Saturday, April 30, 2016

Aspirational Sconces

For so many of us, apartments are just boxes we live in but for others, they're adorned with the trimmings of a non-transient life. Not just a poster on the wall, for example, but sconces. Not just a couch, but an armchair and matching side tables. I found that I've always been somewhere in the middle myself. I have framed and unframed artwork on the walls, a smattering of tchotchkes on my bookshelf, a weird shortening tin that I use as a side table.

As much as I love New York and I don't foresee myself leaving ever, I notice there is a detachment to the way I approach decorating and perhaps thereby living my home. I have never had champagne-colored chiffon curtains or sculptures or painted my walls like SD; I do not have a mirror decorated with sheet music or a spice rack or a mug rack like M & S do. I don't have incense waiting at the ready or teas displayed in glass jars or the pale white of Christmas lights warming a dark room like S & J. I tell myself it's because I don't have the patience to get in-depth into interiors when I've already hung all my stuff I've wanted to hang on the walls--vintage Rolling Stone magazines and my Marilyn canvas and my photos from backstage at Fashion Week--but really I fear having to uproot myself from a place that doesn't actually belong to me.

Yes, of course, I have wanted to paint an accent wall a deep crimson like Pantone 3546 C  so my home resembles the titular character's bedroom in Along Came Polly, but I always think about how long I might stay in one spot. What if, after spending all of this money and time to paint my wall red I have to move because of something out of my control like the rent going up or my building going condo like last time? I wonder if I stopped spending time thinking about what my dream home would look like because I am already in my dream city and that is enough? 

I was talking with HanOre recently about what we might like our apartments to look like. Her dining room table departed with one of her roommates last year, so there has been a big, open space in her apartment for some time. I mentioned SD's sconces to her as something I aspired to. Not necessarily the same style, but to live in a home where sconces looked like they belonged. Aspirational sconces.
"What kind of sconces would you have?" she asked. I paused to consider.
"Something a 1930s lesbian in Hollywood would have, I think," remembering photographs of homes of stars like Alla Nazimova and Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, metallic art deco accents lining the walls.
"I understand. We will have these when we are roommates," she promises me. Then I wonder, how does one even decorate with a sconce? Are there nails and hammers or drills involved? Do you space them evenly or just do whatever the hell you want?

But I also wonder if my home really does look like a place where a non-transient human lives, and I'm just in it too often to see otherwise? Or I'm just not all that into clutter besides that brought on by books and magazines which populate probably far too much surface area of my home? I sit on my couch as I write this, staring at my bookshelf. When I moved into this new place, I knew I had to get settled quickly or it would take me months, if not years to do it (I was not wrong...a piece of artwork I got probably two or three years ago only at the beginning of this year finally found itself a home in a frame) so I set up my apartment the exact same way as the last one. This time, though, I decided to change up my bookshelf a little--wild, I know. What will she think of next?? I arranged the books by color instead of just randomly by size. I have more tchotchkes now than I used to, too--a piece of wood from Norway that SP gave me before she left that smells like an entire forest; a bag of coffee from Guatemala given to me by a nomadic writer from my reading series; a 35mm Nikon film camera my aunt gave me that once belonged to her beloved boyfriend. In many ways, my bookshelf feels like the most homey part of my apartment. It looks like something that holds life.

But there are also the bears, Randolph and Matthew, the two four-foot long, massive creatures who keep the living room safe; and Mistress Veronica, a pillow handmade by artist Al Benkin from a screenprint of her friend, a dominatrix of the same name. A poster from the legendary City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco,  a photograph gifted to me by the artist Elaine Hargrove of a couple kissing in the ocean, and so much more that I've brought in here or has in some other way entered my living space that makes it my own, this box I call home inside the city that is more home than any box could be. I still aspire to sconces, but perhaps in the meantime I need to give myself more credit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Rundown

Walking nineteen miles in four days is a lot, I think.

