RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

afterlight

I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

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Let It Snow

Is there anything more magical than New York City covered in freshly fallen snow?

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Growing up in the ’burbs, snow meant sledding down the driveway, followed by hot chocolate in our PJs. Now, it still means hot chocolate in my PJs, but only after trekking home in a North Face and three pairs of leggings, hoping not to get sprayed by slush as a cab speeds past.

I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to and from work every day, but during the winter, I tend to half-jog with my hood up, head down, and hands in pockets, eager to get inside. But tonight, I decided to keep my head up and eyes open.

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Boy, was it worth it. Manhattan at night after a snowfall is eerily quiet; with only the occasional taxi whizzing by, it was like the city had whispered an invitation for me to enter a secret, sparkling world. Instead of getting lost in thoughts about my work to-do list, I noticed a tiny purple mitten lying on cobblestone; a lone couple walking next to Central Park’s ice-covered turtle pond; light glittering off of benches blanketed in white. With no chatter or cars or cell phones in sight, I was struck by the sudden feeling that I could be in any year, whether it was 1920 or 2014. This Fitzgerald quote popped into my head: “New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.”

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Now, I’m back home in my PJs, safely inside and sipping snow-day hot chocolate. Even though I’m cozy and warm, I’m filled with the memory of floating through the city’s poetic, shiny streets, and I can’t help but feel eager to get out there again. My fellow city dwellers will curse me for saying this, but here’s hoping there’s more snow coming soon. Yes, it’s cold, and wet, and inconvenient, but damn, it’s beautiful.

Sweet Tooth

Allow me to introduce you to the Cronut, NYC’s latest craze.

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In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Cronut is the latest pastry from Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho. A donut with a croissant texture and light drizzle of icing, this dessert has had New Yorkers losing their minds. Because of the kitchen’s small size and the amount of time it takes to make the Cronut, Chef Ansel can only produce 300 each day, which means les cronuts sell out before 9:30 AM. So now, there are scalpers selling these things for upward of $100. And there was a man on Craigslist searching for um, services, in exchange for a Cronut. Yes, it’s that real.

At my day job, we were lucky enough to obtain three (yes, only three!) of the in-demand treats. Each month, Ansel and his team create a new flavor, and this month’s was blackberry. I was skeptical; in my experience so far, rarely has a Manhattan craze lived up to the hype. But when I tell you that as soon as I bit into this thing, I saw fireworks, heard angels sing, and felt like I was being nestled inside a fluffy cloud, I mean it. It’s the perfect ratio of croissant to donut, soft to chewy, icing to filling. I was in awe, and after my two small, sticky bites (unfortunately, I had to share) I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a whole one. But seeing as that would mean waking up at 4:45 AM to get in line, I may have to wait until things die down a bit. But rumor has it upcoming flavors will be passion fruit and coconut. Heaven!

It wasn’t long after I finally tried a Cronut that I learned there’s a new croissant-donut hybrid in town: The Squat (yes, as in what you should do after eating these bad boys). It’s a glazed, square donut with a croissant texture and—wait for it—bacon sprinkled on top. According to Gothamist, it might be even better than the cronut. What is wrong with America? First the Cronut, then Dunkin’ Donuts’ donut breakfast sammich, and now this? Are we just set on giving our population heart problems? (Don’t get me wrong, I will be trying all of this. Shame, shame on me.)

ImageAnother croissant-pastry hybrid I recently taste-tested (doesn’t my day job sound horribly labor-intensive?) is City Bakery’s croissant pretzel, which we nicknamed the “cretzel.” It’s the perfect, soft combination of a croissant with a pretzel’s saltiness (and not too much of a pretzel-y texture, which I feared). And reader, prepare yourself, as this is only the beginning of my NYC pastry taste-testing. Before I left for Paris last summer, I read Amy Thomas’s Paris, My Sweet where, throughout her story of moving to Paris from New York for a year, Thomas shared the best sweet shops in both Paris and New York. I still have a ton of bakeries from that book that I need to visit (Maison Kaysar and Lady M Confections on the Upper East Side are up next), so it’s time to pick up the pace. And don’t worry: In between, I will share all the sugary goodness on the blog—while simultaneously doing a ton of squats.

He Shoots, He Scores!

photo courtesy of Getty Images

Remember back in July when I posted the hopeful projection from Chris Paul that the Knicks would have their own “Big 3” to rival the Miami Heat when him and Carmelo Anthony eventually joined Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks? Well, 1/2 of that projection has come true. Last night I jumped up and down with glee when ESPN announced that Carmelo Anthony has officially been traded to New York.

