Those that roam its streets often define a city. In New York, everyone roams the streets, so pressing that definitive stamp and calling it “this” or “that” isn’t possible here. To be fair, it isn’t possible anywhere. But the movement of this city is different; it’s enthralling. It literally forms, tears-down, and then reshapes the boroughs and their respective neighborhoods with each cog-in-the-wheel. The motion of New York is infectious and even though I’ve only spent five days here, I’ve become alive with conversation and interaction – genuine interaction.
The Distrikt Hotel.
I thrust myself into a community that carries with it a stereotype of not giving a sh*t. But from my initial perception, it’s quite the contrary. I was supposed to be chewed up and spit out, but from what I can see so far, no one’s tried to feast on me just yet. And like any stereotype, they are usually nothing more than a perspective of misguided interest.
At 6:00 am, we walk through the doors of the Distrikt hotel and plead to get into a room… ANY room. We’re jet-lagged and need to crash before setting off to explore the city on foot. Alex, the highly personable young man at the front desk, made it happen. Thank you!
Alex at the Distrikt Hotel.
After refueling our internal organs and shutting ourselves down for a few hours, we set out. We walk from Midtown to West Chelsea and pop in at Tipsy Parson. With stone-ground grits, biscuits and gravy, and Fudge Farms country ham, it turned out to be the perfect pit-stop. Our bartender, Renee, is awesome and gives us the necessary run through on fast-tracking our status from transplant to New Yorker. After all, she did the same years ago from Wisconsin and perhaps saw a familiar eagerness in our eyes.
Full and bloated, we trek to the West Village to get a glance of how the other half lives. Luckily Joseph Calavenna from Freeman’s Sporting Club was there to bring us back to earth. Amazing hand-crafted old-world suits at prices that respect the craftsmanship. Hit him up next time you’re in the market for well-made threads.
Joseph and Colleague
From the West Village we hoof it to SOHO. I grab an apple and Sammy gets seaweed salad at Dean & Delucca at 560 Broadway (and Prince St.). Yes, we actually ordered that. Feel free to make fun at will. Dave is kind enough to take a moment and let me snap his picture. And no, that is not fear in his eyes.
Dave at Dean & Delucca in SOHO.
Fresh produce and amazing customer service.
In SOHO, I couldn’t resist the photo-op with Chelsea Handler. I live in LA and could care less about celebrity status. Stars are often not so shining, but Chelsea… c’mon!
After SOHO, we walk to the East Village and meet up with our friend Monika. Here’s a view from her apartment.
We take a cab back to the hotel, freshen up and head back to Chelsea. We stop at 5 Ninth and eat… again, only this time, we guzzle wine and beer too.
And so it went. For the next few days we walked and ate and drank and met new friends in the city. We met our friends and relatives, ate at David Burke’s Fishtail (135 East 62nd Street) in the Upper East side and I got a scrape from Miles at Freeman’s barber shop in the East Village. We jumped on subways, and explored every inch of the island.
Miles Elliot, a F.S.C. barber –
true to his craft. Ask for him.
Get your scrape from him here.
I helped a blind man onto the subway. That man ended up being a kindred soul and opened my ears to an amazing talent. His name is Arun Kumar Patel and he’s a widely talented orchestral composer. Please support him and his music here.
On the last day, I ate Sri Lankan food at one of the VERY FEW places in this country, outside of a private home, where you can actually go out and eat Sri Lankan food – Cafe Niagara. (There’s only about 21,000 Sri Lankans in the US). Sri Lankan food is one of the best tasting cuisines on earth and this place is a decent representation of those edible origins.
I’m sure I’ll look back on this later and laugh at how “green” I was to the urban landscape around me, but for now, I feel as if I got the proper grasp on the city.