One weekend when EH was visiting, we kept tabs on the pedometer on her phone. She used it to track how much walking she did at the hospital where she works, and also to make sure she was getting enough exercise with her crazy work hours. After just one day of walking around downtown, I noticed how much walking we did, how many miles we walked and how many calories we burned.

The magic number to walk per day, as maybe you've heard before, is 10,000 steps. This amount of steps, which at about five miles burns about 300 calories, is supposed to prevent weight gain on top of your daily activities. I started using the pedometer on my phone to keep track of how many steps I took in a day--last week it was off the charts and I wasn't even trying, I was just going about my life as usual.

I was scouting locations for a photoshoot on Monday in Brooklyn, I was running to and from interviews, I was photographing a concert, I was just plain going to a concert, and by Thursday I was hauling myself around a photography fair, having to pause every 30 minutes or so just to sit down. I was exhausted, and the over-60 crowd at the fair seemed to be speeding past me. By the end of that evening, when I was home sitting on my couch, I discovered I had walked nineteen miles during the week. I relaxed on Friday, or did my best to, but the week shortly caught up with me and I was blowing my nose like a foghorn by the end of the night. On Saturday, I thought if I took a nap before going to a friend's play I'd be fine, but even after the show I fell into bed, unable to do all of the work I had planned on doing.

SE and I were supposed to have plans that night, but when he called I sounded like death. "What can I bring you?" he said matter-of-factly, in a way that told me I was not to simply say "nothing," because he knew by this point that "nothing" would have been a lie. "Hot and sour soup, please," I croaked into the phone. The Chinese restaurant staple has a magical gift of clearing out my sinuses. It's also way less boring than Chicken Noodle. SE arrived at my door a short while afterward, forced to gaze upon me in all my sweatpantsed/hoodied glory, eyes swollen and shoulders slumped. I practically poured the soup into my veins and shortly afterward was able to speak and laugh like a normal human. He left and prescribed me bed-rest. I did that, but only realizing after he left that I also needed Vicks Vapo-Rub and a decongestant and probably an ice cream sandwich to heal my wounds. I pulled on boots and a leather jacket and trudged myself over to Duane Reade for my loot. I found out upon coming home I had purchased the wrong medication, but the Vicks really helped my poor nostrils regain their freedom. I was sleeping by 10pm, occasionally waking up in the middle of the night to reapply more Vicks, and woke up on my own around 9 o'clock the next morning, fully able to talk without blowing my nose.

SE and I sat in Central Park most of the day on a picnic blanket I brought that was much too small, eating gouda and watching a veritable circus of dogs pass in front of us. He made illicit bellinis for us and we listened to Rogue Wave and Metric and The Beastie Boys and Biz Markie. It was so nice to be able to sit in one spot and do nothing, even say nothing for long stretches of time. In many ways, it was exactly what I needed.

I recently stopped doing social media as part of my freelancing business--which is to say, I am fully employed as a writer and photographer now--and have been grinding my nose so hard against the grindstone that I have forgotten I still need my nose to breathe. I do this every so often, work so hard that my body just sort of goes "NOPE," then collapses underneath me.

My father called me Sunday night to yell at me about this. And by "yell" I mean speak very calmly and enunciate and say "I would like you to" and "do you understand?" at the beginning and end of every sentence.

"Elyssa, I would like you to remember to take time off so this doesn't happen again, do you understand?" he said.
"Yes, I understand, Dad."
"You understand, but do you understand?" he said.
"I understand," I said.
"Good. Then I would like you go to bed early tonight, do you understand?"
"Yes, Dad, I understand."

I love being busy; it makes me feel alive, like I'm earning every penny of my living. But all of the walking, all of the schlepping, all of the going and doing has to be punctuated with the relaxing, and not just because my dad says so (although as someone who built his own business, he knows quite well this is accurate). If not, there will be no going and doing to get done. "You are a one-man band," as my mother says. And the bandleader has to take care of her bandmates! In true New Yorker fashion, I am still learning how to relax. Lest I care to be blowing my nose again so fervently, though, I had better learn a little faster.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"This is the only place I belong."

