Sunday, March 23, 2008

"On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us and you'll find that you're in the rotogravure." Easter Parade

Fancy threads

Anybody got a light?

Great tophat

Hey I know that bunny getting her picture snapped.

Happy Easter. Today I wandered with family in tow to the "Easter Parade" on 5th Avenue. This is not a traditional parade....but rather a display of people mingling wearing crazy hats and beautiful finery. It is a wonderful gathering of all sorts of folks. This spectacle dates back to the mid-1800s when the social uppities would leave their respective Easter Church services and parade up and down 5th Avenue showing off their gorgeous threads.

"In your Easter bonnet,
with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady
in the Easter parade!"
- Irving Berlin

This extravaganza now is fantastic. The headgear is unbelievable and offers a true glimpse at the eccentric and creative brains that roam this little island. The crowd encompasses all walks of life from adorable families decked out in garb from years past to dazzling drag queens showing off the finest in feathers and rhinestones.

Street entertainers often gather a crowd but everyone has really made the journey to see the Easter bonnets. Today was a cold and early Easter calendar wise. Regardless the crowds were thick and the spirit merry. The lines for Mass at the famed St. Patrick's Cathedral were blocks long.

There were bonnets in the shape of the Empire State Building made of Metrocards and painted poodles being pushed in carriages. There were elaborate Easter baskets worn a top the head. Some hats were so large they required a wingman to hold them up from behind. This crowd does not disappoint. Cameras snapped rapidly at it all. People happily stop, pose and chat while celebrating the beauty of the day. Some of my personal favorites were the 80something dame in her bathing suit holding a sign for peace, a blissful sleeping toddler in a chicken costume and the lovely man wearing dice on his head and a fabulous pair of red patent heels at the end of his long gams.

Two dramatically different parades within in six days.

Here's to the people that come out and make the city great. Cheers!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patty's Day

My Irish eyes were smiling as Lori and I headed out on a cold morning up to Fifth Avenue to enjoy the heritage of the Irish. The St. Patrick's Day Parade is very different as it is marching bands, a ton of bagpipe and drum corps and different groups floats or balloons at this extravaganza. Needless to say we thought it was worth a journey. Tens of thousands of NYers participate in the parade following the famous green stripe up Fifth Avenue with about two million onlookers lining the route. This was the 247th marching of the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade.

We got off the train at Columbus Circle and as we cut across just south of Central Park we were in dire need of some direct sunglight to warm up. We found a good spectactor spot at 59th and Fifth Ave. I have to admit it was a rather quiet parade this year compared to years past. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was the workday of Monday and all of the politicians were absent. Hizzoner Bloomberg and fellow politicians were all in Albany this morning for the swearing in of our newest Governor...Mr David Paterson. Spitzer is out, Paterson is in.

The FDNY won our vote for favorites of the day. They are certainly an impressive bunch. It is always awe inspiring yet heart wrenching to see the 343 American flags being held high and proud coming up Fifth Avenue...each one representing the 343 FDNY members lost on September 11th. The crowd gave the men and ladies of the FDNY a very warm response.

After battling the cold and the wind we decided our celebration of the Irish had come to an end. Lori and I headed to 51st to do a little shopping at the flagship store for Capezio. It is an amazing store of everything dance. Just walking in the store makes you want to star on Broadway. Lori tried a few moves but was not stretched out enough to land any jobs on the Great White Way. Needless to say between Lori's girls and my girl they scored some adorable threads.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. The Easter Parade is next Sunday....we need to do some serious bonnet designs to stand out in that crowd.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Village adventures.

It was another amazing day in Manhattan! Lori and I decided to start our journey at Hudson and Grove in the West Village. This part of the city stands in stark contrast to the our neighborhood where every building is an average of 40 stories. The lovely four and five story brownstones are absolutely beautiful. Walking on Grove we stopped and peered into the enchanting (and private!) Grove Court. It is one of the most exclusive (oh la la) streets in the Village with only residents having a key to the irongate. This quaint courtyard was constructed between 1848 and 1852. The row of mews houses are storybook and makes one wonder about all the actual stories that have happened within that court. Ahh, to be so lucky.

We meandered down many breathtaking streets taking in the sights. Lori and I both agreed we would like to try out brownstone living in the future. (Of course with her Chicago years she has had a taste of this luxury.) Each home offers fun and unique characteristics. We envisioned hanging out on the stoops while the kids played hopscotch. One home had lion statues guarding the door although one was missing half a face and looked oddly like the mask in the horror flick Scream.

