Thursday, May 22, 2008

New York. Part 3.

It seemed like the theme of the trip was day of rain leads to a decent day leads to a day of rain. Tuesday was pretty shitty. So I went to the Met. If you're in New York, go to the Met. Don't pay full suggested price though. I did and I felt stupid about it all day. I don't know though. I felt a bit guilty cheaping out on the 20 bucks.

I think you could spend a good couple of weeks just touring the Met. There's so much to see, of so much variety. And it's absolutely filled with beautiful spaces.

You have your classical junk (I'm kidding, of course), which goes on for-ever-and-ever.

You have your modern stuff, which is not quite as expansive a collection as the MOMA, but pretty impressive in it's own right.

And I think the most impressive is the turn of the century European art collection. Oh. Look. A room of Van Goghs.

And a room of Monets.

I got soaked walking home and I didn't think there was any way the ball game was going to happen. We met up at Grand Central, had a beer in the Oyster Bar in the basement and then headed for the game. When we popped out of the subway tunnel it was a fairly nice night. We missed the top of the 1st and, unfortunately (not because I'm a Yankees fan, but just because it would have been nice to see an actual game), the score was already 7-0 before the Yankees even hit. Here's Ruth and Peter.

Here's the view from the cheap seats that I bought. They were supposed to be 35 bucks a pop, but I somehow got them for 5.

We then snuck down to some 80 dollar seats and it was much nicer and warmer.

And a bench clearing fracas ensued and people cheered like you wouldn't believe. There was no punches thrown though. Watching every run across the field from the bullpen to join in was pretty funny.

The ball game itself was actually kind of dull, simply because it was out of reach. But it was still a really fun time. There was so much going on. The peanut guys can throw peanuts about 50 feet up a steep incline and hit a lap with no problem. People busted out a genuine Bronx Cheer for the Yankees on numerous occasions. And, most importantly, I got to see Yankee stadium before it gets torn down. What a fuckin' dump.

I made Ruth wake me up so that I had a full day in New York. I still somehow didn't get out of the house until 11:00. The sun was out so I headed straight to Central Park for my long awaited nap. I can't explain with words how wonderful it is to nap in Central Park. It's this monstrously happy place where everybody gets along. Kids run around playing. People just chilling out. It's fantastic. I had to use a lot of self control to not pick up Lenny's on the way there. I wish I had.

This picture is from last year, but you get the idea.

From there I decided to walk to the Whitney, which kind of sucks as far as New York museums go. They don't let you take pictures so I had to take a few from my pocket just to prove a point.

The permanent collection was fairly small. The Whitney Biennial was on and it took up most of the place. It was okay. There was some pretty cool stuff, and some pretty bizarre shit.

From there, I walked down to Bloomingdales and looked for some pants. Didn't end up buying any pants.

As my day wound to a close, I decided I would hit up the Museum of Natural History for its last hour. It's such a great place. I walked to Columbus Circle and caught the train. Unfortunately...I hopped on an express train that didn't stop for 60 blocks. I ended up in the bottom end of Harlem and decided to walk home.

Now, Harlem isn't actually all that bad a place. However, it's pretty much impossible to grow up with constant TV/Movie reinforcement that Harlem = The place where white people go to get killed, and not feel a little bit on edge. I know, I know. That sounds a bit racist. But I didn't perpetuate the stereotypes, did I? I just allowed my brain to accept them. So I made it out of Harlem and walked by the Seinfeld diner at 112th and Broadway. It's not super exciting.

Then I walked home and packed.

So, Ruth and Peter were flying home on the same flight as me. By the time we got to the airport, things were pretty crazy. Ruth and Peter checked in before me and managed to get seats together. By the time I got to the front there was only middle seats available. Was Cathay Pacific finally failing me?

I went and bought a couple of bottles of booze and approached the counter to see if my seat could get changed. They gave me a window seat and as I boarded the plane, I realized I'd gotten the prime 2nd from the back row seat, where there's 2 instead of 3 and a nice, long aisle up the side of the plane for my legs. Cathay comes through again. Except the woman that sat beside me farted a lot.

So. Now I'm home. How do I feel about that?

Well, I feel a bit inspired and a bit empty. It's hard to visit a place where there's so much going on and not feel a bit empty once you leave.'s also nice to leave a place where you're so obviously a nobody.

For me, the greatest thing about New York is the incredible feeling of discovery with each passing moment. You literally can't turn a corner without discovering something new. I think it would actually be kind of sad to live there and have all these wonderful things turn into pedestrian banalities. I think it's pretty special to be able to visit a place and completely disappear within it for a week at a time.

New York. Part 2

Last year, when I went on my trip, one of my quests was to hit up a Gen-You-Wine New York deli. I ended up eating at Lenny’s a whole bunch. Now, don’t get me wrong, Lenny’s is great. But it’s not super authentic. I was doubly bummed out when Matt went a month or two later and Peter took him to Katz’s. I was jealous. It was a must on this trip.

