- Ride the Hudson River bike path all the way up to Inwood Park, the wooded area speckled with rock formations dubbed “Indian Caves” (though they apparently never were) at the Northern end of Manhattan.
- Go to the Central Park aviary — I never made it in despite my numerous rides past it.
- Go to Enid’s in Brooklyn to indulge in the Pickle Plate I was informed they serve, nor did I get to Guss Pickles, the East Village pickle house I learned of on my last day, one hour after the end of their short business day (they close at 4pm!).
- Visit and explore the numerous Gothic cathedrals and churches housed within the perimeter of Manhattan, let alone what Brookyln holds, that I never chanced to set foot into, or glimpse their facades.
- Watch the sun set over the Hudson at Riverside Park.
- AND more trips to Veselka and a million more egg creams!
I have been quiet about my latest adventures–you’re really only getting teeny bits and pieces, to be honest. And of those bits and pieces … they have only been a small smathering of all the things I intended. Now departing New York, I am scrambling to soak up a few last bits of this oozing melting pot.
I have spent many of my last few days here, ironically, doing research and writing for a body of work focused on places in Los Angeles, the city that will forever be home in my heart. I am thrilled and terrified to return. The best way I have found to describe it is: crossing a bridge without being able to see what’s on the other side. And so I am reminded of how often in life we come to meet these bridges … L.A. is so familiar, what could be unknown? My future…my place…I am not coming back the same. I have picked up along my journey bits and pieces of myself that had been scattered on the wind and across the land. My intentions, my values and my tenacity are coming home with me, renewed.
In between my furious spurts of research and writing I have managed take a few more gulps of New York life, including one more egg cream from Ray’s Candy Store–though I’ve only sampled a few–Ray’s, 2nd Ave, Gem Spa, Veselka, Junior’s–Ray’s was the first and has always been the best. My last few days in the Big Apple (why an apple?) went like this: Starting on Sunday night, had dinner at Toast with my classmate and companion Matthew. We lingered there a few good hours, discussing the future over countless cups of coffee while the strongest, heaviest summer storm (on record) pummeled the streets ceaselessly. It did not stop until Monday. I arrived back home to the apartment late with near-fatal amounts of caffeine pulsing through my veins and contorting my heart. I stayed up to work on two articles that were due Monday; midday was the requested time frame specified. I stayed up and found distraction in every moment, in between every line I typed and Google search I referenced. By 8 a.m. one of the articles had been submitted and the next was progressing. I craved Belgian fries, but my better judgement urged sleep. A nap. Three hours later I was up again. A glass of water. Some research muddled in distracted web browsing. Facebook-crastination. A muffin. A little bit of progress. Bearing that both these assignments had been L.A.-focused, my mind couldn’t help but wander to the thoughts of the places that I pined to visit again and the friends who would accompany me. I wondered about work. I wondered about how long I might stay. I registered for couchsurfing.com and got lost skimming Leagueofbikepolo.com. Five o’clock rolls around and I am weary and famished. I realized my pace of progress is next to nil. I grab my latest read, Harlan Ellison’s “Slippage,” and pedal off down to Ray’s Candy Store at Ave A and 7th St. Belgian fries and one egg cream, please. I take my repast to Tompkins Square Park and savor it all. The egg cream, the fries, the aura of TSP and the company of Ellison.
After a few chapters and a renewed sense of vigor, I headed home to complete my work before heading out to the Greenwich piano bar The Duplex, where my fellow classmates and writers, Alexis and Matthew, were joining vocal forces to perform the Phantom of the Opera duet “All I Ask of You.” After several invitations from Matthew, marked by his charmed descriptions of the not-a-gay bar, which is emblazoned with rainbow flags by the way, the chance to be a witness this one-time-only performance is what finally sold me. As it turned out, I had a blast at the piano bar. Between the three of us we were familiar with the range of Broadway tunes and pop songs performed by the handful of brave souls who held the mic.
Tuesday comes around, and my last hours are upon me. A beach trip is cancelled due to the unfulfilled promise of more rain–the gloom remained, but the clouds were exhausted. I fill the afternoon seeing, hearing, feeling the streets, occupied with all the bittersweet juices of a summer romance farewell. I drink from the punch bowl of the cityscape from the roof of the 17-story Union Square apartment building that was my summer sanctuary.
You can hardly hear the city up here, up this high, but the sight itself is loud enough. The city spread out before you all directions–sprawling to the east and tightly hugging the sky at the west–invoking lust and hope; it makes you feel lonely and limitless, permeated by incessant surge of electric energy that fills the air. Neighbors above at the west, neighbors stories below at the south edge. Tiny rooftop gardens populate the building tops, paired with bright patio chairs and tables; matchbox taxis criss-cross the asphalt streams carved between buildings, conceding to the steady rhythms of pedestrians forging through these streams in every direction; the looming clock tower; the dips and points of distant bridges.
