Sunday, February 21, 2010

So much more than a coffee mug

This coffee mug is one of the best purchases I've ever made. So much so that after I lost my first one, I made a special trip to Gardenswartz for a new one when I went back to Colorado over winter break.

What's so special about it? you ask. Good question. See, this isn't a coffee mug. It is so much more than a coffee mug. It is a French press WITHIN a coffee mug. 

Being the coffee shop fly that I am, it has saved me a considerable amount of money since I moved to New York. I make my own coffee at home. I take it to school and make it there. I take it to coffee shops and ask for hot water.

From the website:

Big Sky Bistro - The original coffee travel mug from Porter Products. This classic mug boasts a timeless design. The unique plunger offers you excellent coffee and/or tea anytime and anywhere. Especially compatible with outdoor activities such as camping, back-packing, boating and sporting events. Great for the road, the trail, travel, the boat, the office ... anywhere you want a great cup of coffee or tea!
 -Compact and lightweight at only 7.1 ounces
 -Insulated to keep coffee and tea hot longer
 -Fast to use; takes only four minutes
 -Drink directly from the bistro or pour into another cup
 -Makes 16 ounces of perfectly brewed coffee or tea

A number of people have asked me where to get one. I haven't found them for sale anywhere in New York, but you can order your own here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Urban Survival Tip #3

Last night, I saw one of the best shows of my life at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea. The Ryan Montbleau Band, which happens to be one of my favorite bands, opened things up with a set that included most of their feel-good foot-stompers, including one of their best numbers, "Honeymoon Eyes."

The band was cooking. Great solos from the keyboard player and the viola player (yes, viola), and then there was Ryan Montbleau himself, all cool charisma and playful intensity, who just totally rocked the place.

Then. THEN. Oh, man. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took the stage and proceeded to scramble what remained of my functioning brain cells into disbelieving goo.

Trombone Shorty is from New Orleans and almost literally sang with his trombone (and his trumpet, which he plays just as well). This guy's raw ability and presence is absurd. And the band was an exuberant, criminally talented bunch of guys who looked like they would have to lie about their ages to join the military. Seriously, the guitarist looked like he might have been fifteen, and he was shredding like a mini-Hendrix, sparkly shirt and silver jewelry and all.

Most of the crowd was wearing Mardi Gras beads and Saints jerseys, and I don't think I've ever seen an audience so beside themselves. After making me almost die from an overdose of awesome with a cover of "Let's Get It On," the band finished off their epic set with a bring-down-the-house rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" during which they came down onto the floor and played their way out around the room. People were practically weeping.

And get this: I saw all this - at a swankified place in Chelsea where tickets were about 30 bucks a pop, more for VIP tables - for free. I even got a free T-shirt out of it.

And how, you ask, did I manage this? The answer brings me to your third Urban Survival Tip: selling merchandise.

Like many people of limited means, I want to take advantage of all that New York has to offer, but often find myself stymied by how expensive everything is. I can't emphasize enough how much a little research and resourcefulness can pay off if you want to get out and experience some culture. In the last few months, I have seen a free Barefoot Truth show at the Canal Room, free NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players' performances of "Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado" at New York City Center, and then last night what was, again, possibly the best show I've ever seen - all for free. And I just had to sell some T-shirts to do it.

A free show usually isn't the only perk, either. I got to mingle with the actors and musicians. I was invited to an opening night afterparty. Barefoot Truth gave me some free CDs as thanks for helping out. NYGASP even paid me 50 bucks to run the merch table and coordinate the other volunteers one day.

So get on mailing lists of all your favorite bands. Check their websites for upcoming performances and see if they need a hand. Make friends at theaters and ask if they need volunteers.

We could all use a little more awesome in our lives. And FREE awesome is even better.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The List

No, not THAT list. (Bear Grylls and Dave Salmoni, btw.)

Sometimes, if I'm feeling stuck and unmotivated, I like to revisit the list of things I want to do in my life. It feels good to check off the things I've done and add new things that have occurred to me, and it generally reminds me of how much I freaking love life.

Be a ski bum.

Hike for a living.

Get a guitar.

Get a tattoo.

Be a freelance writer.

See the Grand Canyon.

Go to Las Vegas.

Ride a motorcycle.

Go white-water rafting.

Go water skiing.

See the Red Sox win the World Series.

Go to journalism school.

See Saturday Night Live live.

See the Northern Lights.

Go to Burning Man.

Go to Bonnaroo.

Go to Glastonbury Festival.

Road-trip America with my sister.

Go to Mardi Gras.

Get a short story published.

Go sky diving.

Go bungee jumping.

Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.

Run a marathon.

Do Crow pose on top of a precarious rocky mountain at sunrise.

Brew my own beer.

Learn how to surf.

Speak Swahili, Spanish, French, and one other language.

See the Grand Canyon again, with my family.

Own a Subaru with standard transmission.

See Machu Picchu. See Petra. See the Great Wall of China. See the Taj Mahal. See Igauzu Falls. See Ankgor Wat. See the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Backpack Europe. Climb Kilimanjaro. Visit the Galapagos. Scuba dive in Micronesia. Surf in Australia. Snowboard in New Zealand. Visit every state. Visit every continent.

Live and work in Africa.

Work for National Geographic.

Write and publish a novel.

Have a dog. Have ten.

I feel better now!

These scruffy Canadian dudes have a pretty sweet list.