I just got back from spending a week in New York City. I lived there for 19 years between 1993 to 2012, so it’s always fun to get back and see friends and take a look at what the city looks like these days. I took a mountain of photos and if you keep on scrolling you can climb this photographic mountain and see how I spent my 2017 summer vacation in New York City!
1.-3. Boarding the plane at the Peoria Airport at the ungodly hour of six in the morning! 4. Settled in to my seat. 5. My neighbor’s reading a book, so look’s like no conversation on this flight. 6. So I turned my attention elsewhere. Holey freaking moley, talk about your Lord of the Thighs! 7. Preparing to land in Chicago! 8. Departure gate to New York City! 9. Settled in on this flight. I pretty much slept through the flight and before you know it... 10. Boom, here we are in La Guardia Airport in New York City! The vacation has begun! 11.-12. Taking a cab to the hotel. 13. This is my room. I got a hotel on 44th street, I hate that part of town, but I got a good rate and as you can see, the room is small, but it was really nice. I won’t be spending much time in here anyway, in fact let’s go out and start seeing this city! 14. I went down to my old neighborhood where I used to live and this is from Sixth Street near Greenwich Village. I’ve always loved Bleecker Street and that’s where we’re headed. 15-16. A couple shots of Matt Umanov Guitars, a music store that’s been here forever. 17. Bleecker Street Pizza! Time for a slice of the famous New York Pizza, best pizza in the world! 18.-20. House of Oldies Record Store on Carmine Street. This place is one of my favorite record stores. It’s all vinyl and sadly one of the last record stores standing in New York these days! It’s been here on Carmine since 1968! 21. For dinner I met my friend Wendy and her daughter Kylie at Spain Restaurant on 13th Street. This is probably my favorite New York restaurant. They don’t like photos in here, so I only took one. 22. And this is it, that’s Wendy and Kylie at our table. Dinner was delicious and it was a fun evening! Great to see both of them! 23. Signs on a food cart as I walked back to the hotel. 24. Pretzel alert! Time for dessert! 25. Jimmy’s Corner is near my hotel so I stopped in for a nightcap. You can see more photos of the inside of this place by clicking right here.
One thing I like to do in New York is just wander around with no set plan. Thursday afternoon I made my way over to the East Village and did my wandering thing. 1-2. Some art on the walls of the East Village. 3. The window in one of my favorite shops in the E.V: Obscura Antiques and Oddities on 13th Street. If you ever get to New York, you should definitely check this place out! 4. I wonder if there’s a Peoria connection here? 5. I stopped in at this gift shop and they had some really cool stuff in here. 6. I bought some gifts and then struck up a conversation with Christy. It turns out she’s a drummer in a band called Gold and you can check them out here and on their facecrack page. We had a nice chat and I was a little smitten with her so I asked her to marry me, but she said she had a boyfriend in California. I told her I’d come back next year and if nothing has happened with the California guy, maybe we’ll get married then, so stay tuned for that! 7. Ray’s Candy Store, this is a legendary E.V. spot. Ray wasn’t in, but you can read more about it in this post I did on my old MAD blog. 8. Cigarettes and Candy, one of my favorite New York City signs! We’re now around Herald Square on 30th Street because I’m meeting some friends I used to work with in a little bit around here. But first... 9. I thought I’d go and take a walk around Penn Station. I used to hang out in here quite a bit because I just worked a couple of blocks from here. 10. One of my pet peeves and something that drives me absolutely fucking crazy is people who run down the escalators here. It’s a long story and you can read my thoughts about it right here. When there’s all those stairs, no one should be running down the escalators in this place. That’s all I’m saying! 11. And here’s my friends! We met at this bar near the train station because it’s handy for them to get back home. From left: James, Tonya, Sebastian and Dorothy. It was so great to see all of them and trade work tales from days gone by. Decker was also there, but he left before I took this photo, but click here to see a photo of him donating money to the 365 bar crawl back in the day. Wonderful to see all of you again and thanks for taking the effort to hang out for the evening! It was a blast! 12. A shot on the way back to the hotel.
