I Went to New York and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt

Hey – me again. Today I thought I would review New York City for you. I went there for the first time when I was 12 years old. Back then I was more interested in what new games I was going to get for my GameBoy (Bubble Ghost wasn’t available in Europe and I was very desperate to go to FAO Schwarz and get my hands on it).

Fast forward 28 years, I find myself on a plane to the Big Apple where I am going to spend a few days with some friends from London. It’s my life and I’m living it! NYC and I are about to get reacquainted. We both aged since we last met… NYC went the botox and extreme plastic surgery route (post-gentrification, chain stores and developers dreams), meanwhile I just let it all hang loose.

It started pretty well, I was blasting the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” as I came off the red eye from L.A. (seemed apt), and as my Lyft turned the corner on Queens Blvd, the Manhattan skyline appeared, skyscrapers lost in the morning mist. It surprised me as I was daydreaming about the strange landscapes I’d observed during the long flight.

We flew over Kentucky – or maybe it was Kansas? – and I saw a flower shaped network of towns. It was so quiet down there I wanted to land and hug these towns. I made a mental note to go back there on a road trip. On my plane there was a vampire, a washed-out rockstar and a guy dressed like Jeff Koons’ gold Michael Jackson statue. 

In NYC, the air is sticky and warm like hot toffee pudding. Quite different from what I have grown accustomed to in Los Angeles. Here the air feels like a freshly opened oven. I guess if Los Angeles is a sauna, New York is a steam room.

Driving through Flushing Queens, the Beastie Boys get replaced by the opening credits of “The Nanny“. I quickly take inventory of all of her outfits in my mind. That should provide me with some inspiration for my own outfits during my stay. Feels good to be in a stylish place. Los Angeles is stylish in a lazy way. Works for me most of the time, I am definitely of the jeans and tee-shirt or jumpsuit persuasion.

I don’t really know what to think of NYC. I expected to walk around Williamsburg and sit at cute cafés, rummage for vintage clothes, ponce around between meals and wander into Manhattan. Except in my head obviously the place is empty. Well, not quite empty-empty, but L.A. style empty. Just buzzy enough.

I was eager to see some of the sights again and had a few museums and foundations sitting on my bucket list: the Tenement Museum, Donald Judd Foundation and Noguchi Museum. Above all, I wanted to eat my way through the city because that’s how I like to travel.

The museums and foundations were akin to a religious experience. The Tenement Museum was a truly magical, introspective experience about immigration in the States. This is something I think about often, coming from a family of immigrants on both sides, and having lived as an immigrant in the U.K. and now here in the States. The Donald Judd Foundation and Noguchi Museum went straight into my top five favourite places in the world…

We had the best breakfast at Russ & Daughters, Michelin star Szechuan cuisine at Café China – I also had sad pasta salads on the roof of my hotel when the city’s energy became all a bit much for me. My hotel room was tiny, like a little nest, bed cosily framed by a large sliding window. I retreated there happily at the end of a long day wandering around. I could watch the sun set over Brooklyn from my bed as people went about their lives, a few stories down.

It turns out, New York isn’t the one for me. I used to love the buzz of a massive city. That excitement brought me to London, but I grew out of love with London and fled to the West Coast where life is slow and easy (on most days). New York reminded me of all that I left behind. The long days, the crowds, the weather… This trip reminded me why I don’t miss it. Why Los Angeles is the one for me. For now.