A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Monday, October 31

red dive

it seems like an unlikely--or, at least, unwieldy--combination: a walking tour, and performance art. and red dive doesn't quite pull it off.

yesterday afternoon the lower manhattan cultural council had this "open studios" event at 120 broadway (all the way down there, between cedar and pine). basically, on the eighth floor of this building, 20 or so artists rent studio space, and they opened it all up to the public. as you can imagine, the art on display varied widely--in style, content and appeal to me--but it was a cool set-up and everyone was friendly and chatty and they had free doughnuts and coffee and i wished bo and co had been with me.

anyway, the lmcc also sponsored four free lower manhattan walking tours; i went on the red dive one.

our tour leader (i'm spacing her name... carrie maybe? i don't think that's right, but that's what i'll call her...) was perky and wore an orange jump suit and carried a red and a yellow flag, which she waved around a lot as she led us down fulton and wall and gold and maiden and john, etc. i'm sorry to say that most of what she told us was not terribly interesting. the promising premise of the tour was that she'd interweave odd historical facts about the area with stories she'd heard from ordinary people who live and work in the neighborhood today. a cool idea... except the facts weren't really odd, and stories were pretty dull.
what i DID like about the whole thing--so much so that i'll probably take boco on one if the opportunity arises again--were the musicians and dancers that followed us around, totally unacknowledged by carrie. so we'd turn a corner, and there again would be a trumpet player, drummer and trombonist, often in an unusual spot, often playing their instruments in unusual ways. it was like having a somewhat avant-garde soundtrack to the tour. and the five main dancers, women in different-colored business suits, would also pop up unexpectedly, and perform short, choreographed, site-specific pieces. all this is going on while carrie is telling her stories, TOTALLY confusing passers-by. there almost a prank-y vibe to it, and it made me smile a lot during the hour.
one more thing: considering the artistic, hipster-esque sensibility of the red dive crew, the message of the tour was bizarrely pro-development and pro-corporate: like she was so excited that they were building so many new places for rich people to live downtown. and carrie spoke so specifically (and positively) about hum-drum stores and restaurants we passed it made me wonder whether they had paid her to spout her "advertisements".

so... performance artists: fun and interesting and really used the space in unusual ways; tour spiel: not so much.

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Saturday, October 29

no bo, no co, so: no mo.

so boco are at their mom's this weekend (we alternate), which is great for them because their mom is great for them.

an aside: when their mom and i got separated, we decided to make an effort to refer to the other person's home by the street name. in other words, we'll tell co "bring this sweater to 103rd street," rather than "bring it to dad's house." the thinking is, if they had one home, we'd just call it "home." if you say "dad's" and "mom's" house all the time, it maybe diminishes a sense of ownership for them. yes, it's subtle. and when they're with me, i obviously say "let's go home," not "let's go to 103rd street." but, i don't know... we try to be cautious with scarring-for-life stuff like that.

anyway, if bo and co WERE with me this weekend i would try to plan our saturday evening around dinner at mo pitkin's house of satisfaction, on avenue a between 2nd and 3rd. you've probably read about this place recently: the food is judeo-latino (yes, that's right), it's owned by the two boots pizza guy, it's been in every issue of time out new york for like two months, it's been on gothamist, and it was even mentioned in entertainment weekly last week as a celebrity hangout. well dglass and i went on wednesday and thought it was great. especially fun is the "mo's pickins" part of the menu, where you can choose 6 things (out of like 15) for $13, and you get your samplings served in one big seder dish, with matzah. we got the chorizo meatballs (nice and spicy), the chicken liver (awesome, and made with balsamic vinegar), the pickled chicken (we like vinegar), the brisket (also delicious), the deviled eggs (good) and the somewhat disappointing cauliflower (too ratatouille-y). for the main course, my turkey burger with tomatillo sauce and avocado was juicy and perfectly seasoned and excellent; dglass's borscht salad was also a hit. if you're game (we weren't) there are also all kinds of shows in the cabaret upstairs.

so i want to go to mo's, with bo and co.

maybe next weekend.

