Toward the end of True Stories
, David Byrne, acting as the narrator, has a monologue about how one way to appreciate a place is to leave and come back, so you can rediscover the details that familiarity have made invisible. Doing this vicariously is almost as effective, which is why I enjoyed playing hostess to my little brother, B, who’d come up from Athens, GA, this past week.
Here’s a quick rundown of what we did:
- Saturday: B arrives. We have dinner at the Italian place down the road.
- Sunday: We plan to visit Ellis and Governors Islands with B’s high-school friends Dave (who is local), Jeff (up from Savannah, GA), and Teets (who lives upstate, I think); however, the lines for the former are insanely long, so we skip straight to the latter. B is dismayed that one of our old homes was demolished to create Picnic Point, but absolutely thrilled by the destruction of the grade school. We have an early dinner at Katz’s Deli, meet more friends of Teets at a bar on First Ave, and round off the evening with late-night snacks at Momofuku Milk Bar.
- Monday: Dave, Jeff, and Teets spend the day hanging out (and drinking) in Central Park, while I take B out to Coney Island for some Nathan’s hot dogs and the penultimate performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Boom-A-Ring Circus (good research for Dances of Vice’s upcoming Cursed Circus), followed by a shared beer in the Freak Bar. We rendezvous with Dave, Jeff, and Teets in Manhattan and finally decide to dine at Mad for Chicken, a fabulous Korean place on Fifth Avenue, followed by shaved ice desserts at another Korean place and then drinks at the Ginger Man.
- Tuesday: Teets catches an early morning Megabus home, so I’m the only girl with B, Dave, and Jeff on their trip to the Cloisters. After several hours marveling over the building, the gardens, the views, and the artifacts, we take the 7 to Flushing for soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, after which B and I attend night games at the U.S. Open. Serena Williams beats Flavia Pennetta in two straight sets; Gael Monfils, after a promising start, succumbs to Rafael Nadal in four.
- Wednesday: B, Dave, Jeff, and I spend most of the day wandering through the Museum of Natural History, then have katsu for dinner at a Japanese place with multiple locations — a stroke of luck, since the first one we tried was closed for FDNY-mandated renovations.
- Thursday: We finally make it out to Ellis Island, after a brief detour to explore the grounds and gift shops surrounding the Statue of Liberty (and induce psychological scarring with a horrifying Lady Liberty rubber mask, complete with flaccid crown). After a pause to refuel at Big Wing Wong (no, really) on Mott Street, we promenade the length of the High Line, before heading to a bar on the Hudson — literally on the river, it was a boat with heads and a ping-pong table below decks — for Coronas. Then, lord knows why, we decide we need more drinks and go to Little Branch on Seventh Av, which turns out to be a charming basement speakeasy with fantastic bartenders.
- Friday: The rain has a minimal impact on our plans to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With time to kill before we meet Dad’s cousin Jennie and her amicable ex, Lawrence, for dinner at an Italian place near University Place, we browse Forbidden Planet, then take shelter from the inclement weather in a bar on 13th Street until we’re driven out by techno music and a horde of NYU students. After an excellent meal, B and I head to my friend Adam’s in Brooklyn, having tardily recalled that he’d invited us to a party to break-in his new Beatles Rock Band set.
- Saturday: Dave, who has picked most of the restaurants, scores again with a great dim sum place on Elizabeth Street. B bids me adieu, after pauses to stock up on pork buns and retrieve his luggage from my place.