Sunday, October 12, 2014

New York Day 3 – In Which We Veer Off Schedule, Hang Out in Chelsea, and Jacob Does Not Have Ebola.


I saw this first thing this morning. A little something left over from the cold war? That yellow and blue sign says ‘fallout shelter’.

Despite our late start to the day and the fact that it was raining, I was still hopeful that we would manage to cover most of the items on my itinerary for the day. A word about the itinerary: I won’t say I’m exactly militaristic about the day’s schedule, it’s just that I like to get the stuff done that I planned for that day and if that involves carrying around a city map with a sticky note of the plan for the day complete with expected times of arrival and anticipated length of visit, then so be it. As I like to say to my eye-rolling family, if any of you has a better plan then please, by all means, lead the way. That usually shuts them up but I have noticed that lately whenever I pull out my map on a street corner that they have taken a new approach to managing me in these situations:

Me: I’m just going to check that cross street again hang on a second everyone…

Zoe: Mum. It’s 34th. We just looked five minutes ago.

Me: I know but which side of the block is it? Hmm? Do you know that?

Zoe: Put the map away.

Me: Wait a minute I can’t read this. I’m just going to turn on the Assistive Light on my phone.

Jacob: Just call it a flashlight like everyone else and why do you even need it it’s the middle of the day.

Me: I can’t read this .02 font size text on this map. It’s ridiculous. How can anyone be expected to read this?

Zoe: I think you have the map upside down.

Me: Well if they made it a bit bigger I would be able to notice that.

Jacob to Zoe: Do you have wifi? Ok great open the maps.

Zoe to Jacob: If we take a left here and walk two blocks we’ll be right beside it.

Me: What was the name of the first street again? I think this blob here says…what does this say? Does it say 34th? Oh no wait that’s the east side we want the west side.

Jacob to Zoe: yeah that’s it. Let’s go (walking off down the road).

Me (dropping my phone): can someone hold this while I pick up my phone? (dropping the map) Darn I dropped the map. Where’s my phone now?

At this point I usually look up to see everyone else a block ahead of me. It’s good thing Jacob is so tall or I would probably spend most of the days alone walking the streets with an upside down map in my hand.

Anyway. We started off a little late and had a slight cafuffle as I decided we would deviate from the plan and meet Jacob somewhere other than where I had said we would meet him. (Yes, he stayed in Brooklyn last night). There was a slight period of panic on my part when I couldn’t get hold of him where I wondered if I had been wrong in allowing my 18yr old son to just go off on his own in New York, never having been here before. Add to that the Newspaper headline “Brooklyn Teen Being Tested for Ebola” and I was starting to feel a wee bit nervous about it all. Which teen? Had that teen been partying with Jacob last night? How many degrees of separation? Where were his parents? Could I phone them? Perhaps I should just go straight to the hospital?

By the time we got to the New York Library, I was pretty sure that Jacob was face down in a ditch in Brooklyn, suffering from full-blown Ebola and that that was the end of that.

Of course he texted me a minute or so later to say that he had just gotten off the subway and where should he meet me? At the library of course.

Being used to the Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library, The New York Public Library came as something of a shock to me. The entire place is made out of white Italian marble and is a sight to behold. The main reading room was ‘temporarily closed’ (of course – that always seems to happen to me. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the entire city of New York had been ‘closed for a private function’ when we arrived at the airport.) but it didn’t matter as any of the other rooms were also totally amazing.


I kinda wanted to hang around for a while but when I noticed the rest of my family standing by the door I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Apparently we were heading to Macy’s to do some shopping. It turned out that so was everyone else in New York – the place was a total nightmare and I could barely take a step in any direction  and fairly quickly I managed to piss off a series of well-heeled mother-daughter combos, all of whom looked like they could paralyze an entire army unit with the amount of Botox kicking around their systems. I personally wondered how they were still alive. Anyhoo, we all wrestled our way through the various departments and in the end after what felt like the entire Jurassic period, emerged with a couple of pairs of jeans for the boys and a new pair of boots for Zoe.

At this point we had seriously veered off the schedule and I was feeling a little punchy about the time as I dragged everyone off to walk the High Line, an elevated walkway that runs through part of the west side of town. And when I say everyone, again, I mean everyone in town. The thing was totally packed and there was hardly room for us to fall in with the rest of the troops. It was like Mao’s Long March as we trudged along thirty feet up past office buildings and over back streets. I kept wondering if this was the High Line or was this perhaps the Narrow Line or maybe the Crowded Line and that I would soon turn a corner and find the actual High Line, but this never happened. It’s a great concept: turn an old unused elevated rail way into a park with a trail and seating and look out points along the way, but in reality, we found it…well…a bit boring. I wasn’t exactly sure of it’s purpose: a commuter path? A green space? There’s not much to look at up there except for a few pieces of ‘art’ and the streets and traffic below. It was unclear as we all marched along. I suspect this is a very unpopular opinion and I should probably keep it to myself but there it is.


New Yorkers love their High Line so I’ll shut up about it now, and spend my energies raving about the Chelsea Market instead, which is a FABULOUS place to visit. The one nice thing about the High Line is that it deposits you right beside the Chelsea Market, a massive old warehouse in the Meatpacking district that has been turned into an amazing collection  of shops, food stores, restaurants and cafes. We ate an amazing dinner there at a little Thai place.


There is a great fish market there with a huge variety of seafood on offer. I was happy to see they even had oysters from Deep Bay on Vancouver Island!

They also had farmed ‘Organic King Salmon’ (we know it as Chinook) from BC. A woman was buying some and asked the dude what exactly ‘organic’ meant. I heard him say it was that these fish were farmed in the ‘open ocean’ in ‘Canada’ (cuz it’s all Ocean in Canada) which apparently makes them more firm. Hmm. Interesting. I almost called bullshit but I stopped myself. I then stopped myself from going off about farmed salmon, and then again about how it actually looked more like an Atlantic salmon fillet and were they 100% sure?


Fortunately I was distracted by the bakery across the way so I abandoned my soapbox and bought some brownies instead at Fat Witch. Yum.

Once again we left feeling satisfied and headed out to walk the neighbourhood. We had been carting around a huge umbrella that I bought for $10 when it was pouring earlier in the day. It was Jacob’s turn to carry it and he must have been channeling the performance spirit of New York as he broke into a spontaneous tap-dance style umbrella dance on the street which had all of us, and passers-by too, smiling. He could probably have made a bunch of money if he had put his hat out. He ended the whole thing by walking off down the street doing a perfect Charlie Chaplin walk with the umbrella. Hilarious.

A couple of blocks down the road was the Chelsea Hotel, famous for having housed various musicians, writers and artists over the years including Ginsburg, Leonard Cohen, Dylan Thomas, Arthur C. Clarke (he wrote 2001: Space Odyssey here) Janis Joplin, and also our friends Sandy and Nonce. Oh, no wait, I mean, their neighbour Sid, and Noncy. No that’s not right either…Wait I’ve got it, it’s Sid and Nancy, from the Sex Pistols. I think one of the offed the other at some point after a particularly bad night. Anyway, it is an unattractive building but the fact that some of literature’s greatest poets and writers lived and produced some of their greatest works there is fascinating to me. Again, however, it apparently wasn’t super fascinating to the kids as they were all half way down the street again when I looked up.


I believe it may have been because there was a puppy store with the worlds cutest puppies playing in the window. We just about left with one but reason prevailed.


We had originally planned to head to The Bronx for dinner in an Italian neighbourhood but everyone was Too Tired so I again allowed an appeal for variance from the schedule to go ahead and took everyone north to Columbus Circle to have a drink in the Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The cool thing about this place is that the hotel lobby is 35 floors up, and the lobby lounge is right beside it, with a killer view of the city. Of course, when we got there, it was ‘closed to a private function’. I almost started crying but the hostess said it was totally fine to take the kids into the MOBar next door as long as they didn’t sit up at the bar. So we did this and it was fabulous.


It’s so nice to be somewhere with progressive liquor laws where you are trusted rather than controlled. This is the second time we have been able to take the kids into a bar here and NOTHING BAD HAS HAPPENED. BC take note.

We cabbed it back home a little earlier than previous nights which was good as we all needed a bit of down time and plus our feet were threatening to go on strike.

Last full day tomorrow!

Thanks, for reading,




  1. glad you liked the market at least - we liked that too. when we "did" the high line it was pretty much deserted (and sunny)!

  2. I think it would be a different experience altogether if it was less busy. Nothing like being shuffled along!