Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Name: Bruce Northam

Age: 47

Hometown: Manhattan’s Lower East Side

Occupation: Writer & Host for American Detour

Status: single, lovelorn, taken etc: Undefined

Diva Minds Want to Know…

1. Where do you like to flirt?

Flirting is conditional. Is “Have a great day” or “What are your hobbies?” flirting? One place I rarely flirt is in the subway—a noisy rolling dungeon that’s Mecca for people watching; striking up conversations down there requires skill, because if it backfires you qualify as a scary weirdo and random strangers will glare at you. If you’ve read the book she’s reading, that qualifies as a conversation attempt; “Hey, nice legs!” does not. The subway is a zone where people rarely make new friends, but it happens. I actually met someone on the subway who became my roommate: Hi Kelly! (PS, Kelly has since gotten married and relocated to Oklahoma).

2. Where is your favorite table for two?

Kate’s Joint (Manhattan, Avenue B and 4th St.) is where I corral friends. Half vegetarian restaurant (the sort of fare that resembles meat and potatoes but isn’t) and half bar, it’s one of the rare joints in Manhattan that doesn’t suffer ageism or trendiness. Standard behavior for veteran New Yorkers, I wouldn’t go there on a Saturday night, but on Sunday through Wednesday in the early evening, when there’s only a slow trickle of guests, you can talk over the music and tackle the world’s problems. The Pizza place across the street is heavenly.

3. Where should we stay when we visit?

Below 14th Street—there really is no reason to go above 14th Street in Manhattan unless someone’s having a party on their roof.

4. What qualities do you find irresistible in a woman?

I think makeup is a farce, and I’m sick of women literally ruining their feet for the sake of silly shoes. Women who are NATURALLY beautiful and have a contagious laugh are irresistible. And, OK, sometimes a racy pair of heels for show-and-tell can help make the world spin.

5. Where can we find you on a free Sunday afternoon?

Central Park’s Sheep Meadow is another excuse to foray above 14th Street. A fenced-in zone with a groomed lawn as big as four football fields next to Tavern On The Green (Central Park West @ 68th St.) where there are no dogs allowed, which means you won’t lie down in dog shit, and no hardball sports permitted, so Frisbees reign supreme. Great place for a picnic (keep the wine incognito) because you can behold the city’s amazing skyline without having to listen to it.

6. What do you love most about your hometown (besides our arrival)?

You can eat and enjoy music from every corner of the earth and you can walk from venue to venue (pollstar.com is my favorite concert search). Not having—or needing—a car is liberating, and it cuts down on the number of times you’re pulled over by cops. I also enjoy the steady stream of out-of-town friends popping in for a night on business or trip layovers. I love the way most New Yorker’s approach their social calendars. If I’m up for a drink on a Wednesday at 6pm I’ll call six friends at 5pm and three will usually show up within an hour. It’s very easy to bring new friends together here, and nobody is delayed because they’re still circling for parking spots.

7. What should we bring when we visit? What should we leave with?

Low expectations about sleeping and a reason to doze on the flight home.

8. What do we absolutely have to see while we’re there?

Even before the Twin Towers went down, I preferred the view from the Empire State Building since the conglomeration surrounds you. There’s usually an annoying line at the Empire State on nice days, so consider Top of the Rock, or even better, a friend’s rooftop for happy hour, or nudity.

9. Any areas of town we should avoid?

In general, housing projects, and there are quite a few of them in Manhattan. For instance, two blocks from Kate’s Joint (B/4th) are the massive projects lining Avenue D, which are sketchy at night. That said, one of my favorite restaurants/hangouts is a Dominican joint (Joselito’s) on Avenue D between 9th and 10th Street. If you are visiting from outside New York State, you will no doubt be the first person at Joselito’s from your hometown. Also, any place with a line, velvet ropes, and football player-looking bouncers wearing dark suits is probably going to suck. Don’t waste your time, the best thing about New York is talking with the locals (but you need to be able to hear them!). Very few people move to New York to feed their video game addiction, the majority of people you’ll meet moved here to make their life dream happen. Everybody is on some kind of committed mission, and they’ll happily chat with you about it.

10. Any local secrets you want to share?

Some folks sneer at vegetarian fare, so I take my starving pals to Clinton Restaurant(Houston St. and Clinton St.), an intimate Latino restaurant with the best fajitas this side of Roatan, request spicy with heavy garlic, shrimp, chicken or beef. Feed the jukebox too.

REMEMBER, ON ANY JOURNEY, THE FIRST THING YOU PACK IS YOURSELF.

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