Posts in "new york"
A Bite off the Big Apple

New York is a glamorous and gritty maze of dichotomy: from the Chanel-suit-wearing ladies of Park Avenue to the leather-wearing divas of downtown, there is huge gap.  The cultural (and financial) divide between the creative caldron that resides in Brooklyn and the refined and established richness of the West Village is increasingly apparent.  From Harlem to the Upper West Side, the distance is not long, but the differences are vast.

This complex labyrinth of opposites actually propels the machinery of the city and is, in fact, what makes New York City great.  New Yorkers remain creative, independent and powerful as always, continuously imbibed with the alchemy generated from its diverse population. This population, unlike any other I’ve seen, exudes camaraderie, compassion and colossal creativity.

Most New Yorkers have their favorite neighborhood and mine is SoHo.  From my abode I can observe all the greatness of this cosmic collection of counter culture.  Thousands of tourists walk these streets daily, searching for bargains on products not found in their native land.  Locals, who vie for sidewalk space, have learned to live in the midst of chaos.  Adding to the mix, are street vendors, paparazzi and hundreds of celebrities who aim to remain incognito.

Before moving here, I always thought SoHo was an unbearably messy and pretentious neighborhood.  Over time, I began to realize the charm hidden in its cobblestone streets and the historic cast iron buildings, which once were the homes and studios of virtuosos like Keith Haring, Maripol, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Basquiat. These same buildings have evolved into something a little more mainstream and now house every major fashion brand.  Prada, Chanel, Alexander Wang and Catherine Malandrino are only some of fashion giants that make of this neighborhood an economic gem of the fashion world.

Over time I have learned to navigate the side streets, away from the crowds, and to discover hidden treasures of the locals.  From restaurants to spas, from local brands to obscure cafes, everything here has a special feel and a unique story to tell.  Once again, opposites sit side by side, smiling – the tiny, family-owned Italian café is around the corner from the home of $1800 shoes and $6000 handbags.  I prefer the café – espresso anyone?

Sadly, but no less exciting, my neighbors are no longer famous modern artists (most of whom are no longer with us), but young models, actors and singers.  Claire Danes, Justin Timberlake, Tyra Banks and Adam Sandler are just some of the people with whom I share my favorite spots.  At Café Café I make my daily stops in the morning to grab some iced tea.  At Ground Support I can’t pass on a grilled ham & cheese and a soy latte made to perfection.  At night, a stop by Butter or Indochine for a meal remains a sure bet.  There, an encounter with Anna Wintour, Madonna or Fran Leibovitz is a strong possibility.

A recent addition to the neighborhood is the beauty clinic Erno Laszlo, named after the legendary dermatologist
who is known for his miraculous lotions and potions.  Dr. Laszlo had royal treatment during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s – for it was in that time that he looked after the beauty of the queens of Hollywood’s silver screen.  Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner and Katherine Hepburn were part of a very select group to receive his attention.  For each of them he developed individual and secret formulas.  After nearly twenty years away from the public eye, the same team responsible for the celebrated Molton Brown has acquired the Erno Laszlo brand.  Inspired by Laszlo’s principles, this team hopes to restore the brand to what it used to be, a place in which its clients can expect the most exclusive treatment available anywhere, just like Marilyn did.

Perhaps one of the most talked about and sought after shops in the area is Treasure & Bond, part of the portfolio of Nordstrom. The appeal is its luxury items available for affordable prices in two gigantic floors.  Selling furniture, housewares, books and clothes for all ages, this store reserves all its profit for charity.  To make sure the wealth is distributed equally to those who in need, the charities change every six months

A stop for lunch is a must.  Along with 100 Acres and others, The Dutch is another new arrival and its American Cuisine doesn’t disappoint.  Starting with its freshly baked corn bread and onto fried chicken, every bite here feels like a little piece of heaven.

SoHo is also home to one of the cities most renowned and successful Japanese restaurants.  After more than twenty years, Blue Ribbon Sushi remains a favorite.  The absolute freshest fish make this highbrow restaurant one of the best.  Don’t be fooled by its discreet setting however, its permanence in this city is proof that the food is impeccable.

From dusk till dawn, breakfast to dinner, SoHo is imbued with so many magical qualities.  I have grown to adore this neighborhood.  Everything I need is only a few steps away and the word “subway” has vanished from my vocabulary.  SoHo proves to be one of the most perfectly evolved areas in town, maintaining its original character and charm, even as masses of tourists and wealthy developers make their way through the historic cobblestone streets.


