Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cloudberry Preserves

Ooo, I had almost forgot how good this is. But then I found a half empty jar of it in the fridge and whipped it on top of vanilla ice cream and was delightfully reminded of its superior taste.

I've been eating it for three days in a row now as a desert, and now the jar is empty. So it's good that I head towards Scandinavia soon so I can replenish my stock!

Morning Light and Evening Light

Jimmy knows me. At least I think he does.

I've noticed of late that Jimmy, the silver-haired owner and barista of Abraco, has taken to being very nice to me when I step into his shop. It may partly because it's not as crowded in summer as it is on usual workday and weekday mornings, but even so, I've begun to feel recognized.

Today when I stepped in, it was his girlfriend who asked for my order as Jimmy was busy talking to one of the chefs in the back. But once he turned and saw that I was there, he gave me a recognizing nod and smile and said the following (I'm 95 % sure this is what he said at least): "Extra milk, right?"

Which means he's taken to remembering that I say "with quite a bit of milk" when I ask for my iced coffee! Which means I'm perhaps only steps away from being asked for my name, which means that soon, I too will be greeted by my name when I enter the shop! Like all the other cool regulars!

I can't wait.
Only downside is that I will be leaving for Copenhagen for one entire month, during which time I realize I am likely to loose all my worked-up seniority as a customer. My plan is to buy a bag of their coffee on Saturday, ask a question about how to prepare ice coffee from it, and then hopefully he will ask why I ask, and then I can inform him that I will be gone for one entire month. All the way over in Scandinavia, in fact. That my absence does not mean I'm two-timing him or anything.

I realize this plan isn't foolproof. Far from it. It is also very likely that he will think I'm just cheap and don't feel like spending 3.50,- on his absurdly expensive yet absurdly good iced coffee. Or that I'm asking cos I'm planning on setting up shop myself.

Anyway, today a most adorable baby reached out for me as I was waiting for my coffee.
"O-oh" the father said. "He's reaching for your hair", he warned.
"Oh this is what you like?", I asked tugging at a strand myself.
"Yes, that or your shirt" the mother chipped in.
The baby smiled wide, his arm extended.

Oooo, how I like these little admittedly pointless exchanges with strangers. They really make my day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why some chickens are roasters and others are not!

It seems all of New York - or at least its media - are abuzz about Nora Ephron's new movie, Julie/Julia based on one little blogger's The Julie/Julia Project that grew wildly famous.
Now this blog is too. Abuzz about the film that is.

I didn't know who Julia Child was until I started reading articles about the film in New York Magazine, but now it's safe to say I'm falling head over heels with the taller than tall and delightfully bizarre American woman who introduced America to the art of French cooking.

I know with positive certainty I will absolutely love this film - I love Nora Ephron who wrote and directed the film (and who co-wrote the script for When Harry Met Sally, which I whole-heartedly although with a slight blush admit to be one of my absolute rainy Sunday afternoon favorites). I love Meryl Streep (how can you not?) and I absolutely, sincerely adore Amy Adams - Ah, did you ever see her in Junebug? I downright could have eaten her with a spoon.

Anyhow, go check of this embedding-disabled-by-request-clip with Julia Child (the real one) talking about which chickens that are suitable for roasting and which that are not. It's almost too entertaining to be true!

Rainy Walk to Whole Foods and Back

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


So long Holly!

I have an addition to my list below. Discontent, I realize, is also one of the things that tend to spark my creativity. And melancholia. I haven't decided how closely I think these two go together, but I guess one could argue that they do. In my universe, they both have to do with some kind of longing for something else. I think.

Which reminds me of this line in the Third Man:
Harry Lime: Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

Not that I've ever seen the Third Man. At least I don't think I have? Bizarre how you wind up knowing films by heart even though you've never seen them.

Discontented, worried and speculative art work by Ron Mueck.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A list

Johan Mau gave me a book by Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles, it's called and it's so deliciously written it makes me want to write. Like novel writing write. Often, when I get that urge, however, it doesn't really move beyond wanting to and feeling like it.

No need to worry though. After having read this article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker a while back, I feel I have gained supporting evidence for the fact that one mustn't necessarily create something downright amazing in one's first 20 or 30 years of life. It can come later too. In other words, I've chosen not to believe in those arguing that if you haven't really written anything substantial by the time you reach your 20s, then you are, essentially, not a writer. In fact, two of my favorite comedic/autobiographical writers of all time, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, both took to novel writing relatively late in life, I think. Perhaps in their late 30s. So I guess that gives me another 10 years before I really need to sit down and type away.

