Monday, 11 May 2009

Day Three in New York: “Oh my god, I want to shave all my hair off!” (Long-haired girl stepping into the sunshine on Third Avenue)

A little lie-in after last night’s boozing and we wake up starving so we (literally) hotfoot it to the famous Ess-a Bagel where the bagels are made fresh right there and the queue is indicative of how amazing they are. I have an onion flavoured bagel with vegetables and walnut and scallion cream cheese with a vat of gorgeous coffee. I’m officially smoking in New York so I’m perpetually wired on caffeine or nicotine or both, it’s the perfect kind of fractious energy to negotiate our sticky way down Second Avenue where I make an appointment to have a little something done later in the day …

I have a hundred dollar splurge at Urban Outfitters which is ten times better than the one at home. They’re playing Morrissey on the stereo which is drenched with significance. Eventually we’ve slummed it enough down the Lower East Side so we decide to go upmarket and cab it to Chelsea. I change into my new shorts in the back of the cab which inevitably stops at the traffic lights as soon as I’m down to my boxers.

In Chelsea we get a table in the shade at a nice little bistro and drink iced tea and lager and read the Village Voice. They have tiny little free cakes on the table with jam to go on top, it’s all just so civilised. We picked a good day for Chelsea, Eighth Avenue is closed off to traffic and there’s a huge outdoor market running for several blocks jammed with food, live music, cheap clothes and beautiful men. I buy a twelve dollar hat that may or may not suit me but which prevents my head from overheating.

When we’ve done the market we walk to the neighbouring Meatpacking District, a small, sexy, industrialised area by the water which is no longer up and coming but has up and come. Boutique hotels and swish bars share pavement space with BEST VEAL and PORK BEEF LAMB outlets in that cheek-by-jowl way that New York does so well. It’s gentrification with iron doors and meat hooks, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney are here, things move fast in New York.

We stop for another beer, Dutch courage for my little procedure, which in the end goes off without a hitch. I feel fantastic afterwards. Home, shower and change, then, once the sun has mercifully gone down, a cool walk down the Bowery, through Soho and into Little Italy which is teeming with people and life and the feeling that we are in just the right place. We eat at Il Cortile, one of the seemingly last Italian restaurants surviving the crush from Chinatown and NoLiTa which are elbowing into the neighbourhood. Little Italy marks its turf proudly though with beautiful lights in the colours of the Italian flag the length and breadth of the streets.

We decide to head back to Chelsea for drinks but we do the bars in the wrong order. Rush turns out to be a club so is too quiet when we get there early. The music is dire, the boys aren’t a patch on the East Village set, and people are dancing in shorts and flip-flops (!!??). No. So, despite the $20 dollar cover charge we've already paid, we head to Barracuda which is much more fun and sexy. We get embroiled in some kind of drunken bar dare where Joff has to swap shirts with someone and I have to give someone my phone number, which I fake of course (I give them Joff’s). I seem to be able to get very drunk on two drinks in this heat, it’s fantastic. Then we go to another bar. It’s busy. In fact it’s the busiest bar I’ve ever been to in my life. It’s hot. There’s a pool table in the back. The toilets are tiny. We are literally cheek by jowl with the other punters so everyone can hear our English accents as we complain about the schvitzing like a pair of old bobes. Neither of us can remember what the place was called. Mists of time now love, mists of time …


Phil said...

Colour me jealous. I heart NYC. And Barracuda was our starting off point on my last 10-day sojourn there.

New York is one of the only places to guarantee a 100% entertaining story every day, to retell back home. My first ever story from there? Being picked up by a Moby lookalike in the Phoenix bar and given a BJ on top of his Williamsburg apartment block whilst looking at the Manhattan skyline.

Gregling said...

My God Phil, I'm going to have to fabricate something to compete with you now! x