Games of 2013: FIFA 14

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. As I have been doing in recent history, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting about one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2013 posts.

FIFA 14

It’s sort of an annual tradition at this point that I’m posting something about FIFA during this series of posts. It’s hard to not – FIFA is, for better or worse, the only series that marries my two major hobbies into some sort of weird parallel world.

It’s where I spent something like 250 games (admittedly in FIFA 13) constantly battling against DCist soccer editor Pablo Maurer, finding every interesting permutation and rivalry we could manage to fight through season after season of online friendlies.

It’s where I found myself at the FIFA 14 launch party, focusing on the game instead of numerous hired dancers in MLS jerseys that were strangely dancing with towels. It’s the moment where Tim Cahill (yes, [that Tim Cahill](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2013/07/the-bearded-face-of-a-media-villain.php)) came over and gave the group of local RBNY reports some handshakes and remarked how he was worried about his marquee match against Drake (yes, that Drake) because he had been practicing on the PS3 and the event only had Xboxes. Just ponder that for a second: one of the most famous footballers from Australia is worried about being able to adapt to a different controller. (P.S.: [Cahill won](http://gothamist.com/2013/09/24/cahill_drake_fifa_14.php).)

It’s where I finally found my way into Believe FC, the NeoGAF virtual club, where fine European gents nicknamed Cola and Quiche and Bacon (not sure why they’re all food) battle tirelessly for cups and promotion. It’s so riotously fun, that even when a 5-2 lead turns into a 7-6 loss and the entire group practically ragequits, everyone’s still back at it the next day having another go.

EA Sports FIFA is a gaming institution. And while 14 suffers from spanning a console generation (last-gen feels about the same as 13, next-gen is rough around the edges), it’s still required playing for anyone who likes sports and video games.

FIFA 14 is available on the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Games of 2013: Battrix Floating Continent

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. As I have been doing in recent history, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting about one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2013 posts.

Battrix Floating Continent

The genre of the RPG is in an odd state these days. As someone who grew up with 60+ hour slogs through SNES era Final Fantasy games, I know these games are becoming less and less frequent. With mobile platforms on the ascendancy, casual RPGs are becoming more frequent, but many get bogged down with freemium mechanics. So that balance – an RPG with some length and depth, that fits into current platforms without indulging in the more anti-consumer practices – is a tough one to strike.

The closest I’ve found (and it’s by no means perfect) is **Battrix Floating Continent**. Done by Opus Studio, who brought the world another great RPG twist with *Half Minute Hero*, Battrix starts with you having just a single square on an expansive world map. To claim a new tile of the map, you fight off monsters in a tap-focused battle system. Towns get discovered, mechanics get mixed up, weapons level up and get upgraded, and eventually the map starts to pull itself together. It’s like any other RPG, just…mobile, I suppose.

It became my perfect subway commute game for a good chunk of the year, and anything I can sink an hour into every morning for a solid month is worth mentioning in this series. RPG fans might want to poke at this one a bit.

*Battrix Floating Continent is [available for iOS](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/battrix-floating-continent/id521959688?mt=8) for free.*

Games of 2013: The Typing Of The Dead Overkill

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. As I have been doing in recent history, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting about one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2013 posts.

The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill

When I was in the 4th grade, I was subjected to my first school class that included typing lessons. This was the golden age of software that taught people how to type, when Mavis Beacon was queen. Our instructor, who’s name I’ve long since forgotten, put us all in front of whatever piece of software it was and told us to get to work, promising a week of free school lunch if anyone could break 72 words per minute.

It may have been the first time in my life I ever smirked when I called him over and showed him an 85 WPM on the drill. And boy, did those free lunches taste *good*.

That was 20 years ago; I still type at a ridiculous speed, but that era of typing tools long since dried up.

But this year saw the remarkable release of Sega’s The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill. The sequel to the original Typing Of The Dead – a game that married a light gun zombie game with a typing tutor – was literally a surprise release: no one knew it was in development, let alone that it was coming out. (As it turned out, it had survived an apocalypse of its own.)

