Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going Gold at the Federal Reserve Bank

Roar! A little while ago I was thinking about how I've always liked that US dollars are known as greenbacks! It's a pretty sweet name and I love that dollars have a green back just like me! Then I realized that I don't actually know that much about greenbacks and that was something I needed to change! So the other day I went over to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to learn all about money and also to see one of the largest collections of gold in the world! Seeing as it's been so cold lately it will be nice to soak up some golden rays!
Here I am outside the federal reserve bank. It's here that all monetary policy in the United States in implemented and all the currency for the north east it distributed. It's a pretty impressive building and takes up a whole city block! Talk about huge!
It turned out that no photos were allowed inside the building so I made this artistic rendering of what it was like inside the vault! So much gold! It turns out there was more gold than in Fort Knox! There was so much gold it would take 14 dump trucks to hold it all! Hmm... I think I remember hearing something about that, but when?

Unlike Fort Knox most of the gold in the Federal Reserve Bank belongs to other countries. All of the vaults are anonymous and only a few people know whose gold is in each vault. What's strange is that when major financial transactions occur between nations it really just amounts to someone moving some gold from one vault to another.

The gold was really impressive but that's not why I came to the reserve bank! I came here to learn about money! I turns out the Reserve Bank isn't just where they distribute currency, but they also store it, inspect it, and also destroy any of it no longer fit for circulation! It's a big job and it takes a big bank to do it all! Roar!

One other cool thing at the Federal Reserve was an exhibit on the history of coins but on by the American Numismatic Society. They had coins from all over the world there and some of the rarest coins in the world, including a Confederate half dollar, an 1804 silver dollar, and the 1933 gold double eagle! The 1933 gold double eagle is worth over 8 million dollars! That's no small change! Roar!
I was feeling pretty hungry after my trip to the reserve. Luckily for there was a Golden Krust near by! Talk about thematically appropriate! Roar!
The Reserves vault was pretty well protected but I did manage to get some money from the vault! Check out this sweet bag of "Real" Money that the reserve gave away as a free gift!
The reserve also had a ton of cool free comics all about Money and Banks! These should have the information about money that I've been looking for!
WOAH! Check out this super sweet time machine! That sure is one handy way to learn about the history of money! Though it also makes me wonder what the future of money will look like? Will we end up trading in gold-pressed latinum or will we find ourselves fighting for survival, willing to risk it all for a tank of juice?! Who knows? Roar!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting to the Point at the Iron Triangle!

