Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bye N.Y.

As soon as my feet touch down in Toronto, it's the same as it ever was. But after a busy week, I've taken a sec to look through a month's worth of photos taken in NY. It was nice to see the seasons change, all the funny moments and there's one overarching thought - wow, I drank a lot.

At first I wanted to post all those photos but now I just want to post one, above. It's kind of a private joke with myself but nobody reads someone else's blog to be left out so basically here goes: This is what lit our studio. In case you can't tell, it's a fairly random grouping of bare light bulbs (that's a long fluorescent one in the background). You turn the lot of them on by tugging on a chain that must be 10 feet long. I like light and all, helps me see, but at first, this seemingly haphazard system made me feel like the whole bunch of bulbs might explode without warning and shower me in tiny shards of glass that would all fall directly into both my eyes. Then the place would erupt in flames. But I got over it. It's just like, meh, click! Light.

I loved staying at Charlie's and his bare light bulbs would always just make me laugh. You know you love a city when you can live in fear of being blinded by lightbulbs but still want to stay.

Bye and xo NY.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

You Know The Food Is Good If Padma's There

Last night Catherine arrived and we went to La Esquina. Padma Lakshmi was in front of us in line, which made me quietly freak out a little ("Padma Lakshmi!!"). I shouldn't say there was a "line," because it's really just that she and her peeps stood there for a moment, and then were ushered in by the guy with the headset and the bouncer. They ignored us. I asked, meekly, "Excuse me, is there a long wait?" It took a few times before he would answer, never looking at me, but finally said just two words: "2 hours."

So we went next door to La Esquina Cafe. Two-tier system, one for fancies, one for plebes. But guess what? Food's just as good so there, suckers. Please pack up your knives and go.

Then, Madeleine and Catherine and I went to Botanica, a bar, where I ran into a friend from high school and a writer whose stuff I read in the Globe and Mail. See what I mean about NY being so small and so huge at the same time? They invited us to a loft party which is where we ended the night, dancing. It was only a few blocks from our own place, which was great. Now it's time to get back out there. Bye!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Often Literally Run Down The Street Which Makes People Stare

The last few days have been a blur of running around but some highlights are:

Dinner at Yerba Buena with Karina. So fun. Sent me home too tipsy.

Lunch with Sofia at Noho Star. Amazing to catch up with grown-up Sofia in the City.

Dinner with my aunt and cousin at the most delicious Korean BBQ by Herald Square. I haven't seen them in so many years that if I walked by my cousin on the street I wouldn't recognize her. Their family grew up in Brazil but they've all sinced moved here to NY. My aunt looks so much like my mom and grandma. She used to watch me lip-synch to Madonna in the basement and taught me to paint my fingernails. It was so nice to see them!

Ooh, I also got a tour of the New York Times building from my new friend Chuck. It's a very "green" building which means they have a unique elevator system that confused me so much. I got into a packed elevator, strained to see the buttons for the floors, didn't see anything anywhere and had to declare to everyone in there, "Am I crazy?" A nice man took me off at the 3rd floor and explained their system and said, "No." I'm not crazy. The buttons for the floors are on the outside and a computerized system tells you which elevator to take. It clusters people into groups getting off at the same floors and therefore saves energy. Pretty cool. Even at the line-up at the cafeteria there is information posted on bread and where it comes from, et cetera. That building is smart all over.

That's all for now as I have to run around again but so excited for Catherine and Katie to get here tonight. This weekend - my girls want to party all the time?

xoxo,
H

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Afterwards I Got On The Wrong Bus But I Knew Where I Was Because Everyone On The Street Was A Hasidic Jew

I met Isaac's friend Italian friend Federica on Monday. On Tuesday, I was at her "Welcome back to NY" dinner party.

It was at a huge, Brooklyn brownstone, decorated in quirky splendour. Every eye angle a feast. Piles of books taller than me, stacked singly in thin, preposterous towers. Ghanian barber shop art (I covet). A plaster skull with a day-glo wig on it, a vintage 25-cent machine filled with toy rings (I also covet) and a crocodile skull (huge). Bottles with buttons. Mismatched plates and cutlery and chairs. I loved it.