This time, the foul-mouthed grindhouse-tinged HOTD reboot from a few years back is shoehorned onto fast typing action. Type a phrase (“SICK AND TIRED”), take down a zombie. That grindhouse style – where F-bombs and poor innuendos are dropped nearly every sentence during cut scenes – is not for everyone, and it does wear thin. Kill Screen declared it to be “either a surrealist masterpiece or absolute garbage“.

But to have a modern game where my somewhat absurd typing ability directly converts into gaming expertise? I’ll take it.

The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill is available for the PC.

Games of 2013: QuizUp

I’ve spent a lot of time in 2013 playing games, but not a lot of time writing about them. As I have been doing in recent history, I’d like to tell some stories or share some thoughts about the ones that meant the most to me this year. I’ll be posting about one a day until Christmas. See all Games of 2013 posts.

QuizUp

[Last year's series](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2012/12/games-of-2012-super-hexagon.php) started in a car with coworkers; this year’s shall as well. These series always tend to start with a game that does one thing fairly well; this year’s shall as well.

We were piled in a rental car today, making the lengthy journey from New York City to Ithaca for a work trip. The miles started to drag across Route 17 as the afternoon wore on.

One member of my team, wondered aloud: “Man, I wish we had a multiplayer game or something.”

I didn’t need to pause to think of a good option – I spat out [QuizUp](http://quizup.com/) almost immediately.

It is a weird sort of situation that while mobile platforms are becoming increasingly known for *social gaming*, it’s become less about direct gameplay with a small group of others, and more about nebulous MMO-like elements in whatever the latest Farmville clone is.

QuizUp is a very cleanly designed two-player quiz game. Seven questions, all multiple choice, with response time determining the points awarded. Get more points, win the match. It has a very well-maintained layer of polish (the animations), clever little addictive nudges (a per-category experience system), and generally works very well, even over a cellular connection.

The only place QuizUp needs improvement is in integrating existing friends back into the game’s friends system, where it occasionally struggles to understand that I shouldn’t have to invite someone I’m already GameCenter friends with to play.

Small concern aside, it’s the best the trivia game I’ve played in a while, and perfect for long rides in the back of the car. Check it out.

[QuizUp](http://quizup.com/) is available for free on the [App Store](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/quizup-biggest-trivia-game/id718421443?mt=8&uo=4). An Android version is planned.

Open Wide For Some Sideblogging

Many months ago, some friend of mine in DC – Pablo, Seth, and Thomas – decided to start recording a DC United podcast. Named after a famous Simpsons bit, Open Wide For Some Soccer was born.

DC United’s season went to absolute shit, setting records for futility. Being the type who is always there to pile on with numbers, a segment developed entitled “Sad Stats”, where DC’s record was put in context with sad music playing in the background. I loved this segment so much that I started compiling Sad Stats, and making multiple appearances as the “official Sadistician”.

With the offseason starting, there was a general decision that maybe the OWFSS needed to dominate more media, so now there is a Tumblr.

We [do Power Rankings for the league's narratives](http://owfss.tumblr.com/tagged/narrative-power-rankings).

We [made fun of a Forbes article](http://owfss.tumblr.com/post/67662516749/exclusive-the-math-behind-forbes-mls-team-valuations) – and every team in the league.

We [made fun of the league's awards](http://owfss.tumblr.com/post/67467585335/exclusive-mls-internationals-shine-in-ludanto-de-la).

We [give out an award for weekly excellence](http://owfss.tumblr.com/tagged/long-tan-of-the-week), named after an obscure Chinese player.

And so on. So if you’re looking for more wit from me, head on over there.

Moments With Mike

It’s a brisk day in March 2011, and I’m in Harrison. And I am *terrified*.

It was my first ever team event for the Red Bulls – and not merely a team event, but Media Day. I didn’t know what Media Day was when I accepted the invite from my friends at Gothamist, but I had figured it out early that morning and it sent me into colon lock. I thought it was a press conference; instead, it was a free for all where you walk up to whoever and ask whatever.

There’s Thierry Henry, world football legend. There’s Rafa Marquez, who at the time wasn’t a complete villain. There’s Juan Agudelo, just back from scoring with the national team. Here’s me, barely six months into following the team, trying to look like a sports journalist. I was a disaster.

