Subscribe to Clean HippieGet an email once a week when I write something new! (I love you too.) Thanks!
Clean Hippie’s Pinterest
Archives by Month
- Around the Web
- Bring it to NYC
- Cool sites
- Failure of the Day
- Going Too Far
- Green Angst
- Moments of Hilarity
- New York
- Places to go
Category Archives: Places to go
I wrote this piece for the amazingly entertaining website Narratively, which tells the most interesting stories in New York City. If you enjoy it, do me the favor of “liking” it via the wee Facebook button on Narratively’s page and/or sharing it with your friends. Grazie!
I emerge from the L at the Montrose stop along with several other people. The sidewalk is busy, plenty of cars pass. But as soon as I take a right down a side street, I’m alone. Squatting on either side of my route are warehouses, their windows dark and their brick walls tagged with graffiti.
I scan the locked doors as I hurry down the lonely street, looking for a certain address that was emailed to me in the middle of the week. I wonder what the chances are that the party got cancelled and if I’m here for nothing. Then I spot the man ahead of me, standing by himself. He’s big, and he looks bored. Bingo.
As I get closer, I hear the bass thudding. “You here for the party?” he asks me. “I’ll need to see your I.D., but we can check it inside.” He opens the door, checks my I.D. and directs me up the concrete-and-metal staircase with lime green walls, toward the deep bass and down-tempo of minimal house music.
Read the rest on Narrative.ly.
Lately I’ve been speculatively wondering, as hopeful New Yorkers are wont to do: If I were to buy a place, where would I buy it?
West Village? Way too expensive, even for my fantasy life. Union Square? Too many crazy homeless people, though the Greenmarket is right there. Park Slope? Too many babies. Greenpoint? Ugh, the G train, save me.
But Bushwick? Don’t look horrified yet. The thing is, Bushwick is on its way. The artists are there, and if the history of SoHo is any indication, Burberry is only forty years behind. The parties are also there, and apparently, now, a sustainable fitness studio?
Green Fitness Studio, at 323 Varet Street, is the kind of gym where I would love to spend my time watching sustainable guys flex their muscles. It’s got bamboo floors; recycled rubber flooring in the workout area; remanufactured and self-powered gym equipment (a.k.a. no plugs/electricity required); CFL bulbs; heat-mirrored glass for better energy use; towels laundered with eco-friendly detergent; a local, organic, sustainable juice bar; and a living roof and infrared sauna in the works, according to its website. And it’s been there since at least 2010! How is that possible? I probably haven’t heard about it because it’s in Bushwick.
Loving this track right now. It evokes a sort of dancing-on-a-rooftop-club luxury. Don’t mind the big busty girl–I have no control over her.
So when I saw a mention in New York Mag’s Approval Matrix (oh, you wily, un-clickable, old-school matrix) saying a green fitness studio in Bushwick wants a liquor license, I was like, “Hey, these people sound cool.” So I did some Googling, and saw this:
… the venue has already begun renting it roof to promoters, such as Black Market NYC, that possess their own liquor permit.
I looked a little closer and realized, hey, I think I’ve been there! For a party anyway.
Somebody, please check this place out for the actual healthful living part, and tell me how it is. I might soon buy up one of those bombed-out townhomes in Bushwick and make it my own if this trend of Bushwick awesomeness continues.
Hahahahah. No seriously, maybe.
P.S. I brought my good friend C out to Bushwick for a party to celebrate her last Saturday night in NYC, and all she and her friend could talk about was the “Crackcident” episode of “Girls”, and even though one of them wanted to bum a smoke from a guy in front of us, she refused to out of fear that it was actually crack. “There is no crack here,” I told her. To which she replied. “That was based on a TRUE STORY!” This made me realize that my poor mother, who watches “Girls”, probably thinks I might accidentally smoke crack. I would like to point out that there is no crack at these Bushwick parties, OK? Very interesting characters who will back you into a corner talking about who-knows-what? Yes. Weed? Of course. Hipsters? Duh. But crack? No. At least, I really hope not …
I am obsessed with purging.
No, I don’t mean I’m bulimic, but thank you for your concern.
Actually, I love purging stuff. I have since I was a five years old, when my mom discovered if she casually said, “Wow, that cabinet is so disorganized!” within earshot, I would chirp, “I’ll clean it!” and immediately start emptying its contents so I could put it back together in neat little rows.
When I’m feeling unhappy or bored or out of control, a good clean-out always lifts my spirits. Doesn’t matter what: jewelry box, clothing closet, box of ribbons, seeing everything neatly folded and knowing that I’ve banished some meaningless clutter from my life makes me feel good. I don’t mind, this must be the most productive addiction ever, without tipping into full-blown OCD land.
I’ve even considered, out loud, signing up for Task Rabbit just for the pleasure of getting to clean out other people’s stuff. I don’t really need the money. OK, my addiction to designer green clothing can get expensive. But really, I just like purging!
So believe me when I say I’ve got getting rid of stuff down to an art. And when you combine fifteen practice rounds of purging in the last three years alone, with an obsession with all things sustainable, you know that nothing is going in the dumpster.
Oh, how I wish there was a fourth recycling bin called, “Shit other people could use.” But there is not. So behold: Where to take every single thing you could possible get rid of, and avoid the dumpster completely:
(Oh, and a note: I don’t sell on eBay. Yeah, I know, you can make so much money. But I find the whole process of communicating with buyers and taking stuff to the post office annoying. Therefore I’m not an expert and can’t speak to that, and will stick to NYC-centric solutions here.)
