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Life with Lavendar in London town

Thursday, 3 September 2009

An Isle of Joy

Eleven years ago I went to New York City by myself. I was on my way back home from a two year stay in London and was brokenhearted to be leaving. Despite my wobbly state of mind, New York grabbed me by the collar and made me fall in love with her. At least I thought it was love. Until now.

I've just returned from my second visit to NYC, this time not alone but with a Husband. It's been eleven years but the city and I still had a connection. Stronger in fact. What we had before was puppy love; a crush. This time I fell hard and fast. Perhaps the Husband was jealous but he knew not to get in the way of True Love.

New York is a city full of snapshot moments. It is a mistress of atmosphere and seduction. It challenges and charms you equally and in the end you either keep up with the pace of the city or you are spat out. We had many of these "snapshots" during this visit. Here are some:

*Being asked by a guy on the street if we wanted to be in the studio audience for the Late Show with David Letterman . It was the slickest backstage production process I have ever seen. Military in it's precision and frightening in its utter professionalism. I was impressed. I'm not a big Letterman fan but watching him do his thing made me realise just how hard it is to seem so natural and how very good he is at it.

*Eating a porterhouse steak at Peter Lugers in Brooklyn, reputedly the best steakhouse in New York. I'm not a steak fan but the first bite was perfection. If I never ate steak ever again, it wouldn't bother me as I think I've had the best:

*Watching Nine to Five on Broadway with the wonderful Alison Janney (a la CJ Cregg from West Wing). It was one of the best live musicals I have ever seen. Once again- high, high production values and slick professionalism. These New Yorkers are good at putting on a show.

*Walking across Brooklyn Bridge on a beautiful afternoon when all of a sudden a voice shouted out -Call 911! and we saw that ahead of us a man was perched on the bridge beam. He was holding on for dear life. At least that's what I thought until I saw his face and I realised he was deciding whether or not to let go. The crowd that had gathered were taking photos. What were they trying to capture? Desperation? Vulnerability? Fear?

*Eating corned beef on rye sandwiches at the brilliant Katzs' deli on the Lower East Side. Meg Ryan faked an orgasm here during When Harry Met Sally and whilst the food was good, it didn't make me wanna scream:

*Turning the corner onto Rockerfeller Plaza to find a location crew filming 30 Rock in the street. Seeing Tina Fey in person just about made the Husband wet his pants. He loves the series.

*Drinking one night at Milanos, an old dive bar in Nolita that feels like it's been there forever. Perched at the end of the bar amongst the grizzled regulars drinking Pabst, I felt right at home.

*Hanging out in Noho, Greenwich Village, Hells Kitchen, Chelsea,Nolita, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Williamsburg. Where else in the world can you walk two blocks and be in a whole new world? In New York you can go Around the World in Eighty Minutes.

*The bookshops. Oh the bookshops. I came back home with a veritable library. McNally Jacksons and the Housing Works were my two favs on this trip.

*One of the best things about being in New York is eavesdropping. New Yorkers don't hold back when it comes to verbal sparring. They don't even mind if you join in. Here are some of what I overheard:

In Walgreens:

Girl 1 - He's just trying to butter me up.

Girl 2 - Oh really now?

Girl 1 - Yeah you better believe it. But you know what I told him? I said I don't what none of his butter. He can take it and spread it somewhere else. He can butter someone else's bread, you know what I mean?

In Brooklyn on a street corner

Man 1 - He was my best friend, my brother. But you shot him while I was in prison.

Man 2 - Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

*A meatball and pepperoni pizza at Lombardi's - the first pizza place to open in New York and still one of the best!

*If New York is a pulsing heart with its streets as vessels, then the hundreds of yellow taxis are most certainly the cells that transport life around the city. There is nothing more blissful that riding down one of the arterial streets of Manhattan in a NY cab with the window down, the wind blowing in your hair on a summers' evening.

* My most favourite building in the whole world. Grand Central Terminal. It's impossible to capture in photos but everyone keeps trying:

Dinner at the Oyster Bar in the station was delicious. We had East coast & West coast oysters and in my opinion, the former were much better.

*Having a proper New York diner breaksfast at the Lexington Candy Store (no candy in sight but lots of fat, sugar and carbs):

*Strolling through glorious Central Park. Whose brilliant idea was that? A living, green oasis in the heart of the city.

*Trying a red velvet cupcake and the devils food cake at the Magnolia Bakery

*Gagging at the pretension of some of the stuff in the Whitney Museum.. And where was the Georgia O'Keefe work? Ripped off.

*New York street art. Punchy, to-the-point and attention grabbing. Kinda like it's citizens:

And that was just day one.

It was a heady trip. Exhausting, stimulating, challenging, engaging. The city dunked us in its unique emulsion of craziness and control. It wasn't enough. I wanted more. I left New York kicking and screaming; a junkie to the core. I did not want to leave this city that had once again imprinted itself so definitively on my heart, my mind and my psyche. I had no choice this time but next time, I'll plan it differently.

For now, it's:

But not forever.

Summer journeys to Niag'ra
And to other places aggra-
vate all our cares.
We'll save our fares!

I've a cozy little flat in
What is known as old Manhattan
We'll settle down
Right here in town!

We'll have Manhattan
The Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It's lovely going through
The zoo!

It's very fancy
On old Delancy
Street you know.
The subway charms us so
When balmy breezes blow
To and fro.

And tell me what street
Compares with Mott street
In July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gli-ding by.

The great big city's a wonderous toy
Just made for a girl and boy.
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy!

We'll go to Yonkers
Where true love conquers
In the whiles
And starve together dear, in Child's

We'll go to Coney
And eat baloney on a roll
In Central Park we'll stroll
Where our first kiss we stole
Soul to soul

And "Abie's Irish Rose" is a terrific show they say
We both may see it close, some day
The city's glamour can never spoil
The dreams of a boy and goil
We'll turn Manhattan
Into an isle of joy!

(1925) by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog Lavendar, so well written and completely charming. Keep it up.