August 30th, 2007


One Final New York Report

(originally written on Monday morning... just pulled off my Foleo and posted now)

I'm sitting on my JetBlue flight back to Austin, and I had a few more memories about New York that I wanted to write down.

In my last posting, I forgot to talk about our trip out to Coney Island. I'm glad I went, because redevelopment in the area may mean that this is the last summer with Astroland. A developer bought the land, and the rumor is that they're boosting the rent for the amusement park from $160,000 a year to $3 million.

We took the train out the Brighton Beach and walked down the boardwalk for a ways. Brighton Beach was interesting for its dense Russian population. Many signs were in Cyrillic, and Annelies had to translate some of the text for me. She was really excited to see women selling lots of different kinds of fried dough from little carts.

The boardwalk was long and not in the best repair. There were many uneven boards, and you always felt light you might just step through a hole and lose a limb to the structure. We took care to walk near the middle at one of the support beams just to have a little more wood under our feet.

Astroland was just as I expected, a dirty carnival with rigged games, cheesy rock music, and lots of nasty food. I glanced at the arcade, but I didn't see much in the way of classic video games. The highlight was the Cyclone, the 80-year old wooden roller coaster. We got a car in the middle-rear of the train, sat on the stuffed seats and pulled in the lap bar for an exciting and jerky ride. It wasn't quite as intense as the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, but it had more character.

To end our trip, we walked over to Nathan's and got a plate of crinkly french fries, served with some excellent mustard and two long red plastic forks. There wasn't any free seating, so we found space outside on the sidewalk and ate the fries standing up, swapping between holding drinks and fries. We then walked out the pier and watched men send metal baskets with raw chicken to the bottom of the bay to catch little crabs.

It was great. Hopefully, Coney Island will get a reprieve, but if not, I'm glad I got to see it before it's gone.

More recently, we headed up to Vermont for a wedding. Two of Annelies' friends from college got hitched after seven years of dating in a very pretty ceremony at a rural farm school. We got to help with the setup and breakdown, and I got to run the MacBook and iPods that provided music for the various parts of the evening. I got to spend a lot of time with Ani's friends from school, and there were many car rides of hysterical laughter.

We got back to the city on Sunday afternoon, and for our last night, we went out for Aghani food. The restaurant was lovely, with low tables where you sat on cushions. I really liked the spicy chutney, and the kudu (pumpkin-filled pockets served with yogurt sauce) was quite excellent. While eating, the NYC police closed off the block by the restaurant to traffic. I'm not sure why, but I did see a street sweeper pass by once before it was reopened.

Back in Austin

For a few days, I'm back in Austin... there's more travel coming soon, but nothing that will have me away for months at a time.

It's been a bit odd getting readjusted to life in suburbia. The distance from my house to the nearest shop (the Texan Mart) is about seven NYC city blocks, and the shop is far inferior to most of the not-so-great delis that were on Broadway or Amsterdam. Less foot traffic means fewer sales which means less selection and higher prices which means the store isn't very attractive. The distance between here and the closest eatery is about twelve blocks, and that's either the not-very-veggie Cool River or the not-that-great Bear Creek, and both of those require long walks through parking lots filled with cars that don't know what to do with pedestrians.

On the other hand, I've been really enjoying the local food that I've gotten to by car since arriving: Food Shui, Kerbey Lane, Alamo Drafthouse, Chuy's, and TacoDeli! I also got a jar of homemade pickles in the mail from my friend Jessi yesterday... I had a few last night, and they're spicy and delicious. I had some good food up there, but I like things better here.