I've just returned from my annual trek to NYC. As usual, my daily routine was something like this: eat, museum, eat, shop, eat. This year, my friend and I hit a lot of our favorite spots and found some new and awesome things.
But first, let me mention that, on the train up, a 62 year-old women WHO WE HAD NEVER MET BEFORE started telling us about her mastectomy and was so proud of the reconstruction that she pulled up her shirt and bra and showed us her rebuilt tit.
We hit the MOMA the afternoon we arrived, but decided not to go in because there were no exhibits we were interested in. Instead, we went to the MOMA design store so I could get a sweet kitty totebag from their new Japanese collection. Alas, the kitty totebags were all sold out (SOLD OUT, ERIN!! *sniff*) and I was sadface. However, I bought a t-shirt with well-known MOMA paintings converted to stick figures.
So that cheered me up quite a bit.
The next day, we spent 4 hours in the Met, which is just the best American museum ever. You could go to the Met an hour a day for two weeks and see something different each time. This year there were several exhibitions that we were interested in, and one that made me squeal like a 6 year-old.
Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy
OHMYGOD IT WAS SO GOOD. The Costume Institute set up an amazing exhibition of haute couture, athletic wear, and movie costumes divided by types of superhero costumes.
(Make sure you click the "View Images" link on each page linked below so you can see some of the clothes that were featured.)
The Graphic Body
This section focused on Superman and Batman. Lots of fun couture and athletic wear, and also the costume that Christopher Reeve wore in Superman and the regular and black costumes that Tobey Maguire wore in Spiderman.
The Patriotic Body
Mainly Wonder Woman styles. They had the original costume worn by Lynda Carter in the 70s TV show. I used to idolize Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman when I was little, so seeing this was a big deal to me. The blue on the costume has faded to purple, I wish someone had taken better care of it.
The Virile Body
No superhero costumes here, alas, but some pretty badass menswear by Galliano.
The Paradoxical Body
One of my favorite sections. The fashion was fine, whatever, but what I really was excited to see (to the point where I kinda embarrassed my friend who does not share my love of comic book movies) was Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume from Batman Returns. I have no idea how they got her into it - they must have sewed it on her. The workmanship was just incredible.
PS - Michelle Pfeiffer was really, really tiny in 1992. Like, really.
The Armored Body
Who gives a crap about the clothes in this part, because OMG IRON MAN!!! They had the second, all silver Iron Man costume on display and the chest light and eyes were all lit up and it was so freaking cool that I almost wet myself. Also, they had the Christian Bale's batsuit from The Dark Knight, and the thing actually looked like it was breathable. Not one big nippletastic piece of rubber like George Clooney's.
The Aerodynamic Body
No movie costumes here, but a lot of athletic wear like speed skating suits.
The Mutant Body
Mystique from The X-Men's costume, if you can call it a costume. Rebecca Romijn has teeny calves. Also, a dress and headpiece from Thierry Mugler '97 couture collection that has to be see in person to be believed.
The Postmodern Body
Lots of references to Ghost Rider, but thankfully, no Nic Cage costumes. Another rocking Thierry Mugler, this time a motorcycle-inspired bustier that I remember from when it walked the runway in 1992. It was cool to see it for real.
I wish that The Met site had pictures from the actual exhibit - like, how it was set up. That's part of what made the exhibit so great. The backdrops and lighting and positioning of the figures, all of it.
If you're going to be in NY before Sept 1, go, you'll love it. You don't even need to be a big geek like me.
Other exhibits we enjoyed this go-round:
Framing a Century: Masterworks Photographers, 1840-1940
New Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture, including the Henry J. Heinz II Galleries (This is a perennial favorite of mine, but the gallery space was new, so it was like seeing a new exhibit.)
Tara Donovan at the Met
Pop Art: Works on Paper
Also, The Met Store was having a good sale, so I got a Steinlen cat print because it was cheapie cheap.
So, confession time. Despite 3 years of living in New York and countless trips since then, I had never been to the American Museum of Natural History. I don't know why. But yesterday I did, and it blew me away.
