Mr. Nescafé, we loved your voice, but not your watery instant coffee. Zap ahead a few decades to the real pours. One of my all-time favourite coffee zones is the unfussy, slightly grungy Mercury Espresso Bar in Leslieville, Toronto. The baristas are wizards and the wooden shelves are filled with freshly harvested coffee beans from across Latin America. There’s usually lyrical art up on the walls. I also like the no-cellphone-policy-while ordering. Respect for respect.
After beach volleyball and paddleboarding, the long weekend at Lake Huron was spent luxuriating with Tim Horton’s stored in a big tin and pulled out of a cedar cupboard. Savoured in blue willow cups with vintage hand-stitched flag from Ontario.
Lining up last week for some fresh brew at the coffee cart on the elevated High Line park in NYC’s Meatpacking District. Perfect pours by unhurried baristas, despite the million or so visitors walking the High Line each year.
Manual drip has its charms. Like music, which sounds infinitely better with record players.
Nice to wake up to: Very buttoned down hotel coffee, like this classic scenario at Pavilion de la Reine next to Place des Vosges, Paris.
Last weekend, I went to NYC’s Armoury Show 2012 to see art from around the world, and found plenty by the South Americans to dream about: Fluffy mini clouds caught between layers of plexiglass by the Argentinian artist, Leandro Erlich. (Sold, apparently, for $65,000.)
I thought she was made of wax, until I circled back after an hour and noticed that she was not merely still, but still breathing. Bed for Human Use, 2012, Luciana Brito Galeria of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as conceived and dressed by artist Marina Abramović. How do you install this – her – in your living room? And, would she agree to share that rockin’ crystal?
Travelled south along the Hudson River and discovered newly created public space in the Meatpacking District, where historic architecture still matters as much as contemporary condos and people are starting to matter more than trucks and cars. That’s the art of urbanity, and my pick for #3.
Across the street, there’s the radiant-cool Pastis restaurant, where New York and Paris artfully intersect, and wine comes in glass tumblers and the bartenders rarely smile even if the arugula salad is divine.
Look up and around and you’ll find work #5: grafitti and collage laid on thick on a wall in the Meatpacking District, 2012.
Late afternoon, Bryant Park at 42nd Street: an artful arrangement of Plane trees, sage-green chairs (just like the ones in the Jardin du Luxembourg) and the Beaux-Arts symmetry of the New York Public Library by Carrere and Hastings architects. Another reason to stand up for cities, then sit down and luxuriate in the middle of artwork #6.
Why does New York’s Meatpacking District draw masses of people to it? Because of all the collisions of culture still happening there. The butchers and packers in white smocks are still at work in their brick factories. There are edgy, industrial-looking boutiques like All Saints. And, not far away, on 14th Street… Alexander McQueen, Carlos Miele, Diane von Furstenberg…and, until last month, Stella McCartney who has moved to Soho – where the rents are cheaper.
There is street art that The Pace and Mary Boone Gallery on 5th Avenue should collect. Don’t sterilize this away to please the clubbers, or the growing ‘South Beach’ crowd that swarm the Meatpacking District on Friday and Saturday nights.
Of course, there’s the powerful pull of the High Line, once an old elevated freight line, now transformed through design to become one of the most magnetic new public spaces on the planet. That’s where I spent the last couple days, joining the spectacle of people. Where art collides with history, and spring appears to arrive in techni-colour.
Shelter from the wind. Countless sound and visual experiences happen as you walk along the High Line, like this one: artist Spencer Finch’s “The River That Flows Both Ways”, panes of glass based on a single pixel point taken from a day’s shooting of the Hudson River.
A hotel that opened with impeccable timing over the High Line three years ago, The Standard looks like a vintage inn – nicely done by Polshek Partnership – hoisted up and over the High Line.
Morning dawns golden at The Standard Hotel. Interiors by Roman and Williams of NYC.
And, no, despite what the weather man was warning, it didn’t rain.