Saturday, December 11, 2010

Santa, Santa Everywhere

Two Santas crossed my path this morning as I sauntered toward the subway station.  And then... another two.  Look at those over there.  And wow, there's a group of them...

I took the 6 down to Grand Central Station and was immediately immersed in a sea of Santas, elves and revelers of every variety.  Everyone-- participants and bystanders- was in high spirits, with laughter and excited discussions floating up to the gorgeous dusky blue ceiling of the main terminal.

There were FireSantas:

But this was my favorite group of boisterous and good-hearted merrymakers:

What is going on?  I caught up with one of the Santas and asked.  "Santacon!" he said.  "Santarchy!" I later did a bit of research, and was floored that this cultural phenomenon had somehow completely passed me by.  Santacon takes place in 24 countries, in well over 100 locations.  Most events occur on the 2nd or 3rd Saturday of December.  Essentially, it takes Naughty and Nice to a new and highly entertaining level.  Open to all, with the aim of spreading cheer, and getting a little (or a lot) tipsy along the way, all the better if the day is enhanced by Christmas carols featuring spicy lyrics and a bit of general mayhem.

Happy holidays!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Magical Morning On Thanksgiving Day

What American child has not grown up watching Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on television, enthralled by the huge balloons gliding through the skyscraper canyons?

So you will understand when I say that I squealed like an 8 year old girl when I went in search of the parade yesterday morning, and stumbled across this:

Although most streets were blocked off, there was a small opening in the barriers that had been set up to close off the sidewalk.  No police or guards were in sight.  I walked through the park, and was thrilled to get a close look at the balloons and their handlers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marathon Sunday

While preparations were still underway, the wheelchair competitors started sailing through.  They were fearless in taking corners, and didn't hesitate a bit as dimwit pedestrians scurried out of their path.
Close on their tail were the elite women and then the elite men runners--

As awe-inspiring as the top runners were, the true inspirations were the "Achilles" runners, who had overcome physical limitations and were participating in the race with a couple individuals as guides.  I felt ashamed of the many days I had allowed my fully-abled body to languish in bed instead of going to the gym.  

And then there were the runners with crazy outfits, confident enough in their athletic abilities that they were willing to allow for a distraction, much to the amusement of those around them.

The day was a joyful one, a welcome reminder of the enduring vibrancy of the human spirit, with thousands upon thousands of people streaming by, determined to make the finish line.  Smiles, cheers and encouraging words abounded.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doughnut Heaven

The Lower East Side further disclosed its treasures to me this afternoon.  After a delicious brunch with three friends at Schiller's Liquor Bar (recommended), I remembered that a place I had long wanted to visit was nearby.

"Hey guys, do you want to go to the Doughnut Plant?"

All three of them perked up.  Nevermind that we had just finished a huge brunch.  Dessert beckoned.

The Doughnut Plant was just a few blocks away, and we knew we were close when we saw the line.

I immediately knew I was in trouble when I read the sign.  How on earth to choose?

And these were just highlights.  We quickly learned that the menu features both yeast and cake doughnuts of varying flavors.  

The doughnuts were huge-- easily the size of one's entire hand and then some.  Between the four of us, we ordered Tres Leches cake doughnut, Vanilla Glaze yeast doughnut, Strawberry Jam yeast doughnut.   A's choice, the first photo above, is Carrot Cake, with cream cheese frosting tucked inside.  The PJ&J, with peanut glaze and a strawberry jam filling was also magical:

Collectively, the doughnuts were easily the best any of us had ever eaten.  Airy and moist, with the rich heady flavors that can only come from authentic, non-processed ingredients.  Pure bliss.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Coffee and Tea, Old and New

I added two new Favorite Places to my list this afternoon.

Porto Rico Importing Co. can be found at 201 Bleecker Street, and has been around since 1907. Its coffee and tea selection is remarkable.  One is immediately intoxicated by the intense aroma upon entering, and it's hard to leave once you're there.  I bought multiple sachets of loose teas, and sincerely wished I were a coffee drinker given how heavenly the atmosphere was.

A couple hours after Porto Rico, my friends and I were thirsty again, and we stumbled upon a new treasure: Argo Tea Cafe.

Argo is a chain, and does not have the classic charm of Porto Rico.  But its menu of newfangled tea combinations surprised even me, a long-time tea drinker.  I order a MojiTea, unsure of what to expect.  The counter person asked if I wanted it hot or iced.  Iced.  Sparkling water?  Yes.  The result was unlike anything I've ever experienced: it was both sharp and sweet, and gorgeously effervescent.  I was temporarily speechless after tasting it, as were my two friends who tried it in turn.  I will be back, and will likely try every single item on the tea menu until my curiosity is satisfied.

Sex And The City Lives On

As a single woman living in New York City, it's impossible to not think about SATC once in awhile, particularly when I am running around and having entirely too much fun with my single girlfriends.

And so it was today.  It's an achingly beautiful autumn day, on the warm edge of cool, and a deep blue sky.  One of my dearest friends, W, just moved to town (I am still astounded by my good fortune), and we met up with our mutual friend A for brunch at Extra Virgin, a charming restaurant in the West Village.  We caught up on each other's lives-- careers, relationships, travels-- with our usual openness, sly commentary and wisecracks.   We weren't done talking by the time we finished our meal, and left in search of a park.

 Walking down Perry Street, A pointed out a brownstone with a "No Trespassing" sign:

It is, of course, Carrie Bradshaw's "apartment".  Perfect.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scenes From An Ordinary Weekend

I spent much of this weekend walking to meet friends and run errands.  I was heartened to see small vibrant gatherings in various corners of the city.  A sample of the scenes I stumbled upon:

Upper East Side street fair :

A couple streets over, a Hungarian church fair:

 On the veranda of the New York Public Library, a ceremony and protest by the Burmese community :

All celebrating human life in their own way, and wonderful to witness.