What’s your historical San Francisco and New York connection?
I’ve lived in NYC for 16 non-consecutive years. The Upper West Side, Williamsburg, Park Slope, West Village, Carroll Gardens, and, most recently, Bushwick. New York will always be home for me.
In San Francisco, I lived on Hayes St, just north of the Panhandle, from 2008-2009 (before I joined the tech industry) and visit frequently for work (and fun).
Describe your experience in SF and your experience in NYC. The thing I miss most about San Francisco is how easy it is to get out of the city and into nature (I kept a copy of Moon’s 101 Great Hikes of the San Francisco Bay Area in my car for this purpose).
NYC is the best city in the world and, counter-intuitively, I think it’s a friendlier, more welcoming place than SF.
What was the biggest challenge of moving between NYC and SF? Sorry, but with the exception of burritos (La Taqueria’s are best) and the now-closed Doña Marta, the Mexican food in SF is just not as good as it is in NYC (walk down Roosevelt Ave in Corona or 5th Ave in Sunset Park or try the carne asada quesadilla at Los Tacos No. 1 and tell me I’m wrong).
How can NYC and SF best engage with each other?
Favorite SF secret spot
The rope swing at Bass Lake in Point Reyes National Seashore. Because rope swing.
Favorite NYC secret spot
New York is a city of experiences. Here are some of my favorites:
J’Ouvert: J’Ouvert starts at Grand Army Plaza around 4am the night before the West Indian Day Parade (Labor Day). You spend the next 6 hours dancing and drinking your way down Flatbush Ave accompanied by incredible steel pan orchestras while people fling paint at you. One of the most fun things you can do in New York.
Unsilent Night: From their website, “Unsilent Night is an original composition by Phil Kline, written specifically to be heard outdoors in the month of December. It takes the form of a street promenade in which the audience becomes the performer. Each participant gets one of four tracks of music in the form of a cassette, CD, or Mp3. Together all four tracks comprise Unsilent Night. The fact that the participants play different “parts” simultaneously helps create the special sound of the piece. Participants carry boomboxes, or anything that amplifies music, and simultaneously start playing the music. They then walk a carefully chosen route through their city’s streets, creating a unique mobile sound sculpture which is different from every listener’s perspective.” This is actually magical.
Walk Roosevelt Ave from Flushing to Woodside, Queens at night. According to Wikipedia, “Queens is the most is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.” Walking this route takes you on a global tour from China to Mexico and Latin America, to India and Tibet, Thailand and the Philippines. It truly comes alive at night, when the street is packed with street food vendors and expats of dozens of different countries stumbling out of various dimly lit bars.
If you were not where you are now, what would you be doing?
There’s a famous perfumer named Jean-Claude Ellena. His daughter Céline (now a well-known perfumer herself) says that when she was growing up, her father would write stories in smells for her and her brother. The children would ask for the smell of clouds, or winter, or sweaty socks, and their father would make it for them. I would love to be able to do that.
Roadtrip Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
Birdman. It’s an extraordinary movie.