1. Preppy and Designer Clothing
I remember clearly the day I first went shopping in SoHo, and I chose to wear a lavender Milly sundress. It quickly became clear that I was I was wearing the wrong exact thing. I was so mortified that I marched into an edgy boutique and chose the nuclear option: “I’m completely lost. What should I wear?” I walked away with a lot of stuff, including my favorite leather jacket that I still wear. And I realized then that I needed to purge my closet of fifteen sundresses, three pastel polos, two khakis, one quilted jacket, three sunhats and one Ralph Lauren braid knit sweater. Bye bye Virginia, hello, Manhattan.
What to know: Call and make an appointment ahead of time. Bring as many items as possible at once. They don’t want hangers, so iron/steam everything and then carefully fold it into a bag right before you leave the apartment. Once you’re there, a haughty shop keeper will look through everything. She will give you the option of coming back later, but I’ve found it’s best to be there so you can call out helpful tidbits like, “That’s real rabbit fur!” and “I got that one from a designer boutique in Paris. It’s one of a kind.”
Once she decides what she wants, she’ll write it all down and give you a date when you should come back and pick up whatever didn’t sell and the payment for what did. If you have a higher-end item that doesn’t start with Lily and end with Pulitzer, you can also consider some of the high-end consignment shops downtown, like INA or What Goes Around Comes Around.
The payoff: Cash, one to three months later. And you’ll get good money for nice items.
The drawback: You have to make an appointment ahead of time, you have to remember to go back to collect your cash, and they take a hefty commission–up to 50% of the selling price.
2. Wearable but Un-Fancy Clothing
What to know: You don’t need an appointment, just an hour or two free. The clerks will rummage through your items, decide how much everything is worth, and then give you cash or store credit on the spot. If you take cash, you’ll get a lower value than store credit. If you don’t feel like dealing with whatever they don’t take, they will kindly donate it for you.
The payoff: Immediate cash.
The drawback: Lower prices, especially for designer or more uptown-girl items ($20 for a Brooks Brothers Coat? Yes, that happened.), and the sinking feeling of realizing the clothing they don’t take isn’t even cool enough to sell for $5.
3. Wearable but Worthless Clothing and Accessories
If you’re not going to one of the above consignment stores and have clothing that you can’t imagine anyone paying more than $3 for, take it to Salvation Army or Goodwill.
What to know: It takes only two minutes to fling a bag of what-was-I-thinking clothing and accessories into a pile in the back.
The payoff: Good karma and jobs for the those who need them.
The drawback: They are usually not open before or after work or on Sundays and discourage you from leaving stuff at the front door. I’ve done it anyway, because I have better things to do then wait around for the privilege of giving my stuff away. (Are you listening Goodwill and Salvation Army? Get a drop off bin.)
4. Unwearable Clothing
Paint and sweat-stained wife beaters, shredded sweaters, unmatched socks and anything else made of cloth that no one would even take for free will find a home at the textile collections held by Greenmarket, where it is sent to textile recycling programs. You can also drop off wearable clothing–it will be donated.
What to know: Just stuff your bag of grody old clothing in the hamper in front of the textile table while you’re picking up organic apples. Find a list of Greenmarkets that collect textiles here.
The payoff: Good karma and the knowledge that you’re doing your part to reduce the 5.7% of NYC’s waste stream that is clothing.
The drawback: As you might know, farmer’s markets don’t keep the most convenient hours or locations ever.
5. Home Goods That Still Have Value
Got a printer that still prints or an IKEA table that can still support dancing on top? Sell it on Craigslist.
What to know: Bring all your writing skillz, because you need to be a salesman. Put your item’s condition in the title, along with how much you would like for it (You can choose to add OBO, which means “Or Best Offer.”) Include a cute story of why you’re getting rid of said item, to inspire confidence that you’re not purging because of bedbugs. Include pictures of the item, preferably taken with natural light coming through the window with a real digital camera–Instagram is not cute when it comes to the condition of your couch.
The payoff: Cash.
The drawbacks: People will haggle with you no matter what price you set, and you will feel dumb that you ever paid full price. (Next time you are totally using Craigslist to buy your furniture, right?) People will flake out at the last second when you actually blocked out a perfectly beautiful Saturday afternoon for them to come get the stupid IKEA shelf.
6. Random Stuff That No One Would Pay For
Half a roll of carpet tape? Plastic cups from old Broadway shows? Broken computer tower? I’ve not only gotten rid of these things, but had people show up to take them off my hands. It’s called Freecycle.
What to know: You’ll need a Yahoo account so you can join the Freecycle group. When you are offering, make the subject line, “OFFER: Item, neighborhood.” So for example, “OFFER: Zebra print shower curtain, Lower East Side.” It helps to ask them to prove they are not spammers by requesting a haiku on the merits of shower curtains, or asking their favorite flavor of cupcake. If not, you might get emails like, “I’ll take it. Thanks.” That is most likely spam. Plus, people love composing haikus. I’ve gotten haikus from people who don’t even want my stuff.
If you have a whole lot of random crap, tell people you’re more likely to give it to them if they take the whole lot. Let them figure out what to do with the carpet tape, it is no longer your problem.
The payoff: Warm fuzzies from knowing the hot Norwegian dude is enjoying your ex-boyfriend’s artwork more than you ever would, and an apartment free of random crap.
The drawback: Again, people will flake out at the last minute, though I find this happens more rarely than with Craigslist. Also, some people are a little bit crazy. I suggest avoiding anyone with bad spelling or who likes to format their emails in pink, cursive font.
PS. In case you’re wondering, that is a CD rack in the picture. Seriously, people will take anything.
6. Broken Electronics
So you can’t sell your printer on Craiglist because it doesn’t work. No big deal. That’s what e-waste events are for.