I head toward the coaches – and after weighing my options, I went to Mike Petke. Petke, the local boy. Petke, who had just retired from the club he loved. Petke, who had been given the (seemingly honorary) title of “Individual Development Coach” in the front office like so many retired MLS players do.

I threw him a softball question – the only kind I had, having never interviewed anyone before – about the Parks Department donation announcement. (I thought this was the main focus of the event; it certainly wasn’t.) As I flubbed my way through my first ever team interview, Mike didn’t look at me funny, didn’t put me down – just answered the questions kindly.

Quickly running out of material, I recall the [two](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4R7zYrSF50) [videos](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS53Cj4zoxw) about him trying to adjust to front office life, and asked if we should expect him to show up in any other team videos. This time, he laughed – and gave me an answer that was more prescient than either of us knew at the time:

“Hey, you never know where I’ll pop up.”

It’s a warm wet day in June 2011, and I’m in Portland.

It’s the weekend of the first RBNY-Portland match. I’ve [written about this trip before](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2011/06/so-about-that-portlandrbny-tilt.php), but there’s one story I left off.

At one point, feeling rather emboldened by being in the team hotel as a fan (I hasn’t yet fully crossed to media), I figure – maybe I can take advantage of this a little bit more than just random collisions. I try to think of who on the team is on Twitter – and there aren’t many at that point.

But there was, of course, Mike, now an Assistant Coach with the team. So I tweet at Petke, offering to buy him a drink in the hotel bar. But I never hear back, and it didn’t really cross my mind again. We did see him after the game, and he gave Katie a big hug and me a handshake.

Two weeks later, I’m digging around on Twitter, and click over to Petke’s timeline. And then I realize why I never heard back from him: because he mangled the tweet and the mention never hit my timeline:

Petke joked this year that he didn’t know how to get his phone to stop beeping when he got mentioned on Twitter. Social media isn’t his thing.

jeldwen_2013

It’s a rainy evening in March 2013, and I’m in Portland. It’s the weekend of First Kick, and New York is again away at Portland.

Not two months earlier, Petke was named head coach – a surprise, given that the typical set of also-ran European names had been thrown around. And on the eve of his first match running the franchise, I am again in the team hotel, waiting for Mike with [Matt Doyle](http://twitter.com/MLS_Analyst) and [Jeff Carlisle](http://twitter.com/JeffreyCarlisle). He’s running a little late.

Finally, he steps out of the elevator – and as he’s getting introduced to us, he gives me what seems like a smile of recognition. It throws me a little. “*Why would he remember me?*” I wonder.

This time, the questions come a little more naturally to me, having been doing these sorts of interviews for a year and having a much better knowledge of the team. I ask about continued crazy matches between RBNY and Portland. I try to catch him with a question about Tyler Ruthven, who had seemingly won back his contract after being terminated at the end of 2012, but then was suddenly on the outside looking in.

Mike just smiled. He nearly always smiles when taking media questions, whether he likes the question or he doesn’t. He handled them well enough (especially the Ruthven question), but I could tell he was a little nervous going into his first match. A little wound up.

I head back up to our room to find Katie so we can have dinner, but she’s not there. I switch my phone back on, and there’s a text from her, from just before Petke appeared, to the effect of:

“Just ran into Petke. He’s on his way up to see you now.”

Of course, *of course*, Katie would find him before I would.

It’s a lukewarm morning in October 2013, and I’m in Harrison.

It’s this past Saturday, the final weekend of the regular season. The Red Bulls have one game left on Sunday against Chicago – win, and they bring home their first championship in their 18 year history. Lose or draw, and unless other results went their way, it would be the same old story for the club.

It’s the final regular season practice, at Red Bull Arena, and I’m the only member of the media in attendance. (Full media availability was the day before, so there’s less appeal for media attendance.) But I’m not there primarily for interviews – I’m mostly there to get a sense for how the team felt rolling into their last game of the season, the one that might deliver them a trophy.

They were relaxed. They were joking and having fun. They were working, but it was a different air than I had ever seen the team in.

