nyc trip | virtual book

nyc trip

#journal #travel #cities #nyc Mentioned in what I'm doing now

During the week that Z & I were there, we saw friends, shopped, attended comedy & jazz shows, visited museums, drank lots of coffee, ate lots of pizza, walked, biked, rode the subway, took the ferry, and wondered where in the city we might want to live.

Friday 05/17/2024 –

Bushwick

bushwick

#journal #travel #cities #gentrification #nyc Mentioned in nyc trip, what I'm doing now

One of our intentions for visiting NYC was to test our interest in moving there. It’s easy to fantasize, but would we actually like living there? And if so, where, in particular?

For the first three nights, Z and I stayed in an Airbnb in the southern corner of Bushwick, between Broadway and Bushwick Ave. It was obvious immediately that the area would be far too noisy for our dog, Baxter. He is generally frightened by noise and would be reduced to a quivering lump by the thunder and shriek of the subway that runs above Broadway.

The location was great for our trip, though. Within walking distance we had plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores, and even a small comedy club. It was easy to have an eventful first night despite having arrived at the Airbnb at 9pm, tired after a long day of travel from Seattle. Also within walking distance were subway stations for the J, L, A, & C lines, which made it easy to get around Brooklyn and into Manhattan on the two days following.

Bushwick, according to my friend who lives there, is the hip, artsy neighborhood that Williamsburg was ten years ago, before it fell into the sterilizing grasp of corporations. Bushwick is gentrifying though, and walking east to west through the heart of the neighborhood you can see the process unfolding.

On Saturday afternoon we came up out of Myrtle-Wyckoff station onto a small pedestrian strip crowded with carts and market stalls selling a variety of Latin American street food to Latino families. We’d left the noise of the L underground, but on street level cars honked, music blared, people called and chattered, and the M ran overhead. As we walked west on Knickerbocker Ave towards Maria Hernandez Park, we started noticing trendy-looking delis among the Mexican and Central American restaurants, and the unmistakable presence of young, white tote-carriers like us.

Despite this, the neighborhood looked no less gritty and industrial. Until the sudden sign of corporate investment. It announced itself when we wandered into the “Shops at the Loom,” in the form of a semi-deserted lobby furnished with tufted leather chairs that looked brand new, or at least unused. The lobby made no more sense the farther walked into the building, past several closed offices and a surprising lack of shops. We tried the door to a vintage clothing store, but it was locked. Finally we came to a cafe where a young woman was singing and playing acoustic guitar. It was occuppied sparsely and mostly by people that seemed to know the singer. In the corner opposite the counter was a table of free kombucha and “elixirs,” attended distractedly by one of the artsy entourage. I couldn’t spot an exit to the street. Had everyone come in through the lobby and down the winding hallway?

It felt, as corporate-subsidized spaces often do, like a fake place, a place designed remotely from a real estate office rather than one developed and maintained by people that spend time there. A cursory internet search confirms it. The building belongs to Bushburg:

An integrated real estate development and management company investing in transformative projects that create long-term value in emerging markets.

Or, in fewer words, gentrifiers incorporated.

Ventures like these feel the ickiest because their sole aim is, literally, to capitalize on a place. And it shows in the lifelessness of the spaces they create, which neither exist for the people that inhabit them nor belong to them. They offer what they must in order to extract value efficiently, and no more. Why would they? These places don’t have to be meaningful to anybody, they just have to perform as an economic resource.

Less than a mile from where I live in Seattle is South Lake Union, a prime example of a city district too smothered by corporate investment to have life. It’s a disheartening place to be in. But at least escape is possible on foot. Bellevue, a quasi-city on the other side of Lake Washington, is even worse. Its skyscrapers suggest citylife but amount to little more than vertical suburbs with convenient access to corporate offices and a high-end mall. The entire place feels manufactured.

It’s easy to oppose and despise this aspect of gentrification, but what about the aspects that attract people like me? Places that I love, too, are responsible for driving up the cost of living in the areas they inhabit. Near the Loom in Bushwick are two places now among my favorites in New York: SEY Coffee and Roberta’s. And while these places are wonderful and, I think, worthy contributions to the local culture, they are also catalysts for the displacement of locals, a necessary step in the process of making space for people who can and want to pay more to live in the area. People like me.

In fact, it is precisely corporate real estate companies that make it feasible for an influx of people like me to settle in the area. (Work in progress / to be continued)

  • 9:30am flight SEA -> NYC
  • Lyft from Newark to Bushwick airbnb
  • food & drinks at Salud bar and resto
  • comedy show @ Tiny Cupboard Comedy Club
  • drinks + nachos + arcade games @ All Night Skate

Despite having arrived at the Airbnb at 9pm, tired after a long day of travel from Seattle, it was easy to have an eventful first night. Within walking distance of the airbnb were plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores, and even a small comedy club.

