Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gluttony + Revelry (Part 1)

New York is such a spectacular city. After growing up in Los Angeles, becoming an adult in Boston, and spending two years of graduate school in Chicago, New York remains my archetypal "place where anything is possible." New York seems to contain the entire world within is small circumference; I am often tempted to muse upon the idea that one could meet almost any type of person that could possibly exist in the whole world here. And, further, like to go on little adventures to try and find people I couldn't meet anywhere else. The last two and a half months of interning, working, researching and wandering in the city have done little to suppress my life long desire to really be a New Yorker. (Soon! When the thesis is done, apartment is packed, and my MA degrees are bestowed...In other words, in 10 short, busy months...)  This weekend I was able to indulge in dinner at Candle 79 and 4 Course Vegan, see a band play that inspires me, meet people I would never have met outside a communal table, and actually make some progress on my thesis proposal. While I failed to charge my camera and therefore have no photos worth sharing of either of my meals, I'd like to share my marvelous weekend with you anyway. (This will be a two-part entry due to my inability to tell a story in brief terms.)

It all began Wednesday evening. J (the infamous ex with whom I am currently co-habitating out of financial necessity) had just returned two days prior from nearly two months of travel. Tensions were high. Having learned in the time since we split that he is not the person I loved so deeply, that despite the fact that he spent two years telling me that he had never loved anyone as much as he loved me he now claims to never have loved me at all, that he is as complacent as all the "bougie normals" he rails against, and that he is (and this is most unforgivable) a liar who lies out of laziness and cowardice, I don't particularly enjoy having to spend time with him. So, needless to say, being in a tiny Manhattan apartment together is less than pleasant. Wednesday was particularly tense as J was engaged in that classic pissy roommate behavior: Loud, passive-aggressive cleaning. (Its crucial to note here that the apartment was very clean when he arrived and turned into a horror show within 24 hours, so I'm not really sure why he was cleaning at me.)

Anyway, in the last couple of months I've been trying to embrace the single life. This includes making an effort to meet other single people, love myself more, and not worry about potentially dying alone under a landslide of my own magazines, books, and records. In an effort to date casually and meet more people who share some of my core values (A love of bicycles, books, vegetables, experimental film, and drone music...) I've been engaged in the dreaded apogee of consumer culture: ONLINE DATING. For the most part, I'm happy to say that as much as I am disturbed by the fact that I have been essentially shopping for companionship, I've had mostly positive interactions with all online sources from that site that I would prefer to call OKBuddy...Because, I really doubt that I'll meet my life partner on the internet. (Though, clearly, I haven't ruled it out.)

Regardless of my ambivalence toward online dating, Wednesday night OKBuddy handed me an offer I couldn't refuse: Dinner at Candle 79 and Spiritualized at Radio City. OK buddy, I'm in! The offer came from a Chicago-based fellow who I had recently "checked out" when he appeared in my match listings due to our similar interests in veganism, bicycles, hot tubs, tattoos, terrible comedic popcorn movies, and mid-1990's indie rock. He was planning a whirlwind trip to New York for the Spiritualized concert and his friend, who had planned to join him from Philly was no longer able to make it. Would I, strange but nice-seeming girl from the internet be interested in saving this strange but nice-seeming (If a bit forward in his request) boy from having to eat an indulgent meal and sit through an emotionally intense musical experience alone? Yes. Yes, I would.

Friday arrives. I'm nearly nervous, I eat very little all day in anticipation of deliciousness. After a busy day of organizing applications to the artist residency program I am interning with, I hop on the 5 train uptown to meet said stranger from the internet

I'm glad that I didn't. The food was spectacular. Stranger from the internet (SFI from now on.) is capable of carrying on a conversation, is a quiet and well-mannered diner, and laughs at my jokes. We eat the following:

Avocado-Tomato Tartare with Mushroom Ceviche and House made Crackers. (Raw.)
While this wouldn't have been my first choice off the appetizer list, it was quite delicious. And it primed my appetite well for the entrée to follow. I think, had it been spicier, or hit with a bit more acid, it would have been the perfect simple opener. It was just, I don't know, a bit simple.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake (SFI's order)
This is what I had planned to order all day. But, when our charming and extremely handsome (Call me!) waiter read the specials I was distracted by an ornate sounding seitan special. Luckily SFI is open to sharing, so I got to try it. And, I mist say, this is a lovely little dinner. It combines so many textures and the red-pepper and North African curry purée really transforms the chickpea cake into a little miracle. Again, I would have made it spicier.

