Cities are all I’ve ever known. I moved to Quezon City when I was thirteen, and at twenty-seven I moved to New York City to participate in an MFA program at the School of Visual Arts. I spent my childhood in the suburbs of San Pedro, but the spaces I’ve inhabited as a child is dream-fodder at best. (I don’t remember it so well and, as far as my conscious mind is concerned, I don’t have any emotional attachment to it.) In 2021, me and M. had the brash and ill-conceived decision to move to Orlando. We acquired jobs and made it work. But each step taken or rather, each mile driven reminded us of what we had. So, the past six months have been spent dreaming of the city again. And the past two weeks, I have been looking forward to visiting the Big shiny, shimmering, splendid on the surface Apple. I really though we would break into tears at Newark Airport, but we didn’t. And just as well. New York was and will always be there.
We stayed at a bare to the bones hotel in Brooklyn, right in our old neighborhood. (Nothing else to say about that!) Being creatures of memory and habit, we had our first meal at the corner diner, and saw Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool at the Alamo Drafthouse where I had what is perhaps the best avocado toast of my life.
The next day, M. got an early start to tend to his comedy show Xtremely Serious Wrestling, which was held at a venue in Frost Street. I spent most of my day in Long Island City, first trying to find a Filipino donut shop which I found was only taking pre-orders. I chalked the entire experience to getting my steps in and proceeded to MoMA PS1.
I particularly enjoyed Umar Rashid’s Ancien Regime Change 4, 5, 6 and Qualeasha Wood’s works of cyber images woven into tapestries as part of Studio Harlem’s Artist-in-Residence exhibit, It’s Time For Me To Go. I gravitated towards Rashid and Wood’s works because of their use of fabrics and threads, a medium I myself use when I feel more comfortable expressing myself visually.
Fiber or Textile Arts have always been a prominent medium for artists, I immediately think of Louise Bourgeois as a prominent artist that have used fabrics and fibers for their art, having been raised by parents who ran a tapestry restoration business. It is reassuring to see what was once considered women’s work or a feminine medium find itself in spaces beyond craft and home economics. I do want to go on and talk about the compactness of textiles and fibers, how these are materials that can be taken while travelling (or on the run), and why they are so suitable to tentative lives such as the one I find myself in. But there is more to share, and perhaps I should go back to writing papers about art and cuisine.
Around the corner from M.’s comedy show was an American-Cantonese restaurant called Bonnie’s. I resolved to give it a try and it was a revelation. I ordered a non-alcoholic lemonade that was just the right amount of sweet and tangy. I love eating dried citrus on top of any drink and the one I had was no different—it is always a gift of textures, and sweet-sour-bitter notes playing on my tongue like a frenzied jazz piece. For the appetizer, I ordered fish and shrimp dumplings in a warm, mild broth, and for the entree I had the Billionaire fried rice. The restaurant was buzzing with happy guests punctuated with hip-hop tunes and the action coming from the kitchen. While heaping chopsticks of rice in my mouth, I thought to myself, it feels like home—if mom had let me play all my explicit content albums.
After M.’s show, we also had a post party at Tom and Joan’s (“the Bar”). We called the night successful and looked forward to three more days of fun in the city of our hearts. (Literally, because this is where we met and got married.)
To be continued…