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Tuesday, October 25

quick bites

one of my LEAST favorite ways to spend a weekend day is with a long, sit-down brunch/lunch.

i mean, we usually don't get out of the house until 12:00 at the earliest... and we've had a big breakfast at like 11:00... so who wants to spend, say, 90 minutes of potential adventure time waiting for a table and eating at some silly, crowded brunch place?

just a quick aside. everyone knows the secret to delicious french toast, right? challah bread, of course. eggs, milk, NEVER oil, obviously. sometimes a little sugar's good. raspberries, or blueberries... yes, absolutely. but put a teaspoon of vanilla in there (it's essential to get the real stuff, like nielson-massey's, from madagascar) and you've got yourself a plate of something truly scrumptious. and the best bacon? niman ranch. but you knew all that already.

anyway, in scoboco's opinion, by far the best weekend afternoon eating plan is the quick bite. basically: good food you can get without a big to-do; without even waitress service. here's some of our favorite spots...

we think pop burger, on 9th avenue and 15th street, has the best fries in town: crispy on the outside, smooth on the inside, packed with potato flavor. the sliders (mini hamburgers) and milkshakes are pretty tasty, too. there's fun music... a couple of basquaits on the wall... and the font? totally killer.

two doors down is pizza bar, which, yes, has waitress service... but it also has the coolest booths in around, and good music, and like a light-show going on in the lounge in the back and the thin-crust pizza's good, and if you go in the mid-afternoon it's empty so you can goof around and it's all very fast and fun.

empanadas are pretty much the perfect quick bite: tasty and filling and different enough from bo and co's usual weekday lunch to make them seem like a treat. as i mentioned in my last post, our favorite spot right now is empanada mama, on 9th avenue and 51st. we also always enjoy rubens empanadas on broome street and i think it's west broadway (there's also one in the east village now).

and have you ever had a paolito? it's like a chewy, cheesy, puffy, crispy, bread ball which takes two bites to finish and is UNbelievably delicious. puff & pao--on christopher street between bleeker and hudson--is the only place i know that sells them and they are a huge hit when scoboco's hanging in the west village. they come in lots of flavors (though all have cheese): cracked pepper, chorizo, fig and walnut, ham and cheddar, granpadano, roasted red pepper, garlic, etc. etc.. you get five of these beauties (mix it up) for three bucks and you are totally set. they also have sweet cream puffs and pastries, plus lots of coffee varieties and almond milk and other things. and if you're going to go, you should go soon, because the place is always pretty empty so i'm worried they won't last. fingers crossed.

there are obviously 7 billion places to get a slice of pizza in the city, but the only one that bo and co ever ASK to go to is pie, on 4th avenue between 12th and 13th streets. the thin-crust pizza is extra-tasty (note: dglass disagrees, and i may have mentioned elsewhere that she thinks she's always right?), and you buy it by the pound... the "pies" are actually these long ovoid things and you tell them how much to cut off and they weigh your piece and charge you accordingly. it's not super-cheap, but we like the pizza, like the beverage selection, like the whole nyu/union square vibe of the place. and the location is perfect for a pre-movie quick bite.

any suggestions for other quick bite spots? please let us know!

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Sunday, October 23

sunday night blah-blah-blah

i don't really ever get the sunday-night blahs anymore, and i'm not sure why. it's not like i love my job, and can't wait to get back to it. or that i'm psyched to hear the alarm go off at 5:45 tomorow morning. or that i had a bad weekend i'm glad to be rid of (it was the total opposite). one theory i have is maybe now that i've done 42 years of sunday nights, i'm just sort of used to it.... but more likely, i think, is that the lack of dread i used to always feel is a nice benefit of an overall optimism that's been growing in me for a number of years. i mean, i'll ALWAYS take a weekend over a weekday, but tomorrow could be the best day of year, right?

anyway, what about my totally totally great weekend with boco? here's the highlights:

saturday was art class and homework and errands at the time warner center, which we always love going to, especially whole foods. by the way, the new fountain they did in columbus circle is really pretty amazing... you wouldn't think you could feel even remotely tranquil in that location, but they pull it off: it's actually a really nice place to sit.

