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Sunday
Apr032011

Spring in New York City

 

I was in New York City for the weekend. Cause I’m fly like that.
<cough>
Saturday was a whirlwind of shopping activity.  We arrived by train, tucked into our hotel, dumped our stuff in the beautiful rooms. We were situated immediately next door to our traveling companions the Giftenbergs... for approximately .07 seconds. That was, until the younger Giftenberg realized that they had been given a room with a single queen sized bed. 

The Giftenbergs do not sleep together. Come 11 pm this mother daughter duo is not sensitive to the others needs or handicaps.

“You snore.”
“Deal with it.”
“I do. I am the only one dealing with it.”
“meh. It doesn’t bother me.”
“…sadly.”

Once they had a larger room - a Jr. suite no less - with more snoring room and less dogs in the hallway. Alyssa advised “You should request another room, too – don’t the dogs barking bother you?” <blink>”No. We are slightly conditioned to it.” We left our new home on Park Avenue and headed east towards Central Park. Except that was the wrong way.

First shop was Sabon. Fancy frenchy soap.


The place was riddled with bars of every shape and size, as well as colorful little pots of soap salts with charming little wood shovels in them. All appearing to be in some state of openness. Even though there was no space for it - there was a giant wishing well of a circular brass sink in the back. The whole place was no bigger than two elevators stuck together.

Bryant passed the time by ‘spraying things’.

“What’s this one? (mist shower) mmm… (Suspicious facial expression) What about this one? (mist shower) ..This one? (squirt.)” A stream of liquid shot over my left shoulder , across the shop and could be heard landing on the beautiful basket of rose petal infused boob shaped bath bomb things.


“Whoops.” A new pass time had been discovered for Bryant. Annoyance avec produit.

I took 5 photos and noticed that the Artful Dodger [henceforth known as “AD”] (Mrs. Giftenberg) had grown tired of Sabon and had left.

Yep, gone. Outside and en route. Heading west as I could see through the shop window. Uhm,.. helloooo… Seems we’re moving. Nowish. Mooving.

Once I caught up with my hashing group, I was informed that ‘we were hungry and needed to eat immediately’. The AD went to the first cafe that had a decent/ aesthetically pleasing logo and walked inside as if they had been expecting us.

I guess this is where we are eating. Once inside, I made eye contact with a waiter who had recently returned from drinking a glass of his own urine (or was French) and started to set about getting us a table. But then Alyssa walked in - made a terrible face.

Different than that of the waiters - but equally as condescending - and a nickname was born. Alyssa is the proverbial ‘culinary Canary in the Coal Mine”. Having been a chef in some really nice restaurants in her life (fabulous life- my friends are all so elite) Able to detect inferior or poorly managed cuisine at 20 paces. She can tell by the immediate smell of a place whether we should stay or retreat. The woman never ‘done us wrong.’ So we go with the groups strengths and move along. I smiled at the pissy French waiter as we were leaving. (shrug. giggle. bye!) “It seems you are not good enough for us. Adiu!” wink.

Next was DKNY. I was not allowed to take photos in their shop - as advised by the woman at the door.  


(blink) “What? Why?” It was as if she had informed me that I would need to shop naked while in the store. I took 3 more photos while asking her to clarify, before surrendering my camera to my bag. I had every intention of taking it out again once she was distracted. It seemed to be an obvious challenge. Bryant was looking for something to spray.

The Giftenbergs made it to the second floor before I had mentally dealt with the momentary loss of my visual documentation tool. It felt strange to have my right hand so free.  Bryant and I made friends with some of the second floor sales staff (we were immediately accepted after they noted we were with the woman who already had two rooms of stuff to try on, and the one with the approved retro jewelry who ‘spoke’ DKNY.)
We mentioned that one of the mod plastic chairs with the graphic black hole placed in the center - was actually a minimalist latrine. All four of us regarded the chair.

I swear they believed us for a minute. They then regaled us with stories of where the sleeping men usually nod off. Seems there is quite a popular chaise on the Madison Ave side where some have gone stagnant for hours. Only to be awaken for cards of credit.

Outside DKNY we ran into the Rev. Al Sharpton. Mhhmmm. Who - for a wild second - I was sure was Don King. But no. Decidedly not Don King. (Insert Yenny’s voice in my head “no you stupid white girl. It’s the other black guy with the hair.” Chinese people are so judgmental.)

Next shop - Camper.


Modern bendy looking shoes that Alyssa looooves. And Bryant openly made fun of. I couldn’t concentrate. My brain was tired and had turned to overcooked polenta when I realized all the walls were covered in molded sheets of wicker.