Saturday 05/18/2024 –

Bushwick

bushwick

#journal #travel #cities #gentrification #nyc Mentioned in nyc trip, what I'm doing now

One of our intentions for visiting NYC was to test our interest in moving there. It’s easy to fantasize, but would we actually like living there? And if so, where, in particular?

For the first three nights, Z and I stayed in an Airbnb in the southern corner of Bushwick, between Broadway and Bushwick Ave. It was obvious immediately that the area would be far too noisy for our dog, Baxter. He is generally frightened by noise and would be reduced to a quivering lump by the thunder and shriek of the subway that runs above Broadway.

The location was great for our trip, though. Within walking distance we had plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores, and even a small comedy club. It was easy to have an eventful first night despite having arrived at the Airbnb at 9pm, tired after a long day of travel from Seattle. Also within walking distance were subway stations for the J, L, A, & C lines, which made it easy to get around Brooklyn and into Manhattan on the two days following.

Bushwick, according to my friend who lives there, is the hip, artsy neighborhood that Williamsburg was ten years ago, before it fell into the sterilizing grasp of corporations. Bushwick is gentrifying though, and walking east to west through the heart of the neighborhood you can see the process unfolding.

On Saturday afternoon we came up out of Myrtle-Wyckoff station onto a small pedestrian strip crowded with carts and market stalls selling a variety of Latin American street food to Latino families. We’d left the noise of the L underground, but on street level cars honked, music blared, people called and chattered, and the M ran overhead. As we walked west on Knickerbocker Ave towards Maria Hernandez Park, we started noticing trendy-looking delis among the Mexican and Central American restaurants, and the unmistakable presence of young, white tote-carriers like us.

Despite this, the neighborhood looked no less gritty and industrial. Until the sudden sign of corporate investment. It announced itself when we wandered into the “Shops at the Loom,” in the form of a semi-deserted lobby furnished with tufted leather chairs that looked brand new, or at least unused. The lobby made no more sense the farther walked into the building, past several closed offices and a surprising lack of shops. We tried the door to a vintage clothing store, but it was locked. Finally we came to a cafe where a young woman was singing and playing acoustic guitar. It was occuppied sparsely and mostly by people that seemed to know the singer. In the corner opposite the counter was a table of free kombucha and “elixirs,” attended distractedly by one of the artsy entourage. I couldn’t spot an exit to the street. Had everyone come in through the lobby and down the winding hallway?

It felt, as corporate-subsidized spaces often do, like a fake place, a place designed remotely from a real estate office rather than one developed and maintained by people that spend time there. A cursory internet search confirms it. The building belongs to Bushburg:

An integrated real estate development and management company investing in transformative projects that create long-term value in emerging markets.

Or, in fewer words, gentrifiers incorporated.

Ventures like these feel the ickiest because their sole aim is, literally, to capitalize on a place. And it shows in the lifelessness of the spaces they create, which neither exist for the people that inhabit them nor belong to them. They offer what they must in order to extract value efficiently, and no more. Why would they? These places don’t have to be meaningful to anybody, they just have to perform as an economic resource.

Less than a mile from where I live in Seattle is South Lake Union, a prime example of a city district too smothered by corporate investment to have life. It’s a disheartening place to be in. But at least escape is possible on foot. Bellevue, a quasi-city on the other side of Lake Washington, is even worse. Its skyscrapers suggest citylife but amount to little more than vertical suburbs with convenient access to corporate offices and a high-end mall. The entire place feels manufactured.

It’s easy to oppose and despise this aspect of gentrification, but what about the aspects that attract people like me? Places that I love, too, are responsible for driving up the cost of living in the areas they inhabit. Near the Loom in Bushwick are two places now among my favorites in New York: SEY Coffee and Roberta’s. And while these places are wonderful and, I think, worthy contributions to the local culture, they are also catalysts for the displacement of locals, a necessary step in the process of making space for people who can and want to pay more to live in the area. People like me.

In fact, it is precisely corporate real estate companies that make it feasible for an influx of people like me to settle in the area. (Work in progress / to be continued)

& Greenwich Village

  • 12pm coffee at Covert Coffee
  • walk on Myrtle then Knickerbocker Ave
  • came across singer songwriter at Crossroads Cafe
  • browse 28 Scott Vintage; Z bought loafers, necklace, and ring
  • pop into Urban Jungle AKA L Train Vintage across the street
  • great cappuccino and tea @ SEY coffee
  • great pizza for dinner @ Roberta’s
  • mini-nap @ Bushwick airbnb
  • train to Greenwich Village, walk, end up at St Tropez for drinks & appetizer
  • Kurt Rosenwinkel @ Village Vanguard

Also within walking distance of the airbnb were subway stations for the J, L, A, & C lines, which made it easy to get around Brooklyn and into Manhattan on the two days following.

The Village Vanguard was well worth visiting. Not only is it a historic jazz venue, but their minimum purchase is just one drink. Kurt Rosenwinkel and his band were great.