in the evening we hooked up with dglass and saw "dreamer," which was ok. i mean, even though there's NO question what's going to happen, you can't help but get all excited during the final race... and dakota fanning certainly is appealing, as is the whole cast, i guess... and it's pretty to look at, the kentucky horse-country setting... but the pacing kind of gets to you pretty quickly: there's just one obstacle after another that seems to spell doom, but of course you know it doesn't, because there's still plenty of movie left to go, and so the tension is totally

a total aside: during the movie i whispered to dglass: "you know, i hate horses..." mostly to make her chuckle but also, honestly, i don't particularly care for them. then, total coincidence, much later that night i'm goofing on the internet and i come across a hilarious blog by a guy who REALLY hates horses! the page is obviously a joke and it's completely moronic (he sells shirts that have a pic of a horseshoe and say "nice shoes asshole!") but it cracked me up.

anyway, after the movie we had wanted to go to dinosaur barbecue up on 131st but i called in the afternoon to make a reservation (not at all thinking i would need one, but why not) and they were booked solid all night! so we ate at tomo on 111th, which is always tasty and pretty reasonable: the sushi boat for two--which easily fed us four--is only $40 and is fun to have on your table.

sunday was no soccer because of too-wet fields so i took boco to moma to see those two exhibits and they were both excellent, especially the elizabeth murray. i had never seen her stuff and it's just so full of movement and color and humor and it's smart and playful and expressive and there's LOTS of it and it put me in such a great mood. safe was cool, too, and both kids were totally engaged by the products, like the stuffed "parasites and viruses;" the bearcub pad-lock and heart-link chain; and the protective, passive resistance protest suit, my favorite feature of which was the fact that it amplifies the wearer's heartbeat through that speaker, to emphasize the protestor's humanity.

and amazingly, the musuem was completely not crowded. we got there during prime time, around 1:15, and there was NO line to buy tickets, and in both exhibits it felt like you could see whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. and i was debating NOT going because i thought it'd be a mob scene.

ok, last thing i'll mention: after moma we walked over to 51st and 9th for lunch at empanada mama, which i think are the best in town. there's tons of choices--the corn flour ones are wonderfully sweet (goes great with broccoli and cheese), but the wheat flour ones are tasty too--lots of interesting beverages, music playing, pleasant people, cheap prices (seven empanadas came to less that 20 bucks, with tip), always worth stopping in for a snack if you're in the neighborhood.

and now? i guess it's time to rest up for tomorrow... the best day of the year!

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Friday, October 21

so many choices

raising kids in manhattan is totally my dream come true for so many reasons. but on friday afternoons before my boco weekends i guess i'm most grateful for the 600 million things there are always are to do.

yes, there's the regular family, chill-at-home stuff... like homework and chatting and singing along to music and chores and dancing and laughing and bickering and sleeping late and reading books and bo has art class on saturday (there are three classes for 8 - 12 year-olds every weekend at the art students league on 57th street: they're a month-to-month commitment, they're cheap, they're great), and co does soccer on sunday.

but in addition to all THAT, every weekend we have the option of a movie (in this case, we're so going to "dreamer"), museums (moma has two cool-sounding exhibitions that just opened--safe: design takes a risk and the elizabeth murray show--but they run through to january, so we'll probably wait a bit), chelsea galleries, tons of restaurants to try (we're going to check out dinosaur barbecue on 131st and 10th on saturday), goofing around soho's high-end stores (and, always, a stop at kid robot, on prince. and a truffle at vosges, on spring. and usually
an empanada at ruben's, on broome), on and on and on.

basically? if you or your kids are bored in this town, you need to get out more.

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Thursday, October 20

less kid-ish

a little while back either bo or co expressed dissatisfaction with their room (they share our apartment's only bedroom; i do the futon-in-the-living-room thing).

