nyc parks 1978

nycparks1978

Six months ago, a park official in NYC cleaning out an office found 2 cardboard boxes that had been sitting around for decades. The boxes contained almost 3000 slides of NYC parks taken in 1978 by NYT staff photographers.

The pictures will be shown at an exhibition at the NYC Parks Arsenal Gallery in May/June. A lot of nostalgia. Kids playing, people enjoying the parks, the 70s fashion. Not a smartphone in sight.

There are comments in the mefi thread from someone hoping for a similar discovery in Chicago. Can I add my wish for London? That was the year we moved to London. It’s 40 years ago, that’s scary.

nycdc trip day 14: lower east side walk to west village

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JC took the train down from Stamford and we met up at the iconic Katz’s deli in the lower east side. Easy crosstown bus ride for me and again, a first. I had the pastrami sandwich and JC had a reuben. Came with a big side plate of pickles. Very yummy. The pastrami was very delicious, no wonder it’s so famous. Expensive, but I’d come again.

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I’d planned a walking tour of the lower east side, around 2 miles brought us back to my apartment. Plenty of breaks in between. First stop was what is now know as the Brown Building at NYU but was the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. A fire there in 1911 killed 146 workers aged 14-43 and led to legislation for better working conditions. JC told me about it, I would never have known.

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A break at Washington Square park to people watch. A pianist played the piano in the middle of the park. A street performer getting ready by painting yellow paint all over himself. An artist drawing something on an easel. Such was weekend life in a NYC park.

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A short walk from the park was Stonewall. I felt like it was a place I should visit. And now I have. I’ve seen people posting about visiting there and feeling part of history and moved to tears etc. I must admit I took a couple of pictures and that was it.

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The real destination was the nearby branch of the big gay ice cream shop. I remember when they were a food truck, tweeting his location to his followers. Now it felt like a branch of haagen-dazs, not much character.

More walking brought us back to the west village. Rested at the apartment with aircon and water break. And during our rest period, we were interrupted by an unexpected visitor of a six-legged variety, argh!!! We got rid of it but I decided I wasn’t going to stay there anymore. JC, bless her heart, used some of her points to get me a room at the Hilton JFK tonight, phew.

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There was still time, so we went to visit the High Line (braving a sudden summer storm) and then to the Spotted Pig for early dinner. We got there at around 5.30pm, left our names and decamped to a bar nearby. Around 30mins later they texted and we were seated shortly afterwards. I had roll mops (::homesick::) and one of the best restaurant fish dishes ever: a black bass with delicately cooked flesh and impossibly crispy skin.

Back to the apartment and I called a Uber to take JC to the train station and me to the JFK hotel. All was well, I was settled into a bug-free room and watching tv. Probably a blessing, so I didn’t have to worry about getting to the airport tomorrow.

nycdc trip day 13: union square, family

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Had time left on the Citibike so cycled to the Flatiron Building for pictures, then a few blocks to Union Square Market. So many things I wanted to buy but couldn’t. Bought one tomato (very expensive, USD2 for one tomato!) and two golden beetroots to take back for Mum to try. Yes, crazy. Got talking with the stallholder at Orange County Distillery who made his own bourbon and single malt. I liked both, but could only buy one. In the end, the novelty of a small batch American single malt whisky (he called it whiskey) won. USD50 for 375ml is expensive. Want to support him though.

Back to the apartment for more laundry and then a trip tip steak for lunch. Like the feather steak, quite tough and I should have cooked it more. Watched MKR on the mba and checked into my flight.

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Met my cousin at the extremely busy corner at 34th and 7th at 4.30pm, rush hour. The train ride back to their house was 1.5hrs and I salute him for doing this every day. We had a nice dinner with his kids and my aunt at the Old Dock Inn. Food was okay, the view was fabulous. They drove me back into the city. It was lovely to see the family, and I need to make sure I see them more often.

nycdc trip day 12: upper east side, central park, cycling

Tired from all the walking, woke up at 10am. Took the subway to 86th, back to my old neighbourhood.

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Brunch at Papaya King on 86th, same as always. Also found a wifi station on the street, so I had wifi for a bit.

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Walked the 10 blocks up to 96th, to see the old building. The place I used to do my grocery shopping is still there. The library is nearby and provided aircon and wifi break.

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Down museum mile past the Guggenheim and towards the Met. There was a guy outside the Met advertising free poetry and when I walked up he was feverishly typing on a typewriter writing a poem for a previous customer. When it was my turn he asked me what I wanted him to write about so I told him that I used to live in New York 15 years ago and this was a sort of nostalgic trip for me. Took him about 10mins to type out a poem for me. He would go into true creative mode, thinking and moving his hands about. I thought it was pretty cool, tipped him $5. Here’s what he wrote:

fifteen years
ago
i began my quest
to climb towering
mountains
with each storied window
reflecting the impossible height i desired

along the concrete
where taxis and subways
ruled the city
defeated i would shrink to the size of pigeons

and every experience
between i gained
private wisdom only new yorkers could achieve

but unfortunately
i begun to unfurl my wings
returning
to this foreign city
(has it been that long)

i retrace my path
and wonder

what the average studio rent is now

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Onto Central Park. Amazingly, it was the first time I’d spent any significant amount of time there. Paid USD12 for a 24hr Citibike pass and cycled around the park. Well marked road, segregating cars, bikes and pedestrians. Only park vehicles allowed so very few cars. I realised just in time that each trip on a Citibike is 30mins, so hurried to return one bike before getting a second one. Didn’t do all of Central Park, but had a good time cycling.

Now at Upper West Side, really thirsty but went first to the Apple Store to use the wifi then to Bed, Bath and Beyond to get a dish drainer for home. Yes, crazy. Finally able to find drinks at a CVS, ahhhh. The plan was to slowly make my way back to the apartment, which meant progressively utilising the Citibike network, first down Columbus and some city streets, then along the Hudson River Park. It was a bit tense cycling in the streets especially the side streets where there were no designated bike lanes. I was careful and got off to walk when I felt unsafe.

There were no free docks at 20th and 16th. Ultimately returned the last bike to the dock at 14th street. Was headed towards Chelsea Market when a tremendous thunderstorm hit. Took almost 20mins, sheltering in a doorway. Then as suddenly as it arrived, it left and the sun came out again.

Dinner was feather steak bought at Chelsea Market. The sinew in the middle made it quite tough, and I should have cooked it more. Lots of flavour though.

nycdc trip day 11: spotted pig, matilda, high line

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Laundry in the morning. About 10mins’ walk towards 14th street ACE stop. Good to take a rest. Visited Myers of Keswick, which sold British goodies like Marmite, brown sauce and pork pies. But no Walkers. Everything three times the price of the UK.

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Lunch at the Spotted Pig. There is no excuse for not going, since it’s 5 mins’ walk away. Beautiful building, all red bricks and plants everywhere.

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I got there just before 12pm when it opened. No reservation so people were milling around. I asked for a bar seat and ordered the burger and their bitter. Their burger is supposed to be the best in town. USD25, not bad price either, for a Michelin-starred place. And it was a great burger: medium rare as I requested, the roquefort really added to the flavour and the shoestring fries had rosemary and garlic in it. I forgave them for not having mayonnaise.

Back to Broadway for Matilda. Saw it in London and wanted to see it again (um, not only because it’s a challenge item in 101.1001). I should have realised that matinée in July = 50 million kids. There were 3 queues to get into the theatre and they all went around the block. I waited near the entrance to allow everyone to get in first, since I knew I had an aisle seat. I was probably the last person in. Luckily the people next to me were fantastic, not part of a group. The group behind was loud and talked throughout the performance, teenagers who should know better. The group in front of me was younger and instead of talking, there was copious fidgeting and standing up. Still, it didn’t detract from the show. I had sort of forgotten the story, and now after a second viewing it’s much more memorable. Lovely songs and performances by all.

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Walked a long, long way to 30th and 12th towards the entrance of the High Line. By the time I got there I was really tired, so I was glad that section had shade from nearby construction. The High Line is a park located on an abandoned elevated railway track and extends all the way to 13th Street. Mostly wildflowers, which added to the charm. Some sections of the track were still visible.

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Left the High Line at Chelsea Market, wasn’t sure where to go for dinner. The seafood, wine and cheese shop made the decision for me: get food to cook myself. Made a nice 4 course dinner: topneck & littleneck clams; kale & spot prawns with kale; small cheeseboard; blackberry & sorbet. Opened the bottle of wine Carleen gave me.

nycdc trip day 10: seaport, 9-11 memorial, fun home

Long day planned, including trying to see a musical if possible.

My friend Brayden gave me a couple of websites in addition to tkts, so I bought a wednesday matinée ticket for Matilda. Aside from completing one of the remaining 101.1001 items, I wanted to see it again, enjoyed it when I saw it in London in 2012.

Headed via subway to the tkts booth at south street seaport, apparently fewer people. Got there 25mins before they opened at 11am and there was already a fairly long line. Helpful staff members were there to answer questions. Looking at the list of available shows, my first choice was Fun Home. The couple in front of me was after Fun Home too. USD82 including fees for a ticket in row A, which probably meant first row.

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Walked around South Street Seaport, where I used to visit a lot. The A&F was still in its location but there are many other changes. Construction too, blocking some of the view of the river.

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Had lunch at Smorgasburg. Unlike the Prospect Park version, it was more like a food court with 6 stalls. Had the lobster roll again. I ordered without fries but they put it there anyway. When I pointed it out they said have it for free. Washed it down with a beer, much needed on a hot day.

By then it was lunch time and I’m glad I’m not in the industry anymore. Millions of people descended on the surrounding areas for lunch. Good thing was there seemed to be an explosion of food trucks. Found a little peace and quiet, and aircon break at the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary near Battery Park. It is also the site of the shrine for Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint. Walked on to Wall Street to see the charging bull (too many people, impossible to take a picture without people).

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More walking brought me to Ground Zero. The first sight was the very tall and very impressive Freedom Tower. Quite awestruck. Where the towers were are now two reflection pools, with names of the victims carved into stone surrounding both pools. Time for reflection and a prayer to remember the victims. 69 people at CF, I still remember the remembrance book that was for some reason in my office. The mood of the visitors felt more like tourists taking selfies, although everyone was respectful, no loud kids running around.

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I also made a point to visit the survivor tree. A volunteer told us the moving story. A callery pear tree was found in the rubble and someone noticed it still had a few leaves. They took it to a nursery in Brooklyn and nursed the tree back to health. When the memorial site was being built, they moved the tree back to the site where it stands between the two pools. Now it’s totally thriving and is a symbol of hope and survival.

Wanted to find 222 Broadway for a pic, walked the wrong way and endup in near City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge and uptown. Too hot and tired to backtrack. Took the subway back to the apartment for a rest. Had early dinner of steak and fennel, meaning I didn’t need to find food near Times Square, always a bonus.

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Times Square was as loud and overwhelming, even more so, that I remembered. Millions of tourists and neon everywhere. It was good to absorb the atmosphere for a bit, then it got too much and I quickly headed to the theatre.

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Yes, definitely first row at Fun Home. It was a circular stage so I was smack bang in front of it. If I stretched my feet out I was already touching the stage. The show was wonderful, the stage setting gave an additional intimacy, it was like we were actually in the antique family house, the funeral home (the “fun home” of the title), the dorm room. So close that I could reach out and touch the actors, and even saw the tape holding their mics behind their necks! I’m glad I caught this one before it closes in September.

nycdc trip day 09: DC to stamford to NYC

I checked into my flight yesterday already but have almost half a day to kill. Saw Carleen off early in the morning as she started her drive home with another friend B. My new friend JC gave me a hotel breakfast voucher so I made plans to have breakfast with her. She was going to drive up to Ptown to spend a few days there before making her drive home to Texas. She suggested that she drove me to New York. Interesting idea. We enjoyed talking with each other, so it would be a nice roadtrip. I cancelled my check-in but wasn’t able to get a refund, ah well.

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So that’s how I ended up driving north with JC. We made good time, taking it leisurely. Didn’t go into Manhattan, she was actually headed to Stamford for the night so I said just head there and I’ll take the train down. Like I used to. What nostalgia, seeing the UBS building for the first time since 2000. Stamford has grown, lots more offices there now. We had a late lunch at a middle-eastern place, a quick drink at the bar next door and I was on the train back to Grand Central with my ex- future-colleagues.

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Took a cab to the airbnb place. West Village / Chelsea / Meatpacking district near 14th street. I was early, the host’s friend was still cleaning up. It’s a nice studio apartment, with a bed, sofa, lots of closet space. Proper kitchen and bathroom. A little grubby, especially the bathroom. No natural light in kitchen or bathroom. No windows in kitchen and bathroom. Definitely not hotel standard. It’s living like a local. Small, I doubt even bbmm will be comfortable there.

Walked to the supermarket two blocks down. On the shopping list was milk and drinks; came back with almost USD60 worth of groceries: fruit, veg, steak, milk, sorbet, water. Hahaha.

nyc gifathon

I have a trip in march and another one in april so too early to think about the summer conference trip. One possibility is to fly in and out of New York. I was reminded to start doing some research when I saw this in adweek.

Animator James Curran made 30 gifs celebrating his 30 days visiting New York which he then put together in a sequence called NYC Gifathon. Some are easy to get, like King Kong on the Empire State Building; some are more personal to him, like eating hamburgers and lifting weights; others are seasonal, like Thanksgiving parade and Black Friday.

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A lot of fun. My favourites are NYC marathon, Little Italy and MoMA.

new york nostalgia

I sometimes humblebrag joke that my career consisted of being sent to various places around the world to play with excel. It had to start someplace, and it was 16 years ago that I went on my first assignment to New York. As a junior intern, it was the epitome of excitement and privilege. I didn’t know what to expect.

New York will forever have a place in my heart as the city where I saw in the millenium. New Year’s Eve I was at a stranger’s roof at a stranger’s party, having gone there with people I just met earlier that day. It was a bit surreal. All I can say about living in New York was, it was an interesting experience, it’s a place where one can very easily disappear and become invisible.

My boss called me as I was leaving so I spent a good many minutes talking to her on the (then swanky) mobile in the lift lobby. My cousin picked me up at JFK and brought me to the serviced apartment I was booked in. I stayed at that serviced apartment for 2 months, then moved to my permanent place at 175 E96th between 2nd and 3rd Ave. It was the first time in my life I rented, but even with the application form filling and not having a credit history it wasn’t as troublesome as it could have been. I was a bit clueless then, and my furniture hadn’t arrived so I moved the suitcases and boxes I had accumulated at the serviced apartment on foot about 3 blocks.

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Reason I chose this apartment was I liked the bright airy feel and the beautiful view over the East River. On a clear day if I looked south from my living room I could see the Empire State Building. From the outside the building was imposing and my first thought was of a large drum. There were a lot of apartments per floor however the beauty of the cylindrical design was no one had to look at a neighbour’s apartment. I tried taping a big “X” on the living room window but it was too small to spot from the street. Hee.

It was only a few minutes’ walk from the subway and shops. My weekend routine would be wake up, read the paper and go to the neighbourhood supermarket run by Spanish speaking Koreans. More shops at 86th Street were only a few bus stops away, and since it’s only 10 blocks, on a nice day I sometimes walked down there. Once or twice I even ventured up past 100th Street in the middle of the day, I kept to the busy roads so I wasn’t that scared.

I did a lot of walking in New York. Some Saturdays I’d visit the Union Square market and then walked all the way down to Chinatown. Or I’d take the bus down to South Street Seaport and walk around there. I’ve always been a bus person because I liked looking out at the scenery, the subway had no view. In those days internet was dial-up. I subscribed to the weekend editions of the NYT and there would be small announcements of where street fairs would be that weekend.

New York was the place I learnt about food. Hours and hours of watching the Food Network and some of the enthusiasm certainly rubbed off. Food was abundant, cheap and portions huge. I thought nothing of having grilled strip steak once a week. The aforementioned Union Square market with fresh fruit & veg stalls, fresh meat and even a wine stall. Visits to the big name fancy food shops like Dean & Deluca and Zabar’s were a special day for me.

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But most of the time I stayed at my little place. I might order $20 worth of Chinese take-out, gorge and then stick the rest in the freezer. When the Razor rage erupted that year I bought one and was happily speeding from the front door to the living room window, it was a good 30ft run. There was only one bedroom so my desk was at the corner of the living room. The only thing I still have is the desk. The chair, the glass cabinet, the iMac and the (gasp) cassette player, all thrown away or donated.

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My assignment was supposed to be 3 years. The office was in Stamford so it was 1.5hrs by train each way every day. Once a week I’d work in the office in the city, which was at the bottom end of Broadway. My global head moved me to Zurich after one year so on 9/11 I wasn’t in NYC anymore. But I could have been.

It wasn’t long enough, one year, to live there. Took me a while to get used to it and I never made any friends. There were places I wanted to visit but I never got round to it. Fortunately in the years to come I’d get a chance to visit the US and eventually had my second US assignment to Chicago. Fewer regrets in life.

 

#67(6) new restaurant in new york

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I went to nobu. I think I can stop writing now, the place speaks for itself. This one, nobu fifty seven, at 57th and Fifth, isn’t one of the michelin-starred locations, so I can’t claim that. I sat at the sushi bar, and had an impressive chef’s selection of sashimi and sushi which the chef made in front of me. Everything was fresh and savour-worthy.

Needing more, I ordered a king salmon nigiri, japanese uni sushi and a salmon skin roll. I would have tried the hot food but I was pretty full already. And mindful of my wallet. The bill, plus a sake, would feed me for 2 weeks. Heehee.

Was it worth the hype? The dishes were indeed good, but I’ve also had fish cheaper and equally fresh. I guess you’re going there for the brand and the location and all that. It’s a special meal type of place.

le relais de venise

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Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote has one dish on its menu:

green salad with walnuts dressed with mustard vinaigrette followed by steak frites, served with a secret recipe sauce

The only decision to make is the heat of the steak and whether to order dessert. The setting is french bistro, and the wait staff write the steak order on the paper tablecloth (“R” for rare). I’d seen this restaurant in London, and once my day finished at a reasonable time I was looking for somewhere to eat. Could have gotten fast food, but at $24.95 it was reasonable.

The salad was nothing special, I ate all 3 pieces of bread that came with. The steak was served sliced, and split into 2 servings. The frites were a little too oily for my liking, but went well with the sauce and the mustard. I ordered a glass of corbieres with the meal.

It was okay to be dining alone. I brought my ereader, and noticed other business diners. Still early so I had a dessert of mont blanc. Ah, memories.

brand new new yorker 1999

Ten years ago today, 29 Sept, I arrived at New York. It was the first time I’d moved from one country to another on my own. Even though I was familiar with Asia and Europe, I was less familiar with the US.

I found this when I was cleaning up my writing stuff earlier. I’d had these scraps of paper with scribbled words for ages and ages. This is what I wrote those first days, most of it for mm. I typed it up unedited.


Brand New New Yorker

29/9
Did I tell you that when I checked in the desk clerk told me that seat 83K wasn’t reserved, but it was available anyway so I took it anyway but it turned out the recline didn’t work! Luckily the seat next to me wasn’t occupied so it was ok, the entire upstairs was only half full anyway. Couldn’t sleep very well, wrong time of day, ate and watched the films — most repeats. The Matrix, Love Letter. What the hell it helps pass the time, quite comfy anyway. Thought about you, did you hear me say good night and to wake you up? Stopped myself from thinking too much about missing you. Soon it’ll hit me that I’m not on vacation, this is for real and going to be for a long time. Busied myself thinking about where to go for your last twentysomething do, and guess what, the west coast isn’t the only place between NY and HK, there’s the whole of Europe! What about Venice or Eastern Europe?

One hour stopover in Vancouver, first time in Canada. Forgotten how pretty things are here, well designed. I know how biased you are against Canadians (Chuey…) so I didn’t get you a souvenir. Still quite tired, sitting at a coffee shop near the gate writing to you after searching in vain for an internet connection. Walked around the duty free places but no concept of how much things are, too tired to convert currencies. Can’t believe how many Asians here, announcements in English Cantonese and Mandarin. Saw logs floating on the river first time with my own eyes. Guess I’ll be using ‘first time’ a lot. It’s 2am HK time, are you asleep yet? I miss you.

30/9
Amazingly I got out in 15mins! Plane landed and we had to wait for the previous plane to vacate the parking space but once we parked I was able to get through Immigration really quickly, no comments or problems. Luggage was one of the first out and nothing at customs either. Ernie was surprised. The apartment is nice inside, can’t believe how much it costs though. A one-bedroom apartment, pretty good size we’ll be quite comfortable even if we both had to stay here. I wish you were here. Neighbourhood seems ok decent, delis, supermarkets, laundries. Bought some pizza and ate back at the apartment. Bought a phone card, prepaid with a dial-in number and an access number. Supposed to be cheaper than using the phone here. I called Mum and of course I called you, want to tell you everything but now I can’t really put words into how I’m seeing things. Lots of TV channels but not sure what is on, far too confusing for someone like me who’s used to only 4 channels plus a few on cable. Went to bed at around 11pm but woke up twice. Woke up at 7-ish couldn’t sleep more. Watched TV and read the newspaper. Raining this morning but it got sunnier later. Quiet street here not many people around.

2/10
Forced by necessity and that sense of expectation to venture out of the relative familiarity of the apartment. Promised my grandma and aunt and cousin I’d visit them, so had to go take the subway (including buying a stored value ticket) and getting a monthly train pass. All so strange, such a long time ago that I took a train. Walked from Times Square to Penn Station with the sun in my eyes, felt like a tourist yet wasn’t a tourist. Had a salad in a deli salad bar, keep adding to the places I’d take you when you come visit. Trains all over the world are so alike, buy ticket, go to platform, give ticket to conductor, change trains, avoid dozing off. Suburbs everywhere also the same, just the size varies and the names on the storefront different. But the same mentality people go through the same motions.


I never wrote more. It took me about 4 weeks to find my eventual apartment on E96th, and that weekend of moving everything on foot was an experience I’d rather never go through again. New York was lonely, I was never very happy there. I never got any visitors, not mm, not my parents, because not quite 1 year after I arrived, I got pulled out to Zurich. I guess this is why I’m so grateful for this second chance in Chicago.

new york — rockefeller, airport

i fell asleep the second the lights went out last night, and slept all the way through to almost 8am. We checked out of the b&b, returned to the breakfast place from yesterday, and headed out to Rockefeller Plaza. I didn’t know about the top of the rock observation deck, it was great! Panoramic view of central park and a closeup the empire state building.

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Outside at the plaza I spied a Teuscher store. Sigh. Memories. I had to get their champagne truffles even though they’re like almost $5 apiece.

then it was time to return to the b&b and head out to the airport. we called Ali again, and he in his imitable way brought us to LGA quickly and humorously. I took Car into the AA lounge until it was time for her flight. we were on different airlines for the return to chicago. the weather in NYC had been great all weekend, which didn’t prepare us for the delays — the weather in Chicago was grotty, and air traffic control at ORD was controlling flights coming in. This means my flight originally at 5.30pm was delayed until 7.30pm. I was lucky that I was in the lounge in a comfortable sofa and free drinks. Once we boarded the plane, they pushed us out quickly but we had to sit on the tarmac for 20mins waiting for our takeoff slot.

In the end I got back to PT after 10pm. I’d originally planned to go grocery shopping, but that was no good. Shopping and laundry will have to wait till tomorrow.
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new york — ellis island, ym6 party

i’m in nyc this weekend, to meet up with car and bobbi and to attend a launch event. got in last night after an uneventful flight to LGA. We’re staying at chelsea pines inn at w14th and 8th — the meatpacking district. it’s a great little b&b, with rooms named after hollywood stars. we were in the George Nader room, except I have no clue who George Nader was.

woke up early, after a restless night. the b&b has a nice kitchen with a simple continential breakfast. We wanted a real breakfast instead so we walked over to this very nice place. i had waffle with ham, which i scarfed down at record speed. i was pretty hungry, having only had snacks at the ORD lounge, and the remains of a beef sandwich when I arrived at the b&b.

After breakfast we taxied down to Battery Park to catch the ferry. The queue was long cos of the nice day, lots of tourists, and security check. This meant we had time to check out the sights and sounds — street vendors, buskers, the Korean war memorial.

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We didn’t alight at the statue of liberty, the view from the boat was nice enough. I’ve never been to Ellis Island, and was impressed with the museum. Unlike some other visitors, i don’t have the emotional connection of “my great-grandparents came through here when they immigrated from the old country” though i can understand how it can be moving. (Except that my great-grandmother probably did come through here when she arrived in the US and then ended up in Providence, RI where my grandmother was born.) The small exhibit on the ground floor was the most impressive, with visual exhibits showing immigration trends.

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Back on shore, we walked the 10mins or so to Ground Zero. It’d been fenced over, even more so than my last nyc visit, and there wasn’t much to see. The memorial wall seemed a little sad and temporary, perhaps the idea is that it goes on the new buildings when and if they are completed. With the amount of interest in the site, i’m surprised there isn’t an observation platform or something like that. Yes, it’s tacky to treat this place like any other tourist destination, but it can be done with dignity and for visitors to have a more substantial experience. It’s important.

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We were tired after that, so we taxied it back to the b&b to relax for a bit. There’s snacks and hot drinks available at all time in the kitchen as well as free wifi, a change from business hotels i tend to find myself staying. Originally we were going to take a bus to NJ, but wisely decided to call a car instead. it wouldn’t have cost that much more than a taxi and a bus, and miles more convenient. We were attending the launch party for yuri monogatari 6, a graphic novel series. The party was at rareflix.com store at the Secaucus outlet NJ. Very hard to find place, and to add to the confusion, it’d moved. Credit to our driver who stuck with us and was determined to find it. A lesser driver would have just abandoned us somewhere in the general vicinity.

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I’m not a big consumer of comics and graphic novels. I feel like I should get into them more, but haven’t been able to. That’s one of the reasons I was looking forward to this trip. The party was low-keyed and casual. We looked around the store, including in the back where there was a horror set. Pretty soon the contributors arrived and started signing. For sone reason they all had to wear purple and white feather boas, i guess to distinguish them from non-authors? i dunno, it was fun anyway. We were there primarily to support JD, who also writes books, is in a band, is super smart and all round cool person. The evening ended far too early at 10-ish (and that’s saying something). we called Ali, our driver, and he took us back to the b&b.

We hadn’t had dinner, so we ran across the road and got pizza. I had a slice of bbq chicken, it was perfect for the time and place.

dos caminos

nycaminosques

The convention finished at 4pm-ish, then we got on a van that took us to the Hilton, our group is staying there for a night. We walked to dos camiinos on 3rd for dinner. I had grilled shrimp quesadilla and 3 margaritas.

It feels good to be back in NYC. Yes I was miserable when I lived here, but I’m different now. Our van driver dropped us off at the side door of the hotel and some people in my group were complaining and whining. I just shrugged it off. It’s New York, he’s a New Yorker, get over it.

wtc

I watched the trailer for World Trade Center the film. I didn’t think I would be affected, not after so many years, not after so many other tragedies and atrocities. But I had goosebumps all through.

Watch the trailer:
Apple
youtube

My NYC hotel room overlooked ground zero. Every day we walked past the site to get to the office. There are always people there peering over the fencing and taking pictures. The PATH station is fully operational of course, but everything around is still a big construction site. This is from my room, click for the larger version at flickr.

ny002wtc

ny restaurants

It was all eating all the time in NYC. Some of the restaurants we visited:

ROC — cosy-posh Italian restaurant. We shared appetizers — watermelon salad, octopus, fried calamari. I had the special, a sea bass, but it wasn’t that good. My colleague gave me one of her lamb chops, it was pretty good.

City Hall — modern steak/seafood place. We sat outside, which was fine. We shared a seafood platter as starter and I had a sirloin for main course. Asked for rare but it came back medium rare / medium. It was okay but I could have cooked it better. Rice pudding dessert, which completely filled me up. Had a zinfandel and a glass of ice wine too.

Sparks — wow. steakhouse supreme. I like it better than the City Hall. Dark wood panels, white shirted waiters, steaks the size of Austria. The menu was a 4 page open up card, and food only made up one page, the rest were wine. I had a sirloin, which was rare as requested and almost 2 inches thick. We should have ordered the lobster, it comes on a trolley, the waiter dresses it in front of the guests and the size of it is again amazing. It’s the sort of place you expect to see cigar-smoking, gun-toting, pinstripe-suited gangsters, and a mafia boss was killed in front of the restaurant about 20 years ago.

Oh, aside from that, the food at the office wasn’t bad. There’s a subsidised cafeteria and Starbucks coffee there is only 81 cents.

new york

Early morning flight to JFK. Had to check-in at the airport because it’s a US flight and they’re always special, like the Americans always think of themselves as special. Had an hour in the lounge, ate lots of breakfast, even before I got on the plane, hehe.

Flight was okay. I like the type of seats where the backs are fixed so the seat in front of me doesn’t move back when the passenger leans back. These lie-back seats are also much nicer and obviously flatter. I stand by my assertion that leg room is one of the most important factors in flight comfort. I also appreciate how the leg rest is almost horizontal.

Food was fine as usual, I had chicken. In business class they have different selections and I had a cabernet from Columbia winery from Washington State, the first time I’ve tried wine from northwest US.

Watched V for Vendetta (cool comic action), Ultraviolet (not as good comic action), She’s the Man (modern high school / football equivalent of Twelfth Night) and an episode of House. The 15 hours passed fairly quickly, even though I only slept for about 3 hours.

