Archives For Central Park

I am a month separated from leaving my first apartment in New York City, and I’m still having withdrawals. Just yesterday I was speaking at a conference and I jumped at the chance to reminisce with two attendees who live in my old neighborhood about how wonderful it is and how much I miss it.

Like most people I would assume, the process of apartment hunting in the city was overwhelming. Thankfully I had help from a current resident (and ex-girlfriend) who one day found one of those too-good-to-be-true Craigslist ads. But the open house was on a Sunday and so we figured it couldn’t hurt to go check the place out.

A few weeks later, I would call that place on 83rd and Amsterdam home. It was a one-bedroom on the second-floor of a walk-up. I had every grocery store I could desire within 10 blocks, the best bodega in the city across the street and two amazing parks on each side of me.

I could spend days recalling all of the memories created in that apartment and neighborhood – from entertaining friends and family to having a (relatively) quiet place that I could spend time in with my own thoughts. I couldn’t have practically scripted my introduction to Manhattan any better.

Sadly, good things come to an end and rent prices aren’t getting cheaper. When the opportunity arose to move-in with my best friend from high school in a brand new high-rise downtown and actually save a few dollars, I jumped.

This is far from a “cry-for-me” tale; life down in the Financial District isn’t too shabby. I traded my Central Park runs for new routes that take me past the Seaport, the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade Center. I’ve already found two, new reliable bodegas. And the grocery shopping is a work-in-progress but progressing nonetheless.

Rather this is an ode to my old hood, which is kind of funny because it’s only a few miles from my new spot. But that’s the beauty of this city; you only need to travel a couple of subway stops to find a brand new experience and create a whole new story.

That said, I’m only a month in on a two-year lease. Maybe it won’t stack up to the five I spent on the Upper West Side, but I can say with certainty that I can’t wait to find out

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Last Thursday night I was texting with my friend Quinn who was in town from Nashville for a work event. We scratched tentative plans to meet-up that evening, opting for the following day. After finding out what hotel she was staying in I offered to make Brunch reservations.

She liked the idea but also suggested that she was down to perhaps sightsee, something that I have done a terrible job of in my three-plus years in the city.

That’s when I got the idea that we should check out the observatory at One World Trade Center in the Financial District. Quinn enthusiastically co-signed.

We met Friday morning in FiDi and headed in to the Freedom Tower. Attendants scanned our pre-purchased tickets, we passed through security and waited in queue for the elevator. Once inside, it shot up 102 floors in seconds. Before we knew it, we were overlooking the greatest city in the world from the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

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After the breathtaking views, Quinn and I walked to the Seaport and grabbed that brunch at The Paris Café, one of the oldest watering holes in the city that claims both Thomas Edison and Teddy Roosevelt as past patrons. Afterwards, I sent her off to the hotel so she could catch an afternoon flight and I Uber-ed uptown so I could grab a quick 5.6 mile run in Central Park before my show.

On Saturday I added yet another new experience to my time in the city, and it is something I’ve wanted to do since I moved in to my apartment on the Upper West Side. According to Google, my place is 4.3 miles from Yankee Stadium. I always thought it would be cool to one day run to the Stadium and catch a 1 pm first pitch. So on Saturday morning I did just that, jogging up Manhattan, through Harlem and in to the Bronx, crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge before entering the ball park.

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Yankees lost to the Mariners and I hopped on the subway home. After an eventful past 48 hours, my plan was to settle in with a sandwich, a beer and my PlayStation 4.

And then my friend Shaina, who I first met covering red carpets here, shot me a text. She had a plus one for a TriBeCa Film Festival after-party. So instead of picking out a game to play on PS4 I picked out an outfit and headed downtown. The event was in celebration of “The Family Fang,” a movie that Jason Bateman both directed and starred in. His co-stars include Christopher Walken and Nicole Kidman.


I didn’t see the film but the party, sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin, was fantastic.

