Nostalgia a la Carte

Part of living in New York is complaining that everything used to be cooler. In fact, I bet the day after the very first person set foot here he said, “Eh, this place was so much better yesterday.”

You’ll think this even when you know damn well it isn’t true. Every time I walk across St. Marks Place, I think about the ramshackle rooftop parties a friend of mine used to throw there. It would be this weird hodgepodge from all over the globe; people talking shit, drinking too much cheap wine, smoking skunk weed and avoiding the area of the roof that was about to collapse. Now, this might sound cool. But to be honest, these parties were so damn boring, and I could never figure out why. All the elements were in place, yet I always walked away thinking, “Why wasn’t that fun?” Point is, give me a couple more years and I’ll be talking about these shitty, stinky parties like they were the best time of my life. Because that’s how nostalgia works.

Still, when I saw this dilapidated bodega shack in Curry Hill the other day,
I wondered how long it would stay standing, what with real estate skyrocketing and neighborhoods changing so much. And I got to thinking about the places and things I miss after living here for over 10 years. Things that are now just a memory that either fades or changes a bit more each day. So I made a list. Some are silly, overly personal and may seem inconsequential, but they’re mine. And that’s just the point. New York belongs to all of us, and we create our own version of it. This is my personal miss list. This is Nostalgia a la Carte:

1. The seedy decadence of the original Gramercy Park hotel bar, before it got all sleek, glamorous and Ian Schraeger-ized. There was mismatched furniture and stained carpet. You’d go there and see faded rock stars, tipsy journalists after work and mice scurrying around.

2. My old patio tiki hut with a view of the U.N.
I hosted baby showers, luaus, and Christmas parties where people celebrated in their winter coats, drinking potent Glögg as the snow fell.
Holiday Hut

3. The classic HoJo’s in Times Square. I went there once during the holidays and stole a sparkly Christmas decoration in my bra. My tits were covered in silver glitter for the rest of the night.

4. The Preacher of Park Avenue, who stood in the median on 46th street and delivered the gospel, which was indecipherable because of his severe stutter.

5. The multitude of sleepy Upper East Side movie theaters that have shut down recently. You could call in sick to work on a Tuesday and see movies with all the sweetly perfumed old ladies, who would go in pairs and stage whisper to each other, “What did she say? HUH? OOOOhhh….”

6. Boozy Lady Liberty on a bicycle.
NYC Mascot
7. The incredible piece of art that was 5 Pointz.
5 Pointz
8. Mr. Softee. Yes, I know, some of the trucks are still around. But have you noticed this disturbing trend of other companies commandeering the Mr. Softee trucks and plastering their logo on it? You can even make out the shadow of Mr. Softee’s head underneath the new logo.
9. Subway tokens. (Only because I’m one of those morons who can never manage to swipe my Metro card and get it right the first time.)

10. The calming “tska tska tska” noise that a Yellow Cab used to make when the driver would print out your receipt. It was the noise that signaled, whether you were coming home after a late night birthday party, a business trip or a high school reunion with people who no longer have the power to make you feel small, that you were home.

So what about you? What’s missing from your New York landscape? What are your misty water colored memories?


2 thoughts on “Nostalgia a la Carte

  1. Reading this reminds me of a time shortly after I moved to NY. I ran into George Plimpton at PJ Clarke’s. One of my favorite NY icons in one of my favorite NY institutions. I’ve since been to plenty of NY landmarks and had plenty of celebrity sightings, but haven’t since topped the punch of this double whammy.

    1. I’m very envious! I never got to meet him, but George Plimpton is most definitely one of the most beloved and treasured pieces of NYC history. I wish I could have seen him too.

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