The town so nice, they named it twice.


The first half of my trip to New York with Miss McCrocodile wasn't what I would have hoped. In a lot of ways, New York was my first love. It was as if I was having dinner with an old boyfriend and even though we weren't a couple anymore I hoped that we'd still get along, that whatever it was made me love him in the first place was still there. And you know, it just wasn't. At least in Midtown. I can look rationally at the Disneyfication of Times Square and know that it is good for tourism and probably healthy on some level for the locals too, but it just felt so hollow, so inauthentic. The sex shops and drug dealers that populated the place pre-Giuliani might have been unpleasant to some, but damn if they weren't authentic.

My outlook improved markedly after a near perfect day on Sunday which took us to Central Park, 5th Avenue and SoHo, places that showed me that the undefinable thing that makes New York so special is alive and well. Our reintroduction may have had a rocky start, but my ex and I still get along. And he's still breathtaking.

The Bad

- My aforementioned disdain for the state of Times Square and the surrounding areas. A Hershey's store? Really? It feels like a midway now, or the Mall of America. Ick.

- You know how fine I've been feeling? Well, turns out I feel less fine when I get up at 6am, travel for three hours, walk all over the place at a pace that is more brisk thank my knocked up legs should carry me (in less than perfect shoes) and go, go, go, staying up until 2am. Much less fine. Message received, body. Loud and clear.

- Oh, and hey, once you've received that message it might just help if ConEd doesn't decide to use a jackhammer to tear up the sidewalk in front of you hotel from midnight until 6 AM. I'm just sayin'.

- Roundabout Theater's STUDIO 54 is the single worst offender in lack of leg room that I have encountered in a lifetime of cramped, my knees are at my chin and my toes are asleep, theatre going. The worst. If you are over 5' avoid sitting in the Mezzanine. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

- I am a huge Sondheim nerd. We managed to get tickets to the first preview of Sondheim on Sondheim the much anticipated revue conceived and directed by the amazing James Lapine and starring Barbara Cook, Tom Wopat and Vanessa Williams. I was disappointed. Review to follow. I have far too much to say to do it in point form.

- Food portions are INSANE! I did not complete one single meal the whole time we were there. And I have a great appetite. AND? I'm hungry ALL THE TIME now. And it was still too much food. Gross.

The Carnegie Deli is totally charming and a place you have to see, but do yourself a favour and share a sandwich. This is what my plate looked like after I ate more than I needed. Wayne, our Don Rickles-esque waiter was not happy with my performance. At all. I had my brisket with a side of shame.

The Good

- The first day of Spring, perfect weather, in Central Park. What more can I say?

- The Lewis Nash Quintet at Birdland. It was my first time at Birdland and it was the first moment that I felt truly at home on this trip to NYC. The second tune they played was Hogtown Blues, written by Oscar Peterson for Toronto. It felt right. And it sounded KILLER! Nash is one of the best drummers working today, and he had an incredible band with him that night including Renee Rosnes on piano and Jeremy Pelt on Trumpet.

- Race, the new David Mamet play at the Ethel Barrymore starring James Spader, David Alan Grier, Kerry Washington and Richard Thomas. LOVED it. Review to follow. Cute anecdote: Richard Thomas was collecting money after the show for Equity Fights AIDS and I got to tell him that I work for the theatre company in Toronto that presented a hit production of 12 Angry Men that he starred in last year. He lit up like a Christmas tree and sent his greetings back here to my office, which pleased everyone here immensely, as he may be one of the nicest guys in the business. For real.

- Pretzels!

- If you are bitchy enough, in a controlled and not shrill way, you can get your hotel room comped for one night because ConEd decided to use a jackhammer to tear up the sidewalk in front of you hotel from midnight until 6 AM.

- Ohmygod, Dean & Deluca. Not just Dean & Deluca. Dean & Deluca on the ground floor of your hotel. WHY oh WHY are there no Dean & Deluca locations in Toronto?!

- Dinner with Uncle Mike at Patsy's a (I'm sure) mob-run Italian Restaurant in the theatre district with a statue of Sinatra on it's bar and a dessert cart. How do you not love a dessert cart? It was such a treat to see Uncle Mike, I'm so glad he made the trip in from New Jersey to see us!

- Rediscovering downtown and its quaint storefronts and charm. I could spend weeks just wandering around SoHo talking pictures and finding coffee shops I want to sit in.

- People watching. This scalper was like something out of central casting. Camped out in front of the TKTS booth he was hawking tickets to Billy Elliot and West Side Story. Trying to sell Billy Elliot to an older couple from the mid-West, "It's the best show on Broadway! It won 10 Tonys!" The woman shrugs, they walk away. He yells after them "OK! It won 12 Tonys!"

- The MoMA (my first time there post-reno) and The American Folk Art Museum (which was a total revelation).

- Watching Health Care Reform pass from my hotel room. There should have been dancing in the streets, our American friends just don't know it yet.

- My friend Andrew Scott suggested I check out The Ear Inn in SoHo where every Sunday night trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso leads a great band, The Ear-regulars. I'd had the chance to meet and photograph him when he was in Toronto playing on Andy's latest recording and it was a treat to see him again, this time leading his own outfit. It was everything you could have wanted. Small and intimate with history and atmosphere to spare, great people to chat with and awesome music. If it was authenticity that I felt the first part of my trip was lacking, The Ear Inn delivered in spades.

- My friend Jake Labow who is a comedy producer (and now a TV exec) introduced me to Irvin Arthur, agent to comedy and jazz luminaries like Woody Allen, Dave Frishberg, Dick Gregory, Mort Sahl, Loston Harris and the Pizzarellis. Mr. Arthur was gracious enough to let me come and photograph him in his natural habitat, his office overlooking Broadway. What a thrill!

In the end, the trip was a memorable whirlwind and yes, I still heart NY.
If you'd like, you can see more photos here.


  1. Bet you'll find some of that authenticity down in New Orleans.
    Looks like Mo and Mr. Irvin Arthur have the same glasses! Fantastic picture, love it.

  2. I am so dying to see NYC! I understand what you are saying about Times Square though. I would call it a Las Vegas-ifying though Mall of America is pretty apt too. That makes me sad. I would rather have seen it before! Can't we "clean" something up without strip-malling it? Sheesh! Love your blog, btw!

  3. Anonymous1:18 PM

    I saw RACE on Wednesday, too!!! Like you I absolutely love this show. James Spader is brilliant in it...what can I say. I have seen the show several times and love it more with each viewing. Like you said, Richard Thomas has to be one of the nicest people in the business. He has been nothing short of sweet and charming. Both he and James Spader have been super to the fans after the show, signing autographs and posing for pictures to all that seek them. They really do spend a lot of time with the fans. I admire them both very much as performers and as gentlemen. Glad you too had a good experience.

  4. I'm so glad you had a good time! I cannot WAIT for a real, live, looooong vacation...


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