No before you get lazy and decide to just chuck your stuff in the trashcan, I would like to take this moment to point out how ridiculously bad for our water supply that is. I’ll let the NRDC do the talking:
Some of the materials in personal electronics, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, are hazardous and can release dangerous toxins into our air and water when burned or deposited in landfills improperly. And throwing away metal components, like the copper, gold, silver and palladium in cell phones and other electronics, leads to needless mining for new metals.
What to know: The Lower East Side Ecology Center, bless their hearts, holds a couple e-waste events every weekend. Chances are there will be one convenient to you in the next month or so. See a schedule on their website.
The payoff: Knowing you haven’t poisoned some 7-year-old in a developing country with your old smart phone.
The drawback: You’ll have to plan a couple weeks in advance, and it’s not fun schlepping a printer or other heavy electronics across town.
I am certainly not the first to fall in love with ABC Carpet & Home. In fact, my own mother has been wandering the several floors of sumptuous rugs and carpets since she lived in New York in the 70s. I myself remember visiting during my first time in New York when I was 12. It was almost as important as my first Broadway show or brunch at the Plaza. I wandered around the giant showroom floor, fingering exotic pillows and getting caught up my mother’s excitement as she gasped and sighed over weighty embroidered fabrics and delicate furniture.
ABC has only improved since then under the direction of Paulette Cole, most notably through its graceful evolution into a conscious retailer and the addition of a restaurant that refines farm-to-table dining into an haute art. In fact, let’s start there, with the delicious part.
Dan Kluger and I at ABC Kitchen in March
If you are fortunate enough to get a reservation at ABC Kitchen (it’s only gotten harder since Obama held his $35,800-a-plate fundraiser there) you will be beguiled as soon as you walk in the door. The color scheme is a sort of shimmering, rustic white evoking a snowy wood. Once you’re seated, flip over the seasonal menu and observe the exhaustive listing of exactly where all your organic, local food comes from, and even where the furnishings, art and place settings come from too–all local artisans. (And then go buy it in the home store.)
I was lucky enough to visit twice. Once, with a large group of family and friends whose opinions were split on the merit of the chocolate bacon dessert, but unequivocally loved everything else. The second time I came in with a friend who is big on the food scene a couple days before Obama’s fundraiser in March. Head chef Dan Kluger, credited with bringing his expertise on local food to the Jean-George masthead, was nice enough to take a seat at our table after he was done in the kitchen for the night. I was starstruck. (It doesn’t take much.)
But you don’t have to settle for just a chef if you’re looking for famous faces. ABC Kitchen also caters to the rich and famous set, including supermodels, artists like Adele and, of course, President Obama. The food, (ah, yes, the food, of course) takes advantage of the nearby Greenmarket. Whatever food is left over you’ll see in compost bins outside the next morning.
Even if you can’t afford a meal at ABC Kitchen, you can set the bar a little lower and dine under the panoply of chandeliers at adjoining Pipa for tapas, or even just get coffee or a quick lunch at Au Bon Pain, the affordable organic franchised cafe nestled into the side and opening straight into the store.
When you’re done enjoying a light salad and sparkling water there, walk straight back into ABC Home. Give yourself at least an hour. The first floor is artfully arranged into vignettes of pretty yet quirky place settings, organic makeup and skin care, scented candles, lots and lots of Buddhas, more chandeliers, fanciful throw pillows, stuffed children’s toys and much, much more. (Wasp nests stuffed with purple crystals anyone? Sounds ridiculous, but somehow I want it.)
It even has a jewelry counter stocked with delicate jewelry fashioned from conflict-free, rough diamonds and reclaimed metals that fit in with the rest of the store aesthetic: out of the ordinary while still tasteful. Prices on this floor range from $15 for a tiny vial necklace to hundreds for pillows and thousands for the diamond jewelry and Asian art. Overall, ABC is very expensive, yes. But you can always find something to suit your budget.
I am personally the proud owner of two handcrafted ottomans, matching throw pillows, a necklace, a ring and fair trade, organic argan oil, all from ABC Home.
Once you head up to the to the upper levels, you’re in the serious business of furniture. People always seem to describe ABC Home along the lines of wandering into a well-traveled aunt’s home. I would say, think younger. How about a young, childless couple who tends to throw chic dinner parties at their huge rustic dining room table where they discuss current policy with great minds, before repairing to the living room over organic cocktails made with local bitters. Fine. Perhaps I am projecting my dream life onto ABC, but visit and tell me if you disagree. I didn’t think so.
And the best part? Every piece of furniture is labeled with its sustainable credentials like cruelty-free, organic, goodwood, local economy and many other feel-good designations.
Other things to know and love: The original carpet and rug store across the street is worth a visit. Or sign up for the email list for events at Deepak Homebase in the back above ABC Kitchen, which hosts conversations with notables like Arianna Huffington and Mark Ruffalo about current events and culture.
If you’re more into worldly than spiritual goods, then you can also make the trek up to ABC’s outlet in the Bronx for some deals (a car may be required). I have not been, but is reviewed nicely on Yelp, if you believe what people say there.
So, ABC. You have delicious food, home goods and even an event forum for sustainable and spiritual discussions. I have only one more request:
Do a hotel next?
The first time you spend a summer holiday weekend in the city, you might greet its approach with disappointment and some malaise. After all, it seems like everyone has scattered to their respective beach houses, parents’ homes with backyard pools, and lake houses, while you’re stuck wandering across the concrete and asphalt jungle, fragrant with the kind of smells only 95 degree weather can provide.