I cooked my last dinner in New York until the wind blows me east again. Left it on sitting on the stove while I dashed out for cheesecake and one more egg cream at Junior’s in Brooklyn with Jeff. Jeff had a fancy hot chocolate with his chocolate mousse cheesecake; I washed down my meteor-sized slice of devil’s food cheesecake with a foamy egg cream. The cheesecake and chocolate combos left us with a sugar high to end all sugar highs. I’d almost consider it an overdose. Thanks for teaching me Race to the Galaxy and keep on pickling, Jeff! Jeff is a great pickler, and a pretty good polo player.
Emerged from the Q at the Union Square station and was drawn by the sounds of candid speech floating through the air, projected from a small speaker. I sit down at the edge of a dry fountain, among a group of community activists who are holding a catch-all forum for grassroots activism–a “Free Speakout,” the sign says. They say they meet Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evening at the square, though it’s my first time seeing them. The discussion moves from the challenge to find a fair trade suit, to dumpster diving and food distribution, to fighting unfair evictions and other public demonstrations. The conversation had attracted a mix of earnest young punks and Orthodox Jews, park dwellers and NYU students.
At 3 a.m. I finally got to that dinner on the stove. By 6 a.m. I was fully packed and had a brief early morning nap (now my favorite time for sleeping). By 9:30 I was in snugly packed in a cab, winding through the city to LaGuardia, with the taste of the city lingering on my lips.
The Manhattan bike bridge has been closed for the past few weeks for, uh, construction. Posted detour signs are meant to lead cyclists to the pedestrian path on the other side of the bridge, but the barriers blocking the bike way really only serve as obstacles on the route, rather ineffective at actually deterring/detouring cyclists.
Once on this pseudo-closed passage, you learn that there is not actually any construction occurring–at least none yet. Instead, what you find is a series of plastic barrels that are lined along the fencing and narrowing a path that never was wide by any measure.
I guess that’s NYC’s version of a detour.
May the Schwartz Be With You.
There’s a lot going on at Think Coffee on 2nd Ave. in the East Village…
Some post pleas for help:
Others have advice to offer:
This scribbler just wants you to know:
The brisk pace of life in the city has swept me up, and a good amount of work has come my way as well, leaving my blog a bit derelict. Even on the days I attempted to write a post, I’ve been swept up in all kinds of other things.
Last week I wrote a piece about an awesome literary and photography micro-zine called Abe’s Penny for a local publication called Brooklyn Based (full article here). Their August edition is themed O, Miami and features the work of Miami photographer Lee Materazzi and a profound poem written by Yaddyra Peralta, whose work was selected from 200 submissions written on-the-spot during an April exhibition at the Artseen Gallery in Miami, where local poets–and anyone else who came through–were invited to write a piece of short fiction or poetry inspired by the work of four local photographers whose work was on display for Abe’s Penny’s first “live event.” The magazine is unique in format and content, and it was a pleasure to be able to interview the founders and some of the contributors and learn about their plans to explore new territory in the world of zines and art.
After wrapping that up I spent a few days in rural Pennsylvania, visiting family and slipping away to explore on the sweat and adrenaline-inducing single track trails hidden in Core Creek Park. This adventure ignited a new thirst for this form of cycling and made me love my clipless SixSixOne’s so much more. Was that an endorsement? Perhaps ; )
I then somehow ended up in Ocean City, the Jersey shore. For all the things I dislike about New Jersey, this place only served to reinforce them all. So many fake tans and goombas…I can’t get into this further without unearthing disturbing memories.
I returned to New York and headed out to Rockaway beach, to check out Stoked Mentoring’s Surf program and get to know some of the folks involved. Everyone involved with this program is awesome, from the Stoked staff to the volunteers, mentors and the teens. It felt like a regular gathering of friends having a blast on a sunny Saturday. I waded up to my waist in the water in a knee-length skirt to get closer to the action–not exactly dressed for the occasion, but the weather and my need to get some snaps urged it. I left with happiness in my heart for meeting such an awesome group of folks and optimism for the future of the youth involved, as well as a hearty sunburn despite two applications of sunblock. For more on Stoked’s program, check out my article on Brooklyn Based: Surf Lessons for Life.
I’ve also been checking out some of the great galleries in Brooklyn, including a killer exhibit (seriously, killer) by Jeremy Fish called Listen & Learn at the Joshua Liner Gallery, and the opening of the Last Rites Gallery, a space that focuses on featuring “dark art” images–think the dark side of your imagination; we all have one. Among the featured artists was Chet Zar, whose surreal and semi-grotesque Faces of Death collection I really dug. My buddy Rambod came with me, and he really dug Craig Rotonda’s Eternal Consequences, a series of paintings featuring personified baboons.
I’ve been to a few cool bars and had some great food and lots of fun, including a pizza party at the Brooklyn City Reliquary where the Slice Harvester — who has been rating pizza all over the city and writing all about it — presented the fifth issue of his quarterly pizza zine and even entertained us all, reading selections from the latest edition while his fake mustache did everything but stick to his face.
Everything else, you’ll have to wait to hear about, because, well, it’s Friday night and I’ve got one week left in NY, oh my!!