Tag Archives: nyc

March

March.

I am walking down Vesey Street, or what would have been Vesey Street, had there not been the constant construction, Fernet Menta on my tongue, and the glimmering remains of sunlight on the horizon ahead.

I am meeting people I have only known over email, and I am learning *so* damn much.

I am responding to an email about a friend who ripped me off, to an acquaintance who is concerned about the well-being of said “friend”. I assure the acquaintance that given a pocket-dialed voicemail weeks prior, the “friend” is likely still drawing breath.

I am at The Dead Rabbit, constantly. Always on Fridays.

I am switching my phone between arms, extending it back into a scrum, hoping to catch something resembling a quote from the front office of a team that hasn’t yet hired a player.

I am at dinner, talking about authenticity, and marketing, and college over spicy tripe and pici carbonara. I am right about the lemon bars, but that’s less about me and more about the lemon bars.

I am in a locker room, getting pushed in the back by a cameraman who is grumbling loudly about not being able to get a shot. I was here first. I relinquish my spot so that he’ll stop whining. I am not thanked.

I am throwing up just a little in my mouth. I am regaining my composure.

I am perpetually on the phone: solving problems, comforting, joking, advising, and trying my damnedest to get things done without losing my composure.

I am trying to perfect my marinara recipe. It’s not bad, it just could be better.

I am coming up to the surface from below; the last vestiges of the sunlight is gone.

I am explaining a joke that involved someone in Portland (Oregon) casually soliciting me for an illegal drug. The person I am explaining the joke to, who was rather aggrieved that I would make such a joke in the first place, responds “Ha, fair enough. What part of town? I’m more surprised it was meth, not heroin.”

I am asking for feedback but getting very little. It is okay. I am used to this.

I am breaking news and getting name dropped, which is quite a change from a year ago.

I am playing games: *Infamous Second Son* and *Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls* and *Luftrausers* and *Goat Simulator* and *South Park Stick Of Truth* and *Zoo Keeper Versus*. They are all enjoyable in their own ways.

I am tired of the cold, and tired of telling people I’m tired of the cold.

I am standing at a soccer-related party, with Katie and my friend Dave. The team comes out. Katie shouts “THIERRY!” as Thierry Henry walks by us. He looks over, and smiles. She puts her hand up. He high fives her emphatically. All I can think: *wait, did that just happen?*

I am inserting myself in someone else’s drama. I know this is never a good idea.

I am at a bar I haven’t been to in six years drinking alone. People I see frequently/occasionally/never show up. We share that smile of friends that don’t intersect as much as we promised we would.

I am eating at a restaurant I haven’t been to in eight years. It has lost whatever limited character it had.

I am wondering when I became so numb to the rich variety of my life that I started believing that very little happens during my average month.

Cheers to The Dead Rabbit

Despite it seeming to have been burned into my genes, I have never been much for drinking. Call it something between a character quirk, a lifestyle choice, and an explicit desire to not act like a complete fool. It was only within the last five years or so that I began to appreciate alcohol a bit more.

New York, being a rather thirsty city, has endless opportunities for those who need a drink. Dive bars, frat bars, pubs, trendy cocktail lounges, speakeasies – the city manages to run the gamut from slouchy to upright, from $2 PBR to $15+ for a mid-shelf cocktail.

Over the last decade, I had not yet found *that one place* to drink, the bar that feels like home. Something not snooty, not a dive, but just kind of nice. Somewhere with character, but not a gimmick. Somewhere preferably with decent food (because drinking on an empty stomach is deadly). A decent location. Those sorts of things.

It was April 27th of last year when I first stepped foot into The Dead Rabbit, and knew pretty quickly that I had finally found *that one place*. Downstairs was pints and meat pies, an absurd collection of irish whiskey, and high-quality takes on classic cocktails. Upstairs was teacups of punch and dollar oysters, someone at the piano, and bartenders in red shirts and suspenders moving so rapidly between tincture bottles it’s occasionally indistinguishable from magic.

I defy anyone to try the Irish Coffee and not fall in love.