I ask for Mike for an interview, and then there I am, again alone, putting my microphone in his face. Mike had refused to talk for weeks about the chance of winning a trophy until they got into the playoffs – and even after locking a playoff spot, he was nervous to talk about it. So I tried for a different angle:

“When you look back over your career, in terms of anticipation, where does tomorrow night rank for you?”

He laughs. He gives Brian Tsao, the team communications director, a look that pretty clearly reads “Can you believe this guy?”

I try, poorly, to clarify: “Not asking about jinxing it, just – how much are you anticipating it?”

“Listen,” Mike says. “I anticipate – I’ve anticipated – I anticipated every game. I get wound up for every game. That’s exactly how I’ll answer that. This is 90 minutes, three points, that’s what we need.”

I don’t push further. He’s said more than enough.

It’s a cool evening in October 2013, and I’m in Harrison.

If you [read my coverage](http://gothamist.com/2013/10/28/18_years_1_cup_red_bulls_win_the_20.php), you know how this ends. The Red Bulls give up a goal to a former player, sending a wave of familiar dread through the stadium. Then [Thierry Henry scores a golazo](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKkrjgoCROM). [Ibrahim Sekagya scores a goal-line scramble](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diROrzU0uwo). [Lloyd Sam scores a beauty](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwCH3Fe8SE4). [Eric Alexander goes one-on-one and wins.](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO0SqQjJXO8). [Jonny Steele scores with ease](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYrKZWt-ENc). Five unanswered goals from five different players. The margin is so big, Chicago scores a consolation goal and the crowd barely notices.

The final whistle blows. The stadium doesn’t so much roar as it lets out an excited sigh of relief, that the team has finally ripped off the label of Never Won Anything. A few seats down from me, Dan Ryazansky – who runs Metrofanatic.com, which has meticulously chronicled 18 years of club futility – is beside himself, half in tears, half smiling. The Supporters Shield, snuck into Red Bull Arena secretly by a group of supporters just in case, appears near the South Ward, and it is hoisted again and again. Petke dedicates the win to the crowd, apologizes to his wife, and promises his kids the best off-season ever if they can give him just five more games – he’s already focused on the playoffs.

This moment obviously wasn’t mine alone. I shared it with everyone else in the stadium that night. But it was certainly *the* moment, so far.

I’m not a “96er”, like [Mark](http://www.empireofsoccer.com/fishkin-winning-the-shield-and-what-it-means-to-me/) or [Miguel](http://www.thevipersnest.com/2013/10/oh-ya-beauteh.html). I was there in 1996, missing the [Curse of Caricola](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFTjjLQs65o) by a single game, but then I wouldn’t return for 14 years. I spent a year and a half as a fan, and then the last two years as a member of the media that was (perhaps not so secretly) hoping this team would finally win. And now they have, under Mike’s wound-up heart-on-his-sleeve leadership.

When I considered my trajectory with the team – from casual fan, to season ticket holder, to media noob, to occasionally being the only beat reporter at practice – I realized this week that Mike has pretty much been there for each and every step I took. More than any player, he’s the one that’s most represents the connection I have to the club. And that’s even after I missed most of his playing days.

It’s great to see the Red Bulls finally put something in the trophy case. But to have Mike be the one that lead them to it means so much more: to the club, to the players, to the supporters, and yes, to me.

So congrats, Mike. To be honest with you? You’ve earned this.

NYC 10: The Best

Last month marked 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

New Yorkers are generally stereotyped by being rude; in truth, they’re just strongly opinionated. With that in mind, here are a number of things I am right about, in alphabetical order.

The best Apple Store in NYC is [West 14th Street](http://www.apple.com/retail/west14thstreet/), as it is rarely crowded or busy.

Inside Chinatown Fair

The best arcade is [Chinatown Fair](http://www.chinatownfair.biz/), although this is mostly because it’s the *only* arcade worth a damn at this point. It’s lost something since its hole-in-the-wall years (as pictured above), but it still has a good selection of music games and a couple fighters.

