Postcard from New York
“Where’s Union Square? I just got into town a few minutes ago.” So asked the young fellow with the guitar over his shoulder (just to the right of the traffic signal post), to the guy standing next to me a few blocks from Union Square on Friday, September 1, 2017. My thoughts wandered back to 1961, when a future Nobel laureate from Hibbing, MN—the Zimmermans’ boy—wandered into town.
As prior posts—here, here, here, and here, and, gentle readers, thanks for indulging me—reflect, I like New York City. Lots. Borrowing from the opening lines of Manhattan, “Chapter one. ‘He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion.’ Uh, no. Make that … .”
I spent a long Labor Day weekend in New York, with a “middle of the stay” sojourn to Long Island for my old friends’ daughter’s wedding. (The wedding provides the purpose for the trip, and I’m part-way through my stay as I post here.)
My flight from Tucson took me through Midway Airport in Chicago. Waiting for the flight, a fellow wandered over and asked me if I was a dentist. “No, I’m not. Why do you ask?” He pointed to two ladies—they were evidently his travel partners, along with another guy—and told me they were dental hygienists, who thought I looked like a dentist. Apparently, my answer forced a monetary exchange. Sorry ladies!
I love New York most because it’s so walkable. As in, from Penn Station—the busiest passenger transportation hub in the Western Hemisphere—to The Ludlow. 2.4 miles. Not recommended with a heavy duffle bag and a not so light backpack. Also not recommended? Travel with a heavy duffle bag and a not so light backpack. Alas, I did my own packing, and I suck at that.*
Generally, I plan a first evening’s meal before I leave for anywhere. Mother’s Ruin was the planned destination. For me and way too many more people.
The Ludlow—my hotel—sits just inside the LES. (That’s Lower East Side, and even such a historical part of the city has become a set of letters.) About 50 paces from Katz’s Deli. And, by the way, slightly closer to il laboratorio del gelato. So you might wonder why I didn’t choose the deli as my alternate. Or, perhaps, why I gave any thought to any place other than Katz’s Deli. Easy? I have no interest in ending up like the poor fellow I saw in the ambulance outside Katz’s on Saturday afternoon, as I walked back to The Ludlow to get the heavy duffle bag and the not so light backpack and leave for Long Island. Salt and fat are not my friends!
I ended up at Boulton & Watt. Good Brussels sprouts, a decent martini, and so-so pickled watermelon. Loud, too!
Friday morning found me on the Brooklyn Bridge, in the early stages of a 40,975 step day. Walkable.
Then there was breakfast. Taste Test; Part 1. Before you are a bialy and two bagels—whole wheat and pumpernickel / everything—from Kossar’s Bagels and Bialys. Marginal. Truly. (I don’t want to sound cocky, but I make a bialy which compares very well.)
The rest of my day involved three trips, north and west. The first one led to the Rubin Museum of Art, a museum of Himalayan art. A gem, worth of my time and a bit of treasure. Central Asian art can be found in other museums, but the Rubin offers the art in a beautiful setting with a total sensory experience, along with a mega-primer on Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Asian spiritual practices. (The Rubin sits in the old Barneys New York store building, by the way.)
Back to The Ludlow to recharge—my phone and watch—and, then, to the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Whitney used to be located on Madison Avenue. Now it occupies a Renzo Piano building along the Hudson River at the southern tip of the High Line. Cool building, evoking the Tate Modern in London for location and an industrial sense. And the art? Meh, truly. A big disappointment, although walking in sand in the Hélio Oiticica exhibition was fun, and the Calders made me smile.
Before I got to the Whitney I walked through Chelsea Market. I wanted some fried oysters from Cull & Pistol. Full up, with an hour wait. So, here’s my 4:30 lunch from Chelsea Creamline. Decent fries. Marginal wine. And a walk on the High Line to the museum.
Dinner at Carroll Place in the West Village. Good fries, a fine salad, and a first-rate martini. Loud.
Saturday morning took me to the Battery, for a sighting of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. On the way back I acquired the makings of the Taste Test; Part 2. Three bagels—salt, rye, and multi-gran / everything—from Black Seed Bagels. Plus, because who can resist, a Yonah Shimmel potato knish. (Schimmel? Shimmel? Who knows.) Black Seed makes Montreal-style bagels. Chewy, small (as compared with American behemoths), and slightly sweet. Much better than standard issue bagels, but many people disagree with me.
(No cream cheese? Lox? Lots of carbs? Bagels as schmeer-delivery vehicles are not my thing, there’s that salt and fat thing again, and I only ate a few bites of each bagel.)
The rest of Saturday involved two activities, exclusive of some work: bearing witness, and lunch. Bearing witness meant walking from 180 Ludlow St. to 721-725 Fifth Avenue aka Trump Tower. 3.3 miles, each way, to see armed guards—I mean really armed—outside a commercial / residential building, while its owner was in Texas telling hurricane survivors they should “have a good time.” (I did also note 666 Fifth Avenue, the shorter building owned by son-in-law Jared Kushner. 666? Bad. Shorter than Pop’s building? The boy might just be smarter than we think.)
Lunch. Two stages. First, dumplings from Vanessa’s Dumplings. $1.99 for the plate. Good. Then, Mother’s Ruin. At 2-ish on a Saturday afternoon I got the last seat at the bar. An excellent martini, and really good Old Bay waffle fries. Alas, too many for even me. And, loud.
Finally, and I will spare you the post-wedding 36 or so hours, for enough is enough, here are a few random thoughts:
Google occupies 111 8th Avenue, one of New York’s five largest buildings by floor area. The cool part? The Port Authority was the building’s original lower floor occupant in the 1930s, moving goods through the building. One building; two very different economies.
At Federal Hall George Washington took his first oath of office as president. Congress met there too. The address? 26 Wall Street. Next door is 30 Wall Street, and The Trump Building sits at 40 Wall Street. Moving up the block, we’ve surely fallen.
Looking forward to a lovely Simcha this evening, taking pleasure in a joyous coming together. Then, more NYC, home, and back to work for awhile. Too much summer fun!
*Last minute stuff resulted in solo travel. My sweetheart lends packing advice, which always involves “take less stuff.”