Lori and I felt heavy obligation and a sense of duty to partake in a visit to the famed Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker. While not my absolute favorite cupcake place(I honestly don't have one single favorite...I love them all) in the city they are certainly great. The smells and visions offered here are a delight! With four cupcakes each in hand it was time to venture on.

Up and down the streets we discovered fun and great conversation at every turn. We tried to persuade a "songwriter/producer" that Lori was indeed a famous rapper but he didnt' fall for it. It was completely and totally worth a try. As Lori pointed out that yes, most famous songwriters do drive Toyota Camrys. Further down Bleecker we stood amazed at the eats offered at both Faicco's Sausages and Murray's Cheese Shop. Murray's is a long time favorite of mine and Faicco's was a first but certainly not a last for both of us.

Enjoying the sights and sounds of Greenwich Village is always a treat even early in the morning. The young lad relieving himself on the steps of St. Joseph's Church most definitely enjoys the wee hours of the Village. Such is NYC! We checked out several restaurant menus and put them on our list of places to go.

We ended up at Broadway and started heading south towards our homeland. After crossing Canal we decided to venture into Ricky's. This place is the ultimate drugstore for moms and drag queens alike. By the time we loaded up and left we were both "Looking Good, Feeling Good" as the sign stated. At Broadway and Duane we parted ways with Lori heading West while I headed all the way south.

Today's adventures were rather tame and quiet. It is not everyday that one can enjoy birds singing their morning songs in Manhattan. Today we had that....and much more.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Adventure du jour

Which way to the Fung Wah?

Lori looks so full of surprise and emotion with her new coiffure.

Yummy, we love bakeries.

Love thy neighbor, especially on the Bowery
This morning Lori and I set out on the M9. Our eyes perked up on East Broadway and we hopped off the bus at East Broadway and Market Slip. Lori had never been to this part of town and was excited to see we had literally landed in a different country. This part of Chinatown encompasses wild open air markets, stores with every item imaginable and restaurants that we had no clue what they were offering since we couldn't read the menus. When we turned the corner underneath the Manhattan Bridge we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the kind ladies trying to sell us a seat on the infamous Fung Wah bus. Since we didn't have a need to score a ride to Boston we kept on walking. As luck would have it we discovered Pell Street. This short little road was filled with the finest in Chinese hair salons/massage parlors. Looking for a Japanese Straight Perm? Sold. Looking for a little reflexology to make sure your uretha is functioning? Done.

I introduced Lori to the popular Hong Kong chain Aji Ichiban. This is little candy store runs the range from delicious chewy ginger to dried cuttlefish. Instead of indulging in the squid crackers we opted to stroll up Mulberry Street to the heart of Little Italy.

*Random fact. In the 1930s, one-sixth of NY's population was from Southern Italy.

The delicious smells from my long time favorite La Bella Ferrara called us in. There we enjoyed amazing butter biscuits and took some to go. From Little Italy we walked over to the Bowery and window shopped the restaurant supplies and lighting. Never know when one might need a mixer the size of a bathtub.

From Bowery we went east on Houston. We passed by the infamous Yonah Schimmel Knishery and definitely plan to lunch there in the future. After crossing the street and enjoying the nexus of the Universe...1st Ave and 1st Street, we wandered up 1st Avenue. Heading towards Tompkins Square Park I shared with Lori that it was the land of many police encounters and raids including the dismantling of Tent City in the late 80s. She was ultra impressed with that tidbit.

By this point hunger was calling and we dined at Hummus Place on St. Mark's Place. Needless to say hummus was on the menu. Lori scored with her order of fava hummus. A little more tasty than my order of hummus masabacha. Definitely a place to return to.

After a delicious lunch and loads of new insight on dreary old Manhattan it was time to return to the reality that we call Battery Park City and the Financial District. Walking St. Mark's Place to Astor Place to catch a train home we considered a tattoo to commerate the lovely day. Fortunately we were distracted by groovy sunglasses and the ink was just a fleeting thought.

Stay to be added in the very near future.

Urban Adventures

We are so lucky to live life in New York City. Life is sweet and so is this city. The time is definitely right to learn more about this lovely little island we call home.