An Interactive New York Travel Guide — With Book And Music Pairings

When you live in a city, each day is basically a bombardment of stimuli. There’s the rattle of the old, decrepit subway cars, the alternating odors of street meat and… other things one finds on the street, the tourists’ soft stomaches as they glance off your elbows as you barrel toward work. The curses of those tourists as you leave them in the dust of your decaying social graces.

Many people find ways to deal with said stimuli — ways that block out and replace the hustle, the bustle and the groans. And for many people, those methods are simple: pick up a book, pop in the earbuds. Bingo. Instant fortress of solitude.

I know because I do this. However, sometimes… the book and music serve a different purpose. I’ll pick a destination in the city, and those normally isolating stimuli serve to flesh out the experience of travel. To set a mood that’s interactive.

Someday, I would love to create travel guides that pair music, books and locations, but today (seeing as though I’m sadly a bit skint), I’d like to share some of my favorite New York book/music/travel pairings. Check it:

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THE LOCATION: MoMA PS1 in Long Island City (22-25 Jackson Avenue). An outpost of MoMA, PS1 is an amazing modern art museum in a beautiful old school building with a constantly rotating roster of exhibits — and live, outdoor music in the summers.

THE ALBUM: St. Vincent, by St. Vincent. Beautiful, yet jagged, Annie Clark’s tunes are perfect for taking in art that could be characterized in a very similar way.

THE BOOK: THE ELEMENTALS, by Francesca Lia Block. Or any book by Lia Block, really. This book, however, has murder, pathos, sex and basically everything coursing through St. Vincent’s tunes.

THE EXTRA: Make sure to hit up one of the cafes or bars at PS1 and (if you’re of age) sip on a Moscow Mule while reading, listening and watching the other patrons wander through the halls with all the child ghosts (I always picture schools having child ghosts).

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THE LOCATION: Red Hook. There’s an Ikea in Red Hook, which I recommend staying away from if you’re not into nervous breakdowns. Now that that’s out of the way, this water-side neighborhood is quiet, beautiful, and creepy as hell — in a good way. Make sure it hit up Pioneer Works art center (159 Pioneer Street), where I once saw an impossibly tall man with paper wings in the garden.

THE ALBUM: Are You In Or Out?, by The Growlers. If you’re planning to be by the water, you should probably always listen to The Growlers. They basically write sexy sea shanties. Which I didn’t think was possible, either.

THE BOOK: Basically anything by Murakami. Maybe DANCE DANCE DANCE, because it’s my favorite. His characters are always deliciously solitary, and you will be, too, on your seaside wander.

THE EXTRA: Hit up Fort Defiance (365 Van Brunt Street) for oysters. Eat them by yourself while reading about one of Murakami’s characters eating by himself.


THE LOCATION: Greenpoint, Brooklyn — specifically the East River Ferry.

THE ALBUM: Cyclops Reap, by White Fence. Manic, but soothing all at once — listen while the waves lap.

THE BOOK: ABOUT A GIRL, by Sarah McCarry. This Greek myth-themed book isn’t out until the summer, but I can’t really think of anything better to read while on a boat, listening to a record with a title containing the word “cyclops.”

THE EXTRA: Hit up Bakeri (105 Freeman Street) after your ferry ride to fortify yourself with delicious sweets.