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Tag Archives: New York
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.
I know this is so, so late. I took these photos with my friend’s camera the night of the Giants win, walking around the East Village and Union Square. He held on to them for a long time, until I almost forgot about them!
But here they are, including cheering bros, happy ladies, cute puppies and just a general happy and heartwarming atmosphere.
(PS. A song I find kind of fun. You would only recognize the riff if you happen to have that old Brandy album from … maybe the early oughts?)
(I love New York!)
New Yorkers have a tendency toward superiority. This you know.
We are at the epicenter of culture. We know the latest music because it is born and raised in our venues; we know the latest food trends because we are eating them in the hottest new restaurants; we know the latest fashions because we saw them at Fashion Week and every day on the streets, here, in the Mecca of all that is new and stylish and experimental.
So please excuse us if we become bored and patronizing when we visit elsewhere.
This was me this weekend, when I took the train down to Charlottesville, where a dear sorority sister attends law school. I seriously can’t complain–it was a fun weekend. I met some really nice people, ate some good food (including homemade chili, yum), and just generally relaxed. (Isn’t relaxing the sole purpose of any trip outside of NYC?)
And yet, I had to keep tamping down the voice in my head that was saying, “Alden, you are so over all of this.” That voice nagged at me when a girl at dinner ordered herself a whole bottle of rosé with the intent to drink it herself. I remember that ostentatious self-destructive trait that ran through my college years. It’s a sort of finger to propriety and convention, served with a vicious laugh, challenging anyone to look at you askance. You get over it pretty quickly once you are in the real world, because it’s dumb and not cool at all.
Again, when we pre-gamed at an off-campus house, the voice nagged. We set ourselves up on a beer pong table, and I fought the urge to run over to the laptop where the guy in charge of music was subjecting us to banal rap music from the aughts. He played a rather good remix of Rolling in the Deep, but all the girls grimaced, asking what the hell it was. So much for experimentation.
Then we moved on to the main event, a themed party called Salute Your Jorts. That’s right, everyone was to wear jorts. Some people embraced the theme as a call to looking like a redneck, with booty shorts, cowboy boots and plaid button downs. But my sorority sister and I wore them un-ironically, with black tights, boots, and nice tops. This is an outfit I wear normally in NYC, and I wanted to demonstrate how it could be done and look hot.
It was your run-of-the-mill basement party. We got mud all over our shoes from walking through the back yard to get in, drank crappy beer from a keg, and danced to rap music I hadn’t heard since sophomore year of college. I do remember when I thought parties like this, where students crowded into basements, was the coolest thing ever. No more.
Near the end of the night, I looked to my left and witnessed a girl with her leg wrapped around her dancing partners waist, her jorts barely covering her ass. Then she dropped the leg and turned around to bend over in front of the guy, presenting her ass to him like a raunchy gift. “I just thought …” I said to my friend, “I just thought that law school students would be a little more mature.”
I said this a few times during the weekend, and each time it elicited laughter and a big fat, “Nope.” These students had gone straight from college to law school. When exactly would they have learned to appreciate sitting at a nice bar, drinking a delicious mixed cocktail and sharing debate and excitement over an event, book, magazine article, or career move?
I’m not alone in this sentiment. My friend’s boyfriend has been accused of being too cynical and superior. That’s because he grew up on the Upper East Side.
At around two in the morning, I sat on a couch, waiting for my friend to be done in the bathroom. (A fratty, gross bathroom that was out of toilet paper and had a line of girls waiting outside.) I looked up and was struck by a girl standing in the foyer. She had on jorts and black tights over her long legs, but also a perfect chambray shirt, and flat, ankle-high black suede shoes. Her wrists clanked with bracelets. She had long blond hair with her dark roots showing, that flowed down to her waist in casual waves. In short, she was a New York girl. I could recognize her immediately. She was cool without trying, and I was jealous. I could never do what she does. I’m too short, for one, but I’m also too earnest about what I wear. I like things neat and tidy, fitted, classic and perfect.