Sunday was rain. Lots of rain. So our plans for Brooklyn were scrapped and we went to Katz’s. This place is crazy.

First up, when you order, they give you a tiny little helping of meat to get the motor primed for some serious eating. The sandwich was 13 dollars or something like that, which seems a bit crazy, but you definitely have 13 dollars worth of meat on that sandwich. Throw fries into the mix…

I left my rain jacket on as a crude form of bib. And the root beer isn't mine. Peter's looks better than mine.

The look in our eyes is fear.

It took a while for us to hammer through the meal. We all felt pretty crappy afterwards. Nobody really wanted to do anything but I made them take me to Grand Central station. Then, I let Ruth and Peter go on their way and I wandered around the base of the Chrysler building. Grand Central is pretty crazy.

Originally we had planned on meeting up with Ruth’s friend Annie in Brooklyn, but the rain killed it. I was wandering around downtown and Annie texted me, so I decided to head out there for a bit. We ended up getting a bit gassed on Margaritas in Park Slope with a few of her friends, and then hit the rooftop deck at her friends place for Champagne and a bit of a Sunset. It was definitely worth the trip. View the expanded version of this photo and you can just make out the Statue of Liberty in the left-most portion of the skyline.

With a somewhat slow Sunday, I had some serious plans for Monday. There were a lot of things I hadn’t seen and wanted to see, and a few things I needed to see again.

First up,
Central Park. I don’t know how to describe to you how peaceful and calming that park can be. Last year, some of my favourite times were just walking around and having a nap. Unfortunately the weather was a bit of a mixed bag. I sat in my nap spot and ate my Lenny’s and it was time to move on.

I walked through a part of Central Park I’d never seen. This big fountain was pretty interesting and European. All those people you see though? Extras. They were filming some crappy RomCom with Will Arnet, and wouldn’t let me walk around. If I had realized it was the girl from Veronica Mars that was in it, I probably would have hung out a bit longer. I thought about yelling out “I love you Gob!”, but I didn’t.

I decided that I needed to see a bit more Brooklyn than I had up to this point. On my way there, I encountered an interesting phenomenon. As I walked towards the subway with my map in hand, a man with his kid stopped me and asked if everything was okay or if I needed directions. I knew where I was going, I just needed cross streets, so I thanked him and went on my way.

I got to the Subway and none of my maps really detailed
Brooklyn so I wasn’t sure which stop to go to. There were a couple of ladies, dressed nicely with a few kids. They seemed like a safe bet to ask for directions. Holy shit. They wouldn’t even talk to me. They just kept blabbering “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and walked away. Some guy saw this and came over and offered up help. He didn’t really know where I was going either, but it was nice that he asked.

So, on to Dumbo, which everybody seems to be talking about. I think I was in the right place, but it seemed kind of empty. I took a few pictures of
Manhattan and the Brooklyn bridge and then moved on to Brooklyn Heights.

Brooklyn Heights had a very Cosby Show feel to it (which makes sense, as that’s where it was set). It made me want to sit on some stoops and hang out. The promenade gives some nice views of the city and the main street through the middle has some small town feeling shops in it. I also saw a young guy arguing with a squirrel. Like, really getting into it. He challenged it to a fight and threatened to rip its head off.

I decided that I couldn’t come this close to it and not visit hipster central, Williamsburg. Once again, it was off my maps and I had a hard time figuring out where I needed to go. I took a guess that where the “L” Train intersected “G” would be a good bet. I think I nailed it, but I did manage to wander into Green Point a bit. This is the corner of 7th and Bedford, hipster central, just in case the bicycles didn't give it away.

I have to admit that, for a while, I felt a little bit out of my comfort zone. Not that it was scary or anything…it was just so empty. A little bit run down. Not very touristy. And I got a bit lost. I finally wandered out to 7th and Bedford (heart of Williamsburg) and I saw the appeal of the place. It reminds me a bit of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. A few more dive bars, a few less boutiques. I wandered the street and then had to pop in to a dive bar to take a pee. I somehow managed to hit the place L Magazine awarded as Best Dive Bar on the Edge of Hipsterization. Didn’t even mean to.

I stopped at a Whole Foods in
Columbus Circle on the way home so that I could buy some beer. What a gong show. The line-up to pay was wrapped halfway around the store. It moved pretty quickly though. Oh, I saw John Heder shopping for groceries with his wife and kid. He doesn’t look nearly as stupid in real life. I guess he’s filming for the RomCom as well.

I finally made it home and got my pre-drink on for the Titus Andronicus/Los Campesinos! show. It took a few subways to get there. Never ride the J train. What a piece of shit. Especially from
Fulton Street. This other guy was looking for the same train as me. We were both running around like idiots. He’d go up a staircase, I’d go down one. We’d run by each other and compare notes. We finally found it and had to wait 20 minutes for a train.

I rolled into the Bowery Ballroom just as Titus Andronicus was starting up. There’s just kids! The album is super good, but I feel like their live show needs to be left to ripen a bit more. It was enjoyable, but I don’t think I would have hunted out the band on the strength of their live show.