Sunday 05/19/2024 – Fort Greene, Park Slope, and

Bushwick

bushwick

#journal #travel #cities #gentrification #nyc Mentioned in nyc trip, what I'm doing now

One of our intentions for visiting NYC was to test our interest in moving there. It’s easy to fantasize, but would we actually like living there? And if so, where, in particular?

For the first three nights, Z and I stayed in an Airbnb in the southern corner of Bushwick, between Broadway and Bushwick Ave. It was obvious immediately that the area would be far too noisy for our dog, Baxter. He is generally frightened by noise and would be reduced to a quivering lump by the thunder and shriek of the subway that runs above Broadway.

The location was great for our trip, though. Within walking distance we had plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores, and even a small comedy club. It was easy to have an eventful first night despite having arrived at the Airbnb at 9pm, tired after a long day of travel from Seattle. Also within walking distance were subway stations for the J, L, A, & C lines, which made it easy to get around Brooklyn and into Manhattan on the two days following.

Bushwick, according to my friend who lives there, is the hip, artsy neighborhood that Williamsburg was ten years ago, before it fell into the sterilizing grasp of corporations. Bushwick is gentrifying though, and walking east to west through the heart of the neighborhood you can see the process unfolding.

On Saturday afternoon we came up out of Myrtle-Wyckoff station onto a small pedestrian strip crowded with carts and market stalls selling a variety of Latin American street food to Latino families. We’d left the noise of the L underground, but on street level cars honked, music blared, people called and chattered, and the M ran overhead. As we walked west on Knickerbocker Ave towards Maria Hernandez Park, we started noticing trendy-looking delis among the Mexican and Central American restaurants, and the unmistakable presence of young, white tote-carriers like us.

Despite this, the neighborhood looked no less gritty and industrial. Until the sudden sign of corporate investment. It announced itself when we wandered into the “Shops at the Loom,” in the form of a semi-deserted lobby furnished with tufted leather chairs that looked brand new, or at least unused. The lobby made no more sense the farther walked into the building, past several closed offices and a surprising lack of shops. We tried the door to a vintage clothing store, but it was locked. Finally we came to a cafe where a young woman was singing and playing acoustic guitar. It was occuppied sparsely and mostly by people that seemed to know the singer. In the corner opposite the counter was a table of free kombucha and “elixirs,” attended distractedly by one of the artsy entourage. I couldn’t spot an exit to the street. Had everyone come in through the lobby and down the winding hallway?

It felt, as corporate-subsidized spaces often do, like a fake place, a place designed remotely from a real estate office rather than one developed and maintained by people that spend time there. A cursory internet search confirms it. The building belongs to Bushburg:

An integrated real estate development and management company investing in transformative projects that create long-term value in emerging markets.

Or, in fewer words, gentrifiers incorporated.

Ventures like these feel the ickiest because their sole aim is, literally, to capitalize on a place. And it shows in the lifelessness of the spaces they create, which neither exist for the people that inhabit them nor belong to them. They offer what they must in order to extract value efficiently, and no more. Why would they? These places don’t have to be meaningful to anybody, they just have to perform as an economic resource.

Less than a mile from where I live in Seattle is South Lake Union, a prime example of a city district too smothered by corporate investment to have life. It’s a disheartening place to be in. But at least escape is possible on foot. Bellevue, a quasi-city on the other side of Lake Washington, is even worse. Its skyscrapers suggest citylife but amount to little more than vertical suburbs with convenient access to corporate offices and a high-end mall. The entire place feels manufactured.

It’s easy to oppose and despise this aspect of gentrification, but what about the aspects that attract people like me? Places that I love, too, are responsible for driving up the cost of living in the areas they inhabit. Near the Loom in Bushwick are two places now among my favorites in New York: SEY Coffee and Roberta’s. And while these places are wonderful and, I think, worthy contributions to the local culture, they are also catalysts for the displacement of locals, a necessary step in the process of making space for people who can and want to pay more to live in the area. People like me.

In fact, it is precisely corporate real estate companies that make it feasible for an influx of people like me to settle in the area. (Work in progress / to be continued)

  • coffee at The Daily Press
  • train to FreeFancy in Fort Greene for last Arsenal match of the year; bar was packed
  • brunch @ Olea, on patio
  • Hungry Ghost for cappuccino
  • walk down 5th Ave in Park Slope: thrift & vintage stores; book shop; stumbled across 5th Ave Street Fair
  • walked to G train to meet Brett but took wrong train, ended up in Manhattan; rerouted to Williamsburg easily enough though
  • dinner at Limosneros in Williamsburg with our friend Brett, disappointing food and cocktails
  • train back to Bushwick airbnb to rest
  • meet our friends Eva, Vince, & Adi @ Tiny Cupboard Comedy Club
  • drinks & shuffleboard @ The Evergreen, which was very quiet
  • drinks @ Purgatory, a cool bar

Especially compared with the noisiness and grittiness of Bushwick, Fort Greene and Park Slope’s tree-lined streets and brownstones were stunning. The affluence of this part of Brooklyn is obvious. Its peace and prettiness, however, comes at the cost of Bushwick’s personality.

