It seems like a lifetime ago. A horrendously awkward lifetime ago. The first day of freshman year. The day I met Joel. We both wore plastic-framed glasses and were approximately the same weight. Perhaps because of these similarities, we became friends. And have been ever since. My first trip to NYC as a independent adult was with Joel. My maiden voyage to Central Park, we made together. I remember exactly the section of grass where we sat, admiring the fantastic May weather and the boats on the pond in our periphery.
I thought of those memories while formulating this post, going so far as to dig up some old pictures of the trip. I found a gem of a picture, a “doozy” if you will, taken on a rock formation in Central Park. A simultaneous embarrassment and relief: thank GOD we don’t look like that any more. My hair is pulled back into a frizzy pony tail, unflattering plastic spectacle frames create rectangles across my eyes. I am outfitted in a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, at least a size too small, highlighting the Freshman 15 located at my belly. Joel is on my left, looking about five years younger than I, a believable fourteen. A “Jew-fro” with no hereditary basis crowns his head, a goofy smile across his face. We are eighteen/nineteen at it’s worst, “the prime of life” eluding our uncomfortable appearance.
I was tempted to post the picture. There is no way you would ever look at that photo and recognize me as I am today. But, call me vain, I couldn’t bring myself to have the one picture of my face be a decided “un-tag”. Instead, I use my words, and Joel’s words- a thousand of them. Today, the picture is different. We are now a picture of confidence, the awkwardness replaced with just the right amount of quirk. Joel, my friend, always loyal and able to make me smile. He gets me. Joel: my NYc of the week!
Name/prefered pseudonym: Joel. Sometimes people give me nicknames, like Joely, but I always prefer Joel.
Borough and neighborhood: Crown Heights, Brooklyn
How are you a New York cliché? Well, as I just said, I live in Brooklyn. While I’d like to think that I don’t fit into all the stereotypes that come with living in this borough, let’s be honest: I ride a bike, spend more money than I’d like to admit on “local” or “artisan” food, and I do everything in my power not to cross the river into Manhattan on the weekends.
They say no one who lives in New York is actually from New York. Where are you from? I grew up in a small town in the Hudson Valley. Most people in the city refer to it as upstate. I disagree. I also have decided to choose my battles.
Bloomberg is banishing you from NYC. You have 24 hours before you have to pack up and leave for ever. How do you spend them? Wow. This is tough. Ok, let’s see. I’d start the day by walking from my neighborhood to Dumbo/Brooklyn Bridge Park (picking up a bacon, egg and cheese on an everything bagel beforehand, of course). This is my favorite walk because you get to pass through a lot of Brooklyn neighborhoods: Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Gowanus, Boreum Hill, Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens, and Brooklyn Heights. Along the way I would make a pit stop at the Brooklyn Pharmacy in Carroll Gardens, which is an old time soda/ice cream parlor. Once I spent some time in Dumbo, I would cross the bridge and walk over to Chinatown for dim sum at Nom Wah on Doyers Street. Then I would head up to East Harlem and spend some time at El Museo del Barrio and the Conservatory Garden in Central Park (entrance at 105th).
By this time it would probably be around 3 PM, right? Maybe later? In any case, I’d head back to Brooklyn to eat at Peaches HotHouse in Bed Stuy. After some fried chicken and beer, I would make my way to my favorite bar in Brooklyn, Sharlene’s, where I would spend the rest of the with my pals!
What restaurant/bar you keep going back to, even though you’ve been meaning to try a dozen others? My favorite brunch place ever is Chavelas, on Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn. I always get the huevos ahogads, which is basically a mexican eggs benedict. They also always serve a sweet bread with your brunch. There is really nothing better.
Hot dogs or pizza? Pizza, and always at least two slices.
So you live in NYC, but what’s one super-touristy thing you secretly love? At this point, I think it is safe to say that the High Line is super touristy. And I just think it is great!
Ever had a run-in with a celebrity (A-D List)? Bill Cunningham came to my work’s annual gala to take photos. He counts as a celebrity, right? There have been others, but he was one of the better ones.
You totally saw something weird on the subway or street today (you may not have registered it was weird because you are jaded), what did you see? I was walking by the Equinox around Grand Central, while on my way to my friend’s apartment. They were blasting that song, “shots, shots, shots, shots, shots” outside. One woman was standing outside with a cigarette in her hand dancing. I just thought that the entire situation seemed very anti-fitness.
What is your favorite fictionalized New York? How does it compare with reality? I am a sucker for all those superhero movies, so I’d have to say any one of them that takes place in the city – Batman, Spiderman, etc… I think they actually are all very good at portraying the vibe of New York. Well, until a mutant comes and destroys everything in sight.
Plug something! Be it something you are involved in, your significant other/roommate/cat is involved in, or just something you think is extra-special going on in NYC. I just started volunteering to teach kids in the Marcy and Tompkins Houses in Bed Stuy how to play tennis! The organizers are always looking for more volunteers, so come join us!
Thanks, Joely, for being part of my Other New York cliché feature! I’m so glad you are always there, giving me a reason to visit Brooklyn. Something I do with far too little frequency. In truth, you’ve made me ♥ Brooklyn, but not as much as I love you!
What do you think of this series? Love it so much you want featured? Fabulous! Email NewYorkCliche@yahoo.com.