We spent most of our time in the fossil halls, but we also visited the meteorites and gems, the biodiversity exhibit, the hall of human origins, the hall of ocean life, and the hall of Asian peoples. There were many other halls of people we could have visited, but by then my feet hurt sooooo much. Oh, we also ran through the American mammals, African mammals, etc, but I was really skeeved out by all the taxidermy, so when I say "ran", it was just about that. A fast trot.
For a change of pace, we stayed on the Upper West Side (henceforth known as the UWS). We were going to stay in the west Village, but I got cold feet and moved us uptown. I think we're going to stay here from now on. I can't tell you how happy I was not to experience even a glimpse of Times Square this trip, and my friend felt the same. We agreed that this was the most relaxing visit we'd ever had.
Most of that comes from the UWS neighborhood. It gets kind of a bad rap from the hipster crowd as being boring and slow. And it is, a little. It's mostly families, and not very touristy at all. And it's a bit quieter, I think. But staying on the UWS felt like I was living there again, not just visiting. We stayed at Jack and Judy's Bed & Breakfast, but it wasn't really a B&B at all - it was a brownstone, and we rented an apartment for a few days.
Another reason we liked the UWS was that it was super-close to the museums. The NH museum was only two blocks away.
The restaurants in the area were good, too. Our favorite was Celeste, one of those little Italian places that makes fresh pasta and doesn't take credit cards. You're sitting so close to the neighboring tables that you would barely have to reach more than a few inches to grab a bite from another diner's plate. The food is heavenly. I had homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter sage sauce. Mmm.
Also good were two places we went for breakfast. First, Sarabeth's, which is a local chain but they make perfect eggs. They also have nummy chicken sausage over applesauce. The next day we went to the Popover Cafe, which is infested with teddy bears but has very tasty food. Their claim to fame are popovers as big as a baby's head. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try one, as I had the Coconut-Almond Crusted Challah French Toast.
Last night, we had Indian, but it was a slightly bizarre experience. All I will say about it is that it involved naan and canned fruit cocktail.
Oh, we also tried one of the many, many burger places that have sprung up all over Manhattan in the last year. Burgers are way trendy right now. We lunched at BLT Burgers yesterday. It was pretty good. In my opinion, the burgers weren't any more tasty than 5 Guys' burgers. Their sweet potato fries were yum, though.
I took a spare duffel bag with me so I could bring home lots of food. Yes, I'm one of those people. I don't care, though. I can't get this stuff normally unless I want to pay a fortune in mail order, so don't judge me.
H&H Bagels. The best bagel ever. * Located about 4 blocks from our apartment, yet another reason for staying on the UWS.
* Mmmm, Montreal bagels probably are tied for best bagel ever, but it's like comparing a hedgehog to a sparrow.
Zabar's chocolate babka and rugelach. Nom nom nom. Located across the street from H&H.
Rocco's Pastry Shop on Bleeker Street in the Village. I get something different every time I go there. This year was little almond cookies, chocolate shortbread, and macaroons. And a few biscotti. I'm a little regretful that I passed up the almond horseshoes this year.
Murray's Cheese Shop Just down the street from Rocco's is a lovely cheese shop called Murray's. I got a few raw milk cheeses to share with some friends here.
Crumbs Bake Shop Cupcakes as big as a large man's fist. I got a black and white cupcake but I ate it immediately. They had the cutest little sampler of 16 different mini cupcakes but I knew they would never make the trip home without being squashed. Or eaten.
Honestly, between museums, eating, and buying food, there wasn't a lot of time for non-food shopping, and what we did do was kinda boring. However, we did make time to go to Lush on 76th and Broadway (yay, UWS!) where we both spent too much money. I did get a great deal, though - one of the items I wanted to purchase was a biofresh mask, because Lush doesn't do them mail order (very perishable). They were running a special where if you spent $40, you got a free mask! My friend didn't want hers, so I got two!! One smells like chocolate and I want to eat it. :)
Boy, this was long and rambly. And I talked about food way too much.
Oh, one more thing. Please wear your helmet when you ride your bike. We witnessed a terrible accident in Central Park where one cyclist had to stop short and another cyclist plowed right into him. The bike lanes in the park allow the cyclists to go very fast, and the impact of the collision drove the 2nd cyclist, an older man, right into the pavement, face and head first. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and if his skull didn't crack somewhere it's a miracle. So wear your helmets, kids.