chrishansenhome: (Default)
Coming of gay age in New York City in the 1970's and 1980's was vibrant. The availability of easy sex on the piers at the end of Christopher Street dissolved into the AIDS crises beginning in the early 1980's. Bars opened, continued, and closed. Apparel and leatherwear shops opened, flourished, and closed. The Christopher Street Bookstore flourished too, along with Ty's, Boots and Saddles, the Stonewall, the Oscar Wilde Bookshop, Manatus, and all the rest.

If you were around Christopher Street in these days, you'll find your heart and mind taken back there by this walk through the gay village. I am now mired in reminiscence, and thank Matt Rettenmund for the heads-up.

I remember the first man I knew with AIDS, who lived a few blocks north of Christopher on Bleecker. He had been a social worker, and we spent lots of time having coffee around the area, talking over politics, men, and AIDS. He died in around 1985 or so.

I remember the many years I attended and assisted at Integrity/New York's eucharists at St. Luke's in the Fields just south of Christopher on Hudson. The first week I attended, in February 1988, I circled the block twice before I got the gumption to go in. The President, Nick Dowen, was so welcoming that, although I had to run out as their speaker was someone from the leftwing political group I had belonged to, I returned the next week and became an Episcopalian in October.

I remember each Pride March I attended, every year, and the exhilaration of walking down Fifth Avenue and then turning on to Christopher Street and ending up at the Pride festival. What a privilege and a pleasure that was!

No other place I've lived except for London has as many associations for me as a gay man. I'm proud to have been a small part of it, and while I realise that time marches on and the gay village has moved to Chelsea, I would love to go back and have a lovely lunch at Manatus followed by a civilised drink in Two Potato, with all those whom I loved but see no longer.
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For those of us who have lived in New York City, hardly anything about the subway system surprises us. Delays? Yawn! The blind saxophonist who used to ply the #1 train years ago, but who could navigate through the end doors with ease? A tourist attraction! The screech when the #1 train used to navigate the tight turn at the old South Ferry station? Turn up your iPod volume!

But for some commuters, there was a new sight on one platform that stayed there for days without any official intervention.
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Many of us live in cities with underground transport systems: Singapore's MRT, London's Tube system, New York's Subway, Boston's T. There is an unwritten rule on the train: do not talk to strangers unless there is an emergency.

The guy who made the video below broke that taboo, with amazing results. Thanks to Roger Ebert, a great blogger, for drawing it to my attention.

DC and NYC

Jun. 3rd, 2009 10:35 pm
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Last week I flew from Boston to Washington DC. I hadn't been in DC for more than 20 years, so it was a real treat. I stayed with our former flatmate Brett, who is a superb chef and the kind of person you just like, automatically. He lives on M Street NW, and when I landed at Dulles I had no idea how far away everything is there. We had to take a strange bus to another building, then walk for miles (it seemed) to get luggage. I found Super Shuttle, boarded that, and then sat back for a 3/4 hour drive into DC proper. I was flabbergasted. I understand that the Metro will be extended out there in the middle future. It will be much easier to get into the city when it is.

Brett is, as you would expect, the superb host and we chatted and ate most of the time he was there. He had to duck out for a food gig in New York over a long weekend but otherwise we enjoy each other's company and have much to talk about.On Thursday night we had dinner at a lovely Mexican restaurant across from the Verizon Center.

During the week I had a lovely visit to the National Portrait Gallery with [livejournal.com profile] legalmoose, which was just wonderful and very educational for me. The pictures of Richard Nixon were quite amusing. That evening I had dinner with [livejournal.com profile] tim1965 at Annie's Restaurant near Dupont Circle, where I had a lovely burger. Afterwards we walked around a bit, saw the White House at night, and took pictures.

I nearly forgot! When I was checking in for the flight, the clerk told me that my suitcase was 5 lbs. overweight, so I shifted some stuff into my carryon. When I got to Washington, I discovered that my camera's LCD screen was cracked. I presume that pressure from stuffing that material into my carryon is what did it. It took me a few days to find the Best Buy, but I bought a new camera, 12.5 megapixels, and it seems to work well. I hate airlines.