I’m pretty sure Sunday marked another first for me: the first time I spent an entire weekend at the Stadium. I rode the subway up and after the Yanks salvaged the final game of the series, I walked a mile across the bridge again before hopping on C, as to avoid the crowds at 161 and River.

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Before Sunday Funday ended I saw a few friends, racked up another 5.6 in the Park and caught the season finale of HBO’s “Vinyl.” We got another shout-out!

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All-in-all it was another weekend for the books. And to think, when I first made those plans on Friday I thought to myself, “Well, at least I’ll be leaving my neighborhood once this weekend.”

When I signed off the radio Friday night, I felt like I was in a bit of a funk. Why? Well, nothing really of significance bothered me; I think I was yearning to just unwind for a few days. For the weekend, I thought the perfect way to accomplish this would be by “unplugging” – staying off of my phone and social networks for 48 hours, beginning at Saturday morning at midnight.

The only exception I made was to periodically check the networks (only Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for direct messages, in case something was urgent. I did monitor email on my laptop but didn’t respond to anything. Of course, I also turned on my phone occasionally to see if I had any voicemails or text messages, Heaven forbid there be an emergency.

Thankfully, there was not. The plan worked flawlessly and here are 10 things that happened directly because of my absence from social media and text messaging this weekend.

– I ran seven miles.

Now from one perspective, I have to admit that I probably would have run seven miles anyways. But on the other hand, I definitely enjoyed running outside in the park a little more because it was one of the few times I escaped my apartment this weekend. Also, I ran Sunday evening despite a late start, one that could have been prolonged even more had I fallen in to a hole on one of the various social networks.

– I felt less stressed.

There was less clutter in my brain, and I think this contributed to my stress level lowering. Especially with Twitter, I have a tendency to become caught up in every moment, whether that is needed from me or not. It was nice to just watch a sporting event and not feel the need to also watch it along with everyone who has a Smartphone. And contrary to what you may believe, managing personal or brand social networks can be both difficult and time consuming, so it was nice to relieve myself of that stress for the weekend.

– I valued human interaction more.

I broke the “no phone rule” once when I called my buddy Dan because there was a timely piece of information I needed to tell him. Technically the rule stayed intact because I called from my Google number on my laptop but regardless, the 48 hours from my social networks and phone gave me a new appreciation for talking and texting with my friends.

– I prepped my taxes.

This is always on the to-do list after the first of the year, and I finally completed it this weekend, in part because I was distraction free. It was a big undertaking but I’m all-set for my Tuesday appointment at good ‘ole H&R Block.

– I grocery shopped.

First of all, you need to understand that I love grocery shopping. Second of all, you should also know that on Saturday I grabbed items from all three places in the city that I normally use for food: Fairway because of its organic section and snacks, Westside Market which has the best hummus in the city and Amazon Prime Now for water, almond milk and other produce items.
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– I cooked!

And while this follows grocery shopping, I actually did not use anything I bought Saturday for the meal I cooked Sunday; rather I had purchased some penne weeks ago and had a lovely red sauce from Marconi Hot Pots on the Upper East Side that I finally threw in a pan. My stove normally serves as the countertop for my Keurig because… single bachelor.
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– I barely drank.

This was a big one, especially after last weekend. I made a Bloody Mary while watching Syracuse Saturday, had a few beers while putting my tax materials together that evening and had a glass of wine with Sunday dinner. That’s it. No whiskey. No bar tabs. No late nights of drinking only to be followed by order a copious amount of gluttonous food from my bodega.

– I cleaned my apartment.

A person’s living space is definitely a reflection of their head space. And now that my taxes are prepped, the stray receipts on the coffee table and dresser are to a bare minimum, the clothes are folded and put away and the garbage is outside. Namaste.

– I played a fair amount of Playstation 4.

And I can finally beat the computer in NHL ’16 when playing on the pro level. I’m sure you were reading this whole article just for that piece of information.

– I didn’t miss it.