"This is the only place I belong," I said to SE in the back of a cab on Thursday night. Lights on 1st Avenue trickled past: pizza joints, drugstores, sushi restaurants, all open past 10pm on a weeknight.

I was talking about New York and I noticed the intonation in my voice. It was one that felt more akin to an angsty teenager pleading with a parent than a 27-year-old gal-about-town who runs her own business: not "This is the only place I belong," but "This is the only place I belong." I sounded like some sort of overdramatic pseudo-goth teenager in Doc Martens, ripped tights, and eyes rimmed dark with thick black eyeliner. Where had this voice come from?

SE had been talking about the suburbs, which he loves. A born and raised New Yorker, the idea of leaving the city's inner limits and having things like a front lawn and a driveway and a Golden Retriever and a mailbox you don't have to open with a key all thrill him.

But they're the things I spent most of my life trying to escape. Things like this cause my stomach to churn and fill me with a sense of my soul being ripped from my body. (Not so much the Golden Retriever, but, you know, the other stuff.)

I started saving money for an apartment in New York starting when I was 16 years old. I knew that I was weird, that I was different, for a long time. When I was 13 I first went on an Alfred Hitchcock kick then a Woody Allen kick, doing my best to see as many of the directors' films as I could; when I exhausted the options at my local Blockbuster, I made my way to Billy Wilder, Joshua Logan, and Frank Capra. I didn't have a subscription to any magazines like YM or Teen People, I wasn't allowed to watch cartoons, and I was happy to spend my weekends taking inventory of my parents' record collection. I made conversation more easily with adults than kids and was constantly wearing my mother's clothes from the '70s. I did not...belong. And though I didn't know a lot of other people like me (thankfully, I did end up finding some and am still friends with many of them), I knew where they were.

I read about the early eighties drag scene at the Pyramid Club. I read about the punk movement in the 1970s on the Bowery. I read about the '90s club kid scene and Andy Warhol's Silver Factory and Max's Kansas City and CBGB and Studio 54 and I wanted it all. In my mind I had found a place for the creative, rebellious spirit I wanted to be, that I would never have as a self-enforced overachieving straight-A goody-goody teenager living in suburban Fort Lauderdale. I wanted to get away from people who looked and acted and dressed and spoke all the same way and had the same experiences but more importantly I wanted to get away from myself. I wanted a place where I could be the person I always wanted to be.

I wanted to wear leather jackets and motorcycle boots like Patti Smith. I wanted to wear bright red lipstick and red high heels like a fifties movie star. I wanted to wear glitter for no reason and have nobody raise an eyebrow at me and sneer. I wanted to wear a mink coat and cowboy boots and a leopard print cardigan and have nobody look at me like I was insane. I wanted to wear fishnets and concert t-shirts with Chuck Taylors. I wanted to go to a place where the norm was a perpetual exercise in creativity, not khaki pants.

I wanted to go to gallery openings and walk up the long avenues painted with light at 3am because New York is always bright, because it really never does sleep, and I would never be stuck watching Friends until I passed out in front of the television because I had nothing else to do on a Friday night ever again. I wanted to meet artists and make my own work and walk the hallowed ground upon which so many of my idols have also tread. I wanted to eat at wild restaurants and go to a never-ending stream of concert venues, and dance until 4am then stumble into a diner and order a hamburger. I wanted to go to drag shows all the time and make friends with drag queens and drink martinis while I watched them lip-synch and perform better than any musical theatre actor I had ever seen. I wanted to go to plays on Broadway and experimental dance pieces way far off Broadway. I wanted to waltz in and out of record stores and vintage clothing stores and cafes without needing a car that I still couldn't drive because I had my feet and that's all that mattered.

I love my friends in South Florida and I love my family; I love the way the Atlantic Ocean turns my hair into a mess of mermaid waves; I love how the salty air hits my face as I drive up A1A; the way my skin feels warm and slightly greasy after being in the sun covered in SPF 4 the whole day. But I love New York, and I finally have the life I always dreamed I would have.

