Let It Snow…

It snowed today. Despite the conditions I braved the elements — briefly — to take these dramatic photos, before running back inside to make a cup of tea.

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Eli Manning Won’t Back Down

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Giants defensive end Michael Strahan thanks his quarterback Eli Manning after New York’s dramatic Super Bowl victory on Sunday.

They say New Yorkers love an underdog, so they must have really enjoyed Super Bowl XLII. The New York Giants’ wholly unexpected 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in Ariziona on Sunday was certainly one of the greatest upsets in the history of U.S. sports. As has been well documented, the Pats were looking to achieve an unprecedented 19-0 winning season. Only one team — the Miami Dolphins in 1972 — has gone an entire season unbeaten, but back then there were only 16 games. The ’72 Dolphins had their own celebration party on Sunday night when the Giants kept that long-standing record intact, for at least another season.

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Opposing quarterbacks Tom Brady and Eli Manning exchange pleasantries before Super Bowl XLII.

The disparity between this year’s two conference-champions was refelcted best in their two wildly differing quarterbacks. New England’s Tom Brady is a ready-made all-American sports-star in the Namath/Montana mould. He has graced the cover of GQ, is dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen and lives in the West Village. The Giants’ Eli Manning — the slightly dorky younger brother of Super Bowl-winning Colts QB Peyton Manning — is the antithesis of Brady. A traded draft-pick who had never quite convinced New York’s discerning and critical fans, Manning led the Giants to unlikely play-off victories in Dallas and Green Bay and ultimately to Glendale, AZ, where the streak was expected to end.

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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers rocked the halftime show with their classics hits “American Girl”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”.

But as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers reminded fans during the halftime show, “I Won’t Back Down” is a neat anthem for the American antihero. Manning must have taken note, as deep into the final quarter he created one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. 14-10 down with 1:15 on the clock, Manning somehow wriggling out of a string of repeated sacks to fly a 23-yard pass to David Tyree, who completed a leaping catch by pinning the ball to his helmet. Manning then found wide receiver Plaxico Burress in the endzone for the winning touchdown with just 35 seconds remaining.

From my East Village apartment I could hear chants of “EE-LI! EE-LI!” in the street. Shortly after the game, Manning was elected MVP: Eli had finally arrived.

Zabar’s Café

Located next to (but mysteriously with no public connection to) the Zabar’s store on the corner of Broadway and 80th Street, this café is not somewhere you should visit for great service or even great food. What makes Zabar’s Café such a fun experience is the unique public interaction. From students to parents to eccentric elderly Upper West Siders, you never quite know who you’ll get talking to at the large communal counter. On my first visit I spent an hour chatting with three middle-aged women, who seemed fascinated to hear about my life and my young foreigner’s view of New York. And if you don’t mind spreading your own cream cheese on your bagel, there’s really no better way to kill a half-hour on a Sunday afternoon. Listen out also for the hilarious live in-store announcements, which occasionally draw attention to exotic cheeses, but generally extol the virtues of Zabar’s own rye bread, as fresh batches are removed hot from the oven: “We feel it’s the best rye in Manhattan.”

Feelin’ Great In ’08

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Manhattan as viewed from the departures lounge at Newark Airport, Christmas Eve, 2008.

I just got back from West Virginia, where I spent the holidays, my first ever Christmas away from home. Arriving at Pittsburgh airport I was surprised but delighted to find Hillary there to greet me. She’s made the smart decision to abandon ship, leaving her short-lived but action-packed Carribean yacht experience behind her. After a week staying with Hillary’s family in Morgantown, we arrived back in New York on New Year’s Eve. The plane flew right over Times Square before we came into land. The light really is brighter. So I guess we’ll be staying for a while. I don’t know where we’re going to live or what we’re going to do, but it’s a pleasure to be here.

Open All Nite

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?

Party Like It’s 1977

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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.

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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?

Connecticut

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…