After-Sandy quick note

In all honesty, I haven’t been in the mood to update the blog. Hurricane Sandy just barely brushed by my neighborhood, and the damage on the streets around my house you’ll see in the following pictures. Some crushed cars and some beautiful old trees uprooted, but no loss of life and no damaged homes as far as I know.

There’s still a ridiculous gas shortage going on in the city, and there are thousands of people still without electricity. Many thousands more have no homes to return to, so it’s still heartbreaking.

Here’s to hoping that the scars will heal soon.


Cathedral of Saint John the Divine – exterior

This will be a short 3-part series about this fantastic cathedral. Might not be the grandest (it is the fourth largest Christian church in the world though), might not be the most important, might not be finished (it’s nicknamed St. John the unfinished), but it’s certainly grand, beautiful, interesting, controversial and definitely worth the time to visit.

You can read details and history on Wikipedia so I won’t bore you. But do see my pictures and try to make sense of the symbolistic of the columns outside. And I’d love to hear your interpretation.

Next Friday – Oct. 26th, it will host another Halloween Extravaganza like the one I wrote about in my first post on this blog.
Tickets are available on the Cathedral website.*

*I have absolutely no affiliation with the Cathedral; I just want you to have a bit of (different kind of) fun


Zabar’s

A gourmet/specialty foods market on the Upper West Side, with a fantastic selection of cheeses, smoked fish and prepared foods. Their made-in-house smoked salmon is excellent. I don’t know of another place in NYC that makes a better strudel – cheese and cherry is my favorite.
Fabulous place to shop for a picnic.


5 Pointz graffiti art

5 pointz, 08/2012

5 Pointz in Long Island City, the international graffiti Mecca, is rumored to cease its present state sometime next year. I figured it’s time to upload the few pictures I have about the place, with the promise to myself that I’ll make time to document some more of this fantastic art until its end.

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Katz’s Delicatessen

One question that I hear over and over again from people planning to visit NY is “where should I go eat for a real NY experience?” The first answer that comes to mind is “Katz’s Deli“. If you live in NY and haven’t been yet, I’m not sure you’re a NY-er. There’s only one valid excuse from not going to Katz’s, and that would be that you’re a vegetarian – ’cause it ain’t much vegetable there other than french fries and pickles.

It opened in 1888 and I doubt it changed much. They still throw sawdust on the old floors when it’s wet outside. They still have fluorescent lights, an old water fountain at the back of the main room, the “send a salami to your boy in the army” program. I suspect that some of the plates are original, too. (kidding, they look like they’re from the 60′s or so).

Katz's Deli

There are many tempting things on the old menu, and all of them good to excellent, but do yourself a favor and get the pastrami. At least for your first visit. You might think you like corned beef or tongue or liver better – you’re wrong. You like pastrami. It’s still the best in the city, no matter what you hear about a couple of other famous places. And it still has the NY attitude – not nasty at all, they’re actually funny and nice if you’re a nice guy or gal yourself, but a sort of gruffness that’s only natural when they serve thousands of people a day, every day. Anyway, remember at all times that you’re there for the pastrami, and nothing else matters.

Katz's Deli

Make your visit as pleasant as possible and remember a couple of things.
1 – Upon entry you’ll pass a security guard that will hand you a small ticket that you’re supposed to give the guy at the counter after you got your grub. He’ll hand it back to you with the amount you owe written on it. Don’t loose that ticket or you’ll pay your meal a flat $50. If you didn’t misplaced it, you’ll hand it to the cashier by the exit and pay what it says.
2 – At the counter, ask one of the guys for “pastrami, fatty, on rye”. It’s not fatty at all (see pictures), just juicier. With mustard, and pickles of your choice, sour or half-sour.
The fries are unremarkable, but if you can’t do without – passable.

There is a row of tables along the wall that have waiter service, but I find that part of the experience is interacting with the guys at the counter. They cut your order on the spot, there are no back kitchen elves that sliced the pastrami 2 hours ago. They might give you a taste of the piece they’re cutting from if they like you. And if you like them, tip a buck or two per sandwich. There’s no other tip to leave in the establishment (unless you’ll sit at the waiter tables, of course).
As you probably noticed, it’s a fairly large sandwich. It’s also about $15. If you’re a light eater, share one or take home a doggie bag. Slim chances you’ll have leftovers but I’ve seen it happen.