On Saturday I spent the day in Virginia with [livejournal.com profile] mouseworks, who is a friend from soc.motss. She was kind enough to drive me far into the horse country in Virginia, where we lunched on (in my case) a burger (surprise!) We then went on to Chrysalis Winery and had a tasting, with some pretty good wines and a couple real stinkers. We were herded out in advance of a wedding party. We ended our day at a Chinese restaurant where I got attention because of my man bag (bought in Shanghai with "To serve the people" written on it in Chinese). Had Ma Po tofu which was a bit too white-peppered for me. Spent the evening at home.

Sunday I did laundry, then met my friend Randy, who owns Integrity Lightspeed, an email list for LBGT Anglicans and their friends, for lunch at a Thai restaurant at Dupont Circle--I thought it was called "Thaifoon" but can't find a clear URL for it, so maybe not. Green chicken curry (natch) was very good, as was the conversation with Randy, whom I haven''t seen for many years. Lovely to see him again and hang out in the park watching the world go by.

That evening I had dinner with Brett's and my friend Bev at the Sofitel hotel at McPherson Square, near the White House. The dinner and conversation were superb, and Bev being the head pastry chef there knew everything on the menu. The waiter was hot, too.

Monday I took a ride on the Red Line to its end in Maryland and back. Somewhat scenic. Then Brett returned from his (very successful) New York gig, and we had dinner at a Belgian brasserie close to downtown. Then I had to pack for travel on Tuesday.

A very sad goodbye to Brett, then a taxi to Union Station. I took the 1 pm Acela Express first class to New York. It was a lovely trip--the food (beef tenderloin) was excellent, much better than anything I've ever gotten on a plane. Taxi up to East Harlem where [livejournal.com profile] mc4bbs and KK live and where I am now staying. Their friend Susan gave me the keys and explained the key system, then left me alone to enjoy my stay here, as [livejournal.com profile] mc4bbs and KK are elsewhere at the moment.

Today I discovered that my left big toenail has separated from the bed yet again and a bit of fluid and blood squirted from underneath when I wiggled it. I cleaned it out with alcohol and put a plaster on it while I debated what to do. In walking to the subway I discovered that there is a foot doctor around the corner. I will call them tomorrow morning and perhaps get seen. I don't think it's infected. I bought some gauze, Bactine, and adhesive tape this afternoon and have disinfected and taped it up. I will keep tabs on it. However, I will need to go to the foot clinic at Kings next week and demand that they refer me urgently for orthopedic shoes, as they have promised three times. I need to protect my feet when I travel, as that seems to be the situation where things happen to my feet.

I went down to South Ferry to see the new subway station there. It was quite interesting how they have shoehorned it into the small spaces available down there. Now there is no reason to sit in the first 5 cars when going down there. I got a sandwich and Diet Coke for lunch and ate it in Battery Park.

Then I decided to get to 14th Street to buy an additional bag to travel back to London next week, and then get to 1st Avenue to take the bus up to 106th Street. So I got on the W train. Who should then walk into the same car and sit down but Nick Dowen, my good friend from Integrity/New York who lives on Staten Island! Such coincidences happen in New York! We will probably have lunch next Tuesday before I go.

This evening I went to dinner on 118th and First at Patsy's Restaurant. Had 1/2 a pizza and a Caesar salad with my friend The Rev'd John Halborg, who lived on the floor below me in the Bronx and is now a retired New York priest. We discussed sad events such as the death of a good friend and laughed over memories of days past.

Tomorrow the reunion begins with a cocktail party in the evening. I hope that my foot cooperates.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
I have continuous wifi again!!! I will blog some more tomorrow about my week in DC, but suffice it to say that I have arrived in NYC courtesy of Acela Express, first-class. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] mc4bbs and KK, who are not here but who have graciously lent the use of their apartment.

If anyone in NYC wants to have lunch or dinner this week or early next week, respond to this post and we'll see what we can do.
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I love New York—so much so that I did 25 years there before I moved away. The video below is a testimony to the real power of viral video and the humour that New Yorkers create. You may not get the gimmick for a while, but it's worth it.


The Lost Tribes of New York City from Carolyn London on Vimeo.
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When I was a mere undergraduate at Columbia, I regularly attended St. John the Divine Cathedral on Sundays. The most thrilling part of the service, to me, was when the ceremonial trumpets of the pipe organ sounded at the Offertory.

