From The Archives Living NYC ARCHIVES

Travel ’86: What’s Your Trip?

What’s Your Trip?
May 27, 1986
Survey by Lois Draegin

Poet, actor, musician
The best I’ve ever had were when I took some money up to Grand Central Station, got a train going up the Hudson, and just got off in an arbitrary town and went and stayed at a motel. Alone. For a day. Then I just wan­der around the town a little bit, have a few bucks in my pocket so I can buy a nice book. All the sightseeing spots, like a big puddle in a vacant lot, are revelations to me ’cause I’ve never seen them before and I’m a total stranger and I’m alone. Whenever I’ve gone on a vacation with anyone else where the idea was to go and have fun, get out of the tension and rat race of New York, it’s been utter horror and tedium and viciousness. I hate taking vacations because I’m out of my element. I’m only really on vacation when I’m alone in my apartment.

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New York nightlife czar
I haven’t gone out of Manhattan in years.
The Hamptons? Yeah, okay, but that’s for work, so you can mention that, sure.
I don’t know the last time I took a vacation. I don’t remember. My business is the kind that you just have to do night and day. I can’t travel. Can’t you hear the telephones ringing?

Bahia, Brazil, is my favorite place in my world. It has the cleanest, most beautiful water. The food is incredible, and the people are really beautiful. It’s far enough away from New York.
I go there every year for a month or two — as long as possible. My friend Kenny Scharf has a house there, so I usually stay there half the time, then go to other cities the rest of the time. Most of the time I just swim and lay in the sun; and eat; and paint.
Travel Tips: Learn to speak Portuguese, be­cause no one speaks En­glish. Stay away from sharks. Don’t drink the water. Never trust the taxi drivers.

Actor and playwright, currently starring in his own Vampire Lesbians of Sodom
Ooo, I just had a fabulous vacation. I needed to find a place to go for five days. I told the travel agent I wanted a place that was tropical, where you could lie in the sun, but that had like a triplex movie theater or something you could do at night. He came up with Key West.
So we went there and had a fabulous time. We stayed in a guest house. It was great because you sat by the pool — actually, the beaches are where all the tacky hoi polloi hang out — but the pool is so lovely. And we met all sorts of people: we met a Spanish marquis and a hair dresser from Washington, D.C. At night we went to marvelous restaurants. We saw a horrible production of As Is, which was sort of amusing, and we went to see the singing group Gotham. We toured Hemingway’s house, then we visited the cemetery in Key West, which is real fascinating.
Travel Tip: I use sunscreen 15, so I spent five days in Key West and ended up lighter than when I left. It bleached me. So that’s my travel tip — it’s also a beauty tip.

Rapper extraordinaire (his name says it all: Ladies Love Cool James)
In March I went to Hawaii. We went to Honolulu, then we went to Maui, then back to Honolulu, so it was very cool. I’ve never been to such a tropical place. It was my first vacation that I paid for and went on. I’ve been on vacations before, but only in the States, like down South, the usual. But that was the first time I had went over to a place like that and chilled.
I chose Hawaii because I knew the weather would be nice. I knew the bikinis would be nice, I knew the bikinis would be nice, I knew the bikinis would be nice. They were. It was an incredible experi­ence. Plus the view in Maui — you see the ocean and the mountains and the cliffs.
I was there a whole week, so it was cool. I took one of my friends with me, E Love — he’s in my group. We laid on the beach, got a little darker, and just cooled out. Didn’t touch the Maui Wowie, but I was coolin’. Runnin’ around, havin’ fun, wasting money. Just going to different places, like Pearl Harbor and all up in the mountains, things like that; buying clothes, buying people gifts.
The best thing about Hawaii  was not having to get up early in the morning and just hangin’. Just being able to do what I want.

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Transcategorical choreographer/composer/performer
If I ever go on vacation I try to go to New Mexico. Usually I’ve sung a concert as a way of getting there, then I’ll stay for a while. Just being there is like a vacation, even if I’m working.
I like the expansiveness of  the land­scape, and I like the dry heat very much. I like the kind of danger that sort of terrain has. It’s a very powerful kind of thing, and you do feel that you’re slightly in danger all the time: rattlesnakes, what­ever. You feel a certain power of the landscape, and it’s a very interesting per­spective to have, coming from New York. It does interesting things for my work, too.
One of the things that’s amazing is how the terrain changes very quickly: it goes from mountainous, pine-tree sort of ter­rain to desert within half an hour. So there’s a lot of different kinds of terrain in that space. There are canyons that are beautiful and pine trees, but my favorite is the desert, those dry hills of sagebrush, where you really get that expansive sky and the quiet.