I wish I had brought my camera out so I could show you what I mean, but I’ve decided to make it a policy not to bring the big, expensive thing with me when I plan on drinking a lot.
I will say one thing: Virginia law school boys are hot, in their clean-cut way. I’m sure they would be boring to me (I tend to go for the artsy types) but they look so good. Look at these handsome boys!
The next morning we had a late brunch, and by the time we left, fat flakes were falling from the sky.
We retreated to my friend’s apartment to watch bad romantic comedies, eat chili and play cards. Again, I haven’t watched a bad romantic comedy in a while, but why not? Let’s just make my regression into college years complete. The other New Yorker in the room snorted and sighed in derision through the whole thing.
The next morning when I waited on the platform for the train back to NYC, I saw her, the New York girl. She was wearing jeans, brown supple leather boots and a chunky sweater. She was hugging her handsome law school boyfriend goodbye.
Sometimes I think of the experience of immigrants from other countries. They don’t ever feel entirely at home in the U.S., but they can’t go back home either. I feel like that sometimes. I’m not perfect for New York, but I can’t go back home. I would be too bored.
I often get pitches for green products, some of them good and some of them head-scratching. Why would I want to promote green lawn pest control? Um, I live in New York City. I wish I had a lawn that needed the services of a pest control company.
In any case, publicists take a risk when sending out eco-friendly items to be reviewed. I could hate their products, or love it. Most of the time, I’ve gotten on board and given an honest, yet largely positive review.
But this time, when I finished reading EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience, by Debra Duneier, I was left simply scratching my head.
I was absolutely willing to not judge this book by the horrendously-designed cover (and inside pages too, woof), and instead eagerly dug in to see what this lady could offer me. Here is my honest account of what I found:
Pro: An integration of of environmental psychology, LEED design, and feng shui.
I’m totally on board with Ms. Duneier’s philosophy. I find the field of environmental psychology fascinating, as it’s offered up such gems as how much happier office workers are when surrounded by plants. LEED design, a system by which buildings get certified as environmentally friendly, is an impressive credential on her resume.
And feng shui? Well, I’m not sure how much I believe in it, but it can’t hurt to do a little rearranging of furniture, throwing in a water fountain and a plant or two. All pleasant things.
Con: A few too many WTF moments.
I don’t mean to offend anyone here, but I was totally with Duneier, until I wasn’t. First came her assertion that:
Others in this field hold that we as a species are suffering from a “disassociative syndrome.” While similar to post traumatic disorder and multiple personality disorder, this thinking is based on the belief that many, if not most, people are no longer able to respond appropriately to the natural world.
If by respond appropriately you mean, not picking up my shoe to smash a spider that has invaded my apartment. Well then, yes, you got me there. But I consider myself a healthy, balanced individual, thank you. I would be curious to see who her sources are on this, but sadly, she does not cite them.
She also goes into a description of meditation not in a practical sense–as a way to calm the mind–but describes a ribbon of light flowing through our guts and connecting us to the heavens.
Finally, I really wanted to skip over the whole “space clearing” chapter, where she describes bathing in salt water before walking through a space with incense in order to clear out bad energy. I’m sure her client was very comforted when she told him the fact that his ceiling came crashing down meant that the space was actively being cleared of bad energy. Does that mean it’s working?
Pro: Some fun an actionable concepts.
I was especially drawn to Duneier’s description of the feng shui concept of the “Red Bird,” which is what you see in front of you when you first wake up in the morning. It should symbolize what you want your future to look like.
Her illustrative story here was compelling, about a client who was having trouble in her love life. Well, no wonder! Her “Red Bird” was a lonely women waiting for a phone call. Once she replaced it with a painting of two lovers, her love life picked up. Oh, if everything were that simple!
Well, looking at my own wall opposite my bed, I realized my “Red Bird” was a large collection of liquor on top of the cabinet. My future = drunken party girl?
I went into action, storing the liquor bottles and leaning a romantic illustration of a couple with a pair of pet dogs meeting, him holding flowers behind his back. Hopefully, someday I too will have a dachshund and will make out with someone resembling Don Draper while wearing an overdone sundress.