There was an outcry on Twitter calling those who were all of a sudden excited about the Knicks “fairweather fans.” For me, this isn’t the case. I have no problem saying that I’ve never been one of those diehard Knicks fans. Basketball is one of my favorite sports to watch, but I’ve never had only one favorite team. Baltimore doesn’t have a hometown team, and seeing as I’m not from New York and the Knicks have—to put it delicately—sucked in past years, I’ve had no reason to claim them.

But Carmelo Anthony has been one of my favorite players since his glory days in Baltimore and then at Syracuse (and yes, I’ll admit that I had a crush on him and a poster of him and his Nuggets jersey were both hanging in my college apartment, but I also love his style of play, ok!?) So the combination of my favorite player coming to the Knicks, plus the fact that I’m now a New Yorker, has me excited for this season and this team. Not to mention the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire is pretty darn hard to defend. And oh yea, I can’t help but love the fact that he is besties with Anna Wintour. What could make for a more interesting team? Well, the possible addition of Chris Paul in 2012, of course. But only time will tell if that will actually happen, but it’s undeniable that the Carmelo trade will do wonders for the city of New York and the Knicks franchise.

In the meantime, I’m googling some tickets for nosebleed seats for Madison Square Garden this season.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

photo courtesy of nycgovparks.org

I was in a cab on the way home from work on another rainy, snowy night when I saw this trio of tall, beautiful pink and red roses. I blinked twice and rubbed my eyes to make sure of what I was seeing. And sure enough, they were still there.

Turns out they are rose sculptures, part of a public Art in the Parks exhibit by artist Will Ryman called The Roses. The exhibit includes 38 rose sculptures, some as tall as 25-feet, along Park Avenue between 57th and 67th street, and will be on display until May.

There’s been a bit of a debate on whether the roses are a unique and stunning vision for New Yorkers, or nothing more than a gigantic eyesore. Personally, after weeks of dreary, gray skies and wet weather, it was a lovely surprise to see something pretty and unexpected in the middle of NYC, so I like it. But I can see how some people might think it’s a bit…much.

What’s your vote?

My Worst Nightmare

photo courtesy of 1010Wins

I have a feeling that this story is going to give me nightmares. I have a serious case of the heebie-jeebies and don’t know how I’m going to get on the subway tonight…

A man on the subway was sleeping peacefully when a RAT — yes a rat, not a mouse — crawled up his leg, up his chest, and settled near his face before scurrying back down. Can you imagine waking up and finding a RAT on you?!?! I mean, it’s bad enough that they are roaming around the train tracks…but now they are in the actual subway?!?!

If the prospect of being mugged or worse wasn’t scary enough to keep you awake on the subway, this ought to do it for sure.

Watch the video here:

Snow Excuses

Whether you live here or just saw/read about it in the news, you probably know that New York got hit with a crazy blizzard on Sunday.

In a city as big and bustling as this one, you’d think a nearly-perfect snow cleanup system would be in place for times like this. But this blizzard has shown that it’s actually the opposite. Despite weather forecasts and storm advisories, Mayor Bloomberg and the city of New York seemed to be caught off guard, leading to an agonizingly slow plowing of streets that has led to trapped cars and important buildings like hospitals and treatment centers being inaccessible. The Daily News has boasted headlines like “Snow Excuses,” and New Yorkers have been shaking their head simultaneously at the Mayor calling this storm “inconvenient” and saying that the city is responding “exactly as you’d want it to.” Um, really Mike?!

How bad could it be, you ask? Well, the Mayor promised the streets in the city would be cleaned by Thursday morning. But this is what I saw as I passed Broadway on my way to work this morning (Thursday):

One of the city’s busiest streets completely blocked off during commute time, and the plows were just sitting there. It’s literally a mess. Cars were backed up for blocks and blocks, and people were walking all over one another on the sidewalk amidst heaps of snow, trying to get to work.

I was in Maryland with family for the Christmas holiday, where we got no snow, so I had no idea how bad things were up here. But then on Tuesday morning I began my nightmare trip back to New York: first, my train was delayed by 3 hours; when I finally reached Penn Station, I waited for 40 minutes for a cab to no avail, so I proceeded to trek through the slush and snow with my huge suitcase and three tote bags full of Christmas gifts to get to the subway. When I finally got underground, it took another half an hour to wait in the ridiculously long line to get a Metro Card and finally hop on the train. By the time I made it to work, both my suitcase and my Uggs were soaked in snow. I literally had a moment as I pushed through the crazy, jostling crowds in Penn Station (after waiting 40 minutes for the cab) where I had to sit down and breathe slowly in and out because I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. I had a major “I can’t stand this city especially during bad weather” moment.

Hopefully NYC will learn from this and figure out a better system before the next snowstorm. I, on the other hand, am seriously contemplating following the instructions of the strategically placed ads in all the subways pleading the case for New Yorkers to pack up and move to the tranquil, tropical island of Aruba. Nice thought…