I have eaten dinner and watched Run Lola Run with monks; I have crashed a gala at the New York Philharmonic; I have photographed a dance performance inside the Museum of Natural History; I have hung out in artists' salons and gone to movie premieres and watched the sun come up in the East Village; I have walked Manhattan's streets alone and with friends and with lovers; I have bought a vintage shortening barrel at Brooklyn Flea and used it as a side table; I have interviewed artists who have then loved my writing and given me their work for free and it now hangs in my apartment; I have hung out backstage with musicians at Le Poisson Rouge and gone all the way out to Brooklyn only because I wanted a cup of coffee from a particular place; I have listened to pornstars read their non-fiction writing at a feminist bookstore; I have gone roller skating in an abandoned factory and drunk soju at a party in an abandoned bank. And I only want the adventures to continue.

I am the person I have always wanted to be. I cannot leave New York because I cannot, I will not, leave myself.

*

At 10pm on a Sunday night I am at a drag show in the basement of a gay bar in the West Village. I am watching Bob the Drag Queen ("first name Bob, last name The Drag Queen") bat his fluttery, fake eyelashes from under a white-blond pixie wig. His long red nails grip the bodice of his white leotard, detailed with black-and-white faux fur shoulders, his long legs covered in black fishnets that envelop feet nestled into white leather heels. At tonight's drag competition, called Look Queen, I will watch a drag queen with a beard eat a fake heart from a hand covered in long black fingernails; I will watch another drag queen whose dress is made entirely of playing cards and whose eye is covered in a heart made of pink glitter walk across the stage in homemade Alexander McQueen-style armadillo heels; I will laugh and I will be in awe and I will not stop taking pictures the entire time and I will think to myself, "This is the only place I belong," no special intonation needed.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Syndicate(d)

syn-di-cate
noun
/sindikit/
1. a group of individuals or organizations combined to promote some common interest


When I first moved to New York, one of the things I wanted most--in addition to your usual success, apartment, ravishing style sensibilities--was a crew. That group of people I could call whenever I wanted to hang out, to go to a concert, to dinner, for drinks, what have you. Basically I wanted my life to be Friends. This was, however, contrary to the way I had lived my life to the point I arrived in New York and continues to be this way--I had always been more of a floater, close with several people sprinkled in different groups. Other people, though, are very good at and have always been good at maintaining a close circle, and one of those is Akeem Duncan.

I met Akeem many moons ago now when I was working with an arts collaborative. His magazine, an arts publication called Quiet Lunch, covered one of our events, and he and the publication stayed on my radar ever since. Akeem's crew, his syndicate, is a group of passionate individuals who don't think in terms of boundaries, but only possibilities, always seeking to continue developing the magazine as a network and an arbiter of taste. I have had the privilege of seeing Quiet Lunch grow, their connections in the art world blossoming to impressive heights. Akeem is one of those people who truly has an eye for unique talent--he featured artist Shantell Martin in the magazine long before Converse hired her to do artwork for their billboards, and I saw band Tei Shi in the publication eons before its lead singer was in Elle Magazine. In short, the man not only knows talent, but knows where to dig for it.

I was not surprised, then, that his first solo-curated exhibition, "Selfish" at Brilliant Champions gallery in Bushwick, was a stunning success. Every work in the show, be it painting or photography or mixed media or collage, was a self-portrait that inspired interest in process, was a stunning visual, and was a bold insight into the artist's imagination. It is, as the gallery says, "a vivid exemplar of imaginative introspection." Akeem, a curator in his very soul, brought together new artists (so new their first works were featured in the show) with artists he had met at different fairs around the country like Art Basel. I was especially taken with the photographic paper sculptures of Nate Lewis, the photo collage work of model/artist Louise Donegan, and Megan Tatem's delightfully deadpan and provocative self-portrait on a toilet, though I would say almost every piece in the show is strong. Akeem has never been afraid of new work, of new artists, and promotes them whenever he has the opportunity which is, sadly, not the case with most of the art world. I would highly recommend checking out the show at the lovely and petite Brilliant Champions if you happen to have a moment or several to spare.

