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Dan St. Germain, on cats in New York City

I’ve lived in New York City way too long. I realized this ’cause I was on the subway the other day and I heard a meow meowwww, and I’m like, ‘Oh great, here comes some frickin’ guy pretending he’s a cat.’ And I turned around, and it was a cat. In a bag. That’s what New York City’s done to me. I’m like, ‘Cat noise? Can’t be the animal that makes that noise. It’s gotta be some weird cat guy.’ Like I was gonna turn around and there was going to be some guy with, like, cat ears and a unitard and felt whiskers.
–Dan St. Germain

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Tim Gunn and I Marvel at Our Place in the World

On Sunday, Marley and I drove upstate and then came home in the same day, just as the sun was setting and hitting the skyline of Manhattan in rose-gold light. The deep velvet blue sky was in the back, and I got washed over with joy. Marley was driving; I poked him to look quickly while wiping tears off of my chin.

I live here. This city is my home.

Holy shit.

Back at my apartment I read my favorite parts of the Times. Tim Gunn – one of the people I aspire to be like as I grow older; I haven’t met him, but the kindness he exudes is so obviously genuine anyway –  talked about his Sunday rituals which involve a trip to the Met. He’s been a member since 1985. (In 1985 he was my age.)

This quote from him stood out:

I’m particularly struck by it on Sundays: How lucky am I to live here, how lucky am I to be in this fantastic city filled with riches, how lucky am I to have this surreal life? I’m just blessed, and I’m very cognizant of it.

Me too, Mr. Gunn.

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life list only in new york

Life List: See a Broadway Play – check!

How I managed to live in New York for five years without going to the theater is baffling. It wasn’t high on my list of things to remedy just yet, but a friend had two tickets to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, so I pulled on a pretty dress, swept my hair into an updo, put on a fancy face, and headed to a Monday evening performance.

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are amazingly fun to watch, and made the rather dreary subject matter enjoyable (it took me a minute to get past seeing Gandalf interacting with Captian Picard!)

Have you been to a Broadway show? What did you see?

image of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart on top of the Empire State Building, courtesy of their Pinterest board

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Creeps in the World

Katie Jane and I got together on the High Line yesterday for a really fun portrait session. It was so weird and cool to be on the other side of the camera and we had an amazing time. I’ll tell you more about it later (she posted a sneak peek here on her blog if you’d like to see – she’s amazing), but something happened right in the middle that really pissed me off. I was posing, and a man in his late 50s came up behind her and took a photo of me while standing a few feet behind her. As he walked past her, camera now down, and then past me, I snapped.

“You know, you’re really fucking creepy, asshole!” I said, fearless somehow. He smirked as he walked on, and I daydreamed for a moment about punching him in the nose.

When I explained to Katie Jane what happened, she blurted out, “I’m so sorry!” It wasn’t her blunder to apologize for, of course, but I got it. As photographers, we are asking people to be vulnerable so we can reach into them and pull out their stories and feelings. It’s a deep honor to crack someone open and capture them; I feel that way about people in front of my camera, too, and I understood how she felt.


I’m so OVER it. I hate that I always carry a hoodie to zip up to my neck on the subway, even in the summer, because someone is going to eyeball my cleavage and press against me if I don’t. I’ll fight back if someone touches me, but it’s way easier to just cut it off completely.

Last month some construction workers were putting up scaffolding. There were six on one side of the sidewalk and six on the other, building in tandem. An extra one stood at the beginning of the row and shouted “Incoming!” as I stepped past him and through the gauntlet of men who immediately stopped their work to gawk and make crude comments.

I’m pretty tough with one guy but the dozen were a bit much, and I just dissolved into tears and shuffled off, arms folded across my chest and head down.

Has this happened to you? How do you handle it?

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bits only in new york

From the New York Times: Familiarity Breeds Content Frank Bruni, Former Restaurant Critic, on the Joys of Repeat Visits

I love this article from the New York Times about being a regular at a restaurant. One of the biggest joys of living in New York for me is to walking to my favorite place and sitting down in a familiar setting.