Author (The Wanderers, The Breaks, Ladies Man)
I go to Italy, anywhere, from Sicily to the Italian border in the north. Italy’s main produce is style. It’s a very warm, stylish, artful country. They say France knows how to cook, Italy knows how to eat: it sounds like a cliché, but that’s the nut of it for me. When I’m in Italy, I don’t feel like I’m traveling, I feel like I’m liv­ing. But there is one place in France I would mention, the Périgord region, where all the foie gras comes from. If you go there in season, you pass all these farms where 400-pound geese waddle after your car with these desperate looks in their faces — like “Save me, save me.” Still, I’d go to the shittiest part of Italy before I’d go almost any­where else.

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In the summer I almost always go to the Thousand Islands, which I hate to publicize because more people will come. I’ve been going there since I was 12. We. have a big family, 20 acres, and woods and boats and tennis courts, a big house, guest houses. We were big on water ski­ing, treacherous feats — 12 behind a boat going through a narrow pass type of thing. We also did a lot of exploring by boat, finding islands we didn’t know ex­isted. The river is now polluted. We still swim in it, but when I was 12 we used to dip in a glass and drink.
Now, in my old age, I sit in a former ice house at a typewriter and occasionally look out the window at the ducks and the great blue heron. I do play a little tennis, but I’ve now developed exercise-induced asthma. Five minutes on the court and I’m huffing and puffing. I’m deciding to take up golf — the geriatric delight.
In the winter I concentrate on South America and Mexico. I have family in Argentina; they live on a ranch across from La Perla, which was one of the big­gest concentration camps during the 1970s, so that’s a little, ahem, psychologi­cally tough when you realize you’re en­sconced in the nest of the oligarchy. It’s like being across the highway from Da­chau and having everybody telling you this isn’t happening.
My travels are now political. In Argen­tina I interviewed the mothers of the dis­appeared. Then I went to Uruguay and taped the Tupamaros as they exited from jails after 15 years. Then I went to Bue­nos Aires to a military trial and took notes. My basic aim in this trip was to gather details for a novel I’ve been writ­ing for five years. Then I went to Rio for that facelift I wrote about.
Travel Tips: I never follow it, but never bring any clothes. Never take a charter flight. This is the greatest travel tip I could give anybody: Stay away from plans altogether.

Sui generis… poet/filmmaker
I go to Port Jervis, New York, about twice a month. I have a friend with a nice estate there. He has four dogs and six cats. I adore animals and I take all the dogs for walks three times a day. They sleep with me and everything.
I suppose Port Jervis was thriv­ing up till 1942, or something like that, when all the young men went away to war. Now the city is sort of suspended in time. It has an other­world quality, like a twilight zone. It’s kind of dairy country, with low gentle rolling hills, woods, a great pond, old stone walls. The Delaware River is not far away, and we go rafting on that, which is a terrific pastime. It’s amazingly beautiful and only 75 miles away. In fact, people are finding it out now, and my friend’s getting worried.
Of course, I could spend the rest of my life living six months in Greece and six months in Manhattan. I’m waiting for Brian McNally, who owns Indochine, to buy a restaurant in Greece. He’s promised I could have the apartment over the restaurant. Then I could come down and dance with the local Greeks.

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Fashion designer
The last place I went on vacation was Italy. I took an Italian holiday for 10 days. Shopping. That’s what I did. It was for the act of it: go to Rome, go shopping.
Usually when you travel you’re sup­posed to bring the least amount neces­sary to drag. Well, this was the opposite. I went with the idea of getting dressed and turning it out on the streets of Rome. I had my whole wardrobe there, turned it out, brought hats, suits, coats. It was like theater. So I slept, got up, hung out, called room service, went out for lunch, went shopping. It was one of these mov­ies kind of trips. It was good, especially in Italy — the Italians like all that stuff. They’re very overdone, so they really re­sponded to it.

Writer of short story collections Later the Same Day, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, and The Little Distur­bances of Man; political activist
I never think about vacations. That makes me sound like a workhorse, whereas I’m the exact opposite. I live in Vermont half the time, and New York. Either of those two places is wonderful. If I think of a vacation, I’d like to be in either one of those two places without any other work than my writing.
I haven’t been near an ocean enough in my life. Here I am in New York, right next to an ocean, and I don’t even know it, right? So I’d like to live near an ocean and know that I live there, with full knowledge of where I am. It wouldn’t be a vacation, but it would be living some­where else, which is my idea of a vacation.
And I like to go someplace I haven’t been — wherever that is. Most of the world, I guess. I like everywhere I’ve been — how could you not? But being on my own street is often nice, too. Today the ginkgo leaves are sticking out their pinkies.