"it's too kid-ish," whichever-she-was said.

and she was right.

we hadn't really done anything to their room since we moved in three years ago, when they were just starting first and third grades.

now, their room is pretty tiny, and i don't have money for any kind of big re-do. so i'm thinking a good way to have a big impact in a small room is new duvet covers... especially if there are two beds.

and where can you find inexpensive, cool, contemporary-looking duvet covers? my girlfriend dglass hooked me up. "no doubt about it," she told me. "ikea is the best bet for comforters and pillowcases."

and SHE was right!

of course, everyone knows about ikea, but it always seems kind of overwhelming to go there, you know? especially with no car. i mean, christ!, it's in another STATE! but i am so glad i didn't listen to those "too-out-of-the-way" voices.

last saturday i took the free ikea bus out of port authority. it leaves every half hour from gate 5 (which is downstairs and all the way right near ninth avenue) and it was unbelievably easy and quick and comfortable. and the store wasn't even that crowded! i found a perfect bedside table for their room, and a cute little lamp. i bought myself some new flatware and a spiffy cheesegrater and some other stuff i didn't need. and then i got to the bed linens section and it was a beautiful thing to see.

there was a HUGE selection. everything was in stock. there were all kinds of designs and colors and tones--and many designs came in at least two different but complementary colors, which is obviously perfect for a sibling-shared room. AND a twin-sized duvet cover with pillowcase is only $20!

so: massive success. i love the new room. THEY love the new room. door-to-door it only took like four hours. and the whole thing--dresser, lamp, duvet covers and a new roman blind--cost just over $100.

the lesson? listen to boco. listen to dglass. they are always right.

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Wednesday, October 19

recent movies

i didn't always go to lots of movies. in fact, there've been long stretches of my life when i probably went to no more than two or three a year.

this is not one of those stretches.

when i don't have my kids i can easily do two or three in a weekend... and i'm not scared to go alone, day or night. and though bo and co aren't quite as into movies as me, they're usually game for whatever i suggest. here's our take on a few recent things we've seen.

just like heaven. i loved this: laughed, cried (yes, actual tears streaming down these actual cheeks), got totally sucked into the idea that sometimes the great love of your life is so destined to be with you that even death can't take her/him away. boco weren't quite as enthusiastic, but they giggled a bunch and enjoyed the mechanics of the reese-ghost interacting with the real world. and the napoleon dynamite guy was hilarious.

wallace and gromit. yeah, i don't know. maybe my expectations were too high given the OMG! reviews, but i didn't really like this so much. didn't really laugh (though tons of adults in the packed theater--it was that rainy-ass saturday two weeks ago--were cracking up); didn't really care. bo and co also found it just marginally entertaining, with a few chuckles. for me and my daughers, totally skippable.

little manhattan. ok, so romantic comedies are my favorite kind of movie. and christ, talk about crying! the tears were gushing during this! anyway, i liked all the characters (all the kids anyway... the grown-ups were kind of blah); liked the way the uws was so lovingingly, romantically filmed; liked the way the boy-lead did a voice-over narration for the ENTIRE movie (i can't think of another movie that this technique has been so prevalent... and if he'd been annoying, it would've been a nightmare--but he wasn't, and it wasn't); LOVED the dead-on portrait of the many stages of love: the initial giddiness of the what-the-hell-are-THESE feelings; the courage it takes to reveal your heart; the exhilaration of she likes me too!!!; the terror that maybe she REALLY likes someone else instead; the horrible horrible why!?why?!why?! despair of heartbreak; the eventual peace and learning that comes with acceptance. boco liked this a lot too: were totally charmed, got giggly embarassed by the 11-year-olds discomfort with their feelings, thought it both realistic and nicely romanticized. a big winner.

this weekend? definitely dreamer.


Tuesday, October 18

bodies is coming

so i saw on gothamist today that the show "bodies" is coming this fall to the city, i think down near the seaport. as i posted in the comments section there, me and my kids saw what i guess is a similar show, "bodyworlds", in chicago a couple of months ago, and thought it was pretty ho-hum. and totally PACKED, as i'm sure this will be.... especially down in that area, in november/december? total tourist mob scene.

anyway, we thought the chi-town show had a couple of cool things: like "vein man" was pretty amazing... and they had these fetuses on display (everything's real, btw), from like three-weeks-old to eight months, and that was pretty fascinating (though they had them in a separate curtained-off area and piped in like "babies-gone-to-heaven" muzak and it felt anti-abortion-ist).

but all in all, it wasn't really gross enough to be shocking, nor--to us--intrinsically interesting enough to really enlighten. i mean, after you've seen one guy with his skin torn off in a fill-in-the-blank pose, do you really need to see 21 others? for me and my daughters, the answer was no.