For me, there are two. One is an Italian restaurant where the owner taught me how to swear with a Sicilian flourish and frequently sends over dessert on the house. The other is a bar where I get a lot of work done during the early happy hours when I’m not quite ready to snap my laptop shut but could use some company and a drink (in that order, actually). One bar tender in particular knows what kind of beer I like and can steer me to new things on tap that I’ll enjoy; he also has my sort-of fussy drink order memorized: one shot of Farmers organic gin in a double glass of tonic, a dash of bitters, and no twist.

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What Happens When a Mixed-Race Person Gets Her Car Stolen

Last Monday my car wasn’t where I parked it. My first thought was “towed” but there was no record of it in the system, so I called the police to report it stolen. Two officers showed up at my front door and filled out a report, which had a section to check off a race box for me.

“Hispanic?” asked the Hispanic cop.

“Nope. Mixed race. Black and white. Err… African-American and Caucasian. Whatever.”

“Well, I can only check one. Are you more black or white?”

“Fifty-fifty, actually. Or you could say, 23/23, too!” I said, attempting a lame biology joke about chromosomes which neither of them understood.

They puzzled for a minute, figuring out what to do.

“Oh, I know,” said the other officer, “what parent is the black one?”

“Um… how does that help?” I responded. Yes it was a sassy answer, but it was so steeped in ignorance that I felt answering it for real would have been too dignified a response. (I still don’t know which parent being what would have made me what.)

“Ok, well, which do you identify with more?” This might have been the closest they got to a valid question.

Every mixed person gets asked this, and everyone has their own answer. Mine is, has always been, and will always be that I don’t. It virtually never comes up and I don’t think about it, or have friendships where it’s a consideration. The guys I’ve dated have been all colors, and no one’s mother has ever met me and raised an eyebrow. Even where I’ve chosen to live is an educated neighborhood that doesn’t glace twice at two people of different colors (or even the same gender) holding hands while walking down the street. The only time my race comes up is when I’m shopping hair care products, or, I guess, the victim of a crime.

Anyway, the cops said the computer could only process one, so I shrugged and told them to check off what they needed to.

Honestly, why is this still a thing?

If you’re wondering: the thieves ended up parking my car in a No Standing Zone a day later. It got towed, and I was able to go collect it. The car was totally fine, although my hula girl got broken. The indignity.

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Settle, Settle, Settle

The renovations on my apartment are pretty much done; I just need to plug shit in and hang some art. I’ve made my studio/office my bedroom, my bedroom my living room/studio and my living room my office. Got all that?! Just… trust me. It’s going to be amazing.

One of the best parts of living in New York City is that aside from being able to have anything delivered to your door, you can have anyone to do anything for you any time of day or night. This is never going to get old to me.

I put an ad on Craigslist saying that I needed two strong folks to come to my apartment and move my furniture into place under my direction, the catch being that they had to come that night to do it. My inbox immediately lit up with people looking for the work. I offered $25 per hour per person, and three hours after I placed the ad the task was done. What would have taken me days, loads of frustration, and stubbed toes to do was complete in 45 minutes, and two strong cousins who were both out of work had money in their pockets they were thankful for. It was some of the best $50 I’d ever spent, subtracted from the strict “apartment renovation” budget I’d set. By buying second hand furniture (have you checked out yet? I’m in love.) re-purposing existing pieces, and selling my old stuff, it looks like I’m going to have enough left over for some cool extras, like the FANCY curtains, new sheets or a more expensive rug for the living room.

I feel so happy.

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Amber's Brooklyn only in new york photos

My Name on the Cake

brooklyn blogger amber marlow photographer

In one of the more “Oh, Brooklyn, you are so cute.” moments I’ve had in a while, I ordered this cake not from a form, but by walking from my apartment to the French patisserie down the street from me [Trois Pommes in Park Slope], calling the baker over, and having her join me in a brainstorming session.

We literally had a daydream about cake.

“No chocolate.” was my only rule (Patrice is allergic.) “Anything else is game.”

We ended up doing peanut butter cake with a peanut butter and raspberry jam filling and cream cheese frosting. It was childhood and love in cake form, and there’s a huge hunk of it left in my fridge because it was so rich my friends all tapped out after one piece. Wimps!

Happy weekend.

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