Jazz musician-saxophonist and com­poser
I go to the Caribbean, St. Croix, once a year. I like it because it’s hot and the people down there look like me.
Travel Tip: Take some time off.

Choreographer/director of the imagistic hit theater piece, Vienna Lusthaus
Whenever I think, where would I most like to be in this horrible mo­ment, the answer is usually someplace in Italy, gorging my face with pasta.
There’s a wonderful town called Ra­vello. It’s on the Amalfi coast in the mountains, and it’s where Wagner wrote Parsifal. One wants to whisper there, it’s so awesome, so beautiful; you know, lem­on groves, terraced hills, a beautiful little Romanesque town square with an old church. I also adore Venice. It’s like being in a fairy tale: the light, the smell, the gondolas, the whole business.
Travel Tip: I used to be very fearful of going to a major city without a hotel res­ervation, but now I always worm my way into someplace.


With Trump in Power, Conservatives More Pissy Than Patriotic on Memorial Day

Traditionally conservatives like to consider themselves more patriotic and more simpatico with the military than liberals, so Memorial Day is usually a happy time for them. But the leadership of Donald Trump — a self-absorbed, unapologetic draft-dodger who clearly would not piss on a servicemember (or his grieving widow) if they were on fire — seems to have shaken their faith in their own star-spangled cred. This Memorial Day the brethren were less inclined to celebrate, and more inclined toward gloomy grievance.

During the Obama years, conservatives were constantly feigning outrage over alleged Obama insults to the military — remember Bowe Bergdahl and Umbrellagate, not to mention Benghazi — and their Memorial Day tributes were a good deal more peppery. Recall, for example, Kurt Schlichter raging in 2015 at TownHall that “Liberals Disgrace Memorial Day,” that “Barack Obama, like the rest of the liberal elite, cares nothing for our soldiers or our veterans,” and that when laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery the president’s only thought was of “getting out of there and teeing up.” (Believe it or not, conservatives thought Obama’s golfing was a serious dereliction of duty. Yeah, you’re right — it would be ironic, if irony were not dead.)

Trump’s election made conservatives much less concerned about presidential insults toward the military. When Trump observed Memorial Day 2018 with a bizarre, much-maligned tweet celebrating his own alleged achievements (“Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER…Nice!”), conservatives had not much to say about it.

A few even tried to defend him. Hugh Hewitt, a propagandist unaccountably popular with Mainstream Media types, claimed the Trump tweet was “ordinary and routine for almost everyone to tweet about Memorial Day and how we honor the fallen, but also to tweet about other things,” putting the president on the same level as Lane Bryant.

“Trump’s Memorial Day message sparks childish backlash by left,” declared BizPac Review, citing in evidence tweets from such noted leftists as David Frum, Bill Kristol, and

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But most of the brethren were silent — or nostalgic: “This is a reprint of an article I wrote while Obama was in office,” Tom Barrett wrote at Conservative Truth before re-upping his “A Look Back at Obama’s Cluelessness about Memorial Day.”

Others focused not on the president, nor on the state of the nation, but on the state of their usual whipping boys. “Chicago’s Memorial Day Weekend Gets Bloody Kick-Off with 23 Shot, Four Dead,” hollered Breitbart.

“This Memorial Day weekend we should certainly remember our slain heroes, but we should also consider whether our fragile, dependent generation has the same mettle as our ancestors,” off-my-lawned TownHall’s Scott Morefield. “Because if not…we’re about to enter a period of bondage unlike any mankind has experienced.” Millennials are apparently killing liberty along with everything else.

Even conservatives’ down-home celebrations were clouded by broodings over unseen enemies. Lloyd Marcus, formerly known as That Black Guy at Tea Party Rallies, told readers at American Thinker how much he and his wife loved living in “Paw Paw, West Virginia (population 500)” where the Memorial Day Parade is “patriotic Americana at its best. Both sides of Main Street were adorned with flags — Old Glory proudly flying high, waving in the breeze” — which, he added, “represents the real America that is demeaned, impugned, and despised by leftists.”

