Living in New York has taught me one thing above all else. When it’s sixty degrees in November, SEIZE THE DAY. Go outside and enjoy that warm sunshine, because this day could be last balmy day for five months. This Sunday was one such day, too warm to spend inside. Sandwiched on NewYorkology.com between walking tours and string quartets, one listing stood out: free Quidditch World Cup.
Dude, I am so there.
Despite having read (and re-read) all of the Harry Potter books, I didn’t know quite what to expect from live quidditch. Two blocks away, I heard cheering. Though the atmosphere was jovial, I quickly realized that these quidditch players weren’t joking around. Even though they ran around on brooms and often in capes, these players want to win as much as any other athletes.
Quidditch could best be described as a cross between soccer, dodge ball, and basketball. With three referees, one snitch runner, seven balls and fourteen players running around on brooms, quidditch is organized chaos. On each team, three chasers take the quaffle and score ten points by throwing it through the opposing team’s hoops. Two beaters throw bludgers (dodge balls) at opposing players, who must retreat to their end of the field when hit. Each team has a keeper defending the hoops. Players wear colored bandannas to denote their positions, as only the seeker can chase the snitch.
But how to replicate the snitch? In Harry Potter’s world, the snitch was a flying ball with a mind of its own. In the world of muggles, the snitch is a quick, agile runner dressed in gold, with a ball dangling from the back of his waistband. One “snatches the snitch” for thirty points by taking the ball away from the snitch. Easier said than done.
The snitch can fight back without being called for a foul. I witnessed snitches running out of the park, running through other matches, and generally taunting their seekers. One particularly entertaining snitch–the first snitch, ever–repeatedly took down seekers who were a foot taller and forty pounds heavier. According to the Savannah Quidditch League, an ideal snitch is a “cross country running ex-wrestler who loves quidditch.” Bonus points if they’ve taken clown classes.
Quidditch is a surprisingly brutal sport. Chasers with quaffles in hand were frequently tackled. These tackles were not the flag-football variety, but full-contact tackles where someone ate astroturf. All teams were co-ed, and women tackled and were tackled just as roughly as men. No player ever stopped running.
Unlike the fictional version, live quidditch matches usually only last about twenty minutes. Teams line up in front of their hoops. The announcer commands to the teams, “heads down, eyes closed.” The snitch runs and hides, to appear later in the game. At “brooms up,” the teams are off and running. Each quaffle goal is worth ten points, and snatching the snitch is worth thirty points and ends the game. If the teams are tied after the snitch is caught, a three-minute overtime decides the winner. The game moves quickly, and could change in an instant.
I’m hooked. As a spectator, that is. I’d get run over on that field.
Leave it to a generation that grew up with Harry Potter to bring this game to life. Never did I think I would see quidditch played live, outside of some show at the Harry Potter amusement park. To quote the poster of the Quidditch World Cup, “We hold no illusions about magic, yet consider that anything is possible.”
Years ago, I was asked who my first love was. “New York City,” I said. It was love at first sight for me and New York, from the time I jumped in my first cab and gave the address of the Times Square hotel where Mom and I would be bunking down. That was 1998, and I moved to the city in 2003. While the crowds and costs may wear on me at times, I have never fallen out of love with New York.
These stained glass windows line the above-ground passage at the Franklin Avenue subway stop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Bed-Stuy is a neighborhood that is still a little rough around the edges, where I didn’t expect to see art in the subway. But as I walked through the corridor at dawn on a summer morning, the sun was hitting these stained glass windows, designed by Eric Pryor, just right. And I found beauty in the most unexpected place.
Since returning to New York in October, I have tried to retain the traveling spirit I had while I was on the road. When I can, I carry my camera and attempt to capture the wonder that is New York City. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the last few months. Click on the images to see larger versions.
Worshippers at the Mahayana Temple celebrating the Lunar New Year
I like my Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood. Really, I do, or at least that’s what I tell myself. PLG is right by Prospect Park, the zoo and the botanic garden. Authentic Jamaican beef patties, Trinidadian roti and oxtail soup are available just outside my door. Aside from those exotic options and the local pizza joint, I lament the lack of restaurants in my area. Do I really have to go all the way to Park Slope—or even worse, the East Village—just to have a nice brunch?
I’d walked by Cafe Enduro at least twice a day, every day, since moving to Brooklyn in October, yet I’d never been in. I wish I’d stopped in sooner, because the moment I walked in, I stopped merely tolerating my neighborhood and fell in love with it.
Cafe Enduro is a cozy little spot, one that makes you feel like you’ve left New York City for the day. Old-school rainbow Christmas lights and decorative wood beams add character to this Mexican joint. I was there at 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday for brunch and got a table right away, a feat that would have been impossible in the Slope or the Village. The prices also reflected that we weren’t in Park Slope anymore. The average price for a brunch entree, not including coffee, was $9.
