NYC Blackout Ten Years Later

New York Blackout 2003

The power went off in our midtown building. I think our team was working on a pitch or something. Since none of the computers could work and the AC and elevators had shut down, we were released to “work from home” and to “think about the pitch”. Yeah, right. Hall pass! One of our bosses generously tapped a copywriter from our team, much to his dismay, to continue working in nearby Bryant Park. I remember seeing his sad face as we waved goodbye and headed to the emergency exits. Sorry bro. We descended twelve floors down a pitch black stairwell to emerge on Madison Avenue in the sweltering August heat to a thoroughly confused New York City.

It was a Thursday which was perfect because that was pick up soccer day. I footed it thirty two blocks uptown for my weekly game with the whole crew at Riverside Park. People showed up slowly. Each with their own story of having to descend twenty something floors down an emergency stairwell but the game went on as usual. One of the beauties of the beautiful game is you just need a ball. I remember it was a particularly fun game. We played well into the darkness until it was absolutely impossible to see, because what else were we supposed to do? Time seemed totally irrelevant for once in NYC.

After we could play no more, we all sat in darkness on the patch of grass adjacent to the Hudson and talked of our theories of what was actually happening. It was post 9/11 and pre iPhone, so we tried our best to piece together little bits info we got via texts from people who could still watch TV. There was a breeze off the river and in the distance, we could see a glow of lights somewhere deep in New Jersey. We tried to convince ourselves that the power would return any minute and we’d all get subway rides and cushy elevators back to our air conditioned apartments. Well, that never happened. Instead we all succumbed to the reality that we would either have to slog it home or be eaten alive by the mosquitos. We all parted ways from our little breezy spot and started on our walks home. I lived in Astoria, Queens.

I exited the park and started my surreal stroll across the pitch black city. The streets were teeming with people carrying flashlights but otherwise total darkness. I remember one building with an emergency generator, but the only other illumination was candlelight from the packed restaurants and bars. Each place I passed was filled with sweaty people escaping their airless apartments and drinking to make sleep possible. It wasn’t a bad trade off. Everyone was having a great time. The chaos and danger that one might expect when NYC goes pitch black in the punishing heat of August was no where to be seen. As I zigzagged the blocks from the Hudson to the East River, I remember feeling really great about this town. What could have been a terrifying night of chaos was actually an amazing night of urban civility. We had not long before seen some unthinkable shit. I think we all learned in the days after 9/11 that niceness goes a long way when things is go bonkers.

I found the entrance of the 59th street bridge and joined the silent human mass of thousands walking across the East River into Queens. We just followed each other without saying a word. Sometimes I’d look back at the surreal sight of a completely black Manhattan and the only sounds of the city were human. Things got a little rowdier as we approached Long Island City. I thought for a moment that this is where the night might take a turn. The 59th bridge dumps off right at the notorious Queensbridge projects. But not tonight. I stepped off the bridge right on to a bus that offered the only taste of AC that I was to feel that night. The bus drove up me 21st and that was the moment I learned that there was a bus stop directly in front of my house on Ditmars Blvd. Serendiptity.

I walked through my front door to find our resident couch surfer Kwame on the verge of psychosis caused by heat, boredom and strumming the the same three guitar chords for hours in our dark suffocating living room. My inner boy scout kicked in and I remembered the leftover box of italian ices in the freezer. I dumped what was left of the half melted lemon ices into a pitcher, poured the remainder of a plastic Costco-sized bottle of off-brand vodka on top and mashed it together with a big spoon.

We took the pitcher out on our back porch where we found all of our neighbors from the block on their porches with candles, booze and whatever was salvageable from their fridges. It was good to be home. It was good to be in Astoria. We sat out there well into the wee hours and drank until we thought we could sleep.

Eventually I made it upstairs and sprawled out on top my linens. Even though I was drunk and exhausted, it was still a struggle to fall asleep in the heat. I finally managed to doze off. A few hours later, I was awoken by the clicks and buzzing sounds of a house coming alive with electricity. Suddenly I felt a poof of cool air come up my boxers as the fan at the foot of my bed kicked in. Relief. I smiled. I count that moment as one of the best perks of living way out in the boroughs. The next two days continued with brutal heat and buses brought refugees to our pad from other parts of the city less fortunate in getting their power back. But I’ll never forget that night. That little puff of air up my boxers was magic. It was New York City magic.

Adios, amigos.


We’ve been through a lot together in this city. Thick and thin. I’m going to miss you guys.

It’s been 20 years since Ray Gun.

Does that mean we can like David Carson again?

It's been 20 years since Ray Gun.

Nothing Compares 2 U

I was looking for an old Trenchmouth track on youtube when I found a video correspondence between Fred Armisen and Charlyne Yi. And then I found this. Oh internets, so many surprises you keep.