Roar! The other day I decided to head out to Willets Point, Queens to explore an unusual neighborhood known locally as the Iron Triangle! Willets Point earn the nickname of Iron Triangle due to the abnormally high concentration of automotive repair shops in the area. In fact, with only one actual resident, auto repair shops are almost all that's in the Iron Triangle! With looming development plans I decided I needed to go see this unique neighborhood while it is still there!
Here I am in front of Willets Point Boulevard where it intersects with Roosevelt Ave. Wow, this place sure has been hit hard with all the recent snow! It turns out (like a few other neighborhoods in the city) the Iron Triangle isn't on the sewer line so every time it rains, or in this case, when snow melts, the whole neighborhood starts to flood! Also there aren't any sidewalks and the roads also haven't been paved in forever so right now everything is a slushy, muddy mess! Yuck!
Willets Point gets its real name from Willets Point Boulevard which takes its name from the real life Willets Point over in the northeastern part of Queens. I wonder how many auto repair shops are at that Willets Point? Roar!
Here is the ACDC Scrap Metal shop. It turns out every time they return used auto parts to people, they give them back... in black! Talk about weird! I guess these guys don't have a fear of the dark! Roar!
Here I am at some of the great shops in the Iron Triangle! First I went over to look at some sweet low profile tires! Then I went over to see about some great car doors! And lastly I decided to stop off at the rim shop and check out some spinners! Woah! These rims are awesome! Look at them spin, I know we're a long way from Coney Island but I didn't realize Willets Point had so many ferrous wheels! Roar!
I really like the look of Roberto's auto shop here! Maybe it's the color? I also really like his sweet muffler windchime! I wonder what that baby sounds like when the wind is blowing full force! Turns out Roberto's does transmissions, engines, water-pumps, front-ends, radiators, tires, batteries, electrical parts, and mufflers! He sure does have a lot of irons in the fire! Roar!
It's nice to see that the Iron Triangle has some actual iron works in it. This is where the neighborhood originally got its nickname from before all the auto shops moved in.
Woah! Check out all the damage that's been done to these cars! Nice driving, Feinstein!
I think those cars might need the Royal Touch! Roar!
Despite all the auto shops in the area they aren't the only businesses in the Iron Triangle. There are a few construction yards in the neighborhood. Most of which are filled with iron pipes! I bet if there was a hospital around here it would even have to have an iron lung! Roar!
People around here are very patriotic about their work! I bet they're glad to be living in Queens, USA, instead of behind the Iron Curtain! Roar!
There is also a large school bus depot in the area! I can't think of a better place to store large metal buses!
Everybody who works in the area needs someplace to eat! Here is the House of Spices which stores and sells Indian food products. Then there is the Stadium Deli! They apparently have great "home made Italian and Chinese food." I wonder if the iron chefs ever stop here! Roar!
Of course the Stadium Deli takes its name from what borders on the northwest side of the Iron Triangle. Next to where Shea Stadium used to stand is now the new Citi Field, built over an old portion of the Iron Triangle!
The Iron Triangle is home to a vast amount of natural wildlife! During my short visit I saw dogs, cats, and chickens! Not to mention the large numbers of seagulls and pigeons that flock to the area! Roar!
City Field in the distance is one of many developments that have encroached on the Iron Triangle over the years. To the south of the Iron Triangle is Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which replaced what F. Scott Fitzgerald referred to as "the valley of ashes" in the Great Gatsby. Now the Iron Triangle is all that's left to remind us of what this area used to be like a hundred years ago! The city has had many other planned developments for the area which all include shopping plazas and parking lots. If the developers ever manage to iron out wrinkles in their plans I don't think Willets point will have the iron will to survive! They'll probably need nerves of steel or something. Regardless, sooner or later the Iron Triangle will be replaced with shiny new retail outlets. So for the meantime we just need to enjoy it while it lasts! Roar!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No Pants? No problem at the 10th Annual "No Pants Subway Ride!"

Roar! This past Sunday was the 10th annual No Pants Subway Ride flash mob organized by Imrov Everywhere. The No Pants Subway Ride is exactly what it sounds like, a subway ride where you don't where any pants. Since I don't normally wear pants and I hadn't participated in any of the previous rides, I decided this should be the year to finally check it out!
There were meet up points all around the city and one of them was in my own neighborhood of Bushwick over at Maria Hernandez park! Here everyone is gathered around while a representative from Improv Everywhere explains all the important rules of the No Pants Subway Ride. Apparently they take riding the subway with no pants on very seriously! One of the rules was "no photos" so a friend of mine volunteered to take them while pretending to play Angry Birds on her Iphone! Roar!
Here I am waiting on the platform for the train to come. It sure was a chilly day out! I hope I don't catch a cold with no pants on! Roar!
Here I am sitting in the subway car. I was lucky to get a seat since it ended up being such a crowded car!
One of the rules to the No Pants Subway Ride was "no fancy underwear." I don't think many people followed it because to me it looked like most people showed up in their finest Sunday underwear! It made me a little embarrassed for only wearing my whites! Here's someone who really likes the Jets! They even has matching socks! Roar!
And this person clearly loves Spider-Man! I wonder if they've seen the new musical?! Roar!
Woah! Things got a little strange when we got to Union Square! Cookie monster was there and, not only was he not wearing pants, he was playing a xylophone! What a crazy day!
Once everyone got to Union Square it turned into one big no pants party! I think this guy might be a little confused though, it was no pants party not a no shirt party! Roar!
The No Pants Subway Ride gets a ton of press coverage! Patrick Stewart was even there dressed as Dixon Hill from Star Trek TNG! I guess he must love not wearing pants! Roar!

