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

Macy’s Day Parade Report

Six a.m. wasn’t early enough for a front row seat to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We were lucky enough to meet a man from Phoenix who gave up his scaffolding seat to the girls.  It was a wooden bench-like spot.  Perfect!

Macy's Day Parade Prof. Torg

Notice CJs bump from diving into Sister

Holding my cell phone over my head, I was able to take pictures of what I couldn’t really see.  CJ kept getting irritated at me for asking her to turn around so I could take her picture.

Is This Sonic?

I didn’t realize before just how big the balloons really are.


Should I Read One of these Wimpy Kid books?

The ropes attached to Spider Man seem more authentic than on the other balloons.

Two Years Ago My Daughters Threw Me a Spidey-Themed Birthday Pary.

There were cool Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade logos on the big drums, but I never got a picture of them.  You’ll have to take at my word on those babies.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Prof. Torg 2011 New York City

Tricky to get the band photos in my narrow line of sight

My line of sight was right under that “No Standing” sign.  If it would have rained, we would have had cover under the scaffolding.  It was a beautiful day.  As you might know, most NYC city blocks contain lots of scaffolding.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Prof. Torg 2011 New York City

No Leaving Early Even if We Wanted To

Did Buddy the Elf call Santa “The Big Guy.” That’s how I remember it.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Prof. Torg 2011 New York City

My Wife Turned on Christmas Music as We Cleared Thanksgiving Meal

I have not bad picks of somebody from The Fresh Beat Band and of Mary J. Blige.  There was kind of a cool restaurant on the other side of the street that meant everyone tended to look away from us.  I have a very blurry picture of Avril Lavigne and one of Neil Diamond’s back standing in front of a fake Mount Rushmore.  I’ll link you up to the Yahoo pictures of the parade after you get a look at my daughter doing a chant that she heard this morning on 7th Avenue.

If I had a better seat and camera, I could have done these too:  :)   Click on my smiley for those pics.

Marah at the Bowery Electric: May 27, 2010

Bowery Electric

It would be hard for me to know less about the NYC music scene, but after two years of moving to the Northeast, I’m finally getting out of the house to see Marah at the Bowery Electric.  Love to hear from people who could tell me about the band or the venue.  A friend pointed me to this article by one of my favorite writers, Nick Hornby.  Here’s what he had to say a couple years ago about the band:

But what I love about them is that I can hear everything I ever loved about rock music in their recordings and in their live shows. Indeed, in the shows you can often hear their love for the rock canon uninflected — they play covers of the Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait,” or the Jam’s “In the City,” and they usually end with a riffed-up version of the O’Jays’ “Love Train.” They play an original called “The Catfisherman” with a great big Bo Diddley beat, and they quote the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the Who’s “Magic Bus.” And they do this not because they’re a bar band and people expect cover versions, but because they are unafraid of showing where their music comes from, and unafraid of the comparisons that will ensue — just as Bruce Springsteen (who really did play “Little Latin Lupe Lu” for an encore, sometimes) was unafraid.

via Op-Ed Contributor – Rock of Ages – NYTimes.com.