New York City, Chapter 2.5: Hello, Brooklyn
Truman Capote once said, "Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act." Or maybe he wrote it, but that's no matter. In any case, in the play of Capote's life, he spent a portion of his second act — whilst in his thirties — living in the basement apartment at 70 Willow Street in Brooklyn Heights, just south of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
Recently, I had the pleasure of stopping by the writer's former address, which just so happens to be the place he resided when he penned his most famous works: Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1966). The townhouse does not appear the way it did when Capote lived there between 1955 and 1965; in fact, it was undergoing renovations when we stopped by and is no longer painted the faint yellow color that distinguished it from its Willow Street peers for a number of years.
To me, that was a little disappointing, though I still relished the chance to see with my own eyes the house and street and neighborhood that a writer who I've come to revere once called home.
It was my second and a half trip to New York City, that ever-enchanting concrete jungle on America's eastern seaboard. Second and a half, mind you, due to the fact that I merely drove through Times Square the first time I ever made my way into Manhattan, while my first proper visit took place in August 2015.
This time around, I took a special interest in Brooklyn, spawned by my eagerness to lay eyes on Capote's former dwelling, even if I could only stand out in the street and admire it (and take myriad photos). After a brief stint sauntering about Brooklyn Heights, my host/friend/former college roommate and I Uber-ed over to Williamsburg to take in the panoramic sights of a pair of rooftop bars.
Our first stop was the Ides Bar on the sixth floor of the Wythe Hotel. I see you scoffing now: Six floors? Big deal. Well, scoff if you must, but I assure you, with no other tall structures blocking the way, you can see straight west across the East River, where the Manhattan skyline winks flirtatiously and says, "Hello there, neighbor," doing its best Mr. Rogers impersonation. And then you order a hot gin punch and invariably think about the scene in Home Alone 2 where Kevin's sitting at the airport with the exact same skyline in the background ("My family's in Florida, I'm in New York!").
After you get over your '90s childhood nostalgia (I was born in 1993; I still count!), you might realize there is a rooftop bar to outdo all other rooftop bars in another hotel not too far from the Wythe. That would be the oh-so-posh Westlight, which sits atop The William Vale on 12th Street in Williamsburg.
This 22nd-floor locale stands high, high above any of the neighboring buildings and offers, in their own words, "sweeping views of New York City." Let me tell you, they're not lying. You may want to stuff your wallet with some fat cash before stopping in; we never bothered looking at the drink menu at all for fear of feeling like poor college students all over again.
Two failed attempts at thrift shopping for ugly Christmas sweaters later, we were shoving our faces at Crif Dogs, this nifty little gourmet hot dog place on Driggs Avenue (plus a second location on Saint Marks Place in Manhattan) that plays nonstop pop hits from the previous decade, such as the tasteful selection of Ne-Yo songs we were treated to during our time there.
It's quite possible they play all kinds of music actually, but we're not going to let silly little likelihoods shatter our illusions, now are we? Go to Crif Dogs. Listen to Ne-Yo. Play Ms. Pac-Man. And choose that one option on the menu where the chef gets to surprise you. I guarantee it will be a delightful surprise.
During one of the subsequent evenings, we rode the metro for a considerable jaunt before stopping in Dyker Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood dangerously close to Staten Island where the rich folk go all out with their Christmas lights. Freezing our rear ends off, we walked up and down the streets of the neighborhood, time and again being dazzled by the holiday displays. The most memorable was a home lit entirely with white lights that resembled the McCallister residence in, again, the Home Alone movies (the first and second, that is; we can forget the others even happened).
Of course, as my friend resides in Manhattan, we spent time getting into shenanigans over there as well, to include Rockefeller Center and its magnificent tree; Louis C.K. at Madison Square Garden; a silent disco atop another rooftop establishment; a pop-up Swiss restaurant; and stopping by to listen to a fruity-looking band called Pinc Louds (they were actually quite good) before getting on the metro one afternoon.
So yes, once again the Big Apple didn't disappoint. I get the feeling deep down that it never will; that, in fact, it is incapable of doing so.