After some mild slacking off in the first half of November, I've been running a bit more of late. In fact, since Thanksgiving I've logged just under 70 unique miles, and I'm going to try to squeeze in another 70 or 80 before I head out to California to see my sister at Christmas (including travel days, it looks like I'll be missing about 10 days of running). The goal now is to hit the halfway point -- 871 unique miles -- by January 15th. This should keep me on pace to have the whole borough wrapped up by August 1st. Anyway, since I'm taking a day off today, I wanted to briefly (or, given my natural tendency toward prolixity, maybe not so briefly) touch on a few things that I've meaning to mention but which haven't found their way into my regular posts. Here goes.
- From the Runs Brooklyn Pharmaceutical Desk
Regular readers may have noticed that, recently, at least, I've been complaining less about the many running-related aches and pains I've accumulated thus far in my adventures (especially those involving my heels). And I know, some of you must be wondering – is it some kind of miracle cure? Has my body completely regenerated itself despite my continuing to punish it in the course of my near-obsessive quest? Have I taken the healing waters at some secret or hitherto unknown spa? Has my diet – in which oatmeal, vegan cardamom cookies, chana masala
, and Black & Green's chocolate bars
comprise the bulk of my caloric intake – somehow been proven to have medicinal effects? Have I actually been getting more than my typical five hours of nightly sleep?
Actually, it's none of these. But I have discovered naproxen
, the active ingredient in Aleve (though the generic version from my local Eckerd is half the price of the name-brand stuff). It's both an analgesic and a very effective anti-inflammatory, and – for me, at least – seems to be much more effective than ibuprofen. So if I'm not going to take better care of myself, I can at least subvert my body's natural warnings and make it hurt less by stuffing it full of pills. That'll teach it.
Over on my flickr site
(where I keep the photos I post here), they let you keep track of how many times people view your pictures. It's a cool feature, but it only serves to highlight how capricious and random such things are. My picture of the statue outside St. Ephram's Church
(the one in which a pensive Jesus cradles the twin towers of the World Trade Center) has been viewed a remarkable 10,463 times (as of this morning), while my second most-viewed photo -- of a grocery in Flatlands
-- has garnered 292 hits. Only one other picture tops 100, and the median number of views seems to be around 11 or 12. Weird.
- Retreating Across the River
magazine this week has a feature article
on the "hottest" new neighborhood in the city, which turns out to be – hold on to your hats – Jersey City, New Jersey
. So in an effort to demonstrate my own prescience and urban hipster credentials, maybe this would be a good place to point out that I am apparently a pioneer of sorts, having lived in Jersey City from 1987-1989. Take that, Williamsburgers
! Of course, I lived in a tiny, illegal, $300/month unheated attic apartment in which giant mushrooms would grow out of the bathroom carpet overnight. And it was on Bartholdi Avenue, only a few blocks from the border with Bayonne
, which I'm afraid will probably never be on anyone's list of hottest anything.
Lastly, I'm not quite sure what to make of this story
in yesterday's New York Times
, in which it was reported that British writer and erstwhile self-destructive party boy Will Self
recently walked to his Manhattan hotel from JFK airport
, a trek of over twenty miles (most of it right here in Brooklyn). On one hand, the pedestrian in me can't help but applaud anyone who serves to remind us that there are indeed alternatives to driving, and that the best way to really get a feel for a place is to do so from the ground, making your way along a sidewalk under your own power. And twenty miles, no matter how you look at it, is a serious walk.
On the other hand, Self's new novel, The Book of Dave
, was published just three weeks ago (to mostly positive reviews), and the cynic in me can't help but sniff at what is obviously a publicity stunt (unless, of course, the author just happened to run into a reporter and photographer from the Times
out on Conduit Boulevard somewhere). Self's semi-pretentious and somewhat self-congratulatory proclamations on issues like race and urban geography are certainly entertaining enough (sample: "In the post-industrial age, this is the only form of real exploration left. Anyone can go and see the Ituri pygmy, but how many people have walked all the way from the airport to the city?"), though not as much as the reporter's admiration of the fact that Self actually walked (and against Rick Moody's
advice, too!) through East New York and Brownsville
. This shouldn't really be too surprising, since the author has a history of media-savvy self-promotion
designed to draw attention to him at publication time. Right around the release of 1997's Great Apes
, for instance, Self got himself kicked off British Prime Minister John Major's
airplane for allegedly shooting heroin in the loo, which precipitated a field day among the UK's tabloids -- the clippings of which were thoughtfully included by his publicists in the novel's press kit.
Bottom line: The walk itself was a pretty cool thing to do. Brooklyn is huge, and dense with people and buildings and all kinds of things to look at and think about. And seeing it on your feet is indeed a wonderful way to experience it, especially those neighborhoods which many in the media (and blog world*) regularly ignore. But Self should be wary of appearing a bit full of himself – there are, after all, thousands of walkers, cyclists, joggers, part-time historians, parrot-watchers, street artists, amateur geographers, urban explorers of various stripes, and yes, runners, that already know this.
(That said, I'll also include a sheepish confession: as publicity stunts go this one's apparently quite effective – I kind of want to read his book now. Seriously, after reading the article and a few reviews, I have to admit I'm intrigued. I'll probably wait for the paperback, however.)
*I refuse to use the word "blogosphere," simply on principle.
Okay, enough of my thoughts. Instead, I'll move right on to a few bonus pictures from the last week's runs:
Church on Farragut Road (the same one from yesterday's post, actually)
55th Street and 5th Avenue in Sunset Park
Old advertisement on Flatbush Avenue