A couple of months ago it struck me that although I’ve been traveling to New York every other month for almost a year, I had never spent a weekend there. (We usually fly in Sunday or Monday, meet through Wednesday, then fly back Wednesday night or Thursday.)
This time, I tacked on a personal day and headed out early on my own dime — or, more specifically, my and Mr. Brooks’ dimes, since he would be off work that week and able to accompany. Finally — a wingman for the weekend!
“When you think of it as $330 for a night, it sounds ludicrous,” I told Mr. Brooks. “But when you think of it as $330 for the whole week, it sounds amazing.” (Because he paid for one night, I got the rest, and then we moved to a different hotel that work would cover.*)
Our room had double beds and we ended up on the second floor, so the pedestrian traffic below had a great view into our room, which was a little disconcerting. But the room was immaculate, and the shower amenities were by Etro. (Their body lotion was the only product that I carted home with me, in fact.)
On one hand I’m sad I didn’t take more pictures early on — but I also didn’t want to be carting around a camera the whole time, and while I love my iPhone, its photos turn out OK in very specific situations — still subjects in daylight, mostly. So perhaps for the best, most of my photos are kind of boring.
Rather than rehash a daily itinerary, a quick summary by category.
- 44X. Love. The Butler and I ate here on our last trip, and it was delicious. Now it’s warm enough to sit outside, which seemed like a good idea but our food got cold fast and we were right up on some couple’s business because the tables were so close to each other. The first meal — and filet of beef — of the trip.
- Pizza Plus. Hangover food. We met a lady from the South Bronx who loved us — luckily, since she was a tough beeyotch. Also, she explained to us what being from the South Bronx meant, and that her husband was Irish, which somehow meant he had a big, meaty butt and … you know.
- Pongsri Thai. Eh. I had the most bland pad Thai ever. I consider this the food fail of the trip, I think.
- Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop. Didn’t eat much, thanks to hangover, but the grilled cheese looked scary, anyway, and wasn’t even melted in the middle. Soda came in warmish cans. This is where I noticed the ubiquity of chipotle mayonnaise as a condiment. (“It’s kind of our thing,” the server said.) Also, our server had a huge hole worn between the thighs of her pants. It looked awkward.
- Inoteca. Delicious meatballs and more olives than I could consume.
- Teddy’s Bar and Grill. Because the weather was so beautiful, we tried to sit outside (or near open windows) as much as we could. This is where the above photo of Mr. Brooks was taken. Burger = delicious.
- Bamboo 52. Odd. Our server said he was on cold medication, which might explain some of the spaciness, but considering how dead the place was, the service should have been more frequent. (Plus, the soy sauce container leaked, so I had to salvage my jeans in the bathroom and pray the wet spot disappeared before it was time to leave.)
- McDonald’s. Sopping up our drunk. Mr. Brooks ate bread.
- Felice. Pretty! Is it lame that I went to an Italian restaurant and got a filet of beef? I think I had burgers or filets at least five of my meals.
- Bryant Park Cafe. Because the weather is finally nice, New Yorkers were packed onto this patio. This is where I realized that I really, really didn’t have any New York clothing, since everyone was dressed up from work and I was in a T-shirt and jeans. I looked comparatively homeless, which the woman at the front desk didn’t bother to mask as she looked me up and down when I asked for a table for five.
- Spitzer’s Corner. Last lunch — hickory burger, and delicious fries pictured above. I had about an hour and a half to kill before my car picked me up for the airport, so this was the perfect place to sit and people-watch during a weekday afternoon.
- Therapy. On that new Logo show “Setup Squad” — I want Helen to be my wing man, or maybe just my drinking friend — whenever they have an ill-fitting gay guy, they always take him to one bar to “watch him in action,” where inevitably a bunch of snotty gays refuse to talk to or throw shade at the poor guy. They film those scenes at this bar. I’m just saying. (We went back toward the end of the trip for a drag show that was supposed to feature Mimi Imfurst from “Rupaul’s Drag Race” but she was a no-show, so we saw Eve Starr and Dallas Dubois instead. Very fun.)
- Industry. Sleek, not overly friendly. But Mr. Brooks and I get accused of not being overly friendly, too, so I chalk up this near-miss to it being our first night in town, while we were trying to acclimate.
- The Ritz. Before “Priscilla” we popped in here — and ran into Cree, an old friend from Phoenix I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade, who was in from Brooklyn to celebrate a friend’s birthday. (This sighting perpetuated my streak of seeing one Phoenix person per trip.)