--- This article was originally published in Portuguese in Parochi Magazine, in Brazil. ---
 
Why I Cry Today
I was sitting in a class of physics when someone received a text message saying that the World Trade Center had been attacked. I remember i was planning a trip to Los Angeles with one of my best friends instead of paying attention to class; we couldn't believe it, all of us rushed down to the tv at the cafeteria in a state of shock, absolute shock, what was going on? How was that possible? What was happening in the world? Still to this day i can't make any sense of it, i don't think anyone ever will.

I remember the feelings i felt, i remember having a classmate whos father worked in one of the towers, i remember his despair staring at the tv screen without understanding; i remember the common feeling we all had for him and his family, we wanted them to be well. His father was there, but he survived. I have never seen that kid again, but my heart was with him then and is with him now, because to go through the agony he must have gone through is unimaginable.

It's unimaginable for me to think that one human being is capable of willingly do a thing such as flying an airplane into a building. We are human beings, not animals; or are we? What is this desire to kill and destroy that some of us have? Where does it come from? Why is it necessary to fight over differences?

Today is the tenth anniversary of september eleven, a day that will never be forgotten, a day that will enter history books and a day that i witnessed and still can't understand. At all. Every year my thoughts wander away into the void left by those who died, i try to piece it together and today, since the moment i woke up, i cried, because i can't understand, because the fear is tangible, because the feeling of abandonment from reason is real. To me it feels like a wound that is constantly open and band-aided, and even though i wasn't in that situation i witnessed with the entire world, and feelings sometimes travel faster than light and sound, and this feeling lives in my heart, there is no denying.

Every year i think of why would any person chose to kill over their beliefs? Can't things be solved peacefuly? It's even scarier to think that people celebrated the deaths of thousands somewhere in the world, that other human beings were gloating over something so unhuman, so animal. Just like World War II, September eleven to me is irrationality to the extreme, it's madness, sheer brutality; and my heart aches for that, my tears roll down because i feel embarrassed as a human being, because i feel that with years and years of evolution we haven't been able to overcome our irrationalities and act like the geniuses i know we can be, instead, some of us choose to use this genius for destruction of our own selves.

Humans have massacred millions of other humans, enslaved other humans, destroyed the very ground they live in, it's total self-sabotaging, and that to me is uncomprehensible, because to me it's such a simple equation, it's as simple as 1+1=2. 

We don't think the same, we don't feel the same, we don't believe in the same Gods, we don't love the same, we don't pray the same, but we all want to live, we all want to be able to have peace of mind, we all want to be able to have a place to come to at night, a place to call home, and we want our homes to be safe and free of fear. It baffles me to think that human beings are capable of such violent acts against each other, it disappoints me profoundly to know that we can't live in peace, that we can't be trusted, that we have to keep looking over our shoulders or interpreting situations.

I felt the same way when i was in Berlin, that is one powerful place to be if you wanna feel floored by emotions, because the kind of prolonged pain those people had to be put through is beyond me, i have no words, and that to me is rare. We may be intelectual humans, but sometimes we act like savages.

Living in New York, a city filled and built by different cultures and beliefs, my feelings are amplified, because i know it can still work out for us all, look at this city, it's an example of resilience and survival, it is a multi cultural epicenter, it's a city that has all cultures, religions, languages, sounds, sexual orientations, everything and anything you can imagine is in here, and we all have learned to live together in respect, we have learned to listen to each other, we have learned to dialogue, we have learned to live in peace.

Now more than ever, my heart cries harder, because i wish the whole world could feel and experience what i feel and experience here everyday, i wish the whole world could have the kind of freedom i have living in New York city, a world of its own, a place where you are accepted for who you are, regardless of anything else. Someone did something right here at some point, and it works, because we understand each other, there is a sense of community like nowhere else, and we come together for each other and we make it work, because we believe it is possible to coexist with all our differences in one city, in peace.

New York did not cause the disaster of  9/11 but the disaster was brought upon this city, and what New York did was beautiful, because New York gathered its strength and rebuilt itself and its spirit, New York and its citizens, people from all around the globe, gathered as one and showed the world that it is possible to live together and make something better, and this is why i cry, because New York, one of the most important cities on earth is to me the clearest example of strength, freedom and peace, and that is what i cry for today.