New York, Minnesota

August 5, 2014 § 7 Comments

Throughout the day, I felt like I was back in New York City. Maybe it was the old stone apartment buildings reminiscent of Brooklyn, the Copper Hen cakery and Glam Doll gourmet doughnuts, the Russian cocktails on the patio, the graffiti and odd art sightings, or the gigantic cathedral.

Whatever it was, it left me nostalgic for the greatest city in the world. Happy I can find aspects of it wherever I go.


July 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Just like NYC.

Scaffolding in St. Paul

Hopper Heyday

May 15, 2014 § 3 Comments

When spring feels more like winter, it’s best to plan an evening indoors. Something akin to a visit to the Walker Art Center, then Heyday, the new “it” restaurant in town.

The Walker’s fantastic Edward Hopper exhibit explores the artist’s process through his rarely shown drawings. The collection primarily focuses on the charcoal and fabricated chalk drawings of Hopper’s early years and the drafts or storyboards for his paintings.

The Walker also displays a number of his painted works alongside the accompanying drafts. I particularly enjoyed a filmed walking tour of New York City highlighting the buildings that likely served as inspiration for Hopper’s most famous paintings, including “Nighthawks” and “Early Sunday Morning.”

Dinner and drinks followed at Heyday. I loved the atmosphere. A wood-burning stove in the kitchen smelled like home, and along with the lumberjack-meets-hipster decor, the place had the aura of an art collector’s cabin (but I could have done without the quotes and words written on the walls — a fad I’ve never quite embraced).

The food and drinks were good, but not exceptional, and the portions were small. And the poor acoustics and music piped in overhead made it difficult to have a conversation.

Hence, the Heyday was a bit of a Letdown.

High-decibel interference is an annoying prerequisite for any new, fun food space, and it’s a trend I despise. I don’t mind a busy buzz at a restaurant, but I find myself staying away from places that insist on a loud atmosphere to make the place appear lively. A space can have energy without manufacturing noise to draw people in. Good food and service and an interesting style and concept will keep people coming back.

Maybe restauranteurs will soon remember that the experience of a wonderful meal is not just about the food and the energy, but also about bonding with others, having a meaningful conversation with friends and family, laughing and crying between bites of flan or smoked trout. Unfortunately, that type of magic is priceless and becoming more difficult to capture when out for a lovely dinner.



Utensil chandelier

Utensil chandelier


March 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

I think this was formerly a tangerine, but it looks more like a peach, which it’s not.

Tangerine skin


* * *

Driving home from dinner with friends I heard this song for the first time. The longing for New York City has officially commenced: Elbow — New York Morning

Other Than That, It Was a Fine Day

November 28, 2013 § 6 Comments

A banner day, Thanksgiving was.

I ran a great race — my first since spring, post-injury.

The meal I feared ruining turned out way better than planned.

I was surrounded by lovely people — family, friends, children. I even chatted with a few dogs.

The only bad thing? I learned Saul Leiter, one of my favorite photographers, died the other day. I had clung to the hope that I’d bump into him on the Lower East Side one day, ask him a question or two, then leave him be.

Now I’m left to wonder what will happen to the disorganized photographs, drawings, paintings, and treasures that fill his NYC apartment.

Saul Leiter Red Umbrella 1957

Saul Leiter
Red Umbrella



November 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

The 7 train takes you from underground Manhattan across the river to an elevated track in Long Island City. Passengers emerge from the dark subway to wind through a neighborhood with colorful, old buildings and a spectacular view of the city left behind only moments earlier.

When I took the 7, my destination was always MoMA PS1, an old public school now serving as an exhibition space affiliated with the Modern Museum of Art. But it was 5 Pointz that always stood out on those train rides. The enormous warehouse was covered in graffiti — yellows and reds and blues and the infinite combinations of each.

The building still stands, but not for long. Despite efforts to save it, it’s scheduled for demolition by the end of the year to make way for condos.

Although it’s well-known and famous with street artists and their fans, the new owners white-washed the building yesterday, covering up years of treasured art. They say a wall of the new building will be available for the artists to continue their work, but I’m guessing they will have moved on.

(Note: The graffiti artists were allowed and encouraged to paint the building. They needed a permit to do so, but it was all legal.)

Gothamist has posted before and after photos, but I prefer to remember 5 Pointz like I saw it, as an evolving canvas from my train window and from these pictures I took on the street last September.

Curing Cancer and Feeding Baby Tigers With Eyedroppers

November 15, 2013 § 3 Comments

Good writers eavesdrop.

Think about conversations you’ve overheard at a party, in the cube nearby at work, in a public restroom, or while riding the subway. Just one perfect random sentence or two and you’ve got a story, or at least a solid start on one.

New York is an ideal place to eavesdrop, for there are many conversations to choose from, and you can casually listen in without blowing your cover (crowded subway during rush hour = opportune time to hear about how the woman next to you is suffering from bunions and a husband who won’t stop bringing home peppered mackerel and kippered salmon from Russ & Daughters despite her severe smoked-fish allergy).

But seriously, wait until rush hour. Empty subway cars do not good eavesdropping make.

But seriously, wait until rush hour. Empty subway cars do not good eavesdropping make.

One of my favorite overheard conversations took place on Coney Island on a quiet, cold morning. It was a long discussion among three friends on a bench, a portion of which I posted last year.

I also vaguely remember listening to two college students talking somewhere near NYU. I’d forgotten about the conversation until I came across my notes the other day. They were talking too fast for me to get much of anything. But I did manage to capture this little gem:

“Curing cancer and feeding baby tigers with eyedroppers.” 

Those eight little words are the perfect start to a short story on two volunteers who constantly try to one-up each other. Or a piece on lame college application essays. Or whatever I want it to be.

Tomorrow morning you should go out and listen in on a conversation to which you weren’t invited. But be discreet. And respectful. And then see what you discover about your capabilities as a writer. The exercise will stretch your creative muscle and help you develop well-rounded characters upon which all your readers will love to eavesdrop.

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