As sinister music played, Marcus’s scene cross-faded to other, less Paw Pawish parts of America where a “leftist judge” and school administrators got rid of the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, and pre-K teachers were allegedly forced to “explain homosexuality to 4-year-olds.” Marcus raged at New York Jets chair Christopher Johnson for offering to pay whatever fines the NFL might assess his players for kneeling during the national anthem — “coddling his spoiled-brat, ungrateful, and disrespectful millionaire players,” as Marcus put it through clenched teeth — and warned that “if Democrats take Congress” in the November midterms, “the Deep State will surely impeach Trump,” suggesting that the Deep State is actually the will of a majority of voters and, much like Dorothy and the power to go back home, was in our hearts all along.

And where once readers could count on conservatives to celebrate the day with full-throated tributes to America’s military victories, this year many were more ambivalent. At the Washington Times, for example, Scott S. Powell (a “senior fellow” at the Discovery Institute, an intelligent-design think tank), reminded readers that “October 2018 marks the commemoration of 25 years since U.S. forces suffered defeat in Somalia” — um, yay? — and that “some U.S. military engagements were ill-advised and injustices were committed along the way.” Powell included among these “President Obama’s political decision to withdraw U.S. military forces [from Iraq] by the end of 2011 directly led to the injustice of reversal of hard-fought gains made by the military in the prior eight years.” Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of debacle!

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At National Review, where Jonah Goldberg once bitched because Google failed to produce a patriotic doodle for Memorial Day (arguing that “they’ve churned out two logos for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day over the years”),  there was surprisingly little content devoted to remembrance.

David French did have a tribute that started with a boilerplate ode to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — but then lurched into a warning that “organizing a nation around liberty brings with it a hidden danger, the danger of indulgence; the danger that a nation that protects the rights of the individual will become individualistic.”

French did not make clear what the danger of individualism would be — perhaps such abominations as Heinz Mayochup — but he did refer to a John Adams quote about how “our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People,” and bid readers “commit” to “a love that asks us to live with decency and honor…to fulfill the purpose of man as articulated in Micah 6:8; to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” So my guess is he wants us all to become hardcore Christians and, as hardcore Christians do, demand immigrants be expelled from this country.

Meanwhile one of the president’s side hustles,, was hitting inboxes with ads for a big Memorial Day sale on Trump items. The Washington Times’ Jennifer Harper helped the president peddle: “Snappy merchandise supporting President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence has come a long way since the classic red Make America Great Again hat, which remains a trademark of the president himself,” she announced. “The official store is currently having 25 percent off Memorial Day sale and advises that ‘Remember’ is the discount code word. Consult, under ‘shop.’ It is a cheerful spot indeed.” Americans returning from their three-dollar-plus-a-gallon long weekend trips may not be feeling so cheerful — but they may, in the spirit of the holiday, remember.


Paul Van Dyk+Seven Lions+Alex English

PVD is a world-renowned trance DJ hailing from East Berlin who has mesmerized crowds of thousands across the globe, and this Memorial Day will be no different. His heavy kicks and impassioned, electrifying build-ups that lead to booming drops will captivate the entire audience, creating a space of sonic bliss and unified dance. DJ Seven Lions and DJ Alex English will be accompanying PVD, spicing up the set with some wobble and deep vibes and high-hats where they’re due. The one-day affair will be the perfect Memorial Day celebration with heavy bass and a stunning light show readily available at this one-of-a-kind event.

Mon., May 26, 4 p.m., 2014



Get out your crocheted bikini tops, fuzzy multicolored boots, and sealed bottles of water for the Electric Daisy Carnival, the annual EDM festival that drops the bass on the MetLife Stadium this Memorial Day weekend. As usual, EDC covers all the bas(s)es, bringing in industry vets like techno mastermind Carl Cox and global hotshot DJ Tiesto along with up-and-comers such as 19-year-old Martin Garrix, brothers-in-arms Cash Cash, and a live set from UK garage revival champions Rudimental. Complete with fireworks and amusement park rides, not to mention giant glowing owl decoys and at least one octopus float.

Sat., May 24, noon; Sun., May 25, noon, 2014



If the idea of kicking off your summer in a cemetery seems morbid, then you probably haven’t been to Green-Wood. With stately gothic architecture and rolling meadows, Brooklyn’s largest burial grounds all but invite a leisurely stroll in the sun, parasol optional. The annual Memorial Day Concert provides an ideal opportunity to explore. This year features the ISO Symphonic Band performing works by Leonard Bernstein, Fred Ebb, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and other “permanent residents” of Green-Wood. Historian Jeff Richman also leads a special edition trolley tour, should you want to get to know the locals. Be sure to bring along a picnic blanket: Food and drinks are available during the show. We’ll toast to this most literal celebration of Memorial Day.