The organ was seriously damaged by the fire in December 2001 that gutted the transept. Well, the building is almost restored, and so is the pipe organ. If you have a chance, and you're in New York on a Sunday, do go to St. John the Divine to hear the instrument that so thrilled me in 1972.
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I haven't lived in New York for nearly 17 years, so perhaps I shouldn't have an opinion, but it is really sad that the callgirl scandal is putting paid to his career and forcing him to resign (his aides say that will happen later Wednesday). The Repugs have been in control of the State Senate for decades, and it looked at one point like they might lose control to Democrats after the election this November. Now I'm not even sure that the Democrats can keep control of the State Assembly.

The first thing the Democrats will have to do is rally round the new Governor, David Paterson, who would be only the fourth black state governor in US history. He is also legally blind from a congenital condition called optic atrophy. So he'd be the nation's first blind governor (perhaps he can get in touch with another David, David Blunkett, our former Education/Home/Work and Pensions Secretary here in the UK, who is also blind). He is the son of another New York politician, Basil Paterson, who was Borough President of Manhattan for many years. He's going to have a lot of stuff dumped on him in the next few hours and he will need help and support. If he then pulls a surprise and captures the State Senate in November, he'll be a miracle worker. Paterson's office as Lieutenant Governor will not be filled between now and the next regular gubernatorial election in 2010; until then, the president-pro tem of the State Senate, 78-year-old Joseph Bruno, a Repug, will perform the duties of the Lieutenant Governor, which include acting as Governor when the Governor himself is out of the state.

I gather that the FBI's attention was drawn to Governor Spitzer through moneylaundering investigations. Again, even though prostitution is illegal (and in giving a callgirl a train ticket to Washington he was also committing a Federal offense under the Mann Act), it was the money that betrayed him in the end--a distinction he shares with Al Capone. The papers seem to imply that if Spitzer resigns, he will most likely be tried and, if convicted, sentenced to no jail time as his disgrace is thought to be punishment enough.

One good thing: no one will be able to tar the Democrats with Spitzer's activities in November: they are almost unanimous in saying that he must resign and they want nothing to do with him. Contrast that with some Repugs who defended Richard Nixon to the bitter end.
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First, we have the meeting of [livejournal.com profile] chrishansenhome and [livejournal.com profile] alwaysroom4gelo



Then, we have spooky mannequins in a shop window close to where I was staying:



and, finally the Statue of Liberty against the red sky at night, which is a sailor's delight, they say:



Still jetlagged, I should head for bed.
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Sunday at 11 am I was compos mentis enough to attend the Church of the Holy Apostles on 28th and 9th Avenue. Unluckily, it was the Sunday of their annual meeting, so I didn't get to schmooze much. The liturgy there is very Hebrews 13:8, but the news that the Rector is retiring in July was a surprise. Somehow I thought he'd go on forever. We chatted (I hadn't departed the parish in good temper with him, but that was in 1990 and 18 years is a long long time and a galaxy very far away). There is one parishioner whom I remember; she is English (but a war bride) and 86 years young; we chatted away for quite a while.

Then on to brunch with my friend David H. David is timelessly young and cool and even kewl. We found a Turkish restaurant at which I had soup and two appetisers, and talked and talked. What I didn't do is have the waitress take a picture...I am so silly sometimes. Must have been jetlag.

That evening I took my two Indian assistant QA managers, who had arrived in New Jersey the day before from India, to dinner. I thought to myself, "Well, I'll take them to 6th Street between First and Second Aves., where all the Indian restaurants are. WRONG!!! They are all Bangladeshi restaurants, of course (like most "Indian" restaurants in the UK), but even my assistants didn't twig to that, and chose a restaurant called the "Taj Mahal". The food was awful, they tried to feed beef to a Hindu, and another of them got an upset tummy from it somewhat later. I have learned my lesson. Take people to restaurants you yourself are familiar with, not to ones that seem to be of their ethnic food. There also weren't any other subcontinental people in that restaurant. We should have known right away.

Monday was the first day at work. Found my way around, discovered that the receptionist was, as is often the case, one of the nicest people in the place: she found me a desk after all the other desks were taken as there had been a mixup. I bought her a box of chocolates today in thanks. Always good to give tangible thanks to people who are nice to you. It pays dividends.

