Category Archives: celebration

A Party in the Past on the Nostalgia Train

Nostalgia Train

The holidays can be quite magical in NYC, and one of the most wonderful of the annual traditions is the appearance of the Nostalgia Train, which the MTA releases along the M line for a few Sundays from late November until the end of December. And as we are a city that can’t pass up a good opportunity for a party, on one December Sunday a group of jazz bands hoped on the train for the day and were met by revelers dressed in their vintage finery to match the spirit. Me and Elizabeth made it on the last ride of the day, so here are some photos!

Nostalgia Train

We boarded the train on the LES and rode all the way to Queens and back. It seemed like the train was going faster than even the new trains that I ride everyday, but that could also have been an illusion caused by the rumbling noise through the open windows.  The above train is from the 1930s and has wicker seats and ceiling fans.

Nostalgia Train

Nostalgia Train

Here’s one of the bands that was playing on board among the crowd. I couldn’t get a good photo, but they even had a singer on an old microphone. There was also a singing trio of women in another car, and some people were dancing and trying to keep their balance as the train flew down the tracks.

Nostalgia Train

Nostalgia Train

There was also a train conductor to announce when the train was ready to depart, and I suppose to assure people who had no clue why a vintage train was suddenly appearing at the station that it would indeed be making its stops and not time traveling into the past.

Nostalgia Train

If you’re in the NYC area next holiday season, definitely keep an eye on the subway platform for a ghost of transit history. I hear there is also a Nostalgia Bus, although it probably doesn’t have room for jazz bands with stand-up basses. The MTA with the Transit Museum also sometimes has vintage train rides to Coney Island and other places throughout the year, and you can always stop by the Transit Museum for some stationary vintage train exploring. (You can check out some of my photos from the museum here.)

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Lunar New Year Parade

As this was my first time attending the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown, I can’t say if there were more dragons than usual. But I’m guessing that the procession of swirling, winding dragons in vibrant colors that danced through the streets on January 29 were out in force for the Year of the Dragon celebration.

We made our way through the dense crowd to a short street that was then unknown to me called Mosco Street, which slopes down from Mott Street to Columbus Park. From there, we managed to glimpse the dragons and floats that came down the narrow street, and were showered in confetti from the parade and bystanders.

After we’d had all the crowd action we could handle, and plenty of views of bobbing dragon teeth timed with crisp cymbals, we walked to Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the block party. I liked that even the basketball goals were decorated with lanterns.

Lucky for us, we timed it in just a way that we ended up seeing the dragons again, this time with a closer view from the park. (I would recommend that if you go to the parade, just head straight to the park as it was much less crowded and you can get snacks.) This pair of dragons was our favorite, as they had the most energetic movement and some awesome eyes.

The park was also where the dragons collapsed into humans, and it was fun to see people standing around in fringed dragon pants, some dancing alone with the heads on. Afterward we moved north for much needed coffee, but I was still finding the glint of confetti in my hair the rest of the day.

The Joys of Temping

The Gates bar in Chelsea.

The move to my new apartment is creeping up on me. I realized that tonight might have been the last time I visit the laundromat I use in Greenpoint and it made me weirdly sentimental. I know that no matter how long I live in New York, I’ll always remember vividly my first place in the city. I’ll miss seeing the colored lights of the Empire State Building when I unlock the front door at night and the silhouette of the Orthodox church. I’ll miss the sound of skateboarders outside the window and the view of the abandoned McCarren Pool that makes me feel like I’m in Eastern Europe. But I’m already looking forward to the roof with a view of Manhattan and a bedroom with a door.

This week I worked on some freelance writing, including two stories for a Greenpoint/Williamsburg newspaper on a butcher shop and a pet spa. As a vegetarian with no pets, I don’t know if I was the most qualified to cover those things, but then again I write about contemporary art almost every week and I’m in no way a contemporary artist. The butcher shop interview was a little awkward, and I tried to hide my repulsion as a 92-year-old man described to me how he used to cut apart a whole cow with a bowie knife. Anyway, I also attended a couple of parties. One was on Tuesday at The Gates, a lounge in Chelsea created from the salvaged interior of the Biltmore Room that was originally in the old Biltmore Hotel. The space was gorgeous and sumptuous, although the lighting wasn’t working with my camera, but you can see a much better picture here. Apparently the marble walls are worth $2.5 million dollars and the place itself was barely marked and guarded with some gates and even a gatekeeper. I felt like I was getting into an exclusive club, even though once inside I couldn’t afford a drink. The party was in honor of the release of the book Going Rouge. As you might guess from the title, this is a counter to the new Sarah Palin book and it examines “the nightmarish prospect of her continuing to dominate the nation’s political scene.” The party was attended by two Sarah Palin look-a-likes, one of whom read some of Palin’s “poetry.” After the party, we headed to the much, much less glamorous Dallas BBQ, where we could afford giant sugary margaritas that could only be served in a restaurant referencing Texas.

Radio City Music Hall with its Christmas tree.

On Wednesday, I woke up to a call from the temp agency with a one-day position. Eager to earn a bit of money, I took it and scrambled into all the Ann Taylor clothes I own and jumped on the subway. It turned out this was a rather famous film studio where I was temping, and one I will not name, just in case I ever want to write a screenplay or work in Hollywood someday. It also turns out that I was working the reception desk right outside the office of the very important founder of the film studio. The instructions for the job were basic: answer the phone, transfer calls (which I did with varying degrees of success), and greet people who came in. Except, I was not supposed to greet the founder, just smile. And in case my trainer wasn’t clear, that instruction was typed and printed on a manual in front of me. I was worried, because although he’s a “very famous film studio founder” I had absolutely no clue what he looked like. But we he stepped off the elevator with two minions I instantly knew, and his eyes only glanced at me once with uninterested sneering before he retreated into his office. All day people ran in and out of his office in a frenzy, and scripts for movies that are being released right now kept coming and going from my desk. There seemed to be about 30 interns, one of whom told me with absolutely no irony that he was interning there until he “makes it big.” Most everyone who came into the office returned my receptionist greetings with a sigh and I answered a few depressing calls, one from a mother who was desperately trying to get someone to look at her daughter’s art portfolio. On the bright side, I’m starting to think a book about my first year in New York might be interesting if I keep getting temp jobs like this.

Ice skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza.

After a day experiencing the stress of life at a very important film studio, I met up with a couple of friends at Rockefeller Plaza for another book release party at Anthropologie, where there was free champagne and hors d’oeuvres. This one was for the release of a book from Elle Decor. I also enjoyed watching the ice skaters in the Rockefeller rink, some showing off and spinning in circles and others attempting to walk on their skates, causing them to tumble backwards like planks of wood onto the ice. The big Christmas tree hasn’t been unveiled yet and was still covered in scaffolding, but the crystal Swarovski star that’s going to top it was displayed nearby. I’m sure the tree lighting ceremony is insane, but I’ll definitely stop by once it is in its full splendor.

I made the mistake of discovering that there are quite a few “Best of the 2000’s” music lists being blogged, and I’m busy catching up on music I missed while I start to organize my things for packing. I’m also looking forward to going to San Antonio next week for Thanksgiving. Being in New York, it’s almost like the rest of the world doesn’t exist in a weird way, and I’m ready to drink some more Texas margaritas and see my family. I feel like end 2009 is going to be a blur as New York gets taken over by Holiday craziness. While the developing New Yorker in me will complain, the Oklahoma girl is excited to see the pretty lights in the big city.