Welcome to Notes from a Far-Flung Correspondent, which features the weekly interests and musings of Bossy’s Son, who is currently enjoying his sophomore year at Columbia University in the City of New York.
This week: New York Summer At Dusk.
Recently I reached out to Bossy’s Council to help dictate an excursion into the annals of the ever-elusive Cheap New York. I got a lot of good feedback — let’s be honest, mostly because I mentioned the Museum of Sex — and I’m happy to report that a few nights ago I was able to check out a few locations.
First, les presento a my partners in crime for the evening:
On the left, there’s Kat, a free spirit from SoCal who’s got an internship designing jewelry downtown this summer. On the right is Mari, who has lived in a wealth of exotic places like Uganda and Egypt and Kosovo and now blesses Columbia with her cosmopolitanisms. These knuckleheads are roommates for the summer and are always good for shenanigans galore.
First stop of the evening, just as the sun started to drop, was Artichoke Basilles Pizzeria:
This place lived up to the hype. The line when we got there (around 8pm) stretched far out of the store, but moved fast, and the smells coming from within were enough to keep us around. Slices of the high-quality pizza are damn cheap, all things considered — but don’t be tempted to order too many: they are quite large and rich, and you’re likely to have extra if you get overly ambitious.
We tried the Crab and Spinach & Artichoke, both of which cost $4.50 a slice. The crab is delicious, but a bit too creamy for my taste; this is a good slice to split with someone. The spinach and artichoke was divine, if also just slightly rich; it had all of the complex taste of the crab without feeling like too much at the end of the slice.
But the King of Kings at Artichoke is the Margarita slice for $4 flat. Think simple: tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, basil, with a sprinkling of parmesan. When you’re there, faced with choices like Sicilian and Stuffed Artichoke and Crab, it might feel like a bit of a cop-out to order Margarita. Don’t succumb to this. The cheapest slice is also the tastiest, and the only one where you can safely order two slices without leaving any behind.
One last trick: when you order at Artichoke, make sure you ask them to make your slices extra hot. They leave them in the oven for just marginally longer, but in that precious minute the crust gets a bit crispier, the toppings a bit gooier, and the flavor a bit more developed. Yum.
We ate our slices on the go, and by the time we finished we had reached my New Favorite Place — yes, totally deserving of the capital letters — in New York. Strand Bookstore.
First let me say this: we got to Strand at 9:00pm, and it closes at 10:30pm, and that was nowhere near enough time because Jesus H. Christ this place is amazing.
Seriously, folks. Go to Strand, but make sure you set aside enough time to patiently flip through the endless carts, shelves, and racks, especially the many $1-areas. Sure, you may have to wade through outdated fitness guides and absurd coffeetable books, but you may just find $1 copies of Foucalt’s History of Sexuality and Doctorow’s Loon Lake.
And yes, attentive readers, perhaps I am mentioning sex once a post to keep my audience interested… or maybe soy inocente.
To end our evening, as the air cooled and the breeze began, we kicked back on Mari and Kat’s rooftop, enjoying the panoramic views and thinking this is the life.
And really, it is.
You can call me, 'Sir' saysJuly 7, 2010 at 9:42 am
I can appreciate your love of Strand. The first time I walked into Powell’s in Portland, I fell to the ground and wept tears of joy (not really). That many books with nowhere to be for an entire day is tough to beat (really).
hulagirlatheart saysJuly 7, 2010 at 10:15 am
I find the rooftop images so interesting as I live in the country where you can sit on your deck and see nothing but grass and trees for miles. I MUST get to New York.
Angela saysJuly 7, 2010 at 10:17 am
After having tried my very first artichoke at the tender age of 39, just knowing that spinach artichoke pizza exists simply crystallizes the fact that: Yes. Life is entirely too short.
Shelley saysJuly 7, 2010 at 10:31 am
Tu eres inocente? Como se dice, “Hahahaha!”
BH saysJuly 7, 2010 at 11:15 am
The LIFE, indeed.
