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concrete bunghole

IMG_2498I should have clarified in my last post that while my announcement of our upcoming trip to New York City was not an invitation to rob our house, it WAS an invitation to break in and clean the place, do the laundry, and remodel the kitchen. Or, at the very least, take our garbage and recycling to the curb because we forgot to ask my mother-in-law to do it and now, well, we are overflowing with blue bags and good intentions. I hate when you guys don’t read into what I write here.

So, yes. New York. Just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers and everything. This was my third time there and this was definitely my best visit. The reasons for this are threefold:

One: we had excellent hosts with good insight into interesting places to go. The first time I went there, we stayed with some very nice and gracious friends who were there for only a year and who had not ventured very far from their Manhattan apartment building. As such, when we asked them to give us some ideas for places to go, we ended up at The Hard Rock Cafe (museum that only sorta serves frozen food), Planet Hollywood (I don’t remember anything about this except for some facsimile of Sylvester Stallone hanging from the ceiling, watching me eat), and Fashion Cafe (filthy and really who goes to a restaurant owned by anorexic supermodels and expects a decent meal?).

Two: the weather was excellent. The first time I went was at the end of October/beginning of November and it was already freezing, a point that was driven home by the naked, shivering woman who had wrapped herself in a trash bag in Times Square. The second time was during BlogHer in August, at which point the city had become a festering asshole of humidity and garbage juice.

Three: I had nothing to do but be in the city. BlogHer ate up almost all of my time last time, leaving me with only one day to explore, which I spent at MoMA. That was great, don’t get me wrong, but this meant that I really hadn’t had a chance to experience the city as an adult.

Naturally, our trip was rather food-centric. Saturday, we spent most of the day in Flushing, which has to have some of the weirdest, hard-to-find delicious nosh on the planet. We first went to the Flushing Mall, which is a mall, but slightly off somehow.

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This statue had a really weird effect on me. The optical trick was enough to make me want to cry. So weird.

We didn’t go there to shop, however. We were there to go to the noodle shop in the food court. It’s one of those places where the noodles are handmade and stretched, you know?

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I don’t have any pictures of the actual noodles because once they arrived I couldn’t stop eating them. Also, looking through these pictures, I realized that my son now makes some version of this face in every picture. It’s charming.

Apparently the noodles or the grease from them had an adverse effect on a few members of our party, but I was fine and ready to move on to the next carb stop: the Ganesh Temple Canteen. I had heard about this place on an episode of Anthony Bourdain, which I think is uncool to admit? Whatever, dude and/or his staff can sniff out some good stuff. The temple itself was really cool because you’re just walking along a residential area when suddenly:

Quoi?

The canteen provided us with some of the best dosas and vadas that we’d ever had while we enjoyed a Hindu religious movie depicting some ancient epic battle.

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Huge dosa commands your respect

The baby wanted to visit the actual temple, but I declined since I had no clue as to what the etiquette for something like that is. We did check out the entrance, which was beautiful, but then the husband panicked because we had shoes on and we weren’t sure if that was offensive and we rushed out of there so that we could be clueless white people in the safety of the bodega next door.

IMG_2483Frank, one of our hosts, then led us into another part of Flushing and scurried down the stairs of a non-descript storefront. At the bottom of those stairs was another “mall,” where mall is defined as “a haphazard collection of eateries and businesses arranged in an underground location that may have been burrowed out by those infamous New York City rats.” It was, uh, weird. And there wasn’t a drop of English to be found there, which really makes me want to take a gaggle of those, “Why do I gotta press 1 for English this is ‘Murrica!” toads there and watch their heads explode. But it contained an eatery that had done some really interesting things with duck heads and whipped up some of the tastiest dumplings I’ve ever put in my face.

UntitledWe headed into Manhattan so that we could get some quality Central Park time in. The husband, baby, and Frank threw the frisbee around while I stripped my shoes and socks off and laid in the grass.

IMG_2492After a few minutes, I heard a loud THUNK. What was that noise? I wondered for a second before the pain set in and I realized that the noise was the sound of the frisbee hitting me in the head. The baby swore it was an accident, but I made sure to keep an eye on him the rest of the time. Matricide is no joke.

IMG_2493He ended up playing soccer with a bunch of kids which was one of those parenting moments that makes you really, really happy for no specific reason. “He’s playing soccer! In Central Park! With some kids he just met! That’s so awesome! Buildings! Grass! Yay!”

