So many of my weekends are wall-to-wall feasts of obligation, strung together between long work weeks and unmemorable encounters with unmemorable people. But for two weekends in a row I’ve been living in New York. I mean, really living here. And, damn, this city is fired up and ready to feed me.
I’ll own the cliché: most people who live here never see the city. We can’t afford the hyper-inflated cost of theater tickets, have little patience for ferry rides and museum lines and no time for sitting at the bar until a table opens. Hey, I once walked out of 5 Napkin burger in Astoria because they had a wait. “Not in this neighborhood”, I complained. So much of New York isn’t for New Yorkers.
But I’ve had family here. And everyone who’s played tour guide in New York knows that sometimes it’s the only way you’ll get your ass into a museum. But even better—my family digs weird, random excursions. So over the last two weekends we’ve walked through Gowanus in search of pie, strolled the beach in Brighton full on pelmeni and borscht, and driven through every single Brooklyn neighborhood from Coney Island to Prospect Park after missing our exit on the Belt.
And what did I discover? As is almost always the case (unless you’re seeing Fela!), the look of New York’s side streets in Brooklyn and the smell of fried food on a bright and tidy boardwalk are what really make living here an off the radar experience every day…if you want it. And once in awhile it is so worth it to go to Gowanus — if for no other reason than homemade whipped cream (cause lemme tell ya, it ain’t for the scenery). But getting off the radar is never really about what’s pretty anyway. It’s about what else is out there. Thanks, mom and dad. Now I remember.