Monday 05/20/2024 –

Bushwick

bushwick

#journal #travel #cities #gentrification #nyc Mentioned in nyc trip, what I'm doing now

One of our intentions for visiting NYC was to test our interest in moving there. It’s easy to fantasize, but would we actually like living there? And if so, where, in particular?

For the first three nights, Z and I stayed in an Airbnb in the southern corner of Bushwick, between Broadway and Bushwick Ave. It was obvious immediately that the area would be far too noisy for our dog, Baxter. He is generally frightened by noise and would be reduced to a quivering lump by the thunder and shriek of the subway that runs above Broadway.

The location was great for our trip, though. Within walking distance we had plenty of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, convenience stores, and even a small comedy club. It was easy to have an eventful first night despite having arrived at the Airbnb at 9pm, tired after a long day of travel from Seattle. Also within walking distance were subway stations for the J, L, A, & C lines, which made it easy to get around Brooklyn and into Manhattan on the two days following.

Bushwick, according to my friend who lives there, is the hip, artsy neighborhood that Williamsburg was ten years ago, before it fell into the sterilizing grasp of corporations. Bushwick is gentrifying though, and walking east to west through the heart of the neighborhood you can see the process unfolding.

On Saturday afternoon we came up out of Myrtle-Wyckoff station onto a small pedestrian strip crowded with carts and market stalls selling a variety of Latin American street food to Latino families. We’d left the noise of the L underground, but on street level cars honked, music blared, people called and chattered, and the M ran overhead. As we walked west on Knickerbocker Ave towards Maria Hernandez Park, we started noticing trendy-looking delis among the Mexican and Central American restaurants, and the unmistakable presence of young, white tote-carriers like us.

Despite this, the neighborhood looked no less gritty and industrial. Until the sudden sign of corporate investment. It announced itself when we wandered into the “Shops at the Loom,” in the form of a semi-deserted lobby furnished with tufted leather chairs that looked brand new, or at least unused. The lobby made no more sense the farther walked into the building, past several closed offices and a surprising lack of shops. We tried the door to a vintage clothing store, but it was locked. Finally we came to a cafe where a young woman was singing and playing acoustic guitar. It was occuppied sparsely and mostly by people that seemed to know the singer. In the corner opposite the counter was a table of free kombucha and “elixirs,” attended distractedly by one of the artsy entourage. I couldn’t spot an exit to the street. Had everyone come in through the lobby and down the winding hallway?

It felt, as corporate-subsidized spaces often do, like a fake place, a place designed remotely from a real estate office rather than one developed and maintained by people that spend time there. A cursory internet search confirms it. The building belongs to Bushburg:

An integrated real estate development and management company investing in transformative projects that create long-term value in emerging markets.

Or, in fewer words, gentrifiers incorporated.

Ventures like these feel the ickiest because their sole aim is, literally, to capitalize on a place. And it shows in the lifelessness of the spaces they create, which neither exist for the people that inhabit them nor belong to them. They offer what they must in order to extract value efficiently, and no more. Why would they? These places don’t have to be meaningful to anybody, they just have to perform as an economic resource.

Less than a mile from where I live in Seattle is South Lake Union, a prime example of a city district too smothered by corporate investment to have life. It’s a disheartening place to be in. But at least escape is possible on foot. Bellevue, a quasi-city on the other side of Lake Washington, is even worse. Its skyscrapers suggest citylife but amount to little more than vertical suburbs with convenient access to corporate offices and a high-end mall. The entire place feels manufactured.

It’s easy to oppose and despise this aspect of gentrification, but what about the aspects that attract people like me? Places that I love, too, are responsible for driving up the cost of living in the areas they inhabit. Near the Loom in Bushwick are two places now among my favorites in New York: SEY Coffee and Roberta’s. And while these places are wonderful and, I think, worthy contributions to the local culture, they are also catalysts for the displacement of locals, a necessary step in the process of making space for people who can and want to pay more to live in the area. People like me.

In fact, it is precisely corporate real estate companies that make it feasible for an influx of people like me to settle in the area. (Work in progress / to be continued)

& Astoria

  • checked out of Bushwick airbnb @ 11am
  • coffee @ Covert again
  • lyft to Brett’s in Bushwick to drop off luggage and see his place; Eva, Vince, & Adi joined us there
  • walk to The Bad Bagel for brunch
  • Bushwick market, bought a chain
  • good cappuccino @ Hala Coffee
  • walk back to Brett’s; stop @ Lazy Suzy for good coffee
  • go on rooftop of Brett’s apt blg, which was super cool
  • say bye to Adi, drive with Eva and Vince to Astoria airbnb
  • went for dinner @ Blue Sea Taverna
  • walk back to Astoria airbnb, greet Z’s friend Coco when she arrived

Astoria is not stunning to look at, but certainly more handsome than Bushwick. It is also, apparently, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the world, with a particularly strong Greek presence. English comprised only a modest share of the languages we overheard people speaking in the area. This excerpt, from Jan Morris’s splendid ode to the wild vibrancy of Manhattan (1979), rang true:

Manhattan long ago abandoned its melting-pot function. Nobody even tries to Americanize the Lebanese or the Lithuanians now, and indeed the ethnic enclaves of the island seem to me to become more potently ethnic each time I visit the place.

