March of the Pens.

The sport of hockey received good news this week – Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, heralded by some as the greatest player in the world, will return to the ice Thursday (3/15) against the New York Rangers. While the Rangers probably aren’t too happy (currently sitting in first in the Eastern Conference with 95 points), the Kid is the NHL’s golden boy – a hard worker, a Stanley Cup winner, a gold medal winner – and an overall good guy.

Crosby was cleared for contact last week after missing the last 40 games due to a soft-tissue neck injury (that was misdiagnosed as a concussion) at the beginning of December 2011. He had made his first “return” to the ice on November 21, 2011 (following a real concussion suffered in January 2011 that kept him off the ice for 61 straight games) with a four point performance against the visiting New York Islanders. But his return was short-lived – after only eight games, Crosby sustained the neck injury (in a Dec. 5 game against the Boston Bruins) that has kept him benched until now.

Despite not having Crosby in the line-up, the Pens have been streaking after the Rangers, having won nine straight coming into Thursday’s game at MSG (totaling 89 points, with a game in hand). In Crosby’s absence, Evgeni Malkin, who can be considered a phenom in his own right, has stepped up big time (now tied for league-leading points with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos at 84). If you need more proof, look at this end-to-end Malkin score from game two of the current streak:

The Penguins’ top line is enjoying undeniable chemistry (most notably between Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal, who is currently 14th in points with 65), and so is the power play unit (ranked 7th in the NHL at 19.7 percent). With Crosby’s return, the goal is to bolster the squad, avoid “fixing what isn’t broken,” and let Crosby ease back into things (coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby will likely play around 15 minutes against the Rangers). Crosby practiced and will likely play on a line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, and he will work as the point on the power play unit. Malkin has been playing (and scoring at will) from Crosby’s old spot on the PP unit, and that isn’t going to be tampered with.

“My job is to distribute the puck amongst everyone. When [Malkin’s] shooting the puck like that, just give it to him in that area,” said Crosby.

Without a doubt, the clash of two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams – along with Crosby’s return – will create a certain electricity at the Garden tomorrow night. Oh, and I’ll be there to see how it goes.

Subway Thoughts – Creative Madness

Weeeeee.

If you have been scooting around the NYC boroughs via subway, it is likely you’ve seen the “falling man” posters for the upcoming season of AMC’s Mad Men (COME BACK NOW, PLEASE). What has appeared even more recently are creative revisions to these posters (Don Draper approval pending), both in the stations and online. I love them in a makes-me-snicker/devilish-grin sort of way. At the very least, these revisions rate far better than torn-out eyes on movie posters (creepy as hell) or Sharpie-fitti’ed penises.

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2011 : What I’ve learned (about life, love, loss, and living in a big city).

Another year has spun its way past, through, and around me. Despite the fact that over half a month has ticked away in the new year, I have in no way become used to writing “2012”. We’ll see how long that actually takes.

I started this rumination last year, and it helped bring a year’s worth of everything into something. For as much as I remember in this life (and I do admit an affinity for details), I struggle to place things on specific dates or within certain years. I cannot tell you how old kids are when they’re in third grade or what year in which I attended third grade. My brain just does not work that way. But sometimes it is prudent to remember what happened within a specified 365 days.

I started 2011 with a year and a half’s worth of living in New York City (‘s outer boroughs) tacked onto my experiential resume. The burgeoning, brisk early-year months of 2011 crackled with change. A new job sparkled with possibility and became reality, a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl loss disheartened me (with still-bitter fans jeering my jersey-clad friends and I postgame), and a birthday trip to Fuerza Bruta (a show I recommend to anyone who has ever felt something/anything passionately) shone through the bluster.

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Winter melted away into the chirpy mildness of spring. I helped clean up a Harlem park for Hands On NY Day, and I learned that it feels empowering (and somewhat wrong to be so prideful) to know how to rake leaves more efficiently than your co-volunteers (thank you, Dad). I flew to Phoenix, AZ (for the first time) for a work trip and met cross-country coworkers, learning the difference in speed and general demeanor between those living in perma-sunshine and those of us who live here. Once situated back in New York, I attended emerging-artist art shows, explored the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of Bushwick, bonded with felines, and began rating the quality of nachos with coworkers as part of an appropriately-named social club. I learned that without completely paying attention, I was falling for a new city.

Half of those are mine. What.
Heart out of light, intended or not.

The temperature began to rise, and the sweaty summer was upon me once again. I grilled on my roof. I experienced a second season of summer softball (and we won a lot, which was refreshing), playing on fields hidden in pockets of green across the boroughs. Work took me to Las Vegas (FOR TEN DAYS) where Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show we were a part of and Taye Diggs (a performer in the show) physically bumped into me at the bar in our hotel. While I was away, New York was celebrating Gay Pride, and an even bigger rainbow-related news item broke – same-sex marriage was legalized in New York state. I learned how much pride I have in New York, how proud I am to be an official resident (even if it still feels like I’m cheating on Pennsylvania).

A summer meal with Lady Liberty on the horizon.

