Friday, February 19, 2010

New York, New York

I have visited the wonderfully large, bustling, colorful, and international city of New York a handful of times (like three or four), but each visit was literally for a day or two max.

I have been on a bit of a travel kick as of late so for my 27th birthday I decided to keep the new trend going. My good friend and polo teammate, Jasmine "Jazz Hams", and I decided what better way to live it up and celebrate our lives than to travel to New York City in the middle of winter and see the sights and bright lights of the big city!? We packed our bags, and after damn near missing our flight and two connecting cities later, arrived at LaGuardia Airport and soon after our crash pad in Astoria. We had no plan. We had no expectations. We had four nights to live it up and pack as many activities as we found humanly possible into every day.

First stop on that Thursday of arrival was crash pad: a quaint apartment, home to two party girl old college pals of Jasmine's in Queens, off Steinway and Astoria Blvd. Second stop was food. We were trying to be as thrifty as possible on this adventure (as is always my goal)so we took the N Train over to Brooklyn and got off at Bedford Ave. This stop would become a regular haunt of ours by the conclusion of our trip. "Literally five steps from the train station", one critic wrote online about the restaurant we were taken to for our most satisfying and humble meal of the night. Oasis is a small counter service middle eastern restaurant serving up what I consider comfort food, falafel, and they're serving it cheap. We each got a pita pocket heaping with falafel, salad, all the fixings, and hot sauce for $3.50. And every single person I told I was going to NYC did nothing but complain and warn me about the high cost of everything there... Next move was after dinner coffee to fuel us for the rest of our evening. We headed down the street and passed a couple cafe joints until we decided to pop into a tiny little space with a strange name. El Beit is a cute little shop with a few tables in the front window space and a few in the back. Outside it has a beautiful little tea house, but most of the room is taken up by the counter, the espresso machine, and cookie jars. We met the man behind the fresh baked cookies and he helped us make our selections. Julia got the chocolate ginger cookie, Jasmine got the Chocolate Dream, and I ordered the Monster cookie which literally had everything in it except the kitchen sink. The espresso was delicious, the service was accommodating and quite friendly, and the cookies rocked our world. I should have stuck to my stand-by and favorite, the chocolate chip cookie, because the Monster cookie just had too much going on with it, but I figured I had to try it.
Jasmine and I bonded over musicals and disco so we knew we were going to splurge and see a musical as soon as we decided to fly to New York for our birthdays. We didn't really know or care what we would see, we just wanted something fun and on Broadway. We hit up Times Square and went to the last minute ticket booth and got seats to In The Heights. An hour later we were fifth row, center, and moved to tears-of joy- by the opening number. This is an urban, modern, hip hop influenced musical based in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Washington Heights. The set was beautiful, the costumes were awesome, the dancing was fun, and the music and songs/raps were so cool. We were super jazzed leaving the theatre that night. The upbeat tunes and the dancing in the show really got us pumped and ready to rock the night away. Jasmine got ahold of her old Austin, TX roommate, JT, who had us meet him at a great divey gay bar back in Williamsburg. Our dive bars in Austin aren't actually dives. They are hip new places made to seem blue collar or whatever. We have accepted them as home because that's all we have, but this. This was a real dive bar. And the fact that it was a gay bar, with a dj spinning good tunes, were just added bonuses. We chilled for a while and had cheap draft and got caught up on each other than mosied down the street a ways to bar number two. Again, we were drinking draft brew, I think it was the house beer, and we started to get into the tunes happening at this joint too. Jasmine and JT eventually started dancing and the dj invited them to the dance contest that would be occurring in the near future that night. Next thing I know I'm being pulled out onto the dance floor, a team name is being taped to my back, and the contest is under way. Teams are mostly groups, there are a few couples in the mix. The dj announced the start of the contest and dancing commenced. Every other song played a theme, intent, or purpose was announced and we did our best to depict it through movement. Teams started getting knocked out of the running, but we kept dancing. Several songs later, we were down to the final four. Then the final three. Then the final two teams standing and the dj called for a straight up, old school dance off! We were up against a team of four or five dancers, and we were channeling the characters from In the Heights, and communicating together and working with our team name (Team Pray), and we pulled off some killer moves. I think the winning moment came from Jasmine "Jazz Hams" when she dove head first through the legs of an opposing dancer and just knocked him dead. TKO. Team Pray was announced WINNERS! We were crowned and given our prize, a bottle of champagne, a photo booth session, and seats at the VIP table set up next to the dj booth.

