Outi and I dropped by New York City for a short holiday last December. Here’s the first part of my notes from that trip.

FRI 5th

First train car is no 5313. The guy next to me is reading the Post and picking his nose, wiping his findings on the page. Then we hit Broadway Junction and take the L train.

We come up at 1 Av, and see Manhattan & East Village for the first time. Ain’t it grand?

We get a bottle of pomegranate & blueberry juice, some rolls, bananas, and brie. 10 bucks, about. No tax on that.

SAT 6th

Wake up at 7.30 then again at 11. So strange hearing sirens on the street. Like in movies, truly.

It’s O. Jail and Now rot, scream the tabloids’ front pages.

Pick up a cashmere sweater for 30 bucks at Old Navy. Screaming red, Outi don’t like it. Drop by NYPL to get free wifi. Find the new Gladwell but it’s expensive as shit. Shell out for a lolcat book for sis instead. 10 bucks, okay.

Eat at Pepe Rosso in E Village, recommended by Lasse. Very tasty, very salty. A licrense plate on a sedan says ”Live free or die”. It starts to snow ever so slightly. The kids and teens go ”snow! snow!” even though I’m not quite sure this transparent stuff floating down from the sky can by called snow. More like snow-ish.

Outi eats so much that she can’t walk, so we skip the movie (Synecdoche).

See a couple of angry New Yorkers Very nice, shouting at each others and into a cell phone. I mentally tick that one off my list of authentic NY things to see.

SUN 7th

The Sunday edition of the Times is incredibly fat. We look for MUD cafe but can’t find it. Strand Books has got 18 miles of books and it shows. I pick up three books after an hour of browsing. Need to go back w/my Amazon wishlist. (Which, by the way, can be easily done with Xefer.)

Whole Foods is ”all-organic”, yet they still use single-served plastic knives and forks. Whole Foods does community support in the form of 5% days. The last one raised 59k. Also they don’t have employees but team members. Love it. Eat their salad, it’s okay.

Find the new Gladwell at 20% off at B&N union sq. People use their reading space as a library, new books lying everywhere.

We rummage through DSW and Filene’s. I end up buying a scarf found by O, she takes a handbag. I’m refused a really nice overcoat ($199) cos it was ever so slightly too big. I sulk.

Looking for free wifi in E, we end up at Sidewalk Cafe. Outi has a veg panini, I take a burger. The waiter asks how I’d like my beef done but I don’t hear/understand him, so I mumble something.

The magazine count thus far: TONY, New York, New Yorker, Soldier of Fortune. I’ve dreamt about the last one for so long, I still can’t believe it actually exists.

I finish an article at 12 AM and go outside to look for a hotspot. Takes me ten minutes, in which time Outi gets nervous and I freeze. Manage to find the cafe that I’d looked up beforehand and send the email.

MON 8th

Somebody calls Outi at around 6 AM. When we go back to sleep, there’s a rustling or a nibbling. Something has dug its way into a bag of chips. We try to surprise the unholy beast by quickly flicking on the lights, but it’s all in vain. Thus far I’ve a big-ass city squirrel and a big-ass city rat. This newest critter remains invisible.

Walk the Brooklyn bridge, I complain about the weather. Then check J&R for camera stuff. After that to Century 21.

I get two pairs of shoes, one for trekking/winter and one fancy-ish. Outi looks at a pair and decides to come back for it later. (She doesn’t.) The clerk is so bored of her job, she barely manages to speak. Maybe the waiters are much more polite, cos they get the tips whereas people working in supermarkets get nothing above the minimum wage. Also a disapprorotionate amount of them are black or Hispanic. This whole thing reminds me of Sonja’s theory of surface politeness. In English-speaking countries people are always saying Please and Sorry and Sir, but how often do they mean it? I’d bet almost never.

But later I hit paydirt with a $200 Calvin Klein cashmere (80%) overcoat. It’s gorgeous. I also haul a shitload of pants upstairs to try them on, but nothing fits. The velvet pants are too baggy and the jeans too tight.

After we get home, we make a quick stop at the supermarket. The teller asks Outi for change (4 cents) but she can’t tell the coins from one another. Neither could I.

