Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

What are YOU doing for this nice, long holiday weekend? I am going to the homeland, and while I thought it was going to be all bridesmaids and baby showers, the bride herself just sent me this (!!!!). Jealous, much?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Solvitur ambulando

Well, it's my second sleepless night in a row. There is no reason for the not sleeping. I do all of the right things-- plenty of exercise, limited caffeine, a book before bedtime. Yet some nights my mind just will not turn off. You know what it's like. I look at my phone more than is healthy, and watch form emails roll in from depressing places like Snapfish, Daily Candy, and Banana Republic (unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe.) It's deceptively lonely at 4am.

So I find myself here, at four-in-the-freaking-morning, cutting my losses by making coffee and watching old episodes of The West Wing until the sun rises and cools my nervous, whirling, working mind.

Springtime is slowly shifting away and this city is announcing its big, shiny summer plans. I've lived in my own little rented studio for an entire year now and have finally managed to get the people at the fancy wine store down the street to remember my name.

Two of my best friends will be back in the city come Monday, and another is leaving me for the left coast. Annie moved into a place with a garden, and Kate and Helen scored a Williamsburg balcony. Holly and I were discussing our summer goals a few months ago, and the only one I could really think of was that I wanted to make margaritas-- good margaritas, with real limes and agave nectar-- for friends at my apartment. I also want to go to the beach, and I want to read more Hemingway and I want to dance on a rooftop at some point. That Sleigh Bells album from last summer entered my playlist again-- makes a girl want to dance!

I've also started avoiding the subway and walking to work-- which is much easier than one would think-- and the city is shrinking before me. Cobble Hill to Brooklyn Heights to Downtown Brooklyn, across the Brooklyn Bridge, into Wall Street, Chinatown, and SoHo. It's become a sort of mantra in my mornings and brings me more joy than is probably normal. I know I should get a bike, and probably will soon, but for now the walking works. Solvitur ambulando, as the Romans used to say: the solution comes through walking.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New York, lately






(One of these things is not like the others.)

Cochinita

Photo: Michael Allin
WHAT THE....?!?!

Again. When I lived in Clinton Hill, just ONE YEAR AGO, we had to walk for years to find a decent place to eat/drink/not do our laundry. Now, it seems, the neighborhood has decided to wake up, stretch, and put on a decent outfit. First Hot Bird, followed by Fulton Grand, then Brooklyn Victory Garden (BVG is so great!) Then came Beny's, Hanson Dry, and Dean Street. And now THIS!?

According to Grub Street,

“I’m a gringo preaching the taco gospel,” says Los Angeleno Adam Frank, a former event planner and gallery director who soft-opens the taco shop Cochinita on Friday. Frank is willing to concede that New Yorkers’ understanding of Mexican cuisine has progressed “beyond the ingredients for nachos,” but ascertains that there’s still plenty of work to be done. He makes the process relatively painless, though: You order your $3.50 tacos by penciling in a form, checking off fillings, sides, and condiments. Then a cashier rings it all up on an iPad — a transaction we imagine wasn’t much in evidence in the Mexican wholesale-market food stalls that inspired the shop’s design. The corn tortillas are made in house, and the pork in the signature taco filling, the Yucat√°n specialty cochinita pibil, is humanely raised. (Humane treatment extends to vegetarians, as well, via a few meat-free options.) There’s flan for dessert and beer on the way.

Cochinita, 922 Fulton St., nr. St. James St., Clinton Hill; 718-789-7700

Humrph. Good luck trying to get everyone to my new, fancy, hood now, huh?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Weather

Again, I always feel like my grandparents when I harp on the weather (they LOVE the weather so much) but how gorgeous has this week turned out to be?! But in case it turns sour again--- a tip! Accuweather.com is so much more optimistic and pleasant than gloomy weather.com. They use tricky phrases like 'mostly sunny' instead of 'partly cloudy' and 'a thunderstorm possible' rather than 'scattered thunderstorms.' Get it? And their suns look like egg yolks.

Also of note:

Have you heard the Paula Poundstone vs Michael Pollan food debate on Wait, Wait? HILARIOUS. She can be really annoying but her relentless defense of the Ring Ding and complete commitment to the bit really works in this case.

Words We Don't Say, by NY Mag's Kurt Anderson. BLOGGERS! READ! And be sure to read the comments, as they are just as funny as the list itself. Rare!

A well observed, funny, funny list.

Well, THIS is exciting!

Mmmmmm that's all for now, I think. Sorry that I haven't really written anything of content recently, I'll work on it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Berry Nice

So silly! Yet, not a bad way to start this drizzly Monday-- discovering that Chicago thinks I look berry nice. I think that YOU look berry nice, Chicago. (Who knew?!)

Thanks, Glo!

Weekend

What a weekend! A few links:

I finally sampled a Negroni (or was it an Americano?) on Saturday in heaven after the rapture.

Have you all seen Sloane Crosley's cheeky tumblr, Sad Stuff on the Street? I found this sad thing on the 2nd ave subway platform. So sad!

This is one of my favorite stories ever, as told by my friend and colleague Brian. It came up in conversation again recently and I realized it's been awhile since I forced it upon my audience. Read it, I'm so serious!

Read this too.

Have you been reading the 'I Had a Stroke When I Was 26' series on The Hairpin? Pretty good.

