Ms J bites the Big A

New York Diary Part 1

Flying over the snowy wastes of Maine, I reflected that it had been 9 years since I was last in New York. As the plane passed Boston, the white patches far below changed to green and brown, and by the time we started the descent over the Hamptons, it could have been high summer with a brilliant clear blue sky and white sandy beaches outlining the strip of land where wealthy New Yorkers spend their weekends.

I took a cab from JFK across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. I’m staying in the Financial District [they call it the FiDi] not far from Ground Zero with my BGF [Best Gay Friend] Mark who works in PR [his company is Gorgeous PR – he only chose the name so he could answer the phone with ‘Hello Gorgeous!’].  He says that the FiDi used to be purely offices but now it’s becoming more residential. Maybe it’s the next Shoreditch?

I set off to explore the Big Apple.  Mark told me to head for Nolita [NOrth of LIttle ITAly] which is near Soho [SOuth of HOuston].  Nolita is an up-and-coming area full of groovy boutiques, while Soho has up and come, and is already crammed with well-known designer names that you see pretty much everywhere.  Walking up Broome Street into Nolita, I passed a group of people staring at messages plastered to a wall, with flowers and candles on the pavement below. When I took a closer look I saw they were all messages to Heath Ledger who had died in that building last week.  So sad.

That night I had dinner with Cindy who’ll be heading up TBW in New York.  I met her for drinks at her apartment, a single enormous black room with decor consisting of her designer shoe collection, striking contemporary art and a flowing bathtub!  The apartment is a converted floor of the old YMCA in Chelsea and, as we sipped the first of her mean martinis, she told me I was actually sitting in the former men’s locker room!!  After the third martini, I knew I was going to be in trouble the next day. As Marlene Dietrich said “Martinis are like breasts. One is never enough, and three is too many.”

The next day was gorgeous and I wondered why I didn’t feel as bad I thought I should.  I went to explore Century 21, an enormous fashion store filled with heavily discounted designer clothes only a few blocks from where I was staying. Trouble is, they’ve crammed so much stuff on the rails that it’s hard to work out what’s what.  Having had high hopes of major pound-to-dollar purchases, I came away with only a dose of bargain basement boredom and one measly scarf!  I decided to check out the other end of the spectrum and headed uptown to meet Mark at Bergdorf Goodman (www.bergdorfgoodman.com) on Fifth Avenue.  This is probably the smartest store in New York catering to the ‘old money’ and is a very chic place for lunch… but also appealing to a younger, hip crowd with its in-store DJ and CD compilation!

That evening Mark took me to an opening of Horst’s photography at the Forbes gallery. The champagne flowed and Mark seemed to know everyone. [TIP: it’s good if your BGF is in PR because they know everyone and get great invitations].  As the party rolled on, the hangover from the night before started to kick in and I was rapidly losing power.

The following afternoon Mark and I went off to check out the sales at Bloomingdales [yeah not bad…] and Saks [awesome!] and then went for a drink at Buddakan (www.buddakannyc.com) in Chelsea which is a fusion Oriental bar/restaurant with the most fab eclectic décor.  Definitely a must-do bar stop and don’t forget to check out the downstairs bar.  Next stop was Soho House (www.sohohouseny.com) just down the road in the Meatpacking District.  The view from the rooftop – complete with swimming pool – is such an incredible urban vista, stretching across to The Hudson on the right and the lights of the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan to the left.  But what really caught my eye was a large Abercrombie & Fitch poster of a total hunk starkers holding his jeans in front of his vitals!  Did they put that there especially?  I think so.

We had drinks in the bar.  Mark had planned dinner with friends while I had arranged to meet an old friend in the East Village.  So after a few Margaritas I left Soho House which seems to be the cool New York Brit hang out and is pretty similar to Shoreditch House only slightly smaller.  I took my yellow chariot across town and met my friend at Jewel Bako (http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/jewel-bako/) on East 5th and The Bowery (THE up and coming “hood”). If you want gourmet sushi this is the place to go.  My friend treated me to the taster menu and I have to say it was supreme and the quality of the fish was incredible. It must be one of the few restaurants still serving tuna in New York given the recent scare about mercury levels in tuna.  N.B.  I’m still alive!

We all met up for after-dinner cocktails at one of the hottest bars in the Big Apple, Goldbar (http://www.goldbarnewyork.com) on Broome (you don’t say Street!!). [TIP: Cool bars in New York have doormen and a velvet rope policy so unless you look uber cool you can’t get in unless you know the manager or doorman.  Luckily BGF knows the manager so we didn’t have a problem.  There are no really cool night clubs as such, but hip bars with DJs where people start shuffling after about 1am.]  The description of a bar entirely decorated in gold seemed nothing but tacky to me… but it transpired to be ultra cool.  The vaulted ceilings are covered in gold leaf and the walls are made up of gold skulls embedded in the wall in front of which hang surreal portraits in gold frames.  Along with the crazy decor were great cocktails and cool music: I loved it.  When we left the coatcheck boy couldn’t find Mark’s coat and, instead of asking him what it looked like, inquired what brand it was!!  I nudged BGF and said “Lucky you were wearing D&G rather than H&M.”  He said, “Who!?”

Enough for now. Gotta hit the sack to catch the early morning flight back to London tomorrow morning.

Part 2 to follow

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