6) Activist theater at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. They were so young, earnest and prone to over-simplification. It reminded me of everything I was and everyone I knew in Boston, in the wee years of the new millennium. I loved these girls.
7) Klitz progeny in Bushwick: as the blonde, curly bartender turned to grab my wine, I noticed his Big Star jacket. “I’m from Mississippi,” I told him. “Practically grew up in Memphis.” “My mom was friends with those guys,” he said. “Maybe you’ve heard of her. Lesa Aldridge?”
8) Thomas Hart Benton & El Grecco at the Met, and Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery. And the murals around the Domino Sugar Factory, in the formerly Hispanic neighborhood of Williamsburg, where Walker’s Sugar Sphinx show originated.
9) The Dream House is warm, welcoming and bizarre.
10) Dinners with friends – in cheap noodle houses, in a West Village ceiling-to-floor book-lined apartment, in a cheesy Chinatown dim-sum department store.
Other off-the-radar things worth mentioning: I didn’t make it to the Russian Turkish Baths this time, but if you happen to be in the city in winter, it’s fun to do. That “oak leaves beating” is for real, y’all – when I was a teenage exchange student in Kyrgyzstan, every banya had a bucket of steeping branches.
The Brooklyn Art Library/Sketchbook Project is fantastic. Anyone with $25 can purchased the standard sketchbook, fill it up, mail it in and have it become part of the library. If you’re in Williamsburg, it’s a worthwhile place to spend a few hours browsing. You miss a lot, since much of this project is about textures and the book as “object,” but you can also browse online.
How have I missed the Pearl River Department Store before now? It has lovely, cheap teapots and traditionally styled Chinese clothes. Similarly, Century 21 department stores (I got a great deal on fancy gloves from the Financial District shop) have bargains on Western designer clothing.