King Henry's Road NW3

The best bar in NYC is [The Dead Rabbit](http://www.deadrabbitnyc.com/). Busy Irish pub downstairs, crazy speakeasy cocktails upstairs. If you’re downstairs, get the Irish Coffee; if you’re upstairs, get the Ginger Daisy.

The best barbecue in NYC is [Mighty Quinn's](http://mightyquinnsbbq.com/). The brisket and pulled pork is unreal.

The best coffee in NYC – and this is, admittedly, a very tough pick – is the Iced Latte at [Cafe Grumpy](http://cafegrumpy.com/). Any Stumptown or Blue Bottle location is also acceptable.

The Troll 2 Experience

The best comedy venue in NYC is [UCB Theatre](http://www.ucbtheatre.com/). I’ve seen Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, Bobby Moynihan, Julie Klausner, and plenty of others build their careers there.

The best doughnut in NYC can be found at [Doughnut Plant](http://doughnutplant.com/). I am partial to the Vanilla Bean & Blackberry.

Schnitzel & Things Line at 12:08

The best food truck in NYC is [Schnitzel And Things](http://www.schnitzelandthings.com/). Chicken platter, fries and cukes, spicy mayo.

The best fried chicken in NYC is [Hill Country Chicken](http://www.hillcountrychicken.com/). Eat downstairs. Don’t skip the pie.

The best lobster roll in NYC is [Luke's Lobster](http://lukeslobster.com/). Practically perfect.

The best mocha in NYC (which is very different from best coffee) is at [Lucid Cafe](https://plus.google.com/102173295987998834106/about?gl=us&hl=en). I don’t know how they make it but it is downright magical.

The best movie theatre in NYC is Regal Battery Park Stadium 11. Somehow, it is still a secret, despite everyone I know agreeing on this point.

The Cloisters

The best museum in NYC is [The Cloisters](http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/visit-the-cloisters), not because it’s got a particularly vibrant collection or strong curation, but because it is so far out of the way that you don’t feel like you’re in the biggest city in the world.

The best music store in NYC, and the best place to buy movies, is [Kim's Video and Music](http://www.mondokims.com/). I miss their old location, but they are vital for DVD and vinyl collectors.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sakura Field

The best park in NYC is the [Brooklyn Botanic Garden](http://www.bbg.org/), especially in the spring.

The best pizza in NYC is at [Motorino](http://www.motorinopizza.com/).

The best ramen in NYC is at [Hide-Chan Ramen](http://hidechanramen.com/). You get a free topping Monday through Wednesday. Get extra pork.

The best overall restaurant in NYC – and by “overall”, I mean balancing the service and quality of food against price – is [Gramercy Tavern](http://gramercytavern.com/). I have a solo lunch here every year on my birthday, and it’s where we go on our anniversary. Yes, Per Se is gorgeous, and Le Bernardin does amazing things with seafood, and I eat at North End Grill every week – but Gramercy just hits this balance of everything so well that it’s a solid level above the rest.

Gallow Green

The best rooftop bar in NYC is [Gallow Green](http://mckittrickhotel.com/gallowgreen/). Gorgeous in the summer. Yes, it’s expensive – it’s a rooftop bar. That’s how these things work.

The best sandwich in NYC is the prime rib sandwich at [the Rosticceria inside of Eataly](http://www.eataly.com/rosticceria). This is a sandwich I come into the city for on my days off. It’s only available until about 5 PM, so plan accordingly.

The best subway line is the N. While I take the E every day because of its copious cell signal coverage (and that its the best choice for my commute), it’s hard to beat the path the N cuts diagonally across the island.

The best sushi in NYC is at [15 East](http://15eastrestaurant.com/). Be forewarned, it’s expensive – sitting at the counter for lunch is the best way to try it.

The best video game store is [Video Games New York](http://videogamesnewyork.com/). The shelves are legendary, and sometimes pricey, but their selection is unmatched.

NYC 10: The 10 Worst Types Of People In NYC

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

Tourists. Not all tourists; just those who fail to understand that the city may not operate in the same way their hometown does, and then opt to get huffy about it. (These are the ones always complaining about how rude NYC residents are.)