1. Friday afternoon I met my friends John and Luna for lunch in Koreatown. 2. There’s John and Luna at our table. We had a delicious lunch at a Korean BBQ place and it was fun to see them both and complain about assholes with their smart phones. And yes, it was mainly me doing the complaining! 3. I was meeting my friend Edmund for dinner and he suggested Sarge’s, a great deli on Third Avenue. 4. Here we are inside of the deli. I did a blog on this place a few years ago and you can read that right here. 5. Like so many places in New York, they have a ton of photos of people that have eaten here. Let’s take a look at a few of them. 6. Dear Abby. 7. Professor Irwin Corey. 8. Abbie Hoffman at a table in Sarge’s. 9. Here’s a shot from the back of the Deli. 10. Okay, Edmund has arrived, but he doesn’t want his picture taken tonight. So you can click here and see a photo of him online from a past blog. You can’t escape the MBIP camera that easily, Edmund! Okay, time to order. 11. I got cole slaw which comes with two pickles! 12. And a huge bowl of matzoh ball soup. It was delicious! 13. Edmund said that Sarge’s is like Katz’s Deli without the tourists and that’s a perfect description of this place! 14. For an after dinner drink, Edmund suggested Rolf’s and that was a great idea! I hadn’t been here forever and it’s one of the most unique places in Manhattan! 15. Obligatory front window mirror shot! 16. Let’s go in and you’re going to really see something crazy! 17. Check out all the Christmas decorations in here! And if you think this is wild, you should see it at Christmas time! 18. We settled in at the bar and... 19. Tamara served up an ice cold beer! She told us she’s worked here for six years. 20-28. This is just a sampling of the lights, trees, creepy dolls, statues and ornaments on display at Rolf’s. It’s really something to see. 29. Here’s their card, stop by next time you’re in NYC! Thanks to Edmund for hanging out for the evening and for the wonderful suggestions for dinner and after dinner drinks!
We’re headed out of the city today for a trip to my friends Sam and Hilda Wong’s house in Long Island. Sam’s preparing a barbecue. But before we go, a couple of random photos. 1. This is one of my favorite buildings in New York, The Flatiron Building. 2. Say, “Cheese!” 3.-4. New York City souvenirs. 5. And through the magic of the internet, we’re now in Long Island and that’s Sam behind the wheel! The rest of the party will be revealed soon! 6.-7. Sam’s a master chef and he’s wasting no time getting the food ready. Here he is getting the lobster ready, yep, we’re having lobster today! 8. And here’s the rest of the party, from left: Sam’s wife, Hilda, their daughter, Fiona, Luna and John (who we had lunch with on Friday.) 9. Fiona’s a musician and she plays both guitar... 10-11. And drums! She gave us a mini concert and she’s very talented! 12. And also loud! Luna needs to bring earplugs next time! 13. Meanwhile back in the kitchen, Sam’s still hard at work! 14.-15. Here’s the appetizers... 16. And a lobster roll. This was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had, great work, Sam! Sam also made a crown roast that was magnificent, but I was too busy eating it to take a picture! 17. Here’s everyone enjoying dinner at the table in Sam and Hilda’s backyard. Thanks to Sam and Hilda for a great evening and to Fiona for putting on a great concert! And thanks to John and Luna for traveling with me and listening to me complain about all the assholes in the city wandering around staring at their fucking smartphones!
