“[as] the inhabitants there are not so wealthy nor so well situated as those on the heights…we have a desire that these, and the generations after them, should have such a place of recreation…”—Walt Whitman, in reference to creating Fort Greene Park in an editorial he wrote for his paper the Brooklyn Eagle
The NYC Nomad in Fort Greene, Brooklyn (on Clermont Avenue)
You can read a little about my stay in Fort Greene on the New York Times Fort Green/Clinton Hill Local Blog. Tamy Cozier, from the CUNY School of Journalism, visited Wesley and I in Ft. Greene on Sunday.
With Wesley, Nibby (the dog), and Posey (the Cat) in a studio loft in Fort Greene. It’s one of the best laid out apartments I’ve stayed in. It’s a studio, but the areas are distinct and it feels much bigger than it is. Wesley also has a great backyard.
Wesley came to New York by way of North Carolina where she worked at Penland School of Crafts, but she’s also done a stint in Detroit which was fascinating to hear about. She works for Ripe Time, a small professional theatre company, and has written plays that have been produced around the country.
On the floor in my aerobed (of course), but I had a friend in Nibby who curled up on my bed. She is a very sweet dog and generally would wait until I was awake in the morning which is more than I can say for Wesley’s snooze alarm (she said I could say that).
- Nibby and Posey
I was nervous about my Aerobed popping with dog and cats bouncing around, but after 10 months and probably close to 100 nights the bed is still going strong.
Brunch. Wesley provided eggs, duck bacon (salty and delicious), and cheese from the Farmer’s market and I made spinach and cheddar cheese omelettes seasoned with jalapeno hot sauce on Sunday morning.
Madiba. Everyone I talk to that has spent time in Fort Greene is excited about this South African spot. I really loved the décor – Mandela is everywhere. The food was okay. We had the bunny chow, which is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. I’d like to go back to give the food another chance. Restaurant.com makes it ridiculously cheap to do so. Use the password DINE and get a $25 gift certificate for only $2 (through Feb 28)!
Romans. For dessert and drinks. They have a daily bitter drink and a daily sour drink which goes with the rest of the menu that changes daily. The restaurant is owned by the same people who run Diner and Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg. It’s a classy, cool spot that was really busy when we were there. And everyone should taste the chocolate sorbet.
Lucali. Not Fort Greene, but I was an invited guest for an evening of Pizza and Bluegrass music with Wesley’s aunt and uncle, her friend, and her cousin. It was quite a crew. Her aunt and uncle were visiting for the Westminster dog show, and did us all the favor of waiting in line for over an hour on a Sunday night. Lucali is excellent, especially the calzone. The freshest ingredients.
Brooklyn Public House – Had a huge Cobb Salad here. Solid beer selection.
Jalopy Music theatre – The Dixie Bee-Liners were here from North Carolina and Wesley’s aunt and uncle are big fans. It was a great a show and Jalopy is one of those places that takes you out of New York City. Here’s some music.
Brooklyn Flea – so not really “out” per se, but I visited here on a Sunday. When I get my own place, I want some of the maps they have on sale. I met some of the slant shack jerky team. They make it in Vermont and you can even build your own! I’ve been proselytizing a bit because its some of the best jerky I’ve had. It also helps that the owners seemed like nice people.
Chez Lola – I met a new friend, Dave Ford, through someone I spent time with at a meetup a few months ago. We came to find out that Dave hiked through Columbia with my former host (and brother-in-law) in Murray Hill. I’m making some interesting and far off connections in this journey. Dave even wrote a blog post about me here. We both had lamb shank ravioli that is cheap ($12.50) and delicious.
I think Dave deserves a separate post, as he is starting out on something similar, but still quite different from my project. Stay tuned.
With Nibby, around the neighborhood and in through Fort Greene Park. Walt Whitman is fast becoming one of my New York City heroes. He advocated for this park when he was the editor for the Brooklyn Eagle.
We capped off a run at WTF coffee, a great name to make what most would consider pretentious to be something fun. I had the siphon coffee preparation. The people working there really know their coffee. The siphon method was originally patented in France, and then rediscovered and made popular in Japan.
With Katey Schultz, a kindred spirit of sorts, who is spending 2 years moving around the country and writing on various writing fellowships. We chatted on Skype and she wrote about it. You can find the interview here and other great blog posts about her experience. I love her term for moving day. She calls it “the big sort.” I can relate. I’m envious of how much she is able to write.
These posts are getting too long, but I’m almost caught up at which point I will try to write more “in the moment” posts.