That night, Andrea made us Pioneer Woman lasagna (more noodles!). After the baby had been put to bed (er, put to couch as the case may be) under Andrea’s ad hoc babysitting services, we headed to Williamsburg to see some friends of ours, Beautiful Swimmers, play at a party in a warehouse. And it was all:

I know Williamsburg is supposed to be this hipster hell hole, and maybe it was the particular crowd we were amongst, but it didn’t really seem that bad. No worse than an average night out in Pittsburgh for us. I did take note of the apparent revival of the tiny backpack trend of the mid 90s, which is just so so dumb.

Sunday we got a late start and headed out to a record store in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn then took a long walk (stopped at a candy store, natch) to our dinner destination, Lucali in the Carroll Gardens section. We had over an hour wait for our table, during which three fire trucks responded to an apartment that turned out not to be on fire. The sister-in-law, Frank, and I walked to a nearby wine store and when we came back, that same apartment was getting a grocery delivery, so I guess all was well?

Our pizza was so, SO good. And our bill, $100ish for 5 people, was our most expensive all weekend, which isn’t bad at all. The baby had stated his desire to try cheesecake, so we decided to make the trek to Junior’s. This kicked off the low point of the weekend. The baby informed us that his seasonal allergy/lung funkiness was kicking his ass. The sister-in-law offered to let him piggy back most of the way there. She gave me her sweater to carry, which I dropped at some point. She and the husband hated me for this and I hated them for whatever so I went into the restaurant and tried to buy cheesecake. The cashier gave me some kind of lecture on saving money and long story short, I bought a whole cheesecake. Hilariously, the baby tried a bite and decided that he definitely does not like cheesecake. WHATEVER DUDE. We were obviously all way too tired, which the cab driver who had the misfortune of taking us back to Woodside had to discover. In other words, he got screamed at because nobody was escaping that evening without getting berated. On the upside, the cheesecake provided me with breakfast the next two days.

UntitledMonday, we went to Chinatown for dim sum and bubble tea where we got to see a vendor scream at some obnoxious girls. We then headed to MoMA because I wanted to see the Cindy Sherman retrospective and the husband and the baby needed to be there for the Kraftwerk show later that evening. Cindy Sherman was amazing and we took a quick peek at Starry Night and stuff.

UntitledAt some point, the husband started running toward some guy and it took me a minute to understand that he had spotted Ralf Hutter, aka the Main Dude from Kraftwerk. He and the baby introduced themselves and I tried to take a non-obnoxious picture of the encounter.

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That's Ralf on the right, looking a little scared.

For dinner, we went to the burger place that is hidden in the lobby of the Parker Meridien and then went to Momofuku Milk Bar to get some tasty things, like pretzel milk milkshakes, compost cookies, and crack pie. The husband, baby, and Frank headed back to MoMA for the show and the sister-in-law, Andrea, and I went to the restaurant in Momofuku, Ma Peche, to get drinks.

IMG_2501Frank texted me that people actually recognized the baby from the video of him finding out that we had gotten Kraftwerk tickets and a few even asked to have their picture taken with him. How adorable is that?

UntitledTuesday we got another late start and didn’t get to pack in any last minute things before having to go to the bus stop, but I left feeling like I had really been there. There’s a lot that I don’t like about that city. It freaks me out to be confronted with how many resources it takes to run a city and I don’t know what drugs the mosquitoes take up there but I got a bite on my leg that is just ridiculous. But it was cool to be just one person amongst millions for a few days and to have the “problem” of too many wonderful things to do and see and not nearly enough time to do a tiny fraction of them. I got the sense a few times that New York is wasted on New Yorkers, who spend too much time immersed in it to realize all that they have (not that it’s awesome for everyone). But I felt welcomed and a part of it, the noise and the heat and the pulse. It really is one of the best places in the world.

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He's an old pro at the MTA.

2 comments to concrete bunghole

  • Alaina

    Sounds like a great trip! I’ve only been there three times, but once was with a school trip when we did the Planet Hollywood/Hard Rock circuit. My husband’s never been…it’s so overwhelming compared to Pgh!

  • I have lived here almost 25 years and I love it still with all my fucking heart. I want to tell you that I’m sorry I missed you because Junior’s is really close to my apartment. But I hate getting yelled at so I’m not that sorry I missed that particular evening. Sounds like you did some of the very most awesome stuff. There’s so much more waiting for your next visit.

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