Friday we slept in, got coffee and bagels on Bedford Ave, went shopping at Beacon's Closet, and went to the MOMA for free admission hours. I stood in front of a Monet original and swam through the panels and the colors for a good long while. I discovered a few favorite pieces of the night,a painting by Andrew Wyeth, two stunning tables, and this Henri Rousseau. After all that art, we headed home to nap, eat some carryout thai food, drink some vodka, and go out again. We all partook in quite a lot of vodka at the house and I apparently had my fair share of beverages throughout the evening because I cannot actually report to you loyal readers any of the the events of Friday night. I have not a clue as to what happened. All I know is that I woke up Saturday morning in Ani's Clinton Hill apartment to snow on the ground outside and a very hungover Jasmine calling me as soon as she woke up because I drilled it into her head that she must do so...I don't know why.

Ani had some work to finish up which was fine by me because I was sloooooowwwww movin' that morning, and that afternoon, and all damn day long for that matter. She asked me to make a very important decision of priority once we were on the train and headed to Manhattan (me in my slightly diminished outfit from the previous night out. I lost my long sleeved under layer and very warm wool mittens somewhere through the night, so I was clad in a tank top and coat and on a mission to buy a replacement sweater because I was freezing!). "Coffee or food? Which one is more important right now?" We decided- coffee- so she took me to a place she said had great coffee and good food. Mud is in the Lower East Side and it was the spot to be at the moment we arrived. I was feeling dizzyingly claustrophobic crammed into the tiny slot that is the cafe and restaurant while people were coming and going and waiting to be seated and being so very New York, so we put our name on the list and hit the trail of boutique after boutique so I could find some duds to warm my bones. Fifth shop in, I found an adorable (a really trendy man perusing the rack with me told me so as soon as I pulled it out!) vintage wool blazer and I bought it as soon as I tried it on. When we were done with our window shopping, we headed back to Mud just as our table was being called. The brunch special is simple. $13 bucks gets you a cup o' mud (sweet and big and delicious!), a mimosa (or champagne, fresh O.J., or draft beer), and a few dish options. We both went for the three eggs, with our choice of added ingredients and preparation (caramelized onion and goat's cheese omelet for me), home fries and toast. It was huge and filling and just what the doctor ordered. After brunch we took a nice stroll through the Union Square Farmer's Market where everything apples was the name of the game, then met up with Jasmine and some gals at the Wyoming- Building, a public space where a presentation on the Vocoder was happening for the ongoing Unsound Festival. I loved it. Jasmine and I went to B&H a vegetarian and Kosher deli that we happened to spot near the theatre that was our next point of interest for the night. They have daily specials that warm and fill you up without breaking the bank. She got vegetarian matzoh ball soup and a tuna melt and I got delicious hot borscht and macaroni and cheese. They gave us a plate with thick slices of house baked bread smeared with butter to start. Our counter neighbors where a couple of regulars who let me taste their food as it was served to them to help me decide what I was going to order. It was a magical moment. After dinner we headed next door to the Tisch Theatre for a show that a buddy tipped us on. $8 got us "student" admission to an avant garde student production action packed with a real pig's heart, the promise of lots of sex!, three intermissions, and the realization during the third intermission that I had been kicking Paul Giamatti's chair for the past couple of hours. It was time to get our groove on after such a tragic piece of performance art (which really wasnt erotic at all as promised!) that we just endured. We headed to a dance club near the theatre where we were escorted up to the front of the long line and let right in by the very nice door guy and escorted down to a bumpin' room full of glitter and balloons, dancing bodies, $5 champagne, and amazing beats. We boogied our little hearts out and were entranced by the dj's who were loving what they do and making us love them too. Afterwards we shared a cab to Brooklyn and walked into the first bar we saw when we exited the cab. It happened to be what seemed like a hip hop dive bar and we were the only white girls in the place and it was a perfect spot to end the evening.
Sunday was POLO day! We met up with our gal, Louisa, in SoHo and ate brunch at Cafe Habana, JT's place of employ. We sat at the bar and gorged on Cafe con Leches, mojito's, micheladas Corona, sauza bloody marys, grilled corn, huevos rancheros, and coconut flan. We got the hookup, but this place is worth the cash. It is so high energy in the tiny restaurant and the servers are all so sassy and sexy! Check it out! We waddled a few blocks over to the Pit and watched the crew play a few rounds of pick-up and Doug D let Jasmine borrow his steed for a game. I was too cold and full to attempt polo so I was happy to watch and take photos of Jazzy in action. We were getting pretty cold pretty fast standing around spectating so we took a hike around China Town, home of The Pit, delicious dumplings, and the ChinaTown Bus, and lighting specialty stores. We went into sparkling store after bright lighting store to warm our frozen cheeks and toes. Who actually buys these ridiculous monstrosities of chandeliers and crystal lamps? We walked all over until the sun set and it was time to call it a day and head back home for a nap and a recharge. This was our final night in town so what better way to celebrate than get gussied up and go dancing?! We donned our highest of heels, shortest of skirts,warm winter outerwear, and cab fare, and headed to a swanky joint downtown for free Sky Vodka drinks and quite a show. This Sunday was gay night at the Greenhouse and I have never seen such an amazing array of people, ever, in my entire life. I had so much fun people watching, and because of the horrid shoes I was wearing, that is what I did for most of the night. I have no clue how woman can actually dance in those things. The club is a gorgeous two level building with crystal prism balls dripping from the ceiling upstairs and what appears to be an enchanted forest downstairs. We danced the night away, then had a short and simple goodbye with JT and Louisa on the train ride home, then hit the hay ourselves.

