One of the many great reasons to live below 14th Street, the Yaffa Café on St. Mark’s Place is arguably the East Village’s quintessential post-anything after-hours venue. As the giant mural outside screams, Yaffa is “open all nite”, and the ’80s downtown vibe continues inside with its kitsch decor, quirky regulars and unexpected music. Where else can you enjoy a glass of hot chocolate at four in the morning while listening to the Sugarcubes?
On Saturday night I was invited to a roller disco on Staten Island by my friends Annie and Andy who were in town from the UK. I hadn’t ever been much of a roller-skater (I prefer ice), but what the hell — I’d never been to Staten Island. But when I arrived in Dumbo it seemed the original plan had already been ditched in favour of a 70s-themed party at the large open-plan former industrial space apartment where my friends were staying.
Andy had gone to great efforts with his costume, even paying a special visit to American Apparel, to create a somewhat garish outfit which seemed to owe more to the 80s aerobic craze than anything else, but which he pulled off with a certain panache. So we spent the evening seeing how many different foods can be dipped into fondue while classic Brooklyn movie Saturday Night Fever was projected onto the wall. On the subway back home I wondered if people will one day host 2007-themed parties, and if so what would they involve? Somehow I can’t quite imagine it. Maybe it takes a while for a decade to define its identity, but in this post-everything age, is there anything about the present popular culture (besides reality shows and the internet) that will have any relevance thirty years from now?
My MoMA internship ended on Friday. Three months have flown by, and I have no idea what I am going to do next. I have a return ticket booked for Europe in January, but I’m actually hoping don’t have to use it. Anyway, I’m not the only one in that predicament, and in an attempt to celebrate our time at MoMA Sefra invited a group of the now-former interns to her home in Connecticut for the weekend.
So after work on Friday we boarded a train at Grand Central Station on the Metro-North New Haven line and bound for Greens Farms, near Westport, CT. A giant painted mural of Jerry Garcia greets you at the front door of Sefra’s family home, giving only a glimpse as to the decorative eccentricities which await inside. If this house has not yet featured in Architectural Digest I can’t think why. The place is a beautiful example of New England artsy-liberalism befitting its quirky baby-boomer owners. The rustic kitchen gives way to a comfortable living area into which sofas and chaise-longues seem to have been dropped almost liberally. A giant clock face acts as a coffee table, while original artwork hangs on every wall. Sefra’s mother’s home office is like a little piece of South Beach with its pink-stripey floors and Venetian blinds.
Sefra took us on a tour of the garden, from where she pointed out another house closer to the beach. This is owned by Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein, who had erected a huge white marquee for the reception of his impending wedding to fashion designer Georgina Chapman. After a long evening of lounging, we went to bed (I slept on the couch), and in the morning we drove into town to buy ingredients for breakfast, which we cooked back at the house to the sound of Bob Dylan’s Modern Times. Cat made scrambled eggs, or uova alla Rossi as they soon became dubbed, while Sefra initially refused to eat my “raw” bacon, something I put down to Americans’ habit of overcooking it to the point of brittleness. After breakfast everyone went for a walk on the beach, but I stayed behind so I could wash the dishes and give Bob another listen.
On the train back to New York, I realised I will miss MoMA, but definitely not as much as some of the people I met there. Together we formed a fast and quite unexpected bond, simply through shared experience I suppose, plus a conscious effort by most of us to get to know one another. Even Larissa said it was the first time this had happened amongst her interns, which made it feel like some kind of special achievement. I guess now all that’s left is figure out what to do with the rest of our lives…
Chelsea at dawn as viewed from Sefra’s bathroom window.
On Friday night I was invited along with a few of the MoMA gang to a party held at Sefra’s Chelsea loft. I never figured out how many people actually live there, but much of the sprawling apartment acts as a studio for an artist who I met briefly, and whose strange styrofoam sculptures dominate the kitchen and hall. The apartment is accessed from the roof, which was partially bathed in light by the looming Empire State Building which rose from behind. To help withstand the bitter temperatures we rigged up lights and toasted marshmallows huddled around a small fire. Sefra also did her bit by cooking up some apple cider with Jim Beam which was definitely welcomed. By dawn the view was even more impressive, and a warm, delicate, morning glow picked out the nearby water towers and buildings as far away as the financial district. It wasn’t long before Joni inevitably popped into my head: