Some of my boys from college proposed a big New York weekend a while back, when they found out the UW would be playing Duke at the Madison Square Garden. In the end, only a few of us could actually make it, and the game turned out to be awful.
It did turn out, however, to be a great weekend of catching up with New York friends. I stayed with Fancy S and Belgie, who are awesome, lest I don’t say it enough.
So I own a sock-monkey hat, which people are very impressed with. I remember watching Harry Potter and seeing Luna Lovegood’s enchanted lion hat. What is the point, I thought, of NOT owning a goofy animal hat?
Seriously? Are there drawbacks? Head: warm. ears: warm. Onlookers: impressed.
Fancy S agreed, to the extent that she bought herself a sock monkey hat at a booth on St. Mark’s. She was happy! And warm! And halfway down the street, a little black girl walking with her mama tells Fancy S, “I like your hat!”
I didn’t have too many food objectives when I went to New York, but I did want to get a lox bagel from Pick-a-Bagel. Here’s a photo from my memory… So I made my way down to Battery Park City, past the WTC (Freedom Tower is going up nicely, finally) and got to Pick-a-Bagel, and it was CLOSED FOR RENOVATION. Guh.
Now by this time my left knee was stiff; all that New York walking. And to compensate for the left knee, my right ankle was getting all stiff as well. So I was moving slow.
Add to that, hungry, and disappointed that my favorite bagel place was closed. My phone told me that Shake Shake was around the corner, in the old Lili’s Noodle spot. So I got myself a shack burger with cheesy fries, cheese on the side. It was ok.
I walked by the Whiskey Tavern on Saturday, but it was packed with dozens of slutty and douchey Santas. Apparently Saturday was Santacon, which is a shit show. Sunday, however, was Santa-free, and when I walked into the Whiskey Tavern, Rob immediately greeted me from behind the bar. A few minutes later, another bartender was finishing a conversation he was having with another customer, exclaiming, “I almost made out with that guy!” indicating Rob. I looked him in the eye and said, “yah, I can see the appeal.” The other customer laughed into his beer.
Then the bartender shook his head, despondent, saying “the other day I saw him with his shirt off….” Rob was nowhere in sight, so this performance was for our benefit.
Next thing I know, Rob is sitting next to me, shaking my hand, commiserating with me about SantaCon. Even when I was living in Manhattan, I was only an occasional customer over a span of about four months (March Madness until I moved away in June). Then I was gone for a year and a half, and here’s Rob, shaking my hand, remembering my name.
Rob came by a little later, to say goodbye, asked if I’d be around when he came back from his errand. I doubt it, I said, but it was great to see you again. I finished my drink, chatted with the other bartenders… and there was a moment when we were all throwing ice cubes into another customer’s cleavage. I ordered a pickleback for old times’ sake, and it was delicious. When I went to settle my tab, they told me nope, the pickleback was on Rob.
This man keeps buying me a drinks! Is he trying to get me into bed? It’s probably not going to work… probably… I’d definitely help him move, or pick him up from the airport. I told another bartender, a younger guy, about the man-crush I was developing for Rob, and he said, “yah, get in line!” shaking his head in frustration.
The next day, I couldn’t resist, I went back for another pickleback before my flight. Rob teased me about showing up two days in a row, and about my sore leg, saying I was out of New York shape. He was impressed by my thank-you gifts for Fancy S and the Belgie… I had bought some asian pears, persimmons, and a dragon fruit on Bowery.
The asian pears were bigger than my fists, and so were the persimmons. I was practicing my Chinese with the vendor: four persimmons, four pears, and a dragon fruit. Four of these? he asked… and four of these? And four dragon fruit?
No no, I said, one dragon fruit.
Oh, he said, oh good. I was gonna say, four dragon fruit is pretty 厉害。 “厉害” (lìhai) is a funny word, it means something like “intense, hard-core,” or as my kiwi friends would say “full-on.” It made me wonder if dragon fruit had some kind of erotic properties. In any case, I only bought them one.
There are other stories to tell about my weekend in Manhattan, and some to keep to myself. I’m not sure when I’ll make it back, but I hope it’s soon. I’m definitely a Seattlite, and even if my career takes off and I can live the jetsetting lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of having, I’m sure I will stay in the 206. But I sure would love to spend some more time in New York.
This is the third and final installment of my retrospective series of slideshows from my life in New York City. Hope you enjoy it!
Music: You Go To My Head; Oscar Peterson meets Louis Armstrong.
Here’s a video of some of my photos from July to November 2009.
- Locations: Shanghai, Seattle, Las Vegas, New York City.
- Music: American Boy by Estelle
I will probably have two more photo mashup videos coming out in the next few days, and should have another one after my big road trip.
Speaking of the road trip, some more details are falling into place:
- My mama might ride along from Las Vegas to San Francisco, overnight stop in Mammoth Lakes.
- Three nights in San Francisco with cowsins; mama flies home to Vegas.
- Solo trip to Sacramento, stay at G’s place over night.
- Open road the next morning with G, up the Pacific Coast; stop when we get tired.
- Late lunch in Portland with G’s friends
- Arrive in Olympia.
Haven’t yet decided if I’ll spend that night in Seattle or Olympia. G flies back to Sacramento after the weekend; me, I’m back in Seattle to start work again.
It’s been an amazing 3 year adventure since I left Seattle; I intend to make this last leg of the journey as epic as possible.
I lived in Manhattan for 11 months, and I got to know a few spots. 11 months is not nearly enough to build any kind of definitive list, but it’s my list.
Whiskey Tavern I love this bar. I first came here for an Unfogged meetup; I came back for a Husky Basketball game and was introduced to the pickleback by Rob, bartender/owner. The place is right in Chinatown, next to the city jail. In fact, when folks are released from jail and interviewed by local news, the Whiskey Tavern is usually in the background. The drinks are stiff, everybody knows my name, and there’s lovely courtyard seating in the back.
Mudville 9 Saloon This was my neighborhood bar in Tribeca; it was our 206 Mondays bar for a while. Look out for towers of beer, and firehouse fries with bacon.
Rattle & Hum This is a UW Huskey bar in Murray Hill. Lot’s of local beers, good pub food.
Japas 38 My friends took me here for my 37th birthday. The private karaoke room with a big plate of fritanga was fun; the bar was even funner.
El Idolo This is a taco truck on West 14th Street. It’s pretty good as taco trucks go, although they use grocery store tortillas and an inexplicably large amount of shredded lettuce. It’s not the greatest, but it is the most Mexican place in what otherwise is a desert of texmex punishment. Some Yelpers hate the place because the taco “shells” aren’t even crunchy. Ho ho ho.
Pick A Bagel I’ve never been a fan of bagels, but this place serves a monster lox on poppyseed bagels with cream cheese, tomato, onion, and capers. Note: wait till lunch, when they have the salad bar open, that’s when you can get capers…. the big kind. I like this sandwich better here than the large but overly orderly version at Zucker’s in Tribeca.
Jackson Hole Gourmet burgers on the Upper West Side. I don’t really get the Wyoming reference.
Waldy’s I met cowsin F here, and on the day I was fired I met F here as well. It’s a wood fire pizza; the pies are oblong, and they have spiced oil to drizzle… just like in France! I like it better than the traditional New York places, and even better than Artichoke Pizza.
The Tuck Shop I came here first with cowsin M for a mince pie and a Cooper’s Stout. It was great to be able to get an honest Aussie Pie every once in a while.
Gogo Curry Japanese brown curry is my favorite way to eat curry…with a piece of katzu, over pillowy Japanese rice. Garment District.
Aura This is a Thai place trying to be a pan-asian place run by Thai people. Obviously their Thai dishes were the best. Garment District.
Woorijip 24 hour Korean cafeteria and noodle shop in Koreatown. Garment District.
The Frying Pan. Fried seafood, beer, and drinks on a docked boat on the Hudson River. I went there with M and Dr. Jazz when he was in town. It seemed pretty douchical the day we went, but I see the appeal.
Yakitori Taisho The food here was delicious. When I came, though, it was the dead of winter, and people kept standing in the damn door. I was the belligerent guy sitting on the corner of the bar yelling IN OR OUT.
The thing about Japanese food in America is that Japanese people consistently try to maintain the Japanese standard of their cuisine. They, more than any other ethnic group–Asian, Latin, European–seem to be the most careful about not dumbing down their food for American eaters. That’s not to say I haven’t eaten dumbed down Japanese food, but when I do get dumbed down Japanese food, it’s not Japanese people who have prepared it. Thank you, Japanese immigrants, for bringing us the real deal.
Udon West Also delicious, very authentic, very comforting.
King’s Head Tavern A seemingly British pub with Mexican candles in the East Village on East 14th. I would have gone there more if it were closer.
Shanghai Cafe How do I know this place is authentic? Because it reminded me of Shanghai. Specifically, the sweet flavors I don’t like. It’s not a huge deal to me, but the xiao long bao here were better than at Joe’s Shanghai. I’m annoyed that both places use big baskets instead of little ones.
Jimmy’s Burger Shack The mini burgers are good, the jumbos are good, whatever. The real story is the tater tots.
Soup Spot They have 17 soups on a rotating menu, but all I want is the lobster/salmon bisque.
Meyers of Keswic English Pork Pie. West Village/Meat Packing District.
Yello Free karaoke in the basement!
Asia Roma I love empty bars; this one was empty with good music and a pretty bartender.
I’ll update this list if I think of anything new.
This is my last post from Battery Park City, Manhattan, New York! Thanks to everyone who has been part of my life here; I hope too see you all again soon!
Take care of each other, and wish me luck!