DeVotchKa with Seattle Symphony

DeVotchKa

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

-DeVotchKa

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.

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You Would Know the Secret of Death

The truth, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.

-David Bowie

David Bowie

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.”

Wait… what?

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The Modern

Peanut butter and jelly with milk ice cream

Peanut butter and jelly with milk ice cream

Our last night in New York was spent catching up with a friend we hadn’t seen for a few years over dinner at The Modern – a chic, Michelin-starred restaurant that overlooks the sculpture court at the Museum of Modern Art. Opened in 2005 by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the restaurant offers a choice of a three, four, or eight- course tasting menu, while the lively adjoining bar area offers an à la carte menu.

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.

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Noguchi Museum

“You can find out how to do something and then do it or do something and then find out what you did.”

-Isamu Noguchi

A stone installed (in the absence of wind) - The Stone Within (1982)

A stone installed (in the absence of wind) – The Stone Within (1982)

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.

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.

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The Cloisters

The Unicorn in Captivity (The Hunt of the Unicorn)

The Unicorn in Captivity (The Hunt of the Unicorn)

It’s a beautiful Autumn afternoon as Kim and I make our way up the trails through Fort Tryon to The Cloisters museum. The sun is shining through leaves dappled in fall colors, birds are singing, and there’s a happy hum in my heart as the noise and clatter of the rest of the city falls far behind us.

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.

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Eleven Madison Park

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

I knew we’d be fortunate enough to have a few really nice meals in NYC, but I wanted to have at least one over-the-top extravagance. I initially hesitated about Eleven Madison Park because I was afraid it would be too formal for our liking, but everything I read assured me that would not be the case and with its three Michelin stars, four-star New York Times review, and a Number Five rating in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, it seemed like EMP would be as good of a blow-out as it gets.

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.

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Sushi Nakazawa

Chef Nakazawa serves us snow crab

Chef Nakazawa serves us snow crab

A little over two years ago, Craig and I celebrated my birthday at Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant, where we sat at the bar eating an omakase meal with two famous chefs on the other side: Shiro Kashiba and Daisuke Nakazawa. Both are former apprentices of Jiro Ono, the subject of the beautiful, inspiring documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. We didn’t know it then, but plans were already in the works for Chef Nakazawa to add his name to a new sushi restaurant in New York’s West Village.

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.

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New York City

Gorgeous November sunset from the Brooklyn Bridge

Gorgeous November sunset from the Brooklyn Bridge

The first time I lived in New York, back in the early ‘90s, a poll came out claiming that fifty percent of the city’s residents found living in the Big Apple “hellish,” while sixty percent said they’d move somewhere else if they could afford to. It seemed about right. There’s a push-pull, love-hate, yin-yang to the city that can pull on the heartstrings while it stabs you in the back. It’s why I loved living there, couldn’t wait to leave, missed it terribly after I was gone, and grumble with nostalgia whenever I return. No other place has this effect on me the way New York City does.

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.

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Wolf Haven

Wolf Haven International

Wolf Haven International

In October, we had the opportunity to pay an early morning visit to Wolf Haven International as part of a photography tour. Recently accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), Wolf Haven’s mission is to “conserve and protect wolves and their habitat” while also providing “sanctuary for displaced, captive-born wolves.”

Most of the sanctuary’s population consists of wolves or wolf/dog hybrids rescued from private owners or situations where the animals’ health or well-being were at risk. I was somewhat surprised to discover, happily so, that it is illegal in many states to own or breed “wolfdogs” — though in some states like Alaska it is, oddly and disappointingly, legal to own a pure wolf. At Wolf Haven, these animals are paired where appropriate and placed in outdoor enclosures. They don’t have free run as they would in the wild, but they do have a high quality of life under the circumstances.

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SAAS STREAM Grand Opening

Exterior view of the SAAS STREAM building

Exterior view of the SAAS STREAM building

A year and a half ago, I wrote about the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences STREAM building. At the time, it was a project that I’d been working on for a couple of years already, starting with an amendment to SAAS’s master plan, developing the project program, and then moving forward with the design of the building. We were in the midst of construction documents and gearing up to begin construction that summer, in anticipation of welcoming students into their brand new classrooms in the fall of 2015. Almost four years since we started work on the master plan, that day has finally arrived and the building is full of life — with students, robots, art, and excitement around every corner.

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