We had one of the most amazing weekends in New York City.  We had one very long and exciting day in Manhattan/Queens and another in Brooklyn with friends.  I was in Manhattan giving a presentation and decided to stay for the weekend, so Amber flew out and we started our tiresome adventure.  We visited many friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our in “the other city”.

New York Times

A friend at the New York Times invited us both on a tour of their Manhattan building and the printing/production facility in Queens.  Familiar with large companies an their clandestine operations was thrown out the window as both buildings are clearly emblazoned with the company name across the side.  I’m an avid NYTimes reader and have so many fond memories reading the Sunday edition with Amber at Herb’s (no longer there) in Noe Valley.  It sounds so hipster, but memories I strongly enjoy.

The Manhattan office of the New York Times is the first entirely ‘green’ building in the city.  The building itself is entirely customizable.  There are window shades that automatically open and close as the sun moves to keep the building cool.  The lighting system will adjust to the specific needs of each department or office.  There are ventilation ducts throughout the building to enable a seamless flow of air.  The artistic nature of the building is reflected in the art pieces that decorate the hallways.  From the flat screen monitors projecting daily images from the paper itself to the Italian leather furniture the interior is something to behold.  Each floor matches the ethos of that department.  For example, the fashion floor is covered in fashion photos from the Times Magazine; the book review department has desks stacked high with submissions and copies of the OED; the science section has even more books including copies of every field of scientific research.  It’s a culture that enables the employees to live and work in their famous building.

From there we went to the printing facility in Queens.  The innocuous exterior does not reflect the almost surgical precision happening inside.  Upon entering we walked through (literally) the printing presses from start to finish and marveled at the miles of special track they have for moving thousands of newspapers efficiently.  When warming up the presses they may print a few thousand papers just to make sure the alignment of the colors and printing is correct.  They showed us special codes on the paper that show what press it originated from and how many times that page was updated.  There are even special dots on the front page that depict what edition of that day’s paper it is.  The de Vinci code of the NYTimes!

The paper starts in a 9 story warehouse that looks more like the door storage facility from Monster’s Inc. than anything else.  Robotic arms move 1.5 ton rolls of paper onto a conveyor belt that unmanned robots lift and load onto the presses.  We were able to walk among these robots as they moved and maneuvered around us as if secretly guided by invisible beings.  The paper is then run through the presses, different sizes depending on what pages of the paper are being printed.  It’s not until fully printed that the paper is cut and folded.  At top speed these machines can print 85,000 papers per hour – that is not pages, but entire papers!  Some papers are printed on the evening before distribution, but thicker ones such as the beloved Sunday edition are too big for one run.  Instead part of the paper (i.e. book review section) is printed early and held in reserve on massive wheels.  These reserve sections will be inserted into the rest of the paper when it is finally printed.  All of this is done by massive machines and miles-upon-miles of track that move the papers throughout the factory floor.

Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon

The following day we stayed with friends in Brooklyn.  They are extreme kung-fu fans and got us seats to an open air showing of Bruce Lee’s movie Enter the Dragon.  This was one of the many open air movies showing in Prospect Park.  It was nice having friends who could hook us up with VIP passes meaning we had access to the beer tent and, most importantly, had a seat for the screening.  As the movie began, even in the opening credits, the audience cheered over and over.  I could tell there was something different about this screening but didn’t catch on quite as quick as most.  The music was new, updated and could not have possibly have been part of the original score.  It was not.

At this special screening Karsh Kale was mixing a new and updated live score.  In addition Soh Daiko was on stage drumming.  It has to be the most amazing version of any kung-fu movie I have ever seen.  The music matched each scene and reflected the intonation and intent of the original soundtrack.  I left there with a new appreciation for this movie.