Tuesday 05/21/2024 – Astoria, SoHo, The High Line, & Bowery

  • solo coffee @ Olive Coffee (decent cappuccino), Under Pressure Coffee (bad cappuccino), & finally Kinship (good cappuccino)
  • met Eva, Vince, Coco, & Zyan at Astoria blvd station, then we trained to SoHo
  • shopped at The ReShop & Classic Football Shirts pop-up shop
  • browsed high end furniture @ Orior
  • trained to Highline; got drinks and walked on Highline to Hudson Yards
  • said goodbye to Eva & Vince
  • dinner with friends @ Spicy Moon in Bowery
  • good cocktails @ Banzarbar with Zyan and Coco
  • train to Astoria airbnb

There wasn’t as much to see in Astoria’s center as I anticipated. Shopping in SoHo, on the other hand, impressed me. The Highline was as pretty and as busy as I remember it. Bowery has some good spots.

Wednesday 05/22/2024 – Astoria, East River, FiDi, NoHo, Lower East Side, & Midtown

  • solo coffee @ INFINITEA, good flat white and onigiri
  • accompanied Z & Coco while they ate @ BZ Grill
  • walked to Astoria terminal and took ferry to Wall St
  • coffee @ Black Fox
  • Coco went to Brooklyn Bridge on her own; Z and I trained to Noho, looked at stores on our own: Adidas, Sabah, Dashwood Books, modernlink danish furniture store
  • I walked alone through Lower East side
  • we ate dinner at Fish Cheeks at a terrace table in the cobblestone street
  • trained to Times Square for Wicked musical @ Gershwin Theatre
  • trained to Astoria, walked on Broadway, got slices @ Champion Pizza
  • trained back to airbnb

The ferry was great. Cheap, easy, and quiet. The views were great and various. In FiDi I was shocked at the quantity of tourists. We only went there because it was the ferry’s terminus, but it was interesting to see it after reading Jane Jacobs’s critique of it in

The Death & Life of Great American Cities

going for a walk

#journal #cities #vancouver #books Mentioned in what I'm doing now, what is this site? #2, nyc trip, what I'm doing now

As I walk through cities nowadays I try to look through a Jane Jacobian lens at the diversity of enterprise and use about. By use, Jacobs literally means the uses buildings provide: living, working, commerce, diversion, to name some of the main ones. Nowadays it’s easy to take for granted mixed-use buildings, but they exist because the city planning orthodoxy of today – which Jacobs influenced through her writing and activism – makes space for them.

Mixing of uses is only one of the ingredients that Jacobs argues districts must employ to generate lively and diverse city life. Another one is short blocks, to allow foot traffic from adjacent streets. On a recent walk, I noticed how much was packed onto one side of a short city block on one of the lively stretches of East Hastings in East Vancouver. A gym offering luxury fight goods and apparel, a plant shop, a laundry service business, a kitchen renovation business, a small counterservice cafe offering “Italian street food”, a nail studio, a print shop, a beauty salon, a travel agency, an importer’s office, a Vietnamese restaurant, and a hip diner. Most of these on the ground level of a three-storey residential building occupying much of the block. On the corner past the diner a vacant lot recently bulldozed in preparation for a four-storey mixed-use residential building.

A fifteen minute walk away begins the vibrant stretch of Commercial Drive, one of the liveliest areas of East Vancouver. Near its north tip, for example, there’s a gallery, a secondhand clothing shop, a shop for local art, and a coworking space, all in the same building and all apparently run by the same collective, which hosts events including stand up comedy nights and craft workshops in the gallery and coworking space.

Diversity is possible in cities, Jane Jacobs explains, because they bring together people in quantities so great that critical mass can be reached for projects and enterprises that can’t survive in sparser and less diverse communities. But for diversity to flourish and thrive, cities must create and maintain four key conditions: mixing of use, short blocks, buildings of varying age, and population density.

and The New Yorker’s recent article about the conversion of Wall Street office towers into apartment buildings.

The Lower East Side was charming, and it was memorable to eat outside on Bond Street, but the food was pricey. Wicked, the Broadway show, was as good as I remember it being when I saw it fifteen years ago. At night we explored Astoria some more, but still did not feel inspired by it.

