Monday, July 6, 2015


Another warm morning in New York, showers cleared. We start the day with a visit to the second of the Hell's Kitchen Flea Markets on W39th Street and note even more bric-a-brac as well as a  Hell's Kitchen demonic influence.

All sorts of threadbare, rusty and fading goods for sale at whatever prices the stallholders can calculate, We're in the market for some antlers, but none of great interest. Perhaps the rather better Brooklyn Markets will deliver the requisites.

From there, a stroll to The Cafeteria on 7th Avenue - we had seen it packed the previous day and wondered why. We're met at reception by a slim twink with short blond hair, who rather unkindly shows off his trim waist by tying his t-shirt above one hip. The menu offers nice brunch foods but alas no alcohol on a Sunday before midday - our waiter sadly notes that NYC has strict licensing laws which forbid the sale of liquor in restaurants on Sunday mornings.

There's a tension in New York between the laissez-faire attitude of a world city and the temperance movement - NYC is very hard on drugs and is a long way from legalising cannabis for medical use let alone the Colorado model. Denied a glass of wine, we walk to a supermarket where a there is a tiny presence of wine amidst dozens of types of beer and cider.

Lynda heads off for a drawing class nearby, and I spend the afternoon catching up on email and news of the world.

On her return I go to nearby Caffe Bene in search of something like a topped-up macchiato. I'm offered a drink called a Cortado, which is a two-shot latte. Close, but not quite; perhaps it would be ok with a third shot.

Time to watch a video - Banksy Does New York, in which the famed guerrilla graffiti artist does a month-long installation in the streets of New York. Among the stunts was re-purposing a pastoral scene bought from a homeless charity's thrift shop for $50 and returned for them to auction ($651,000); selling prints next to Central Park for $60 (resold for $250,000) and lots of graffiti. The cops were out to arrest him, hustlers tried to steal and sell the works, and most of them were painted over out of spite and anger.

Come sunset it's time for us to venture out for dinner and the first attempt to eat at the Gansevoort Markets is called off as almost everyone has packed up for the day. Instead we go to a restaurant recommended by the landlords last time we were here - a historic steakhouse called The Old Homestead.

The establishment is very olde worlde - liveried and snooty waiters offering patrons a series of steak dishes and not much else. Just as well we - and the dozens of Japanese tourists - are in the mood for a proper New York steak. Oddly, the wine list is on an iPad in a leather holder, with way too much information on way too many wines, sorted by country then colour. Turning down the over-$1000 options, a half bottle of a Rhone pinot noir does the job.

I choose a filet mignon on a potato cake, with a pair of eggs "sunny side up" on the side, Lynda goes for the smallest huge sirloin. Excellent meat, superbly cooked. Both Lynda and I are full as googs.

We've been walking and dining well, so a trip to Hudson Bar and Books is in order. This cigar and whisky bar was virtually across the road from our last place, and just another couple of blocks from our present apartment. The bar is a temple for obscure brands of whisky, so much so that the barman in completely stumped when Lynda asks for a recommendation.

I choose the Glenmorangie Tasting Flight, a selection of 6 tipples including the rare and special Glenmorangie Signet. With a Tynska cigar for me and a smaller Purito cigar for Lynda, we are the picture of sophistication and a patron takes the time to give us his opinion on everything that came to mind. In the background is the establishment's signature video wallpaper - a Bond movie.

I buy a box of assorted cigars for Ron.

Overnight the Hacking Team, an Italian black-ops software company, gets comprehensively hacked and all the secrets spill out to the Internet. Repressive government agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy snooping software. As a guide to Your Tax Dollars At Work the leaked information is highly amusing - for example a US agency paid a fortune for the software but couldn't use it because their office didn't have an Internet connection - and by the time they'd applied to head office for permission to get an Internet connection the licence had run out.

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