But actually, holidays in the city can be an absolute joy. In fact, they are a gift. How? Let me explain:
This time last year, the Fourth of July conveniently created a three-day weekend. But I had no plans to flee. It was then I discovered the awesome fact about summer holidays in New York: Almost anyone with money and good taste has fled, leaving people like us a playground of half empty trendy restaurants, beer gardens with open benches, mini golf courses without lines and cocktail speakeasies that are all too happy to open the door and give you a seat.
So, if you’re staying in town this Fourth, I can’t guarantee it will be super empty. This is only one day off, after all, so not quite as many can get out of town. But if you are in town, I want to share with you a list of great places to go that might be more feasible than on a typical summer Saturday. (And make sure to keep your Labor Day weekend free!)
1. Any Trendy Restaurant That Doesn’t Take Reservations
You know the kind. The food (you’ve heard) is delicious. Not like you would know, since every time someone suggests going there, your group shows up and it’s an hour and a half wait. Places like The Breslin, The Meatball Shop, Frankies 457 and Diner in Brooklyn, and The Spotted Pig are infuriating for just this reason. But on summer holidays, you can show up and snag a seat for you and three friends, no problem–I’ve done it.
2. Novelty Summer Activities
It might have been easy to find a mini golf course in suburbia where you grew up. But not in NYC. That’s why when a half decent one opened–along with beach volleyball–on Pier 25, it became way too popular. Instead of waiting interminably for the group in front of you to move on to the next hole, show up early on a summer holiday and enjoy a measure of lazy solitude.
3. The Best Parks
While you’re at it, rent, borrow or bring out your own bike and take it all the places that are usually too crowded to enjoy. Central Park is a good place to start. Or try the bike path by the West Side Highway, ending with a cold beer at The Frying Pan on the water. If you want to get away from the air pollution and cars altogether, take the ferry out to Governors Island and take the bike path around the island, stopping for ice cream or a nap in a hammock. Or snag a deck chair on the High Line across from the water feature, where you can dip your toes when you get too hot and finish with a beer at either The Standard or the High Line’s own beer garden.
4. Rooftop Bars
During the summer everyone wants to get off the frying pan pavement and up high, where you can enjoy a breeze, a view and a fancy cocktail. Make it happen during a summer holiday. I’m partial to The Standard’s roof with its Astroturf and crepe shack, but the list of good rooftop bars is endless, like The Press Lounge at Ink 48 on the West Side, 230 Fifth, Top of the Strand, and The Delancey, just to get you started.
There are certain places I avoid in New York. Any place near Times Square, the three feet of space around food carts and–most importantly–shitty Meatpacking clubs.
It started back in the first summer I moved to New York. My German friend was visiting me in New York and I knew nothing. Seriously, all my knowledge of the “scene” was sourced exclusively from the internet. In fact, I think I chose our destination off a Refinery29 roundup or something. (I was so cute back in 2009, no?) So off we went, him and me and his Belgium friend, to the Gansevoort. What I experienced next was humiliating. We stood in line while taller, skinnier ladies and hair-gelled dudes traipsed in. The bouncers looked us up and down. The message was clear. You are neither cool nor attractive enough for this venue. The memory of that still makes me cringe.
Plus those clubs are ripe for terrible people. Setting aside the bridge-and-tunnel factor, after I got roofied in Paris, my friend Facebook messaged me to tell me about her experience getting roofied at–where else–a Meatpacking club called Marquee.
And those bouncers and dudes with clipboards will use all sorts of excuses to keep ugly, fat, unconnected, accent-less, unfashionable and prude people like you and I outside. Like a couple weekends ago, when a couple girlfriends were in town. I was planning on taking them to Le Bain (more info below), but a DJ friend of mine was adamant that a new club called Le Baron would be amazing. I texted him several times to verify. Would there be a cover? What’s the scene like? I’m responsible for making sure my visiting girlfriends have an amazing time. Was he SURE that this was fun?
He responded saying, “No cover. Fancy door, but just say you’re there for Jacques Renault and it’ll be fine. Should be awesome!”
Well, we showed up. The girl in front of us in line and her friend were already in an argument. “Listen. We just flew in from Dubai and we are so incredibly jet lagged so can we please just go in?” While we gagged behind her, the guy with the clip board nodded, the rope was unclipped and they went inside. The bouncer looked at us and said, “Are you on the list?”
“Uh, no,” I said. “We weren’t told there was a list. I’m here for Jacques Renault.” I made sure my pronunciation sounded extra French. He was unswayed. “You have to be on the list.”
We looked at each other. Awesome. I shook my head. We stood there. Finally the bouncer said, “Ladies, could you please just move out of line so others can move up?” Yes, we were being booted out of line completely. I texted my DJ friend who sent me some drunken replies about the bouncer being a complete asshole. My friend leaned in and told me that his “list” was a blank piece of paper. We left, went to Le Bain and had a kickass time.
But last night was the worst. I had sworn off completely clubs like that. I prefer places where you go because you love music–venues mostly in Brooklyn. You can wear and be whoever you want, the crowd is fascinating and open to new experiences, and it’s always a great time.
This is the kind of music I’m looking for:
But last weekend my friend A. told me that her new gorgeous Brazilian model
boyfriend interest had a promoter friend and we could go to this club called Pink Elephant and get everything for free. So fun! She was so enthusiastic and I love her, so of course I said yes.
I dragged myself away from after-work margaritas at 11 so I could go home and change. I chose a loose, coral-pink silk shift dress that lightly skimmed my curves. I smeared dark eye makeup on my eyes and coral lipstick on my lips, shoved bangles on my wrists and slipped into high heels. I thought I looked hot. Or, at least attractive.