Other helpful hints from Duneier include limiting sharp corners (“poison arrows”), uncluttering your space to let good energy flow, facing your desk toward to door to project authority, and bringing in a water feature to promote abundance. The book is full of them.
Con: Written clutter.
Duneier could have benefited from an editor for this book. While she obviously has a lot of valuable information to impart, it’s all bogged down in irrelevant personal stories, asides, random tidbits and unnecessary instruction. There are chapters on hotels and offices (is this for residents or business owners?), a story about how a crying jag during the BP oil spill, and other items that–while they aren’t useless–are a bit superfluous. Half the book assumes you live in New York City, the other half you live in the suburbs. Because of this, she never quite goes deep enough in any one topic to sate your curiosity, instead moving quickly on to the next one.
Pro: A good introduction to basic indoor health and green principles.
If you are new to the green scene, she does do a nice job of introducing the concept of choosing materials wisely to help the environment and promote health.
Debra Duneier sounds like a charming lady, sort of like your eccentric aunt that will serve you green tea and listen to all your problems. This book does a great job of advertising her talent. I actually would consider calling her to come over (she lives in NYC) and feng shui my apartment for me. She could rearrange my furniture and help me organize while I tell her about my life goals.
But the book itself I found not terrible useful or actionable. I would imagine someone moving into a new house or apartment could pick this up, give it a quick read-through, and if she were so moved get another book that dives more in depth into all the of the topic Duneier covers. Maybe a book on Feng Shui that actually tells you how to calculate your Chinese Divination, or a book on sustainable renovations.
If everything I’ve mentioned her is utterly foreign to you, sure, go grab the book. Otherwise, I would save your dollars and reading time for something else.
I’m a little behind, I know, but I’m not a fashion blogger, after all. I’m a real person, with other interests besides obsessively plotting how I’m going to jump the waiting list for a $3,000 it bag.
But I think you’ll still get some utility out of this post, even if you’ve already been sucked inside the fall wonderland of department stores and boutiques, because I’ve rounded up some of my favorite fall finds—all sustainably made, of course. These are rock and roll pieces to update your look and basics alike. Click through the slideshow to check ‘em out:
Walking down the middle of an empty Third Avenue yesterday was so bizarre. I’m not sure this picture fully conveys it. We were half waiting for Will Smith to pop out, being chased by wolves.
Meanwhile, fifteen minutes earlier, I was in a car trying to get back into the city from New Jersey, torn between being jubilant about Summer Streets existing (though this was its last weekend), and cursing its existence for adding an extra half hour onto our ride.
“This is why people don’t have cars in the city,” someone commented. Perhaps it is a giant plot by environmentalists to make it impossible to own a car in the city. Or perhaps it’s just a chance to give the city a more laid-back, suburban feel for a day.
What do you think? Is City Streets amazing or just annoying?
Have you seen Downtown From Behind? Go go go, it’s adorable!
Grist reports that the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) will be letting cafes without enough space for an outdoor seating area to take over a parking spot instead. They’re calling them “pop-up cafes,” which if you live in New York, sounds oh so chic, like one of those pop-up stores designers throw together complete with a DJ and expensively dressed downtown girls and gay guys sipping cocktails.
I have one thing to say about THAT….
Read more here.
As ridership of bikes in NYC has gone up, fatalities has dropped. So get out there and support your fellow cyclists!
Elephant Journal must have low standards, because they’ve done me the honor of posting another story on their yoga and green lifestyle blog.
It was early afternoon on Tuesday, so the after-work joggers weren’t yet out. My jogging partner Rachel and I were almost alone on the path by the Hudson River. It was cool but pleasant outside, with a thin cloud cover that turned everything gray and silver. We gossiped, swapped advice, relished the fortune that had come to both of us recently. We were happy with our bodies and minds.
We turned onto the pier that would be our halfway point. Ahead of us was a young brunette stretched on her back, on the concrete ground, in the middle of the pier….