Mon., May 26, 2:30 p.m., 2014



Get in the spirit: Baba Chuck Davis, a “Pied Piper” of African-American cultural life in Brooklyn and beyond, hosts the 37th annual DanceAfrica this Memorial Day weekend with a celebration of black dance, music, film, visual arts, food, and crafts. Headlining this edition is Madagascar’s Groupe Bakomanga, led by Malagasy singer Mariette Rasoarinala who also choreographs, plays the traditional “amponga be” drum, and writes the lyrics for her troupe’s songs. Making its U.S. debut, the Groupe shares several programs with Quebec–based singer Madagascar Slim, the Buffalo–based AACC Dance and Drum Performance Company, and Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre of Brooklyn; completing the packed bill is the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble, young performers from Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Fri., May 23, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 24, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., May 25, 3 p.m.; Mon., May 26, 3 p.m., 2014


5 Ideas for Outdoor Eats on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is coming up and the long weekend is a cue for many to leave the city and spend a little time with nature. Though it has been rather wet in New York City, the weather forecast predicts pockets of sunshine on Saturday. So assuming the weather holds up, we’ve rounded up some great food ideas for you to bookmark. The key to these are that they’re portable and don’t expire easily. Recipes are linked to the dish title.

Turn the page.

1) Mason Jar Cocktails

Mason jars are all the hype these days, and what better what to transport your homemade cocktails then storing them in these adorable yet portable containers? You can make multiple drinks and then stash them in a cooler for the rest of the day.

2) Spiced Chickpeas

Stashing up on your regular ol’ store-bought trail mix can get a bit boring. Kick it up a notch with some munchies you can make yourself. These spiced chickpeas are made with masala seasoning, olive oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper.

3) Chipotle Kale Chips

Throw in a little nutritional value into the mix. Can’t go wrong with kale chips. All you need is kale, olive oil, and chipotle paprika. The baking time takes around 20 minutes. Quick, cheap, and easy!

4) Picnic Apple Pies

Factor in dessert with these portable apple pies. The ingredients: 9″ pie crust, apples, flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, bourbon or rum, and egg.

5) Hong Kong-style Hot Dog Buns

For the main course, try a new take on a classic hot dog buns. These Asian hot dog buns are made with tangzhong, a flour-water roux that gives the buns its fluffy texture.



Chuck Davis’s DanceAfrica festival has celebrated performance, film, and art from the continent and its diaspora for 34 years. This year, the Memorial Day Weekend tradition continues by focusing on dance from that mysterious island just 90 miles from the U.S., in conjunction with the ¡Sí Cuba! Festival. Afro-Cuban gagá and son performers Ballet Folklórico Cutumba headline, along with Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble, Bambara Drum and Dance Ensemble, and BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble. Also returning this year: the fest’s popular outdoor bazaar.

Fri., May 27, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., May 28, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., May 29, 3 p.m.; Mon., May 30, 3 p.m., 2011


Jane Monheit & Peter Eldridge

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get to this one-nighter. This amazing songstress with the infallible instincts reunites with the mentor who taught her much of what she knows. On his own, he’s someone to reckon with, and the music they make together should be jazz at its contemporary, experimental, rousing, reassuring best. Some of the songs included could be among those he’s written. Note the shebang occurs on Memorial Day–it will definitely be something to remember.

Mon., May 30, 7 p.m., 2011



Each year, BAM’s annual DanceAfrica Festival is a damn good reason to stay in town over the Memorial Day weekend. In its 31st year, the celebration of everything African brings the motherland to the BK with a grand outdoor bazaar offering crafts, food, and clothes; a film program (including the dramatic documentary Amandala! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony, about music in South Africa during apartheid); art by students from La Yahoushua Secondary School in Accra, Ghana, and the city’s Norman Thomas High School; nonstop Afrobeat via the Earthman Experience; and, of course, dance featuring live performances by the Gambia’s Ceesay Kujabi and the Bachinab, Atlanta’s all-female troupe Giwayen Mata, Harlem’s LaRocque Bey School of Dance Theatre Inc., and Brooklyn’s BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble. Buy dope stuff, take in some culture, eat tasty food, and then burn off the calories in a dance workshop afterward.

Fri., May 23, 2008