- The Cock. “Hello luvs,” said the lady at the door with the British accents. “You’ll want to keep your wallets in your front pockets, because it’ll be crazy in a bit.” We were the first people in the bar early on, where I got to hear a version of Keyshia Cole’s “Shoulda Let You Go” that made me want to ask the DJ who remixed it. Then I thought: “Do you ask a DJ at a bar called The Cock about song titles?” On our return visit after a foray next door (see below), it was packed full of cruisy/grabby dudes, which was fun for a while but ultimately sent us running for the door. (Ugh, chaperones!) The theme of the Sunday night gig is named “Sperm,” but you really didn’t have to wait until Sunday.
- Urge Lounge. Because The Cock was dead early on, we went next door to this pleasantly seedy place and watched the crowd … and the gogo boys, of course.
- Boiler Room. Pleasantly dive-y, nothing extraordinary. They were playing the new Stevie Nicks album.
- Monster. I have a soft spot for this place, thanks to a previous visit (that involved dancing, even!). By the time I got there after, uh, entertaining a gentleman caller, Mr. Brooks had fixated on the piano player who tickled the ivories while the show queens belted out their songs. Then we went downstairs, where a woman had a container of baby powder that she would sprinkle on the floor so she could do some fierce twirling dance moves with her partner. Also on tap: a man with a tambourine stick; one gogo boy.
- G Lounge. We went for DILF Night but were underwhelmed. Few DILFs — not even a token one thrown in among the gogo dancers! — and I think we had reached our tolerance for the Chelsea crowd. Plus Mr. Brooks had a 4:30 a.m. call time to make it to JFK in time for his flight back to Phoenix.
- “Priscilla” was a ton of fun. The effects on the namesake bus never stopped surprising, the costumes were reliably amazing, and the cast included Nick Adams, right, the actor who allegedly inspired Mario Lopez to ask that his “Chorus Line” co-star could not wear sleeveless shirts. The only thing I wasn’t 100% sold on was the way they shoehorned other songs into the jukebox-musical lineup. Like, “We Belong” by Pat Benatar as a climactic number? Really? (That said, the way they used “Pop Musik” by M was an inspired idea.)
- Uniqlo was reliably worth $100. The store is opening up two new stores in NYC that will employ 1,000 retail associates and 100 managers. Is that not crazy?
- Ted Baker in Soho, on the other hand, was a fail. Not a single pair of navy trousers in the entire store, and the employees are dismissive. Nobody greeted us and the associates looked at us like we were smeared in feces. Now that they’ve opened the Scottsdale store, where the sales associates are friendly, there’s no need to ever set foot in that location.
- At Paige Premium Denim, I tried on a pair of PPD men’s jeans that were a skinny cut, which tend to unnerve me; I’m not used to having pants that are hugging my calves (for starters). So I was ready to give them up when I caught a glimpse of my butt in the mirror, and I told the lady, “I’m taking these.” It wasn’t quite a Julia Roberts “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” moment, but I did get a kick-ass pair of jeans. (And speaking of butts, last night one of my friends asked me if I had butt-lift underwear on. Thanks, PPD!) Much like I was able to justify a $300-a-night hotel room above, I justified a pair of $200+ jeans by saying, “Yes, but your whole clothing tab was less than $400, so it all evens out.”
- I’m sad I missed the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We had planned to go Sunday, but between hotel issues and hangovers, it just didn’t happen. (Mr. Brooks went on Wednesday while I was in meetings, the rat bastard.) But the exhibit is open through July 31, so I can always hit it on my next visit. The clothing is of course stunning and I hope the exhibit lives up to its subject. (Photo above by Sølve Sundsbø for The Met.)
Can I tell you how excited I was by the bathroom at our second hotel? I had selected the Hotel on Rivington because of the possibility of getting a room with a soaking tub and a steam shower, and thankfully that came true. From left to right above: The room with tub; the view from behind the tub toward the other room, and how you fill the tub. And close the glass door, and the whole thing’s a steam room! I was in there at least twice a day — once in the morning to sweat out any hangover toxins, and then once again before we headed out. Floor to ceiling windows in the room, and the service was impeccable — turndown service with a different flavor of cookie every night! — although for some reason the terrycloth robes that had been in our closet on Night 1 disappeared the next morning, never to be seen again. But that’s my only quibble, because everything else was wonderful. And as it turns out, it was right next to the F train, so I could hop on it for work. The only negative: Mr. Brooks and I had to share a king bed. (Every morning we’d wake up and I would have occupied the right-side 1/8, he’d be on the left 1/8, leaving a giant no-fly zone big enough for a full-sized bed in the middle.)
* Plus, it’s not like he technically paid anything, since I paid for it all, and am taking his share out of my upcoming rent checks.