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Every five years NY makes me feel like life's worthwhile

Every five years NY makes me feel like life's worthwhile

Old Jul 30th, 2007, 04:54 PM
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Every five years NY makes me feel like life's worthwhile

When I was younger I promised myself that if I could at least visit New York once a year, maybe every two years, then I would know I had led a full and proper life. (I deferred living in the city to have a family instead - can't have everything.)

After an absence of five years, I am going again in late December. And happily, I am taking the kids, and their friends. The kids love New York as much as I do.

Emma and Jo, the two friends, have never been out of New Zealand before, and I was trying to describe to them the wonderful things about New York that take your breath away. Not the favourite restaurants, or the record stores, but the streets and the quiet places where you want to sit and take it in forever.

For me, walking across Park Ave is one of those moments, looking back to the 'Pan Am' building. Standing at the top of the stairs looking down to the main floor of Grand Central Station. And the glassed-in courtyard at the back of the Met.

For my daughter Eloise, it's the Plaza (for obvious reasons) and stopping every two blocks down 5th Ave for another hot dog.

Clearly we've been influenced by movies and books. When I first went there in 86 we walked around quoting the appropriate Rogers & Hart song to the street we were walking down. There were places that reminded me of Steely Dan songs, and the smell of the Ramones was still in the air.

In an earlier post Kodi offered to give me her list. Can anyone offer me more magical New York moments. I want to make sure Emma and Jo come away equally in love, and that the kids make it a place they want to visit every year of their lives. Let's hope they are more true to the promise than I have been.

Regards

Bradford
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 05:18 PM
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Unfortunately, the city you loved no longer exists. It is hard to find a junkie in Times Square let alone Bryant Park, which has polite little cafes. You could literally throw a dead cat and not hit a hooker and the gamblers have left for the Indian casinos. The place has been totally gentrified and no one wants to be reminded of the Ramones. You have to think Disney. Eloise won't even have her Plaza -- it's been turned into condos! (mostly)

No, the city you loved is gone -- and mainly because people who could have kept it on edge decided to leave and the rest stayed and had children. Now it is dominated by people who think the city should be safe for children and who block the sidewalks with enormous strollers. The size of the stroller determines your place in the social pecking order.

That said, you can't go wrong with 5th Avenue in the forties and fifties. Crowds, decorations, ice skaters . . . if you're lucky though, maybe you'll see someone fired, walking tearfully into the crowd. A touch of the old New York . . .
 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 05:41 PM
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I was there when Rudy had a go at the Saatchi 'Sensations' show at the Brooklyn Museum. He didn't much care for modern art. I've seen the scrubbed up Times Square, it wasn't the X rated cinemas and b-boys on make-shift cardboard stages that I remember. From what I can see CBGB's is now 100% merchandising and 0% music. But cities reinvent themselves - the sleaze will be back!

In the meantime, we still have Les Paul at the Iridium (don't we?), you can still skateboard down the main gallery of the Guggenheim (can't you?), they still make salamis for your boy in the army at Katz' (don't they?).

Or has all of that gone too?

Regards

Bradford





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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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Katz's is there and good as ever, exhorting you to send a salami to your boy in the army.

A place I went to recently that you might like is the bar of the Mandarin Oriental in Columbus Circle. It's on the thirtieth floor, with a great view of Central Park, and they serve chocolate covered strawberries for the girls (and $17 cocktails for you and Mrs). Should be great in December.



 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 06:33 PM
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I hate to tell you this but CBGBs has closed.

New York still shows its seedy side now and then. I saw a couple of heroin addicts on the Lower East Side the other day. You just have to know where to look and how to look. Get out of Times Square and Midtown and you'll find areas that feel more like what you remember.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:00 PM
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Pausanias, please. New York is better now then it has ever been. Those who long for the mess that was NYC in the late 70's and through the Dinkens years forget the feeling of decay and fear that permeated parts of the city. Was it edgy to ride in garbage filled subways without air conditioning? I don't remember it all that fondly.

Personally, I didn't find it all that "edgy" when the crack addict in my building on East 25th lit his Christmas tree on fire and caused 20+ people (including several families) to lose all their possessions two days after Christmas. Besides, where did the OP say he was looking for the crack addict and grimey version of NY?

Now, back to Bradford's question.

I love a ride on the Staten Ferry around dusk when the sun is starting to set over NJ.
Sitting in Central Park at some ridiculous hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning to get Shakespeare in the Park tickets for some known actor. (Patrick Stewart in The Tempest, circa 1995, comes to mind.)
Trying something like Afghani or Tibetan food that you know is being served at a restaurant run by people from there. (I thought Tibetan food tasted like bland Chinese.)
Woo-Hop the 24 hour Chinese restaurant on Mott Street after a night out.

Some random cool art event like a restored copy of Citizen Kane being shown at a old time movie theater, a 2 night play called The Voyeur (sp?) where the audience watched the action take place in a hotel across the street, and one of several numerous special events at Lincoln Center.

I'll also toss in the random celebrity sighting and knowing that as a NYer, it's my duty to be too cool to care that Eric Clapton is reading a book a few feet away at the book store on Astor Place, that David Byrne of the Talking Heads or Mick Jagger are sitting at the table next to me, that David Beckham is having lunch outside my building and not a single person (except my English colleague) realizes that fact.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:07 PM
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I like the moniker, Pausanias. 'Pausanias' Guide to Ancient New York' has a nice ring to it. You could point out all the ruins.