In any event, after having read far too late into the night yesterday evening, I wound up turning off the lights, lying in my bed speculating about the things that I have experienced sparking my creativity. General things as well as specific things. Things one should perhaps consider pursuing so as to create the optimal conditions for one's own creativity. And this is my list:

1) Coming across work by others that I find great, grand or particularly 'true' - whatever that means. In general, I think it's thoughts about and insights into the human condition (hurrah for vague statements!) that tend to affect me the most.

2) The light in the South of France.

3) Being in places where there aren't too many distractions and where you need to entertain yourself somehow.

In that regard, New York may not be the best place to live. There's so much distraction. So much to do. So many things to see. Constantly. In fact, I remember Marie once attended a talk by the artist John Baldessari, who said that when he left New York for California back in the 60s (or whenever it was), he did it partly to pursue a life with less distractions. And I so relate in the sense that sometimes it can be counter-productive to be surrounded by too much good stuff - clever people as well as their clever work.

I read this piece about Bruce Nauman not too long ago (also in the New Yorker), and when they described his living situation in the middle of nowhere somewhere in New Mexico, it really appealed to me. I think perhaps I ought to pursue something like that.

Anyhow, must go for a walk now. New York is tempting and distracting me!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Faves

I think I have a new favorite spot. Or a stretch, might be a better term.
It's the place where the FDR Drive becomes an overpass over South Street. I think that's the best way of describing it, although I'm not positive it's correct.

The picture above is from a walk I took there with my mother back in March, but I've recently taken to riding my bike down there, seeing I can't go running down on the tracks as usual because of my newly broken toe.
There are so many Chinese men fishing down there these days.
People jogging and riding their bikes.
You look towards the riverside, you see all the beautiful bridges hovering in the air like a theatrical backdrop.
You look landward, and it's all a little rugged and industrial.
It reminds of that scene from Annie Hall, where she drives her Beetle counter traffic below some overpass. I can't really decipher if this is indeed the spot. I think it looks like the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, but I'm not sure.
Anyway, it's 6:50 into the clip. Lasts a about a minute.

You wouldn't think so, but even on hot summer days, the air feels and smells so fresh by the East River.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Unexpected Presents #3

Wow! A space blanket! That's what Matteo brought me back from his recent trip to the National Air and Space Museum in D.C.! I'm totally gonna use if for winter. And for camping. And for trips to the moon, of course.

And a deck of cards. With outer space motifs. In P.V.C. Which means they're waterproof! And likewise suitable for camping!


Summer hit.
Like a blow to the stomach.
But I like it.

Prop Fetisch

I thought I was the master of finding bizarre and unmanageable things in the street and hauling them home under the mockery and derision of the public at large. But then I came upon this gigantic pizza sign up on the roof at Esther and Laure's - I added the legs of the latter to the picture just to give you a sense of the true dimension of it.

It turned out to be Esther who had come across a pizza parlor that was being renovated, thus getting rid of the old sign, upon which she and her friend Martine set out to carry it home and up five flights of stairs!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lunch! With Company!

Yay hurrah, Matteo is back, and like the proper man he is he took me out to lunch so I got to chat chat and chat myself away to compensate for having been left home alone for a couple of days.

It's funny with the East Village though, 'cos we can never come up with a good place for having lunch even though there are so many restaurants in the neighborhood.
So we wound up at 7A, of all places, for a late breakfast, of all things:O)


You may remember my little blogpost about the table in the hallway, and if so, I thought you might appreciate this little update. The stylish little wooden table with a minimalist wine bottle vase and flower bouquet has turned into this, a creepy house altar that keeps changing overnight:

At first I thought Al was entirely responsible for it, but he keeps asking me if I'm the one fiddling with it, to which I can honestly answer no.

So as of now it has houseplants, a fish fork, a crayon in the style of a syringe, sunglasses, a piece of wood usually used as a door stopper, a Virgin Mary clock from the 99 cent store, and a whole bunch of other strange things on it.

On top of that I can say with absolute certainty that it will have changed by tomorrow morning: Things will have gone, new stuff will have been added.

down and out

At some level I realize it was so wrong of me to snap this picture, but then again, the fella struck me more like a drunken trust fund kid than a hapless soul. So that justifies it then...

Classy Specs!

