I moved to New York City from Austin just a shade under 4 years ago. I made the move because I was offered one of those you’d-be-stupid-to-turn-this-down type of jobs writing for an ad agency here. A year or two in I found a great place to live in Greenwich Village. It was built in 1836 and has a working fireplace. It’s complete with a surly but lovable Italian landlord who gave me the oddest compliment I’ve ever been given, “You know, you’ve got a 16th century face.”
What you’re about to read is an account of what I did on a day in New York City when my schedule wasn’t being dictated by my employer, the weather, or traffic patterns created by a visiting presidential candidate—hint the candidate’s last name starts with a T and aptly ends with Rump.
My mornings usually start with a breakfast consisting of iced coffee, an egg on something and a shower. Today, it was an egg on top of an avocado, which also happened to be on top of toast. I’m one of those people who lay out their clothes the night before to cut back on morning time decision-making. So once breakfast is over I can be off to the races in just a few extra minutes.
Lately, I’ve been allocating 15-20 minutes every morning to learning new music on the guitar. A few months ago I purchased a heavily gigged 1971 Fender Telecaster, which I haven’t put down since. I’m learning to play a couple songs by Whitney, a relatively new indie super group formed with members of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and The Smith Westerns. Today, I practiced an old timey tune called “Keep It Clean.” It’s the twangy type of song you hear emanating from a hollow somewhere in the hills of Kentucky.
When spring hits this city a rebirth of sorts takes place in the streets. People start emerging from their sullen shells, crack open old smiles and dust off their warm weather habits. For me, it’s riding my bike, a 1969 Motobecane that I bought soon after I moved here. Biking is the first habit I try to reinstall. Plus, it reconnects me with the city in a romantic way, allowing me some control over how you experience each neighborhood.
On the weekend, my first instinct is to head to the Strand Bookstore and just wander. Between The Strand and Three Lives Bookstore in the West Village I can burn half a day easy. I usually head to a coffee shop after, sit, read and make plans for the rest of the afternoon. Today, it was Third Rail Coffee in the East Village. The baristas there said they were celebrating DMX’s entire discography, which they told me was inspired by watching a YouTube video of him using Google for the first time.
One of my favorite stores in the city is Best Made Co. I’d say half of my clothes are from there. Everything they make from Japanese Cords to their ventile cotton caps are spot on. Well-made work wear that can pull double-duty on a night out. In fact, my Helm Hunter Teak boots have the same thing going for them. I’ve been wearing them for about 2 years now and they’ve been everywhere from the peat-packed slopes on The Isle of Skye in Scotland to a night at the MET opera. Super versatile. I’ve even worn them to a Texas hill country wedding or two.
Today, I forwent Best Made Co. and hit up Second Hand Rose; a used record store a few blocks from my apartment. It’s one of the oldest in the city and has a robust stash of Honky Tonk music. It’s a longstanding cornerstone of my weekend routine. Plus the owner has that unimpressed-New Yorker thing going for him. After living here for a few years that type of thing makes you feel right at home.
I ended my afternoon in Washington Square Park. I spend a lot of time there reading and people watching. As soon as I sat down a toothless man, with hair like Lemmy from Motörhead, approached me and told me I was sitting where “the birdman” usually sits. Moments later, my head, shoulders and arms were pocked with pigeons. One even landed on my palm within milliseconds of me offering it up. I know what you’re wondering. Nope. I was lucky. No bird turds.
If there were a few more hours in the day I’d probably hit up Mission Chinese in the LES for some Thrice Cooked Bacon and Kung Pao Pastrami. I might have biked over to Westerlind to buy some Jungmaven Tees for the summer. 50% hemp, 50% cotton, super comfortable. Buy them. Trust me. I spend a decent amount of weekend time in Brooklyn. Get the Medium Breast Chicken Sandwich at The Commodore in Williamsburg. I’m going to use this as a platform to claim it as hands down the best Chicken Sandwich in the city. Quote me, please.
When I moved to New York I was told by many to move to Brooklyn. Its long list of youth-a-fied neighborhoods seems to be obvious choices for bearded young men that carry pocketknives and ride bicycles. But due to a chance meeting on the street with my surly, Italian landlord I ended up on East 11th Street. What my neighborhood lacks in newness it makes up for in history and charm—both of which are as important to me as my 16th century face.
Writing by Lucas Owens