People who don’t move in to the center of a subway car when there’s a mass of people on the platform.

Those who walk by a giant line for something, ask what the line is for, and then respond with “Oh.” Were you going to get in this massive line if it was some really compelling thing? No, you weren’t. Keep walking.

People on subways platforms who shout at people in the train to move into the center of the car when there’s no room.

Grifters. I have run into two in my life. One I dodged, one I did not.

People who cut their fingernails on the subway.

Food cart vendors who seem to be unable to do anything other than burn the hell out of chestnuts, leaving whatever street they’re on smelling of burning death.

Those who stand to the left on any escalator.

Stand-up comedians in Times Square who, in a desperate attempt to hand out free tickets so they get stage time, ask everyone they see “Hey, do you guys like comedy?”

But the worst people in all of New York City, the lowest of the low? The leeches who stand around Ground Zero and sell “NEVER FORGET” souvenir magazines to unsuspecting tourists. It is the most literal profiting off of a tragedy I have ever seen, and it is disgusting.

NYC 10: A Guide To Taxis

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

First. Find a corner where no one else is looking for a taxi. You don’t want to be that asshole that stands in front of someone who’s been trying desperately to hail a cab for ages, as they will complain about you for hours. Hours. If you’re feeling charitable, walk with traffic for a block before attempting to hail.

Second. Look for an available cab. Stare at the medallion number on top of the cab. If it is lit up, it is available; if it is not lit up, it is not available. Use this information to guide you in the next section.

Third. As an available cab becomes visible, or if a large swarm of traffic comes your way, put your arm that is closest to the street up at a 45-degree angle. (There is no specific thing you need to do with your hand, but I like a two-finger point, myself.) If no cab stops and no other cabs are visible, you may drop your hand until the next wave of traffic comes – although if you see someone else lurking for a cab, you may wish to continue the Hailing Gesture to indicate that this territory is yours and they need to go elsewhere, lest you complain about them for hours.

Fourth. When a cab does stop, quickly enter it. Do not ask the cabbie through the window if he will take you somewhere, because if you have to ask, he will immediately say no and drive off, which is legal because you didn’t get in the cab before telling him you wanted to go to Queens. If you have a suitcase or luggage, the driver may pop the trunk for you. (Note that if you have luggage and you aren’t going to the airport, they will grumble.) Do not get in a black towncar or a gypsy cab if they attempt to pick you up, as that’s illegal. If a pedi-cab (those guys on bicycles) try to pick you up, scoff loud enough for them to hear you.

Fifth. Now inside the taxi, indicate clearly to your driver where you wish to go. Unless you are going to a major landmark, give a cross-street. Do not give building numbers as it doesn’t help. Enunciate clearly all numbers, indicate what type of street it is, and repeat any multi-digit street numbers using just digits, so as to avoid confusion between similar sounding numbers. And be polite.

BAD INSTRUCTIONS: “51st and Lex.”
GOOD INSTRUCTIONS: “Fifty first Street and Lexington Avenue, please. Five one.”

Sixth. Tap the Taxi TV screen in the lower right corner to turn it off. Do not sit and watch Sandy Kenyon’s terrible movie reviews. Don’t worry, the screen will turn back on at the end if you’re paying credit.

Seventh. Relax, but retain a general sense of where you’re supposed to be going and where you are actually going. Traffic, street fairs, accidents, and that weird things where all the cops park on the same street at once (seriously, what is up with that?) may cause your cabbie to redirect. This is natural; going twenty blocks the wrong direction is not. If you detect the driver is going too far the wrong way, provide helpful feedback, such as: “Hey, buddy, are we going the right way? I said (repeat destination clearly).” If you are not familiar with the city geographic, you can turn the Taxi TV back on and put it on GPS mode.

Eighth. You have arrived! Pay the driver. Cash is king, but credit cards are accepted in all cabs. Tip nicely (at least 20%) because driving a taxi is not the easiest way to make a living. Get out on the side closest to the curb. If someone nearby was waiting for a cab, hold the door for them as they get in and close it behind them for an extra touch of class.

And that is how you take a taxi.

