::: Milo, The Puggle Who Hates Me: I live in the top floor of one of the typical fairly ugly two-story brick row houses that seem to make up 85% of the borough of Queens. I have a big porch and a stoop, something I still get excited about every morning when I walk out the door. However, next door to me, in the row house directly to the right, lives Milo the Puggle. And Milo hates me. He has taken a particular dislike to me for reasons that I can't comprehend because, really? Who knows what goes on inside the head of a Puggle. (For one things, they're called Puggles, which probably really pisses them off.) Whenever Milo sees me he erupts into the most spastic, spittle-spewing, Puggle-shaking volley of hysterical barking that ever came forth from an animal that stands only eighteen inches tall. It is a bark of pure, unadulterated hatred and it is directed only at me. He doesn't bark at anyone else. No, there is something about me that sets him off. Maybe it's my overall lack of fashion sense. Maybe it's my bad haircut. Maybe it's the fact that he knows that I mock the name "Puggle". Who knows? But I suspect that Milo and I will never become buddies.So far, so good. That's all you get right now. More as I explore the area further.
::: Cricket: You know that you're in a totally alien environment when the neighborhood kids knocking around balls on the street are knocking those balls around with cricket bats. My old neighborhood (Astoria) was a neighborhood filled with mostly Greek, Egyptian, Russian and Dominican families. The kids in the neighborhood played basketball and baseball and sometimes touch football. But the new neighborhood (near Jackson Heights) is comprised of mostly Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi families. And a lot of the kid play cricket in the street. It's very cool!
::: Giant Supermarkets That Don't Really Stock Anything: In Astoria, there are a lot of small supermarkets that nevertheless manage to carry a huge variety of ethnic and organic foods. In the new neighborhood, we have a Waldbaums. Waldbaums is an enormous store, roughly the size of an aircraft carrier. I haven't seen a grocery store this big since I last visited my brother and his family in Georgia and had to choose between a Kroegers, a Publix, a Super Target and a Wal-Mart all on one strip mall. That's an overwhelming amount of choice for someone used to the cramped aisles of a Trade Fair or a C-Town. It inspires a freakish sort of specialized agoraphobia. (Is there a name for fear of wide open spaces in supermarkets?) Yet despite the enormous size of the store and quite unlike Kroegers or Public, Waldbaums doesn't actually stock much variety of anything. Not a lot of ethnic food, almost no organic or natural foods and - dammit! - no Kashi Bars! (I live on Kashi Bars.) I'm jonesing for a decent organic or natural foods store (where will I buy my Dr. Bronner's?!) so if you know of one in the Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst area, please drop me a line.
::: Stealth Big Box Retailers: This is the kind of neighborhood where you walk down the street for blocks and see nothing but row houses and more row houses and then - WHAM! - a stealth Home Depot jumps out at you, right next to the stealth Bed, Bath & Beyond. And next to them? A bodega. Then more row houses. It's as though urban planners had temporarily lost their minds when they put together the plans for this neighborhood.
::: The Staples: Thankfully this neighborhood does have the three essential things that any good New York City neighborhood needs: a laundromat, a bodega and an Irish pub (which is where my new roommate and I had breakfast this morning), all within a block of my apartment. There's also a decent Greek place, an absolutely amazing patisserie called Canelle's (which looks so weirdly out of place within the strip mall that I always do a double-take when I happen upon it), a post office and a branch of my bank (yay!).
Saturday, August 16, 2008
So I've officially been in my new place for an entire week now and I've got a couple of brief observations about the new neighborhood so far: