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why yes, I do (heart) NY

I’m back from New York! This was my first trip to NYC since 2000. I don’t know that the city has really changed all that much, but I think in the intervening years, I’ve gone from being a Saskatchewan kid living in Toronto to a pretty committed west-coast urbanite. I say this not because I want to suggest that Vancouver is in quite the same class as NYC, but I do have a much stronger sense of place and why I like living where I’m living. And so I will say this: it is damn hard to get a decent cup of coffee in Manhattan. Not that it can’t be done. (Is there anything that can’t be had in New York?) But you really have to know where you’re going, or you end up with watery Americanos and stale drip coffee.

Aside from that, though, New York is awesome. I got to see the sights with my friend Janelle, spend some time working in the reading room of the New York Public Library, see Spamalot on Broadway (laughed our asses off), and sleep in a tiny fifth-floor room in a Manhattan hostel which had no TV, phone or internet, but had beautiful murals on the walls of all the hallways and rooms.

I’ll put up some pictures later, but here are a few observations from my time in NYC.

  • Going shopping at Macy’s the last Saturday before Xmas was… pretty insane. You know all those shots in Koyaanisqatsi of crowds of people moving, but shot so that the crowds seemed like they were flowing and crawling like they were entities of their own? It’s like that. And it’s stressful. But I managed to buy a Samsonite suitcase at 50% off to carry home all the vintage clothes I bought!
  • Speaking of which, shopping for vintage in NYC is almost too easy. It was fun to go to Williamsburg and visit some hipster-oriented second-hand shops, but Janelle and I visited one (admittedly pretty expensive) vintage store in midtown Manhattan which had hundreds of jackets, all organized by size and colour and style, neatly labelled and sorted. And I mean, dozens of old smoking jackets, corduroy suits, disco jackets, Elvis jumpsuits — everything. It’s too easy. There’s no thrill of the hunt. Sure, I bought a red houndstooth blazer, but I felt a bit dirty doing it.
  • Abhi is right: tiramisu is a lot better in New York. So are bagels. Coffee and sushi, not so much.
  • People in New York are not particularly mean, but unlike Vancouver, they don’t generally go out of their way to be nice. And customer service is mostly pretty bad — or at least, not reliably good. I wouldn’t say I’m a people person: I want simple transactions to be smooth and predictable, and I did find it irritating to have that overruled by the whims of pissy salespeople and surly waitstaff. Seriously, I don’t care if you’re having a bad day — just do your job, take my money, and you never have to see me again.
  • My previous trips to NYC had been pretty much entirely in Manhattan, but this time I got to actually spend some time in Brooklyn (mostly Williamsburg). And for the first time I could actually see myself living in New York. I mean, you got trees and houses and people that know each other. Like a real neighbourhood. And you’re still only about 15 minutes from Manhattan by subway. And all this for only $1400-$2000 for a one-bedroom apartment.

One Comment

  1. Rob wrote:

    I think most New Yorkers would argue that coffee isn’t ‘good’ unless it tastes like jet fuel and dissolves a layer or two of intestinal lining. To each their own…

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

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