Manhattan is a particularly easy place to haemorrhage money. And if clothes or food or habits you like to indulge in – you’re in trouble. You see the predicament? The energy and diversity of the streets here is like nothing I’ve ever seen; at 11pm on a Monday night the sidewalks are humming, and mid-recession many bars and restaurants are jam-packed (do these people have jobs?!)
We just returned from dinner at a very cool café packed with personality called Yaffa: sunken about half below street level with a long, narrow interior and a beautiful back garden where the foliage around the tables is all lit up wit fairy lights. The music featured 70’s disco straight out of Priscilla Queen of the Desert alongside hip hop and cuts from M.I.A., while the international wait staff casually sport tattoos and hotpants and nobody bats an eye. As a raised middle finger to food snobs there was a mixture of Italian, French, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine on the menu and it was all delicious, and cheap as.
You can eat a great dinner in a cool restaurant for $US10 or less here, which is pretty much cheaper than you can cook it; probably the main reason why hardly anyone ever cooks – and why everyone eats out, all_ the time.
Across the road from Yaffa, also below street level we went to a styling little vintage shop called Physical Graffiti; so-called because the building it’s housed in was featured as the cover of the album of the same name by Led Zeppelin! ZOMG. History and culture jumps out at you from every corner. In the shop we find a bohemian and eccentric 54 year old New Zealander (wouldn’t you know it) called Liz, who knew who Lucie was! Anyway, great store, Liz was very friendly and kind enough to put the Led Zep album on – I bought a nice shirt.
Earlier in the afternoon we went to a roof top bar called 235th at 230 on 5th Avenue (you see what they did there?) that looked straight out onto the Empire State building. An amazing setting with fantastic flowers and foliage completely lining the perimeter of the roof that was somewhat let down by over-priced drinks served in plastic cups (apparently because of the risk of one going over the edge and taking out some poor innocent bystander on the sidewalk 20 floors below; what a way to go…) which was served by good looking mini-skirted wait staff clad all in black who looked like the sort of cheer leaders you find at a car or motorcycle race. So it was superficially nice, but lacking in class, which let the rest of the place down – particularly as it was the only place rocking some groovin’ lounge music styles we’ve been to yet (Kruder & Dorfmeister, thy name is god). Most places here seem more into the rock and / or hip hop tip – and the mainstream more than interesting end of it.
The vintage stores and shoe stores here are completely off the hook and I am loving being able find men’s clothes that I like! Two reasons why: the selection is literally about 534 times greater, and most of all, it’s cheap! You can pick up brand new trainers for $US40! These are shoes that firstly, you will never, ever see at home, and secondly – even if you did, they would cost you $NZ300. Retail stores stay open til 9pm on a Sunday, although none open before 10am and many won’t open until 1pm.
Interesting note: without a word of exaggeration about every fifth person here is sporting a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors at the end of their legs. It’s like there’s a regulation stipulating that thou must sport Chuck Taylors or renounce thy New York citizenship. Old people, young people, fat people, thin people, poor people, wealthy people, Black, White, Hispanic. It’s quite striking.
Oh, and Madison Square Gardens is frickin enourmous_. They tout it as the most famous arena in the world and I have no reason to doubt it on the evidence of mine eyes. Currently they’re advertising Aretha Franklin among the entertainment on offer and if I wasn’t leaving before she plays I would seriously have raffled a kidney to have checked that gig out.
That’s probably about twice as long a blog post as most people will read so I’ll leave it here for now. I’m only just scratching the surface of the city but it feels like I’ve got plenty of time to dig a little deeper.
ps I don’t have time to put them up now, but I will update this post with pics + more shortly in a new post (been offline in our apartment for the last few days).
pps my new American number is actually +1 516 234 3702, sorry for the mixup with my last post.