few cab rides. At the conference for the most part after the conference on the way to dinner or to other events groups of us would take a cab – for two people they are actually more expensive than the subway, for a group of three or four they are a toss up. In at least one case this week, however, we got out of the cab nearly 8 blocks from our destination because traffic was so bad that the pedestrians were far outracing the cars.

So far having been in NYC for 5 days I have spent over $26 on subway rides (at $2 a ride) and not counting airport cabs (which between to SFO and from JFK were about $70 worth of cab fares) I have spent about the same on taxi rides. Over the weekend I anticipate many more subway rides, my plans include wandering around Manhattan and likely Brooklyn which will involve multiple cab rides as I head out in the morning to get a late-breakfast/brunch, head to an interesting area to do some shopping & touring, find a cafe to work in for a few hours, then perhaps explore another area or two, finally finding someplace to get dinner – and then perhaps catch a movie or a show or something else typically NYC (with possibly a trip back up to the Upper West Side to drop off any purchases etc)

What I love about NYC – and which I miss even in San Francisco is the sheer density of people and population – and thus activity of a dense major city. San Francisco has a few areas which have a lot of people and a mix of residential and commercial sections, but NYC is fairly unique in the US for the overlay of commercial and residential across so large an area – in nearly all parts of at least Manhattan there are literally 100’s of stores within a short walk of any apartment. Nearly everywhere there are at least some shops which are open 24hrs a day. Many restaurants and stores stay open late – I suspect there is almost no good or service (other than perhaps government related) which cannot be found at almost any hour of the day in NYC, nor which can’t somehow be arranged to be delivered.

While there are not a huge number of bookstores in NYC, I have walked past many open until midnight. Slowly in just the last couple of years I have seen (and my observations are just those of a frequent visitor) a growing number of independent cafes and many more places than even just a few months ago who offer free wifi access.

Posted in NYC, personal, restaurants, reviews | 1 Comment »

Covering Ad:Tech NYC for Centernetworks

Posted by shannonclark on November 5, 2007

This week I am in NYC where for the start of the week I will be covering Ad:Tech NYC 2007 for Centernetworks. My first post, a long preview with many of my opinions & perspectives on the future and current state of advertising online has just been posted to Centernetworks!

Tuesday night I am organizing a dinner here in NYC, probably a group outing for great Korean food at a fantastic restaurant I found on my last trip to NYC. If you are in NYC and would like to join me for dinner tomorrow night – or would like to meet up for breakfast, lunch of coffee while I am here in NYC, leave a comment or drop me a line.

I will be in NYC until Tuesday Nov 13th.

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Travels and June conferences

Posted by shannonclark on June 3, 2007

Later this week I will be attending the Future of Online Advertising conference in NYC. I fly to NYC Tuesday night (taking JetBlue so I anticipate fewer problems than with my recent United travels). I am looking forward to this conference as a chance for me to learn deeply about the current state of the online (and especially mobile) advertising worlds. In the next few months NELA Partners will be turning on and opening up to other publishers our advertising network. This week will be a chance for me to learn as well as to network with others in the industry.

I will be staying in the New York area for a few days after FoOA working as well as connecting with friends and family in the NYC area.

Then I have a few days here in the Bay Area, a weekend birthday brunch to organize and host, and then in the following week I will be actively participating at Supernova 2007 here in San Francisco. My hope is to organize a talk/session for the open space day on June 19th, and to be an active participant throughout the week.

Following Supernova I have a few weeks of work, probably mostly here in San Francisco, though I’ll likely also be spending some time in Palo Alto.

In mid-July I plan on returning to Chicago for a non-work conference, Think Galactic, a science fiction convention put on by a bunch of my friends in a political science fiction reading group I was part of when I lived in Chicago (though not as active as I might have liked as I often had conflicts on the nights they met). A bit left of my political leanings perhaps (though I’m pretty difficult to place on a left/right spectrum and in general think that politics is far more complex than just left vs. right). And yes, I’m a capitalist which is not a label many of the organizers would accept for themselves. But still, it will be a weekend of intelligent conversations with very smart people.

I may also return to Chicago for BlogHer at the end of July. Still trying to decide, I’d like to go, but two trips to Chicago in one month… (though given that I have so many friends and family in Chicago I’ll probably go).

