As the massive throng of people exited the warehouse, I found myself moving in slow motion behind a crowd that had no idea what to do next. A woman pulled up to us and asked, “What just happened here?” “Norwegian Disco,” my friend replied. She casually responded, “Oh of course!” as if that’s just another night in the Big Apple.
The next few days in New York revolved around food and walking. Thursday morning my friend had to run a quick errand in Brooklyn, so we took an Uber into the area. Afterward came the important decision of figuring out what to eat. Before coming to New York, I had done some extensive research on the best pizzerias in the city, and I remembered that Roberta’s was in Brooklyn. When I searched for it in Google Maps, it came out to be less than a five-minute walk from where we were. I took it as a sign that it was meant to be.
Upon arriving, we decided on the Famous Original with Sausage to really take it up a notch. The wait was brutal because the aroma of doughy goodness felt overwhelming. When we got our pizza 15 painful minutes later, I realized it had been absolutely worth it. Look, I’m not saying it was Italy perfect, but if you put it next to an Italian pizza and blindfolded me I’m not sure I would have known the difference. The crust was the perfect texture, somehow doughy and crispy at the same time, the sauce tasted just the right amount of sweet with a kick, the mozzarella slowly dissolved in my mouth, and the sausage, oh man, the sausage, perfectly spicy and juicy. Success. After pizza heaven, we continued walking around Brooklyn.
The sky looked like at any moment it would start storming, but the rain remained at bay. We passed a sign for a tattoo shop, and my friend jokingly said “We should get tattoos,”to which I replied with, “Let’s do it!” He called my bluff, and as we walked into the shop I realized if I got another tattoo my mom would kill me. Despite my backing out, he took the plunge and got his third tattoo, a little black heart over his chest. I wish I had taken the name of the artist because he filled it out to perfection.
We spent the rest of the afternoon admiring street art and kitschy shops. We went
into Rough Trade, a famous record shop, and hung out for an hour going through
records, books, and interesting little knick knacks. It was drizzling when we left the store, so we walked into a little bar, but by the time we sat down with a drink the
drizzle had turned into a full on storm. It was already past 5:00 p.m., so going into a museum was out of the question. We were both feeling a little tired from being out and about, so we decided to head back to the hotel for a cat nap before heading out again.
My friend comes into New York a lot, so he knew the perfect spot for dinner. We hopped on the subway and headed into the city. “You’re going to love this place!” he exclaimed with enthusiasm. We’re both foodies, so he was giddy to show me his favorite place in Koreatown. As we got closer to the restaurant, all of the signs changed from English to Korean and I saw ads for everything ranging from fro-yo to dying your eyebrows to karaoke all in one strip. We walked into Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, and it was packed with a mix of foreigners and yuppies, apparently, this was a very trendy little spot. Korean BBQ is definitely an experience. There’s a little round stove top at the center of the table, and the server cooks the food right there in front of you. We had three different delicious types of meats, noodles, eggs, and some veggies. Throughout our meal, three different people were celebrating birthdays and each person got a proper celebration with flashing lights, singing, and Gangnam Style blasting. The food tasted absolutely delicious, but the atmosphere was what made it such a special experience.
Post dinner, we walked around through Times Square and I felt a little overwhelmed by the bright lights, tourists, street performers, the consumerism of it all. It was nighttime, but the city was glowing with fluorescents and flashing cameras. As we walked out of the square, I felt relieved to get away from it all. This isn’t the New York I wanted to see, this is the tourist trap where they try to sell you air; I wanted to back in Brooklyn or out in Chelsea, anywhere but here. The one thing that really blew my mind away was the view of the Empire State Building lit up – there was a proud look to it, that commanded both your attention and respect. Once we got tired of walking around, we took an Uber back to the hotel and called it a night.
