She left me on Friday...

By DiscoDown

Paper cup

A friend has been discussing the good things about her life over the last year on Facebook and one of her top five was her first trip to New York. My wife and I used to go to New York quite a lot and I promised I'd pull together a list of must-do things for my friend's trip but never quite got round to it.

The mere mention of New York always conjures up memories and thoughts of how much those trips have influenced other parts of my life.

I was a Knicks and Yankees fan long before I ever went to New York but now also support the basketball team of a college I never attended (St. John's) and have seen myself in the same animated state supporting these teams as I am when I watch Arsenal or Falkirk, teams I have supported all my life. I've been paying for ESPN America since its inception as NASN some 11 or 12 years ago to continue my fascination with these sports and have stayed up late into the night to watch "my team" take on Duke or in their first NCAA tournament in many years. One of the first things I do each morning is check the score from last night's Knicks game which, this season at least, is becoming a rather more pleasant experience than it has been for years.

My love of photography, which is rarely evidenced on Blip, was rekindled on my first trip to New York. Not by the landmarks, or not only by those, but by the everyday sights and people all across the city. From the subway steps popping up on a street corner to greenery and serenity of places in the middle of the city, like Bryant Park, where I can sit for ages with a coffee and watch the world go by. From the Brownstones littered across the city in places like Harlem, the upper east and west sides, and Brooklyn, to the cast iron buildings of SoHo and the various types of skyscrapers, sometimes sitting alongside in stark contrast of one another. From street art and ghetto grafitti to the giant advertising billboards and the lights of Times Square. From dog walkers and park joggers to financiers and sidewalk runway queens. There is character and interest everywhere you look.

In New York I discovered food I really wanted to eat. Breakfasts and brunches with eggs done any way I wanted them and cooked by brasserie chefs, deli cooks and street corner vendors to everything bagels with no fat cream cheese (for my wife; I'm more of a lox and cream cheese kinda guy). From cheesecake at Junior's to cupcakes at the Magnolia bakery. The best slice (of pizza) in the world (my personal preference is Lombardi's but that could quite easily start a fight in New York) to some of the best BBQ joints around.

One of my favourite images of New York, that sadly seems to be dying out since Starbucks took over the world, is the little cups you used to get your coffee in from almost every deli, coffee shop and street vendor in the city that, quite ironically, stated "We are happy to serve you". I don't think I've discovered a deli cook or assistant yet who looked "happy" while serving me, but that was always part of the charm. Try walking into a Starbucks and asking for a "coffee, regular" and watch the confused look that appears on the assistant's face.

Anyway, to preserve a wee piece of this history and fool me into believing I'm still there, I have my own ceramic "paper cup" at home.

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