Thursday 05/23/2024 – Astoria, Midtown, Greenwich Village

  • solo coffee @ INFINITEA again
  • train to manhattan with Z & Coco
  • cappuccino @ Inés
  • MoMA
  • lunch @ La Esquina nearby
  • flat white @ Partner Coffee
  • MoMA again
  • train to Greenwich Village for Terrace Martin & James Fauntleroy show @ Blue Note
  • cocktails at Maestro Pasta nearby
  • slices from Percy’s pizza
  • train to Astoria airbnb

Revisited INFINITEA and sat again at the table on the sidewalk, looking out on to the street. It was a delightful way to start the day, and I repeated again for the next two days. I’m glad I went to the MoMA while Z & Coco went to the Met. I love walking around museums alone, listening to my music. This time it occurred to me to leave after a couple hours, have a meal, a coffee, and come back. I think I’ll be adding that to my museum routine. Several restaurants in the area give a discount if you show them your MoMA ticket.

Compared to the Village Vanguard, the

Blue Note

the blue note

#journal #live-music #nyc Mentioned in concerts, nyc trip, what I'm doing now

Compared to The Village Vanguard, The Blue Note was a bit embarrassing. Doors open two hours before showtime, giving guests ample time to meet their $20 minimum. Accordingly, we showed up with plenty of time to have dinner before the show. However, after we wriggled and hopscotched into seats at the claustrophobically crammed tables, we found out that the main dishes themselves – and even some appetizers – start at $20 and reach comfortably past the upper $30s. (As I write this and look on The Blue Note’s website to check my memory, I notice the online menu omits the prices.) With more than an hour until showtime, we decided Z and Coco would go out for food elsewhere in Greenwich Village and I would stay and have dinner there.

A few minutes before showtime, I went upstairs to the bathroom and stumbled upon a gift shop because of course they had a gift shop. On the way back to my seat, I overheard a conversation at the till. Your total is $75. After a short silence, during which, I presume, the customer looked down at the two items on the counter, blinked, and looked back up: How much is each item?

At least the show was good. The drummer, who apparently tours with Alicia Keys, was amazing. Gleefully he battered the kit with urgency unabating as if he were Tom and the groove Jerry. Between songs, Terrace took his time telling stories and teasing his bandmates. Halfway through the set, he announced his guest, whose name might not ring many bells, but has been inscribed on several Grammies for cowriting hits like Bruno Mars’s That’s What I Like and Justin Timberlake’s Pusher Love Girl. For two people in the audience the name rang not a bell but a gong, and when Terrace hesitated during the introduction, one of them cried out The GOAT! Terrace nodded and confirmed, the GOAT… James Fauntleroy! Out shuffled a man befitting his all-but-pop-star status: a short, chubby man wearing thick-framed glasses, a hawaiian shirt, and striped jogging pants.

was a bit embarrassing. Afterwards, walking through Greenwich Village at night, I felt like I was in an amusement park – the heat, the neon signs, people in every direction walking and talking, going into and out of venues, bars and restaurants spilling out onto sidewalk patios. We got cocktails and then slices to go. It was a quiet thrill.

Friday 05/24/2024 – Astoria, SoHo, Tribeca, Hudson River Greenway, Greenwich Village

  • solo coffee @ INFINITEA again
  • train with Z to SoHo
  • bought patchworked Carhartt jacket @ The Reshop
  • met up with Z, Coco, & Thomas @ Canal Market, where I had a burrito & cappuccino
  • visit Classic Football Shirts pop-up shop again
  • walk to Tribeca
  • solo train back to SoHo to pick up jacket
  • solo beer on covered patio @ Toad Hall
  • train to meet up with Z, Coco, & Thomas
  • free friday admission to Whitney Museum
  • walk south along the water while the sun set
  • dinner @ Jajaja vegan Mexican resto with friends
  • 10:45pm show @ Comedy Cellar
  • train back to Astoria airbnb

I had no intention of shopping during the trip, but I found great stuff in SoHo. As a kid, soccer jerseys comprised

much of my wardrobe

learning to dress

#journal #soccer #clothing #fashion #popularity #shopping #brands #hand-me-downs #vintage #regret Mentioned in what I'm doing now, nyc trip

In elementary school I chose my outfits for one thing: recess. And recess meant one thing: soccer. Indoor soccer shoes, soccer shorts, and one of my soccer jerseys. I didn’t need pockets back then. I took those games during recess very seriously. One time after scoring a goal I took off one of my red and black Adidas Predator indoor cleats to celebrate like Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Instead of a crowd of fans I looked up at a big vine-covered wall. Getting back up I realized one of the girls in my grade was looking at me. She looked bewildered.

But the outfits weren’t just a practical matter. I loved how they looked. Especially when they had three stripes on the sleeves. My snooty snot-nosed self looked down on anything with four stripes. Or, God forbid, five. Unfortunately, Club América – the Mexican soccer team I supported and the one Cuauhtémoc Blanco played for – wore Nike. I dreamt one day they would return to Adidas. But then Nike started designing retro-inspired jerseys that caught my eye. Intrigued, but devoted to the three stripes, I drew and colored imaginary Adidas-branded Club América jerseys and tacked them up on the corkboard above my desk. I can probably still draw both logos from memory. The Adidas one is trickier than you’d think.

