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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.


Spend Your Summer Days Eating and Drinking in Northern Fairfield County, Connecticut

Fork in the Road thinks you should get out of town this summer, even if it’s only for a day. In this Summer Fridays series, we’re covering the best spots to eat in popular day trip locations.

New Yorkers don’t have the same love/hate relationship with Connecticut as they do New Jersey, and our neighbors to the northeast provide good reason to cross state lines and play tourist for a day. From seafood-heavy Stamford perched off the Long Island Sound to farm-to-table restaurants scattered throughout the countryside, there are a number of reasons to head north on 95.

It takes about an hour to get to Stamford on Metro North’s New Haven line, and you should budget an hour and a half for Fairfield. But you may find exploration easier via a leisurely drive.

If you’re planning on making the town of Fairfield home base, head over to Bonda (75 Hillside Road; 203-292-9555) for a taste of farm fresh global delicacies. Dishes like grilled romaine with shaved parmesan and sriracha-brined fried chicken are the highlights of chef/owner Jamie Cooper’s seasonally changing menu; a burger served on an English muffin is one of the most popular patties in the area. And if you need a more compelling excuse to escape the city, the restaurant also hosts outdoor dining experiences; the next iteration is coming up on July 10 and 11.

Craving BBQ and brew? Head to Walrus + Carpenter for a feast called The Notorious P.I.G.
Craving BBQ and brew? Head to Walrus + Carpenter for a feast called The Notorious P.I.G.

For more of a downtown scene, consider trekking to nearby Bridgeport and hitting up Walrus + Carpenter (2895 Fairfield Avenue; 203-333-2733). The gastropub and barbecue joint offers 12 beers on tap and plenty more in bottles, served alongside poutine and maple-bourbon baby back ribs. If you’re feeling up for it, consider the $128 three course feast called The Notorious P.I.G., which includes everything from oysters to sausage to brisket to ribs to mac and cheese. Another solid option is Osianna (70 Reef Road; 203-254-2070), which offers Mediterranean bites like Catalan style shrimp and mint osso bucco.

Margaritas and a relaxed vibe make Viva Zapata a fun getaway in Westport.
Margaritas and a relaxed vibe make Viva Zapata a fun getaway in Westport.

If you want to eat like the locals in nearby Westport, head to Viva Zapata (530 Riverside Avenue; 203-227-8226), which has been offering Mexican specialties and cocktails since 1969. The cuisine is about what you’d expect from a decades-old place, but the setting makes it worth it — this place has the vibe of a house party.

A drive to Stratford is rewarded with a stop at Two Roads Brewery
A drive to Stratford is rewarded with a stop at Two Roads Brewery

If it’s local suds you’re after, head over to the recently opened Two Roads Brewing Company’s taproom in Stratford (1700 Stratford Avenue; 203-335-2010). The brewery opened in the historic U.S. Baird Building and carries on the tradition of American manufacturing in Connecticut, albeit this product is a lot easier to swallow. Five beers, including an IPA and saison, are offered year round, and you’ll also find seasonal options like Conntucky Lightin’, which uses corn grits and bourbon barrels in the brewing process. Tours take place Friday through Sunday, and there are typically a few food trucks parked outside along with plenty of outdoor seating. Grab some beer to go before you hit the road home.


3 Good Things: Hamsters in the Kitchen

1 Russian photographer Elena Eremina photographs her pet hamsters in the kitchen, after her husband and son have fallen asleep. It’s just as odd as you’d imagine, but also terribly cute. [Feature Shoot]

2 A new cookbook for gamers? Why not. [Kickstarter]

3 Andrew Vanover and Austin Simmons are traveling the world in 50 meals, sitting down to eat with strangers all over the world, and documenting their journey. [50days50meals]


Thanks, Andrew Cuomo, For That Smartphone Traffic App You Can’t Use While Driving

Governor Andrew Cuomo is crowing today about the state’s new smartphone app that allows users to get real-time traffic and construction updates right on their cell phones.

The idea behind the app — aside from Cuomo’s using it to boast all of his “New York Works” projects under the guise of a helpful way to avoid all the travel delays they’ll ultimately cause — is to give people a heads up before they hit trip-ruining traffic issues.

There is one minor (major) issue with the gov’s prized app: you can’t use it while you’re driving!

Thanks to New York’s draconian “texting while driving” laws, it’s pretty
much against the law to even touch a steering wheel and a cell phone at the
same time — even if it’s to check a state-run travel app.

Regardless, Cuomo is pimpin’ the app (read: “New York Works”) — and pimpin’ it hard. .

“Through our NY Works program, we are going to invest billions of
dollars in infrastructure projects across the state that will create
thousands of new good jobs and rebuild our states gaining
infrastructure,” Cuomo says. “With summer just beginning, it is
important that drivers stay updated on these projects so they know of
any traffic tie ups or backups before they get on the road. Upgrades to
our 511 system and the new PSA will make it even easier for New Yorkers
and our visitors to travel smarter and more efficiently, whether they
are heading to work or on vacation. I encourage travelers to make use of
this helpful service.”

If you’re not already in the car — ya know, when traffic updates would come in most handy — the gov’s 511NY overhaul could be somewhat helpful.

