Monday, October 13, 2008

Observations From A NYC Pop-In

On Friday, after dropping the kids off at my parents' house in Worcester, MA, we drove down to Ridgefield, CT to crash at my brother-in-law's. I will just say that, notwithstanding a little traffic, it was a magnificent ride punctuated by sunshine and autumnal foliage. In fact the entire weekend's weather was perfect and both changing leaves and sun conspired to take the edge off the 400 miles we drove.

Since we were only visiting NYC for one night (Saturday) we decided to park and take the train in from Golden's Bridge - a 43 mile trip to Grand Central. Despite the $36 off-peak roundtrip cost for a two-some, it made a ton of sense. I have talked about this before.

We managed our way to Brooklyn - despite a crowded subway and a weekend stoppage of 4 and 5 Trains going past Brooklyn Bridge. We'd have walked over the bridge if it weren't for our luggage. Had to cab the last leg.

After saying hello to my sister-in-law and unloading our bags in her apartment, Mrs. C-Nut and I turned right back around and met up with my buddy who's presence in town from London was the very impetus for our trip.

Here's what's so great about New York. It was 2pm and we all were starving for lunch. With no destination pre-ordained we just walked about looking for a place to eat. We stumbled upon Isabella's an Upper West Side institution on Columbus Ave and 77th Street. We got a great people-watching table on the sidewalk and enjoyed a phenomenal lunch (though despite being past 2pm, half our party-of-four ordered brunch dishes). I had an $11 Cobb salad that was, quite frankly, better than any food I have eaten ANYWHERE in Boston in the last 3 plus years.

Therein lies the stark difference between NYC and everywhere else. You can pop-in almost any neighborhood and get bowled over by the food, the service, and the price. The people that live there can't and won't possibly appreciate what they've got - until they leave town for a while.

After brunch lunch it was off to the liquor store. I bought a bottle of *Italian Champagne* and a bottle of screw-top wine that we consumed on the lawn near the Bethesda Fountain at Central Park.

Around 6pm. We took a cab back to Brooklyn and got stuck in some serious traffic. There are always jams near the Port Authority with jabronis *blocking the box*. Dinner that night was at a hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant on Atlantic and Court Street. Again, the food was tremendous and cost less than $50 to fill the stomachs of three latent gluttons.

The name of this particular restaurant is "India House" - though it is run by Pakistanis. I couldn't remember eating there more than once or twice in the 6 six years my wife (and I for 3) lived on that block - and tasting the delicious fare anew I couldn't help but wonder why. Mrs. C-Nut insists that we swore off that place after 9/11. Methinks she mis-remembers. We swore off a rude falafel guy down on Atlantic Avenue but I'm sure that's not why we never ate at India House.

Make no mistake about it; the 100,000 or so Arabs in Brooklyn really do loathe all things American. They're the closest thing to human parasites I've ever seen in that while flourishing in our freedoms and opportunities they still have the gall to flip America the bird. Though in New York, it MUST BE POINTED OUT, vociferous ignorance is hardly monopolized by any one particular demographic.

After dinner I decided to head back into town for a few drinks with my buddy sans the wife. We ended up on some rooftop bar (Sky Bar) in Koreatown. It was located in the La Quinta hotel on 32nd street and lays in the shadow of the Empire State Building. Two beers was it. I had a long trip home on Sunday. The binge will have to wait until Thanksgiving.

My wife and I were both blown away by all the new restaurants, bars, delis, and general commercial development all over the city. The signs of a bubble economy couldn't have been more palpable; it was JUST like looking at all the strip malls and golf course homes being built in Florida a couple of years ago. There's pain ahead in NYC for anyone who invested or built based upon 2004-2008 economic extrapolations. For example, the Cobble Hill apartment my wife and I used to live in peaked in rent near $1,900 a month during the NASDAQ bubble in 2000. After 9/11, and the dotcom crash, its market rent dipped below $1,600. Our apartment's rent (there were about 11 of its caliber) just got back up to $1,900 a month. In other words, it took 7-8 years for rents just to regain what they lost from the last bubble. Now mind two things - one, it took all this time to get back to 2000 levels DESPITE THE GREATEST REAL ESTATE BOOM OF ALL-TIME, and two, the current, credit bubble JUST POPPED.

Now, our old apartment building has a new owner (bought at the peak last December!) that might be an arm of an investment vehicle, PE fund, or something. They've spent money renovating units with granite kitchens and enclosed two little bedrooms to replace the open railroad layout. These overspending optimists have listed the 519 sq ft units at $2,850 per month. Good luck to these Morons!

Another observation from my pop-in is that frozen yogurt is all the rage now in the Big Apple. Before it was just Tasti-D-Lite; now there's a host of others.

Seinfeld had a classic episode on the start of this craze fifteen years ago. Here's a much-viewed blooper from it:

The crux of the episode was that the yogurt that all of NY (particularly chicks) was wolfing down was hardly *low-fat*.

Truth in art? I believe (though I can't find a link) that Tasti-D-Lite got into all sorts of trouble in 2002 when it was proven their *low-fat* yogurt was falsely advertised. There was also a *healthy food* store on Atlantic Ave called "Fuel" that also was nailed (by Fox News?) for the same offense around the same time.

Two final observations:

Taxis in NYC now have little TVs in the back seat spamming you with Big Media headlines and weather forecasts. They're also a lot more expensive (b/c of gasoline) than they were in 2004 when we moved out.

By the way, we bought gas at super-low $2.89 off Interstate 84 yesterday!

Now, all this blog post needs is an update on Slow Rion's weekend in NYC. Tell us, Slow, did you like Legally Blonde the musical? Did you take a horse carriage around the Park or one of those euro-peddled rickshaws?


Slow-Rion said...

I tried to stay away from this post, but I couldn't resist. So like yeah, we went to see Cats and then went to Rockefeller center, and then we saw the statue of liberty. It was, like, totally awesome. I was very careful, I even put my wallet in a fanny pack and kept it in the front so those scary New Yorkers wouldn't rob me.

CaptiousNut said...

No Ground Zero stop-over?

BTW, a *fanny pack* in *Manhattan* could easily be misconstrued.

Let's try to keep it clean here.