It was at the house of Abigail, Federica's friend who used to make Ricky Martin videos and has since turned to making arty photos. Now who makes Ricky Martin's videos? (Just an aside). Abigail made brisket. I made brown rice with kale and arugula (more of a party hit than you'd think).

Everyone there was a photographer except Federica's cousin, Julia, who is an art historian studying the art of West Africa. Hello! Amazing. I showed her my Kidal necklace, which I wear all the time, and thought fondly of Alhassan and Habib, two teens with whom I still keep in touch.

Sitting at the dinner table, a producer who does Guy Maddin films brought up Roman Polansky's The Tenant, at which point I covered my face and screamed into my hands because I am alone in my weird apartment with the bathroom down the hall and I just saw that film the other day and it FREAKED. ME. OUT. He told me about his friend who moved in with a guy in Brooklyn. On the first night, that roomie suggested they watch The Tenant. 9 months later, he jumped out the window but didn't die....just like in The Tenant. I begged this guy to stop telling the story. A glass of wine later, I kind of forgot he told it. Until now.

I was pretty stoked by everyone's generosity, especially Abigail - having an interloping new friend be part of their fun potluck. If you told me on Monday morning that the next day I'd be showing up to a dinner party of strangers, having been invited by Isaac's ex-girlfriend whom I'd met exactly once, I....would have believed you, actually.

It was fun!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Isaac Says Bye








Somewhere under the city, Isaac is sitting on a train surrounded by bags, traveling further and further away from me. Then he'll get on a plane. Sad!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who Has Time to Blog in NY?


Who has time to blog when there's so much food to eat, so many parties to check out, so many blocks to cover and cabs to hop in and out of (if you see a minivan cab in the St Marks Place area and it's followed by a white truck, that is CASH CAB - flag it!).

Last night, Isaac and I stayed out until almost 6. That would be 6 am. Weirdly, I wasn't tired. I was totally wired on energy. We started by checking out Madeleine's amazing apartment in the East Village, then headed to Beast. I did a lot of talking to strangers and confirmed that more often than not, amazingly, you find you always have a person in common. Even though NY is huge, if you still operate in the same social circles, even in a gigantic city like this, it all starts converging like a gin-soaked Venn diagram.

On Wednesday night, my new friend Laura (amazing) brought a ton of us into a fashion party. Laura just breezed us all in by the phalanx of PR ladies who control the guest list. She's great like that. You would think I wouldn't know anyone there but guess again! Dear Lexi, my friend from Paris, was there because she assists Marc Bouwer, who was getting an award that night. I chatted with his patternmaker who told me about making Oprah's dress for the Emmys. Um...FUN?!

Friday night, Isaac and I met up with Jessica, someone I met a few times in Toronto. We have a friend in common but didn't know each other well but I looked her up when I got here and it's just like Madeleine says - this is the city of fast friendships. Jessica has a dry, hilarious humour and looks like Tina Fey. She worked until way late that night and needed a double when we met at the bar. She came back to the table with a tumbler full of whiskey. No mixer. That apparently, is a "double." She kept pouring whiskey into my soda, which I called "stealth whiskey" the next morning when I hurt. I didn't even realize how tipsy I was until we got up to make our way home, which became an exercise in being a spectacle on the street. Isaac had to guide me like a geriatric individual who couldn't see - not blind, just refusing to open her eyes. He called me "Trudge-y" but only the next day when he was in a better mood because guiding me home in that state isn't fun. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

On Saturday afternoon, we met with Isaac's childhood friend Erianna and her beautiful baby Ariel and husband Manny. They've been teaching Ariel sign language, like babies do these days, and he has made up his own signs for two things he loves: "Obama" (arms thrust back, legs bent) and "vacuum." Ariel, bizarrely and adorably, loves to clean. Imagine a blond cherub with dimensions like two stacked marshmallows in a diaper, studiously cleaning the floor (what he can reach best) and the bookshelves (on his tippy toes). It's really the funniest thing. He was the star of the show all afternoon.