Over all the No Pants Subway Ride was pretty fun, despite how seriously the organizers of it seem to take it. I guess it's just hard to deny the simple pleasure in taking your pants off! Wait maybe that didn't come out right! Roar!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seriously Easy-Going in Jamaica, Queens!

Roar! With all the lousy weather we've been having here in New York, I decided I needed to liven things up with a little Caribbean flavor! So the other day I hopped on the J train and headed out to Jamaica, Queens to explore the neighborhood and try some local cuisine!
Maybe that wasn't the most honest introduction. Jamaica, Queens actually has a really rich history and nothing to do the island of Jamaica. It was originally the the Dutch settlement of Rustdorp. Then after the British took over New Amsterdam they renamed the settlement Jamaica after "Jameco", the Lenape Indian word for beaver! How fascinating! Many notable people have lived in Jamaica over the years. Here I am in front of Rufus King's manor. Turns out he was the only hip-hop artist to sign the US constitution! I never knew that! Roar!
Even though the founding of Jamaica had nothing to do with the Caribbean island, because of its name many Jamaican and other West Indian immigrants settled here when  moving to New York. Now Jamaica has one of the largest West Indian populations in the city! Here I am over at the pedestrian shopping mall on 165th street. There are a lot of awesome stores here specializing in everything from clothing to cell phones! There are also a bunch of great restaurants featuring tons of different Caribbean food for me to try!
Here is the King's Fish Market and YJ Fried Fish. They share the same building so you can go into the fish market and pick out some fresh fish, then go right next door and have them cook it for you! I can't wait to try some!
Oh yeah, that is some fresh looking Blue Snapper! I think I'll get some of that next door! I was hoping they'd have some Green Snapper but it turned out I was fresh out of luck! Roar!
The YJ Fried Fish restaurant had this great sign about how "healthy" food will keep you healthy. I don't know how good the fish and chips I ordered will be for me but it sure will help keep me warm on a cold day!
Now that is some healthy looking food! It tastes absolutely delicious though, and that is definitely some really fresh fish! Roar!
Next I went over to the food court in the shopping plaza and got myself a red and roti! A roti is a common dish found on a lot of islands in the Caribbean. It consists of a roti (the Indian flat bread, brought over by Indian immigrants) filled with a curried meat (in my case I got curried chicken). Red refers to the color of the soft drink, normally a yummy Red Pop! Together they make for a super sweet combo and one heck of a filling meal! Roar!
It was a chilly day out and even after all the food I had just eaten I was still feeling a bit hungry so I got this delicious hot beef patty! It sure did warm me right up!
Finally, after eating all that great food I decided to do some shopping! Here I am out side of the Just Green store! I think this place might have been meant for me! Maybe I'll stop in and see about purchasing one of these "lids" I've heard so much about! Roar!
I think this one might be just a liddle big! Roar!
Jamaica also has a really great music scene. A ton of notable musicians have gotten their start here including, 50 Cent, A Tribe Called Quest, Ja Rule, Grafh, Run DMC, The Lost Boyz, Nyce, O.C., Superstar Jay, and Waka Flocka Flame! The neighborhood is so famous for music that I wasn't at all surprised when I saw the Blue Man Group hanging out in the shopping plaza! Clearly they know where it's at! Roar!
Jamaica is a pretty fascinating neighborhood! Not only is there a bunch of great food and local history to be found here but the neighborhood itself offers a startling mix of old and new! Here is one of the many old churches in Jamaica nestled right up against the modern Jamaica Hospital! This type of contrast in pretty common in New York city but I rarely see it as prominent as it is in Jamaica! I wonder if this type of aesthetic had any influence on Donald Trump when he was growing up here? Regardless, Jamaica is a neighborhood definitely worth visiting, if not for the insights into New York history, then definitely for the food! Roar!