My So Charmed Life

Summer in The City


It was 100 degrees in the shade but that didn’t stop me, Molly, Corrie (Molly’s BFFL), David (the BF), and Irene (the BF’s mom) from romping around both the Lower East and West Sides of Manhattan last weekend. Molly and Corrie dressed as twins the entire weekend, making it easy to keep track of them! Like a school field trip. The murals around St. Mark’s Place were so cool…

But the community gardens were mind blowing. As we made our way down 6th Street and Avenue A, we began to notice these little inviting entrances. It took awhile for us to actually understand… we could enter these magical places, some of which were over 30 years old, with ancient weeping willows and decorations made of cans and other debris (above).

We imagined ourselves in a foreign land, forgetting the oppressive heat and the pungent smell of the East Village on a blistering summer day. Mexico?

A peaceful retreat in India?

Even with decaying old buildings peeking through the willows, it wasn’t hard to imagine we were on an adventure in some wild forest.

When we finally managed to tear ourselves away from the gardens and return to the streets, we made our way to a tiny little neighborhood bar, Banjo Jim’s, which has live indie music 7 nights a week and whose unofficial slogan is “there’s a whole lotta love in the room.” There was a whole lotta of love at Banjo JIm’s on Saturday when one of my oldest friends in the universe, musician and surrealist painter, Wayne Kral, co-hosted his weekly open mic event.

We signed David up to play a couple of tunes, and Wayne put Molly and Corrie behind the bar to serve sodas, run the cash register and collect EIGHT BUCKS worth of tips!! When asked their age, they cleverly stated that they were 21. At ages 10 and 11 respectively, this is of course true. When added together. I was proud to see the girls using their math skills during the summer and felt that bartending was a smart career move from Molly’s last job in Homeland Security as a school patrol. The pay was better, anyway.

The BF may have been a tad bored awaiting his turn to play; it was a bit folky for his taste. It was probably Irene’s first time in 83 years hanging out in a bar in the East Village, and she had a terrific time. Really. She did! You could ask her!

Finally it was David’s turn and he tore the place up with an original tune, You’re Breaking Up (The Cellphone Song), and Graham Parker‘s Turn it Into Hate.

Earlier in the day we’d had lunch at Dumpling Man on St. Mark’s, a very sweet place that sells nothing but Asian dumplings (and a small amount of clothing boasting their cute logo) and those little kreplach (as Irene so rightly pointed is just exactly what a dumpling is) were sublime. Like many NYC establishments, the place was the size of a closet. We sat at a bright red bar behind which four Chinese women made the dumplings and chattered on and on. They were very taken with Molly and Corrie, and although we had NO idea what they were saying, we assured everyone that they were most likely remarking on how beautiful and sweet the girls were.

After our East Village Romp we shlepped West to Soho where we dined on amazing pizza slices in an unairconditioned joint that was as hot as the seventh ring of Haides. The pizza was divine, and David was certain that Ben Kingsley was sitting at the next table over.

Dumplings, pizza… by now you would think we’d be succumbing to a major carb overdose, but my little dumpling Molly wasn’t yet finished with Lower Manhattan’s boutique eateries. Bellies full, we slowly hiked over to Little Italy to our favorite rice pudding snackateria… the always FABULOUS Rice to Riches. There we treated ourselves to heaping bowls of the comforting pudding and Irene complimented the staff on the super clean bathrooms.

And then, it was back to New Jersey for a very tired-out crew.

We heart NY.