Eat pizza at Muzzarella. A normal, regular pizza is $12 and tastes pretty damn good. Then again it’s been nearly 10 hours since we last ate. Note bene: Manhattan Special Espresso Coffee Soda (diet) tastes hideous.

TUE 9th

Leave the apartment at noon. Our plan tonight: culture. The weather is warm, really warm compared to the previous days.

We walk across the 110th st, then go to the City museum. They’re shooting an episode of Gossip Girl, so we get in free. Two groups of schoolchildren are visiting the place, looks like they’re kinda hard to contain. See two photo exhibitions.

Take a small stroll in Central Park, then off to W 54th St to stalk standby tickets to Colbert Report. When we get there, there already are a few people there. The PA writes down our names. Eat @ Morning Star, 879 pth Ave, a dingy little place. A semidiner in a way. An old man who looks like Woody Allen is eating there, otherwise it’s almost empty. The waiter’s an old man who seems to be talking to himself all the time.

We arrived at 15.35 or so & were the 3rd and 4th in line. At four our names are written down. We come back at 17. Queue for quite a while, finally get in the studio, listen to warmup standup.

Colbert finally comes on stage. He looks overenergentic, working himself to a frenzy. The show isn’t that funny but it’s okay. During one of the commercial breaks he rewrite a bit of the upcoming interview with Charlie Kaufman – mimes ”vacancy” on the forehead and covers his face with his fingers. Before the show the AD tells us to laugh extra loud. The girl sitting next to me says ”Don’t you worry!” She does laugh hard.

When we leave it’s already 8 PM. There’s a screening of Synecdoche, NY at 9.15 so we head to the subway. The trip takes us more than an hour and fifteen minutes, so we miss the movie. Also by this time Outi is kinda cranky cos her feet hurt and she’s tired. I try to cheer her up by purchasing her a root beer (A&W) but it’s disgusting. Outside the theater we’re invited to a test screening of a film called ”Greed”, which is sorta like Sicko, we’re told. However when the guy hears we’re journalists, he calls it off. We drop by a deli and get some ginger ale (Boylan).

I say I could imagine living here. Outi says she wouldn’t.

WED 10th

Breakfast at Mud, although it’s already 11 AM. Their coffee and food is excellent, I’d highly recommend it. We see Synecdoche at 13, the guy who checks our tickets says something about having ”one of those days”, how he’s just lost someone and doesn’t want to push people away. I don’t what else to say except ”sorry”.

After the movie we look for MoCCA but can’t find it. I think I might have the address down wrong. Instead we pop into Steve Madden (boots for Outi) and a Banana Republic that’s having a one day only 40 % discount. She finds a fancy dress to her liking.

Then to Urban Outfitters ”just for a quick look”. I try very low cut jeans but in the end decide the world from my ass and the other way round too. Get a woolly jacket @ 30 bucks, not bad. They almost charge full price before I ask about it.

Nearby on Broadway there’s a place called Au Bon Pain. The most horrible place all week. The guy making the sandwiches is so slllloooooooowwwwwwww I can’t help but smile. He sorta misunderstands my order, changing it from dining in to to go. The cashier tell me they sell lemonade in bigger cups than the one I’ve used. To top it off there’s a photo of the manager on the food counter telling the customers she hopes we had ”an experience Beyond the Ordinary”. I guess you could say that, though probably not for the right reasons.

At Shakespeare Books (or sgt) there are two store cats. The one downstairs is lying on her back and doesn’t even flinch when I pet her. A guy dressed as a pirate walks in with a white face and a long jacket. The cat goes to him, sniffs the ropes hanging from his coat. I buy one comic book or should I say graphic novel.

At Strand’s the Erwitt visit is more of a signing. Outi notices that next Tuesday Martin Parr would be there but that’s too late for us. They don’t have Bordwell’s Post-Theory, mind you, but I do pick up a NYC film book and a promising tome about film music. We drift home where I go through all our receipts thus far. It comes to about 400 eur per person.

At 11 PM I go look for sushi but the nearby place has just closed, so I opt for Muzzarella’s pizza slices instead. Still tastes good.