Okay, so I follow Gail Simmons on Twitter. It’s legal-er than following her in real life. I mean, come on, that would be creepy. When she posts about how she just enjoyed a meal at some boojwah restaurant on either coast, I’ll take note. Maybe someday when I’m a rich television celebrity I’ll be able to enjoy the finer things in life, too. Until then I’ll just keep eating my $4 char-broiled hamburgers from the stand on the corner and dreaming of a life in which Gail escorts me around the country like the prized show pony I am. Are show ponies well-hung? Well, anyway…you can imagine my surprise when I saw Gail “tweet” about an article in the New York Post to which she contributed called “My New York: Gail Simmons”. I guess maybe it’s a regular column where they ask city residents to contribute a list of places that they consider to epitomize life in the city. Even though I live on the left coast now, I could probably still give Gail a run for her money with my own cool list about my New York. Notably absent from the list: Lower East Side dive bars, record stores (I’m spoiled now), and Trash & Vaudville, where Jimmy has been begging me to strip down and try on goth clothes and skin-tight jeans for him since I was in high school!
1) Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger, 739 Broadway – As remembered in “Adventures In Dating,” this was a directional landmark I used for years and never frequented until one cold wintry night I met a girl for a date there. I don’t know if it was my ordering a milkshake and a side of fries that didn’t get me laid that night, or if it was the fact that I was visibly ill with some kind of cold/flu, but the few minutes I spent getting warm in here — while watching a hot blonde chick slurp soup while I said absolutely nothing to her (while expecting to get laid doing so) — left an indelible impression. Later, we rented a movie from Blockbuster and fell asleep together with our clothes off, even though nothing happened! I hope she was at least impressed with my hard-on the next morning. Oh well, I told her to never talk to me again when she hugged me goodbye. There’s a really good egg-and-cheese on a bagel place between her dorm on Hayden Hall and the 9th Street PATH station. As for Soup ‘n’ Burger, I later found out that the burgers are actually really good there. Also, I think someone was murdered there recently.
2) Ginger Man, 11 East 36th St. between 5th & Madison – Every time I am home visiting friends and family my official “welcome home” bash is held here. I’ve frequented the establishment for half a decade now, and their rotating draught selection keeps me returning. It can get a little douchey sometimes with downtown businessmen and annoying Murray Hill young professionals, but so long as you ignore them you can get nice and drunk with your friends on high quality craft beers. This place along with Blind Tiger and Mugs Ale House (Brooklyn) are some of my favorite places to kick back and drink. Did Hop Devil close? That place was really great too. I took Ken there once, he’s got his own fond memories of Hop Devil.
3) North Village Deli Emporium, 74 8th Ave. between 13th St. & Avenue Of The Americas – When I was sixteen years old I worked at a medical office on West 14th Street. I would eat lunch at this shady, poor-excuse for a deli on an almost daily basis. What was so remarkable about my choosing to frequent this establishment was that I was at the height of my food issues stage. I was eating pretty much only carbs: cereal, bagel, pizza and pasta, with the occasional steak or hamburger (only home-cooked). Somehow I didn’t mind this place’s buffet (I ate a LOT of mac and cheese), and their egg sandwiches for breakfast were to die for. When my boss found out I was spending my hour break eating lunch less than a block away at a gross deli he yelled at me. “Evan, you work in New York City — take your hour and fucking explore!” he yelled. So, I did.
4) Arturo’s, 106 W. Houston St. between Broadway & Laguardia Pl – I used to be a John’s brick oven guy, but then I grew up and switched to Arturo’s and their coal oven. Always packed, bursting with live jazz, and never a disappointing pie. Thanks, Ian!
5) The Apartment On 81st St. Where I Got My First Roof-Top Blowjob – I can’t remember the exact address because I was drunk when I drove the girl home, but I parked illegally on the corner and got a hefty ticket while I went upstairs to get a fine blowjob on the roof, presumably in front of dozens of onlookers. This is my New York, Gail Simmons. And if you don’t like how I roll then you can give me a blowjob on the roof of your Chelsea apartment while your husband watches.
6) Lit Lounge, 93 Second Ave between 5th & 6th St. – I don’t know if this place is cool anymore because I haven’t been there in three years, but it was always a fun hipster hangout where you could drink and dance and smoke until the wee hours of the morning. There used to be plenty of dark corners to disappear into also for extracurricular activities. I saw Titan and White Hills for the first time here, too.
7) Taqueria y Fonda, 968 Amsterdam Ave between 107th & 108th St. – What New York is to pizza, Los Angeles is to Mexican food. But this place and their porno burritos could definitely compete with some of the better eateries out west. Their homemade sauces won’t stand up to those made by LA’s east side trucks, but that burrito…so mammoth, and so good.
8) That NYU Apartment Building Near 6th Avenue – I spent so much time getting high here when I was in college, they should have just set me up with a room. Any time I would go into the city I’d take the PATH to 14th Street and walk a block or two to my friend’s place. He’d get me baked and then I could wander aimlessly for hours. Most of the time I’d hit up at the Food Emporium on 6th Ave. and use the ATM to get money to buy pot from him before returning to Jersey. Did I ever tell you about the time he got me really baked before I took the train home and I almost got my ass kicked by a stranger on a crowded subway car because I was too high to understand him saying, “My arm is not a seat!” I made him repeat himself maybe ten times, and by the tenth one he was standing up to punch me in the face. That’s when I finally comprehended what he was saying. Ah, good times.
9) Bleeker St. between 6th & 7th Avenues – When I was in middle school, just about the only bonding time I had with my sister and father would be on Sundays — after my father finished bowling — when he would take my sister and I into the city for brunch and shopping. We found a hole-in-the-wall breakfast place where the chef dressed in drag and wore blue eyeshadow, but made the best pancakes I ever tasted. I would buy handfuls of bootleg CDs at Bleeker Street Records, play guitars at the guitar store, and we’d end our day with either homemade ice cream from Cones or cupcakes from the nearby Magnolia Bakery. It was the early-to-mid ’90s, and everything was right in the world…except for my parents’ impending divorce, but that’s not the point right now. The point is, during my formative years I wore a path down this street and its surroundings, and it became the first small area of New York City I knew and loved. The last time I was back east I met up with friends at the Blind Tiger for beers, and the nostalgia I felt returning to those few square blocks for the first time in years was incredible.
Emeralds – Passing Away