After a day semi-ruined by West to East coast jetlag, we made an effort in the following days to not succumb to mild sleepiness and to face the city although mildly groggy. We had a lot planned for the weekend from a trek to Williamsburg to going to visit family in South Jersey. The most important thing that happened over days two through four of LAIY in NYC is that we realized that Los Angeles is not the best at everything and traffic in New Jersey and New York is just the pits.
Friday, we started our day similarly late but forced ourselves out of the hotel by 12PM to camp out and do work at a nice little cafe instead of in our hotel room, which was a tiny little black hole of tiredness. We were planning on staying there for, you know, one or two hours but ended up staying there for three, so long that one of the people who worked there gave us a little salted carmel truffle to coax us into buying something or get out.
During this three hour stay at Fika, we noticed something: New Yorkers are just as annoying in public conversation as Angelenos are. There was one couple in particular, a faceless two who sat directly behind me chatting about graduate school and the toils of being recently hired by venture capitalists, etc. Their conversation wove in and out of traveling the world for work and not having any friends outside of school but seeking solace in the fact that they are New Yorkers and that they will most definitely find other New Yorkers wherever they are. It was like listening to some bastardized double headed snake chatting away as it tried to eat its own tail: New Yorkers love to talk about being New Yorkers. It would be a little hypocritical if I didn’t say that I didn’t love to talk about being an Angeleno but, shit, I would stab my eyes out if I say with a friend in a coffee shop–totally sober–blathering on as we jointly counted the reasons why LA was so great. Give me a break.
We had a few meetings to attend so we headed out by 3PM to meet a friend at the High Line to walk around and hang out. The High Line brought about lots of revelations that made us question what we have in Los Angeles, specifically in terms of public spaces and efforts to rehabilitate unused spaces. What is our High Line? Is there anything in the works? Is there anything we can make like that? Where does it need to be? What and how would it serve Los Angeles? All questions on our mind walking through there, which inspired a slew of Twitter conversations. We’ve been mulling things over and we’ll be sharing our thoughts very soon…
Moving on to our next leg of meetings, we made our way from the High Line to The Standard, which is an absolute mad house. If you thought the Downtown Standard on a Friday night was bad, you’ve never been to the Meatpacking District Standard on a Friday night! It was like Hollywood & Highland up in there, people coming out of every crack and corner, in high heels and blazers, with decidedly not as welcoming faces. The crowd was definitely better dressed than Angeleno nightlife crowds but, sadly, they weren’t as attractive as I like to think we are. ~*~SoRrY nEw YoRk~*~ Drinks and dinner at The Standard Grill was good, certainly spanking all The Standard Los Angeles eateries. Let’s step this up, LA versions of this place. We deserve better (because we are better).
Somehow, we ended up stumbling East to find a gay bar, opting to hit a place that we thought sounded like a bear bar or something: Cubby Hole. We arrived to find a little line and quickly realized that, yes, it was a gay bar but that, no, it was not for gay males: it was a lesbian bar. We both went “!!!!!?!!!?!!!” but went in anyway to find it to be the East Coast lesbian cousin to Cha Cha Lounge as it was virtually the same vibe as Cha but the size of a pool table. Once we realized they only took cash, that we had no cash, and that bookbags were not a good accessory at a bar like this, we moseyed onward to the historic Stonewall Inn. It was here that we realized that all New York City gay bars are delightfully weird and accepting. This bar had old gay men, young gay men, hipster gay men, preppy gay men, fat gay men, skinny gay men, gay females, gay males, straight females, straight acting males, and more: it was a great cross section of the entire city! The go-go dancers were horrifying (they looked like old guidos) but we were content for 1AM on a Friday, which is when we left because WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO STAY UP UNTIL 4AM AT A BAR?????? I remember when I moved from NYC to Los Angeles that I was pissed the bars closed at 2AM but, fuck, 4AM is the stupidest. You couldn’t pay me to stay up that late at a bar! We’re more responsible out West.
Saturday was our Brooklyn exploration day, led by guides and Brooklynites/will-be-Angelenos-any-day-now Andi Teran and Hamish Robertson. They gave us a fantastic tour and, for a minute, made us think that living in Brooklyn wouldn’t be that bad: we started the day with a pitstop into rugged mens outfitter Hickoree’s Hard Goods; we had a brunch of delicious fried chicken sandwiches at hipster diner silly house Diner; we popped into
Broome Street General Store Brook Farm General Store; beardo artisanal artisanal boat chocolate chocolate Brooklyn Mast Brothers Chocolate; great coffee, bad music spot Toby’s Estate; the food fair fun fest The Brooklyn Flea AKA The Flea AKA Smorgasburg; great cocktails and not a lodging place Hotel Delmano; rad zine store Desert Island; and a few other nice spots.
Our Brooklyning was certainly great and brought about a few realizations. First, all that stuff you hear about Brooklyn being a little too silly and over the top with “artisan” crafts is true and it’s nearly as silly as you hear. That being said, a lot of that stuff is great but pushed almost to absurdity when you are faced with buying a $200 dollar floral shirt at Hickoree’s, a place that also sells these pencils for $3 each. Unacceptable under any circumstance. Second, the area, which many see as the East coast older brother of Silver Lake, has more cocktails places than we have in our “cool zone.” Come on, Los Angeles. Unacceptable! Third, Williamsburg is so far away from everything!!!! It took us an hour by cab to get there–and the cabbie got lost! The trip there is a joke. Fourth, The Flea is fantastic especially because it’s a food fair. We have things like The Gathering Of The Food Trucks and The Truck Stop–but nothing like the food Flea. Silver Lake needs to put something like that in the green space–not a farmer’s market but a food fair for everyone.
After our Brooklyn affairs, we went back to the city to meet friend and funny lady Kristen Damiani for dinner at a place that I will be very quick in describing: Momofuku Noodle Bar. It was good. There was nothing bad about this. The pork buns were great. The chicken wings tasted like tender pork. The spicy chilled noodles were hot and good. The ramen was great. It was all great! Protip: get a carafe of wine. It’s cheaper than two glasses!
(Note: As we waited outside for a table, a man walked by and said, “Momofuku? More like MO-MO-FUK-U.” I think that summed up the area that it is in. Also, Momofuku is essentially upscale Daikokuya.)
We endeavored to then hit gay-bar-of-my-dreams The Cock but we, sadly, were two hours early. Instead, we went into very WeHo like bar The Urge next door to pass the time, where the bartender loved us and gave us buy-one-get-one drinks after the special ended and then whiskey shots. Hospitality! Once 11PM hit, we wandered over to The Cock and were frisked on our way in by a cover charge (Who asks for a cover?? It’s 2012 not 1995!) but were delighted to find the interior to be as fucked up and seedy as I remembered it to be. There was even an LED screen above the bar broadcasting the phrase “YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL” on repeat. Guys: we have no gay bars like this in LA. We’ve been to many a nicely seedy gay bar–The Pony in Seattle, The Cinch in San Francisco, Mary’s in Atlanta–but we have nothing like it in LA. The Eagle, Mother Lode, and Akbar come close but they are not the same. We are being robbed, gays. Someone fill this void! This is fodder for another article, too…
Sunday we went on a road trop South to New Jersey to visit some of my family in Toms River. We grabbed a ZipCar for the day and took very confusing roads South and ended up taking twice as long as we were supposed to take due to very confusing roads and almost no signage on a lot of streets and highways. New Jersey has the most confusing road system and terribly designed signs. We have the upper hand in this, Angelenos.
We also have the upper hand in traffic, as any road you could say “New York” near was bumper to bumper and filled with frustrated drivers. We may have a lot of “traffic” in Los Angeles but we don’t have this. Sure, everyone subways in New York. But, those who have cars? Taxis? Buses? Sheesh. It’s a mess! I bused in and out of NYC from their valley (New Jersey) for years and never realized how bad it was until I was on a road trip of my own. It’s a mess! We were so frustrated.
It was all good though because we got to see my grandmother, great aunt, other great aunt, and great uncle in South Jersey and got to indulge in the fantastic feast of Chinese buffet that you see above. Obviously, it was the culinary highlight of our trip thus far.
Once we were back in the city we made our way to Queens for dinner with Kristen once again but this time at a place called Mexi BBQ as I wanted to try NYC Mexican. Spoiler alert: it was not good food but great service. We’ll have to try another Mexican place to truly compare East versus West Mexican food. It was a good, humid night where lots of people with Puerto Rican flags were still walking and blasting airhorns down the street as we ate our meal. Ahhhh: the Puerto Rican Day Parade aftermath.
New York, I’m Yours Rating?
The High Line? Ten out of ten smiling daises.
The Standard NYC? Five stumbling stilettos out of ten items of footwear.
New York Gay Bars? ~*~sEvEn PrOuD RaInBoWs~*~
Brooklyn? Five ramps out of ten ramp vinaigrettes
Astoria? Seven ethnic thumbs up
New Jersey Roads? Zero. Nothing is good about this.
New York Traffic? D I T T O.
The Weekend? Six speeding subway trains.