NYC 10: Concerts

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

LCD Soundsystem

If my blog archives are to be trusted, within the first two weeks of being in NYC, I had found my way to my first concert (Paul Van Dyk at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square) and my first book event (Neal Stephenson at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square for the release of Quicksilver: Volume One). Both were free, letting me get in very close contact with two artists that I had a deep love for almost immediately after arriving in my new home.

As a first hit, that was one hell of a drug.

New York is constantly busy with events, so much so that there’s no possible way that you will ever attend all, let alone most, of the things you might be interested in. I tried, lacking any better judgement, to do them all for a couple of years, before growing too old/too tired/too annoyed to keep that up.

Concerts are particularly tough. Plenty of concerts start way too late: regardless of day of the week, main acts for rock shows tend to go on around 10 and DJ sets are lucky if they start by 2AM. NYC is dotted with venues with shitty sight lines, crowds are ill-mannered, expensive drinks, and bathrooms that are indescribably bad.

But every now and then, you get that one really really great show, and your faith is restored, at least for a little while. And being in the Media Capital Of The World, most every band you will ever want to see will come to town at some point.

With all that in mind, some high points and low points of concerts I’ve attended in NYC.

THE ABSOLUTE BEST SHOW I’VE EVER BEEN TO AND PROBABLY WILL EVER GO TO

LCD Soundsystem’s final show at MSG, easily. You can grab the documentary of the show easily enough, and it’s worth watching, but James Murphy’s drive to churn out three of the best dance (and I mean that in the actual-music-that-makes-you-want-to-dance sense, not the unn-tsst-brostep-or-generic-trance sense) albums of the 2000’s turned his band’s final show into something unforgettable. It was an almost painfully long set, emotional to be in the audience of, and one of those shows that was truly a “had to be there” experience.

THE SECOND BEST SHOW I’VE EVER BEEN TO AND THE FALLBACK SHOULD I EVER START HATING LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, WHICH WON’T HAPPEN BUT I NEEDED TO CONTEXTUALIZE THIS SOMEHOW

Daft Punk at the Cyclones Stadium on Coney Island. This was the heyday of the Alive tour, with the pyramid and the mashups and the blowing of minds. An outdoor show with perfect weather, with the set just hitting its peak as the sun went down, and a perfect light show – it was magical.

THE SHOW THAT MOST MADE MY SIXTEEN YEAR OLD SELF HAPPY, AND THUS RUINED MY FUTURE ENJOYMENT OF THE BAND IN QUESTION

I have had three opportunities to see Nine Inch Nails play in NYC. The first, a fairly regular show at MSG in support of their 2000-era albums, was alright but perhaps a touch forgettable.

The second show came during the “retirement” tour, and as we crammed into Webster Hall in August of 2009, we were treated to the thing I would have most wanted when I first discovered Trent Reznor: a concert of The Downward Spiral, sequentially from Mr. Self Destruct all the way through to Hurt. It was beautiful, and perfect, and even as the band played stuff off the other albums to cover the second hour of the show, it was sort of set in my mind that when it came to the formative band of my angsty teenage years, it wasn’t going to get better than that.

The third opportunity is in a month or two. And it is an opportunity I’ve passed on, because after I’ve seen you on a retirement tour – especially one where you do wish fulfillment the likes of which that Webster Hall show managed – you’re off my desired ticket list. It’s not getting better than that.

BEST SHORT NOTICE SHOW

LCD Soundsystem again, this time for the show announced a day before it happened for Music Hall of Williamsburg. A tune up before the This Is Happening tour, where most of the new songs were played for the first time. Great small crowd, the band was in high spirits, and it was like a meeting of the LCD Fanclub, since you had to act really quick to have made it in.

WORST SHOW

Chemical Brothers, Hammerstein Ballroom. Half due to the guy drugged out of his mind who kept trying to squeeze in front of us when we were standing at the barricade, who ended up getting removed by security because he wouldn’t stop being a complete jackass.

But beyond him: such a shitty DJ set. Sure, the video display was kind of neat, but it was basically a “push play and then spent the night waving your arms in the air” sort of a night.

Struggling with the dark and responding to the light.