On the night I was there at the opening, there was a gorgeous peacock, Dexter, who happened to be one of the pets of another artist. Walking outside, Dexter was perched on the artist's shoulder, a study in absurdity and elegance on a leash. But then again, I shouldn't be surprised. That's just how Akeem and his crew roll.

**

I had heard about this Bushwick spot--a restaurant/movie theater/cocktail bar in a former industrial space? Yes please!--in an article praising its cocktails and thought it might be fun to go. But I couldn't remember the name or the location of it. However, leaving the "Selfish" opening at Brilliant Champions, SE and I walked down Bogart Street to the train when we spot Syndicated. "Oh! That's it! That's the place I was telling you about!" I said emphatically, slapping SE on the arm of his black leather jacket. SE, who has a such a penchant for cocktails that his home bar likely rivals more than one bar in the city, was game if I was, so we went inside. There was gorgeous, art deco detailing on the steps as we entered, which was duplicated inside with sconces and light fixtures behind the bar, a welcome juxtaposition against exposed turquoise pipes. The ceilings were gorgeously, unspeakably high for any location in the five boroughs, but that's one of the benefits of making a restaurant in a former industrial space, after all. Windows topped the space and a giant bar in the center was stacked, pyramid-like with high-end liquors. The bartender was a fellow whose name was Tom but went by Cat, and I decided I would like to come back as such a man in another life. We ordered cocktails inspired by classic cinema--a Lawnmower Man for me (Hophead vodka, cachaca, market green juice, chili syrup, carrot juice, and lemon) and a Steve McQueen (Old Overholt rye, Carpano Antica, Dolin dry vermouth, whiskey barrel-aged bitters) for SE.

In the back of Syndicated, there is a movie theatre where they screen classics (and "classics") like A League of Their Own, Leprechaun, and Clueless for $3 per ticket, $5 for a double feature. But we perched ourselves at the bar and happily sipped our cocktails: mine, I'm happy to say, was easily one of the best cocktails I've ever had. As someone whose face morphs into something like Edvard Munch's The Scream upon the mere idea of drinking a green juice, I think that says quite a lot. The veggie taste was made subtle by the chili syrup and cachaca but, having had little to eat before I drank it, I was shortly, yet very happily, in my socks. We ordered grilled mojo skewers of chicken, lamb, and beef and Scrumpets, corned beef short ribs served with russian dressing (which had hardboiled eggs in it! How wild!). SE beared with me as I gushed (slurred?) about their crispy, juicy, meaty deliciousness. In the short space of an evening, this place we dove into on a whim became the second syndicate worth returning to Bushwick for.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Crabs, Pastries, and A Beautiful Death

At about 8:30 on Friday night I was cracking into a crab leg with my teeth. It tasted of creamy, yellow coconut curry. I peeled away the shell to reveal a thick pocket of leg meat and hungrily chewed on the morsel before starting the process all over again with another leg.

The bucket of crab legs and shrimp AR and I got came with a side of rubber gloves for avoiding messy hands, but I soon peeled mine off because I felt like I was conducting an autopsy. I also felt like I owed it to my South Florida roots to dig into the legs and the shrimp with my bare hands, soggy skin and fingernails be damned. And while having food detritus stuck under my fingernails is one of my greatest pet peeves, the annoyance was totally worth it to immerse myself more fully in the seafood experience we were having.

AR and I were dining at LoLo's Seafood Shack, on W. 116th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. The restaurant features Caribbean-inspired cooking (order before sitting, please!) ranging from conch fritters to seafood boils and much more. Entering the tiny vestibule where a line of people are curling away from the door, you might not know there's a host of tables in the back, down a slim, pastel-colored hallway.