I'm not sure the crackheads and hookers ever did it for me, williamscb13. I remember being very frightened on the D Train when a young man who did not know what day it was entered our carraige.

But what I did like, and perhaps many New Yorkers do not remember it so fondly, was the many families walking through Time Square on a Saturday night. Strewn with rubbish, both mankind and man-made, they went to see the Raiders of the Lost Ark 8pm session with great New York aplomb. The famous photo of the Italian family all suited up in white springs to mind. Times Square was the village green, a slimy, stinking green, but an all-ages, all-walks-of-life meeting place.

One Saturday night in '86 I met the Beastie Boys there to see a movie. They weren't very famous then. I had arranged an interview for a magazine I was writing for, and it very fortunately began with 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Pt 2' and Adam Horovitz sitting next to me and jumping in the air every so often out of sheer fright.

Anyway, they rolled up on skateboards, wearing plaid shirts and jeans and with their baseball caps stuffed into their back pockets. I thought, 'how very New York'. Times Square was their shopping mall. And their milk bar was a little place just off the square, called funnily enough, The Milk Bar.

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Bradford



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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:14 PM
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Thanks Ryan, and thanks again Pausanias for the Mandarin Oriental tip. It's across the road from the Iridium so it might be a great double bill.

Ryan, you are getting into the spirit of it now. Am busy cutting and pasting so I can keep some of this on hand when I need it.

Tell me. Why are New Yorkers so embracing of Billy Joel? He seems to have always been the favourite son? Which rock and roller sums up New York the best? Uncle Lou? Joey? Paul Simon? Alan Vega?

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Bradford
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:31 PM
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Bradford,
Without sounding flippant, I would say the Rock and Roller who sums up NY the best would be long-time resident and original Rolling Stone Keith Richards.

He's from somewhere else and has chosen to make NY his home. He's seen better days but against all of the odds is still vibrant. Basically, he's a survivor. His playing has an edge to it and everyone thinks he's really cool.

In terms of Billy Joel, I think it's because he's from here (Long Island anyway) and was smart enough to put out a song early in his career called NY State of Mind. That basically insures airplay on NY radio.

BTW, please let me apologize ahead of time for all my fellow NYers that will think New Zealand is simply a part of Australia. I'd also be careful playing up the "All Blacks" as it might be taking the wrong way. Although, I think you could draw a crowd in Times Square with a Haka.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:40 PM
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Ironically I went to Billy Joel's concert last year at the Garden where he was honored for selling out 12 shows and had his numbered retired. (I was the date of someone who was invited to the concert as part of his job) Anyway, when they announced the part of retiring his number, the garden released all these balloons from the ceiling and Billy Joel was p.o.'d because people immediately started popping them. I think he was recording the evening to release it as an album and the popping of the balloons messed up the recording. It was very apparent that he was NOT happy.

and forgive me for mentioning the crack and heroin addicts. I was actually really surprised to see them recently because I actually find it a pretty rare sight to see and thought it was really unexpected.

What I really like about New York is jus wandering. The way you can walk a few blocks and all of a sudden the neighborhood has just changed and has a whole different feel.

I like going to matinees in the middle of the week and escaping for a couple of hours. Picnicing in Central Park.

Shopping in Century 21 early in the morning. Wandering through the great department stores, Bergdorf's, Bloomingdales, Saks, Takashimaya.

New York is so much more than just Times Square and being open to explore the city is instrumental in finding those unique parts of the city.
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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:42 PM
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Keef came out here a year ago and ended up in the hospital down the road from me, having fallen out of a coconut tree in Fiji and been freighted back in a hurry for brain surgery or similar. I wouldn't have picked him as a Neo-Native New Yorker in the way I would have thought Lennon was. But yes, the man is incredibly cool and fits the old world drugs and detritus New York we are thinking of.

I am more of a Velvets man myself, and one night on the same trip I met John Cale with Chris Spedding at the Lone Star Cafe. Mr Cale was very kind and very polite, and I think I was so scared of his reported bite that I didn't remember anything he said afterwards. The Lone Star was why I thought of Paul Simon, and of course his appearances on SNL, which is/was quintessentially NYC.

On second thoughts, what did Keef ever do to immortalise NYC?

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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 07:45 PM
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What is Century 21. In my neck of the woods it's a Real Estate Agency?

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Old Jul 30th, 2007, 09:31 PM
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Century 21 is crazy-crowded discount department store down by Ground Zero. You have to really love a bargain to venture in!
 
Old Jul 30th, 2007, 09:55 PM
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Well, with young girls, the American Girl store (pricey dolls) is very popular, along with tea there (with dolls). Serendipity is also very popular, but very busy.

If you haven't been to the Radio City Music Spectacular - it really is spectacular.

They may want to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Central Park, or Bryant Park. There's a nice Christmas Market at Bryant Park.

Then, there are the windows at the Department Stores...

The new "Kaleidoscope" Show at Grand Central is wonderful. We enjoyed the laser show - this one is even better.

The views from Top of the Rock are awesome - best to time it so you arrive in daylight and stay until it's dark and the lights have been turned on all over.
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Old Jul 31st, 2007, 08:33 AM
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Definitely plan on the Staten Island Ferry at dusk. You cannot find better views of the city.
 
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