Thursday, January 8, 2009

NYC: SoHo Sartorialism and Uptown Digs


[The third in a series of photographic travelogues
illustrating my travels with friends and family through
the holidays.]

[A certain friend, early upon the inception of my
photographic blogging career, commented that the
grand majority of my posts had, as their aesthetic
content, two vast themes: female friends, and shoes.
While I would like to think that I have since expanded
beyond such limitations to encompass,
par example,
graffiti, pictures of the Morse recording studio, and
flicks of the food that I eat, in this post I return to one
of my two roots.]


My last day on campus for the semester dawned gray
and tempestuous, threatening hints of the downpour
that would later engulf the day. Regardless, I bundled
up - neglecting to carry along an umbrella, a decision
which I was to later come to regret - and packed up my
travel bag for the holidays.

After walking down the hill to Silliman for a quick
breakfast with Mr. W. Sankey, I hiked the rest of the
way over to Union Station to catch the commuter rail
into New York. On the way, I hollered at's
brother Ray, a longtime New York denizen and fellow
SoHo shopper. For a minute now Ray and I have been
talking words about getting down on the LES/NoLiTa/
SoHo scene, and for the first time we were both free
and in the city. With the approaching holiday season
and the contemporary economic free-fall, signals of
abundant and extreme price-slashing, this shopping/
copping trip was a definitely done deal.

My train hit Grand Central shortly before noon, so I
had a little more than an hour to kick it around the
subway system before Ray's LIRR brought him into
Penn Station.

On the way over to Penn, I came upon this 老头
playing the music of the motherland. I stood around
and watched, listening transfixed, for the few minutes
before my train finally pulled into the station.

Pulling out a small bill, I dropped it into the velvet-
lined instrument case lying at his feet, bowing slightly
in recognition of this 师傅; he returned my bow,
meeting my eyes, playing his music the whole way

After linking up in Penn Station, Ray and I headed
on the downtown 6 to the Prince Street station, then
made our way - through the rapidly dampening "wintry
mix" - to our first stop, Union NYC.

After chatting it up with the guys in Union and
appreciating their connoisseur's complement of wares
(Visvim, Play Cloths, w)taps, NBHD), Ray and I kept
it moving.

For this trip, the goal was simple: stay gaining
knowledge and getting learned in the ways of stretching
money beyond its normal capacity. While I spotted
a w)taps long-sleeved tee marked down from seventy
bucks and change to 54, I knew, deep in my heart, that
our destiny for the day was far greater than such things.

So our movement kept moving on, to hit up the nearby
BBC/Ice Cream store.

Informed by the talkative lower-floor staff that current-
season inventory was on a steep discount (35% off...
still not quite the deal for which we were ravening), I
headed upstairs to the BBC section to try on a pair of
the newish "smart cut" selvage (well-cut legs; wide in
the hips; overall, there's better denim out there), and
Ray browsed the tees (90% wizzack, 10% rockable).

In this case, as in previous visits, I noticed that the
BBC staff was friendly and even chatty, as opposed to
other NYC boutiques. They presented us with an air of
approachability and even likableness, in dramatic
contrast to the slightly elitist (though still personable)
Union staff and the nigh-omnipresent air of outright
snobbishness at Supreme.

In search of a denim boutique (Blue in Green) about
which Ray had heard talk, we passed the Kidrobot
store and kept it passing on like the circle of life. We
managed to hit Blue in Green and, after a quick chat
with the (initially drowsy-eyed) salesman about the
relative merits of Timex and Casio watches (he
reaffirmed my decision to wait and cop a G-Shock),
our streetwear train pulled out of the station and
headed back up Greene, towards Houston and the BAPE

As the "snow" finally turned, reprehensibly and
resolutely, towards undeniably freezing rain, Ray and
I headed towards the Busy Works Shop NYC with
visions of a 35% BAPE sale dancing before our eyes.
Sadly, the rumors of such a 半价 were greatly
exaggerated, and we had to settle with browsing the
incredibly (obviously) overpriced wares out on the

After trying on a pair of trackstas (fly, but the price!),
Ray and I proceeded to our mutual favorite spot in
the city, America's one and only UNIQLO flagship

At the Uniqlo store, I was almost ready to copp on the
spot when I saw a $100 lambs' wool sweater marked
down to $9.99, but I had a feeling that this was as yet
still not exactly what was planned for us on that day.
Taking the cue to keep rolling, we proceeded on to
Lafayette and Supreme's New York installation.

A true downtown landmark since the mid-90s.

At UNIQLO, Ray and I ran into his old high school
homeboy Mark, also kicking it around downtown
before heading over to a church service. Because he
was also free for the rest of the afternoon, Mark
decided to keep on keepin on with us in the interest
of seeing what the city had to offer a handful of
fashion-forward- minded gentlemen such as ourselves.


We headed north of Houston to hit up Recon/NORT (the retail
location owned by graf legend STASH) and I saw the first sign of
direct providence for the day: emblazoned on the window in giant
taped letters, 50-75% off sale. The long and short of it? All kicks in
store (and there were many) were marked down to $50, except one

The exclusive Stash x Lacoste Revan Ardeurs, released only a few
weeks prior to our tour.

