Monday, August 24, 2009

Why Twitter is Awesome.

  1. I know what Dita Van Teese is having for breakfast.
  2. My son outed me on Twitter and now all his friends Twitter me too!
  3. I get to see more pictures of Petunia's adorable daughter.
  4. People like Latex Fetish Heels follow my Tweets.
But...I asked to follow James Franco on Twitter and he hasn't yet responded. Dude, you're missing out on my fantabulous life!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Adventures in New York City

A big thank you to
Tea & Crumpets
Notes from the Ledge,
Headbands & Hand Bags,
French Essence,
The Preppy Apron
Easy and Elegant Life
and Tessa Scoffs
for providing such great advice on last week's trip to NYC.

I hope you're all not too disappointed with me when I tell you that I checked very little off your recommendations.

It's not that we weren't busy--there was just too much! And since almost all of our party had never been to New York before, we stayed generally on the tourist path. And because I was the most experienced NYC traveller, I became de facto tour guide and subway administrator. I think I did okay on the tour guide part, but I must admit that I tried the patience of my merry band with my rather lame grip of the MTA. They were nice about it though even when I got them lost on the way back from Brooklyn and we ended up having to cab it anyway from Midtown to the Upper West Side. And a sleepy fellow rider almost vomited on my son's German host mother (that wasn't MY fault!). Ah, well.

We bought the Citypass and attempted to hit all the venues. Which my husband, son and I did--our German friends missed one of the museums, having arrived later. What we did:

American Museum of Natural History. Okay. Stuffed moose and T-Rex were the highlights here.

Tuesday morning we strolled across Central Park to make a fast path through the Met. Not enough time! Afterwards, we lunched at a rooftop Italian place and walked down to Rockefeller Center (we walked A LOT!). Went to the top.

In the afternoon we headed to Brooklyn to picnic on the lawn of Prospect Park with my nephew, who's an architect in the city.

The band TV on the Radio was playing at the park and it was a very laid-back evening (until I took the wrong train home). Before the unfortunate MTA incident, we stopped off at the Empire State Building and enjoyed a gorgeous moon-lit, late-night view of Manhattan from its observatory.

I should add that the weather was very hot on Tuesday and between the heat and humidity outside and the blasting AC inside, I'll not be surprised if our German friends, who are quite unused to such extremes, came down with some random illness! I hope not, though, because they're presently somewhere in Death Valley in an RV and that would not be good.

On Wednesday, we cruised the Hudson and East Rivers on the Circle Line! I was thrilled to see Julian Schnabel's pink palace from the boat, but none of my fellow travellers got very excited (Julian who?). Of course, the Statue of Liberty was the big draw (I thought the boat might tip over when everyone rushed starboard to take pictures). Years ago, I climbed to the crown; before I left home for this trip, I checked and the waiting list was out to November! So we opted not to stop on the island.

Afterwards, we stopped for a beer in Hell's Kitchen and then headed to Sam Ash, where our very musical German host family wanted to browse. We cut that short, however, because we wanted to make it back up to the Upper East Side to see the Guggenheim.

I wasn't really impressed by the Guggenheim. We spent a little over an hour there and decided that was enough. Later, we took the MTA to Greenwich Village, where we shared tapas and caipirinhas for dinner, and then hit Smalls for some jazz. What a great NY evening!

Finally, our last full day in New York. We spent an incredible morning at MOMA. How did I not know how fantastic this museum is??! I adore the Met and Chicago's own Art Institute but MOMA is absolutely the best museum I've ever visited. When I got back to Illinois, one of my students asked me if MOMA "kicked my ass," and yes, Mark, it did indeed!

Spent the afternoon shopping in SoHo (TopShop didn't rock my world--am I perhaps too old to enjoy its charms?) and walking around NYU and Washington Square. My son and I hit Ben Sherman up pretty hard--they were having a great sale! We all met at a wonderful BYOB restaurant recommended to us by a couple on the subway called Nook on 9th Avenue (earlier, we picked up a couple of bottles of wine at Astor Wines and Spirits). Then: Lion King! We had great seats and were breathless taking in the costumes and sets and performers. Such fun. Here's my son, after the performance, taking in Times Square.