It was a great week with Wesley, my third week with someone as a direct result of the article that ran in the NY Times.
The NYC Nomad in Spuyten Duyvil, Riverdale (the Bronx)
Sundays are generally moving day, but I haven’t arrived on a Sunday in a while. And the Sunday I was supposed to move to the Bronx was Superbowl Sunday so when Leslie warned me that she knew nothing about football and probably wouldn’t even be watching the game, I extended my stay in TriBeCa an extra day.
The Bronx marks my fourth borough, although some would contest that Spuyten Duyvil, which is a part of Riverdale, isn’t really the Bronx (I’m happy to stay places that people really consider the Bronx, so email me). But geographically it is. Four boroughs down, one to go (Staten Island) and its on the calendar for the 2nd week in April.
Leslie had emailed me as a result of the NYT article. She is a bit of her nomad herself, having lived in four of the five boroughs (she missed Staten Island) and India in a calendar year. She emailed me and said:
Riverdale is “a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll.” Easy access to parks, quiet neighborhoods, a little bit of a “downtown” area and just minutes from Manhattan with the public transportation to get you there.
Leslie’s offer came with a twist. She had a ten month old named Phoenix. I’m sure many people would say Leslie was crazy to invite a stranger who is a man to live with her and her infant child, but we emailed back and forth quite a bit and I think its safe to say that after 9 months of doing this and reading the testimonials one can get a sense of who I am and what this project is about. Plus, she and Phoenix had heard about the nomad’s juggling abilities.
For me, Leslie just sounded interesting and on board for the project. She had traveled all over the place including doing part of her MBA in India. She is also the recently appointed director of Columbia Business School’s entrepreneurship program.
I was excited to go live with a family, but I’d be lying if there was not apprehension when I left TriBeCa. I had a “wait, why is she inviting me into her home?” moment, but reassured myself by reading an email about all the fun things we could see in the neighborhood. I spent the hour long ride on the 1 train enjoying music and a book rather than worrying about my week in the Bronx. From the 1 train, I connected to the Bx10 bus and then walked to the Linden House on Henry Hudson Parkway. The building is huge and old with two separate wings, and you can tell it was at one time quite grand (its still very nice). It was built sometime in the 1930’s and looks out oddly onto a circular driveway which used to look out onto a farm and a view of the Hudson. I’d love to see an old photo of the view.
It was social media week, and I went to a few of the events and also had the opportunity to go to the Moth at Cooper Union. I didn’t get home before 11:30 on Tuesday through Thursday, but Leslie and I enjoyed pizza on Friday night at Salvatores of Soho (Gorgonzola, red onion and asparagus a.k.a the Mama Lisa) and we had a drink at An Beal Bocht. We also commuted in a variety of manners which I’ll post about separately. Phoenix, Leslie and I went to Wave Hill on Saturday morning. I will most definitely return to that park in the summer. It’s beautiful.
I’m about nine months into my project, and there are many times when I’m quite happy with myself for coming up with this idea (there are other times that I border on self-loathing, but those are few and far between). I, however, don’t think I realized the full brilliance of my project until I received an email from Caitlin offering me a week with her two female roommates in Tribeca. She offered that they would all be my hostesses. Sign me up.
Brilliance was not the word that came to mind when I took the red-eye in from Park City on Tuesday morning, went straight to work for 12 hours, and then went back to the East Village to pick up my stuff, pack up my stuff and move to Tribeca. I decided I deserved a cab ride. That, and I didn’t want to wheel my suitcase through slush. Showing up with a slushy suitase doesn’t fall under the definition of “consummate house guest (which I’m still working on).”
Caitlin was home when I arrived. She gave me the tour of my new home. It was a bit tight in the living room so I decided I’d opt for the very comfortable blue couch for my sleeping arrangements. They had even hired a cleaning lady which they told me was for my arrival. MaryAnn arrived and then Kat. Kat called me “nomad” as she walked in the door and continued with that throughout the week. Even though I was exhausted, everyone was hungry. We went down to Terroir which is right on their block, had some box wine (the good kind) and appetizers and called it a night.
The nomad sponsored dinner was at the Harrison. I learned that its kind of fun to show up to a nice restaurant with three attractive girls. I liked the restaurant, but I am not doing restaurant week ever again. I had gone to Mesa Grill for lunch (and restaurant week) with co-workers that same day and it was really terrible. The Harrison was good, but I would’ve enjoyed less food and more of a selection. A restaurant like that should be great. We still had a great time, and followed it with a trip to one of my new favorite places in NYC, the Brandy Library. We did a bourbon tasting, and when I asked about an expensive Armenian brandy in the library the waiter came back with the bottle and told me he didn’t have enough left to sell it so he let us taste it for free. The night was capped off by these photos from the photobooth at Bubby’s. To be clear, the photobooth is the only reason we went to Bubby’s. I need to go back to try the food.