Which brings us to last night. Drinks at a nice bar. Then....karaoke! Doesn't that just completely make sense at 3 in the morning? A partial song list would include, "Drop it Like It's Hot," "Sweet Child O Mine," "Don't Stop Believing," and "All Night Long." Fiesta! Forever!

Right now, Isaac is going through VIDEO he took of karaoke. I am of the firm belief that video at karaoke should be disallowed. In fact, I'm banning it from all future karaoke sessions. He is playing, "Crazy In Love" right now and I am beseeching him to "PLEEEEEASE!" delete. He just chuckles and says, "Oh don't be so dramatic." PLEEEEASE DELEEEETE NOOOOWWW!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What Nerds Do in Williamsburg


Monday night, it was nerd city. Nerds, glorious nerds, of all race, creed and colour. I made Isaac accompany me to the Williamsburg spelling bee, which I've been wanting to go to since forever. I've never been in a bee before but I think I'm pretty good at spelling. Guess what? I am NOT ("NOT, N-O-T, NOT").

It's a kind and gentle bee, so you get three strikes before you're out. My first word was "acclimatization," at which point I was outed as a Canadian because I said, "zed." Then, I swung and missed on "corrodible," ("I-b-l-e" - REALLY?!) and "dissuasion," (how could I have only said one "s"?). Very annoying, because on paper they look like words you should be able to spell. The next word I got right was way too simple ("sclerosis") and then my final strike was on "salicetum." Oh, the shame!

In fact, it was totally nerve-wracking and I could hardly have a sip of my shandy. I can't remember the last time I was so nervous! Striking out gets the pressure off, at which point you can chug your girlie drink and eat a toasted sandwich. Just for the record, some of the words from the final round included "xerostomia," "cephelalgia," and "quinsyberry." Guess what? Unless you're watching a bunch of adorably pre-pubescent nerdlingers on a sports network (why do they have spelling bees on sports networks?), spelling is NOT fun. I'm glad I snapped out of it. Thank God for dictionary.com.

Last night, Isaac waited in the rush line to get us tickets to the opera. I should have worn my Phantom mask. We ended up with standing room only tickets. They are actually numbered! There are actual spots where you stand at the back! We stood until the first intermission (guess what people? Madame Butterfly has TWO intermissions?!) and then found our way to some unoccupied seats. Not a second too soon. You can't stand for 4 hours in these.

It was really nice being at the opera, although the couple from New Jersey sitting next to us didn't like the spare, modern set decor. They brought their own pillows in a plastic shopping bag. They make chemical coatings for lab instruments. Anywho, I didn't realize that I actually didn't know the Madame Butterfly storyline until I was sitting at a performance of Madame Butterfly. I do have a high tolerance for olden-times stories and the differences in our cultures then and now, but it was a giant load of Western imperialist crap. Not that it bothered me. Everyone loves a tragic love story. I just wanted Madame Butterfly to get to the harakiri already but well, the direction in this show was more symbolic than anything else.

This morning, I asked my friend Agnes (always game) to come with me for standby tickets to a taping of the View, which meant that she got up super-early (6:30 am) to meet me on the train, walk over to the waterside studio, stand in line, and then get turned away. A ha ha, oops. Sorry Agnes! So we walked 5th Avenue all the way downtown and I got lunch with my friend Matt who showed me photos of his baby at Halloween - dressed as an owl. WHO?! I could just eat that baby, too cute.

Now Isaac and I are off for a night on the town. I'm kind of exhausted!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Random Ramble Sunday!


It's been interesting meeting lots of New Yorkers these days, specifically, young, trying-to-make-it-in-their-careers-young-hotshots-from-abroad New Yorkers.

Everyone is a snowflake et cetera, but there is a vibe I've detected and I will now take the opportunity to generalize. New York makes it very easy for people to be super self-absorbed. Everyone is scrambling to stay afloat, everyone's got a hundred things they're trying to accomplish all at once and they're going over it all in their brain all the time, usually as they're multitasking by talking on their stupid ear-things and Crackberrying as they CROSS THE STREET.

These people would be laughed out of town in Toronto by the general disdain for naked ambition that drives me crazy there. But. Now I can admit that a healthy measure of the afore-mentioned attitude may have a civilizing effect, like co-ed versus single sex schools.