So try to ignore their daunting list of industry honors after only being open one year: “Best New Bar”, “World’s Best Cocktail Menu”, those sorts of things. Try to put the long wait to get upstairs out of mind. It’s worth it. It’s incredibly worth it. And I say that as someone who’s not much of a drinker.

To Jack, to Pam, to Chris, to Anna, to James, to Laura: happy birthday, friends, and thank you for everything.

NYC 10: The Best

Last month marked 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

New Yorkers are generally stereotyped by being rude; in truth, they’re just strongly opinionated. With that in mind, here are a number of things I am right about, in alphabetical order.

The best Apple Store in NYC is West 14th Street, as it is rarely crowded or busy.

Inside Chinatown Fair

The best arcade is Chinatown Fair, although this is mostly because it’s the only arcade worth a damn at this point. It’s lost something since its hole-in-the-wall years (as pictured above), but it still has a good selection of music games and a couple fighters.

King Henry's Road NW3

The best bar in NYC is The Dead Rabbit. Busy Irish pub downstairs, crazy speakeasy cocktails upstairs. If you’re downstairs, get the Irish Coffee; if you’re upstairs, get the Ginger Daisy.

The best barbecue in NYC is Mighty Quinn’s. The brisket and pulled pork is unreal.

The best coffee in NYC – and this is, admittedly, a very tough pick – is the Iced Latte at Cafe Grumpy. Any Stumptown or Blue Bottle location is also acceptable.

The Troll 2 Experience

The best comedy venue in NYC is UCB Theatre. I’ve seen Aziz Ansari, Paul Scheer, Bobby Moynihan, Julie Klausner, and plenty of others build their careers there.

The best doughnut in NYC can be found at Doughnut Plant. I am partial to the Vanilla Bean & Blackberry.

Schnitzel & Things Line at 12:08

The best food truck in NYC is Schnitzel And Things. Chicken platter, fries and cukes, spicy mayo.

The best fried chicken in NYC is Hill Country Chicken. Eat downstairs. Don’t skip the pie.

The best lobster roll in NYC is Luke’s Lobster. Practically perfect.

The best mocha in NYC (which is very different from best coffee) is at Lucid Cafe. I don’t know how they make it but it is downright magical.

The best movie theatre in NYC is Regal Battery Park Stadium 11. Somehow, it is still a secret, despite everyone I know agreeing on this point.

The Cloisters

The best museum in NYC is The Cloisters, not because it’s got a particularly vibrant collection or strong curation, but because it is so far out of the way that you don’t feel like you’re in the biggest city in the world.

The best music store in NYC, and the best place to buy movies, is Kim’s Video and Music. I miss their old location, but they are vital for DVD and vinyl collectors.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sakura Field

The best park in NYC is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, especially in the spring.

The best pizza in NYC is at Motorino.

The best ramen in NYC is at Hide-Chan Ramen. You get a free topping Monday through Wednesday. Get extra pork.

The best overall restaurant in NYC – and by “overall”, I mean balancing the service and quality of food against price – is Gramercy Tavern. I have a solo lunch here every year on my birthday, and it’s where we go on our anniversary. Yes, Per Se is gorgeous, and Le Bernardin does amazing things with seafood, and I eat at North End Grill every week – but Gramercy just hits this balance of everything so well that it’s a solid level above the rest.

Gallow Green

The best rooftop bar in NYC is Gallow Green. Gorgeous in the summer. Yes, it’s expensive – it’s a rooftop bar. That’s how these things work.

The best sandwich in NYC is the prime rib sandwich at the Rosticceria inside of Eataly. This is a sandwich I come into the city for on my days off. It’s only available until about 5 PM, so plan accordingly.

The best subway line is the N. While I take the E every day because of its copious cell signal coverage (and that its the best choice for my commute), it’s hard to beat the path the N cuts diagonally across the island.

The best sushi in NYC is at 15 East. Be forewarned, it’s expensive – sitting at the counter for lunch is the best way to try it.

The best video game store is Video Games New York. The shelves are legendary, and sometimes pricey, but their selection is unmatched.