Even the Foamposites - usually $200, OG's (Original Grails) to
many a nikehead - came down to $50. Sadly, these joints were only
available in 7's, a full size too small for even my feet.

I did, however, deign to respeckonize NORT's gangster by copping
a pair of Johnny Blaze Air Max 90/360 hybrids. These joints combine
the super-functionality of the Air Max 360 sole (launched in 2006)
with the superfly uppers of the 90 (the last Air Max with a cleanly
angled, non-Blade Runner-looking upper). 75% off? Chea.

After blundering our way around three square blocks of NoHo in the
increasingly post-diluvian streets of New York (every corner literally
requiring navigation of treacherous waters and ice slurry), we
decided to abandon all hope of finding DQM, the audibility of grapes
souring sounding suspiciously like my mutters about it being
overpriced, undersupplied, and overhyped.

So, from one block north of Houston on Lafayette, we turned our
weary soles towards the grand finale: The Reed Space/Annex.

Ever since the first time Ray and I kicked it and I noted his streetwear
tastes leaning in a strictly preferential fashion towards grown-up and
mature fashion and design, I have been telling him that he has to roll
over to Reed Space. More than a boutique or a retail location, Reed is a
showcase of design and collaboration, courtesy of the good folks over at
Staple Design. Especially after hearing about their pre-holiday offers
(30% off everything in Reed Space; Buy 1 Get 1 free on the already
50% reduced items in the Annex), we knew that this would be the
culmination, the embodiment of our one-day, two-man zeitgeist.
Turning down Houston, we braved 15 grueling minutes of exposure
to the elements and headed over towards Orchard and Rivington.

The Staple-branded scooter in the Space; logos everywhere we go.

OG SB cushions; 2002? 2003? This print hasn't been seen in at least
4 or 5 seasons.

After a good 45-60 minutes of browsing the various
available wares, Ray copped two tees from the Annex
(2 tees for $12 = teh win), and he and I went half and
half on a windbreaker and M65 combo (originally
retailing for $220 and $230, respectively, they wound
up costing us each $55), especially fortuitous as I'd
been looking for an outerwear tech jacket for some
time, but never even considered Staple's line, due to its
incredibly high price point (button-ups and crewnecks
MSRP fall in at slightly over $150). Win all around.

After every member of our motley ensemble had finally
copped (at an average savings of 75%, precisely the
magical figure for which I had been shooting), we
began feeling the effects of our long day's journey.
Before emerging into night-lit New York, we paused to
ask the Staple office staff about the local eateries;
receiving a recommendation for the corner pizza joint,
we headed over to sit and reflect, guarded from and as-
yet wary of the still-imposing (if immensely lightened)





That umbrella took a beating, as did our baggage and

Stuffed rice ball; Mark, a BK native, comments that they are nigh-
ubiquitous in said burough; Ray and I, callow in this area.


As hunger pangs waned and digestion set in, Mark
made preparations to head over to church, Ray
started texting other friends from around the city, and
I hollered at my boy Lando Calrissian a/k/a Sir
Landelot b/k/a Landon S. A fellow ministry intern in
the city, Landon had - the week before - graciously
offered me a place to crash after my planned shopping
excursion: his bachelors' pad uptown. Hearing that he
was downtown, I headed over to Washington Square
via the Delancey St. station. Mark bounced at Delancey,
while Ray and I kicked a few last words on the train

The mountain men of Vermont!

Before finally heading uptown, Landon had to jaunt by Union Square
for a quick errand.

A small, bustling holiday market of odds, ends, and
trinkets had established itself around Union Square,
hawking wares in a charming fashion. Landon and I
dropped by to pick up a quaint - even naive - hat as a
Christmas present for his brother.

More than vaguely Dickensian, even.

Feeling out and selecting the goods.

On our way to his uptown digs, Landon decided to
take me by a special joint somewhere around the 5x
Street area, a particularly favored Gyro cart. I, being
a general fan of all things Hellenic, consented without
too great dissent.

Posing against the cityscape.

Caution: Men at Work.

After grabbing our food on the rapidly chilling streets, we ducked
aside into the outside dining area of a local convenience mart.
Landon copped the drinks and we chatted freely - if somewhat
literally icily - over the still-steaming platters of food.


Beef, tzatziki sauce, hot sauce, pita, and lettuce. I am
most definitely going back to those gyro carts nex'
time I hit the city.

After a few side treks and with full gastrointestinal
tracts, Landon and I finally arrived at St. Nicholas
Place (reminder again: this story takes place one
week before Christmas) on 152nd Street in Harlem,
home of the bachelor pad.

And what a pad! (Note: this is one room of one floor of a house
the number of whose floors, I may logically assume, is limitless. I
have confirmation of two such levels; I see no reason to not
extrapolate further and reasonably to the conclusion therefore

My shoes, socks, and pants, steaming silently in the
heat of the windowsill radiator.

Birch beer chilled, not in man-made machinery, but
rather by the very molecular entropy of a mound of
backyard snow. Keg-drafted, no less.

And they have a pet, too.

A fine place to be (the room, not Landon).

Animals like me: proof photographic.

Some manner of apple-laden baked goods, drawn, of
course, from the creme de la creme of the sort of
places that serve and sell such items: Magnolia.

[Next: Meeting up with Lydia, heading home,

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