1. We’re back wandering around the East Village today. I’m meeting friends in a little bit, but first we’ll do that wandering thing I love to do! 2. This is a sad sight. It’s the corner where Mars Bar used to stand! Now it’s a bank and condos. Vomit eruptis squared! 3. Looks like I’m not the only one who hates people staring at their fucking phones while wandering around the city! 4. Zoltar! It makes me think of E.V. Grieve! 5. Of course I have to stop in to one of my favorite E.V. bars, the International Bar. 6. It’s always nice and dark in here. 7. There’s the back of the bar, but I’m on a mission to see if my Uncle Waltie, Sip Ahoy sign is still on display in here... 8. Yes, it’s still here! I made this sign for my friend and International regular, Uncle Waltie years ago, great to see it still hanging here! 9. There’s myself with Uncle Waltie from the night I presented him the sign. Sadly he’s not in here today. Here’s a link to the original Sip Ahoy post. 10. A glance out the window and it’s off we go to... 11. The Coal Yard bar which is just down the street. I’m meeting friends here today, so let’s go inside. 12. This is a great East Village bar! I love the round bar in here. 13. An old Deep Throat movie poster hangs on the wall. 14. A painting hangs here. 15. The other side of the bar. 16. A look out the window at the world going by on First Avenue. 17. Some guests have arrived! From left: Lindsay, Dave and Eric! 18. And here’s John... 19. And last but certainly not least, Victoria showed up at the window! 20.-24. Here we are clowning around in the Coal Yard bar! We had a blast and it was so great to see everyone again! Thanks to Lindsay, Dave, Eric, John and Victoria for meeting and hanging out, it was so wonderful to see and catch up with all of you! 25. The ultra-scary air-conditioner thingy! You had to be there folks, it really was scary!
1.-3. Today I’m meeting my friend, Juanita at the Waverly Diner on Sixth Avenue. I haven’t seen Juanita since I moved, so I’m really looking forward to seeing her! 4. And here she is, Juanita! She’s looking beautiful and we had such a great afternoon in The Waverly! It was tons of funs catching up with Juanita and I got so caught up in chatting with her, I forgot to take photos of the place! Not to worry, just click here for more photos of this classic New York diner! It was fabulous to see Juanita again and thanks to her for traveling in to the city for the lunch! I hope to see you on the next trip! 5. I walked Juanita over to Grand Central Station, then I thought I’d take a trip to the Upper West Side. That’s where I lived for four years when I first moved to New York, before I moved to my apartment on 16th Street. This is one of my favorite bars on the Upper West Side, Malachy’s. 6.-10. Here’s what I like to call, “The John Lennon Drug Store.” There’s pictures of John Lennon in the front window and inside the store because he shopped here and was friends with the owner. The store was locked, but you can read more about it by scrolling down this post. 11-12. Speaking of John Lennon, here’s the famous Dakota building where he and Yoko lived and Yoko is still there. 13. Another shot of Malachy’s! 14. Freddie and Pepper’s Pizza. This was here when I moved here in 1993 and one of the first places in New York that I wrote a review of. It was for the newspaper NY Weekly and those assholes went bankrupt owing me almost a thousand bucks! Ah, the glorious life of a freelance writer! 15. The Beacon Hotel! That’s where I lived in tiny little room for four years and the hotel wasn’t as fancy as it is now. Back then it was a budget hotel, but at least I had a place to live! 16. The Ansonia Building, I always have loved this building! 17-18. No stop on the Upper West Side is complete without stopping to get a hot dog at Gray’s Papaya on the Corner of 72nd and Amsterdam! So we’re stopping to get a real New York hot dog! 19. There’s the counter and the fellows behind it making the frankfurters. 20. I love the fruit hanging from the ceiling! 21. The hot dogs are cooking up over here and they look and smell so good! 22. Our dog is up, I got it with mustard. 23. This was so tasty and delicious. Love the Papaya dog!
