my mom surprised me with tickets to see billy joel in his last monthly concert of 2014 at madison square garden, so north we went on thursday.  here’s my brief recap.

pre-concert dinner at Friedman's- a hipster, gluten-free, paradise hidden in midtown west.  our waiter used “intrinsically” to describe the gluten-free nature of one of the specials.  i was in love.

billy joel concert- super fun!  it was a great performance, but my heart goes out to him because gone are his days of rich and hearty vocals.  it was a lighter experience, but very respectable and cool. 

plus, he’s aging.  and not especially well.  that always surprises me about famous people.  can’t they afford the seaweed-infused anti-aging cream the rest of us simultaneously scoff at and lust after?  (i should also confess i never thought he was completely terrible looking, so i might take this new reality harder than most.) 

in october, the new yorker published a profile on him, which i’d recommend if you’re interested.  from it, i learned he considers wine a food group, which, anecdotally, has been met only with praise from the people, mainly relatives, whom i’ve told.

as an intermission, or a reminder of what could have befallen us, the lead signer of AC/DC appeared and screamed “highway to hell”.  it was terrifying.  and while i’d never noticed it before, that is a really long song.  i started wondering if it was played as a ruse while his cohorts kidnapped billy joel. 

i’ll leave you with a song from my favorite billy joel album, “glass houses.”   here’s “all for leyna”

Friday we checked out the 9/11 memorial (tremendously powerful) and chelsea market (industrial chic grooviness)

in the evening, i met a great grad school friend for drinks and major catching up on the upper west side, then met my mom for dinner at Quality Italian, which sounds like a pathetic tourist trap with closeups of food on placards, but was incredible and so delicious.  i was dubious about the brief menu, but it did not disappoint.  i had a gigantic dover sole, my mom had branzino, and we split the creamed kale carbonara.  all were winners.

a trip to Uniqlo’s 80,000-square-foot 5th avenue store was our main accomplishment on Saturday.  i was beyond determined to get a new down vest.  full disclosure: i bought 2.  minimalism fail. 

then we almost missed the train because of traffic and my laid-back, L.A.-infused planning and dawdling sidekick.  how bad was it?  we wanted to take the 14.55 (2.55pm) train but at 14.45 were still in a cab about 2 blocks from Penn Station.  we paid and leapt out, racing down the escalator.  my mom stood with the luggage while i checked the departures board.  our train was on the track closest to us.  see?  new york really is magical at Christmas.

after driving so much it was a pleasant change to walk a lot in NYC.  another highlight was using the subway.  or is it the metro?  because while it’s called “subway” the pass is a “metrocard.”  this has been the case for ages but still annoys me.  i’m no branding expert but methinks a solution exists.  anyway, this 1970s sesame street classic always runs through my mind when i’m riding the subway.  i'm amazed that, with the except of tokens (R.I.P.), the lyrics are still on point today.  

It's a Sesame Street song about riding on the subway, sung mostly by a group of unnamed Anything Muppets, though Bert, Kermit the Frog and Betty Lou also make appearances. Jim Henson's Sesame Street Muppets: Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Marilyn Sokol, Fran Brill and Jim Henson.