Diggin in the Crates: STMRKSxGrandLife, originally uploaded by nick_ito.

Captain Eddie and I just finished making new shirts for our Friday night league team. When we first started thinking of ideas, I pulled out some old snaps of a kit I made for the ill fated Grand Life squad that Tommy Saleh and I patched together for the Adidas Fanatic Tournament couple years back. Our ragtag side included my poker/park ball cronies Jordin Isip and Greg Benton as well as reluctant superstar keeper Brian Kelly. My friend Jon hooked us up with a his buddy who helped us outfit out kits with massive gold dookie rolls. What our team lacked in practice, we made up for in floss.

Game day was a beautiful sunny summer Saturday. The air was filled with the smell of burgers and the sounds of King Britt. It was an fantastic day to play ball. With teams like Vice, Kid Robot, Tokion, and Complex Mag plus a continuous flow of beverages courtesy of Heineken, I was expecting a competition of beer pong seriousness. That seemed to be happening on all the other group pitches except ours. We were getting slaughtered. Tommy’s Grand Life team had hoisted the cup a couple of years before which explained why our scrappy squad was placed in Group D. D apparently stood for Death.

As we took continuous beatings, it was clear that our destiny was firmly stomped to the bottom of our group. Though I could see this coming early on, I was still unprepared for the relentless bruises to body and ego throughout the day. My spirit was crushed by a personal deficit of skill and fitness as well as an excess of free beer.

Looking back at the photos from that day, I can still taste the beatdowns but even though we suffered mutiple indignations, I actually remember having a lot of fun. Selective memory? Perhaps. But at least we looked cool.

Check me out! I’m Tumblring!

I’ve got a tumblr! Woo hoo! I’m totally up to 2010!, originally uploaded by nick_ito.

Barack Obama is so freaken cool

obama_richardson.jpg, originally uploaded by nick_ito.

The other week, as I waited for my old San Jo’ friend Derek to use the can in Cafe Habana, I spotted Terry Richardson and Bobby Gillespie walking down Prince street. I thought to myself “Geez, do all the cool dudes just like hang out?” Apparently so. I was instantly struck with a sudden longing to be more Fonz-like. Of course, since Derek was inside taking a leak, there was no one to share my feelings of inadequacy. To further exacerbate my condition, I saw this pic in a UK magazine our couch surfers Ronnie and Leon left behind. The Fonzarelli Deficiency Meter hit the roof. Though there may be little hope in treating my condition, I will take comfort in the fact that the individual cool quotient of Richardson, Gillespie and Obama combined would probably induce a similar condition to many a by-stander on Prince Street.

There will inevitably be the day when the words “Jeezus. What the fuck is Obama doing?!” will pass my lips. But nearing 100 days into his presidency, that particular sentiment has yet to enter my mind. In fact, quite the contrary. According to Fox News, millions (probably more realistically thousands) of tea baggers disagree, yet I look at the trajectory of our current economic outlook, our standing in the world, and our national psyche all pointing, if only ever-so-gradually, upward.

As I look out the window on this dreary morning, I’m forced to ask myself: Could it be better? Possibly. But could it be worse? Most definitely. To put things in perspective I imagine a scenario in which Palin-mania had infected a few more million minds and John McCain is currently steering the boat. Would we be further adrift in a his self-conflicted urge to be a ‘true conservative’ and actually doing the right thing? I can only deduce being three months further down a long, dark, 8-year-old spiral, with our best hope being an administration that would have some grasp on the concepts of ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’. And on this rainy spring day in April 2009, my world outlook, professional prospects, and 401k would be facing future that was very different.

Have I consumed too much Kool Aid? I am a blind to the fact that the monumental spending government spending occurring right now is going to fuck us and our children over for years to come? I guess only time will tell. But I look outside my window, and even though it’s gray and pouring outside, it definitely is a different season. How fucken cool is that?

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Oh, Wesley Pentz. Why must you taunt me?

favelaonblast.gif, originally uploaded by nick_ito.

Maybe it’s because I just got back from Brazil, or maybe it’s because I am in total denial that it’s 32 degrees F outside my window in Brooklyn, but I am gagging to see this. It’s a new doc, brought to you by Wesley Pentz (Diplo) about the music scene that’s been bubbling out of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Yes, please! If anyone would like to fly me to Austin tonight, or even better JFK to GRU, please contact me immediately. Muito obrigado. Tchau!

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Diggin in the Crates: MonkeyMe

monkey.jpg, originally uploaded by nick_ito.

Every woman wants one, but only one lucky lady gets to take it home. Congratulations, Dot!

The Beast

During his time at Arsenal, Julio earned the unfortunate nickname “Craptista”. I, on the other hand, will remember him as “The Beast”.

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