Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Jazz Age

We've had a very busy couple of weeks with cultural activities galore, and a whole lot of socialising. This has all left Hipster Dufus to declare himself fully settled in NY. I'm really glad for him as it's really about time I suppose. Unfortunately I've still not got my "yup I'm settled" moment. Anyhoo one of the things we did last week was the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island. One of my favourite things about London is the access to vintage, the clothing, furniture and markets. And all the cultural events such as vinyl nights and festivals such as London 60s Week or the Vintage Festival which I worked on a few years back. I haven't had much luck with vintage in NY. It's all super expensive, usually designer and unattainable and really difficult to find. I still only really know where two stores are that I remember how to get to. Usually I see the interesting stores while sitting in a cab and then have to desperately try to remember the crossroad.

So the lawn party was interesting to me as it promised to have vintage music, stalls selling clothing and accessories and lots of opportunities to people watch vintage pieces passing by. I had a really good time but it was not up to the standard that I was expecting. For the ticket price we just felt that it wasn't really worth it. We were all crammed into a tiny little lawn that was fenced off and then had a few little stalls selling vintage goods, but it was probably 10 in total. And actually when we realised that we could have not brought a ticket and still sat and picnic'd on the grass with access to the music it seemed kind of pointless. I felt they were missing a trick, there were so many opportunities to make this something bigger. Admittedly I've been spoilt, the vintage festival had so many different things going on like a pop up cinema, restaurants and tons of vintage stalls. As well as big name brands creating pop up vintage shops, like Benefit and Fortnum & Mason. However unfair the comparison, I guess I was expecting something more along these lines.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Those Mutha'uckers

This weekend we freaked you out by writing weird (sexual) messages to each other. They were in fact lyrics from Flight of the Conchords songs. We've seen them before at Wembley stadium, the most we could see were the screens projecting their faces. I loved it and had no complaints. But here, somehow we found ourselves on a special secret list to buy tickets. They were sold out within the hour. So off we went and the experience was, well, imagine if they came to play in your front room...

Yup, the venue couldn't have held more than 200 people. They were playing in a bar with few tables and booths so seats weren't guaranteed. We decided to set off early and managed to get seats in the second row! They played mostly new songs which absolutely stood up to the beloved classics. And they were so funny, maybe even funnier because we were so close! No seriously any act that can go onstage and perform half a finished song while whispering the next few lines to remind each other, and get away with it. Well it's a testament to their ability. That was definitely a highlight as well as Bret performing Mutha'uckers live  and perfectly reproducing the Hip Hop censoring in that song. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Happy Anniversary!

So yesterday was our one year in New York moment. We arrived at 11:30 at night to a less than favorable situation (as I'm sure most of you have heard the story, I'm not allowed to write it), exhausted from the flight and emotionally drained from the airport goodbyes with my family. The description of crying zombies still makes us laugh until today. It has been everything that I expected and at the same time so much more different than I had imagined. It still feels pretty new to me as I really feel like I've only been out here for six months. That's when things changed for me. Previously I was living like the walking dead. Eyes open but not quite there. Anyway, this being a celebration we needed to find the most New York thing we could think of to celebrate. We ended up having an impromptu dinner and drinks with friends, which is always a positive sign in an experience like this. Having friends is after all something that helps one to feel settled. Then we went up the Empire State Building at midnight. I still couldn't believe that there was a slight queue at that time, but the main thing was that I couldn't believe how long the queue would be during the day. There wasn't an express lane we had to walk the barriers as normal and it was a long walk! Seriously if you come to visit do it at night. 

So I'll leave you with our highlights of the year.

1. The spirit of enterprise that exists here. You all know how much he loves food and quirky things and NY really encourages you to try a business idea and make it happen. If you take away the big gross chains the individual restaurants, stores, grocery shops and boutiques are definitely more than in the UK (sorry UK). 
2. Tulum, Mexico because that's when I stopped being depressed. No lie. 
3. Stepping through the building at the UN. Sitting in the security council was definitely a highligh for him. Especially as he remembers seeing his father's UN passport as a child and wanting the same adventure for himself. (Not that any of this information was given to me freely, I had to decipher it from grunts and nods).

1. Living in Midtown. You have no idea how lucky we are to live in Manhattan. A reality that is virtually impossible for most. And while I wouldn't have picked this as the area to live in, it's great to live somewhere that's so close to all the tourist things to remind me that this is where I live. 
2. My job at the New York Historical Society. I came here for a reason, my career and when I got this job I felt like I was moving forward and actually improving. I love this job. 
3. Tulum, Mexico. That's the moment I stopped being depressed, that things changed, I got a job, I met people and I started to settle in. 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Serenity in the City

Whoyagonnacall? Ghost... yeah this is the area that houses the famous Ghost Busters fire station so let's just get that out of the way. But there's so much more to TriBeCa. When we set off to explore it, all I knew was that this is apparently the area of town where all the hollywood stars live. This place must be jumping! Actually it was really quite the opposite. Probably the most peaceful spot I've seen in the city (within Manhattan). This is obviously the attraction. There are no big stores (or any that tourist want to visit) or proximity to famous landmarks, it was all really understated. Bespoke book stores, antique furniture shops and speciality poster sellers. This gave the area a real arty vibe, which after all is how it became such a destination with artist beginning to move in around the 70s. I couldn't pinpoint any fantastic restaurants as they all looked pretty amazing. This area doesn't have the usual mix of high and extremely low brow eating options that you normally see. The best part though was that we finally found authentic Pakistani food! Pakistani Tea House offers no frills dining but a true taste of London.

TriBeCa had a double personality, a slightly grungy yet posh bit that looked rough around the edges. Such as the alleyway that's home to the simply titled Museum. Then a more upmarket Chanel and Dior toting bit. This is after all where we saw Famke! The real attraction here is the architecture, it really has the traditional fire escaped buildings that personify the city. Most of the buildings are conversions, you can still see the signage and advertisements from its time as a commercial centre and industrial base. A lot of the shops are also closed up so it felt like you were exploring more than usual. Sometimes you'd get a really gorgeous organic food market right across the road from a closed up graffitied place with rubbish bags outside or sprawled all over the pavement. An dded bonus is the areas proximity to the river. You get really beautiful views across to Jersey. What's funny is that the area still attracts the 'bridge & tunnel' crowd, but of an aspiring kind rather than the out-on-the-lash kind that we get in our area. Definitely a place to come to relax.