2010-09-29 / Other News

New York City is one adventure after another

By BENNIE BLALOCK Travel Correspondent bargainshoes@aol.com

The Gershwin Hotel with its 'flame' facade which was designed by an inhouse artist. The center flame extends into the lobby of the hotel. The Gershwin Hotel with its 'flame' facade which was designed by an inhouse artist. The center flame extends into the lobby of the hotel. It just so happened that I was in New York recently. Anyone who knows me knows that I love New York City. There is such great energy there with Broadway Plays, jazz clubs, fabulous restaurants, Central Park and the list could go on and on. Why, just walking down any street in New York is an adventure.

I always stay in a different hotel when I go and the Gerswhin Hotel is different in many ways. It is fashioned in the so-called European style that means it is sparsely furnished with no rugs, shower only, but at least there was a TV in the bedroom. There was a huge inflated moose head on the wall over the bed that looked like a giant tick when you were lying under it. We had a suite but you could share a room with a stranger or share a bathroom to cut costs if you like. The Gershwin is partly owned by one of Andy Warhol’s old drinking buddies. There are old photographs and art in the hallways and an interesting 3-D bellman in the elevator. The good thing about the Gershwin is that it is on 27th Street just down from Broadway, which is in the Garment District and where I go to buy for the store. FYI: the Gershwin is two doors down from the Museum of Sex. It offers insight and embarrassment in every aisle. Downstairs is the Aphrodisiac Café. That is all I’m going to say about that.

A West Indies warrior participates in the American-West Indies parade and festival in Brooklyn. A West Indies warrior participates in the American-West Indies parade and festival in Brooklyn. Luckily, we got into the Jazz Standard on Saturday night to see Mose Allison. The Jazz Standard features many up and coming jazz artists along with established musicians. Thankfully they also give old timers a place to do their thing. Mose Allison is an 84-year-old jazz singer who is still banging out great tunes on the piano. In the 70s his songs were recorded by bands such as The Who, Yardbirds, and others. Upstairs to the Standard is Blue Smoke, a barbecue joint. You order from the Blue Smoke and eat in the Jazz Standard. I noticed a guy sitting next to Susie painstakingly eating a plate of ribs with a knife and fork. As far as I’m concerned no crowd is too uppity that you can’t gnaw rib meat off the bone like God intended. We had shrimp corn dogs. Yep, battered shrimp deep-fried on a stick with spicy dipping sauce.

Susie had never been on the Empire State Building so we went up. Night was falling when we got to the observation deck and there was a beautiful sunset. As we were enjoying the lights of the city I noticed that it appeared there was a restaurant on top of one of the buildings. We could tell that it was near our hotel so we decided to check it out. Sure enough, there was this great place on the 20th floor roof of a building on 6th Avenue. It had interesting landscaping, a starry sky above us with the Empire State Building as a backdrop. Since it was windy and cool they had red hooded robes available to keep you warm. It looked like some strange cult sitting in the dark in red hooded robes sipping on martinis and munching nachos.

Monday morning I saw on the early news that there was an American- West Indies parade and festival in Brooklyn at 11. A Labor Day tradition, it was expected to draw over 2 million people. Always out for an adventure we hopped on the subway and headed to Brooklyn. For three miles the streets were literally crammed with food vendors, Caribbean culture merchandise, and people. Every float in the parade had ear-splitting music and there had to be thousands of participants dressed in wildly extravagant and beautiful costumes. We wanted to try some West Indies fare so we choose curry goat with rice and beans. I have never had goat but it was very tasty. It was stewed and tasted of pork but beware of the bones.

Afterwards, we took the subway back to Chinatown and had a great Chinese massage. I thought the therapist was going to take my foot off. “U OK,” she asked over and over and I’m sure she could not understand a word I said. For dinner I had steamed sea bass, head and all. I did a number on him but when the waiter came to take my plate he pointed out that I had not eaten the cheeks, so I did. He also mentioned eating the brain. Even I have my limits.

Of course, you cannot go to New York without seeing a Broadway musical. We saw American Idiot based on Green Day’s Grammy winning album, and Come Fly Away with Frank Sinatra’s songs. These were on opposite ends of the musical spectrum and both were fabulous.

So if you just so happen to be in New York City and you like that great New York cheesecake go down to D’aiutos on 8th between 30th and 31st. They have been baking cheesecakes there since 1924. You can buy an authentic seven-inch New York cheesecake for $15.99. These are the same ones they charge $45 for at the Times Square Deli. The deli probably buys them from D’aiutos. We brought two back on the plane with us. And yes, I would stay at the Gershwin again. It’s just weird enough to be fun!

Bennie Blalock is the owner of Bargain Shoes.

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