As summer began to slink away, I traveled briefly to a small section of North Carolina beach to spend time with my family.  I returned to the city to help produce several shoots that post-production magic would turn into a series of 9/11 Memorial PSAs featuring Robert De Niro. I celebrated a cherished personal milestone. I made my way back to leaf-laden State College (prior to everything Sandusky-related), drinking cider, eating tailgate-prepped breakfast sandwiches and drinking mimosas, connecting with friends in the place that bore our friendship. I flew into my hometown for Pie Night and remembered how much I love making my parents laugh over coffee in the morning, with glasses of wine in hand at night. I learned that fall is fleeting, that the things that warm you can slip away so easily.

The Memorial at night.

The days became darker, denser, but not altogether that much colder. I walked shelter dogs around McCarren Park on calm Sunday mornings. I traveled to Pittsburgh for Christmas, to a home I learned won’t be there for me to travel to much longer, absorbing the reality of closing that chapter of my life. I sought out live music, in Brooklyn, at bars, at bookstores. I took myself on dates to the movies. I learned that New York City does not hold your hand, but does not withhold its wonders either. You have to go out into it, and live and try and explore. It is up to you, what you get from New York.

City Hall Park.

On my journeys through the streets of neighborhoods I’d never been to, from conversations with strangers and friends over beers, over books, contemplations in my head over beers, over books, I learned that though life is adversity, love, in all its forms and above all else, is something I believe in. I learned that what I believe in, I fight for. No matter what.

Somewhere in Greenwich Village.

Standing in a bookstore near the dawning of 2012, I read a line that, upon its consumption, left me with a final lesson from 2011 – “Fling yourself into it headfirst. Everything can change, but only with abandon.”

Teach me something, 2012.

Open Face.

Congratulations to Samantha Stosur and Novak Djokovic on their 2011 US Open wins. Both had to take down favorites in Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal (respectively), and both did so deftly. I had tickets to the Open on Wednesday, September 7, but alas, Mother Nature is a bitch (sometimes… please let me have lots of fall. Thanks!).

So close.. but so misty. It was not raining.

The US Open employs giants to update their on-site brackets.

The mopey walk back to the 7.

But enough about non-action. Here’s a collection of some of the best faces at the Open, courtesy of usopen.org.

Queen Latifah's face is pretty sweet, but check out the woman on the left...

Stosur looking quizzical.

Not an Open face but Serena's typical yelling-at-an-Open-official stance...

There she is.

Grumble.

Ahhhhh! In a good way.

On 9/11.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (and now living in NYC), I’d like to share a project I was part of – the making of a series of 9/11 Memorial PSAs with Robert De Niro. On a series of days, inside and outdoors, in the gloom and the sunshine, we worked with people touched by the tragedy 10 years ago and visually captured the new memorial opening to honor those lost that day.

jib.

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Language Barrier.

I used to live in Queens (GASP) in an overwhelmingly Spanish section of Jackson Heights. My building was near-brand-new, owned and watched over by a little Asian couple who referred to themselves as The Tings. Susan and Austin (in no way their real names) Ting were pretty intense about a few things – namely the elevator and the deck. The deck was always locked, possibly out of fear that one of us crazy tenants would accidentally launch ourselves onto Roosevelt Ave below, or more likely/god forbid we would touch one of the plants they had placed sporadically across the space. The deck weirdness can be summed up by the fact that they nailed down the tables and benches.

This rigidity was also found in the elevator. Susan often scolded/warned that if anyone should hold the elevator, it would break. I guess someone refused to heed her warning, and one day, a sign appeared. A few days later, this correction was made:

Uh oh.

I believe I snorted the first time I saw it. I snapped that picture, and good thing, because Susan ripped it down shortly thereafter.

Keep Looking.

I was waiting to catch an L shuttle (UGH weekend transit pains) from the Morgan stop in Brooklyn, a hop skip and a 10 minute walk from my house, when I came upon this picture, glowing amongst trash and graffiti.

smooch.

There are gems amongst the wreckage here. And it seems that I am not the only one looking.
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Dirty Glitter.

I recently went to Las Vegas for work… for 10 days. Of straight working. I saw the outdoors four times and left the hotel grounds once. It was madness, but the work itself was great (we produced motion graphics for a large event), and I told a goodlooking celebrity that he couldn’t cut in line for beer at the after-party.

I wear boat shoes. That smile is useless on me!

By the time the final morning rolled around, I was dying to go home. As one of my coworkers put it, “Being in Vegas for this long is like being stuck in Times Square.” It’s a whole lot of flash and dirty glitter. And not somewhere you really want to spend all of your time.
Taken through a CLEAN cab window!

Our plane finally (West to East Coast time traveling is depressing) plopped onto the tarmac at JFK, and I plopped my beat-up self onto the backseat of a cab. Like a happy dog, I stuck my head out of the window for nearly the entire ride. The wind licked at my face and cast my travel-sexy hair in every direction. I took pictures from another taxi backseat, but I like these slightly better.
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