“Wha? Are you seeing this???”

I have my back to all the products in the middle of the store and cannot stop pointing and looking at the walls with my open gaping mouth. “Look. Look at the wall....” <point>

Not too much later, there was some sidewalk smack talk over what denotes a stylish shoe between Bryant and Alyssa. But Bryant pulled the ‘happy offense.’ I have fallen many a time to the ‘you’re crazy laugh’. Makes me grit my teeth thinking about it. Historically, the happiest person always wins the debate. It’s diabolical. I swear they must have taught it to him in strategy sessions at the Naval Academy.

Next stop - Fishes Eddie.


I heart Fishes Eddie. So. Many. Things. Baskets of things. Boxes of things. Buckets of things. Hanging things. Stacked things. Fanned things.

And all around the things are these crazy portraits of people seemingly cursed with ‘bad gas faces’. None of them are happy.  Love it. Angry portraits. Whee!

But what - what is that I see across yonder street? Is it a church?
(well possibly - but I’m not looking at that) I am looking at the holiest place in all of New York. I am looking at ABC Carpets (cue Boccelli music, light flare, release of doves and slowly fan the incense towards the door).


ABC Carpet is ... Well it’s like a chef being laid to rest in a coffin made of fresh butter. It is butter.

They are a phantasmagoria for the senses. Smells, patterns, textiles, sounds... It’s just downright sick. I love it. And fabulous confident gay men work there (who could have guessed that?) And bitchy underfed women with small dogs shop there.

And me - going from item to item gleefully squealing like a retarded 6 year old at every.  single. damn. thing.
“Omg! Omg! Ohhhh my gawwwd.... look at that!!” (Visualize the ‘I have to go to the bathroom bad’ face with pointing and hopping). Then immediate chest clutch. Bryant should have been a Special Olympics coach. He was very patient with me.


At one point we were in India, then Morocco, then a British men’s polo lounge. Then a french linen dreammmmm. See how I oscillate from loving the French to hating the French? I am just fickle. But fickle and fine with it.

About an hour and a half into the ABC experience - having lost both the Artful Dodger AND the Canary, we became polenta brained in the bed linen dept.

A sales girl thought I wanted to buy this natural linen duvet. No. What I wanted to do was mate with it and then smoke a cigarette directly after. Stop trying to be helpful. There is NO WAY I could possibly afford my own taste.

We later located the “AD” on an ottoman in the Belgian area. (duh)(of course she’d be there). And formed a plan to later regroup for dinner in the hotel lobby at 6:45, when we would hop a cab to dinner. It felt good to have our future selves sorted out.


Fast forward to 6:45. Everyone has changed. All the women are now wearing black with marginally more uncomfortable shoes and gobs of jewelry and complimenting the shit out of each other, while Bryant stoically gets us into a cab for our passage to ‘Aquavit’ to dine. Our passage was 4 blocks long. We are energy losers and even better - after the 4 blocks we were STILL not getting our fannies out of that damn cab until we saw the sign of the restaurant. “oh ...there it is. Okay. Low profile fancy black signs. Yeah, that seems right. Okay, we’ll get out now.” Marathoners, every one of us.

I will admit that I was not 100% totally sold on the whole ‘crazy exclusive, crazy expensive Scandinavian restaurant idea’. In my mind I saw cold tasteless fish, barren of flavor with harsh war-time-esque prison type rolls. I imagined myself fake smiling through a lot of it.  “mmmmm.....(tink!) whoops - oh don’t mind that. That was just my tooth. It was old anyways.”

But I was so wrong. This was like dinner at the best restaurant in Valhalla.

The menu was littered with crazy punctuation marks, resulting in beautiful exquisite salmons - so pink and buttery that it made you giggle! And weird exotic drinks that you only see in expose spreads of Travel and Leisure. I had a Lychee Martini, mmmhmm. The Canary had a blueberry mohito. It was divine from the start.

Bryant – asserting his masculinity (okay he just drinks beer) opted for a bottle of some obscure monestary’s finest brew. A curvaceous bottle dressed up with a gold-foiled label and sexy, unique beer glass accompaniment.
But Mrs. Giftenberg. Curator of all that is possibly to good for you - she had the drink of the house. A flavored Aquavit. (okay – truth be told I thought that was a food order and I was so confused and kept trying to interject with “but we already ordered three appetizers to share.” I am the Mayor of Simpleton) Her drink arrived with MUCH pomp and circumstance after our drinks had and it was so specific and elegant. Like it was liquid modern art. Or precious antivenin. I shivered just looking at it. It looked dangerous. It looked like it had a predictable medical effect on humans. She was going down. And it was the smallest glass on the table. I think my glass was scared of it.

