I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

Yes, you’re fabulous…

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…but where’s the club sandwich?

New York is a often portrayed as a city of rushing, but for the most part it’s a city of waiting, and all of the joys and terrors of anticipation. We are the city that invented the velvet rope after all, and perfected it as an instrument of social indexing. So last night was quintessential, New york experience as first five, and then six of us decided to have one last taste of the semi-old meatpacking district at Florent. We arrived at 7:30 and were seated at 9:10 or so. To say it was a mad house is to employ understatement. People kept piling in all evening long, despite the best efforts of the host to warn them off with promises of an at least three hour wait. One thing that utterly amused me is the way in which certain New Yorkers strive to maintain a kind of bubble of aloof self possession in the midst of loudly yakking crowds. I had people reaching across me in the waiting area while talking to their friend and looking at their cell phones as if my very bulky form didn’t at all exist. I had to chuckle.

We waited so long to be seated, in fact, that Lolita, who was originally going to meet us “afterwards some place else” arrived just in time to order. Florent remains true to my first and subsequent impressions of it: a place where the food is just OK but where you generally feel good about hanging out. I first went there not long after it opened because my friend Nancy lived close by on 14th near 10th. and then off and on in the following years when I was in town. The best thing it had going for it was the owner Florent Morellet’s fierce sense of community – the way he would extend himself for various causes and how the place aspired not towards some high concept of a restaurant, but rather an eatery that felt right to be in. A number of similar places opened around then: Bubbie’s in Tribeca, and Aggie’s on Houston spring to mind right away: diner-y food, simple interiors, usually an arty crowd.

All of that seems like it’s being shoved aside in the current repackaging of New York, so it was nice to get a taste of it again. But not too nice – In the midst of all the whoop-tee-do last night, our waiter became much more interested in downing vodka and commanding attention than in bringing food to the table. You can see him working it in the clip below.

(And Hey, I love my still camera as a video camera. The air was thick with tech last night as well – camera phones everywhere and someone else was using the webcams on their Asus laptop to record proceedings. I got out mine and they danced around together a bit.)

The performances (and that was just one of many) were delightful, but a little food service realness might have been in order. In that video you can see that Thor is barely holding it together while he wonders where the hell his dinner is.

At the end, we left the place at around 11:15. I snapped a couple of pictures of low, shuttered buildings and thought that I may miss Florent someday, but that day is not today.

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Written by naylandblake

June 18, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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