New York City

Inktober 2018: Wild Things in New York City

For this year’s Inktober, I drew a series of wild things in New York City, from fish in Chinatown markets to lavender on Governor’s Island to parakeets that reside in Southern Brooklyn. What I really liked about this year’s challenge was that I told myself I could only use one box of Blick Brush markers and a single black pen. Restricting color made me more resourceful in needing to use texture, layered colors, and black pen brush strokes with fast drawing techniques to give the impression of what I wanted. I also enjoyed forcing myself to draw something with color every day. I don’t feel the same about each drawing, some were made quit fast or at coffee shops even while on vacation, but a few I really love now. I see them each as a beginning of a larger idea just maybe.

I’m now gearing up to work on a portfolio for 10 to 12 images for the SCBWI New York Conference in February. I’m pretty nervous! But I found a lot of inspiration from this Inktober challenge for that. I’m thinking I might want to do a lot of New York City wildlife scenes for my portfolio, maybe turtles in Central Park or raccoons sneaking into trash cans.

Goodnight Glaser's Bakery

 

When I worked on the Upper East Side I used to take walks over to Glaser's to get a donut or a black and white cookie. The 116 year old bakeshop is a wondrous blast from the past with that teal green sign, the intricate inside, and of course, those iconic New York City cookies. They were even featured in a Mad Men episode.

When I heard they were closing a few months ago, I made a strategic decision to go early to get my last black and white. I'm glad I had my little goodbye back in April. I carried a box home with two cookies on the crosstown bus like a funeral rite.

The sunsetting of Glaser's makes me think of the book I'm currently reading, St. Mark's Is Dead by Ada Calhoun, a great rumination on the constant change of New York City seen through one of the city's most iconic streets.  Calhoun strikes a nice balance of nostalgia for the wonders of the past city and thinking forward on the nature of urban change. She shows us how the city has always lamented "those newcomers" ruining everything, with residents wishing for the mythical past.

I'm stuck then somewhere between loving the ever changing, ever contentious, beat of New York City and feeling pretty downtrodden that the commercial rent is so high that all we get are banks and big brand pharmacies. I understand why a family would want to end their 116 year old store because generations change and grow, that's kinda the American story too, but perhaps it would be less sad if we knew the diversity of stores in New York could keep going.

--

Glaser's Bakery 1670 1st Avenue New York, NY 10128

A Coney Island of the Mind

 

When I was in ninth grade, with extremely frizzy hair and a strange sense of style that only the early aughts could produce, I met a librarian who told me about poetry. It was a simple breakthrough in my life of books.

This librarian helped me finish an assignment for my honors english class one afternoon at our town's public library. She also serendipitously told me I should I read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney of the Island of the Mind, too

Up until that point, I'd really never had an adult show me the good stuff in reading beyond me stealing my mom's Oprah paperbacks. It ushered in a desire not just for poetry but for all kinds of books I'd hadn't been thinking about.

I loved Ferlinghetti's anti-classical form instantly, how what he wrote spoke to feelings I'd had about living in our times even if we experienced different Americas. He was nothing like the sonnets we were learning in class. I didn't need to track his literary devices. I didn't even know who or what the beats were, but I felt like I could actually read what he wrote.

I bought his book on my own after returning that library copy. I never really loved Kerouac or the other beats after that. It was always A Coney Island of the Mind for me.

Even today, I think about his style, especially in this weird time and place in the world. I still have my copy that I move with me from apartment to apartment. Once in San Francisco, I stopped in City Lights hoping I'd get a sighting of him.  Maybe I will someday.

--

I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

(excerpt from I Am Waiting, Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Inspiration for Upstate NY Adventures

For the past few years I've made time to get away to various parts of the Catskills and Hudson valley for adventures in the summer and fall . I just happened upon this fast watercolor sketch  after I climbed up Overlook Mountain sometime ago which made me a bit wistful for the close to home getaways.

I'm looking for inspiration, especially for this coming summer season that are right outside the city's door step.

Send me your ideas! I've been inspired by Only Living Girl in New York's trips to the farther afield Lake George area.

Upstate Weekend Trips Ideas Near New York City

By train:

Hudson for antiquing Cold Spring for a hike and small town Beacon for contemporary art

By car: A Summer in the Hudson Valley Ashokan for the Reservoir Big Indian NY for The Peekamoose Restaurant New Paltz to tour the cideries Westkill for the Spruceton Inn and Westkill Brewing  Woodstock for Overlook Mountain and Bread Alone

Gray's Papaya on 72nd Street

Gray's Papaya on 72nd. The best part of this year of living on the Upper West Side is exploring all The Very New York Institutions that exist up here on a casual basis. It's been fun to just see movies at Lincoln Center, walk by the farmer's market at The Natural History Museum, and sit for a slice of cheese cake at Cafe Lalo.

And in the this neighborhood, the intersection of 72nd Street feels like one of the most cinematic and iconic. Perhaps I feel this way because of You've Got Mail but I also learned that it's a background in Die Hard, too. I think my subconscious remembers that scene.

The yellow and bright Gray's Papaya at 72nd is a perfect storefront symbol for the neighborhood, an open 24/7 stalwart on the corner beaming in yellow and painted signs.

Now that the spring is really here, I feel a craving for a hot dog with mustard, but never ketchup. Yep, that's how I like my papaya dog.

-- Gray's Papaya  2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Absolute Bagels

Bagels are a reason I can't leave New York. Growing up in pretty basic New England town, we had one guy who made bagels the New York Way. They were good, not great, but chewy in a much better way than most non-metro area bagels tend to be. Then I moved to New York and started eating Bagel Bob's all the time. Hello, pimento olive cream cheese. A bagel love affair began in my life and has yet to cease.

Currently my favorite bagels are found at the edge of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights at Absolute Bagels. This is a non-frills, kinda grimy, bagel cafe.It is not meant for Instagram selfies with matcha and pink walls. But they are one of the best in New York according to Eater!

The bagels are just right: they're chewy, not too big, not too small, salty and perfectly New York-ish. You can literally watch as the bagels are boiled and baked here, emerging from the giant oven like little golden nuggets of joy. The everything bagel is perfectly garlicky and salty, which is my real taste test for a bagel. If there is no salt I am done, that's it. Your bagel is dead to me.

I can't describe it actually but you just know what a good bagel is when you take that first bite.

Spring for the Thai iced tea if you're an iconoclast. It makes a good bagel friend.

__

Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Always and Forever

I feel like the scene of instagramable softserve has exploded in the past five years.  I'm a fan of one of the originals in that very important life category (I kid) namely Momofuku Milk Bar's cereal milk. I'm also partial because I live very close to their Upper West Side location so I'm constantly sneaking in trips, even in the winter.

The cereal milk flavor typifies a flavor profile I love: it starts out weird and then sinks right into umami addiction. I love when things are oddly salty and oddly sweet all at once. The layers are perfect here, too You get the crunchies on the top AND the bottom.

_

Momofuku Milk Bar Many locations across NYC

The Art of Dog Watching in New York City

This morning I pet a really beautiful old hound-like dog inside a tiny coffee shop called Boxkite. He was waiting with his owner by her window seat, just smiling and slowly wagging his tail up at her as she sipped along. He's definitely my best friend now.

I love dogs. I love dogs in New York City more. I don't have a dog (someday when I'm actually in my apartment after work I will) so I take it upon myself to talk to dogs on the street either in my head or in real life. It's a real life fan fic I'm writing all the time about the dogs of the city.

My favorite places to watch dogs have to be the neighborhoods on both sides of Central Park. The west and east side are full of wealthy and funny people with an arrangement of weird and wonderful dogs. I love the families on Madison Avenue taking out their giant lumbering dogs for walks. It's like you know they must have an equally giant apartment to house such a majestic creatures that would take up the entire space of my kitchen table. I'm also a fan of posh looking senior ladies with extremely tiny dogs wearing boots in the rain. I would wear those boots too!

The Washington Square Dog Run is my favorite go to dog run for watching when it's warm. Its got this great little platform bench by the trees, which makes for prime interactions between the small and large dogs that jump up onto the perch.

I also love the Halloween dog parades, those in Carl Schurz and Tompkins Square park.

When in doubt though, I get my Instagram dog fix on The Dogist.

I hope it's not creepy I'm just watching your dogs, people of New York.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

It's almost Christmas but I didn't get to most of the things I thought I'd get to this holiday season, of course. I didn't make those gingersnaps I loved last year, the ones stuffed with cream cheese frosting. I didn't craft any homemade cards. I also decided not to make my yearly biscotti for my dad, opting instead for other gifts because my tiny kitchen is overloaded right now.

But I did get a small streetside Christmas tree, strung with my favorite strange ornaments--with a felted penguin added this year (thanks, Brian!)--that is just right sized for my current tiny apartment. I did bring home gifts from Spain and France for family and friends, so shopping was a bit easier. Plus I've already braved the line at the post office. And just this Saturday I went to see the Dyker Heights Christmas lights which was hilariously fun.

I guess it's better to aim for a few things, not a million.

Happy holidays!

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Dyker Heights Christmas Lights 11th to 13th Avenues from 83rd to 86th St in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

On view: Day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Nom Wah Tea Parlor opened in in 1920, the start of a long (and still going) life in the heart of New York City's Chinatown. It's a longstanding institution that also tells the social-history of the Chinese in all of America, from exclusion to inclusion. I've always found it's storefront to be beautiful, a worn but bright mix of colors on the outside, with an 1950's seeming interior peeking through the windows in a faint neon glow. The dim sum is fast and casual, with the usual stars that are always just right.

And now Nom Wah has expanded with hipper locations in the past few years, a fun sign of what is old is also new again. It's nice for an New York City institution to be growing, not closing.

I always hope to sit in the window, by the maneki neko and the potted plants, at the original. It's a perfect spot.

-

Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 962-6047

Pizza I've Known: Pizzeria Sirenetta's Clam Pie

A few months ago I had dinner with my oldest friend at Pizza Sirenetta. It's adjacent to and operated by the same folks at the lovely Mermaid Inn where you can get great oysters at he happy hour.  Th

The draw for me was the promise of a clam pie, though. I love clam pies, like a girl who grew up going down the cape and eating fried clams like candy every salty summer.

In my pizza hunting adventures around New York City, Pizza Sirenetta quenches that fancier-than-usual rustic Neapolitan pizza experience, similar to that of the late Franny's which also had a great clam pie.)

It's got one of the best clam pies in the city, too. It has that rich combo of thin crust, creamy sauce in place of cheese, and peppery parsley to compliment speckles of clams. I'm thinking about another subtle but rich clam pizza for a celebration in the future.

--

Pizzeria Sirenetta 568 Amsterdam Ave New York, NY 10024

 

Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York

I finished my first Inktober! It was a rush to the finish. I'm very glad I got to think and draw about New York City all month, a place I love to live in, even though it's not always on my side. Hello, stepping in dog poop on my block.

The main thing I learned from this all month draw-a-thon is that drawing fast, every day, is great in strengthening visual thinking and sketching. Even if every drawing didn't come out exactly how I wanted it to at first, I felt my ability to get a drawn concept from mind to sketchbook getting easier with the daily practice.I've taken inspiration from this element of Inktober then, adding a reminder to my phone to draw every night. Maybe some days I won't make it, but if I can, I know it will be a creative practice to keep.

Inktober Week 4: Why I Love New York Corona Park for the World's Fair Unisphere Bodega Roses Times Square (because it's like turning the lights on in the middle of the night) The Art Deco Chrysler building Pigeons! They eat my crumbs even if I am afraid of them sometimes. My metrocard. Dim Sum in chinatown in Manhattan, Queens, AND Brooklyn. Meeting by the clock at Grand Central. And finally, all the wonderful, interesting, weird, and different people of New York City.

NYC Pizza I've Known: Martina

PizzaIveKnown_Martina Martina is a new fast Roman pizza place by the ever expanding Shake Shack crew. I eagerly awaited it's arrival as both a budget New York dining and pizza aficionado.

To start, they have a fried risotto suppli and a lemony arugula salad. I love simple dressed salads, call me a boring lady, but it's my favorite side dish to pizza. The pizzas here remind of Rome through and through: zucchini flowers, gooey mozzarella, spicy salami, and a cracker crust. Martina is a good mix of delicious and quick, a spot I can see myself stopping in before a cocktail date or post-movie in the neighorhood. True to the style, you can drink prosecco in plastic cups which is delightful.

Next time I've got to try the dessert of flor di latte soft serve gelato because it sounds amazing.

I love the illustration on the paper that lines their metal trays, of course. __

Martina 198 East 11th Street East Village, NYC

Favorite New York City Coffee

I like to pretend I'm on vacation most weekends by treating myself to espressos. During the week it's mostly french press at home or coffee cart dollar cups. But fancy coffee never tastes so good as when I'm lounging at 3pm in another neighborhood or just down the street on a Saturday afternoon.

Here's a current list of my favorites for the season of back to school and back indoors. Now, if the New York City heat would finally leave.

My New York City Coffee Geography

Toby's Third Estate because it's a tiny spot with a hidden Strand. Third Rail  for the Washington Square Park vibe. Sweatshop for Aussie Williamsburg espresso. Birch because of the cold brew I'd drink all year long. Joe as a classic from back when I moved to New York. 9th Street Espresso for a real space to work and think with your espresso and milk. Think because the old NYU undergrad heart only grows fonder! Blue Bottle in Carroll Gardens since it's got that South Brooklyn charm. Like, is this neighborhood even real?