Lyne sported a beautiful and enviable set of glasses the other day, a pair of Moscots - the brand favored by the likes of Johnny Depp and graphic designers for Ten Magazine (the latter is Lyne, hehe).

Anyhow, I've been dreaming about them ever since, but seeing I don't really need glasses, I've been considering getting them as sunglasses instead. I've never owned a pair of fancy glasses, and Johan and Marie, who both count a gazillion fancy specs among their possessions, usually harass me for sporting my cheap ones around town. "They'll ruin your eyes", they say. "For once, do you think you can buy something proper!".

As sunglasses, they're about 200 bucks, which I suppose isn't that bad really. Is it? Naaaaa....

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My friend Anne, who has a habit of introducing me to glorious Scandinavian writers that she thinks I've remained unaware of too long, recently gave me the book Naive, Super by the Norwegian writer Erlend Loe.

The book happens to be filled with all these little quirky observations of New York, made by the protagonist who travels here on a week long vacation with his brother.

Mr. Loe surely must have taken notes while he was here, 'cos the observations are almost a little too dead on not to be real, if you know what I mean. For example, at one point he has a list of things he has seen during the day, which includes "A well-dressed woman who said 'asshole' to a bicyclist."

Anyhow, towards the end of his journey he concludes the following:
"You may say many things about New York, but I feel convinced that it's one of the few places on earth, where you have more fun than you create yourself."

So true, I think.

The other night I was discussing with Lyne and Clement why people so easily come to feel at home here, and we flirted with the idea that it's partly because it's quite easy to become a New Yorker. You arrive and you feel part of the crowd quite quickly, whereas we think (and I do stress that we think, as neither of us have lived in these cities) that becoming a Parisian is more tricky, just like becoming a Londoner is more tricky. You really must have the language down in order to thrive, and in New York, even if you don't speak English, I get the impression you almost have to strive hard to remain an outsider. It seems there are a million different cultural enclaves you may belong to, and I fool myself into believing that there is no apparent hierarchy between them in terms of who is "more New York" than the other. There are socio-economic hierarchies, of course, but I almost feel that if that's what it comes down to, then it's the down and out newly arrived immigrant who's the most "real" New Yorker.

Ah-bah, what do I know. There are so many ifs and buts to this of course.

I went for a long bike ride this evening, along the waterfront from East River Park all the way down to the southern most tip of Manhattan, up along Battery and Hudson River Park. It started raining and it went dark, and the air had the scent of fall. And I was somehow reminded of a rainy Saturday in fall 2005 shortly after I first moved here, and I was out and about, on my own, in the West Village. I was walking on Bedford Street to be exact, and I remember feeling oddly melancholic, yet utterly happy at the same time. Happy about my melancholy, perhaps. Happy about feeling melancholic in New York. As if having that feeling in this city wasn't that bad at all. That it was pleasant even.

I'm not really sure what my point to all this is. But I guess, just like you may have more fun in New York than you create, you may feel less newly arrived than you are, and, at least in my case, feel better than you do. Or something.

I think I was a little re-infatuated with my city this evening, is all. With all the things it makes me feel. Around 8:30 pm a drunken homeless guy threw his water bottle at me for no apparent reason at all. Half an hour later a couple leaned in in front of me as I was waiting to cross the street, only to let me know I had beautiful hair.
"Is that your natural hair color?", they asked.
"Yes", I said. "How very flattering of you to ask."

I forgot to show you...

Speaking of unexpected presents, there was a whole bunch waiting for me when I returned to New York last, all of them from Matteo's parents who took the opportunity to fly in when the apartment was half empty.

I got this super cool map of the world shower curtain from MoMA, which is simply too neat to use!

Perhaps I should mount it on the wall instead?

These lovely notebooks, in which I note all my many profound thoughts.

And this chic alarm clock, so practical for a globetrotter like myself, as I can set it to multiple cities at one time!

Right now it's set on New York and Sydney - the latter a place where Johan is currently teaching a master class in architecture. I don't mean to brag or anything, but he barely graduated from Bartlett before being snatched up by his professor to accompany him down under to teach.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This is Johan's old place, once intended to be mine, and soon to be Esther's. She moves in August 1st, but until then it's technically Johan's, so we're seeing if we can sublet it until then so he won't loose too many dollars and cents. It's 75 a night, which admittedly might seem a little much. The only thing is, had I advertised it for less, I'm sure everyone would have flagged it off craiglist as a scam.

Anyhow, I think I did a nice decorating job, right?! In two hours I whipped it up, I'm a little proud to say;O)