When Dianne and I scheduled our visit to New York City for a week, beginning in late April, we weren’t planning on the predicted weather (thunderstorms) or on the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Our only sure bets were some nice restaurants.
Were we surprised!
I suppose we should’ve known that our first morning in Manhattan – Friday, April 29 – would be Kate and William’s wedding, but we didn’t. We don’t follow weddings, except on The Bachelor and the Today show. Anyway, we had a full schedule, with friends joining us for dinners almost every evening, and with me running off every afternoon to meetings with Rolling Stone buddies and various other friends and editor types.
The most momentous day came on Sunday, Dianne and my wedding anniversary. We booked dinner at one of New York City’s best and most beautiful restaurants, Del Posto, in the Meatpacking District. (We’d been there before, and said Hi to both co-owner Mario Batali and visitor Tyra Banks.)
Anyway, we were staying in my agent’s apartment, in West Village, and as we hit the lobby on the way out, we spotted Seth Meyers, head writer and fake news anchor on Saturday Night Live. He was telling the doorman, “I am so wiped out,” or something to that effect. He’d just returned from Washington, D.C., where he’d MC’d the White House Correspondents Dinner, a light-hearted evening highlighted by President Obama doing comedy, along with other guests. Meyers did a joke about Osama Bin Laden, and the president laughed heartily. That was on Saturday, and history reveals that, by then, he’d given the order to take out U.S. Enemy Number One.
After a marvelous dinner with our good friend Paula Batson, I turned on the TV. It was 11:30, and the news was out from Pakistan. Along with many other thoughts, I wondered what Seth Meyers was thinking – and writing.
I also thought of Michael Lomonaco, a chef who’s become a friend over the years, and who had invited Dianne and me to join him and his wife for dinner on Tuesday. He was the chef at Windows on the World, atop one of the twin towers. On September 11, he lost 72 employees, and another 92 people visiting the restaurant perished. The chef escaped death because he was on the ground level, shopping when the plane hit.
“I was stunned at the news,” he said at our dinner, at Michael White’s Osteria Morini. “I feel relief.” He told us that he’d just been on The View, at the invitation of Barbara Walters. She had interviewed him shortly after 9/11. Now, with the news of the killing of Bin Laden, she reached out again.
At right, the Lomonacos with us, the F-T's.
IN MANHATTAN, I visited Dakila Divina, my old editor at Parade magazine; he’s now at Nomad Editions, which produces top-flight magazines for mobile devices. In fact, I just did a piece for Real Eats, about a most unusual pop-up Chinese restaurant. Except the chef, who’s Korean, says it’s not Chinese. See for yourself, here: Real Eats
I also checked in with the new editors of Parade, an editor at Da Capo Press who has a book idea for me, and with Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone. It’s always fun, and a little weird, to visit my old magazine. My last byline was when Michael Jackson died, but you never know when another one might pop up. And I made time to drop in on Morrison Gallery, both in the Bowery and in Soho. The latter is the size of a walk-in closet, albeit with great, historic rock photos; the Bowery gallery is hosting a sensational exhibit of the work of Lynn Goldsmith, a photographer who clearly has All Access: The Stones, Dylan, BRUUUUCE, Madonna, Marley, The Clash and more. All stunning.
In San Francisco, I’d read a piece in the New York Times about Finnerty’s, a bar that had turned itself over to fans of the San Francisco Giants, 49ers, and the city itself. I dropped by during a lull, but it was fun to see, in the East Village, a tavern featuring the Golden Gate Bridge, memorabilia of the World Series run, and a Joe Montana jersey.
Evenings were for dinners, and highlights, besides Del Posto (elegant) and Osteria Morini (new and NOISY), were Felidia, Lidia Bastianich’s signature Italian restaurant, and the National, where Zoe Feigenbaum, daughter of a good friend, Josh, was turning out heaping plates of ribs, fish, steak and other comforting food.
No matter how massive Manhattan may be, it’s a small town. Through Facebook, a couple of friends from Marin County let us know that they were in New York, too, and were on the same flight home. They helped us while away the wait at JFK International, where the president, having visited fire and police stations, along with 9/11 victims’ families at the World Trade Center site, was departing. He needed his airspace, I guess.
Soon enough, we were up in the air ourselves, leaving a most memorable week—and city—behind.