I had the Seitan special which came breaded on top of greens, wild mushrooms, and farro in a sour Summer cherry sauce. I had been freezing in the office all day and the special was rich, warm, and so satisfying after a day of shivering. I generally steer clear of meat-like vegan foods as I prefer less-processed things and generally don't like anything that tastes anything like chicken. But, this was an exception. I'd say that this meal was a definite example of something you could present to a skeptical non-vegan to show them just how satisfying, flavorful, and rich vegan food can be.

I also had a great glass of wine. The Maysara, Biodynamic Pinot Gris (2008, Oregon) was really dry and had a beautiful mineral palette that paired really nicely with the cherry sauce on the seitan. I'm going to have to find a bottle of this wine to have at home! Hopefully they'll stock it at Astor Place Wines, my go to spot in the neighborhood. 

After dinner (We went Dutch, lest you think this all sounds a bit like I'm moonlighting as a hip escort.), we rushed over to Radio City, arriving just as Spiritualized took the stage with a full orchestra and a gospel choir to perform Jason Pierce/ J. Spaceman's epic 1997 classic Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space. Now, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. Considering that the last five months have found me emotionally wrecked, disillusioned, and a little out of control sitting 14 rows from the stage and being completely permeated with the big walls of vibrating strings and horns and voices and guitars and drums and an organ was like a homeopathic intervention into the core of my delicate being.

This terrible iPhone picture is my ridiculous attempt to capture the un-capturable.

This isn't the kind of thing one generally wants to experience with a stranger. But, it was actually great. We were both effected and I don't think he noticed that I was crying and he had the good taste to not talk to me during the concert or try to pretend that we shared some sort of intimate connection because we'd just had this really powerful experience. (I take this as a good sign that SFI and I will hang out again and have legitimate friendship potential. Rare are the individuals who can navigate these kinds of experiences without treading too close or being too removed.) The performance was incredible--A bit beyond words. The recording is big and complex, the lyrics speak to a rock bottom that is a little too familiar, but being in the room and being able to feel the sounds as they moved through the air and knowing that they were touching all of these other people was really, really amazing. As my friend Ben said in an e-mail today, "Thank you music!" I will note that all of those freaks who were making out during the show sort of gave me the chills. Ladies and Gentleman is nothing is not a a suicide letter to a broken heart. It is most definitely not the kind of thing that makes you feel twee and romantic, its dark and unpredictable and chaotic. I suspect that many of those doe-eyed smoochers have not really given this magnum opus too deep of a listen.

After the concert we ran into a friend that I hadn't seen in about five years. So, SFI and I went our separate ways. He was remarkably good-natured about my decision to have a drink with my friend rather than continue our outing. (We have communicated since, so I don't think its because he was trying to get rid of me...Hah!) I was pleasantly surprised, given that all the negative things that have come from my experience on OKBuddy involve men and women who think that they are entitled to be aggressive when you are a) no longer interested; b) too busy or not interested in responding to them; c) have an extenuating circumstance that causes you to cut an outing short. My friend is one of those people who is nearly impossible to make plans with and I was so happy to be able to catch up with him. Though, in reality, we were both a bit too blown apart by the festival of sound we had just experienced to communicate too much. I'd say more, but our conversation traversed a lot of raw and private ground. To discuss it with the levity and ambiguity required in this forum would trivialize it and feel exploitative. Suffice to say, when I arrived back to the apartment and snuggled up with the cat and had to chat with J, I was less irritated by his presence having been reminded that sincere, honest, and brave people exist and that the world is full of amazing experiences even in the most ordinary moments.


  1. I can't believe you have to live with your ex. What a nightmare. But if it doesn't kill you, it will only make you stronger. And ummm I love Spiritualized! A vegan dinner followed by this concert...sounds like the perfect date! So glad I found you on 20SB!

  2. Thankfully, our cohabitation is very temporary! Thanks for reading and nice to meet you!