So far so good, man. Been here more than a week and I have yet to be mugged, lost, or trampled beneath the shiny-shoed feet of excited stockbrokers. My new hut is pretty awesome. I have my own little studio apartment, without the annoyance of a kitchen, but with a fridge - an implicit endorsement of eating only uncooked snack food at all times. (There is a microwave down the hall.) The building is an old hotel in historic Brooklyn Heights, two blocks from this waterfront promenade with awesome views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty. It's the nicest neighborhood I've ever lived in. And the subway practically stops in my basement.
I "moved in" on Saturday, which entailed dropping off my suitcase and backpack and getting the mailbox key. (Send cookies!) Then met up with my friend Brenda, whom I've known since about 5th grade or so, and a friend of hers who lives right across the street from me, it turns out. We went on a little tour of the irritatingly named DUMBO neighborhood, then headed to Chinatown and some Lower East Side wandering. Stops included Moby's tea shop, a Vietnamese sandwich joint and a place that serves only rice pudding.
That evening Brenda and I went over to Williamsburg to hang out with our friend Damian, aka Mr Handsome, aka DJ Dieselboy (he's famous!). I've known Damian since kindergarten. He still looks the same:
(I'm the one in the Ernie shirt.)
Damian has this awesome loft in Williamsburg and an adorable girlfriend who cuts the hair of famous people. He travels the world as a highly sought-after drum-and-bass DJ. And he's from Rye! Hilarious. Anyway, he took us out on the town in a fashion that I won't be able to replicate ever, probably, or anyway not until I win a couple of lotteries and hire a fashion consultant. First we had dinner at the coziest little Italian place, somewhere on the Lower East Side (I think). After that it was time for the cocktail tour. We followed him obediently, and he led us into...a tiny, fluorescent-lit hotdog joint. Hmm. Then he disappeared, apparently to make a phone call. Confusion reigned...until the back of the phone booth opened up and, voila, there was a fancy cocktail bar on the other side. It was the most exciting thing that had happened to me since I arrived in New York. A secret bar, entered through a phone booth! Can you beat that?
Plus, the cocktails in there were tasty as all get-out.
The place is called PDT, for Please Don't Tell. Oops. After that, we went to Death & Co., another very fabulous cocktail lounge, where I had something called the Cinder - tequila something something something, with smoked sea salt on the rim. It was excellent. Smoked sea salt! Are you kidding me? I wanted to order something like a WD40-infused PBR-and-sweat margarita, to combat the weirdness, but then I thought they'd probably be able to make it, which would just be too weird.
We finished off the evening back in Damian's hood, at a cafe thingie that I really want to go back to, but can't remember the name of - but it had the best dessert on earth. Will investigate further.
Next day we all met up for brunch - it came with a salad! (Says the bumpkin, amazed.) Brenda and I explored junk shops and stared at area hipsters. Williamsburg is where the Hipster Shuttle from outer space crash-landed back in 1986; the few starving and exhausted hipsters who arrived on Earth in the shuttle, much like Gremlins, multiplied and became hideous when exposed to a combination of beer and college rock. They of course went on to infest the nation and the rest is history, but this is the neighborhood where it all started. Sort of thrilling!
That night, after a dinner of expensive pizza and a failed attempt to replicate the previous evening's cocktail bonanza, Brenda and I and my friend Snively (from college, a million years ago!) accompanied Damian to work. He had a gig at a rave on a boat that started at midnight and sailed until 3am. It was awesome. Each beer cost twentyfive dollars, but we got to ride the boat free of charge, heard three DJs (Damian was best), floated under a bunch of bridges and circled the Lady Statue herself in the crazy hours of the night. Pretty fun. At one point we floated toward this featureless concrete building. "What's that big slab of concrete over there in the middle of the river?" I asked Damian. "New Jersey," he said. (I'm still not sure.)
I had my first class on Tuesday. My professor said all the right things; so did the one today. (The profs are Susie Linfield and Katie Roiphe, respectively, if anyone's interested. The third class is a nuts-and-bolts reporting class taught by Alyssa Katz.) It's like they've been reading my diary (not that I keep a diary, and not that I'd write about work stuff in it if I did) and figuring out what to say in class based on their efforts to bolster my spirits, just me, personally. Our reading lists are excellent, too. I ordered a bunch of the books from Powell's, but picked up the rest at Shakespeare & Co by the NYU campus, and the guy at the checkout there said, "Wow, you're going to have fun!" It's true. All the books I've kinda wanted to read for a while but never had an excuse to make time for. In today's class (called The Cultural Conversation, which means we read a bunch of really old critics and essayists and sort of follow the thread through the eras up to now) I realized that the exciting part was being in a room with a bunch of people most of whom were really, really excited about the process of constructing sentences. It's been a while since I've talked about words and language in that way, and I guess I've missed it without realizing I did. It's also fun just to geek out on journalism in an arena that's purely theoretical. You can talk idealistically without appending something like "...but of course no one wants to hire that kind of writer" to every sentence.
Anyway. Sorry for babbling on and on, particularly when I'm talking about sentences and writing. Hypocrisy in action. Oh well - it's Friday night, I'm tired, I think I'll go read for a while, maybe daydream about what the Portland boys are doing, or rather the ones who aren't busy racing tiny motorcycles on the salt flats at Bonneville, because I already know what they're doing, and I am jealous as hell. Oh man do I have a lot of reading to do. Hooray!