FLARE Diary Girl-about-town Hannah Sung navigates 30-days in New York City
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: It’s Like Banarama Said – Seasons Change
Being in New York for a month is long enough to see the seasons change. When I arrived, Central Park was on fire with leafy drama. It only added to the stunning eye candy of the city. Now, I hear about snow at home, but it has yet to touch down in Manhattan. Still, there are plenty of signs of winter.
Shops and streets are festooned with lights and the city just got a cold snap last week, which has brought people’s puffiest parkas out for good. The Union Square Holiday market is up this weekend, and I’ve seen the city shift from Halloween mode to Christmas. Walking by a Macy’s on Broadway yesterday, I caught a glimpse of this year’s holiday windows. Besides the traditional scenes, there were lots of robotically-inclined, technicolour worlds involving dolls. Everyone’s always in a rush, but it’s kind of nice to just stand and gawk for a moment – something I feel like doing all the time here.
I’m ending my stay where I began, on the roof of my Williamsburg loft. From here, I can see the Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges, lit up at night, the river and the gorgeous Manhattan skyline, twinkling with lights. It’s like my own Christmas window display. It’s cold, but I’m spending a moment up there to reflect on all the amazing people I’ve met, the daily adventures, the food and drinks I’ve shared with new friends.
What I love about spending a month in a city is the promise of new friendships. And you find out as much about yourself as you do about others in making new friends. I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss New York, but it’s time to come home.
See you soon, Xoxo, Hannah
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: The MTA is my BFF
I love taking the train in NY. All the different lines snake through so many different neighbourhoods. Everyone gets on the train and I get some primo people-watching. I mainly get a big kick out of teens. I love their style and that the way they act is entirely unique to that one period in life – adolescence.
The other day, I walked along the platform, following two teen boys. They were about fifteen, black, tall, obviously BFF. One was chubby, wearing a t-shirt that read “PROFESSONAL HARDCORE WRESTLER.” His face was pretty, the way young boys still are, and he just so obviously wasn’t as advertised. He was carrying an eco-shopping bag from a grocery store. Wearing a keffiyeh scarf (very hand-me-down hipster from 2005). His skinny friend wore little specs, a ball cap and had no discernible style. They were really the cutest pair.
When I got on the train, I saw another pair of teen BFFs. They were white and by white, I mean, extremely pale, at least the one who was obviously a model coming out of a shoot. They couldn’t have been much more than fifteen themselves, two tiny-face teen girls, one in standard hipster gear (little black jacket, worn-out moccasins) and the other, the model, wore black, avant-garde pants that ballooned and had painted-on eyebrows, each as thick as a fake mustache. Louis Vuitton handbag (of course). Very cute.
The man sitting next to me was furiously scribbling into a notepad and I saw he had written “Overheard in NY.” I guess he was taking notes! No wonder – the train is the best place to do it!
Until next time, Hannah
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: I love the nightlife
NY is all about the nightlife, n’est-ce pas? It takes all kinds.
Here’s a brief round-up of what I did for the past three nights. Some were more booze-fuelled than others – you just have to guess which.
First, the Williamsburg spelling bee. I will say that I’m not as good a speller as I originally thought. My first bee in life will probably be my last and I hope to never again be asked to spell “xerostomia.”
Then, the opera. Rush tickets are cheap and wonderful and the Lincoln Center itself is gorgeous. We saw Madame Butterfly, which made me realize that I never knew the storyline before. What a wackadoodle, Eurocentric piece of imperialism. I mean, not that Puccini’s music isn’t gorgeous.
And then last night, a bunch of new friends and I traipsed over to the Bowery hotel to watch Marc Bouwer receive an award from the Humane Society’s “Cool vs Cruel” event and ogle model-of-the-moment Agyness Deyn (is that a wig?) and her bf Albert Hammond Jr DJ for a little bit. That was followed by booze, the best ramen in the city, booze, some dancing at Lit, and this morning’s hangover.
Ta for now, Hannah
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: The Hype Has Landed…And Lifted Off
It looked like a gorgeous, alabaster, ethereal alien ship, landed in Central Park. It opened its doors just a crack to reveal its wondrous insides. The Chanel Mobile Art exhibit in Central Park has now packed up but I went and saw it on its last weekend. It only took me, oh, a 4-hour wait.
It was really nice inside and…WHAT?!
Yes, a four-hour wait.
F.O.U.R. Hours. I’ve never waited that long for anything in my life. Was it worth it?
Is anything worth waiting four hours for? Alone? In the rain? Without coffee? It isn’t an exam or anything, so I’ll just give you the answer: No. One hour, fine. Four, no way.
I didn’t know it would take that long. I joined the standby line with the thick Sunday New York Times and two hours later, I looked up. I thought, “Geez, I wanna get outta here.” But I had waited 2 hours! So I stayed. And then the skies opened up. Click! Phunk! Good thing I had an umbrella.
If I hadn’t been at the most media-hyped luxury-brand interactive commercial on earth, there would still be lots of great art to see in this city, and with less of a wait time. Just in the last week, I’ve breezed in and out of the MOMA, the New Museum, a party at the Brooklyn Museum and Guggy.