There were many of which to pick in the infused flavors of Aquavit. You could also get cucumber, cardamom, pear, anise and some other suitably obscure flavor bewilderments. But our “AD” knew how to work it. She polished up the brass knockers and ordered horseradish. yah vol.

She was comedic and flush-faced in no time. Hell, we all were. Wait staff kept popping out from behind me with plate after plate of gorgeous amazing things. Goat cheese croquettes drizzles in lavender honey (do you eat it or bathe in it?) plated brown breads with a few leaves of wild greens, a slice of rare roast beef, and a dollop of fresh mustard.  Topped with a divine, singular, hand made kettle fried potato chip.  Mmmhm. Yep. Or the similarly dressed protein-looking substance next to it that had shopped at the same milliner – sporting the potato chip thing that seconds earlier I had vowed to “EAT ON SIGHT” if confronted with.

I ordered the Scandinavian Bouillabaisse for my entree. Mainly because the Martini had been absorbed into my system and I wasn’t really ordering anymore as much as reciting adorable sounding menu names. Bryant ordered the Smorgasbord.

“I was going to order that!!! OMG!!! Don’t you love saying that??”

But when our god given blessing that was a waiter informed him that it was an array of cold meats topped with caviar…well things changed. Bryant doesn’t eat caviar. Period.  He actually visibly frowns when one says the word ‘caviar’ aloud. I have seen it happen more than once. Lord you should have been there the time a melba toast laden with the stuff made it into his trap. It was a bad experience. Since then, when being offered the delicacy, he reacts exactly as if someone has asked him to ‘hold their maxi pad’. Same reaction. Same face.

So he went with the Swedish meatballs.

“Isn’t that sweet? OMG! (Yeah the Lychee Martini was potent.) This crazy fancy cool place has Swedish meatballs??” We all made an Ikea jokes and drank some more.

And I started photographing the food again. “Are you done with this? Can I eat this? I’m eating this now. Photos are not necessary for me to enjoy. She is an idiot.”

Okay maybe I just felt that last part.

We were disgustingly stuffed when time rolled around for coffee. David, our angle like waiter, asked us if we wanted dessert. We laughed at him.

And then ordered dessert. For Christ sake the WASP, hyena table that had recently departed had tried and recommended it.


Brass tacks - they were too loud and two of them were hugging the whole time and I somehow believed that they were faking being gay. Which made me kinda hate them. I disliked them. They seemed like they were definitely harboring some closet Ed Hardy duds at home and buying into the Pajama Jeans concept. But we ordered the same dessert. But not to be like them. Rather to transcend them. There is a distinction there. Somewhere.

After dinner we rolled out of the restaurant and had booze legs enough to walk ourselves home in the night air. We came close to hugging, singing and skipping at points. You know how it is. We passed through a movie set and the Canary worked her lingo magic with the set security guard to glean that it was a Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock film.

“Oh that’s nice. They’re nice. I like both of them. Really. Stupid Jessie James. Wait till he see’s what that chick looks like at 50. He’s got a surprise comin. Idiot.”

{Sleep Occurs}

Sunday morning we found the quintessential New York diner on Madison and got ourselves back up to fighting form with the help of a few eggs and a pot of coffee. Bless Columbia and it’s many brown beans of revitalization.


We walked to the MOMA.



No. Not to the museum (Bryant was so heartbroken. He does love seeing modern art. And eating caviar.)

We went to the MOMA store. We bought dumb stuff. Beautiful, dumb stuff. Stuff that made us happy. I got Yenny a coffee cup that says “off” - but when you put hot coffee in it - it changes (miracle of heat!) to the word “on,” clever, no? I liked it.  I bought myself another blank note pad. Bryant looked away. It’s an addiction. An ugly base addiction. Later I’ll be able to build a house out of the blank notebooks I have accumulated. Then he will change his tune. Yep.

We stopped in at the St. Regis "to see friends”.

It’s really so bloody civilized in there. I could see why Crocodile Dundee stayed there. The Door man had a hat the size of a waste can. So fancy. And in the ladies room they have divine hand towels. You really must take one. (or 5). I did. I could wash my car with it – you just wouldn’t believe how durable they seems. (Note – it is highly doubtful that I will wash my car with them. Or that I will wash my car.)

We went to Barney’s with the clear intent to get Jo Malone perfume, and the very same soap products from Aquavit’s bathroom. Poor Bryant made the mistake of offering to buy the Aesop goods for both Alyssa and I. He didn’t know.