Seeing all the tables inside the tiny, yet colorful and friendly joint were taken, AR and I went outside to the restaurant's back patio and ended up having the space all to ourselves. The night was just a little too chilly for the faint of heart to eat outside, but luckily such a phrase did not apply to us. We found ourselves at an aqua-colored picnic table sinking our teeth into not just the aforementioned crab and shrimp boil, but wok seared cauliflower and jerk-rubbed pork ribs. I couldn't believe our luck at trying the place on a whim, but it turns out the restaurant is also a Critic's Pick in The New York Times. Who knew? We left, delighted and satiated by dinner. AR was curious about a potential sweet snack however. Was there a bakery nearby?

Indeed there was: Patisserie Les Ambassades on Frederick Douglass between 118th and 119th, which defines itself as a French-African BYO cafe. We availed ourselves of a linzer tart (sweet and slightly lemony and just crunchy enough) and a vanilla eclair (the custard was simply devoom) and marveled at everyone whose style was much better than ours, including a man unironically wearing a neutral leather harness around his waist instead of his shoulders as a fashion statement. If I could wear such a thing without it swallowing my hips I might very well do so.

Sweetened up, we made our way a few more blocks north to our ultimate destination, the Apollo Music Cafe inside the historic Apollo Theatre. The utterly spellbinding, phenomenal singer Sophia Urista was playing, and I found it important for AR's musical education to drag him along with me. I had seen Sophia perform many, many moons ago at an art salon in the studio of photographer Gilles Larrain and had remembered her ever since. I had tried to get out to see her several times before (she is also the lead singer of NYC-based band The VeeVees), but every time had failed. This time, though, I knew I had to get there and take someone who would appreciate her with me. Because really, she's not just a singer. She's Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Robert Plant, Kurt Cobain, Prince, and Mick Jagger all rolled into one. For her opening song she sang a blues tune a capella that melted my innards. I had to force myself not to let my jaw hang open as she electrocuted the notes with her vocal shockwaves, holding my head in my hands to keep it from falling off of my body. As her raw, powerful, soul-quaking, funk/rock/blues/soul performance went on I felt the words WHAT IS HAPPENING fall out of my mouth several times. I looked over at AR who was having a similar experience. She killed us both, and what a delightful death it was.

"She makes me question my sexuality!" I joked to AR.
"She confirms my sexuality," he said, laughing. "Do you think she needs any groupies?"

Sophia, if you're reading this, my buddy AR is into it if you are.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Two Fridays

Some good stories that slipped through my fingers the last two weeks...

Friday, February 19
EH only gets something ridiculous like one day off per month, so when she comes in I like to make sure she has a good time. We try to have dinner at Parm, the Italian sandwich shop in Nolita known for its delicious sandwiches, crazy wait times and the fact that they don't take reservations. We slip into the restaurant at a very continental 9 o'clock and the host says there will be a 15-20 minute wait unless we'd like to sit at the bar, which is first come, first serve. We wait five minutes, then two seats open up at the bar, and we sit, high-fiving for our good fortune. Shortly we'll be chowing down on buffalo cucumbers sprinkled with bleu cheese and gorgeous chicken and eggplant parmagiana sandwiches on hearty Italian buns sprinkled with sesame seeds and it will be divine. Then we'll sidle over to Decibel, one of my favorite spots in the East Village, for sake. After a short wait, we cram ourselves into a booth of the room that's splattered from ceiling to floor in graffiti and sip sweet, dry sake brought to us by a man with an undercut ponytail who's wearing a kimono only half-ironically.

We headed over to our favorite cheesy/awful dance spot next, but we found out shortly after entering, looking around, and dancing for a hot minute...that we had become too old for it. Swarmed by early twenty-somethings in button-down shirts and heels too tall for dancing, we sipped our drinks quietly and tried to find a bar where thirty-something men hang out. Interestingly enough, this was a category on Yelp all its own, and soon we were at another bar. The dancing there seemed to have died by the time we arrived at around 2am, but we drank some more drinks and made the most of it, resolving to begin a quest to find a bar for our proper age demographic the next time she came to the city.

