New York, New York

I saw Hamilton!

I’ve been going going going nonstop October and November. The beginning of October saw Manbeast and I attending a gorgeous wedding in the Catskills but honestly there’s not much to talk about in a blog. Go to the Catskills in fall though if you get the chance, stunning foliage, little-to-no cell service, absolutely beautiful!

And now it’s December. Where has the time gone?

Then it was off to Hamilton towards the end of the month. One of my amazing friends got reasonably priced tickets (I KNOW!) offered me the chance to go with her- since it had been far too long since I’d hopped down the NYC!

The downside to a mid-week trip is that friend’s have to work. Lucky for me my esoteric interests were getting there due city wide, and my friend was not so keen to come look at taxidermy with me. Let’s talk about the great stuff I saw (and ate)

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

This pie shop is famous enough that for some people, it needs no introduction. I discovered it while google mapping my route to stop #2. It was right there, across the street and I saw the name and thought “Baked in a pie???” and they WERE (pie, no blackbirds were harmed). I relished their Bourbon Pear Crumble and some coffee. An amazing treat to start my day (while I waited for the next stop to open!)

Do I Recommend: Hell yeah. Go out of your way for this place. Or don’t, if you’re near a different pie shop. Just get pie. And this pie, it’s good.

Morbid Anatomy Museum

More curio cabinet, Less true museum they basically feature a cafe, a gift shop, and one exhibit. While I was there, the exhibit was TAXIDERMY. AND it feature Walter Potter’s Kitten Wedding, a posed scene of… well… a kitten wedding. It was an amazingly well-curated collection, showing off bad taxidermy, created scenes, rare animals, and memorials to beloved pets. I was giddy the entire time I was there, a true treat.

Do I Recommend: The taxidermy exhibit closed Dec. 6th, so I can’t recommend that one anymore, but I would have. Here’s what I think the trick is: Check out their exhibitions, and if the subject matter sounds interesting then check it out! But if you’re not too keen on the exhibit subject, there’s no point in going because that is exhibit is basically it. If you’re on the hunt for a good gift for that spooky someone in  your life, check out the gift shop. They have some amazing taxidermy mice!

American Folk Art Museum

The exhibit I went to see is still on display through February, I recommend! The exhibit is “Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America” I don’t remember if my interest into Spirit Photography/the Spiritualist Movement has come up on this blog at all, but I certainly have one. So this was a slight departure, but an incredibly fascinating exhibit. And it wasn’t that creepy, I promise!

Do I Recommend: 100% recommend ‘Securing the Shadow.’ The museum in general is great, hosts great little events (I got serenaded with live music while I explored memorial imagery) and is just overall a nice little place. Check their exhibit lists though- they didn’t seem to have a main exhibit hall, just an exhibition du jour so make sure you’re going to something you’ll enjoy. Bonus location fact- it’s pretty much directly across the street from the Lincoln Center- easy to find and get to!

We grabbed a pre-show dinner at The City Kitchen. I had the hardest fucking time finding this place. I ended up actually IN Times Square which just, ugh. I saw it on my first trip to NYC, I did not have a burning desire to be in that cluster again. At least I didn’t feel too bad not being able to find the food place, because there were a ton of tourists more lost than I! It’s a food court style setup with lots of options- I grabbed some sushi and gyoza from Azuki and it was delicious.

Do I Recommend: If you’re in the vicinity of Broadway/Times Square and need some food, it’s a great place- especially if you have an indecisive group and want options. There are enough excellent food places in NYC that this one is not really worth going out of your way for if you aren’t in the Broadway/TS area.

HAMILTON 

What do I need to say? There were a few original cast members left, most were replacements. More than Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was sad that I didn’t get to see Johnathan Groff as King George, but Rory O’Malley still did an amazing job. It was my first Broadway show, and it was incredible.

I got a ‘Hamiltini’ in the commemorative cup, I couldn’t resist!

 

The next morning I got a breakfast sandwich at the bagel shop down the block from my friend’s place. If I stay with this friend and she is in the same place, I will go back to that bagel shop. But rather then recommend that specific one, the right thing to do is go to the local bagel place near wherever you’re staying. It’s NYC, it’s gonna have a good bagel.

