I say that because an unexpected surprise while visiting Victoria was stumbling across the Victoria Highland Games and bearing witness to that singularly unique and moving experience.
It was a pitch black, rain-soaked evening as we headed over to Benaroya Hall, but besides being cold, wet, and wearing inappropriate shoes for the weather, my heart was heavy and conflicted. It had been less than forty-eight hours since the world learned the news of David Bowie’s death; it felt like time had been standing still and my head had been swathed in a hazy cloud of sorrow and disbelief. I wasn’t sure how I could muster up the energy or enthusiasm for a show by any other artist, no matter how much I’d been looking forward to it.
Now there’s something missing when
You’re kissing me
It’s subtle yet it’s gone
And then I’m suspicious
And then it gets vicious
And then it’s a hole right through the heart
And you said you loved me
I thought you loved me
A friend and I were speaking recently about the fact that all bad news arrives first thing in the morning – something I’ve come to dislike immensely recently. A week ago I woke, turned on NPR, and prepared to shower. They were playing an older interview with David Bowie, the content of which I can’t readily recall. I presumed it was in promotion of Blackstar, his twenty-fifth album, released two days earlier on his sixty-ninth birthday. As the clip finished, I dipped in under the showerhead to hear the NPR anchor come back in with, “David Bowie: dead at the age of sixty-nine.”
The truth, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.
At the helm in the kitchen is Chef Abram Bissell, who took over from Gabriel Kreuther in March of 2014 when Kreuther left to open his own restaurant. It was a homecoming of sorts, because Bissell began his NYC career working at The Modern under Kruether before moving on to ever-increasing roles at Meyer-owned restaurants Eleven Madison Park and NoMad. At the time of his return, The Modern had been sporting one Michelin star for several years, but after just a year of Bissell taking charge in the kitchen the restaurant was elevated to two stars.
I‘d been wanting to go to The Noguchi Museum since the first time I visited New York City in the early 1990s, but its Queens location was just far enough out of the way that there never seemed to be enough time to fit it in, and I always ended my trips declaring that I would go the next time I made it to New York. I’m pleased to say that, over twenty years later, I finally made the time; and yes, it was worth the wait.
“You can find out how to do something and then do it or do something and then find out what you did.”
Isamu Noguchi was born in the U.S. but spent most of his childhood in Japan, coming back to the States at age thirteen to finish school. He then began pre-med studies at Columbia University while taking sculpture classes at night. He eventually left Columbia to pursue life as an artist, and in 1926 he had a pivotal moment when he saw an exhibit by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi – a pioneer of the modern art movement – that would permanently change his artistic direction. He went on to move to Paris and spent two years working in Brancusi’s studio after which he split his time between New York and exploring the world.
Nestled in the northwesternmost corner of Washington Heights overlooking the Hudson River, and near where I once lived, The Cloisters was my sanctuary; a place to slow down, calm nerves the city had set alight, and focus, ponder, and recharge. It’s lost none of its quiet power, and it feels very good to be paying a return visit.
Designed by Charles Collens, and taking up four of Fort Tyron’s sixty-six acres, The Cloisters (officially an arm of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) includes parts of five European abbeys that were disassembled, shipped to this high corner of Manhattan, and painstakingly rebuilt stone-by-stone in the 1930s, opening to the public in 1938.
Since I had some issues counting back my days when I made reservations at Sushi Nakazawa, I practiced for a few days in anticipation of making this reservation. What I discovered was that I was having no luck getting a dinner reservation no matter how early or late I was willing to eat, but lunch didn’t seem to be a problem. When the actual day I was shooting for arrived, I still had no luck for dinner; so a lunch reservation it was. The menu offered is the same for either meal – as is the price – and I figured lunch might be a little more casual to allay any lingering fears about formality.
The short version of the story goes that Allessandro Borgognone, a veteran of the restaurant industry but new to the world of sushi and Manhattan fine dining, was watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi one night at home and was so inspired that he wanted to open a sushi restaurant in NYC with Chef Nakazawa at the helm. Finding the chef via Facebook, and with the help of Google translate, the two started a conversation. In August 2013, Sushi Nakazawa was officially open.
Which is not to say I don’t have a deep affection for the city. I do. And on a recent trip in early November, during some gorgeous Autumn weather, I got to share with Kim a few more of the small but meaningful places and things that makes my heart beat large for this place. Pints at the White Horse Tavern. A walk along the Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy an impossibly beautiful sunset, followed by pizza at Grimaldi’s (cash only, no reservations, papers plates – pure gloriousness). An afternoon at The Cloisters – probably my favorite escape in the city and one that I dearly miss living so close to. A late evening sidewalk dinner at a low-key Italian restaurant in the company of dear friend and photographer extraordinaire Bruce Colin.
These are the slices of New York I love to hold in one hand – folded in half, of course – and savor.