Other highlights included a dinner at the Tribeca institution called The Odeon with not 3, but 5 girls and a solo trip to Takahachi bakery for anpan (warm red bean pastry comes out of the oven 3 times a day and is delicious). Saturday I tried out another neighborhood spot, Il Matto, which was just okay and a bit disappointing.
We threatened to spin at the very hip and expensives ($32/class!) Soul Cycle multiple times but never made it. Instead I went to donation based yoga studio ($12) Do Yoga Do Pilates and ran along the Hudson on the first nice day in ages. The girls’ apartment is really close to Hudson River park.
Caitlin, Kat, and MaryAnn were great hosts and I think / hope we’ll keep in touch. Kat has already since moved to London, but if I ever go international I’ll be sure to get in touch!
I missed a few places, as always, and would love to see Tribeca when it is slightly warmer. Email me if you want to host!
I just started using Zemanta. They provide related articles based on what I’m writing about. Pretty cool.
The NYC Nomad on 14th between B & C (in the East Village)
My third trip (if you include Alphabet City) to the East Village started with one of the more unpleasant moves of this project. I was deceived by both apartments being on the East Side (but each quite far from the subway) and the cold was brutal. It was a short week (Sat - Thurs, as I ditched the aerobed for some skiing in Park City, Utah).
I’m writing a bit more, and here is something I wrote about that Sunday move.
Moving is never that fun, but I didn’t think it would be so bad this week. The move was from the Upper East Side to the East Village – unlike last week, I was staying in the same borough. I, however, was deluded by the word East in each neighborhood’s name. It was a brutal move, one of my worst yet. I stubbornly insist on taking the Subway whenever I shift neighborhoods. I like the looks on people’s faces and the comments people often make about my collection of bags and the tennis racket sticking out of my backpack like a halo. But today it was cold. And I mean really cold. Each host lived a good 10 minute walk from the subway so I got to fully experience the numbness from losing my gloves the week before. The subway was really busy –I couldn’t sit down or even take my bag off. Usually people are intrigued, but today they were annoyed.
The destination was the East Village to live with Donald for 4 days, a friend of a former co-worker. I knew him a little bit. I arrived and as is often the case, when I get there I’m excited. Donald opened the door, and exclaimed “the Nomad.” He took a picture. I was sweating, which seemed impossible in the frigid cold, but completely logical after I realized I had just hiked up 5 flights of stairs. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of making assumptions about apartment numbers. Donald’s was 19 which I thought meant he was on the 1st floor, maybe the second. No, he was at the top.
Don immediately explained to me an architect is the owner and he really maximized the space. The requisite over sized flat screen TV for a 30 year old single guy was there, and there was a nice kitchen. I didn’t care what the place looked like as long as I could get my backpack off. I put my stuff down, strategized a place where the Aerobed would fit and asked to take a shower.
With Donald, a friend of a former coworker. It was fun to hang out with Don. He seemed to have a genuine interest in my project and some of the experiences I’ve had. I gave him some recommendations of the best restaurants and books I’ve come across in my travels. He plays the guitar quite well, and supposedly may write a nomad song (I’ve been promised this before from others as a testimonial).
Cafe Pick Me Up - This has to be one of the cheapest breakfasts in Manhattan at $5 for Eggs, Toast, potatoes and a little salad. And good coffee, too.
Mercadito Cantina - Sadly this place is closing. Kind of surprising given the food is expensive, but it is reopening as an event space. EV Grieve has more if you are interested in community boards and why the restaurant is closing.
Chicken - Don is a cook and he cooked for his friends one night. I came back and had a taste and it was excellent.
Stuffed Cannolis (the Italian in me says cannolis shouldn’t be flavored, but these changed my mind). I brought some to a party and I think most would agree.
Whitman’s - The Juicy Lucy is a burger with oozing pimento cheese in the middle of the burger. The cheese is sandwiched between two 3oz patties and the patties are sandwiched between hamburger buns. It was delicious, but next time I go I’ll try the Peanut Butter and Bacon Burger. They have milk and warm cookies for dessert. We used a Scoutmob deal which is fast becoming my favorite deal service. I like their copy - “mobiled deals for the local curious.”
at Ace Bar, with some of Don’s friends to play pool and drink cheap beer.
