Hi! I’m Ana

I’m a #content nut and digital native, lover of sweet treats, and pop culture fanatic. I live on the internet. That basically covers it!

star spotting and two pools in the ground

Day 84-85 East Village, Little Italy, Financial District, Tribeca, Greenwich Village, Times Square

We're strolling downtown to the East Village. It's frigid but the sun is out. I don't know why it bothers. It plays very little purpose in warming anyone up. We wander into a school's basketball court and Rob gets nostalgic for his school in Queens, PS 19. We're pretending to slam dunk without a basketball when school is let out and the high school kids are peering at us through the chain link fence. Shame.

Around the corner, at Tompkins Square Bagels, for a mere $21, we get to scoff down two chicken vegetable soups, a sweet potato pie, two cream cheese and jelly on cinnamon raisin bagel, and Boylan's Black Cherry soda. Rob compares the bagel from La Bagel Delight in Brooklyn to this one. "The Brooklyn one is was gangsta. This one is more... R&B." The sweet potato pie has a thin, spongy meringue topping.

The East Village is all cute little shops, poky vintage stores, self-consciously cool eateries, record stores, and a vintage bike shop with a row of Raleighs parked along the front. Plus a surprising amount of basement Psychics.

We accidentally hit the street with Katz Deli and Russ & Daughters. I try to goad Rob into going into either so I can vicariously live through him but he's bagel-ed out. Plus the roast beef sandwich at Katz is $22! A guy stands in front of the Katz Deli window and gets his wife to take a picture. 

On the corner, a man with a large fur hat gives out flyers. Later that night, we pass by this street again and he's still there, hussling with his flyers and wearing his crumpled sandwich board. We're crossing an intersection and a girl catches my eye. She's in the thinnest blue suit with nude stockinged-legs and sensible heels. I don't think I've seen bare legs for two months now. She stops at every store and restaurant. I see her marching up to the cash register, handing over a piece of paper, marching back out. She pulls her gloves off when she goes in, puts it on when she gets back out. She's cold-calling with her CV and it looks like hard work.

We spend a relaxed couple of hours pitched up at the cafe inside the Housing Works Bookshop, thanks to a tip from Emy Augustus. I buy a $3 copy of I Capture the Castle and the guy who makes my coffee asks if I'm from Australia. I tell him he was close because I'm from New Zealand. He pouts and says, "Aww. I always feel sorry for that one. It always gets forgotten."

For some insane reason, we buy plastic burger baskets at Sur La Table. "They'll make great souvenirs!" I say enthusiastically, seduced by the $2 price tag. A reviewer on the website comments about how paper plates are "so passe." 

On Bowery, The Hole glows a frigid white, reflecting into the dark street outside. When you walk in, you're in instant danger of smashing into a corner or a wall because for a moment, you don't know where the floor or the wall or the ceiling begins. The stylish guy at the front door barely sniffs a "Hello". We begoggle sparkly homages to Matisse's the Dance and a plastic burger perched precariously on top of a blue painted rectangle propped on the floor. A gorgeous, 6 foot tall girl with a huge afro, wearing thigh high boots, a chunky knit cardigan, and animal print tights wafts about the floor, talking on the phone and being generally beautiful.

I'm a magpie so obviously the Little Italy lights throws us off course for a while. The pasta restaurant we were aiming for is closed for a private function.

Rob, in a bid to stop smoking, switched to e-cigarettes when we touched down in New York. He stops by VAPE to buy an e-cigarette that you refill with fluid. It's a big thing in New York. He assures me that it's made of vegetable oil. I gasp at the $40 receipt and hassle him about trying nicotine gum too. 

At Mikey's Burger, our hamburger, hotdog and cheese fries are made by a griddle cook who pops outside the restaurant to smoke weed. No jokes. Rob rubbishes my choice of a sesame shake but when it comes out, he ends up drinking a quarter of it. 

Just like Shake Shack, the burgers come sandwiched in potato bread. Potato bread is this wondrous, pillowy soft, yellowy bread made of potatoes instead of flour. We don't get this kind of thing in New Zealand. Our first night in New York, our aunt Carol, had a bunch of Martin's potato rolls and we exclaimed about it like it was the best thing since sliced bread. Rob hulk-smashed through maybe four or five in one go. The next day, the kitchen was stocked with piles and piles of potato rolls like we were preparing for the apocalypse. 

Along 4th Avenue, the closer we get to Union Square, the number of NYPD cards double. Half of them seem to be lined up in front of Amsterdam Billiards. We're inside Alabaster Books, yet another used bookshop, this one smaller than a closet and packed floor-to-ceiling with teetering piles of books. 