NYC 10: The 10 Worst Types Of People In NYC

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

Tourists. Not all tourists; just those who fail to understand that the city may not operate in the same way their hometown does, and then opt to get huffy about it. (These are the ones always complaining about how rude NYC residents are.)

People who don’t move in to the center of a subway car when there’s a mass of people on the platform.

Those who walk by a giant line for something, ask what the line is for, and then respond with “Oh.” Were you going to get in this massive line if it was some really compelling thing? No, you weren’t. Keep walking.

People on subways platforms who shout at people in the train to move into the center of the car when there’s no room.

Grifters. I have run into two in my life. One I dodged, one I did not.

People who cut their fingernails on the subway.

Food cart vendors who seem to be unable to do anything other than burn the hell out of chestnuts, leaving whatever street they’re on smelling of burning death.

Those who stand to the left on any escalator.

Stand-up comedians in Times Square who, in a desperate attempt to hand out free tickets so they get stage time, ask everyone they see “Hey, do you guys like comedy?”

But the worst people in all of New York City, the lowest of the low? The leeches who stand around Ground Zero and sell “NEVER FORGET” souvenir magazines to unsuspecting tourists. It is the most literal profiting off of a tragedy I have ever seen, and it is disgusting.

NYC 10: Twenty Years Ago, A First Visit

This month marks 10 years since we moved to New York City. I’m writing on a variety of topics to reflect on a decade in one of the best cities in the world. Read all the posts.

I’ve been told that some people have grand dreams of where they want to live when they’re growing up. There’s usually some story about a brilliant visit, some magical moment that sparks the thought in them that they want to live there later in life.

I didn’t have any dreams of moving here before it ended up happening. And I certainly didn’t have a magic moment, although I do remember my first trip to NYC somewhat clearly.

It was July 4th weekend of 1993; we were visiting the area to see a friend of my parents in Yonkers. And one of the days we were downstate, we drove into Manhattan to…well, I don’t quite remember the point, exactly. Some very light sightseeing.

We parked in Midtown; we walked along Fifth Avenue, not really doing much shopping. There was a stop in a Software Etc. on 48th Street, where I remember being mortified at the price of SNES games ($100!). We ate lunch at the cafe where the skating rink is. And walking back to the car, my mother tried to give the leftovers of my giant hamburger to a homeless guy, who promptly rejected it.

That was really about it. It was a tremendously short visit, and perhaps a bit self-explanatory why I didn’t get any lofty dreams of NYC at that point in my life.

Last year, though, I began making a detour on the way into the office: getting off the E train a stop early, walking over to Rockefeller Center, grabbing a coffee from the Blue Bottle that had recently opened in the Concourse, and then walking the few blocks cross-town to my office. And on one of this caffeine-motivated walks, I remembered that little time I spent on Fifth Avenue about twenty years prior.

And *this* is the thing, above all, I’ve grown to love the most about this city, that it is shaped and defined by memories, even those one would chalk up as innocuous. Even as New York rebuilds and reshapes itself – as the facades and storefronts change, as the skyline changes shapes, as people come and go – ultimately, your own mental map and memories are what make the city what it is for you.

Coming Up: “NYC After 10”

I do love me any excuse to celebrate a good ten year anniversary. And another big one approaches – September 27th will mark 10 years since Katie and I moved to NYC.

To celebrate such an occasion – and to once again give myself a fixed writing target so that my blog is not stagnant – I’m planning a month-long writing exercise of posts about New York, about how it’s changed, and about how it’s changed me. The intention is one post a day, in the style of my Games Of 20XX yearly things.

But, of course, I want it to be interesting and relevant to those who might read it, so – if there’s something in particular you’d like me to make sure I cover, please leave a comment or ping me on a social network and I’ll add it into my planned post list.

Movement

Home

There are few things harder to understand as a kid than having to uproot and move. Getting familiar with a new town, fitting in at a new school, making new friends – these things are hard enough when you’re an adult in control of the situation. As a kid who doesn’t quite yet understand how the world works, it erases nearly everything you knew and forces you to start over.

Continue reading Movement

3,653 Days Later

Ten years ago, I couldn’t find any words. I’ve found a few for today.

