Positively 4th Street
A recent post about the novelty of using a tour guide on your home turf sparked a ton of interest and conversation. In that vein, New York Songlines is a website that can help in the informational conquest of your own town. While rushing (Uber, taxi, subway, bus or Citibike) from home or work to a restaurant or show, we forget all the amazing places in between. Further, we generally have no idea of the people and places that used to inhabit these places, often laying the foundation for how we think of these areas.
Songlines refers to an (Australian) aboriginal technique of an intricate series of song cycles that identified the landmarks that one needed to pass to get where one needed to go. In this week’s Find, I focus on East 4th Street (I was meeting a friend for lunch there), from the East River to Washington Square and everything worth mentioning in between! For you Bob Dylan fans, his vitriol fueled song Positively 4th Street (absolutely stunning lyrics) likely was the West Village, and is the polar opposite of the joyful afternoon I had, but captures some of the former 1960’s/70’s grunge!
The organizing principle for this half day on East 4th Street (if you need one) could be exercise. Sure, there is always Soul Cycle and a Crunch gym, but these exist elsewhere throughout the city. Bring your running shoes and head over to Mile High Run Club for a fabulous workout. It is like Barry’s Bootcamp but more geared for runners and running. The classes include guided treadmill work by experienced running coaches, as well as cowbell and core work. The lights are low, the music is pumping, and you will need a change of clothes! They have a sizable locker room, lend the latest Nike running shoes, and you are ready to run (in place). FYI: Future marathoners, they do offer outdoor group runs by Olympic coaches as well.
Before you head to Mile High you need a little caffeine in your system. Sure, coffee works, but have you tried a Matcha Latte? This shop uses powdered green tea paste from an artisanal supplier in Japan. According to the shopkeeper, while the caffeine peak isn’t as high or as sudden as coffee, it is more consistent and lasts longer. It turns out there are all kind of health benefits, according to the folks at Nifty Benefits. The Matcha tastes great and I could see myself getting used to if there was a shop closer to my home. It is like a flavorful, warm, and creamy green tea smoothie and is delicious. Not to mention, matcha tea is packed with antioxidants, boosts your metabolism, burns calories, detoxifies effectively and naturally, calms the mind and body, is fiber rich, enhances mood and helps concentration, provides essential vitamins, prevents disease, and lowers cholesterol and blood sugar. Whoa … all this while tasting great!
If you want to read more about the wonders of Matcha check out Man vs Weight blog post reviewing Matcha Green Tea Powders here.
After burning all those calories at Mile High take a stroll to Tac N Roll for some incredible and innovative sandwiches and salads. The owner has combined his front of house experience with a talented chef and together they have created a simple menu with diverse influences. First you select whether you want taco, paratha, roll or a salad. Next you choose your protein (chicken, beef, or pork) which has been slow roasted to perfection. Then you choose your flavor set which include Indian, Korean, and Thai to name a few.
After lunch head over to Odd Fellows Ice Cream, The Sandwich Shop. This second location of the cult favorite from Brooklyn (where else?) will satisfy your sweet tooth. The ice cream is made from the very best ingredients and they will assemble an ice cream sandwich on the warm cookie or brioche of you choice. Consider trying an Odd Pocket, which is a warmed up version of the ice cream and topping that is pressed on a panini press … YUM!
Just enjoy the stroll on 4th street toward historic Washington Square in the heart of NYU’s campus. Look up and see graffiti by famous local artists. Stop in one of the many neighborhood shops on the way, including Rivington Guitars, 4th Street Food Coop, Other Music (if your not looking for Justin Bieber’s latest album), or even New Era Caps. See where history was made — Louise Ciccone (Madonna) rented an apartment before anyone had ever heard of her. How about the location of Club 82, a mobbed-up drag bar that was an important venue for the first wave of punk/new wave including the New York Dolls, Television, and Debbie Harry (pre-Blondie) who played to luminaries such as David Bowie and Lou Reed. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants if you want to spend your night there too. But, I suggest ending your journey by sitting in Washington Square Park, which is a truly amazing open space where you can see all kinds of performers and watch the rhythm and beat of New York City.
Bob Dylan was sure mad about something in ironically named Positively 4th Street! Nonetheless, consider the East Side of 4th Street positively Found! I will have to save the West side of 4th Street, and the rest of New York, for another day … Until then.