Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lady! Handbag? Handbag? Purse? Purse?

From yesterday's AM New York:

By Lauren Johnston

Just hours after the NYPD seized more than $1 million in counterfeit goods in Chinatown Tuesday, merchants were back on the street peddling the knock-off designer purses and high-end watches that attract swarms of shoppers each week.

"Rolexes, Rolexes half price," the unfazed hawkers murmured at passersby Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. with officers just out of earshot.

"Are you shopping today, sweetie?" one vendor asked a reporter. "I've got watches and purses. Only Louie (Vuitton) today. You see they closed it down today – one, two, three, four," he said pointing across Canal Street at the shuttered shops .

"I can give you Louis Vuitton right now," said another peddler, smiling as he tapped a plywood crate in front his padlocked store.

The bogus bags were ready for sale – including a $250 knock off of the designer's $1,900 dog carrier.

Bargain hunters also remained undaunted.

"As long as they aren't selling stolen bags I don't see anything wrong with it," said Kim Bowman, a North Carolina tourist.

"I'm shopping for a teenager, so I'm not going to spend $1,000 on a watch," said another shopper who refused to give his name.

For years police periodically have swooped down on the so-called Counterfeit Triangle – the area ringed by Walker, Canal and Center streets.

"When they come down and take your merchandise, that's a low blow. They're taking your business away," said another seller.

That's also the argument that officials and designers make against these illegal vendors.

"Counterfeit goods cheat the city, consumers, legitimate business owners, and trademark holders and their proliferation is standing in the way of the revitalization of Chinatown," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

A two-month investigation culminated with Tuesday's raid in which NYPD officers confiscated fake Coach, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Prada, Rolex, Fendi and Burberry items, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, adding that no arrests were made.

The city also won a temporary restraining order to shutter 32 illegal stores. The owners must pay steep fines and replace each property with a legitimate business before they can reopen, city officials said.

Since 2003 authorities have shut down 23 knock-off locations, seized $60 million in fake goods and collected $1.5 million in fines from counterfeiters, according to City Hall.

Tuesday's sting earned kudos from Rolex, which thanked the city for "recognizing the pervasive crime of trademark counterfeiting and stepping up to the plate."

The merchants, however, vowed that a fresh supply of Coach and Prada goods would be available Wednesday.

"Sometimes you make, sometimes you lose. That's the business, it's a business," one said with a smile.
Guess I'll stick with my ultimate brandname: Target (say it Frenchlike and it sounds even better)

Monday, February 25, 2008


I can't decide if I'm impressed or disgusted, or both.

On the way home from work tonight, I saw a middle-aged man rolling through traffic on South End Ave on a razor scooter. This, in and of itself, isn't all that unusual. This man, however, had the lip of a paper Starbucks cup trapped between his teeth AND was typing an email on his blackberry.

An accident waiting to happen? Yes. (Take your pick of accidents, really. I pictured car/scooter accidents, scalding coffee on the face accidents, and email typo faux pas, all happening within seconds of each other.)

Was I jealous of his multi-tasking abilities? Also yes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How I Noticed the Details

It was snowing as we walked to school yesterday morning. Not the blowing, sharp, icy snow that I grew up with near Lake Michigan, but big, fluffy flakes that landed softly and coated our shoulders and hats in feathery white. It hasn't snowed much this winter, and certainly we haven't had the chance to ramble through the snow the way we did yesterday morning.

The snow insulated the sounds of our commute, muffled them enough that I noticed details which are normally hidden behind the audible assaults of the city.
I noticed, then,

How I held my breath when I walked through the steam bursting from the manhole on Greenwich Street.

How we had to stop 6 times in order to allow Jonathan to emerge from his snow daydreams and catch up with us.

How I smiled my thanks to the man who greeted the three of us with a, "Good Morning, Angels!"

How the toe of my right boot lets in the wet.