Though that might sound like a bust of an evening, the next day we were paid back tenfold. Grabbing two spots at the apparently very difficult to get into Macondo for brunch, we were seated and eating in virtually no time at all. Since we couldn't decide, we ordered two dishes to share: their unbelievable eggs benedict was served not on an English muffin, but on two sweet yellow corn arepas topped with smoked salmon, the traditional poached egg, and a lemon-saffron aioli; and their cheesy, warm polenta with sauteed mushrooms were both to die for.

A round of window shopping was next, though window shopping quickly turned into shopping shopping with a foray into Topshop. The retailer was having its annual 'buy one, get one' sale, in which everything in the sale department is...you know. We ended up making a killing, with two pieces each both under $40 total, an unheardof amount for the store. If I had to sway in heels in a bar I was too old for to get that, it was all worth it.


Friday, February 26
Occasionally I will get free tickets to a concert because I occasionally write about music and occasionally publicists like that. I had gotten a plus one this time, and decided to bring AR with me. We would meet up at the bar Rocka Rolla in Williamsburg, which I had heard of but never been to, and as soon as I walked in, heard the Ramones playing, saw album covers on the walls, and a big neon Rolling Stones lips/tongue logo in the back, I knew I was home. As if by magic, I was able to nab a table in a big ol' booth, trying to get my nose to stop running and sipping the hot tea I brought with me like an old woman. Groups of four and more looked at me and rolled their eyes while I waited for AR in this giant booth by myself, but I greeted their eyes with an internal fuck-you and blew my nose again. I had been working for nearly two weeks straight on editing photos from an event and had driven my immune system into the ground with sheer stress and a good ol' inability to stop working but, as ever, I wouldn't let that stop me from having a good time (seriously, one of these days I will grow up and take care of myself like an adult. But today was not that day!). AR arrived shortly and sipped a giant goblet (yes!) of beer for $3 while I sucked on a cough drop. Magically, as we had to leave to head to the venue, so too did my cold symptoms leave as we waltzed up the street to the concert.

The band playing was, shall we say, not our taste. I think AR and I ultimately decided together they were to Mumford and Sons what Hoobastank was to Linkin Park, using, as AR says, any opportunity to throw Hoobastank under the bus. We made hilarious, snide comments to each other the whole show, music snob nerds being way too critical for no reason. To the band's credit, one of their singers was especially lovely and there was one tune and various parts of other tunes that I truly enjoyed. And I'd say, too, that the ability to laugh like that with AR at the show itself was worth going at all.

AR found another concert for us to go to afterward, at Legion in Williamsburg/Bushwick. We wound ourselves through the bar to a back room with gorgeous, wood-paneled walls and a tiny yet well-lit wooden stage to see the art-rock band Howardian. Somehow, with 3/5 of their band missing they still had a great time, and so did we. The drummer, tickling the snare, mumbled "I am a coconut," from underneath a pile of his hair and it was so weird we loved it.

"How are you feeling?" AR asked me while the band was setting up.
"I am having some trouble breathing!" I said, sipping the cider I probably shouldn't have been drinking and then laughing. Whatever.

We left Legion and bounced into the frigid night, the one I think now (I HOPE now) will be the last of the season. "I'm hungry!" AR said as we walked up Humboldt Street. "Okay," I said. "What around here is open late?" I literally had no idea where we were and I wondered if I had even been to this part of Brooklyn before, but AR used to live off the Graham Avenue L stop so he knew where to take us.

Morelos is a 24/7 Mexican/American diner on Grand Street. We walked in and sat at the counter, passing a giant display case of pandulces on the way in. It reminded me of South Florida and I felt like I was back there for a minute. I wasn't even hungry, but I ordered I giant torta stuffed with beef and jalapeƱos and avocado and dove in just for the experience alone. We drank tea and talked about nothing and I didn't need another cough drop the whole time.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Backstage Beauty, NYFW Fall/Winter 2016

As ever, some of my favorite shots from backstage at New York Fashion Week this season. I notice I was especially fascinated with eyes this time...