Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Present from New York

On Wednesday I was practically tripping over myself with happiness all day because, well, that is what I do on my birthday. And not only was it my birthday, it was my birthday in New York, which is cause for even more celebration. So anything else great that happened on Wednesday was really just icing on the cake.

I walked into work and was greeted with a cupcake (topped with chocolate buttercream frosting and M&Ms) and a present, a beautiful art-deco candle that smelled like flowers and mimosas. My boss also said I could take off early because it was my birthday, so I’d actually be able to do my favorite walk home before it got dark.

On the walk home after work, I remembered that one of the things I really wanted to do on my birthday was go into a classic bar at a chic New York spot and have a drink. I sighed, I wish I could still do that. Then I remembered, uh, why can’t I? This is New York, for crying out loud. I could find any place like that in a stone’s throw, if I really wanted to. So I immediately made a right and went inside Petrossian.
Photo courtesy of The Wallman Report
Petrossian is known for its caviar, foie gras, smoked fish, and “French-influenced contemporary menu.” It is consistently placed in the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide. On the inside of the restaurant, up a small marble staircase, the seating area is made up of tables clothed in white linens. According to the restaurant, it was designed by Ion Oroveanu, and features “Lalique crystal wall sconces, bronze sculptures from the 1930s, Limoges china, and a Lanvin chandelier.” There is also a pink marble bar behind which the walls are mirrors etched with glamorous Erte drawings.

I went in, sat down at this bar, and ordered a glass of Nicolas champagne rose. The vested bartender removed the cork from the bottle with that signature champagne pop and poured the sparkling liquid into a triangular champagne flute. I sipped the fruit bubbly and smiled. This is what birthdays in New York are supposed to be like, I decided—simple, classic, fabulous. I think there are very few other cities in the world where you can just take a right and end up in such a place.

I left and continued on the walk home, up the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue. Leaves blew around my feet as I walked on the park’s cobbled sidewalk, past the avenue’s beautiful old structures on my right, the bristling park trees on my left. I was reminded yet again of how wonderful it is to be here. Thank you, New York, for a wonderful birthday present.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween, Village Style

NP and I sat on the curb eating dumplings and scallion pancakes as we waited for the parade to start. We found a nice empty space, free of women in New York Yankees ensembles who would indignantly tell us no, we could not stand in the space next to them because they had been waiting there for an hour blah blah blah. Our spot was all our own, directly in front of the silver police barricades. The wind seethed through us like ghosts in some Harry Potter movie. I suppose it was fitting because it was Halloween, after all.

I had read about the Village Halloween Parade many times and decided that I would drag my roommate and GD along with me to go see it for our first Halloween in New York. The parade actually began in 1973, when a mask maker and puppeteer would walk from door to door with his children. A year later it was picked up and expanded by the Theater for the New City and a year after that the parade became its own freestanding non-profit organization. The parade is now a huge grassroots event in the West Village, drawing approximately 60,000 costumed participants. It is also broadcast on local New York television station WPXI.

The parade itself begins on Spring Street at 6th Avenue and travels all the way up to 16th Street in Chelsea. We stationed ourselves on the corner of 10th and 6th and had a nice side view of the action, on the street and on the sidewalk behind us. People were decked out as Elizabethan monarchs, superheroes, genitalia (yes, genitalia), biblical figures, Chilean miners, witches, Teletubbies, Elmo, and the list goes on.

Once the parade started, though, we forgot all about them. Puppets are such a large part of the parade’s history, and the legacy continues today. Not creepy ventriloquist puppets, though—awesome, Lion King on Broadway-type ones, all handmade by artists for the sheer pleasure of participating in the parade. Some of the most famous (and awesome!) puppets in the parade are the 20-year old skeleton puppets, all larger-than-life and not at all creepy. The skeletons are placed at the front of the parade coinciding with the Day of the Dead traditions, not to be “grim expressions of the morbid but rather joyful reminders of all that is vital.”

Beyond the puppets, anyone can be in the parade, from the volunteers who maneuver the puppets to the costumed participants, to bands to dance troupes to vehicles painted in crazy designs. There was a marching band that played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” a dance troupe from the Broadway Dance Center doing “The Time Warp,” belly dancers, and oh so much more. One of my favorite things about the parade, I think, is that it’s so democratic—it is literally by and for the people of New York, no exclusions.

Once the parade started, it was definitely a neat thing to see, but next year I might try to actually be in it…

Here are some of my favorite costumes from the night:

This was actually on the train down to the parade, but it's still a favorite.


Edward Scissorhands!

The fiercest jellyfish I've ever seen.