Day 1: bright sun, cloudless sky, 75 degrees, no humidity
My cab driver told me that apartments in Midtown – 1 bedroom – start at about $2,500 per month. He lives in Brooklyn. The week before my visit, the UN was in session or doing some of their serious Business and traffic was terrible for all the cab drivers. He sat in one block for 20 minutes without moving while ambassadors and presidents moved through in their special envoys. He would like to take a day off, maybe to enjoy the weather, but can’t afford to. He pays the same amount to the cab company every month, whether he’s working or not. They don’t care if the car is sitting out in Brooklyn or moving through the streets of Manhattan picking up fares – they charge the same. He seemed very wistful, thinking of having a day off. I said, “Do you ever get tired of sitting in traffic?” and he laughed. “Sometimes,” he said.
Lunch at a thai place around the corner from the Distrikt (my cab driver pointed out to me that they spelled the name wrong). Tofu, veggies and rice and some sauce that was so good I wanted to lick the plate.
The High Line, a chocolate croissant from a French bakery, Washington Square. A man covered in pigeons there, even on his head. Of course he is a known quantity, I didn’t have to search very hard. I think the guy filming the video below is a real asshole (his fave TV show is Family Guy) but just keep focusing on the birds and how they are swarming Pigeon Guy. The conversation is actually kind of sad though.
Pearl Oyster Bar for lobster roll followed by a show at Upright Citizens Brigade that included the musical stylings of Reggie Watts, who opened for Conan O’Brien when he did his show in Mpls this past summer.
Day 2: bright sun, small white clouds, 75 degrees
Ate breakfast on Central Park South at Sarabeth’s (lemon ricotta pancakes and tea) and wandered through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum to look at paintings. My favorite was Van Gogh’s Oleanders because of the use of color. That green background! Here, I ripped it off from some other site so you can see it, although it’s not nearly so brilliant as it is in person.
Had a martini on top of the Met and looked at Big Bambu, the sculpture of bamboo on the rooftop. Also watched a couple stand in the middle of the rooftop patio and make out. Which brings me to an interesting aside – I saw a lot of making out in NYC. On the subway, on the sidewalk, at restaurants, at the museum. It was kind of refreshing, actually, and probably helped these people pass the time. What else to do when you’ve got a long subway ride from Midtown to Brooklyn? And it was nice to see such open displays of affection when you come from a land where holding hands in public, the question of whether or not to do it, can be a big discussion, much less kissing, much less making out. I mean tongue here, people. That doesn’t happen often in MN in public. Maybe, maybe at the food court at the MOA but that’s pretty much it.
Walked over to see the Guggenheim – stood in the lobby, sweating and looking up at the spiral because there is only so much art one can take in during a day. Left and went to the MOMA store but didn’t buy any of their cute/clever wares. Decision overload. Will have to go to MOMA the next visit. It was a free Friday night there and the line went on and on and on and the thought of being sandwiched in there after walking all day was more than we could take. Tried going to Momofuku Noodle Bar but it was another wait and maybe noodles are noodles in the end so we went across the street to another sushi/noodle place and got right in, which maybe isn’t the point but I kind of suspect that a lot of these places that make it into the guide books are overrated just a tad. Just a tad! Our dinner was good and I finished it before my head hit the plate.
Day 3: sunny, clear skies, 75 to 80 degrees
Took subway down to Battery Park. Well, as close as we could get to Battery Park since the subway line was suddenly closed for weekend repairs and we had to get on a free shuttle bus to finish the journey. Oh, but before we got the shuttle we went into Tribeca and had breakfast at Locanda Verde (best French toast ever consumed) and saw John Kerry hanging out at the curb in front talking to some people who may or may not have been relatives.
The purpose of the journey down to the south was to go to Ellis Island and the museum there but the crowds were unbelievable and the wait just to get on the ferry to go out there was an hour and a half. Of standing in line. Doing nothing. So we ditched it, much to my disappointment because I was ready to learn about the immigrants who came to this country, made it great and whose descendants now want to keep anyone else from doing the same. Just kidding! Sort of.
Side note: much of seeing New York is setting out with a plan and then ditching that plan and doing something else and, if you can do this well, you will enjoy the city.
Wall Street. Stock Exchange, Brooklyn Bridge (saw the worst hair style I’ve ever seen – a dreadlocks mullet with beads – tried to take a pic), shopping at aforementioned Uniqlo, TopShop, etc etc. There was a male model at Hollister hired to stand around and show off his D’Angelo shelf. Discovered that subway line we needed was closed down and had to walk, walk, walk, creating our own Trail of Tears through Chinatown and the sidewalks were so crowded, so full of people, that I had to keep reminding myself not to freak out. Do not freak out.
Dinner at Hell’s Kitchen. Keith asked if it’s cool or lame to have a restaurant named Hell’s Kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen and I’m still not sure of the answer but I loved the guacamole and the pineapple margarita and the guys having dinner next to us.
Guy 1: “I mean, who wears just a sweater vest? I don’t care how great of shape you’re in. How hard is it to go out and buy a V-neck t-shirt?”
Guy 2: “I went to this wedding, it was supposed to be so chic and designed and upscale and when I got there and sat down to dinner there was trout on the menu. You can’t make trout chic.”
Guy 1: “I could see maybe mahi mahi, but not trout.”
Guy 2: “They tried to dress it up by putting mushrooms on top of it…”
Guy 1: “There’s no way to dress up trout.”
And after putting some thought into it, I believe he’s right.
At a restaurant and bar called Marseilles, I watched some Eastern European/Russian thugs and their trashy ladies come into the bar, leave, get called back in by some other guy and then leave with a guy they took out of the bar. The guy they “took” looked very distressed. One of the thugs kept his hand on him the entire time they were on the sidewalk out front, saying farewell to the trashy ladies and then they led him away. The guy looked kinda scared. But this may all have been my imagination. Maybe they were off for an evening of Scattegories.
Day 4: sunny, a bit cooler, cloudless sky, 65 degrees
Up early for a chocolate croissant and tea before standing in the TKTS line for matinee tickets to the new show Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. I loved it! Many people did not. I thought it was funny and smart but then I’m not a true fan of Broadway. The thought of sitting through something like West Side Story or Cats or Wicked does not appeal.
It was worth going to B.B.A.J. just to experience the set decoration – masses of red lights, taxidermied animals, a (fake) horse strung up by its legs, chandeliers, oil paintings, antiques, costumes that were like Forever 21 meets costume museum…
We also ate pizza on the steps of the NY Public Library, went to a kick-ass bookstore, walked, walked, walked, had dinner at the vegetarian restaurant Zen Palate where Keith ate the Wheel of Dharma in record time and I ate the Braided Tapestry and then had shakes for dessert. We headed over to Rockefeller Center to go up to the observation deck (and to see where the Today Show magic takes place and it was not magical at all. So tiny! The set so… nothing great. It diminishes my opinion of Al Roker.), which I thought might be lame but was mistaken. If you can forgive the stupid intro they make you go through where they tell you that NBC is God’s gift to the world and trot out a video of Brian Williams, it’s the best thing to be up there at night.
Farewell, NYC. Until we meet again. I hope someone comes by to pick that microwave that looked like someone used it to heat up shit, which then exploded, off the curb. And to the businessmen who were almost run down by our taxi as we sped through the streets on our way to La Guardia – I saw your lives flash before my eyes and they weren’t that interesting. You need to find a new line of work.