THE pastrami at Katz's

Oh, and remember the famous orgasm scene from When Harry met Sally? Right, it happened at Katz’s. There’s even a sign above their table if you want to not only have what she was having, but also sit in her chair (which I doubt has changed since, either).

Katz's Deli


The Tango Lesson

There is respite in this crazy busy, beautifully intense city.

For example, running errands you’re sidetracked by tango music nearby. You are intrigued and you cross the street like in a trance, and this is what you find: a tango lesson/practice. On the Union Square plaza, a lesson for beginners. Upstairs in the Pavilion, the more advanced are entranced by music.

You forget what you were supposed to do, where you’re supposed to be, just pull the camera out of the bag and try to capture what tango is in fleeting moments: the faces, the feet… Hoping that a bit of it’s intensity gets recorded.

And a less than 3 minutes movie. Enjoy! hopefully as much as I did being there.


Street performers

And talking about street performances, here’s a sampling of what you can encounter on the streets of NYC, on any random day .


Parked! food trucks event ’12

When has a year passed by already? Another year, another Parked! event.
A few new trucks on the road, adding to the number of participants. The lines weren’t so bad this time, some of the trucks had no customers actually. Are people getting tired of street food, or they’re just too familiar with their offerings already?
Also, some of the area restaurants had some presence with small tables and few offerings.

Anyway, snapped just a few pics this time, and mostly of the menus.
I had a delicious Connecticut style lobster roll from Red Hook lobster and a first time gelato from Amorino (verdict: good, but I wasn’t that impressed). The L’innimitabile (really?) hazelnut was almost too sweet but with good hazelnut flavor. Stracciatella was nothing special, as for the Caramello (salted caramel) not that caramel-ly. And it all melted in a mess before it was handed to me – it was warm outside but not that warm and we were in the shade anyway. I find that unacceptable.

The friend that accompanied me got a Phil’s cheesesteak which I never tried before but kept reading about it that’s the closest you’ll come to a Philly one in NYC. My friend said it’s good, but then again he never went to Philadelphia for a Pat’s or Geno’s. By the looks only, I find Phil’s unappealing – the meat is almost ground, the onions are few and wrong – nothing like Geno’s for example.

Same as last year, performances by young artists on the waterfront stage – a short movie after the pictures. Not sure of the band name, but I know the stilt-walker is Anya Sapozhnikova.


Metropolitan Museum of Art

There’s not much to say, it’s fame makes it superfluous. Maybe just a piece of advice: don’t expect to see it all in one day, it’s not doable. But it’s soooo wonderful!

You better shut up

My sentiments exactly

(not so) sweet dreams

Not so sweet, accomplice

La frileuse

.

The Death of Socrates - detail

Chess


The Cloisters

Situated way uptown at Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Medieval Art branch and it has on exhibit about 3000 works of Medieval European art dating from the ninth to the sixteenth century. There are priceless tapestries, sculptures, manuscripts, exquisite stained-glass windows and metalwork, housed in a building that was assembled from architectural elements dating from the XII to the XV century. The gardens you’ll find in three of the cloisters have been recreated from information found in manuscripts, documents and herbals.

While the building is not a copy of a specific medieval structure, there’s a definitive flow in the arrangement. Be it inside or outside, you’ll be enthralled by the works of art; every few steps you’ll feel the urge to stop and contemplate. It’s definitely one of the most interesting museums in NYC.

Some of my favorite artifacts: the oldest (and supposedly the first) set of cards, the unicorn tapestries (all 7 of them), St. Michael’s statue, the German busts (they were used to hold the cranium of the deceased person depicted) and the stained glass windows. One of the gardens offers beautiful views of the surrounding area; there’s a cafe where you can have a snack and rest your feet in a, well, monastic atmosphere.
Impossible not to take a lot of pictures – bring an extra memory card.


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