A. left the inside of the club–randomly located between 5th and 6th on 8th Street– to meet me and her model friend outdoors. Her little sister was still downstairs inside the club. The bouncer directed us to stand in line. A small man walked out of the door with a clipboard. A. showed him the stamp on her wrist. He looked at her, me and her hot date and leaned into the bouncer. “She and he can come in but”–here he pointed at me–”but not her.”
A. was horrified. She grabbed my arm and refused to move. We stood there. The guy with the clipboard came back five minutes later. The bouncer gestured to the three of us. Again, snotty clipboard dude (who I’m sure has a small penis) pointed to A. and friend. “They can come in, but not her.” This happened once more, again.
It of course was humiliating. He might as well have said, “Your friend is ugly, sorry.” A. tried begging him to allow us to go in together but he wouldn’t budge. I watched a line of girls walk in. One had on a red satin, ruched, body-conscious dress from what looked like Caché. Another had on a satin leopard print cropped bustier with a black mini skirt.
I realized my dress was all wrong. Gotta be honest: My three best features are my eyes, boobs and butt. My high-necked silk dress that hit mid-thigh and barely skimmed my butt was just not cutting it. And this was the kind of place that doesn’t care about pretty blue eyes. They want long legs and nice assets displayed. If there’s one place where misogyny will never die, it’s shitty NYC clubs.
At that moment I realized I didn’t want to go in there anyway. What would I find there? Probably men who were the kind of guys who like girls who wear satin leopard-print cropped bustiers. Men whose eyes would glaze over if I mentioned what I do for a living. Women (besides A. of course, who is a smart, capable lawyer who happens to be gorgeous) who couldn’t name the current president. Gross vodka tonics that would make me throw up after I was done desperately throwing them back to make things seem better.
I threw my arms around A.’s neck and told her, “Go! Go! Go find your sister. I can do something else.” She protested, but I held strong. “Don’t wait for me. Have a wonderful time. We’ll hang out next weekend, OK?”
I thought of my friend D. as I walked off down the street. She called me early this year at 3 am her time, saying how her blond friend had tried to take her to a fancy Parisian night club and she had been rejected by the bouncer, even as he bantered familiarly with her friend. Of course D.’s feelings were hurt. I felt for her. “You said yourself it’s one of the most exclusive clubs in Paris. I wouldn’t be able to get in there. Don’t worry about it!”
I told myself these same things as I paid for a cab, again, to take me home. “I don’t want to go anyway. Those girls are stupid slutty people who just want a rich douche to take care of them. I know boys think I’m attractive! I’m smart! I have a fun personality! It probably sucked inside!”
But it was still a blow to my self esteem. And really, that is not necessary in a place like New York. So let’s go someplace else instead, shall we?
Below are two places that are much, much better. They both have doors, but only nominally. The crowds are great at both, the music amazing. You’re pretty much guaranteed a good time without having to parade your boobs around in line to get in.
This oddball little club is located on one of the top floors of The Standard Hotel, which straddles the High Line. Walk to the north side of the hotel, and a vintage neon sign directs you to the entrance. The line is long, but moves fast. Perhaps some skinny chicks will butt you, but you’ll get in. Once inside, take the elevator to the top, and pop in one of the trippy, all-glass bathrooms, with huge windows looking over the city. You can tell yourself it’s a one way mirror–I’m not sure that’s true, but you have to believe it to get over the fact that anyone with binoculars can watch you peeing. Oh well.
Leave the house of mirrors and hit the dance floor, where notable DJs pound the bass. If you’re feeling frisky, strip down to your undies and pop in the pool that’s a few feet from the dance floor. I’ve never done it (and don’t plan to), but I’ve definitely seen girls dressed in tanks and black lacy underwear standing by the pool. Gaze out the windows across the Hudson to New Jersey. Then walk up the stairs to the roof, buy a Nutella crepe from the crepe shack, sit down in a chaise lounge, kick your heels off to dig your toes into the astroturf and chat with your friends while you watch the city lit up like Christmas below.
There’s was actually a great act there last night, but of course I skipped to try this terrible Pink Elephant place. So listen to this DJ duo from Brooklyn and imagine yourself listening to this while on top of the world:
This isn’t actually a hotel. It’s just a tri-level restaurant that turns into a club on weekends. Once you get inside after a supremely short wait in line, stop at the ground floor bar to grab drinks, where DJ Mesh throws down real vinyl tunes. Then head upstairs to the tile-clad rooftop bar where the DJ spins mash-ups of current indie hits and eligible men look for eligible ladies. (I’ve personally been picked up by
two three as of June 10th really nice, smart guys while I’ve been there.)
When you’re nice and sauced, head to the basement, where the DJ will recreate the best part of college for you. Oh yes: The frat basement. The music is almost exclusively 90′s and aughts Mariah Carey, Bone Thugs and Harmony, Kanye and other music that will make you and your friends practically shriek with exuberant recognition. And, of course, a little Call Me Maybe thrown in. It’s sweaty and crowded and awesome.
When I convinced my college girlfriends to go there with me, one was yawning and saying she would stop in but would probably go home in a little bit. Three hours later she was on the dance floor with me, lip syncing and telling me she hadn’t had this much fun since college.
A little post-script: I found out that A. left Pink Elephant a half hour later, and some female friends of her friend that happened to be models couldn’t even get in. So I’m feeling a little bit better about being the ugly friend. But I’m still not going back.