I headed towards the Brooklyn Museum, and decided I needed some coffee first. I stopped at the nearby Lincoln Station for a great drink and a break from the rain. Alas, I did not try their food, I should have! (all I ended up eating after my bagel that day was a freaking chocolate croissant from Au Bon Pain. It was good, but geez was it poor planning!)

Do I Recommend: Yup! Especially if you’re at the museum. Not as fancy as their cafe, but better prices and great dog watching!

The Brooklyn Museum

What an unexpected treat this was! An art of Africa exhibit that mentioned Elegba, Life, Death & Transformation in the Americas, Blake’s Great Red Dragon on display, and the now-closed exhibit My Room is Another Fishbowl. A truly, truly wonderful day at a wonderful museum!

Do I Recommend: An emphatic “hell yeah!” It doesn’t get the accolades the Met does, but this museum is truly, truly wonderful. Bonus, it borders Prospect Park (which houses the Brooklyn Botanic gardens, a Quaker graveyard, and a zoo). So in nice weather, you could truly make a day of that little slice of Brooklyn.

My trip home was an absolute nightmare, it seems the return trip always is, but I made it in one piece. I really love visiting NYC and this trip ended up being absolutely perfect. I have some pictures I’ll hopefully insert in an edit, but right now I need to figure out what is wrong with my phone gallery. Next up: my great European adventure!

 

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NYC and the Longest Pigeon Analogy You’ve Ever Read

I spent New Year’s Eve in New York City! Sure, I avoided Times Square, but I get the travel event points, right?

I still watched the bar drop, just with a bunch of other people at a bar in Brooklyn.

Let’s back up though. This wasn’t the first time I’d technically been in NYC. I’d been to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes many years ago with my mom and grandmother, and in the not too distant past Manbeast and I visited the aquarium on Coney Island. Both fun, memorable trips, but very pointed in-out ordeals.

This trip, to visit a friend who had just moved to Brooklyn, was about catching up with people, visiting, and relaxing away from the stuff I’m usually around. It was also a solo vacation, I love those, but haven’t had any in awhile. So this trip was much needed and especially wonderful when I found out my current city has an Amtrak station and I don’t have to first find my way to Boston! The Amtrak takes you right into Penn Station, and from there it was just a matter of finding myself a G train. Despite assurances that I would be murdered and have all my earthly possessions looted from my corpse, the MTA was pretty basic and not terrifying. I made it to all my inter-NYC destinations with minimal hassle and zero injury or property loss. Huzzah!

To prepare for my trip I watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Broad City.

My dear friend The Folklorist is sublet-hopping and job hunting in the city who’s descriptors I have forgotten. We met out in Oregon and hadn’t seen each other in about a year so it was really great to meet up and catch up. She actually finished her Master’s at UO, in case you care.

Mostly we ate. That’s not a complaint, I love eating, and NYC has some amazing restaurants. We started our New Year’s Eve celebration at Northern Territory, an Australian (?) restaurant that was blessing all patrons who made reservations with complimentary bottles of champagne. We tried the mushroom bruschetta and I had the chicken schnitzel. Both were very tasty. The night was young so we headed out to another bar my friend was familiar with. We passed by the terrifying “Greenpoint Community Garden” (I question the accuracy of that sign, unless they really are growing old cars and stuffed animals) and I got hit with an Amtrak hangover. See, dinner was delicious, and I was still sober, but I hadn’t factored in something very important. My last piece of food was a snack cake I’d thrown in my backpack at 1pm. At 8pm I was cramming food into my face like there was no tomorrow. Ten minutes in second bar and I thought I was going to pass out, vomit, and die (in that order) and I was furious because couldn’t I at least being embarrassingly drunk before I started feeling like that?

It took some fresh air, some walking, and a lot of water at the next place to get me in tip-top shape to start drinking Staten Islands at No. 7 North, which was a delightful little place with a taxidermy peacock, more elbow room, and free champagne at midnight. Maybe I’m just biased because I’d stopped feeling like barf and they didn’t give me crap for spending our first half-hour there ordering water. Also the peacock has really fierce side-eye.

Brunch the next day was made up of the best possible hangover cure: Spicy Bloody Mary’s and Korean food. We hit up Mrs. Kim’s for some awesome dulset bibimbap and a Bloody Mary with kimchi. It was divine (and so were the pork buns).

kimchi, kimchi, chusaeyo

kimchi, kimchi, chusaeyo

And then we relaxed, because a lot of things were closed (even in NYC!) and we had big plans for happy hour.