Our German friends left early Friday morning and we sadly bid them goodbye. (They are trying to talk us into visiting Munich this fall for Oktoberfest!) We still had the morning, so we ran over to Zabar's for salmon bagels and split up: Son to see Lincoln Square and Juilliard, Husband and I to Fifth Avenue for a super-quick luxury feast (We had stopped into Takashamiya earlier in the week, browsing the gorgeous inventory but no buying!). Having such little time, I had to prioritize. I decided I could always shop the majors (NM, Barneys, Saks) in Chicago and so set out to see Hermès on Madison, Caron, and Porthault. We arrived at Hermès just as it was opening. I may have conveyed my obsession with Hermès elsewhere on this blog--in fact at some point I hope to post specifically on that--let's just say I feel about Hermès the way Holly Golightly felt about Tiffany's. I would be happy just to live in an Hermès store, ESPECIALLY the Madison Avenue shop, which is their American flagship and to which I'd never been. We were doubly lucky because they were not busy and we received personal attention on all four floors by some very friendly and charming SAs. I tried on my coveted Collier de Chien (I want the white one, with silver), poked around the shoes and watches, looked at pocket squares for my husband, and spent a lovely time talking to an older French lady in charge of the home department. She gave us the grand tour: china (someday I will own this happy Siesta set), leather (my husband liked the leather cigar holder which can be personally engraved for just over a grand), and amazingly beautiful cashmere blankets. Best of all, they had just received two Birkins! No I didn't buy--they were brown and orange and I am holding out for a red they are, uh, expensive...but just touching them, opening them and having them near was amazing.

I did score, though. My husband bought me an enamel H bracelet, which I've been eyeing for a great while, for our anniversary which is tomorrow! Here is the beauty:

I also fell in love with a scarf from the Fall collection, called La Femme aux Semelles de Vent, pictured here.

Not wanting to be too spoiled, I chose the bracelet at the time but I thought about the scarf all week and finally on Friday called the sweet SA I had worked with, Cealon, and asked her to send it to me. So I should have it early next week!

We spent way too much time at Hermès and then we couldn't find Caron, where I wanted to buy a flacon of Tabac Blond, one of my favorite perfumes which one can't get anywhere but New York and Paris! No matter--we'll just have to come back soon said my husband! We did get to Porthault where I selected a baby pillow sham which I've been wanting for awhile. I'm not terribly original--I chose the iconic pink heart pattern shown here on Rita Konig's bed!

There is so much on my list that I didn't see or do. I didn't shop nearly enough! I want to spend more time in Greenwich Village. I didn't see Ground Zero, or visit any of the boutiques listed in my most recent copy of Lucky. I would have loved to just walk the neighborhoods more, or just sit in Central Park. I wanted to try tons of scents at Aedes de Venusta and have tea at Sweetiepie. Oh, well. We did so much, and truly enjoyed meeting our son's German host family and touring New York with them.

All of us, in particular our German friends, were impressed with the friendliness of the New Yorkers we encountered. I can't wait to get back (Christmas??!), and I can truly say I LOVE NEW YORK!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New York City

I'm going to NYC next Monday, through Friday the 14th. In high school, my youngest son was an exchange student in Munich for a year and we are finally meeting his host parents and their children in Manhattan! (Their daughter is the same age as my youngest son; while he was living with her family, she was studying in Uruguay. So they've not met either. His host family also has a son who is a year or so younger.)

We're staying at the Excelsior Hotel on the West Side. My son has never been to NYC (well actually he was there briefly for a Greyhound exchange earlier this summer--long story) and so we have a lot to see and do! The three of us are museum people and we want to try and hit the Met, the Guggenheim and MOMA. I also just want to walk around Manhattan. And, of course, shop (Aedes!!! Takashimaya!!!). But I would LOVE to get recommendations from my blog friends as to where to eat, drink, shop and SEE. Please advise!

I haven't been to NYC since before fact I was sitting on the tarmac at O'Hare, waiting to take off for LaGuardia on a business trip when the planes hit the WTC. We didn't know a thing--we were just very irritated that the plane was late taking off. Then finally the captain came on and said we were heading back to the gate, as there had been some "terrorist activity" in New York. We all looked at each other wide-eyed, then clamoured for our cell phones. I remember thinking in particular that it would have sucked to have died with my despised boss, who was also on the plane (in First Class though, of course).

I was also disappointed, because I was booked to stay at the Algonquin Hotel for the first time! In fact I had along with me a collection of Dorothy Parker's letters. I don't think I ever bothered reading them, after that.

Anyway, COMMENTS please!!