Here’s what I remember of that day during my senior year of college: I remember our house being firmly wrapped up in the third day of party drama fallout, which quickly fell to the side. I remember waking up to ten breaking news alerts from CNN in my inbox and only being able to think “This isn’t good”. I remember ringing the doorbell to the house repeatedly after I had turned on the news in an attempt to wake everyone up. And I remember contact the Freeverse office to make sure everyone was okay.

The timing of the day – not long after I had turned 21, not long before I would graduate and get married – makes it a pretty natural chapter break between college and adulthood.

I suppose the thing that strikes me now is that I’ve had the chance to spent eight years in the city that was born out of that tragedy. It’s hard for me to fathom the ways that the city has changed before and after September 11th. I will only ever know the after, as will many of my friends who moved here long after the towers fell. This doesn’t bother me – it’s not some sort of badge or achievement I long for.

This New York is where I found myself, made my career, built up an incredible circle of friends and peers, and launched adventures I couldn’t have dreamed of while I was toiling away in college.

This New York is *my* New York. And I love it completely.

From The Heart Of The Village

The Witch In The Green Dress: Thoughts on Sleep No More

Sleep No More

On Saturday night, I stepped into the McKittrick hotel with five friends. Three hours later, I found myself back on the sidewalk of 27th Street, catching my breath, my heart still racing, my mind still spinning.

If you keep an ear to what’s going on around NYC, then you may already know that the McKittrick is home to Punchdrunk’s “immersive theatre” experience, Sleep No More. Audiences are invited to don a mask and explore 100,000 square feet of a recreated abandoned hotel, while a cast of twenty-three actors stride from room to room and silently act out Macbeth by way of Hitchcock. Some audience members choose to follow one or two characters and see what happens; others opt to explore on their own, rifling through drawers and cabinets and suitcases. The choices are up to each attendee.

Much has been written about the experience, and I am loathe to rehash. You might want to heard the observations on the inherent voyeurism from Ben Brantley at the Times, or Michael Abbott’s lovely argument as to why anyone who calls themselves a gamer needs to go see it. You may be interested in the amazing set and prop design, which would lead you to this NYT slideshow. And there are plenty of other impressions around the web, almost all positive.

My normal way to talk about these sorts of experiences is to meticulously walk my way through everything that happened, trying to gather all the details so they form a single authoritative post. I am going to skip on that method for Sleep No More. I may have caught multiple scenes, I may have followed most every character at least once, I may have dug through a lot of drawers – and I may have even found an easter egg or two. But that experience was mine, and when you go, you will have your own – and it will be different, and unique, and yours. I do not want to taint that or come across as recommending a course of action.

But I will share one story from last night, after the jump. (This might constitute a spoiler, so if you’re looking to go in blind, stop reading here.)

Continue reading The Witch In The Green Dress: Thoughts on Sleep No More

In Praise Of Adam Kuban

Truffle Pile-On

I have met many of my best friends over pizza.

In 2004 and 2005, I found myself attending a couple of “Slice Club” meetups, a gathering for people (who like pizza) to meet other people (who also like pizza). While at the time I wouldn’t have considered myself a “foodie” – nor much of a “blogger” – these events introduced me to some really fantastic people, which began so many of my friendships (both directly and indirectly), spawned adventures in NYC and beyond, and triggered more parties than I can remember.

To that end, I owe a gigantic amount of love and respect to Adam Kuban, the founder of Slice NY, creator of Slice Club, and all around awesome guy. Ironically, I did not meet Adam through Slice Club – but his friendliness and efforts to get people together over a love of pizza (and burgers!) has perhaps impacted the last five years of my life more than I realized. (As was clearly evidenced by the outpouring of connection tracing on Twitter with so many friends this evening, I am not alone in this respect.)

Why mention this today? Adam has informed the world that he is leaving Serious Eats after four and a half years there. He has done a tremendous job as a part of Ed Levine’s team, and I’m sure his future exploits will be similarly amazing.

Adam Kuban

So, many thanks, Adam. I bet you didn’t think you’d change lives with a pizza blog, did you?