A more little post-script: The night after I wrote this, my friends and I went to Hotel Chantelle. When we got out of the cab, we groaned at the huge line. But before I could even cross the street, my friends were already talking with a clipboard guy, who escorted us around the side, unclipped the rope and let us in. So there you have it: Chantelle has taste, and Pink Elephant doesn’t. I think the words, “This is the BEST PLACE EVER,” were spoken at least twice that night!
You are about to be jealous in t-minus 3…2…1….
I’m in London!!
Yup! I hopped a flight (carbon offset at a price of $22.66, naturally) to the old continent to visit my dear friend D. in Paris–of the going away party and recycled champagne glasses—and I’m on layover in the land of bad food, class divide, mean tabloids and royalty obsession.
The first thing I saw disembarking my flight? A hunky British dude making direct eye contact. I think I like it here.
D. is living the dream in Paris. On the one hand, I don’t like that my best friend is thousand of miles away. On the other hand, now I have an excuse to go to mother f’n Paris! (She keeps trying to get me to move there, but how could I leave NYC behind?
After we tear it up in the city of lights for a week, we’ll be back in London for a weekend. I’ve spent a whole summer in Paris before, but as the Audrey Hepburn character Sabrina said, “Paris is always a good idea.” But I’ve never been to London. “We must go,” I emailed D. emphatically. “It’s a huge hole in my experience that needs filling.”
So please, if you have recommendations, comment below or tweet them my way! I’ve already gotten a short list of museums, plus un-missable street food and competing recos for the best place to get high tea. (National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Bosphorus Kebabs, The Ritz or Dukes Hotel, respectively).
Also, what does a modern green girl pack for her adventure in world travel? It’s all revealed:
From top left: iPhone charger, compact faux crocodile wallet, John Masters Organics lip balm, Korres non-toxic lipstick in coral, Sigg water bottle (empty for security), apartment keys (stripped of superfluities), laptop charger, Clean Hippie blog business cards and card holder, ChicoBag reusable bag, birth control, handkerchiefs from the Brooklyn Flea (2), pen, sleep mask, iPhone in Anicase endangered species cover, headphones, passport (!), flight reservation, sunglasses gotten for free from advertising partner at work with logo rubbed off with soy nail polish remover (couldn’t find my Kayu sunglasses—darn!). Not pictured: Zebra striped travel pillow made with post-consumer recycled content, laptop, magazines (coming up).
What to Wear for an Overnight Flight
Clearly, the goal is to get as close as to pajamas as possible without looking like a typical American ass. I chose my Degree Six top in soft organic cotton, organic Deborah Lindquist leggings, and a stack of Green Sewn vintage sari bracelets. You can’t see them, but on my feet are fuzzy socks—a Christmas present from my dear sister.
Mags Go Green for Earth Day
I have been busy unsubscribing from catalogues left and right, but I just can’t give up on my print editions of magazines. After all, they don’t put everything on line. And many magazines I get through my work. Piles of magazines have been eating my apartment like kudzu, but flights are a fabulous time to catch up.
Check out this bundle that has probably given me permanent back problems from hauling them to work and then through the subway system to the airport. (No black car for this lady.)
I absolutely loved diving into the April editions, since magazines from inStyle to Self are doing their darndest to pay lip service to Earth day with lots and lots of toxin-free and eco-friendly products—some old friends, some new to me. I also love that InStyle is educating consumers about one of my favorite websites, Skin Deep.
On my to try list: aluminum-free Weleda citrus deodorant, Yes to Tomatoes acne spot stick, USDA-certified organic essential oils by Tsi-La, Mali Organics Koke’e organics sugar body polish, DairyFace Eye Caramba Nourishing Facial Refresher, Butter London non-toxic nail polish, Dairy Kai vegetable base skylight candle, Bracketron’s Mushroom Green Zero wall charger, (all rated high by inStyle) and NY-based Anjolie Ayurveda moisturizers and soaps (thanks Oprah mag!). I even found some goodies in the ads: non-toxic Zoya nail polish and EOS lip balm (the ones you’ve no doubt seen in those little egg-shaped containers).
Of course, when I say “To try,” I do’t mean “Run out and immediately buy everything.” I just mean it’s on my radar if I happen to find myself in need of body polish. Truly being green means being judicious about purchases, yo.
Stay tuned for lots of lovely pictures! I have my big fancy Canon D7, my little canon for nights out and of course Instagram on my iPhone. Meanwhile, enjoy one of my favorite songs about Paris. (Hopefully we will make it to club Showcase! I had to cull my going out options down from three sequined dresses to one.)
Gotta run! My gate just got posted for Pearee.
You use organic shampoo and conditioner, dab non-toxic eye shadow on your lids and sip organic gin and tonics at your favorite farm-to-table café.
Well, don’t overlook your hair.
When I first moved to NYC, I got a recommendation for a Soho salon from a friend. My hairstylist has been nothing but great. But when Brian Wallis of the new-ish Soho Organics Salon emailed me offering a review haircut, how could I say no?
So on a warm Saturday I hopped on my bike and rode down through the West Village to the salon. Inside it’s exposed brick, three chairs, two hair-washing sinks, a front desk and a little table with organic teas.
With just the three stylists doing everything at this little nook of a salon, it feels friendly and not at all intimidating. When you walk in, your stylist is just as likely to be at the front desk to greet you or on the phone taking an appointment as fussing over a client’s hair.
Once Brian got me settled into a chair, we discussed what I wanted. I had been considering straight-across, blunt bangs for some time, but my current stylist had gently discouraged me over and over again. I’m sure Brian was nervous about my request (the risk of a blogger freaking out about bangs-gone-wrong–even if she asked for them–is a very real one) but I assured him it’s what I wanted. Bangs don’t take long to grow out, anyway. So he started to work, while telling me more about the philosophy of the salon.
