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March Break Madness

This was originally going to be a note about living your life outside your comfort zone. I had this idea that booking a hotel in the Lower East Side of Manhattan was somehow edgy and outside the ordinary. We weren’t taking our teenage sons on some trite touristy vacation. You know; Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Rockefeller Center and a hotel somewhere mid-town.

Except the Lower East Side ain’t the same Lower East Side. CBGB’s is closed. There were no Picklemen to be found crossing Delancey. Our hotel was modern and great and had a famous sushi place as the “house” restaurant. And despite Naomi’s attempt at injecting culture into our day, with a tour of the Tenement Museum (which was very interesting and right around the corner from our hotel), our trip quickly devolved into any one of our last three or four trips to NYC.

And by that I mean, my family ate Manhattan. We booked a tour guide who’d given us a phenomenal trip through the Bowery, Soho and Bushwick on a Graffiti Tour years ago. I call Matt Levy the Hipster King of New York (levysuniqueny.com). If you can get him to guide you, do so. This time around he pitched me on a food tour of Queens - so, three hours of eating Carolina Burnt Ends and Collard Greens (John Brown in Queensbridge) and Tibetan MoMo’s and Beef with Daikon and Himalayan Herbs (Phayul Himalayan Restaurant) and Colombian Arepas and Patacones (Arepa Lady) in Jackson Heights.

We did a lot of walking...a lot. Across the Williamsburg Bridge and around Williamsburg; a beautiful day in Brooklyn; down 5th Avenue, from Central Park to Madison Square Park; all over Soho and even across Harlem, when the closest subway was shut down for an “investigation”. But mostly we ate. Breakfast at the Clinton Street Bakery, Brunch at Balthazar, Lunch at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, Dinners at the famous Eataly emporium and Marcus Samuelsson’s fantastic Red Rooster (where #1 son and I defeated the “Yardbird Royale” - a whole fried chicken, biscuits, waffles, mac n’ cheese and various condiments).

There was shopping for rare Air Jordans, trying on selvedge jeans for future internet purchasing, and a few laps around Bloomingdale's. And God help me, I even found myself in dreaded Times Square so that the boys could get their custom M&M mix fix at the eponymous store. But it wasn’t until our walk in the tunnel from the Island Airport that I realized that I had completely deluded myself by thinking we had any edge whatsoever; when we were informed that the kids wanted a longer trip to NYC next time...so that we could visit the Statue of Liberty. D’Oh!

What’s edgy in this issue of Tonic? I can’t think of anything more cutting edge than bodily functions: Bryce Wylde wants you to contemplate your poop as a window to your health (no shit, really at p.30); Joel Thuna and Claude Gallant are working a little bit upstream and ruminate on the wellness of your guts (p.34) and Carlyle Jansen discusses spring cleaning….your genitals (p. 37). As always, if you want to discuss this publisher’s note or anything else you’ve read in Tonic, please feel free to contact me.