Wednesday, July 2, 2008
East Coast Highlights, Part Two
From Philadelphia/South Jersey parts, I headed to New York (above is the view from the rooftop of the Met). Carol lives on the Upper West Side with Bryan (he happened to be visiting my home while I visited his), and she was a great host. It was so fab to stroll in Central Park after dinner and watch the fireflies. From Carol's, I went to Christie and Martin's sunny pad in Williamsburg, and fell in love with their new neighborhood. It sure was fun to experience some steamy summer weather for a change.
Passing Strange. Seeing a Broadway show, much less a musical, is way down on my list of New York activities. But ever since I heard about this musical about a young African-American fellow who loves punk rock and runs away to Europe to become an artist, I've wanted to see it. It was loud, funny, catchy and emotionally satisfying, more of rock concert in which the band interacts with the actors, and if you ever get a chance, don't miss it.
A brush with fame. I was headed to the subway with my rolling suitcase, bound for Brooklyn, but I wasn't quite sure where the station was. I saw a woman striding across the street who looked like a likely source of directions, and hailed her. "Where do I catch the 1,2 or 3?" I said. She began asking me about my final destination and suggesting the best entrance on Broadway when it dawned on me: Cynthia Nixon. You know, Miranda, on Sex and the City. Someone I've always thought was probably a pretty great person. I thanked her and moved on to the subway, feeling like I'd been visited by an everyday angel.
Paradise on earth, or NY Spa Castle. I wish I could write a long magazine article, or maybe a PHD thesis, about this place. I love all forms of bathing, especially in hot water, and Spa Castle, a five-story Korean bath extravaganza in Queens, had everything going on in that department. When Christie and I came in, we got a toothbrush and a wristband which opened and closed our lockers, and allowed us to buy stuff at the food court. Then we bathed with those of our own gender in an enormous and varied series of showers, pools, waterfalls and saunas, with all kinds of jets and push buttons.
The ladies' floor also featured a boatload of free toiletries, and we saw people everywhere showering, brushing their teeth, conditioning and styling, and scrubbing themselves with Korean mitts. While we bathed, Korean ladies wearing a uniform of bras and panties were giving skin-stripping massages nearby. After a while, we put on the pink and orange short sets women are issued, and headed upstairs to the co-ed area, which features a solid gold sauna, an ice sauna, a salt sauna, an infrared sauna...etc. Lastly, a bunch of very inviting looking swimming pools on the roof adjoin a Korean restaurant. The photo above is us in the Spa Castle van, headed to the subway after a few relaxing hours.
Cheap eats on the Lower East Side. Christie and I experienced a triumvirate of deliciousness: First, Vanessa's Dumpling House, where some very tasty, hot shrimp dumplings were 4 for a dollar--I kid you not. Next, Economy Candy, a store that is packed to the gills with every kind of candy, from halva to extra large Atomic Fireballs and MaryJanes to Belgian chocolate. It smells like sugar. And speaking of sugar, our last stop was Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a cupcake bakery that has the best cupcakes I've ever tasted. It gets extra points for having a kind of down at the heels 70s vibe instead of the '50s look most NY cupcake places have. I had a black and white, and got another for the plane.
Last but not least, Jollyship the Whizbang, "a pyrate-puppet rock opera." Basically an indie rock band who are also puppeteers, and lead some crazy-ass looking puppets through a lot of hilarious, tasteless paces and a meandering plot. Lots of fun.