“We’re green by default because we’re concerned with health,” he said. Just like in a nail salon, what’s good for the clients is better for the stylists. They are breathing in that stuff all day, you see.
Soho Organics’ Story
For Brian Wallis, who has had a lifelong interest in health, it was only natural for him to take a job at the original go-to organic salon by John Masters.
“Most hair stylists laugh at organic salons. It seems like a gimmick. But literally from the first time I walked in, it was so relaxed, so chill, no drama, no craziness.”
And the salon wasn’t just for hippies–Brian estimates 70 to 80 percent of the John Masters clients were pregnant or had started coming when they were pregnant. Other were cancer survivors or had other health issues that made them seek out a cleaner option.
And then Masters, ostensibly wanting to give his product line his full attention, gave six months notice to the stylists before he closed the salon. Brian and two other stylists, Jen Parker and Rod Rayson, scrambled to put together their own venture, pouring their savings into it. When they opened, almost all of their clients followed. “They didn’t have much choice,” Brian says.
(That has changed, as some other former John Masters stylists have recently opened a salon called Hale in Tribeca. It’s so new there are no reviews out yet on how nice it is.)
Some salons use some organic products on request, but for the picky customer, that’s just not enough because you are still inhaling the chemicals from other treatments. (Lesson: Don’t even frequent a salon that does hair straightening.) At my salon, I’ve asked about parabens, and received the answer that they are being phased out.
At Soho Organics, all the shampoos, conditioners and even products like argon oil are John Masters, naturally. The hair color is by Organic Color Systems, which is free of ammonia and ammonia-like substances and odor-free.
Brian warned me off of so-called “ammonia-free” hair dye products offered by some salons. The trick is that they replace ammonia with another chemical that doesn’t have the same power, upping the levels to match the potency of ammonia. “I had a woman who came in who was going to get her hair done at a salon that was ammonia-free. But her eyes were watering and her scalp was burning.”
I can’t personally attest to what this special hair dye is like, since I keep things natural. But a client of SO’s told me via email that her hair is super shiny after the treatment. “People stop me to comment, in fact,” she said. Brian says that it’s like your hair has never been treated.
Go ahead and ask your stylists about the ingredients in any product. Brian reeled off a laundry list of acronyms for me. “It contains a little MEA and no TEA, and doesn’t contain propelyne glycol. There’s a 4% cap on PPDs in Europe, but in America we cap it at 7%. It’s .4 to .7% here. You can’t have completely PPD free permanent color. It’s PTD free.”
Translation: We took out all the bad crap we possibly could. And we are super friggin’ knowledgeable.
Soho Organics also offers a treatment called Keragreen. “We call it a smoothing system or a defrizzer. It’s truly formaldyhyde free. Once you’ve gotten the treatment done, you just take a flat brush and hair dryer and run it through your hair and it’s straight. But if you just let your hair air dry, it is still the natural texture of your hair, just without frizz.”
It sounds like just the thing for beautiful summer hair.
When Brian finished with a blow dry of my hair, I was tentatively pleased. It’s always hard to see your look completely change. (“Is this too hipster?”) But in the last week I’ve grown to be absolutely in love with the bangs! I’ve morphed from a preppy girl to something a little edgier. It suits my mood and style much better, I think.
I’m a convert. The stylists are passionate and knowledgeable about the ingredients in their products and treatments. And they are damn good at what they do!
Hot tip: Brian tisked my use of clarifying shampoo from my usual salon. “It’s just extra strong shampoo.” But I need to get rid of the buildup in my super thick hair! He recommends apple cider vinegar instead. Mix 1 part vinegar with 8 parts water, and douse your head with it. “It removes build up, is antibacterial, balances the PH and seals the ends,” he told me. Noted.
First appointments are at 11 AM, and last appointments at 6:30 PM. Prices range from $65 for a blow dry, to $105-125 for a haircut, hair color starting at $100, and Keragreen from $350 to $550.
A month ago I was sitting around with some sorority sisters, having a cocktail, and telling a story about a fascinating night out. And then another story. And then another one.
When one friend gushed, “Alden, I love hearing these stories about your life. It’s so entertaining,” I blushed. I feel like I’m always talking to much, taking up space in conversation. But lately, she’s right. My stories have been just so damn good. And I haven’t been sharing any of them here. (Well, except this one.)
That’s because this blog is about living sustainably. And what does a DJ booth, a magician, and butt naked and un-photoshopped celebrities have to do with living sustainably? Nothing, really.
And yet, these stories are too good not to share. Mildly inappropriate? Eh, depends on who is asking. If you are a former classmate from my blog- and publicity-averse alma mater, I can imagine you saying, “Alden wrote a blog about how she walked out of the Standard hotel at 9 in the morning,” with a raised eyebrow. But I’ve effectively stopped caring about that subset of the population.
And there is my mother (Hi mom!) and my sister who is a total prude. (Sorry sis, it’s true. But that’s part of why I love you.) For these reasons, not every detail needs sharing. But I find these shiny moments of New York insanity beautiful and exciting, even if they are de rigeur for a certain set of New Yorkers who may pat me on the head for my naïve enthusiasm. I’ve given all of this consideration, and decided I’m going to pay homage to the second half of my tagline, “… in the city,” by throwing up the more notable events. I’ll start with last night.
(PS: This isn’t even the best story. Stay tuned for more.)
I Know the DJ
I love music. Hence, I love DJs. I’ve spent the last few months fraternizing with the guy I’ve referred to as “The DJ” among my friends, and my Spotify playlist is bumpin’ as a result. Despite really enjoying his company, I eventually realized that I needed to move on. (The exact moment can be found in this post.) Mainly because he was unreliable and had odd moments of crass frattiness.