I can't help but compare the last few weeks I've spent here with my time in LA this spring. In LA, it amazed me how friendly and socially adept everyone was. Networking is an extreme sport and everyone is in good form. Everyone I met was so amazingly open and friendly and I just kind of enjoyed the cheerful warmth of it all. I mean, welcome to the party, right?

Well, New York is more like welcome to the jungle. I can hardly cut a path through people's giant egos. I have literally been in conversations with people who did not hear a word I was saying as lists, ambitions, their own sheer brilliance and their awe of it distracted them from...oh, huh - what?

LA and NY are both cities that people come to when they want to make it but there's something faster, harder and dirtier about NY, and something dreamier about LA. Maybe it's just the weather (not to be dismissed!), or maybe it's the cost of living (or NY's insane noise pollution!). Whatever it is, after meeting some of the yahoos I've met, it's kinda obvious why people burn out here. There are so many blowhard hot-air balloons that it's exhausting. You almost don't want their bubbles to burst because it would be of enormously catastrophic proportions. Blowhard or not, people here work their faces off in their careers AND on the side just try to stay head of the pack. It's no wonder why so many people work in NY in their 20s and then move somewhere more sane, while in Lalaland, you can grow old with dreads and your music/art/hippie pants/acting career until forever. Like, people laugh at Pinkberry here. It's just kind of mean, right?

Overheard today as I was walking by the Von Dutch store in SoHo, going over one wisecrack after another in an imaginary conversation with Kristine in my own mind (maybe I'm lonely): "Oh wow, they still have a Von Dutch store."

Now back to my rant about self-aggrandizement in NY. For the record, I've met some really nice people, too. Truly.

Oh, and let's end on a fun note. I went to Uniqlo today, which was the only shopping I really wanted to do at all while here - and that's saying a lot, considering that I'm in NY! I'm not really in shopping mode but judging from the streets packed with shoppers, it's just me. If there's a recession on Main Street and Wall Street, nobody told 5th Ave. It's like Americans can't stop shopping and I can see why - for some people it's their only recreation, their only hobby. After not shopping for so long, I will say that it has some crazy voodoo - I felt like I was in a spell. I ran around for awhile at the giant Uniqlo, grabbed a top and some perfect pants (that are hemmed on the spot for free?!) and then snapped out of it. Not a dollar too soon.

That's it for now.

xoxo from our crazytown loft where Isaac animates stuff all day and then we drink wine and watch crazy movies that make me too terrified to visit the bathroom,
Hannah

Friday, November 07, 2008

Full Kitchen Ranges are For Chumps

Even in a faster, shinier city like New York, you still have to do your laundry. And clean the bathroom. However, standing in the utilitarian "kitchen" hovering over the scrappy meal I was making in a plug-in wok just now, I thought, "Sometimes you're exactly where you've always wanted to be."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thanks Jenn, For Sending This To Me



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

In Obama-stan On The Big Night


What was it like last night? Incredible.

Isaac and I began the night at 8:30, way too late to get into a super-crowded party in Brooklyn, so instead we grabbed some street tacos and pupusas and took off into the East Village. We met with Madeleine at McSorley's, an historic and old bar where they have "beer" (choices are bougie) and sawdust. It was kind of quiet and not the mood we were looking for so we clinked glasses, drank and moved on.

Next we ended up at Lucy's. By then the action was heating up on the news so we stayed for a drink until....what?....are they calling Florida....? No! They were declaring Obama the winner! The bar full of random assorteds (students, guy with Crystal Gayle hair, drunk man at the bar, Russians) erupted into applause. I've never seen hipsters so excited. Drinks all around!

I liked McCain's speech and as Madeleine duly pointed out, it was like he was actually relieved to give it, like he could be cool with himself again.

Then, finally, several beers later (work it, Lucy!) and frantic calls to "Turn it down!" about the wailing jukebox, we heard Obama deliver his speech. You could hear a pin drop in the bar. I was mesmerized the whole time. TV coverage was great. Everyone's asking me today how it was to be here last night, and it was amazing, but having the coverage go from crowds in Chicago to Times Square to Kenya is really the best seat in the house.