Friday morning I went to meet up with the girl friend who I had originally planned on coming to visit. I met the gorgeous and incredibly talented Cami when I was 16 and studying at UCLA for an Acting and Performance program over the summer. That time period was six weeks of epic adventures in Los Angeles, and we developed a great friendship that has lasted over five years despite always being in different states. The last time we saw each other was two years ago in Atlanta, so much had happened since then. We met up at Westville East in East Village, and for the first time since arriving in New York, I was more excited for the conversation than for the food
My friend told me all about landing a major role playing Veronica in an upcoming CW show based on the iconic Archie comics. (Check her out in the Nylon this month!!!) In just a few weeks she would be moving to Vancouver to begin filming. She explained that it had been difficult landing a role as a Latina actress, but when she heard about this casting she knew it would be perfect. After much back and forth everything finally lined up, and it became official. It’s so amazing to get to see your friends following their dreams. “I’m going to come out there to visit in Vancouver, so standby,” I told her as we wrapped up brunch. I basically plan on crashing on the couches of all of my friends living around the world.
We walked over to A-1 Records, where my friend was hanging out, and parted ways with promises of reuniting soon and staying in touch. After rummaging through records for a little bit we walked around East Village appreciating the cool buildings and quirky shops. “Look! That’s the famous Big Gay Ice Cream Shop!” my friend exclaimed as he pointed into the distance,“We have to go in, their Salty Pimp is on the list of 50 Foods You Have to Try in New York.” The fattie in my needed to see what the hype was all about. I devoured that thing. It was salty, it was sweet, and it was the best damn ice cream I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, it dripped all over my dress and shoes, so we ended up taking an uber back to the hotel to change and shower off the sticky goodness that was the Salty Pimp.
“How do you feel about nerding out with me in a museum?” my friend asked. “Let’s do it!” I said enthusiastically, and we made our way over to the American Museum of Natural History (p.s. the entrance fee is basically by donation). By the time we got there it was already 4:00 p.m., which meant we only had an hour and a half to tackle the huge building. We started with the planetarium and delved into exhibits on rocks, animals, earthquakes, primitive times, and even got to see some cool artifacts on the Mayans and Aztecs. I felt like a kid on a school field trip, full of wonder and thirst for more. We stayed in the museum until one of the security officers started rounding up all of the people who weren’t leaving, and when we exited we walked over the dog park next door watching dogs and discussing all of the cool things we had just seen.
Next, we walked into Central Park and I was surprised by its immense size. Although I had heard of how beautiful the park was, I had never imagined it would be so huge. We found a spot to sit down and spent an hour laying on the grass alternating between watching people and watching clouds. For a moment there it was easy to forget I was in a bustling city because I felt so perfectly at peace – that is until I started to feel my stomach grumbling.
“Have you ever tried Shake Shack?” he asked, and as soon as the words left his mouth I could feel mine begin to water. Although I had never been, I had most definitely heard of its amazing burgers and shakes. The one closest to us was packed, and we were too hungry to wait, so we took a cab to the next closest location. “Go look at the menu while I find us a table. Figure out what you want, and then come find me.” I knew I wanted a burger, but deciding on which shake to get was just too much. I walked outside and said, “Look, I have no idea what shake to get, you pick it, I trust your judgment.” When our food came out, my jaw dropped. I would describe everything that we got, but I really think the picture is worth the metaphorical thousand words. We ate until our bodies demanded that we stop. And that day not a single trace of regret was felt. The two of us entered a major food coma after. Shake Shack definitely lived up to the hype.
My friend had passes to see Todd Terje, and although I had never heard of his music, I was up for the adventure. The show was in a huge warehouse with no AC and a massive crowd of people. The electric music had me bouncing as soon as we walked in. “This is Norweigan disco,” my friend explained. For the next two hours, I danced nonstop to a groovy mix of sounds with a group of trendy strangers. When we left, my shirt was almost soaked through in sweat. The night ended with tacos and margaritas at a Mexican spot accompanied by some of his friends we had met up with at the show. As I scooped my chip into the perfectly mixed guac, I took a moment to feel grateful for everything that had gotten me to that moment with the perfect guac, the perfect drink, and the perfect people. New York, I most definitely love you.