Monday morning we had bagels and coffee to-go, got packed and headed back to the airport and back home via Baltimore and Tennessee, and snowstorms and delayed flights.

What an adventure. This trip tops my list of best trips ever. Every single moment of the weekend was action filled and fun, and we found a lot of activities to do for FREE. New York left quite a positive impression on me. I've been dreaming of moving there ever since I've returned to Austin.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Video from our November Polo Tour!

I nabbed this from the ATXBPSC blog. We took a LOT of footage during our tour with the intention to make a film about our adventure. I felt like I didn't get the footage that I had envisioned after the trip and have been quite daunted by the task of dredging through the hours upon hours of tape we did compile.
Rob had no fear however! Here is his first attempt at a video to depict our 18 days on the road. Enjoy!

Thanks again Rob! I had quite a time and I appreciate your video editing skillz!

Austin Texas Guerrilla Bike Polo Tour 2009 from Robert on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

MIA not DOA!

I swear this thing aint dead, only forgotten about!
Hey! Anyone out there anymore?
I have been doing what feels like a tone of travelling and playing polo, and partying, and baking, and working, and writing. Life has been busy and thanks to facebook and my iphone, I discovered that I put all of my blogging energy into that application.

So sorry to let you down, blogspot. I am back in action though.
Make sure you subscribe to The Dropout, an Austin Bike Culture Zine on the interwebs. I am becoming a regular contributor (of words and my face- re: the March issue is a pin-up issue!) and have written a couple of pieces on bike polo.
Also, stay tuned to this blog for upcoming segments on my recent travels: The Guerrilla Bike Polo Tour, the STL bike polo lock-in, the TX polo invitational, my recent birthday extravaganza in New York City, and the upcoming Bike Polo Spring Break and my next bike tour, Maine to Madison and the North American Bike Polo Tournament this summer.

Phew. My birthday is tomorrow, I need to go get mentally prepared for that...

hugs and kisses from me to you!