Below is a description of 511NY, compliments of Cuomo’s office:

511NY is New York State’s official traffic, travel, and transit
information source. The 511NY site and mobile app offers free, 24/7,
statewide real-time traffic and transit information for all of New York
State. It also offers a transit trip planner, camera views, as well as
weather alerts and forecasts. New features available at — —
will include additional mobile app features, bridge and border crossing
times, new notifications on the home page, and an interface that is
easier to navigate. In addition, the new 511NY site will enable New
Yorkers to personalize their maps with My511NY, which allows users to
save familiar routes so that they do not have to repeatedly search for
updates on the same route.

In any event, we’ll be sure to pull off to the shoulder whenever we need to touch our iPhone to check on upcoming traffic via-511NY’s mobile app (who are we kidding — no we won’t).


EfV: Back and Fatter than Ever

You know when you go to a memorial service for someone and they have pictures of him or her through the years? I’m pretty sure that at mine, there will just be a big collage of plates of food, since that’s all the evidence that exists of me. I just returned from a week in Austin and New Orleans, and I’m fat now. Forgive me if I can only blog about salad for a few days. But first, a look back at how I became obese in 5 days.

I may have to marry this pitmaster, who tends to the beef ribs, brisket, sausages, pork ribs, and giant pork chops at Cooper’s, in Llano, Texas. We drove an hour and a half from Austin for this meal (a Sietsema recommendation), and I would be willing to go to much greater lengths. Folks, I never truly understood barbecue until that first bite, but now I’m a believer.

We are ladies who know how to lunch.


Each place-setting includes a roll of paper towels and a loaf of white bread. A little brisket and some vinegar-intensive barbecue sauce in a piece of white bread is perfection, but the beef rib, with its salty, fatty exterior, probably wins the prize for the best thing I consumed on this trip. And I consumed an alarming quantity of deliciousness. The blond is my traveling companion, who kindly traded in museums for eateries.

Behold the migas at Cisco’s, in Austin. That’s scrambled eggs with tortilla chips, cheese, tomatoes, and a lot of salsa on the side. (Runner up for best breakfast was La Reyna, where we loved the divorciados, two fried eggs—one with ranchero sauce and the other with tomatillo sauce, plus delicious potatoes, and warm tortillas to scoop everything up.

On the road from Austin to Louisiana, things got scary.

In a town called Breaux Bridges, about two hours west of New Orleans, we sampled the choux choux at a cafe called Jacqueline’s. It’s a strangely appealing breakfast of cornmeal that has been cooked in a cast-iron skillet and rendered lumpy and partially burned.

A fried oyster po’boy at Liuzza’s, in New Orleans. And behind the sandwich, yours truly.

Red beans and rice, with some sausage of course, is a local comfort-food obsession in New Orleans. These are at Mother’s, where the food is good, but it’s more about the bossy waitresses and the old-school setting.


Last Meal: David Chang’s Time Machine

David Chang is even busier than usual, with his third East Village restaurant, Ko, about to open and his original Momofuku Noodle Bar having just relocated. But he took a few minutes to ponder the menu he would request as his final feast. Although it’s really more than one meal, it represents him well: a love of ramen, of course, and a deep admiration for fine dining. But then again, don’t forget the pork rinds or booze.

Are you ready to talk about your last meal? I dunno. I mean, what are the parameters?

There are none. You can travel through time, whatever . . . Well, I think, besides mom’s cooking—some braised short ribs and maybe her crab cakes—I’d have to have some meals that I never got a chance to eat. Like Lespinasse, when Christian Delouvrier was there, probably the opening team of Jean-Georges at Gramercy Tavern in 1998. These were all legendary crews. We just don’t have restaurants like that anymore. And I’d go to other places I have never been—like I’ve never done Europe before. I mean, I’ve done it like a bum, going from hostel to hostel, but I would go and do the fine dining there: Pierre Gagnaire, L’Arpége, Michel Bras. That’s just the start. There are so many places I’ve never been to. I’ve never eaten at El Bulli. I’d make sure all the friends were there for the whole trip, of course, and we’d just go everywhere. And be drunk the whole time. I mean, I’m on my deathbed, so I might as well.


Sure, there would be no hang-over to deal with. Yeah, and we’d end up in Beijing, eating crawfish and drinking a nice bottle of Bai Jiu, which is basically distilled anything. It could be rusty nails.

Is that something you’ve done before? Oh, yeah.

Tell me more about what you’d have your mom make you. She makes these ridiculously good crab cakes—just a little egg, a little mayo, lots of blue crab. And her short ribs, of course— I could really just eat that, a bowl of rice, her kimchi, and call it a day. But if I had an unlimited budget and a time-travel option, why not go for it? I could go on—like, I would definitely have to have some fried chicken, too, and french fries, and some really good bread and butter. Warm bread and salted butter. Maybe a fish taco going on there, and an ice-cold beer. Oh—Taishoken, at Higashi-Ikebukuro. I’d have to have a bowl of ramen there. It’s closed now.

Oh, good use of that time machine! Yeah, we’d do it all. From pork rinds to the highest of the high. Why not?