New York’s Alright (Even If you Don’t Like Saxophones)

I turned 50 last Friday, a milestone that doesn’t sit all that well with me. It’s the beginning of being old, when the only people who say “oh, you’re just a kid” are in their 70’s. To mark the event, we went to New York for the weekend to do the things I’ve always liked – eat and buy books and records.

Nate likes New York.  There are always new hotels to see and new restaurants with rare bathroom fixtures. But Nate was a bystander at some of the best things we did.

We stayed at the King & Grove hotel on E. 29th St., a fine place with a room big enough for the four of us. There was a glitch; our first room reeked of smoke but we were quickly relocated. And we had plans – the San Gennaro Feast was on and we were off to Little Italy. No sitting around in the room for us.

I couldn’t quite figure in advance if Nate was going to like street after street of foods that might very well make him gag: oysters, clams, clouds of smoke coming from sausage stands. He was great though, perhaps due to a paper tray of fried Oreos. He walked with us, took pictures on his iPad and soaked it all in. He tried a giant waffle ice cream sandwich which wasn’t very good. Nate eats terribly – lots of carbs and lots of junk. It’s amazing he’s not 400 pounds.

For dinner we headed to Hill Country for awesome barbecue. Luckily, I noticed last week when I was there that there was a pizzeria on the corner. I took Nate for dinner before our own dinner. He had two slices at 2 Bros. Pizza, uneasily sitting on their child sized furniture. “It’s porta-shrinking,” Nate noted.

At Hill Country, Nate sat as we chomped. He did go up for dessert, choosing two – a lemon meringue bar and a Smores cupcake which he said he’d “sample.” It was so like Nate to be at a great restaurant, eating nothing. More on that later.

Saturday we walked to the Village. Nate enjoyed our stop at Forbidden Planet comics and particularly liked The Strand Bookstore next door. Then it was off to the marquee event of the day, record shopping. There’s something about record stores Nate loves. It must be the old stuff. He has great patience and always keeps himself busy.

Nate picked our pizza for lunch, John’s on Bleecker. Excellent selection, as always. Then more record stores and back to the hotel for a break.

For dinner we were headed to Brooklyn to Peter Luger. Luger’s is the best steak around and one of my all-time favorite places. I was excited to have Joey experience the greatness that is the Luger meal – tomato and onion appetizer, shrimp cocktail, steak, creamed spinach, German potatoes and cheesecake. He was in heaven.

Nate sat at the table, playing with his iPad, eating only plain rolls, and a baked potato. And key lime pie. When we asked him what he thought, he said “I loved it.” Loved what? He didn’t have anything! But no matter, he was part of it and a pleasant part to boot.

Sunday we headed to Economy Candy, where Nate loaded up on his usual – 3 lbs. of Jelly Belly jelly beans and bags of mints. It’s due to Nate that we even know to go to Economy Candy, and it’s now part of every NYC trip.

Taking Nate to New York is always interesting. He gets some of it, the density, the thrills. Remarkably, he fits in well, walking down the street, oblivious to everyone, talking to himself. In that way he is the perfect New Yorker.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to New York’s Alright (Even If you Don’t Like Saxophones)

  1. Mark says:

    Sounds nice. I’m partial to beer and jambalaya at Brother Jimmy’s on Amsterdam, and our favorite bakery ever is on Canal St. And hey, lot’s of folks have died happy in their 50’s. 😉

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