Last night I went to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] alwaysroom4gelo, whom I had never met before. What a wonderful smile and grin he has! He is really so nice and full of smiles that even though I was jetlagged I was uplifted. We went to a Japanese buffet, which he swore had things other than fish. Did they! It was wonderful! I didn't overeat, even though karen, our server, professed herself to be unhappy that we didn't eat more. We talked about immigration, New York, gay life, lovers, ex- and current, and all sorts of things. I am so grateful to LiveJournal, as I have met so many lovely people though it that I would never have met otherwise.

I'm about to leave for dinner with my old friend Jerry and almost as old friend John up in the Bronx at the Piper's Kilt pub. More later, as it happens.

There will be a pic of myself and [livejournal.com profile] alwaysroom4gelo as the waitress duly obliged us.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
...barely. I got off to a good start in London, as I got through bag drop off and security in record time. Then we got on the plane and the fun started.

I've often complained about British Airways's food, and this time was no different. The cabin attendant (Scottish) came down the aisle offering the entree, and when he got to me I thought he said "Chicken casserole or fresh pie." "Fresh pie!" I thought, "I could use some beef right now." Well, it wasn't fresh pie he was offering, it was FISH pie! What a shock. Luckily, as it was British Airways, the fish tasted nothing like fish so I could choke it down.

Then I went to sleep. I was in an aisle seat. A married couple (youngish) sat next to me. Suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder. It was the cabin attendant, asking me to move so that the married couple could troop to the toilet. I told them, "Please, if you need to get up, you can wake me up. You don't need to get a higher authority to do it." They were sheepish, in more ways than one.

I had tried to get my iPod Nano going. I selected a song, and it froze. Nothing I pressed would unfreeze it. So I was convinced it was broken. (In the hotel room, I found that if I connected it to my laptop the computer booted the iPod so it now seems OK again.) Not a great flight, with no decent music.

However, I found that they were running an old episode of Yes, Prime Minister, the one where the PM moans about what an absolute evil man his predecessor was. Then the news comes in that his predecessor has just died. Then a Simpsons, and the pilot of Ugly Betty. I loved! it. I want more!

We got here, I took a cab into town ($45 plus tip and tolls), and to my room at the Holiday Inn Express on W. 29th St. Nice room, low on the amenities but big. Went to Moonstruck Restaurant on 23rd and 9th for dinner; yet again, I'm bamboozled by the huge American portions. And the meatloaf tasted like they put nutmeg or allspice in it (which they probably did). Back to my room to read and write this post. Now to bed. Hoping to go to dinner with [livejournal.com profile] alwaysroom4gelo Monday night, after the torture at work begins.
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...I forgot to mention that any other denizens of the Bay State or environs who want to toddle up to Boston to have dinner with me and possibly others should email me or reply to this entry. I'd love to meet other ljers in that area.

Future travel plans are:

  • New York City, either third or last week of January;

  • Pune, India, some time in February, probably early.

Hope to see some of you either next week or in January. I'm not aware of any lj friends of mine in India, but if you're there, do give us a shout.
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The assignment with the big investment bank has come through; the official word will be in on Monday, according to the client manager. The first move in this project will be a trip to New York for me. The tentative schedule is 24-28 September, Monday through Friday, with possible arrival on 23rd September and departure on 28th.

So, New York lj friends, you going to be around that week? Anyone want to suggest a restaurant for dinner (no fish, please, but vegetarian or carnivorous is OK for me)? I would love to meet y'all.

Comment on this entry and we can get cracking.
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If you're in New York, or lived there, you'll love this site. You'll never be marooned far from a known restaurant if you consult it.
chrishansenhome: (Default)
is here, from Overheard in New York. Who knew that statistic about bibles?
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Does anyone who reads my journal except me remember The Automat? Horn and Hardart used to run many of these restaurants, up until 1991 when the last one closed in New York City. You provided yourself with change, went to the wall of little doors, selected what you wanted and put coins in the slot. Then you turned the knob and, presto! The door opened and you got your food.

Well, Bamn is opening on St. Mark's Place in New York City; a modern automat with an Asian kick. I can't wait to get to New York, arm myself with some quarters, and try it. The New York Sun article is here.

Yumn!

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