Jean saysJuly 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm
I have visited NYC numerous times and never particularly enjoyed it because I don’t like crowds, but those photos from the rooftop almost make me want to pack up and come back for a visit. If only I never had to come back down from the rooftop. Well, I guess I’d come down to grab one of those yummy sounding slices of pizza.
Lizzy saysJuly 7, 2010 at 2:12 pm
The Life to me is the pizza and the bookstore because MERCY ME… 10:30? I’m in bed by 9 because I’ve eaten so much pizza and read too many books. That, and I’m older than dirt.
Em saysJuly 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm
The Strand is one of the best bookstores on earth. As a bibliophile, I have to say, thank heavens for bookstores, especially ones like The Strand.
BossysMom saysJuly 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm
And BossysSon…for #6 maybe your next assignment would be to describe how you can be alone and not with the crowds in NYC, (other than getting into and out of). I guess a start would be on that glamourous rooftop.
21st Century Housewife saysJuly 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm
I love the Strand, too — because how can you not love a bookstore that will buy an entire library of books?!
And I agree with Bossy’s Mom — there are indeed ways to avoid the claustrophobia that Manhattan can sometimes induce. Let’s hear about them!
BOSSY saysJuly 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm
Bossy is wondering if anyone would notice if she moved a very expensive mattress to that rooftop for the remainder of the summer? With Bossy on the mattress, of course.
Amber Lee saysJuly 7, 2010 at 7:20 pm
I would move the very expensive mattress to the bookstore, and then lock everyone out.
Meg at the Members Lounge saysJuly 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm
Bossy’s son, the fact you used Jesus H.Christ in your narrative leads me to believe you are a far older soul than your actual age. Plus you used the adjective divine to describe pizza. Please assign yourself something else pronto!
Cupcake Murphy saysJuly 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm
Bookstores are like blankets.
Kelly @ Student of the Year saysJuly 8, 2010 at 9:52 am
I was craving potato chips, but now I’m craving pizza, and thanksalot because it’s not even 10am, young man.
kristin @ going country saysJuly 8, 2010 at 10:22 am
The Strand was too much for me. I always get overwhelmed when I go to huge places like that. Where to even start?
In the end, I went all the way up to the top floor, where the really old and really rare books are. Coolest part of the store. Even if they didn’t have any old books on sheep. And if you want to amuse yourself, check out the expression on a clerk in a NYC bookstore when you ask for a book on sheep raising.
Suzanne saysJuly 8, 2010 at 11:11 am
The perfect life.. sitting on that rooftop, eating a slice of Margherita Pizza and sipping – or guzzling an ice cold beer (or two), while reading a book. Perfect! Thanks for describing this wonderful evening!
Dara saysJuly 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm
One time, when I was in Paris at the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, a writer in residence let me take a nap on his bed. I think the Strand needs more napping areas.
David saysJuly 8, 2010 at 4:34 pm
w00t! You went to Artichoke! I am still partial to the artichoke version, but I only order one slice. That is plenty. The Strand is just a bit too much for me. I’m not really a browser type of shopper, I want to get in and out and this place is a huge time-eater. But good for you to have the patience to wade through those dollar bins.
Grammar Snob saysJuly 9, 2010 at 11:44 am
Son of Bossy,
You make NYC look quaint, friendly, and just so COOL. So happy you are experiencing it and thank you so much for sharing. A few things I’m wondering…is it easy to find your way around? Is the transportation expensive? Does it….smell? I just have this idea that with that many people, all those exhaust fumes, etc…that it has to smell. Will you please tell me if Central Park lives up to the hype?
Niki in Baltimore saysJuly 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm
sigh… i miss having summer breaks… please continue reporting adventures as i continue working 14 hours a day so that i can live vicariously through you.
Harbormom saysMarch 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm
The Strand has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered it on a business trip to NYC in the early 1970s. My son (living in NYC for 10 years now) is there at least once a week (used to be more when he lived downtown). Amazing place to spend the day. Need to take a cushion, though; no soft chairs to relax and read…