Then I found out about Abercrombie & Fitch. We didn’t have one in Mexico, so the prodigal sons strutting around in their branded polo shirts must’ve gone shopping in the States. I wish I could remember what I thought about it at first. Did I care? Some part of me must’ve known that little moose was bull. But at that age intuition gives way easily to the cool kid decree.

Before I had a chance to buy into the hype, my parents announced that we were moving to the States. And right in time for me to experience the fabled American institution of middle school. That summer, while our parents dealt with the logistics of moving a six-person family from Mexico City to the suburbs of New York, my siblings and I watched nauseating amounts of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. This time it was my older sister staring at me as I took diligent notes from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. I loved neat and simple rules, and relished the idea that they codified everything.

Ned’s tips were good, but not nearly as influential as his outfits were. Now it would be my turn to strut through the hallways in an open button up with a t-shirt underneath. And if the button-up were to have a little moose on the chest, then so be it. (It’s fortunate I didn’t discover mirrored aviators until later. I would’ve been too powerful.) I recreated it with Abercrombie button-ups and striped sweatpants from The Children’s Place. (One big stripe was an admissible, if humbler, alternative to the three.) On more modest days I wore one of my graphic tees, like my navy blue long-sleeve that read, in letters stylized as ice cubes, COOL AS ICE. Another favorite was a black short-sleeve with The Dark Side of the Moon album cover on it. I knew nothing about Pink Floyd but it seemed like a cool thing to wear. Plus, the material was so soft, it was like wearing a pajama top.

On those first few weeks, I swaggered through the halls in my new outfits, savoring my authentique américain lifestyle. But the quippy repartee that I anticipated happening in the busy halls wasn’t as natural in the secluded corner of the school, where the sixth grade lockers were. Plus, opening a locker wasn’t the 3-second operation that TV had assured me existed mainly as backdrop for flirting between classes. I don’t know at what summer camp all those Nickelodeon teens and teens got their bank-heist finger agility.

Even lunch time was a sobering affair. My idealized vision of middle school suffered a severe blow when the ever-grouchy ketchup-haired lunch lady rung up my lunch food at more than the three bucks my mom gave me. Apparently I was supposed to look at the prices and add them up to a total, like an adult at a grocery store or something. I figured the transaction was more cultural than monetary. You give me lunch, I give you lunch money.

But the cool kid crowd whose law I now observed wasn’t concerned with button-ups, graphic tees, moose, or even stripes. It was all about the shoes. Skateboarding shoes, specifically. Etnies, DCs, and, for those with bolder taste, Osiris high tops. (Other cool kid crowds were innovating in different directions, with Ed Hardy t-shirts and such.) I wasn’t confident about how I’d look in a pair of chunky skate shoes, but the allure of the group convinced me to take the leap. I vied for membership with a respectable bid: Nike SB 6.0s, the ones with the thick tongue. At first, they felt like part of a costume. For years, my criterion for shoes had been that they would allow me to play soccer at a moment’s notice. Even dress shoes had to be conducive to good ball control. Nonetheless, my chunky new SBs became my main pair of shoes, even though they’d often fly off my foot after kicking a ball. I loved how they looked. At some point, despite my scandalized father, I took a black Sharpie to them and drew flames and other bits on the side of the soles.

In high school, one of my best friends was very amused by the semi-formal attire I changed into after class one day, hoping to impress an exchange student at a group dinner that evening. (This was in the early 2010s, before “looking like a dad” could be positive.) To be fair, my outfit was nearly indistinguishable from our private school uniform. I didn’t look like I was going out with my fellow 15 year-olds, but like I was going to evening mass.

It was tricky to dress my age given my dad’s impulse to impress his preferences on me and my brother during our gender-segregated trips to the outlet mall. (Pobre niños, I only took them to Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein…) The boys enjoyed an efficient tour through the collared, emblemed world of business casual while the girls enjoyed going shopping. (The gleeful shopping spree where I realized my Ned outfit for middle school was casually sponsored by my mom on one of the days where a breach opened in the gender divide, leading into a world of abundant oks and yeah sures.) Luckily for me, my dad also highly approved of Adidas. Actually, it was he who gave me the Impossible is Nothing poster that hung on my bedroom wall, featuring a looming Muhammad Ali, an arm-slinged Beckenbauer, and various other figures of iron resolve.

My dad would never have taken us thrift shopping, and yet he supplied me and my brother with some prime vintage pieces. He kept some of his clothes for decades, despite the fact they didn’t fit him anymore. I suppose he foresaw the possibility of their inheritance, or maybe he collected them for no practical reason like he did his military school uniform and racecar magazines. In our late teens and early twenties, my brother and I mined my dad’s store of 80s and 90s attire for bona fide retro items. It was like going thrift shopping, except the old man was no stranger. And it was free. I guess thrift stores charge for the mystery.

