Today is my 50th day living in New York City. I mention it because this number been a recurring theme for me: I live on 50th Avenue in Queens and work on the intersection of West 50th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. I find it an amusing coincidence and will gladly use today as another excuse to celebrate.
This morning I got up early to go for a run at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. I signed up to participate in a 5K next weekend, and I haven't trained at all since my arrival. I completed a three-mile jog, but it wasn't a pretty sight. I hope to slip in a few more workouts before the race so I won't be so winded and sore for the actual event.
Afterward, I met up with friends at the AMC Empire 25 theater in Times Square to watch The Social Network, the highly acclaimed movie about Facebook's origins. It was a fascinating film with very sharp and witty writing and quirky actors. I don't think there's anything out there quite like it, and though it's not my favorite movie, it's definitely worth a watch. Afterward, we wandered the city looking for munchies to satisfy our cravings, stopping by Yum Yum III for Thai food and Crazy Bananas for Thai bubble tea. We also got some shopping done at Jack's 99 Cent Store for cheap household goods and the amazing Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, a playground of interesting antiques like vintage cameras, art, and books.
As evening fell, a friend and I decided to visit Strawberry Fields in Central Park in celebration of John Lennon's 70th birthday. It has become an annual tradition to gather at this commemorative plot to pay homage to the pop icon. Strains of The Beatles music would waft throughout the park from impromptu sing-a-longs, and the place was so crowded, especially surrounding the famous Imagine mosaic, that it was impossible to walk through the jam-packed multitudes. Fans clipped notes to Lennon on the fences, and small shrines complete with candles, flowers, and posters developed throughout the area. It was quite the bonanza, and a true testament to one music legend's staying power.
In the evening, I met up with my friend Stephanie again on the Upper West Side at a place called Community Food and Juice. It was described by Steph as "granola," which usually does little to whet my appetite, but this restaurant was actually very good. It was kind of nice to dig into a big, hearty dinner and not feel gross and greasy afterward. I had a rice bowl loaded with fresh vegetables and grilled chicken and topped with a sesame-lime dressing that was surprisingly flavorful. Afterward, I hung out with Stephanie and her friends at the neighboring Heights Bar & Grill, where we noshed on beers, margaritas, and nachos and had some great conversation.
|Movie theaters in historic buildings are so much cooler than the big-box cinemas in Houston.|
|My tasty but wildly overpriced Coco Shrimp from Yum Yum III.|
|Jessica enjoys her Thai food at Yum Yum III.|
|Loitering after the meal with Clarence.|
|The deceptively huge Hell's Kitchen Flea Market with dozens of tents featuring clothes and antiques.|
|I love old books. Even more so when they have titles like "College Life: Its Conditions and Problems" and "What a Woman of Forty-Five Ought to Know."|
|Vintage cameras are cool whether you're a photographer or not.|
|Jess and Jayson look through the bargain jewelry bin at Hell's Kitchen Flea Market.|
|A John Lennon look-alike plays for tips at the entrance to Strawberry Fields.|
|The massive sing-a-long mob gathered around the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.|
|One of the impromptu Beatles tribute bands that set up shop for the day at Stawberry Fields.|
|The bronze memorial plaque at Strawberry Fields adorned with flowers, posters, and candles.|
|Sign-wielding devotees maintain a candlelit vigil for John Lennon.|
|A fountain and horse-drawn carriage at dusk in Central Park.|
|I ran into the crazy characters at Central Park Dance Skaters, who were having a Latin music party.|
|My healthy-looking grilled chicken rice bowl at Community Food & Juice.|
|Stephanie enjoys stimulating intellectual conversation with a friend as we wait for our check.|