2011 saw some travel and exposed me to some wonderful new discoveries.
New England I have visited most regions in the US. However my travels had, up until this summer, never taken me to New England - the birthplace and former stomping grounds of your MatchGirl. Well, let me tell you I was very impressed with this region. I found a lot of similarity to my native Northern California. (your MatchGirl’s note: except where we were in NH is really old)
At one point, as we walked around a 300 year old cemetery, I said “wow this grave is from the 1600’s.” As a student of American history I can say New England is impressive. Beautiful old houses everywhere. Add in the wonderful hospitality of your MatchGirl’s parents, some fried seafood and I was impressed enough to add New England to the list of possible places to move.
Narragansett Beer Not long after we moved into our new apartment I went to the corner store and picked up a six pack of beer in nicely designed old-timey looking cans. When I got home your MatchGirl said something along the lines of “Oh - Narragansett, that is some really New England beer.” Here I thought I was just picking up some cheap regional swill. Turns out that while regional, swill it is not. Narragansett has become my go to regular brew. They are reasonably priced and offer a delicious dark version that might be my favorite beer of the year. Some quick research led me to uncover a nice story of a regional brewery driven out of business by the three headed hydra of American mega-brewers, only to be resurrected by entrepreneurial spirit.
New Orleans For me our trip to New Orleans was not surprising in how awesome it was, but amazing in it’s confirmation, in my mind, of New Orleans as a great city. Our time in New Orleans was exactly as I would have wanted it. Full of great food and music, with an honest look at a city that has captivated my imagination for years. Things are certainly not perfect in New Orleans but they are what they are and didn’t seem too bad at all. This is a place I can really see potential in.
Midtown Manhattan This part of town was poison in my mind. Before I even moved here, friends warned me “don’t bother with Midtown - it is the worst.” For the better part of a year I had avoided anything north of 23rd Street. All of the sudden, in August I found myself working smack dab in the middle of it - 42nd Street. I look out the window and see Grand Central Terminal. For God’s sake, this is the heart of Midtown! Guess what, it’s not so bad. Sometimes I really enjoy it. I have come to feel a bit of affinity to the transitory generic part of the city. The thing about midtown that stands out to me most is a throwback quality. The facades are different but really the mood hasn’t changed here in 50 years. It is still a bland generic place that people come to in the morning and leave in the late afternoon. This make the discovery of a real place all the more special. There are some OK bars, and some really cool old school businesses that have been unchanged forever. Add this to some of the best mid-century architecture around there is more then enough in Midtown to brighten my days
There were many more things that I enjoyed in 2011 I’m sure I will write about some of them as this year unfolds. I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us.