I tucked into a generous portion of the fluffiest French toast I’ve sampled in ages. The basic serving is $7; adding strawberries and bananas to mine raised the price to $9.50. I don’t know how they managed to make the French toast so soft, fluffy, and almost gooey at the same time, but I didn’t ask questions, I just ate.
Cafe Enduro has a breakfast hash on the menu, not something you see every day. My friend tried the turkey version on a recommendation from our waitress, who said it was “well-spiced.” The hash came topped with an egg and, like my French toast, quickly disappeared.
Next time I’m there for brunch, I’ll try the eggs benedict with chipotle hollandaise. (Eggs benedict are the true measure of a brunch place.) By night Cafe Enduro is a Mexican cantina, so I look forward to sampling their margaritas, enchiladas, and banana fritters with mango cream for dessert.
Note to all my NYC friends: I’ve been coming to your neighborhoods, but now you have a good reason to meet me in my neck of the woods!
Cafe Enduro // 51 Lincoln Road, Brooklyn, 11225 // (718) 282-7097 // Q, B, or S to Prospect Park
The following post originally appeared on Neighborbee on January 6, 2008.
One of the things that I like about being the Brooklyn Stinger is that it gives me the perfect excuse to explore parts of Brooklyn that I otherwise might not visit. I’ve been spending entirely too much time near my workplace in Park Slope, so when it was time to meet my friend Mark for a drink, I headed over to Clinton Hill. If you have to ask where the hell Clinton Hill is, you’re not the only one. Apparently it’s nestled between Fort Greene (home to Target and the Atlantic Terminal) and Bedford-Stuyvesant (home to the Notorious B.I.G.).
The following post originally appeared on Neighborbee on December 29, 2008.
Happy new year, everybody! As 2008 draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking of New Year’s resolutions for 2009. Burn off those Christmas cookies. Climb out of debt. Get a better job. All those resolutions sound like hard work! Let’s add some fun stuff to the 2009 to-do list.
The following post originally appeared on Neighborbee on December 23, 2008.
Times are tough.The Dow is down, prices are up, our wallets are empty.But we’re not going to let the recession keep us from enjoying the greatest city in the world.So let me present my Chrismukkah gift to you: the Ultimate Wallet-Friendly New York Date.(It also goes over well with out-of-town relatives.)
One of my dreams is to see my name in print in New York Magazine, preferably in byline form. (Two years with my name on the advertising masthead do not count.) This week, I am halfway there. I was quoted in their annual Reasons to Love New York issue, after answering a call for submissions on nymag.com. It’s one of the few reasons that is not also listed on their website, but you won’t hear me complaining.
On page 41, reason number 10 to love New York: “Because sooner or later everybody comes to New York: every band, every friend, everybody I want to see.”
I could go on for ages with my reasons to love New York, but here are a few more reasons to love this city.
The eight-piece brass brand that plays in the concourse of the Union Square subway station. (Have you seen these guys? They are amazing.) They remind me to slow down and listen to the music.
I look around on me on the subway and I see people reading newspapers in Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Hebrew, and I marvel that we are all sitting next to each other peacefully.
Five dumplings for $1.25 on Elizabeth St in Chinatown, and lamb gyros at the Halal trucks in midtown.
Ethiopian food at Awash on E. 6th Street, and all the hawkers for the Indian restaurants on the same street.
I love the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, downtown, and the Statue of Liberty in the distance as I cross the Manhattan bridge on the subway. It’s breathtaking, and I see it every day.
New York is really just one big small town. Where else would you constantly run into friends on the street?
Hitting golf balls at the Chelsea Piers driving range. The sun is setting over the Hudson, and the Statue of Liberty is quietly watching the harbor.
With three international airports, I can get a direct flight to anywhere. Layovers are so provincial.
Last night I took the B train back to Brooklyn. Without any reading material or urge to write in my journal, I passed the time by looking around the car at my fellow passengers. I noticed that the guy across from me was doing the same thing, except that he was committing his observations to paper. My neighbors were completely oblivious as he drew their images into his notebook. He wasn’t trying to hide what he was doing, but no other passengers were aware. I watched him draw the two guys sitting next to me, and laughed to myself because they had no idea what was going on. Was I the only person who was watching this show?
Then the artist saw me watching him draw, and turned his pen to me. Unlike his previous subjects, I knew that I was being sketched. I looked at the ads that lined the ceiling, at the people to his left and right, at the newspaper on the floor, all to keep myself from dissolving into a fit of the giggles. A girl standing by the door saw him sketching me, and smiled at me as if to say, “Yeah, girl, it looks good.”
He finished the drawing just before the train pulled into my stop, which was coincidentally his as well. He offered me the drawing, I accepted and thanked him. As we exited the train he explained that he had spent the day teaching kids to draw faces. We walked out of the station and went our separate ways into the rainy night.