Tuesday - The Strand Bookstore
1. I had to come to The Strand Bookstore on my last day in New York! This is the bast book store in the world! 2.-3. As you can see, you can shop outside here as the store has hundreds of books on carts on the sidewalk! 4. But let’s go in and look at the thousands of books inside of here! 5-10. There’s so many books in here it’s kind of overwhelming, but in a good kind of way! 11.-12. I love the handwritten notes attached to some of the books in here. You can tell that true book lovers work in this place! 13. Of course there’s hundreds of New York City related books in here. 14-15. There’s also non-book items for sale including magnets, postcards, bags and tiny Trump hands! Mika Brzezinski might want to get a few of these! 16-18. This paperback stand has some vintage pulp paperbacks for sale. I love it! 19. And there’s even more downstairs! 20. A brief history of Strand is here on the wall. It’s their 80th anniversary this year! 21. Even more books down here, plus there’s... 22.-23. A whole vinyl album section. Very cool. 24. More books over here. 25. Get Lit? Hey Jessica, you may want to call an attorney and sue them for name infringement! 26. Okay, time to check out! Well, the vacation is just about over, but I have one last stop to make for this vacation post and it’s an exciting one for me. Keep on scrolling to read all about it!
Tuesday - Chinga Chavin! (Warning: This Section Is "R" Rated and has some links to songs that are positively filthy, but hilarious! If cursing bothers you, you should probably just stop here. If it doesn't, enjoy!)
I think it was sometime in 1978 or so when my friend and MBIP Spiritual Guru, Tim Hennessey were living in a pitiful little one bedroom house on Atlantic Avenue when we discovered the magical music of Chinga Chavin and his “Country Porn” album. Tim bought the album and it became something we played over and over and over. Some of the songs on the album include, “I’m Making Cum Stains On My Pilow (Where Your Sweet Head Used To Lay),” “Sit, Sit, Sit (On My Face)” and “Dry Humping In The Back of a ‘55 Ford.” It’s a filthy and hilarious album and you can hear all the songs right here on YouTube! I love this album so much, I even played it at Tim and Tina’s wedding reception. Tina wasn’t too thrilled about that, but hey, what are you going to do? Sorry Tina!
Anyway, before I left for New York last week I was listening to the album and I wondered whatever happened to Chinga Chavin. Well, I did some Googling and I found out he that he’s the Creative Director at an ad agency in New York City. So of course I called him and we had a great conversation on the phone. I couldn’t believe I was actually speaking to this guy I had listened to for decades! He said I could meet with him while I was in New York and I was so excited!
1. Chinga sent me some photos via email and that’s him and legendary outlaw country singer/songwriter, Kinky Friedman performing together at the City Winery in downtown New York. Chinga told me that he and Kinky are old friends who went to college together and they co-wrote the classic song, “Asshole From El Paso.” Chinga still gets royalties from “Country Porn” and “Asshole From El Paso” brings in the most money because Howard Stern plays it occasionally. 2. Chinga said this is a Kinky-Chinga blond sandwich! Ha! 3. There’s another shot of Kinky and Chinga onstage. Okay, time to meet the man himself!
1. The time is here, I finally get to meet Chinga Chavin, one of my idols! I started in the lobby of the advertising agency and was led back to the man himself... 2. Chinga Chavin! I can’t believe I’m meeting this guy after listening to his record for years! He’s a really nice guy and we had a fantastic visit. 3. He doesn’t have a copy of Country Porn in his office, but this is his second album, “Jet Lag.” He also has a CD called, “Live & Politically Erect” that you can check out here. 4. Here we are, together at last! Myself and Chinga Chavin! Chinga also told me about an interesting thing that’s happened to him recently. He was a key witness in the Robert Durst murder trial. It turns out that Chinga and Robert Durst were best friends and he recently testified in the trial about their friendship and what he knows about the murders. You can read all about this here, here and here. Pretty crazy! Chinga is currently working on a book about all of this with his friend, writer, Larry “Ratso” Sloman. He showed me the galleys and photos from the book and it looks incredible! This book is bound to be a bombshell bestseller and I’ll keep you updated about it as it develops! 5. Chinga showed me a photo from his personal collection. Can you tell who it is? Here’s a hint, he’s probably on Twitter now instead of doing his job and his tiny hands are for sale at the Strand Bookstore! Thanks so much to Chinga for letting me meet him and hang out and chat! It was an honor and I had a blast!
Thanks to everyone who met up with me on this vacation, it was such a good time! And now...I have to get ready for work. Ugh! We’ll see you all tomorrow!