How I gauged our timeliness based upon where in the route we met The Man Who Walks His Giant German Shepherd every morning.

How the corner deli smelled like burnt toast.

How thankful I was for the beauty of those big, white flakes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How I Spent My Weekend

iMovie '08 plus Leopard plus a vision event for City Fellowship Church equals:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

American Idol

Watching American Idol with Steve is

(Yes, this is the same man who once said, "This show would be really good, if it weren't for all the singing.")

A For Instance:
On the show, a young man waits anxiously for his chance to sing, dances in a little nervous circle, and tearfully trembles, "This is everything. This is everything. I don't know what I'll do if I don't make it through."

And Steve says,
"Well, that's your first problem, guy. It's not everything. It's nowhere near everything."

I can't see Steve being asked to be part of a Fox American Idol focus group anytime soon, can you?
Then again, maybe thirty-something lawyers turned pastors/fathers of two are not the target audience for this show, in the first place.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Of Dreams and Interpretations of Dreams

It was the culmination of months of hard work--
Line memorizing
Costume crafting
Prop compiling

But it all came together in 2 sold out performances (well, almost sold out. if they had been selling tickets, that is)-- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as performed by thirty 6-14 year olds. It was something to behold, and it was an extra colorful treat to have my mom, sister, and nephews fly out to witness Chloe's stage debut.

Speaking of dreams,
I had the oddest dream last night.
Tell me what it means:

Our family was visiting Peter Frampton's (what in the world. Peter Frampton?) lake home. While we were there, I suddenly remembered that Chloe had listened to Peter Frampton's greatest hits when she was 2 and had drawn a number of artistic works that were inspired by his music. I was desperate to show them to Mr. Frampton, so I searched the house up and down and found them--in the trapdoor that was in the living room floor, of course. When I pulled the pictures up from their hideaway, I was pleased to see that I had laminated them all at some point. Then we all went tubing behind the boat. Peter drove, his hair blowing in the wind.

The end.

Dear me. I may be a little bit afraid of what that means.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl, Super Pics

That's some super intense football watching, folks.

And some su(o)per tasty chili.

With super creative drawings at halftime (that's James' depiction of No Doubt, just in case you had some. Doubt, that is.)

Super Fun

It was a first for me last night, being in a Winning Sports City. Grand Rapids wasn't big enough to have professional sports (really, the Whitecaps and The Griffins just aren't the same, and you know it), and Detroit was too far away for me to appreciate the win, and that's assuming they ever won, and I don't know that they ever did. (Here's where I get lots of angry emails from Lions, Tigers, and Pistons fans.)

The shouts of triumph literally echoed down the streets of the Financial District last night as Steve and I walked home from CFC's Super City Fellowship Bowl (pics to follow later). The weather was relatively mild, and people meandered home, shouting very articulate things to each other as they passed, like, "WooHOO!" and "Yee!" and "Gogiants!" It was great, and I'm glad I was part of it. Even if I never watched a stitch of Giants football prior to last night.

And, in case you were wondering, here's my vote for the best commercial of the evening.

She's awesome.

PS - Did you notice how a good number of the commercials last night were just plain odd? What's up with badgers in the backseat and walking hearts (as in, the actual organ)? Or how about that terrible Salesgenie ad with the pandas?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I'm the Expert

My hit counter tells me how many people visit Grace in the City each day, where they're coming from, how long they're staying--interesting little tidbits like that. It also shows me what Google or other search engine searches have led them here. There are two searches that show up almost every day:

1. "the cost of a gallon of milk in New York City"
(Remember when I crabbed about how much it cost?)


2. "the largest college campus in the world"
(Back in the day, I compared New York to a college campus.)

Glad I can provide some "expert" information on these topics.

I suspect that the people from Argentina, Germany, and Idaho who recently visited my blog in search of answers to those questions may have been slightly disappointed. Or perhaps they were pleasantly surprised? (Excuse me while I delude myself for a moment.)