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this is what happened to us this weekend:

  • get up friday morning, frigging early, 5ish or something. we feed & placate the cats, telling them nothing unusual is happening as we back out the door. we’re hoping they don’t shred/shed/shit the place up. our flight leaves at 9, and we get to la guardia around 10:30.
  • we take a yellow cab to the plaza where we find our room isn’t ready yet (oh yeah…it’s only 11), so we leave our bags and strike out in search of food.
  • we walk down 5th avenue, fighting the urge to spend. we eat at the first place we see, a little joint called burger heaven. it’s actually a nice place, and while nellie doesn’t like her buffalo chicken (?!) sandwich, my bbq pulled pork sandwich is spec-friggin-tacular.
  • our bellies full (well, mine anyway) we decide to kill a few more hours by going to the whitney, one of the museums i really wanted to see. at this point nellie becomes aware that she’s wearing the wrong shoes and her feet start to hurt. regardless, we stroll up madison and make it to the whitney around the time it opens. it’s a great museum: a nice little collection (i love hopper, they have a nice rothko, and there was some very cool art on one of the floors including a huge moving toy robot exhibit…hard to explain) that you can see in an hour, if you move like we do. nellie’s favourite is a situation in yellow by oscar bluemner, but i liked black and white by georgia o’keefe(!).
  • we stroll back to the hotel, cutting through central park. it’s still a bit chilly, but the skaters are out.
  • we check into our room on the 14th floor, overlooking the park. holy crap, i can see harlem. the park is so huge, and it’s so amazing that someone 150 years ago had the foresight to set aside 843 acres of park right smack in some of the most commercially viable real estate in the world. we look right down on the corner of 5th and central park south, so we can see the skating rink and the pond. we spend 10 minutes sitting in the window box just staring out the window at the upper half of manhattan.
  • we walk down to rockefeller plaza to see the ice rink, all the skaters we’ve seen in countless movies and tv shows. as is always the case with such things, it’s smaller than we expected.
  • ok, well, it’s not always the case. we walk over to 7th and head south until we get to times square. it’s every bit as massive and busy (in every sense of the word) as i’d imagined. i see anson carter walking around, probably trying to familiarize himself with new york after being traded to the ranegrs earlier that week. funniest moment of the whole weekend: nellie, standing at the intersection of broadway and 7th, amidst all the chaos and giant billboards and surging masses, asks, “where’s times square?”. i near wet myself.
  • we walk over to grand central, getting a good view of the chrysler building as we go, and take a few minutes to look at the inside of it. the architecture itself is stunning, but the fact that they’ve made a building that’s so perfect for human traffic flow is mind-boggling.
  • we walk back up to the hotel, relax for a bit and then change into our nice duds. we then discover why people say it’s impossible to get a cab in new york sometimes. it’s because it’s impossible.
  • finally we make it to smith & wollensky. i ate at a smith’s two years ago in vegas, and i haven’t truly appreciated any steak i’ve had since then. tonight i ordered the sirloin (all 18 ounces of it) and it was like eating meaty butter. i wanted to cry. nellie liked her filet mignon as well, but didn’t shed tears until the cheesecake; like she says, “if you’re gonna have cheesecake, ya might as well go to new york…”. freaky coincidence: our waiter’s name was daniel l, and he was a duke fan! anyway, one obscene bill later and we’re so stuffed we can hardly walk. ‘sides, someone’s feet are hurting again. we take a cab back to the hotel and writhe in bloated agony. then we fall asleep in the extra-comfy king bed. it’s been quite a day.
  • saturday comes early, but we beat it back (read: i feel back to sleep), so we don’t get up until about 10. we find a great breakfast place around the corner, get some french toast & bacon & pancakes & sausage and oj and get on the go.
  • note to the toronto transit commission: an all-day, unlimited-use pass on the new york subway costs only $4 (though the subway smells like urine). we take a series of trains down to the world trade center site, not out of a desire to gawk, but just out of my need to get a sense of the scale of what happened. i’m a little surprised at the number of people standing around the edge looking in (several thousand, easily), but i guess they’re like me. while we look in, and later when we walk down toward battery park, i keep thinking about the footage i watched a year and a half ago, and i realize that until now new york hadn’t been a completely real place in my mind. it was like hollywood to me, a place that exists on tv and in the movies and, while i know it’s a real city with real people, part of my brain only registers it as an imaginary place. but now, seeing that hole in the ground, imagining two towers that weighed a million tons, remembering the images of dust and ash rushing from underneath them as they came down…just seems eerie now. i used to scoff a bit when i heard newscasters use the term, but it really does feel like hallowed ground.