I was pleasantly surprised by Los Campesinos! There album has a pretty strong annoyance factor to it. The female vocals are a bit too sugary. However…live…very good. Super high energy. The vocals are all pushed to the back a bit. And the girls in the band are kind of hot. I will see them when they come to Vancouver. Seeing them twice in a two month span is a far cry from not really wanting to see them at all.

The ride home was no better than the ride there. Maintenance too the "J" train down and we sat there forever waiting for the train. I finally bailed out and bumped into some German dude that was doing the same. I promised him I knew where I was going and was reasonably happy to find a subway station more-or-less where I thought it would be. We had a good chat and was a bit bummed with myself when he displayed the multiple business cards he had scored from girls at the show. He'd even lined up some drinks for the next day. I wasn't that motivated, I guess.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New York. Part 1

So I woke up on Friday and it wasn't very nice out. Actually. It was raining like a MOFO. I found my way to a Lenny's, ate some lunch and then hit the MOMA. I love the MOMA. I love how you just walk around and The Starry Night just pops out and slaps you in the face. Buddy yells at anybody that uses a flash, which is entertaining.

Other than that, The Three Musicians is my favourite Picasso:

My Dad actually painted a version of it and it's hanging above our piano at home. Other than that, the Pollock is pretty crazy:

And the Monet Water Lillies are pretty amazing. Just on sheer size alone.

I know. Pictures of art. Friday didn't contain much beyond that.

So. Saturday. Saturday was a beautiful day with a lot of walking. Started at the Riverside Park which goes all along the river on the west side of Manhattan. You can only see shit like this in New York.

After that, we subwayed to the West Village and then went on a lunch quest through Chinatown. Can Chinese dumplings be beat for value for the money? I think not. Oh. American Apparel T-shirts. I love American Apparel T-shirts. I spill all kinds of shit on them all the time and it just comes right out. Must be all the chemicals and child labour. The dumpling grease came right out.

We ended up over on the east side beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. I never imagined that the Brooklyn Banks would actually be in Manhattan, but there you go. They appear to be over-run by BMXers, which was shockingly strange.

I also figured I should probably insert myself into a photograph at some point and time, so here it is in front of the Brooklyn Bridge.

From there we walked up Wall Street, where everything has a flag on it...

and took a subway to the Flatiron district. Not super exciting.

We were hitting a subway station near Times Square to get home and I made Peter go there. I don't know. It's kind of a ridiculous place, but what are you going to do?

The nighttime took us back to the Flatiron. We went to some lounge with 17 dollar martinis, which is pretty ridiculous. We walked in and there was a set of cute, classy looking girls standing near us. They had to be mid-20's and looked like they belonged in a place with 17 dollar martinis. One of them started faking an orgasm when we walked in and then her friend let out an earth-shaking belch into her boyfriend/brother's face (we couldn't figure out which he was). It was super bizarre and a little disturbing. It made me feel a bit more at home though.

The night carried on for quite a while. We went to this place Pete's which, according to my guidebook has been there since 1864. Then, we went to the Poorhouse which was the site of last years infamous post LCD Soundsystem drunken meltdown. Good times. Good times, indeed.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's all comin' up Dave!

I love New York so much. I think the world is telling me to move here.

Last year, I came for a week visit. Right around the same time as now. Everything worked out perfectly. So perfect. I can't imagine more things falling into my lap. Tickets. Deals on things. Bumped to business class on the way home. It was perfect.

So, I was pretty pumped to be coming back. Although, a little bit bummed that the show situation wasn't going to work out a bit better. Let's see...Islands is next Saturday and it didn't make sense for me to hang around just to see that show. Devotchka is on Tuesday night but I just saw them (and you should too) and I already have Yankee tickets for that night. Les Savy Fav will be playing right around the time I fly out on Wednesday. Black Kids are playing on Monday but I just saw them and it's probably not worth seeing them again (not that they're bad). I was thinking about Los Campesinos! on Monday, but they're a bit annoying, although supposedly good live. Anyhow...

I took one last look at Pollstar this morning before I left. I've been listening to Titus Andronicus a whole bunch over the last week or two and it's a super bad-ass album. they were JUST announced as the openers for the Los Campesinos! show. I hadn't even left Vancouver and shit was working out. I bought a ticket and I'm pumped.

So, I dressed up nicely for the airplane ride and I showed up with 100% certainty that I was going to get bumped up to business class. I had a voucher that would get me into the lounge and I figured a nice smile and not looking like a bum was all I needed. I actually got a little bit depressed halfway through my check-in as it didn't look like it was going to happen. she gave me my ticket, there it was. Business class. I love you Cathay Pacific.

I've been here for 2 hours and I'm super pumped. Peter and Ruth's appartment is massive and I have my own room (for now). I'm really hungry though, not at all tired and I'm kind of locked in as I don't have a set of keys. Oh well.

Here's the view from their window.