Oyster Happy Hour. Maison Premiere provided us with $1 oysters and some great drinks (though we avoided the absinthe cocktails). The place was incredibly packed though. I’m tempted to recommend arriving early if you want the happy hour specials, but I suspect that it’s just going to be packed no matter what.

$6 of oysters... the ones on the far right were the best

$6 of oysters… the ones on the far right were the best

After we ate our fill of oysters (read: couldn’t have bought any more without being embarrassed about the number of oysters we were eating) we set off with a very specific destination in mind… and instead ended up in Videology/El Gato Nacho. One room was showing the Lord of the Rings triology, another room was watching the Rosebowl, so we were able to get some popcorn and drinks and root for the ducks while watching something a lot more interesting than actual football.

Not pictured: The Nacho Cat sign

Not pictured: The Nacho Cat sign

It was a great place, but we had a higher calling. The Meatball Shop has several locations throughout NYC. It’s kind of like a meatball buffet, but it’s also a sit-down restaurant. I had pork belly meatballs in the red-eye gravy over risotto. It was amazing. As were their Manhattan jello shots (changes daily) and their Buzzed Lebowski.

Breakfast the next morning was Peter Pan Donuts. It’s no Top Pot, but it’s damn good.

Then we hopped over to her new place in East Williamsburg. This picture is an accurate description of my impression of East Williamsburg:

SPOILER ALERT: IT’S A PICTURE OF A DEAD PIGEON

That is exactly what you think it is.

That is exactly what you think it is.

See, New York City is like a pigeon. A beautiful pigeon and not the one that tripped into the fountain outside the Met. It toddles along and doesn’t give a fuck if it has no business being on the subway because it’s a pigeon and it does what it wants. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are like pigeons that I have captured and forced into top hats and scarves: charming and whimsical, even if they still have bird lice. East Williamsburg is definitely a pigeon, but it’s a pigeon that raises a lot of questions. Like, where’s the head? Or the feet? Why is only part of the spine there? Are all these businesses closed or is boarded up windows an aesthetic? That building is up to code to house people? Why is there a spriny horse in that backyard? Why is there porch lattice inside? Are there things out there that really only eat the middle of the pigeon? Is that like, the pigeon muffin top? Should I stop now? I should stop now.

This was the only day I actually did a thing that could be considered touristy, I suppose. I hopped the train to Manhattan and got to see the Death Becomes Her exhibit at The Met.

Only one post-mortem pic though =(

Only one post-mortem pic though =(

I was also able to pay homage to their Magritte and their Miro (at least, what they had on display), and even though the museum was stuffed to the gills it was still great to actually see it in person… and to see the mourning clothes.

Dinner brought us by Radio City Music Hall and down into Times Square (so I can say I’ve seen it). Times Square is mostly just bright? We snagged some happy hour drinks at Tonic (chosen because we could get bar seats right away… the Met took a lot out of us!) while we waited for a spot at our chosen dinner venue. Dinner was a fabulous (and really crowded) izakaya place called Sake Bar Hagi, right off of Times Square. We sampled several different menu items: quail eggs, takoyaki with amazing octopus pieces, gyoza, plum and beer cocktails… it was all worth the wait.

My final day I met up with a friend from my undergrad days. I once again navigated the subway solo and ended up in Fort Greene* at Alice’s Arbor, where I was served the fluffiest omelette. Yay fluffy omlettes! I ended up spending the rest of the day with my friend and his girlfriend in their Park Slope apartment. It had started snowing and raining, which didn’t endear any of us to walking around outside, even though I would have loved to see more of the area.

I navigated my way back to Penn Station painlessly, but once I was in Penn Station I found myself confused and bewildered. Eventually I realized that “Amtrak NJ” was not just Amtraks to New Jersey and found the waiting area and the track just fine. Driving home in a baby ice storm… easily the worst and most dangerous part of my entire trip. My car was just an ice bullet by the time I made it home.

I had so much fun in Brooklyn and I can’t wait to go back and explore more, see more friends, check out more museums, and eat more food.

Bonus picture of the Met Christmas Tree

Bonus picture of the Met Christmas Tree

*I’m listing all these Brooklyn neighborhoods but honestly I know nothing about them.