When we left the bar, it was fairly quiet on the street and we didn't have an agenda past "pizza" but lo and behold, right around the corner...some noise! We followed it and walked right into the best street party I've ever been to. Some people had brought their speakers out onto the fire escape and everyone was dancing and chanting and laughing. It was a jubilant celebration, a release of tension. The chanting would go from "O-BA-MA!" to "YES WE CAN!" to "JOE BI-DEN!" to "U-S-A!" The crowd danced to Biggie, M.I.A., Justice, MGMT. A girl gave me a blue cupcake with red sprinkles. We drank our beers outside and did "election shots."

We had gotten there several hours after Obama was announced but the energy was unwavering. Every single last person in the impromptu crowd was so high and happy. When you stop to think about it, we've never participated in anything like that before, where everyone is truly elated by a singular, political victory. It was funny and exciting and unlike anything we've ever experienced.

Several times, taxis (oh poor taxis) would unwittingly turn onto the street and then be caught in a mob. Honk honk! Wooooooo! People flipped out whenever a taxi came through, there would be so much yelling and cheering.

Around 2:30, the cops arrived. I overheard one guy yell, "We are in Obama-stan!" But Isaac says what the guy was really saying was in reference to cops who were telling everyone to get on the sidewalk and not stand on the street: "Where would Obama stand?!"

A few cops tried to clear the streets but no one was having it, so they called in their back-up and lined each end of the street with the mob dancing in the middle. A trio of guys were lying on the ground in front of a big line-up of cops. Isaac lay down to join them.

Me: Isaac! Why are you lying down? We aren't protesting anything!
Isaac: I like it down here! Try it.
Me: No.

Isaac was being really hilarious and was caught up in the moment for sure. It was like ushering around a 6'2" child-alien who loves parties but has never been to one. I actually caught him smoking a cigarette, which he hated, but some French guy gave it to him so he took a drag. That was like coming out from the bar and catching the Pope in a Borat thong. Never thought I'd see it.

We finally stumbled home around 3:30 and emerged from the subway into our neighbourhood, which was teeming with cops, even more than had been at the street party on St Marks Place. The police wouldn't let us cross the street. I said, "What's up?" And after much prodding, a cop finally said, "There was a riot." Pause. "A big one."

I couldn't believe it. I didn't believe it. So when I overheard a few guys talking about it on the corner, I asked them what happened, to which the response was, "It was a pseudo-hipster riot. There was a big street party and the cops came to clear it out and 2 kids threw bottles at a cop and then cops started clubbing people."

What?

Why on earth would people throw bottles at cops on such a great night? (Drunk). Why on earth would cops start clubbing people on such a great night? I don't know if those late-night on-the-corner accounts are true. Sure doesn't seem like it.

When Isaac and I passed a formation of cops 3-deep standing in front of the Red Bowl Thai restaurant (kind of a hilarious sight), he said, "Why are you standing here?" A cop struggled to come up with an answer. "It's a secret." I burst out laughing in his face, which is not what you want to do when he's surrounded by 40 other cops and the streets are lined with paddywagons but come on. That's a 5-year-old answer. I couldn't help it. Nothing could dampen the mood! Even walking home through a police state!

Maybe if we ever get out of our loft today, we can ask people on the street what happened last night. For now, I'm still a little hungover and in-pyjamas is the best way to read online news of last night.

O-BA-MA!

Happy day!

xo,
H
video video

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weekend in the City


Last night we went to a party at the Brooklyn Museum. I looked at art, waiting for Isaac, and saw Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party. When Isaac arrived we went into the par-tay. Hasidic Jews, rasta guys, little kids and hipsters. They were all milling about this gorgeous space-turned-dancefloor, surrounded by art.

Isaac and I hit the dancefloor (of course). On one side there was a little boy toddler with his stylish mama and her friends. He was doing a herky-jerky dance. On the other side, a very pre-pubescent but style-conscious tween boy dancing with his middle-age mama. You could tell he was sheepish at first but then he just got into it, swinging his skinny limbs around and everything. Holding hands and doing dances. It was a totally awesome Saturday night party.

