Brooklyn, Part One

Our three protagonists left Vermont with its muddy roads and steep banks of dirty snow early on Saturday.

Destination New York. Final destination: Brooklyn.

The occasion: the musical performance of my brother-in-law, Daryl Shawn, commemorating his 40th birthday. To celebrate, Daryl composed music for solo guitar and a Suite of songs to be performed by an ensemble with two sopranos, one baritone, acoustic bass, drums and guitar.

Meet Daryl.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because the occasion was also the finale of this weekend jaunt to the Big Apple.

First we had to catch a train in New Haven, which is easy when you can get a parking space. We finally got one. And once aboard the train we were sucked along with the inevitable inertia of the urban landscape that gathered steam outside our windows. The snow disappeared and was replaced by sprawl and neighborhoods, industry and traffic jams. We sped by, mere spectators, answering the 9 year old’s queries on how much longer it would be. Were we in New York yet? What is Manhattan? etc. etc.

For the 9 year old, the size of Grand Central is jaw dropping. The height of the skyscrapers in midtown dwarfs those in Boston, Philadelphia and Montréal where she’s been before. And the knowledge that somewhere in this grid of streets there is a massive American Girl store is what drives her forward down the sunny side of 5th Avenue, while her parents revel in walking on a sidewalk free of ice and snow, and smile with the sun on their faces, looking forward to lunch at Le Pain Quotidien.

By evening we had met up with Daryl and his girlfriend, Deborah. Together we journeyed to Brooklyn after taking in the Diego Rivera murals in Rockefeller Center—we lugging our suitcases, and they carrying guitars and other equipment from their last rehearsal before the Sunday performance. Deborah is an accomplished soprano and this was our first chance to hear her sing.

Brooklyn greeted us in its Sunday clothes.

It was 55 degrees and the brownstones glowed in the late afternoon. The park near Lafayette was teeming with kids playing soccer, couples walking dogs and families out for an afternoon stroll. Crocuses were blooming. I almost had to look twice. Our suitcase wheels clacked and caught on the brick and cobble sidewalks and I felt compelled to photograph every third building.

Much about Brooklyn reminds me of Vermont, and so much does not. The selection of Mediterranean and African restaurants is most certainly more abundant. We ate spicy eggplant, and sweet and savory seafood with couscous in a tented and pillowed back room at Kif.

Kif, in Fort Green, Brooklyn. Credit: Konrad Fiedler for The New York Times

We picnicked on New York bagels the next morning and ate tamalis and pupusas at a Salvadoran stand at the Brooklyn Flea for lunch. The Brooklyn Flea deserves an entire story of it’s own.

And so does Daryl’s performance. Stay tuned….

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. vtbee
    Mar 24, 2011 @ 19:39:09

    mmm…mmm…mmm…! i couldn’t WAIT for a brooklyn entry, and was not disappointed!


  2. Trackback: Just Like E.B. Said «


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