And finally, Look! Here I am in Chicago! Berry nice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Good news, just steps from my front door:

The eating options in Brooklyn Bridge Park will spread south to Pier 6 on May 28 when Bark, the haute dog spot in Park Slope, Brooklyn, opens a stand there serving franks and burgers, along with ice cream from Blue Marble and Uncle Louie G’s, and sandwiches from Milk Truck Grilled Cheese. Later next month it will move to a terrace cafe on the pier with 200 seats and will start serving beers from Sixpoint Craft Ales and wine. The stand will be open Saturdays and Sundays, then the terrace will be open Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day.

Who wants to join me for a grilled cheese and a Sixpoint on the terrace at Pier 6? Done.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

When it rains, NO ONE is on the Brooklyn Bridge. I walked the entire stretch between the two archways yesterday without seeing a soul. Never felt so alive.

(Downside: It was raining.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Book Recs

Several people within the last few weeks have asked me for a list of summer book recommendations. The reason they ask, mind you, isn't because I have stellar taste or any real literary connections, knowledge, or insight. In fact-- my taste of often borders on questionable as I read WHATEVER is set in front of me. This, this, and this included. But I do love books, and I love talking about them with people who care. I'm asked for recommendations because I have an opinion, that's all. The books below are those that I am reading, have read, or intend to read in the coming months. And unlike many of the quacky new aged voyeuristic titles that I've picked up as of late, I think you'll like these too.
The Ask was recommended to me by two people whose taste I trust for completely different reasons. The first rec came from someone who tends towards solid, thoughtful, and well written material. The other came from a bit more indulgent and demanding reader who enjoys absolute entertainment above all else. I have a few chapters left of this novel and can say in all honesty that it's the best book I've read in a very long time. Lipsyte clearly has fun with language and gets off on deconstructing sentences so that they clamor along like the ideas themselves. He tells a story of squirming middle class woes, right here in New York with a sick sense of humor and rare brilliance. I love this book and look forward to reading more of his work. (Actually, if you want a taste, try this.)
The Best of Everything popped into my head last week when talking with a friend about the lack of Mad Men in our lives. I read this book several years ago and then again last summer. It's a story about secretaries in 1950's New York, although written after the Sexual Revolution, a decade later. It is therefore a very specific narrative that pokes and prods at feminism without dismissing the indulgence and excitement of an era of typewriters, martinis, driving gloves, and pillbox hats. If you miss Don, Roger, Peggy, Bette and Joan, well here ya go. Handed to you on a platter, I swear.
I've been unknowingly reading Gabrielle Hamilton for years, in essay form in various publications. When Blood, Bones, and Butter debuted a few months ago, I finally put it together that this, this, and this(!) were all written by the same snappy, heartfelt lady. I WILL love this book, I can already tell, and look forward to the sunny day in the near future that I can lay outside and dig into it. (I don't however, like the title or the cover of this book. WHY, Gabrielle!? Those are three of my least favorite words, an unsettling illustration, and not my favorite color.)
I was blown sideways by this book. Never have a read a more dysfunctional, dynamic, and obsessive love story. This is the book that will stay with you, all wide eyed and surprisingly fulfilled by two characters living on raw emotion and little else. Charlie Smith's writing is wild and sprawling and his narrator, Billy, is an unforgettable loser--much like The Ask's Milo but with a less tasteful ego, if you can believe that. READ IT, then let's talk about it.

Hemingway crept into my life a few weeks ago without sufficient warning. I always shied away from his novels with a naive distaste for what I only assumed was overly masculine prose and content. However, this essay caught my interest for its cinematic accuracy, and then a bartender in Chicago (of all places, of all people) recommended The Sun Also Rises as somewhere to start. I later spent an entire Saturday dragging John from used bookstore to used bookstore on the west side before getting my hands on my own copy. It's a STUNNING read, so outrageously contemporary that I find myself underlining like a mad woman. This is the story of a group of American and British expats lounging around in Parisian cafes just like those cliched black and white photos from the same era. I haven't finished it yet, and while i don't look forward to the bull fighting portion, the Spanish nightlife and saucy romances will surely push me through.

A better way of finding essays like The Hills are Like White Elephants than my current tactic of searching 'full text Hemingway' online. These little stories are packed with-- I'll say it again-- outrageously contemporary dialogue. Hemingway is blowing me away and I cannot get enough of these little cafe conversations taking place in Paris, Barcelona, Switzerland, Africa, Cuba, and Florida. This is the quintessential 'summer get-away' package, if I may be so cliche.
Alison lent me this book months ago with the most glowing of recommendations, yet I haven't picked it up. It's currently mocking me on my nightstand. Soon, Ali, I promise. It's on my summer list.

One of my favorite New York novels, I read this book the first month I lived here. I had a habit of reading books like this that year-- The Bell Jar, The Best of Everything, Goodbye to All That, The Dud Avocado, The Women's Room, The Women, Captoe's Breakfast at Tiffany's-- books about young girls moving to New York and usually getting really messed up over it. I LOVED books like this-- they solidified my motives and kept me company duing those first few months when I didn't know a soul. Next up? THE GROUP!
As perfect but slightly less iconic than Gatsby, Tender is the Night is an easy, escapist, intelligent book about Paris in the 20's. (Not unlike Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, I'm suddenly realizing while typing this.) This is also his most autobiographical novel-- all tragedy and glorious heartbreak. As Fitzgerald himself wrote, "Gatsby was a tour de force, but this is a confession of faith."
Let's all read this, why not. Bossypants is the book that I will stay up all night finishing, I swear to you. It falls in line with my habit of reading self-indulgent-memoirs-written-by-strong-and-intelligent-women, but this one will be funny! Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm So Tall

I am!

(Bowery at Prince)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011