The guy at the cash register chats with a woman I cannot see from where I'm standing in non-fiction, drooling over a boxed Narnia set for $34. The cops are here for preparing for "million person protest" for Eric Garner tomorrow, the lady says. The guy snorts and says that the NYPD has something up their butts because their response to these protests are "way outta line." There's armed cops everywhere we've been. Even more than our entire time in Israel. They're hanging about in all major public places or underground in the subway stations. Half of them seem to be on a perpetual coffee break.

I pick up Ellen Peck's How To Get a Teenage Boy & What To Do With Him When You Get Him. A classic. I take a picture and send it to my girls back home. One of them writes back "Is this for teens or cougars?".

On Saturday morning, we go downtown to go against the flow of the protests. I don't see a single protestor the entire day. We're on a bagel roll though and try out the cream cheese and jelly on cinnamon raisin at Bagel Bob's near NYU. It is a sad, deflated, stingy-on-cream-cheese bagel. It's not even in the same league as the other's we've eaten and way too expensive. I did get to see the bagel guy hitting on a student though. "Here you go, beautiful," he drawled with a wink, handing the bagel over the counter. 

Down into Broadway we go, popping into the Leica Gallery on the way. It's completely free unless you drop that couple thousand dollars you have stashed away in your bag to buy one of the signed prints, or for a cheaper option, a signed exhibition poster. I find out that Brendan Fraser takes photos with a Leica. 

Broadway leads us into the Financial District. There's big groups of salary men in silly Christmas hats, on their way to or from their lunch. This is the classic sign of being deep in the heart of a central business district.

The closer we get to the 9/11 memorial site, the tighter the security gets. Just outside the gates of the City Hall grounds, a woman is shouting at the top of her lungs, fighting with her hapless boyfriend or husband. I can hear her from a block away. By accident, we're inside the 9/11 Memorial preview site which is basically a 9/11 souvenir shop. I find it to be in extremely bad taste and get out quickly. I stop for a second at the Dogs of 9/11 souvenir stand though. Americans are the ultimate capitalists. They can sell pants off a pants salesman and make money from sites of utter terror and destruction. It's the land of slick merchandise.

The World Trade towers are silvery stalagmites, rising up to meet the sky. Embarrassingly, neither one of us can remember how many towers collapsed or whether the World Trade towers that surround us were there at the time or built after. 

The pools give us one quick answer. There were two towers. I quickly check to see if we can get into the 9/11 museum because clearly we need it. The line is huge and the ticket prices are expensive. We settle for the memorial.

People are taking selfies near the two big holes in the ground. One man is on his back  on the ground trying to fit the skyscrapers into his picture. Two women behind me debate what the unfinished structure in front of us is. "I think it's supposed to be angel's wings?" I think if she's right, what a terrible, mawkish idea that would be. I find out that it's actually supposed to be an oculus.

I don't mean disrespect but I get really, really hungry at the 9/11 memorial. I'm looking down into the pool, eating a pack of Tesco fruit and nuts, brought all the way from Shoreditch. Rob asks me what I want to eat. "Fried chicken" is the answer. Nearby at Kitchenette, Rob follows through with the fried chicken only to have me order the mac and cheese and follow it up with chocolate cake as big as my face.

I roll myself out of the restaurant and to punish gluttony, I propose an hour and a half walk from Tribeca all the way uptown to Lincoln Square where we have a date with an IMAX cinema. It's fun for the first forty-five minutes. We peer into the $10 million dollar Soho and Tribca lofts and linger on cobblestoned Greenwich village stoops and sidestreets. Rob plots where he'll live once he wins the lottery.

On one corner, Rob is saying, "I bet Robert de Niro lives here." I wonder if this is where Carrie lives. Behind me, Rob exclaims, "IT'S MICHAEL CERA!" I whirl around and there he is, looking exactly as he does in his movies. He looks startled and wary. I say, "Love your work, Michael," like a total noob and he kind of half-grimaces, half-smiles then flaps his hand in a semi-wave before hurrying past us. We wind our way up the Meatpacking District and Chelsea with stars in our eyes. At 7th Avenue, we give up and take the subway because we're gonna be late to Interstellar.

The IMAX at AMC Loews Lincoln Square is ginormous. We have to coast on several escalators just to get to the right level. It's the biggest movie screen I've ever seen. The people in front of us buy a large popcorn that comes with free refills.  It's late at night when we get out of the movie theatre and stepping out into Manhattan is like stepping into a video game. We walk home and it takes us about forty-five minutes all the way down Broadway. It's an urban hike with a stop at Times Square.

off broadway shenanigans

understudy blues and the day we finally get into shake shack