A Midwesterner Makes New York City Recommendations

I can hear the laughs of my native New York friends already. Torg is making recommendations. For New York City? Ha!  While I’m poking fun at myself, I will also share that in the first week I lived in here, I applied for a job to give bicycle tours of Manhattan. When the interviewer asked me if I was a long time New Yorker, I told him that I could read. Isn’t everyone a couple of books away from being a tour guide? Call me arrogant but also call me a believer in the power of reading. I can’t vouch for this bike rental place, but I can say that if you can get a bike and ride the path along the west side, you’ll have a great time.

I wrote my first draft of this post by accident as a response to a friend who wrote and asked me for New York “to do” suggestions. Additionally, I’m slated to serve as a guide for the Pulpwood Queens when they visit the Strand Book Store. I’d like to revise “tour guide” and make it “host.” I spent an entire afternoon browsing their shelves recently. After all, they have over 2.5 million books, including first editions of Huck Finn and a whopper of a J.K. Rowling collectible pictured below.

William Torgerson “New York City” “Book Expo America” “Things to Do” J.K. Rowling Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard

I’m planning a more in-depth Strand post soon. You might want to check out New York Costumes just a block or two south of nearby Union Square. The costume shop is on Broadway and they’ve got multiple floors of curiosities.

Usually Lots Going on In The Way of Music and Booths at Union Square

 

The South Street Seaport is probably an obvious suggestion to some, but it wouldn’t have been to me before I moved here. Yes, it has a lot of shops and restaurants, but what’s best are the views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the water, and I suggest a sail around the tip of Manhattan. We did this when my mom came for a visit, and although we lost our precious baby doll Laura (she’s since been replaced) we all had a great time.

William Torgerson “New York City” Kids children “Book Expo America” “Things to Do”

A View from the South Street Seaport

There’s a TCKTS booth at the Seaport where you can get discounted tickets for broadway shows and the line there is much shorter than the one at the Times Square location. Plus, for those of you with kids, they have a great new playground. We like to eat at this nearby place called the Cowgirl SeaHorse. If the weather is beautiful, you might consider sitting to at one of the many places that offer outdoor seating. Since we see the views plenty, we opt for quality of food. At the Cowgirl, I always order the fish tacos.

As new New Yorkers (we’ll, it’s been five years now) we make use of the food blog called Grub Street. You can search by neighborhood and price.  I was pretty bummed out with the places I used to eat in New York when we just walked in to whatever was close. We used to pay a lot for crummy pizza and now we pay less for the good stuff. We have Grub Street to thank for that.

Let’s go down to the Chelsea area. I began to spend a lot of time in this neighborhood because the Apple Store on 14th Street offers lots of free classes. I’d take the train into Penn Station and while walking down to the store, I came across the Chelsea Market.

Inside the Chelsea Market

What’s best about this is the space that houses the “mall.” It is also connected to what is called the High Line, an elevated train track that has been transformed into a walking trail. The views of the city are great, there are a lot of interesting buildings to see, and there are plenty of places to take a rest, have a drink, and enjoy the view.

an oft photographed building on the Highline Trail

The Standard Hotel is also to the south of the Chelsea Market and right off the Highline. They’ve got a funky looking area out front of the hotel to hang out.I once attended a Book Expo America (BEA) party on the roof top, and although I haven’t eaten at the restaurant, I have hung out in the beer garden where you can also play table tennis.

The Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel

The whole area around the Chelsea Market is loaded with interesting stores, restaurants, and some of the streets are brick. Especially in the summer, there are often fashion or film folks doing their thing.

Get Ready for a Photo Shoot

I’m even going to offer a shopping suggestion. Us Torgs like the Century 21 Department Stores for their European designers at inexpensive prices. It’s where I discovered the brand Moods of Norway, which is about as close as I get to feeling connected to my Viking heritage. Sad, I know. The Manhattan Century 21 store is right across from the World Trade Center, and we don’t go there unless we can arrive soon after it opens. My girls aren’t very old and the crowds can be oppressive. If you do plan to visit the new WTC memorial, last I knew you had to reserve a time in advance.

I might break out my Moods pants again this year

I know it is silly for me to suggest that you wear comfortable shoes, but my wife and daughters do seem to be heeding this advice more than they used to. At least reading this, maybe you’ll throw a pair of sneakers into your luggage. I look forward to reading what long time New Yorkers have to say about my suggestions. Lucky for us, most of them are always ready with a critique and some suggestions of their own.

If you don’t heed my shoe advice, the Highline has you covered with cold water

Take a Poll and Tell Me About You and Television?

I usually get to work before my colleague David Farley, and it’s become our habit that he stops at my office door and we talk about something related to writing, teaching, or family. This job we have teaching First Year Composition has carried me into digital writing, and David and I are often talking about digital texts in relation to the teaching of writing. I’m interested in the future of books, and I’m interested in how our internet habits will impact our reading, writing, and thinking. One day, David went over into his office and came back with Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Wikipedia (I’m getting more obsessed with it) tells me that Lessig “is a director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a professor of law at Harvard Law School.”

Lawrence Lessig’s Remix

Here’s something I wouldn’t mind hearing about from you in the comments section: Have your television watching habits changed? In this book, Lessig writes about Read Only (R.O.) and Read Write (R.W.) culture. Taking television as an example, I think it’s been R.O. By that, I mean you just sit there and watch it. You consume it. You don’t interact with it. Reading a Facebook post isn’t like that. Reading a Twitter feed isn’t like that. You get to Tweet back. You get to interact.

Television watching, from what I can see, is becoming more interactive. You can vote for your favorite American Idol. You can Tweet along with everyone else as they watch the NCAA basketball tournament. You can read what people say about President Obama and Presidential hopeful Romney on Facebook.  As I understand from Lessig, back when people went down to the town square to see entertainment, they were in a culture that tended toward R.W. They were entertained and had a chance to interact, to sing along, to talk with others, and to go home and try out the songs on their front porch.

With the rise of television and newspapers, R.W. went on the decline. People just consumed content with little or no chance to interact. Now with Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other social platforms such as blogs, R.W. is on the rise. People read Harry Potter and go see the movies and then they write on fan fiction sites. All of these features of consuming and interacting seem significant to the craft of teaching and what it will mean to get an education.

Let’s consider for a second the teacher’s lecture.  Possibly BORING!!!! and most times heavy on the R.O. side of consumption.   I’d like to be as R.W. as I can when it comes to my teaching pedagogy. Perhaps I’m using the term wrong but for now, I know what I mean.  :)

More on Lessig’s book and some Golden Lines in the coming posts. There’s a poll below for you and if you’d like to elaborate on your TV watching habits, I hope you’ll add them to the comments section.