But also it was weird to call him a DJ when his equipment had blown out and he wasn’t even DJing anymore. He was no longer being a waiter to support his DJing on the side. He was just a waiter, and I found his almost complete lack of ambition uninspiring. (I do owe him for introducing me to Floating Points and Koreless, though.)
I really do believe that if you make space in your life, new people will fill it for you. Well, a new DJ entered to fulfill my amazing-music needs, and he’s quite an upgrade.
Michael Arana is a lawyer and DJ, and he’s good at both. I haven’t witnessed his lawyering in action, but his pedigree–Stanford undergrad, NYU law and a stint at Lowenstein Sandler –speaks for itself. And after last night, I can vouch for his DJing ability as well. Here’s a smart lawyer who taught himself to DJ and now draws crowds of hundreds at top-notch NYC venues. It’s a LinkedIn profile deserving of respect.
I should probably clarify now that my relationship with Michael is entirely platonic. My friend is a friend of a friend of a friend of his, and he’s such a gentleman that after I met him at a bar doing a set, when I sent him a Facebook message asking about a music phenomenon, he drafted a thoughtful reply and quickly invited me to some of his events.
He does a weekly brunch, for which I could not find any girl who was available to come with me. Too bad, because apparently they were dancing on tables and one of them (the tables) split in half and crashed to the ground. “Everyone stopped and looked … and then just kept dancing,” Michael told me. Nice.
Last night I brought my girlfriend, who shall be called J, with me to Cielo in the Meatpacking district to see his set for Wobble. He describes Wobble as his “upstart tech-house label.” Whatever it is, it’s amazing, and it’s every third Friday at Cielo.
At first when I realized we were going to a party in the meatpacking district, I groaned. “F–ing Meatpacking district,” I said to J. “I’m never dressed slutty enough, you have to wait in line just to prove you’re pretty enough, and the guys are terrible.” I hoped maybe Cielo was different.
Well, it didn’t really matter what Cielo was like, because J and I got in for free by RSVPing to Arana’s list, and we walked straight to the booth. I expected just to hang out for a little while and then get out of his way, but Michael opened the door and welcomed us in, pouring us drinks and inviting us to hang out there the rest of the night. (And effectively saving us probably $90 in total on alcohol.)
If you ever have the opportunity to hang out in a DJ booth–and I mean a real DJ booth, one with a raised platform and a door and a shelf full of fresh glasses for pouring drinks–take it.
J and I loved it. We barely left the booth all night, except to use the bathroom. We hit the dance floor once, but left after five minutes of physically pushing sketchballs off of us. So we retreated back to the booth to dance there and hung out with cool people.
You know that moment when the DJ gathers up the music, pushing it higher and higher, tensing the dance floor? And then he drops it and the sound explodes and everything is right with the world? Yup, there’s a reason electronic dance music (EDM) is picking up cultural speed this year.
The sound quality inside the booth is the best in the club. The drinks are free. You never have to deal with self-involved guidos hitting on you. You can watch the DJs work, which propelled our enjoyment of the music to whole new levels. Michael handed us a video camera, and we took turns recording the crowd with their hands up and zooming in on Michael’s hands skimming over the dashboard. J really wanted to press the button for the fog machine, so I marched up to the lights guy and asked, and she got to do it. It’s the little things, guys.
I loved the set from the female DJ, Niki, as well. Michael talked about her skill with a sort of awe, which I too felt only five minutes in. It was mesmerizing to watch her tiny butt bounce around in her form-fitting striped dress as she worked the equipment, unleashing energizing beats that demanded you dance.
We were there until 4am, closing down the club, and then headed out to Brooklyn for an after-party involving some Romanians and a tweeter that is just entirely too large for an apartment.
If you want to hear what his music sounds like, here you go. I’ve been bouncing to it at work, it makes for nice energizing ambient music.
Sunday night I took the L to Williamsburg to meet up with two old sorority sisters and see a The Artist at the Nite Hawk. Afterward, Whitney, who was visiting from Philadelphia, said she had a friend working at a local place. She clearly didn’t know what a treat she was about to give us: Her friend works at the Momofuku Milk Bar.
There are lot of Momofuku’s in the city, and many of them are all but impossible to get into. But you can grab a little slice of sweet heaven at the Milk Bar, which has four locations in the East Village, Midtown, Upper West Side, and Williamsburg, no reservation necessary.
Their crack pie is aptly named (you can try to recreate it with this recipe), and their little cake truffles are so ridiculously good, $4 price seems like a bargain.
Whitney’s friend gave us the hookup, taking us into the warehouse of a kitchen in the back, where all the Milk Bar treats are made before being delivered to the Manhattan sister stores. It’s where pastry chefs took over in January to stage a decadent event called Killed by Dessert. (Please let there be a redux.) This is a serious workspace … I could crawl inside the mixers and take a nap.
“When I first applied,” our friend told us, “I though, ‘Oh, I like to bake, this could be fun!’ I had no idea.”
And in a testament to how good this stuff is, she hasn’t gotten tired of the sugary morsels–her sweet tooth has only increased.
Is it sustainable? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cook book has been slammed for heavily relying on processed food like junk food cereal. But up until the farm shut down in January (SO SAD), the Milk Bar also used Milk Thistle Farm for their excellent, local milk.
After doing some sampling, I suggest you not eat for an entire day, then go in and get one of everything, washing it all down with a White Russian milkshake.
It would also make an excellent date spot. (Hint, hint.)