  • the stroll down the hudson to battery park is nice, as we soak up some warm sun and enjoy the quiet. lots of joggers and dog walkers here. we get soem faraway pictures of the statue of liberty and ellis island but decide against taking the cruise & tour, as there’s a 2-hour wait. “2-hour wait” is a phrase we will get to know well today.
  • we take the subway up to houston, on the border of soho and greenwich village. we’re not hungry, so we don’t send much time here, just stroll up through nyu, past washington square park to 8th, long enough to get a sense of the neighbourhood. it’d definitely be a great place to hang out, but we’re on a mission! we take the subway up to columbus circle, at southwest corner of central park.
  • we decide to walk up the american museum of natural history at 77th street, stopping along the way to see the dakota apartment building where John Lennon lived (and in front of which he was shot), and crossing the street to see strawberry fields, his favourite part of the park, right across central park west. lots of hippies laying flowers, lots of gawking tourists standing right on the memorial so they could get a better picture of it. anyway, the museum had a super-long wait as well, so we headed back through the park to the hotel. we saw a lot more of the park this time, and it being such a nice day (about 11 degrees) there were lots of dogs, cyclists, horses, skater punks, dancers, strollers, walkers, joggers and skaters out. we even got a bit too much sun, lingering too long on the rocks to rest our tired feet. we soothed ourselves with more cheesecake from the restaurant we’d hit for breakfast. it’s just as good this time around
  • we thought we’d kill a few hours before dinner at the frick collection, a gorgeous mansion right on 5th avenue. actually, i get on the phone and try to sort out andrew’s reservation problems at the cambridge shits hotel first, and then we head our for the frick. on our way there we see kirsten dunst. i drool so much the sidewalk is probably still wet, but we somehow struggle on and get to the museum. the art inside, while impressive, is a little stuffy for us (where are the toy robots?), but the house itself…wow. So many antiques…mom would go fully nuts in here. we’re out in a hour, so it’s another great museum. too bad we didn’t have time for the met, or to go over to queen’s to see the temporary moma
  • we strike out for dinner and end up at a place that bakes pizzas in a coal oven. yummy sausage & sundried tomato pizza for me, nellie gets some deadly-looking pasta. the server is from montreal! we finish up and head out to the last must-see on my list.
  • we’re lucky we hit the empire state building when we do, since there’s only about a 45 minute wait to get to the top. when we leave the lineup is around the corner onto 34th. the views from the top would be more impressive had i never been up in the cn tower, but what makes them special is the new york skyline. the chrysler building looks fantastic at night, and the bridges are all lit up as well. it’s too crowded, for sure, but it’s worth the long wait. exhausted, we descend and drag our weary bones into a cab. we secure some snacks and fall asleep watching ghostbusters. it’s funny to see parts of new york in the movie that we now recognize. i think of when i was nine and saw this movie with dad, and that the first part (with the library ghost) scared me. i laugh and start to tell nellie, but she’s zonked. i follow quickly after. new york has beaten us, and we’ve loved it all.
  • this morning we get up, have some brekkie, make for la guardia, get an early flight (muchmusic vj amanda walsh was sitting near me), arrive in sunny toronto (it looked hazy though; is there smog in toronto already?), fight through a st. patrick’s day parade and wake sonny & michael with our tired (but happy) return.

what a weekend. there are so many things i didn’t even mention: radio city music hall, the lineup for tickets to saturday night live, seeing an actor from 24 shopping on 5th avenue, the cockroach on our dresser, the subway preacher…too much to mention. all in all, it was a blast, we loved new york, and we won’t be able to resist going back for very long…if only to get another slice of that cheesecake.

pet sounds

ever since i heard the song on one of the episodes of sports night (great dvd set of one of the best shows of all time), i can’t stop listening to “sloop john b” by the beach boys. i know, the beach boys. who’d have thunk it? all these years and i’d never listened to pet sounds, but it’s good. very good. and this song is just so…catchy. and happy. and makes me think of sports night now, which makes me even happier. mmmmmm, natalie.