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New York Confidential

Lynda Moyo is an English girl in New York with a few tales to tell...

Written by . Published on September 20th 2010.

New York Confidential

My visit to New York coincided with the ninth anniversary of the suicide attacks on the Twin Towers. It’s a date that is now tainted with the memory of that fatal date around the world, but not in the same way as in New York where it happened. The emotion is as raw as if it happened yesterday and each year the names of the 3,000 or so who died are read out by their relatives at Ground Zero.

The memorial service went on for hours and was covered by several TV networks out here so you really couldn’t escape it. A few people who I spoke to who admitted that after nine years, they felt it was time for some sort of closure on the tragedy and a private event for relatives. Others however, feel the memorial day is the only way for relatives and friends of those who perished to pay tribute. It’s their grave yard so to speak. By next year, it’s hoped a tribute will have been built in the footprints of the former World Trade Centre Towers, until then, the Tribute in Light art installation marks the spot, as you can see in the picture. It was a very eerie day.The boroughsAside from Manhattan, there are of course other boroughs to be discovered - Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. You hear all sorts about heavy crime in these places, but it really is a travesty to miss them and like anywhere in the world if you have your wits about you, you’ll be fine. In fact I have personally found some of the more residential areas to be friendlier than the tourist ones and less invasive.

From Brooklyn you get a great view of Manhattan and all you need to do is walk over the famous Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn Heights and it’s right there on the Promenade. Brooklyn Heights is also the place to go, outside of downtown’s Little Italy, for the best pizza in New York city. I visited Grimaldi’s, Frank Sinatra’s favourite pizza place on Old Fulton Street, and it really was as good as it boasts. View from the PromenadeI also ventured into the Manhattan neighbourhood of Harlem, which is an eye opener when you’ve been blinded by the bright lights of Time Square and the tourist attractions. Harlem is raw. Take the subway to W 125th Street and take a walk over to East Harlem where you’ll see the legendary Apollo Theatre, the original home of stars such as Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Michael Jackson. Of course African-Americans weren’t allowed in the audience when the Apollo opened its doors under a different name in 1914. Locals in Harlem are fiercely proud of this venue and will happily point tourists in its direction.

The Apollo Theatre

In keeping with the local culture it’s absolutely imperative that you eat soul food whilst in Harlem – the cuisine of African Americans. We have similar selections in the UK, but here the choice is wider, and dare I say it’s tastier and served with a smile. I was recommended to go to Sylvia’s – Queen of Soul Food on 328 Lenox Avenue, but a young African American woman who stopped to talk to me because she thought “we could be sisters” advised me that “Sylvia’s gone downhill these days since she started trying to cater to Caucasians.”

True or not, I went with her suggestion of Manna’s Soul Food Buffet on 2331 Frederick Douglass Boulevard. You help yourself to an assortment of fried chicken, rice, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, plantains, fried catfish and more and then they weigh it to work out the price. I suggest you prepare your stomach as there’s a lot of good food to wade through and you will want to try everything.

Soul Food

Other areas plus a taste of home
The Lower East Side is probably my favourite part of New York, consisting of trendy areas such as SoHo, the Meatpacking District, the West Village and Greenwich Village. These areas are the calm after the storm; the place where you can get a decent cup of tea and cupcakes (if that’s your thing) and lots of little tidbits you can’t find anywhere else in New York and some interesting street signs such as ‘Remember what goes around comes around! Clean up after your dog!’

There’s even a Little Britain, although you won’t see this on the map. There you’ll find little pieces of home at extortionate prices, but they are very pleasant all the same. Tea and Sympathy is an English tearoom on 108 Greenwich Avenue in the West Village. They also have a store next door where you can laugh at the price of Heinz Beans and PG Tips. And on 112 Greenwich Avenue you’ll find my favourite named fish and chip shop - A Salt & Battery. Boom boom.Tea & Sympathy

Sexes and the City
As you will have gathered from my New York diary pieces, I’ve toured most of the city by foot, alone and as any woman will know, it’s when you are on your own that you really see what people are about.

Most TV shows are exaggerated escapism, but after spending nine days in New York I’ve come to the realisation that Sex and the City isn’t that far off the mark at all.

Women here are tough, and it’s because they have to be. Men are extremely vocal and at times too cocky for their own good. The days of wolf-whistling builders seem tame compared to the comments women get on the streets of this city. There are a number of options a woman can take. You can make like Sex and the City girls and date every night of the week, you can walk like a New Yorker with your head down so as not to attract unwanted attention, or you can politely brush it off like most tourists do.

The tourist approach however, will result in some amusing/annoying conversations as I found on my first few days. A blinged up Puerto Rican in shades stopped me and asked me what my racial background was. Following my response he concluded that “we’d make beautiful babies together” to which I replied “oh yeah, and what about my boyfriend” trying to play it smart. He then replied “No problem mami. He can be the step-dad.”

Lynda Moyo was in New York covering New York Fashion Week for Manchester Confidential.

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JoeybutafuccoSeptember 21st 2010.

My god Moyo - stunning! You got a significant other?!

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