Then in August I will probably be going up to Seattle for Gnomedex. For which I probably should register very soon if I want to go.

Somewhere in July or early August, scheduled around these travels, as well as other related events here in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley, I hope to hold the next MeshWalk. This time in Palo Alto along Sand Hill Road. Still working out the details (and the sponsors) but the basic plan is to work with a number of VC firms and companies to have a conference that is in motion, with lots of places to stop during the day. Stops ranging from small startups, to places of historical note, to VC firms. We may start with a “traditional” breakfast, likely will have lunch somewhere notable, and will end with a party. I hope to have the basic details set within the next week or two.

If you are interested in attending the MeshWalk, hosting it and/or sponsoring it please leave a comment or contact me directly.

And that takes me through August. I do not think I’ll be going to Burning Man this year, too much else going on, though I may go to something over Labor Day weekend (probably not the WorldCon this year either however – Japan is a long way to travel). Already I have plans for a week+ trip back to Oaxaca in the fall, along with likely many trips to NYC.

In and amidst all of this travel and conferences, my primary focus for the Summer will be the continued growth of NELA (and likely the launch of a few related projects).  In a few weeks after we complete some major bug fixes and feature enhancements we should be opening up NELA to many more beta users.

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, meshwalk, NYC, personal, politics, San Francisco, venture capital, working | Leave a Comment »

NYC – art, culture, snow and light

Posted by shannonclark on February 27, 2007

This past week I have been in NYC.

Today the snow from last night’s brief snow shower/hail/freezing rain is melting, a light drizzle has been coming down all morning. My day started with breakfast at Sarabeth’s where I ate a bowl of porridge and a current scone. After breakfast I walked over to Central Park and then walked down, just outside of the park, to midtown, when at the moment I am sitting in a Starbucks, sending emails and catching up online.

In my walks this morning I took a series of photos, a few of which I am particularly proud of and plan on printing and framing on my return to San Francisco. To see some earlier shots I took this week, go to my Flickr pages.  While a few of my photos from today are relatively simple memory aids – photos of the outside of Sarabeth’s for example, or The NY Society for Ethical Culture buildings on Central Park West. most are taken as parts of my ongoing themed series.

An aside about the Ethical Culture society, though I had not previously heard of them,  they may, perhaps, be the closest thing to an organized religion I might, in fact, be interested in participating in – as they are a nontheist organization, but devoted to treating everyone ethically and doing good in the world – tenets that definitely resonate with my worldview, though they do not seem to have a San Francisco chapter.

My shots from this morning’s walk were of reflections, found objects, and in a few cases playing with perspective and perception. I do think of my photography in an almost painterly manner – I strive to make photos that explore colors, textures and patterns – while being often recognizable – yet almost always abstract as well. My task now is to find the best possible print technique for these digital impages.

And I will have to see how the tradeoff of not using a digital SLR and not shooting in RAW format plays out. My camera is very high quality and over 7 mega-pixels so it should be good for printing. My plans are also not to do any digital manipulation of the photos – no further cropping or processing. Yes, I am sure I could get crisper or even more tonally accurate images were I to have them processed in some manner – but somehow I also feel that might sap the life from the images.

For years I did not have a digital camera – not entirely sure why not – some combination of price, battery performance and image quality – but I am extremely happy with my new Panasonic Lumix camera. By being high quality, very portable & lightweight, and by having a battery life that lasts for 100’s of photos over multiple days, I now have a camera that I can always have in my bag or coat pocket and take spur-of-the-moment photos. It has taken me a few months to get used to this possibility – and every day I remember that I have the camera I find myself using it more and more.

As I spend most of the day working on business projects – upcoming events, sponsorships for MeshForum, FAQ’s and other materials for my newest company, I do also find myself thinking back on my morning photography – the balance between my tech & artistic impulses is a challenging one but also one worth exploring. When I give myself time and mental space for both pursuits – I do also find both are better (if that makes sense).

Lots more happened (and I suspect will happen) on this trip before I return to San Francisco. When I post the photos I’ll add links – either as new posts or as an edit of this post.

Posted in digital bedouin, NYC, photos | Leave a Comment »