Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, the answer is, more or less, nowhere. The past two months of my life have been a colorful blur of the process known ‘round the world as moving. I assume that in most cities, this process involves finding a suitable place to sleep, transporting your belongings, and setting up your new WiFi router. In this city, though, it is more like disappearing into a shiftless void for several weeks, only to resurface in the  same neighborhood but paying $100 more a month.

You see, New York is like one those terrible arcade games where you have to push the quarters off with other quarters, only the quarters are all of us. And, much like in the game, when we are finally expelled from our tiered homes, we emerge on the other side of the glass thinner, cheaper, and only worth about 1/7,000th of a novelty mug.

 If my analogy is correct — and I’m not saying it is, I’m just saying that it’s my life — then Bushwick, Brooklyn, is the second to last tier before tumbling off the edge. It’s a lovely neighborhood, the only one I’ve been to where a rat can fall from the sky in the middle of a busy intersection and only one person is even remotely surprised. That is, surprised. Not confused.

Of course, as Bushwick melds into the rest of White Brooklyn’s trendliy pine-faced coffee shops and artisan whateverthefuck restaurants, the metaphorical platform gets higher and higher. We can’t fall back to here forever. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 Thursday, September 4, 2014 Monday, April 7, 2014

Urban Explorers: Red Hook Park

Red Hook Park: When You’re Here, You’re Home

It’s hard to believe that in a city of eight million that barely stretches its population over a handful of islands would have any space left for solitude. In Urban Explorers, I find and explore abandoned buildings, empty parks, and unique spots to be alone. 

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This is not the kind of place where one can get lost. This is the kind of place is itself lost, and being here, one finds oneself. 

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

The MTA: Three Haikus

Marcy Avenue

Goodbye, sweet Thank Dog / Your Jewish hat shop neighbors / Are probably glad.

R Reconstruction

Step into the car — / Oh, you’re stopping at Whitehall? / Don’t lie to me, train.

J Train

Fresh white kicks on you. / iPhone-powered couple. / Don’t roll your eyes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Nosh Files: Vanessa’s Dumpling House

As a compulsive snacker and woman-about-town, I’ve experienced some of the best and worst nibbles that New York has to offer. In the Nosh Files, I record my quest. 

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Image (C) Abigail Page.

Vanessa’s Dumpling House

310 Bedford Ave, New York, NY (and two other locations)

(718) 218-8809 

Price range: $1.50-$6

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Thursday, February 27, 2014 Monday, February 17, 2014

Urban Explorers: Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Garden

It’s hard to believe that in a city of eight million that barely stretches its population over a handful of islands would have any space left for solitude. In Urban Explorers, I find and explore abandoned buildings, empty parks, and unique spots to be alone. 

Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Garden 

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Photo (c) Irene Hartmann

When I was little, my mom could get rid of my with two simple words: “go play.” I used to know what that meant. If someone told me to just “go play” these days, I wouldn’t know where to start.

Astoria’s double-whammy of public space, Rainey Park and Socrates Sculpture Garden, gives me a few ideas. 

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mingle with the Mad Men of Midtown’s Past

Due to my prodigious clout as a travel blogger, I am proud to announce that the innovative tour agency Time Travel Vacations (TM) is now offering exclusive tours to my readers! Check back regularly for more. 

Time Travel Vacations: Manhattan in the 1960s

Imagine this New York - five course dinners at La Grenouille, cabbing it home, and hitting the diner as soon as you arise from your whiskey coma, all for the price of a modest meal at Applebees’. You can have all this and more with a Time Travel Vacation (TM) in 1960s Midtown!

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Photo (c) Irene Hartmann

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How to get a seat on the L

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Image (c) Laurie Lipton

It’s 5:30 PM and you got on the L train at Union Square. Don’t even bother looking around for a seat. It’s time to play “Who’s Getting Off At Bedford!” 

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Three Places You Cannot Sleep in Amsterdam

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What a better example of the Western European nanny state is there than the government employee in Centraal Station in Amsterdam who is being paid by the taxpayer each of the three times she knocks you in the head with her flashlight for sleeping. 

"Last warning," she says, the second-to-last time she catches you using your napsack as a pillow. "Next time, I’m throwing you out."

And she isn’t kidding.

The tourism office is altogether too noisy to catch some secret z’s, and two separate McDonaldses in the city center soon grow wise to your plan of buying the one euro small coffee and allowing your head to simply go limp while holding it. At least the employees there have the decency to look guilty when they kick you out.

You buy a tram pass, remembering the contentedly slumbering hobos on the F train back home in New York City. Because the lines are so much shorter, you can’t expect to sleep much longer than twenty or thirty minutes. 

Until. of course, the overly friendly Nederlander passengers on the train endlessly shake you awake each time you find yourself on the cusp of sweet sweet sleep. Natives have you pegged from the start — tired eyes, big-ass backpack, map to hostel clutched in hand. You’re a tourist, and they are as a whole very worried that you will miss your stop and become lost in their city. 

You get off at Dam Square and you figure, it’s a warm day, I’ll find a spot in the sunshine and do it housecat-style. You come to hours later, once the sun has shifted to now cover your body in shade. A park cop meanders by and tips his hat to you. 

You pull the blanket you stole from the plane out of your napsack, nod to the cop, and drift back to sleep. At long last. 

An Introduction

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This is what New York looks like when you don’t live here. Whether you’re visiting for business or for pleasure, you tend to stick to the shiny parts of the city. Thousands go in, out, up and down the glittering behemoths that now blind my as I cross the river for a shift of the Upper East Side, in a cookie shop tucked between two unassuming bodegas. You can’t miss it when you’re walking down the street, because the store has an industrial fan hooked up to a window so they can pump the scent of freshly-baked cookies onto Third Avenue. People often remark on the scent when they come in, looking for some accidental indulgences. “Oh, I smelled it from the street and I just couldn’t resist!” They must be thinking these are some special cookies. They aren’t. But the fan sure is working.