Tom & Jerry - not really the EV, but we went to a friend’s birthday party here. I think Don even got a date out of it. See, hosting the nomad has its perks!
St. Dymphas - GREAT spot - NY Mag gave it a 10 of 10 ; went here after Whitman’s on I think the coldest night of the year. Warm and cozy, with a band that decided to play a third set. I met a couple of Don’s friends, one of whom is quite the brewer of beer. I’m hoping to get to sample a bottle when I stay in Bushwick.
Great week! Always is in the East Village. Check out the nabe list and if you don’t see your neighborhood on the list (and even if you do), email me to host!
I stayed with Deanna in Bensonhurst for a week. She had this to say:
Finally a roommate! I live in a studio- alone for the first time, I’m used to sharing space with lots of people! When I heard through a co-worker about the “NYC Nomad” I instantly wanted in! Finally my week with Ed came and it was GREAT! We both got home around the same time every night, so it was very convenient. I had some worries about sharing my studio apartment with a man- who was a stranger, but it turned out to be an awesome experience! I was never woken up by the sound of Ed getting ready in the morning, and it was great to finally have my drawer fixed (props to Ed!). A HUGE bonus was that Ed was always down to play some ‘Just Dance 2’ with me on my Wii. This, along with him attending my swing dance class and some great dinners, definitely made for a fun comfortable week. When the weekend came, I was very sad to see Ed go- and I made sure to confirm that we were “now friends” and we’ll be keeping in touch.
Planning wasn’t exactly my strong point over the past few weeks. I went from 83rd and 1st to Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and then back to 89th and 1st. Alas, moving can be interesting, if not exactly fun, and it was an interesting to contrast the two neighborhoods. Contrast is what I’ll do below - if you want to read more detail about my stay in Bensonhurst, read the post here.
I lived in a basement studio with 23 year old Deanna in Bensonhurst.
I lived on the 25th Floor of an Upper East side building with my friend Rob and his roommates, Charlie and Laura (a couple) and their dog Ollie. We’re all in our late 20’s with the exception of Ollie (he’s about 8 months old). Charlie and Laura didn’t know about my project when I arrived. Rob had simply told them “a buddy was coming to stay for a week.” Here’s a picture of the dudes hanging out just before I left.
And here is a flickr set of some shots from the roof.
In Bensonhurst, I traveled about 1 hour and 15 minutes from the 20th avenue stop to 23rd street on the N train. You are pretty much guaranteed to have a seat getting on at the 20th avenue stop.
From Yorkville, I traveled about 30 minutes and took the 6 train from 86th to 23rd Street. You are pretty much guaranteed NOT to have a seat at the 86th street stop, at least at 8:30 in the morning.
Bensonhurst is about Italian food historically, and Asian food more recently.
Yorkville, like most of Manhattan, has a lot of options. I think the best options are Sushi although I didn’t have any this trip. Rob and I went to Nina’s Argentinian Italian one freezing night when proximity was the most important attribute of the restaurant. We weren’t disappointed, though. Half off bottles of wine on Monday night and a pretty excellent goat cheese ravioli. The Empanadas were just okay. We (except for Ollie) all went to Fetch for brunch the day I left. A friend had recommended the straight up buttermilk pancake and it did not disappoint. Not even a little bit. It’s the best pancake I have had in NYC.
I didn’t go to a bar in Bensonhurst, but I want to go back for live music at the Knights of Columbus.
I went to Biddy’s, Auction House, and Southern hospitality on the UES. These three bars are a study in contrast. Biddy’s = classic dive; Auction = classic speakeasy; Southern Hospitality = classic Upper East Side bar
Out of Nabe Activities
Swing Dancing in Midwood
Art Gallery Opening at Milk Studios for Travis Rice and Asymbol Gallery. Charlie is from Jackson Hole, and grew up with who is said to be the best snowboarder in the world. I got to meet this guy. The film That’s it, That’s all got me pretty excited to go to Park City. It’s shot with a Cineflex camera, the same camera used to film Planet Earth and also used in military operations. You might not want to watch this video if you sit at a desk all day.
2 Great Weeks. 2 Very Different Neighborhoods.
Next stop was the East Village for a quick stay before I escaped to Park City, Utah for a long weekend.
I now write from Tribeca (a new neighborhood) and I have other new nabes including Riverdale, Fort Greene, and Red Hook are booked on the calendar.