Monday, June 25, 2007


I can't be bothered to write about everything I did or saw, so I'll resort to a stream of consciousness list:

-Lunch at Wholefoods, Union Square x 48478475 - why don't we have supermarkets like this in Britain? Oh wait, one has just opened in Kensington and they own Fresh'n'Wild.

-Cupcakes from Magnolia on Bleecker - heavenly!

-Rooftop party in Bushwick, Brooklyn - the view of the Manhattan skyline at 1am and the distance. Also watching Americans dance...hilarity. Even hipsters dance like they are in a teen movie.

-Franz Ferdinand at the Bowery Ballroom - a fairly short set, but I was taken aback by their terrific showmanship; a truly entertaining live band.

-Watching a thunderstorm attack Manhattan from a pier in Long Island City.

-Finally getting to Misshapes on my last Saturday - the music was unfailingly brilliant, I got my picture taken against the mystical white brick wall (!!), but the club was emptier than usual apparently, so the ambience was slightly disappointing.

-Becoming addicted to walking along Brooklyn Promenade and watching the sun set behind Manhattan from Fulton Landing. Then going for amazing Pizza at Grimaldi's under the Brooklyn Bridge.

-Exploring Brooklyn lots - I love Park Slope, I could quite happily live there. I love Fairways supermarket in Red Hook - in fact, I love all the gourmet faux-hippy ueber grocery stores. Brooklyn Heights is stately and feels like posh West London and even has simialr architecture (and then some skyscrapers, of course). I think I'm definitely a Brooklyn boy.

-But Queens is great too. People may turn their noses up at Queens, but it's so vibrant and multcultural that it is more exciting than some staid Manhattan neighbourhoods. I love Jackson Heights which is where Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty is supposed to live. I went there twice and each time it was like stepping into those scenes, the latino music on the streets, the smells of greasy street food, the well-kept latina-chiquitas, the neon lights, the occasional glimpse of the Manhattan skyline reminding you which part of the world you are actually in.

-Each time I saw steam coming from manhole covers I smiled.

-Central Park is a wonderful place to get lost for the day.

-But not on Friday afternoons, as that is when it's free entry to MOMA, Guggenheim and most other museums and galleries. Save yourself some $$$$!

-All the clichees about shopping in New York are true. It is 'great for shopping', the shops are far less busy than in London, they have better stock and better layouts. And they are nicely consolidated in areas like SoHo. There's something about seeing people with lots of shopping bags which makes you want them too. For the best savings visit Levis or other All American brands.

-The L and the G trains! They both had their failings (30 minute waits at night, the L is almost always packed, being stuck in tunnels) but they both delivered me from where I was to where I wanted to be; inevitably Greenpoint, Williamsburg, East Village, Union Square or the West Village.

-Gigs in New York were strange. People applauded every single thing the bands did - ooh a solo! WOOOOO! Oh they had a sip of beer! WOOO BEER! Ooh they said something I couldn't understand! WOO THEY SAID SOMETHING. That was really strange and just a bit too full on. Then other gigs were really staid and nobody danced - that was also strange. Even more strange was how the first four rows was entirely CAMERAS ALOFT, and not just any old cheapy digital cameras - no, SLRs, everyone has one and they are not afraid to snap and flash away for the duration of the set. I think there's an art to taking some good pictures AND getting into a 'show' which needs to be learned. I therefore call for DANCING PHOTOGRAPHERS!

-New York feels amazingly safe. My dad lived there in the late 90s and the NY he painted seems completely different to the present reality. My trusty Time Out 2007 guide is full of the word gentrification but I don't feel like it' been a negative process like it has been in some cities. I also got the feeling that New Yorkers really look out for each other - and tourists too - out of pure pride in NY. So many times in my first few days there when I was frantically trying to find where I was on the map or where the Uptown subway entrance was, people came up and helped me. That would not happen in London.

-Deborah and I saw Maggie Gyllenhall in Williamsburg and I spotted Chloe Sevingy at Misshapes.

-I loved staying in Greenpoint but I wouldn't recommend the YMCA there - we had a MOUSE PROBLEM, which is admittedly better than a rat problem, but it's not nice to hear them scuttling around at night. I became quite OCD about having nothing on the floor (so that they couldn't make any noise) and making lots of noise as I entered the room to give them a chance to get down their hole before I had to see them. Furthermore, the Y didn't have proper curtains and there was roadworks every morning but Sunday, which does not make for good sleeping. It was really cheap to stay there and I probably couldn't have done it any other way (apart from a good sublet or house swap) and it really wasn't all that bad - but if you were to do the same thing, prepare yourself mentally for the possibility of mice (we only saw one!) and maybe call in advance to see if they have sorted it out by then!

-I could quite happily live in New York, but - unless I do a Masters there - I don't think I'll be back for a while so that I can keep it the special place where I had some great adventures after I finished my degree.

posted by Robbie de Santos at 6/25/2007 03:50:00 pm


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