My kids are unlikely to enjoy the same luck. At the peak of my “minimalist” phase in my late teens and early twenties — as my mom admiringly called it — I got rid of a lot of stuff. Probably too much stuff. My dad had to talk me out of getting rid of my school yearbooks. One of the things I regret getting rid of is a Club América t-shirt signed by a teenage Memo Ochoa, the talented up-and-coming Mexican goalie who, ten or fifteen years later, made outrageous saves at the 2018 World Cup in Brazil to deny the likes of Neymar. I got to meet him when I was eight years old and playing in the Club América youth academy, which was real enough to summon a couple first team players for a meet-and-greet after practice one day. Actually, I even got to stand on the field at the legendary Estadio Azteca – site of Maradona’s infamous Hand of God in the 1986 World Cup – before kickoff at a Club América game. My teammates and I were lined up to high-five the players as they came out onto the field, but most of them didn’t stretch their arms far enough to make contact with us. I remember feeling quite annoyed. I guess that was easier than feeling disappointed.

I also regret getting rid of a particular red polo shirt from my childhood. I had no shortage of embroidered polo shirts, but this one was special. It was the one I wore on the fateful day I crossed paths with none other than Cuauhtémoc Blanco. It was orchestrated not by the academy but by chance, and by the universal appeal of Six Flags. I came off my second ride of the Superman rollercoaster to find out that my friend’s chofer, who was accompanying me because none of my friends wanted to go on the rollercoaster, had seen Cuauhtémoc. I couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t you get his autograph? Because I know him from back in the day, I used to play soccer with him. Where did he go?

Sure enough, there he was – standing in a crowd of parents watching their children on one of the kiddie rides. Some of the parents were wearing Club América jerseys, but none of them were looking at him. I couldn’t believe nobody recognized him, but then again I barely did, in his dark sunglasses and white t-shirt advertising a splashing Aquafina water bottle. A shrewd disguise. I guess it also helped that he naturally looked less like a Mexican soccer star and more like a Mexican Tony Soprano. I waited for the kiddie ride to end and, as the parents dispersed, I approached him, heart thumping. Straight to the point: can I have an autograph? He paused, said nothing, glanced quickly over his shoulder, took the pen my friend’s chofer had given me, found the top corner of my shirt, and signed it. When I got back to my friends, they couldn’t believe it.

In my university years, some of my friends developed a special affinity for Four Horsemen (4H), our local casual-yet-high-end clothing store. (Street wear?) The walls were all white, the clothes were expensive, the music was hip, and the employees even hipper. I browsed often but rarely purchased anything. And yet I spent hundreds of dollars there. All I remember buying is a pair of New Balances 999s, two pairs of black Chapter pants, and a pair of roomy, pleated, grey, speckled 4H pants, which I still love.

The special emphasis on pants is due to the difficulty I have buying pants that don’t smother my thighs. In fact, it was from one of the Four Horsemen workers that I first heard thick as slang, when I was trying on the grey pants. I laughed nervously before escaping back into the fitting room. I bought a size up and got a tailor to shorten the waist. After years of tapering the end of my employee-discounted Tommy Hilfiger chino pants by folding the hem, those grey pants were a departure. Looking at the loose hems in the fitting room, I was doubtful I could pull it off.

During a day trip to Vancouver with that same friend group, I ended up splurging on an olive-colored John Elliott Hooded Villain sweater. The side-zipper design surged in popularity, high enough for H&M to mimic, and then crashed back down. Ritchie with a T, in the outro of Injury Reserve’s “All This Money”:

I don’t even know who’s idea it was to put a zipper on the side

Like what…

I wore it religiously for at least a year, most often under a vintage Tommy Hilfiger jean jacket that my smiling dad let me steal from his collection. I still have the hoodie in my closet. Maybe I’ll keep it for my kids to gape at in a couple decades. If it’s not cool again by then, at least it’ll be novel.

and in my eyes they still hold a special allure.

Saturday 05/25/2024 – Astoria & Ditmars Steinway

  • solo coffee @ INFINITEA again
  • brunch @ Anassa Taverna
  • solo walk to Ditmars Steinway
  • good cappuccino @ Mighty Oak Roasters
  • continue solo walk through Ditmars Steinway
  • met up with Z, Coco, & Thomas for ice cream @ Van Leeuwen
  • ride citi bikes down to Astoria Park, along water, and back to Astoria airbnb
  • take train + LIRR + Airtrain to JFK

Our last day was unexpectedly memorable. We walked up through Ditmars Steinway and took Citi Bikes to Astoria Park and rode them along the water. We liked it so much that we looped around and did it again before heading back for our bags to go to the airport.

I found Ditmars Steinway charming enough that I wondered if we might look for apartments there if we ever move to New York. It seems to strike a great balance between peacefulness and liveliness. I’m sure many New Yorkers would scoff or snort if I suggested it is an accessible location, but in its center is the Astoria-Ditmars Blvd station, from which runs the N through Astoria, into and all the way down Manhattan, into Brooklyn and all the way through to Coney Island. Bushwick, however, is not on that path, and would be painful to reach. Looking at the subway map, it’s clear the routes were designed primarily for commute in and out of Manhattan.