As I type this, I’m going on 50 hours of not checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. I haven’t texted a soul and sans one person, haven’t called anyone.

Am I curious to see why I have 50 notifications on Twitter? Do I have an urge to respond to some of the text messages I’ve received? Not really. It has nothing to do with the importance of those interactions, but rather the realization that sometimes there is more in life than refreshing Twitter every 2 minutes.

Besides, you should have seen the amount of clean laundry that piled up on my bed…

I’ve ran in Central Park for almost three years now. I love running; it’s one of the few things I do that improves every aspect of my life: physical, professional, psychological.

Despite my frequent runs not just in the park, but around the famed Reservoir, I’ve never seen a celebrity. That changed on Friday, when I ran in to not just any public figure, but the lead singer of my all-time favorite band.

Of course, I almost didn’t go for a run Friday afternoon. About two weeks ago I hurt my knees, again. The initial injury occurred in 2011. I suffered “dashboard knee” and ended up in rehab for a few weeks and on the sidelines for almost 10 months. Plainly, it sucked. I’ve spent the time since building strength in the knees and the muscles that surround them, and things were pretty solid until my latest mishap; I lost my footing while stepping around an open door to get in a cab and both knees smacked against the sidewalk. It was as painful as it sounds.

After about two weeks of going easy, taking the occasional Advil and icing my knees, I felt I was ready to test the waters. I went through my normal stretch routine, grabbed my Bluetooth earbuds and iPod Nano and headed out in to the concrete jungle. I decided that I would lightly jog my normal three-mile route, which takes me in to the park and around the shorter Bridle Path that circles the Reservoir.

About six minutes in, my run was going about as well as expected when I made it on to the path. I always travel on the path counter-clockwise; technically that’s the way you’re supposed to run or walk but if you’ve been you know that maybe half of the people actually pay attention. Anyways, I don’t think I was circling the Reservoir more than five minutes when two people, one who I definitely recognized, were walking in the opposite direction.
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The guy was wearing a white shirt and a black hat somewhat pulled down low. I recognized his face immediately though. I just jogged by Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin.

At this point I have a quick decision to make: do I keep going in the opposite direction or go over to him just to tell him what a big fan I am? First, I look to see if a lot of people are around. I want to respect the man’s space and do not want to cause a scene. But our stretch of the path is rather desolate. It is as this moment I decide that if I don’t approach him, I’ll be second-guessing myself for a while. So, I remove one of my earbuds, pull a U-turn and head in Martin’s direction.

Again, my plan is to be inconspicuous and not make a big scene. So I gently run up behind Martin and the person he’s with, and then duck to Chris’s right side.

“Hey, don’t want to get all crazy on ya – just here…”

“OH MY GOD! HOLY SH–!”

Well, I was a bit too inconspicuous and scared the bejesus out of the person he was with.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Chris – just want to say I’m a huge fan! Sorry, bye!”

Martin, realizing I meant no harm and posed no threat, immediately thanked me for my support and high-fived me. Yes, high-fived me. I think he was trying to smooth over what had become an unnecessarily-awkward situation, because he thanked me for being a fan of the band’s about three more times in the 10 seconds that passed before we parted ways.

And as his friend did their best to get their bearings back, a security guard (who came out of nowhere!) was hot on my tail.

I waved goodbye and completed my normal three-mile route, albeit a little quicker than I had initially planned to thanks to an added dose of adrenaline.

I’m already getting asked this question a lot so let me answer it now: I think I know who he was with but I’m not speculating or confirming any names. I was going for a run, he was enjoying a Friday afternoon in the park. We can leave it at that.

When I got home – three thoughts surrounding the chance encounter prevailed: I really hope no paparazzi caught that, boy do I have a great story to one day start off a Chris Martin interview with and most importantly, I wish I would’ve acted a little cooler (although for the record, I never really lost my cool per se, but whatever).

However above all else, the running itself was a success as thankfully my knees are not sore at all.