Inspired (as so often) by Sam, who recently took a why-not? trip there, and spurred by the news that a WWI-themed opera would be playing for two weeks only, I decided to look into the feasibility of a mid-February weekend in Philly. For its balmy climate. The stars aligned: we could catch a Sunday matinee at the opera, go out for dinner at a BYOB–giving us an excuse to drink the *outstanding* wine we were given for Christmas–and since it was President’s Day weekend, catch the “American Spirits” Prohibition exhibition at the Constitution Center for free. I found a $99 deal at the city center Sheraton, roundtrip Bolt Bus tickets for about $30 each, and managed to book us into the incredible Matyson for a late-ish Saturday night dinner (not an easy feat, as I’d forgotten that this was the closest Saturday to Valentine’s Day, and shit was BOOKED UP. Urgh.)
It’s Fourth of July weekend, which means a lot more to Americans and especially Americans with office jobs that it does to me, but nevertheless, there’s an extra holiday feel in the air, and without really intending to, I had a pretty great weekend exploring Astoria and beyond.
Friday evening we took a walk at the end of a sunny day spent mostly inside working, and treated ourselves to beers and panini in the lovely garden at Bambino on 31st Ave. For my money this is the nicest restaurant garden in the ‘hood, all reclaimed wood and metal, which glows beautifully in the evening light. I realize I don’t usually post pictures of myself or of Tony, but I’m practicing portrait photography in my online class with the brilliant Nicole Gerulat, and I’m trying to work out what makes a good photograph of a person, even if not technically a portrait. So a few more faces might pop up around here.
On Saturday I went to the new farmer’s market in Socrates Sculpture Park on Vernon Blvd., which is a little park by the water that I love anyway – it feels oddly remote and peaceful, even when there are lots of people there and even group yoga going on under the trees. The market was small, with mostly vegetables and one or two other stalls – cheeses, honey, bread, Long Island wines.
On Saturday afternoon I went down to Brooklyn to welcome my dear, dear friend Sarah and her family back to town, after a six-month stint in Ottawa. We took some quick pictures on the rooftop of their new apartment (Statue of Liberty!!) and ducked downstairs out of the blazing sun.
Today, Sunday, was drizzly and grey all day, after about five days of uninterrupted sunshine. Nevertheless, we were determined to take the bikes out – part of my plan to get comfortable and confident on wheels. I will probably never use my bike to commute or as naturally and unthinkingly and fearlessly at T does, having worked as a bike courier. But I do want to be able to get out and explore. So to that end we rode over to Roosevelt Island, an odd little outpost in the east river, which used to be known as Welfare Island and was the site of a famous mental asylum (which I first learned about in a Caribbean Lit class last year, in the poem Farewell From Welfare Island by the Nuyorican poet Julia de Burgos. The hospital is still there, although in a different incarnation, as well as lots of social housing and newer luxury condos (surprise!) I wondered as we were riding what it must be like to grow up there, an island off an island. Does Manhattan become ‘the mainland’? Does it feel particularly out of reach?
1. The inspiration: the 2006 ensemble movie Paris Je t’Aime. From the silly to the sublime, there are 20 five-minute films, each set in a neighbourhood of Paris. I loved Walter Salles & Daniela Thomas’s ‘Loin du 16ème’ and Alexander Payne’s ’14ème Arrondissement’ which had me bawling.
2. Saveur Magazine’s French picnic menu. Summer in Paris is all about the pique-nique, on the Pont des Arts or the banks of the Seine.
4. Inès de la Fressange’s new book Parisian Chic, bound in red leather and full of cutesy drawings, is the latest how-to-be-French guide for sad lumpen Anglo-Saxons. I snark, but I will admit to being a sucker for this stuff.
5. I absolutely love the Paris Color Project over at Little Brown Pen. I bought a bunch of their miniature calendars for friends last Christmas, and there are beautiful postcards and prints in their Etsy store.