“It costs how much? For these 4 items? Just these 4??”


Alyssa had tried to stop him. She warned him it would be akin to a car payment. Thankfully she was there to care for him after the sales girl was done with him and he was all twitchy and murmuring.


I had moved on. Barney’s doesn’t sell Jo Malone. I got the scary perfume ladies to all say “No. Only Bergdorff’s has it” all at the same time. Like it was a song. Totally thwarted their condescending looks. And they had so much to chew on with me.

So I was tracking the Artful Dodger who had strayed to the Chanel counter. She was shopping for beautiful charcoal mineral infused eye shadow. We chatted about lipstick while she waited and ended up walking away with some. It was a Miracle! A Chanel Miracle!! Well right up until the bill comes.



Bryant and the Canary went to the Diptyque nook. Where they sprayed the earlier sticker shock away. It happens that they had just come out with a line of perfumes... And it also happens that I cannot discern certain base scents. We had a test. I failed.  But gawd I smelled wonderful.

About 45 minutes later, Bryant and I ran back there with a clear “intent to buy.”

I had decided “screw Jo Malone and her geographically unreachable products! I love Diptyque!"

My {boyfriends} hard earned money is going to THEM.”  I need to work on ‘deciding in the moment’ a bit more. I’m a pain like that. We were in a hurry to get the hotel sorted and return to shop-a-palooza. So there was little time for retracing one’s shopping steps.
So we were back there – in the bowels of Barney’s in Manhattan and I was SURE it was honeysuckle that I had smelled - but the labels on the damn things were all so bloody confusing and yah know? To be frank, they don’t really say names on them. (not helpful.) And it was as stressful as an emergency room visit there for a few minutes.

And it was about that time when this elvish prince of the perfume world (yes he was gay)arrived on the scene. He was basically wearing a black mini wraparound dress and tights  - but he had this had a serious look on his face. He swooped in to help us determine what the scent we were trying to remember. He was a beautiful smell detector. Scientist level. We trusted him implicitly - he asked the right questions - knew every ingredient in every product and spoke of it knowledgably. And he understood our urgency to find it (bless that little man). But there were so many smells wafting around this olfactory war zone. How would we find ‘the one?’ I weakened. I became sad and looked as if I might give up. I was getting redy to make apologies and retreat when he asked:

“...did you put it on yourself?”

(guilt) (no idea why) “yes, but that was 20 minutes ago and ... (I gestured to the 90 open perfume bottles behind him and the appearance of perfume ‘rain’ on the glass counter before us). How could you ever tell THAT needle in this haystack????”

Ohhh, all yee laughing doubters. This man was not just some schmuck off the street. He worked at Barney’s in Manhattan, bitch. He raised my wrist to his nose and simply handed us the right bottle. Snap! It was like an action scene in a gay comic book. We left happy and smelling ridiculously expensive.

Once reunited with the Giftenbergs we made way to SoHo’s Pearl River. We had an awesome cab driver. He was slightly egged on to illegal speeds by my repeating “Whee!!!” in the passenger seat beside him. I do enjoy breakneck speeds. [“Healey was always happy. Always happy, right up until the impact of her vehicle with the Helmsley Building."]

Pearl River was ...well frankly it was downright overwhelming.

I took about a bazillion photos inside the joint (that is so different for me. I hardly ever touch the camera. Sometimes I forget where it is.)

What I learned was “If it was made in china and it’s under $ 75 bucks - it’s for sale here somewhere.” Bryant got a set of fancy chop sticks there. He has practically been hugging it since then. It seemed this white boy has “always wanted a good set of Chopsticks.” How have we made it this far without them? Really?  Wtf? What are we going to eat with them? Nacho’s?

But who am I to question his first and seemingly only personal expenditure of the trip for him?
We hit up lunch at the Manhattan Bistro (located in the heart of SoHo)(?) God that was good – and they have one of those window walls that they open up onto the street when the weather is nice. Glorious.


Visited about 6 more stores... and that was enough. We all uniformly hit our life alert buttons and lay in the street. We were out of money (well most of us), out of energy and seriously out of time. We collected our luggage and set off for Penn Station and home.

Thank you New York. We had a lovely weekend.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


{end notes: Trains are so civilized. They have no seat belts and serve beer. Beat that. Alyssa is a beautiful, enchanting being. She saw me writing on the train and knowingly reminded me of that fact several times in case I was to forget to mention it.}

If for some reason you actually want to see MORE photos from my weekend - they can be found on the Flickr stream here.

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