PostHeaderIcon Manhattan Memories: Day One in New York City


Juan in Columbus Circle, Rock Center, Joe's Pub, NYC building, Dre, Sam and Sara at Joe's Pub, and Me on 5th Ave.

NEW YORK IS FAMILY: One word keeps popping up in my head when I think of New York City.

That word is: "family."

I know it's strange to attribute that particular word to a city that has a reputation for being tough as nails. But that is the word that best describes the experience Juan and I had when we recently visited the Big Apple.

Family, and the feeling of family, was everywhere.

I noticed it in the neighborhood where we stayed during our visit: The Upper West Side. It was not unusual to see a dozen strollers parked outside a busy restaurant. I have never seen so many kids in one place (or nannies).

I noticed it in the family we stayed with: Although we are not blood relatives, Samantha Martin and Andre Neyrey are family to me and Juan. We met them when they lived in Portland, but now they call New York their home. And what an incredible "home" they have created. Sam and Dre introduced us to the New York City that I've only seen in the movies, read about in books, but never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever see with my own eyes. To say these two are "good people" is an understatement. Sam and Dre were not only incredibly generous to us, but also to the good folks of Little Ferry, New Jersey, who they are doing their best to help out ever since Hurricane Sandy.

I noticed a feeling of family on the streets: We arrived via a red-eye early Wednesday morning. Our first stop, after dropping off our bags, was at Zabar's, a kick-ass deli/grocer on 80th and Columbus that  always welcome us like family when we go there. I scarfed down a bagel and whitefish wondering the whole time why bagels back home weren't half as good. After that (and a quick visit to Sam's ultra-cool Media Maison offices) we headed toward the park, Central Park. The weather could not have been better. It was cold, but the sky was a bright blue. After a walk through the John Lennon-inspired Strawberry Fields we made a quick spin through Columbus Circle and then headed from 7th to 5th Avenue where we had our first "stardar" (aka celebrity encounter) sighting. Juan said: "Isn't that Rod Stewart that just walked past us?" And, sure enough, it was. He was crossing the street in front of Henri Bendel's. He is super short. After a quick shopping jaunt down 5th Avenue and to Juan's beloved Benetton, Juan and I ventured into Times Square (I am not sure why I love that place so much but it oddly feels like home  to me) and then headed to Rockefeller Center (I wanted to buy a Grimm shirt at The NBC Experience Store, but the choices sort of sucked). By that time we needed to hustle back to the Upper West Side and on the way we stopped at two places I've always wanted to check out: Century 21 (major designer markdowns) and Shake Shack (Danny Meyer's super cool burger joint).

Wednesday night was devoted to the extended family that surrounds the "first lady of Portland" Storm Large. Storm and her boys performed that night at the world famous Joe's Pub next to the Public Theater. Joining us for the show was Sam and Dre's good friend, Sara Haines, who you might recognize as the woman who sits next to Hoda and Kathie Lee on the fourth hour of The Today Show. She is super cool and incredibly funny. We ran into several friends at Joe's Pub including former Portland-based actor/singer/genius Wade McCollum and the hip happening performance art DJs Andrew and Andrew. For the next two hours Storm wrapped the audience around her finger, and she pretty much did the same in the restaurant upstairs where, after her show, there was a little party in her honor. There was a woman, at the next table, who wondered aloud who the "famous blonde woman" was, stating she was sure she had seen her on television. I wanted to tell her Storm was just "family" but, since I had just arrived in New York, I kept my mouth shut. After all, it was New York and this was just day one.

Last Updated (Saturday, 24 November 2012 10:11)

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