This morning, Isaac and I went up to the roof and I taught him some yoga. He's a good student except that he would squawk at me during eagle pose ("CAAAW! CAAAW!"). There are constant helicopters flying overhead and today the NY Marathon was actually going by on Bedford! We could see the street lined with people and all the runners going really fast. How will they keep up that pace? Amazing.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Novemberama




Halloween used to actually be scary, mainly because I was too scared to open my mouth and ask for candy whilst trick-or-treating after years of "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS!" Plus, shy.

Now Halloween is just plain funny. In the afternoon, I rode the subway back to Williamsburg and emerged from the underground station into a throng of babies in costumes. Literally, it was stroller-traffic hell and every pudgy little cutie-on-wheels was in a hilarious outfit. I was agog. I was in cute heaven. At first I thought parents were just picking up their kids from school and I was caught in post-bell traffic, but then I finally asked someone, "Is there some sort of baby parade going on?" Yes. There was a Halloween baby parade happening and I, big baby-less ruiner that I am, was walking against it.

Most babies were dressed in furry outfits (i.e. animals) or otherwise feel-good looks (princess) but one mom pushing a stroller had a baby covered in blood. Like, Halloween fake blood around the mouth. I love the idea of being a zombie but a 2-year-old zombie? There are precious few years that we are that cute in life. Do we want to zombie-fy a 2-year-old?

I'm going to take a stand against fake blood. I've decided that I just really don't like it, baby or adult. There was lots of it at the Halloween parade in Grenwich Village, which is like a giant, outdoor trance rave where everyone's been sprinkled with fake blood and parents have brought their kids to be smushed in the crowd. Plus, lots of college-age girls who like to dress up as "sexy." Why anyone would want to wear an outfit that basically puts their boobs on a shelf and then stand in a mob that is so packed there's literally nowhere to breathe except directly into someone else's face is beyond me.

Madeleine and I decided to cut holes in books and put them on our faces (i.e. our costume was "Facebook," with mine being more specific due to my Obama glasses, becoming "Obama's Facebook page"). People couldn't figure us out, which made for fun interaction and overheard moments.

(Old Man with an extremely perplexed expression, frozen-staring at Madeleine.)
Me: "She's Facebook!"
[No change in Old Man's perplexed expression]
Me: [Louder] "FACEBOOK!"
Old Man: [Still no change, long pause]
Me: "It's a website!"
[Nothing.]
He is probably still standing with his brows furrowed at 7th and 14th.

(Young teenager to his friend while sashaying past Madeleine): "Oh my God, it's a Bible."

Teenagers: "O-ba-moo! O-ba-moo!"
Irritated older man: "It's O-ba-MA, not O-ba-MOO."

A Sarah Palin coming down the stairs at the Bedford station, doing a royal wave: "Don't vote for me on Tuesday! Don't vote for me on Tuesday!"

Appreciative Mom-type to Isaac: "Hey! Mr. Windy Man!" I just like that she added "Mr" like it's the name of a real character.

Isaac got a lot of that last night. Walking around with him was like being with a very funny celebrity. Everybody was asking him for photos and when they did, he would do his windy pose and get huge laughs. This happened on the subway, on the street, in the Village, up in Harlem. Really! And Isaac loved it!

Gangs of smurfs on the subway. Spiderman texting on his Blackberry. Our night ended with a man playing a mouth-organ on the train, wearing a Happy Birthday paper-cone hat. He played songs that ran right into each other, never quite ending before it started on a new, familiar refrain. From Happy Birthday to Miami Sound Machine to Hava Nagila and so on.

This morning, Ricky's (the Halloween shop that had a line down the block at 8 pm last night) was plastered with SALE signs. A few people straggled home in medieval costumes doing a special, once-a-year Halloween edition of the walk of shame. Isaac and I ran around a giant sports field where kids were playing soccer and football and then we got tacos and poked into vintage shops and watched kids make crafts at a Dias de los Muertos celebration in the East Village.

Good night, Halloween. It's November and time for the election. Now that's scary! Boo!