At the Millenium Hilton, which overlooks Ground Zero, next to Century 21 and convenient for work and food. Watched the World Cup Final, happy that Italy won, but I didn’t really have any preference. For dinner went with colleagues to Little Italy where people were out celebrating in force. Good atmosphere and perfect for people watching. The food took forever to arrive, we shared a pizza, large pasta and antipasto selection. Afterwards we had ice cream from a street vendor.

By the time I got back to the hotel it was around 9pm. Very tired. Going to bed, it’s 10.30pm.

New York

Brand New New Yorker.

New York will forever have a place in my heart as the city where I saw in the millenium. New Year’s Eve I was at a stranger’s roof at a stranger’s party, having gone there with people I just met earlier that day. It was a bit surreal. All I can say about living in New York was, it was an interesting experience, it’s a place where one can very easily disappear and become invisible.

It was the first time in my life I rented, but even with the application form filling and not having a credit history it wasn’t as troublesome as it could have been. Saw about a dozen apartments before deciding on this one at 96th Street. I lived in a temporary apartment a few blocks away initially, perhaps familiarity with the immediate area was a factor. Dunno.

the big drum can be seen all the way from 86th

Reason I chose this one was I liked the bright airy feel and the beautiful view over the East River. From the outside the building was imposing and my first thought was of a large drum. There were a lot of apartments per floor however the beauty of the cylindrical design was no one had to look at a neighbour’s apartment. I tried taping a big “X” on the living room window but it was too small to spot from the street. Hee.

It was only a few minutes’ walk from the subway and shops. My weekend routine would be wake up, read the paper and go to the neighbourhood supermarket run by Spanish speaking Koreans. More shops at 86th Street were only a few bus stops away, and since it’s only 10 blocks, on a nice day I sometimes walked down there. Once or twice I even ventured up past 100th Street in the middle of the day, I kept to the busy roads so I wasn’t that scared.

I did a lot of walking in New York. Some Saturdays I’d visit the Union Square market and then walked all the way down to Chinatown. Or I’d take the bus down to South Street Seaport and walk around there. I’ve always been a bus person because I liked looking out at the scenery, the subway had no view.

New York was the place I learnt about food. Hours and hours of watching the Food Network and some of the enthusiasm certainly rubbed off. Food was abundant, cheap and portions huge. I thought nothing of having grilled strip steak once a week. The aforementioned Union Square market with fresh fruit & veg stalls, fresh meat and even a wine stall. Visits to the big name fancy food shops like Dean & Deluca and Zabar’s were a special day for me.

But most of the time I stayed at my little abode. I might order $20 worth of Chinese take-out, gorge and then stick the rest in the freezer. When the Razor rage erupted that year I bought one and was happily speeding from the front door to the living room window, it was a good 30ft run.

monterey floor plan

living roommakeshift study

 

living room view

Did I mention how much I liked the sunlight coming through the whole apartment all day? The view wasn’t bad either, I could see the Triboro Bridge which was a sight during the day and at night.

On a clear day if I looked south from my living room I could see the Empire State Building.

1999 09 new york

nyshirt

Not a lot to show for a year in New York. Some random memories:

Riding on the subway and trying to study the people without directly looking at them. The subway is only dangerous in certain sections and at certain hours. Otherwise it’s convenient. Have to remember locals vs express. A monthly metrocard allows unlimited travel on subway and buses.

Taking the bus across central park. Taking the bus all the way from the Upper East side to South Street Seaport. Loads to see on the way.

streetbbq

Weekend street fairs. Check in the NY Times for locations. Whole blocks of the street would be blocked off and lots of stalls to rummage around. Selling houseware, linens, spices, books, T-shirts. All sorts of food stalls. $1 per minute massages.

peculiarpub

The Oyster Bar at Grand Central. Big gulp smoothie at Penn station. Hot dogs and juice at Papaya King.

nytruck

Look up and be in awe of the amazing architecture. The brownstones, the modern apartment blocks, the landmarks.

The first time I saw professional dog walkers, this teeny girl had like 12 dogs with her.

Observation deck, World Trade Center. Gone.

New Year’s Eve. Times Square. The ball. How can anyone for get the ball? Oh hey it wasn’t just New Year’s Eve, it was the turn of the millenium.

Driving out of town. To New Jersey. Connecticut. Long Island.

nycop