So I was kind of miserable waiting in the rain for the Chanel thing, especially because it was my own stubbornness that kept me there. That, and casting an occasional glance over my shoulder at the long, snaking line of people behind me. That’s New York, friends. You gotta get there early because everyone wants the same thing and there are a million people who will take your place if you leave. All that to see some product-based art. Some of it was great (mirror-brain!) and some kinda cringe-worthy (almost all the video art, especially the one featuring a Chanel handbag exploding from the slow-motion blast of bullets).
Until next time, Hannah
Signage in Times Square
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: Yes He Can!
Election day was magic but election night was even better.
As I walked the streets of Manhattan in the morning, neighbours and shopkeepers and old men shuffling the block would all stop and greet each other with, “Didja vote?” To which they’d nod and keep moving.
In the afternoon, I passed through Times Square where hustlers (gotta admire the entrepreneurial spirit in its most natural habitat) sold Obama condoms. Don’t worry; they were selling McCain condoms, too. Apparently, Palin condoms exist. What, no Joe Biden?
Taking sides in Times Square
As I ogled a CNN broadcast happening in a makeshift outdoor studio in Times Square, Obama and McCain came running through, jumping around in tights and short shorts. The presidential hopefuls (well, masked versions thereof) started kissing (rubbing masks) and otherwise cavorting to the nonchalance of the CNN producers (little did the spirited merrymakers know, but CNN was in a taped piece, not live).
That night, I bar-hopped with Canadian friends and celebrated the moment Obama was announced (big cheer and drinks all around!) and watched the speeches at a dive bar in the Lower East Side. It was quite moving but nothing could prepare us for what lay around the corner. We were all ready to head home when we heard some noise around the corner…and followed it…and happened upon…THIS!
Election night fever spilled into the street
The impromptu party in the street was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I suspect most of us haven’t. I can’t think of any other political event here that would make people erupt into singing the anthem, shout and clap with joy, and dance in the streets. Amazing!
It’s like all of New York City was breathing a sigh of relief.
Until next time, Hannah
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: Election Fever
One of the things I’ve most been looking forward to is finally here. I get to be a fly on the wall for election night as America votes. It’s interesting because all of New York City seems so enormously pro-Obama but that isn’t necessarily how the rest of the U.S. feels. My street in Williamsburg is lined with homemade Obama signs, in loft windows and lining Bedford Street for the New York Marathon. People wear Obama buttons on their jackets and bags and there’s lots of Obama graffiti in every neighbourhood. But no one is entirely sure what will happen tomorrow night.
I still don’t know where I’ll be on the big evening, but I expect to be with my ex-pat friends in a bar surrounded by Americans. Will the drinks be merry or for drowning sorrows?
So far, my stay in NY has been one, big, long street party (Halloween plus good weather plus the New York Marathon plus Williamsburg plus all the general hustle and energy all over the city). I sincerely hope Tuesday night will be more of the same.
Fingers crossed, people. Cheers, Hannah
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: Scary in the City
I love going to house parties when I’m in a different city. In this case, I was at a studio party and everyone was in costume for Halloween. It doesn’t get any better! I didn’t have much time to prepare anything so I slapped on some rhinestone Obama shades I picked up while walking along St. Marks Place and a sequin headband. I was a “Democratic Party.”
Furry and fuzzy was the theme du jour and the bigger the head, the better. There was a bloody Yeti, a Frankenstein, a Cookie Monster, an inexplicable puffball head on a hipster body that looked vaguely Jamiroquai-ish. If you’re crafty, I think furry and fuzzy oversized heads are definitely the way to go.
To: FLARE.com From: Hannah Sung Subject: Wish You Were Here
Who leaves their loft in New York, the #1 global city on earth, for an entire month? Who leaves this gorgeous rooftop view? Someone who’s got a gig in Paris, that’s who. That person would be my artist friend Charlie and his loss is my month-long gain. I get to loft-sit in one of my favourite cities, a city I’ve never had the chance to live in. But now I do and I am. Welcome home! Here I am in Williamsburg, so hipster it hurts.
I’ve been to NY plenty of times but is it different to live here? Shopping and galleries and cramming a truckload of friend-visits into one weekend is no way to really experience a city. I’m about to take in New York for 30 days, which means that there’s time to just wander. Just the way I like it.
So far, I’ve wandered into the last day of a David LaChappelle show, come face-to-face with Michel Gondry at an art books fair, ate a cupcake, did the Williamsburg Bridge by foot, the Brooklyn Bridge by bike and overcame my fear of meeting my demise by cycling around Manhattan (I’m still alive and it was actually quite civilized). Not having an itinerary is suiting me fine; there’s so much happening that the city is filling it in for me.
Oh, by the way, if you’re reading and you’re an art agent type, adopt Charlie as your next artiste, will you? I’m surrounded by all of his gorgeous half-finished art and I think it should be hanging on the walls of rich people and galleries for everyone to see.
Until next time, love from Billyburg, Hannah
Photo: Isaac King
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