Archives for category: 2013

IMG_2473In the spirit of revisiting all our old haunts, we took another trip to the High Line, Manhattan’s newest park, built on an old elevated freight train track near the Hudson River, in the Meatpacking District. It was crowded as heck, this being the Friday before Labor Day weekend: meatpacking indeed. We hadn’t been here since a rainy day back in 2011, when we were practically the only ones in sight. That was fun, too, but this was better.


Out and about, mixing and mingling, and nary a hostile nor a creepy stare to be found. What a day! Not only did we get popsicles, but the guy running the popsicle stand knew all about us, was a follower of this very blog. (Hi!)


Before heading up to the High Line we gathered at a more terrestrial haunt, the adorable and minute 14th Street Park, which consists of a single grassy mound surrounded by meticulously maintained foosball tables and folding chairs.  Just across the avenue from Chelsea Market, which tempted us to sin with its freshly made miniature doughnuts and red-velvet whoopie pies. Damn it, Chelsea Market, it’s like you want us to wind up in photos with our mouths full and our fingers covered with delicious, delicious cream!


If summer has to exit, this is the way for it to go: sparkling and glorious, sensual and rich, with friendship for all and sweet tastes on the tongue. And instruction for the next generation.


“Mommy, why are they naked?” this little girl asked. “Why don’t you ask them?” the very sensible mother replied. The girl came over, not shy at all. “Why are you naked?” “Because it feels nice,” we explained, and she nodded: made sense to her.

When she’s our age, may she feel comfortable in her body and live in a city that encourages her to.

Happy Summer 2013, everyone.


IMG_2141Yesterday was the sixth annual “International Go Topless Day,” celebrated around the world, both in cities where female toplessness is legal (like New York) and ones where it is not yet legal, making the celebrations there more of a protest. It’s an event we support, though we don’t have the same enthusiasm for the group that started it (it’s a weird quasi-religious outfit whose beliefs involve UFOs and extraterrestrials) and though the official event in New York is often overrun by pervy guys and aggressive reporters covering the event in the laziest and most cynical ways possible. But for all its flaws, it’s fundamentally a good thing: a time when women get together and demonstrate that equality is important and that toplessness is equally reasonable for both genders.

And now that the day has passed, we’re going to go back to doing what we do, quietly and in a relaxed, natural fashion, all summer long (and spring and fall, too, weather permitting). Because in the world we choose to live in, every day is Go Topless Day.


IMG_2239In our last post, we alluded to the fact that some of the people who enthusiastically gathered around us in Washington Square Park were a little too enthusiastic. Overall our experience in the park was joyful and wonderful…in particular for the first hour and the last hour we were pretty much left alone and not bothered by anyone…but it was marred at the midpoint by some unfortunate behavior on the part of a handful of guys who didn’t seem to care how uncomfortable they made us if it meant getting close to a topless girl. Afterwards, one of our members asked if she could write a few words about how she feels on this subject and share them here. Of course we said yes.  The floor is hers:

* * *

We meet for fun, mostly. We don’t like tan lines or being too hot on a summer day, enviously eyeing cool and carefree topless men. We do like books, bodies of all shapes and sizes, and hanging out. When people ask what we’re doing and why, we typically answer in these pretty simple terms: it’s fun, y’all.

And it should be fun.  Law—and increasingly, popular opinion—support the idea that the female body is not particularly more obscene than its male counterpart, and our group rarely meets with negative attention (occasional stink-eye aside).  An excellent and fantastically photogenic case in point:


People of both genders are often pleased to see us, and for every stink-eye there are at least two people (especially old ladies walking their dogs!) who voice support and excitement.

But for every two of those there’s someone—guys, sorry, but I mean a someone of the male gender—whose support is maybe just a little too enthusiastic.

Men who sit just a little too close.  Men who lurk in nearby bushes (that has to be uncomfortable, dude). Men who snap incessant pictures even when asked to stop.  Men who approach to say “Any chance of a date?”—that’s verbatim, by the way.

Honestly? It’s guys like this that make me (personally, mind—I speak for no one else) want to go topless in public.  Because it does make me uncomfortable and sometimes angry. And I don’t think that’s right. Like most women, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to catcalls; it takes a special something extra to make my skin crawl.

I know the reason most women would never feel comfortable taking their top off in the park—and, sadly, the reason many women don’t even feel comfortable walking down the street in something revealing as a tank top—are these men with that special something extra, which, I assume, is something somewhere between ignorance and misogyny.

I don’t want that type of man to be in control of what I do.

So we don’t let this type of harassment ruin our day.  We have our supporters, each other, books and sunshine to counteract it, so, hey, creepy guy, fuck off—we’re just here having fun.

* * *

So…what’s “too enthusiastic”?  Too enthusiastic is doing shit you’d never in a million years do if we had shirts on, and that you would never in a billion years do to a guy you don’t know, whether or not he had his shirt off.  It’s stuff that violates the universally comprehended rules of common courtesy and personal space. Yes, we’re out in public, and yes, we’re doing something you don’t see every day, so sure, you might feel like snapping a picture to remember it by or to show your friends. That’s fine. You can be friendly, like this guy…

IMG_2131…polite, respectful, and after a brief hello, gone.

Just don’t be a creep. It’s really not that hard.

IMG_2109We’ve been to Washington Square Park before—but not since the very first time we met, back in the summer of 2011. It was high time for another visit.

So off we went, a small band that included one current NYU student and one alum (for extra neighborhood cred), meeting up by the famous arch and baking a while on the grass before heading into the fountain for a cooling-off dip.

IMG_2175IMG_2024IMG_2027IMG_2274Has there ever been a more wonderful sensation than cool water on sun-warmed skin? It was blissful. And we’re happy to report that none of the Village denizens complained about the topless women frolicking in their midst.  (Though a few were a bit overenthusiastic, as a few always are; but that’s a topic for another post.)


The Dixieland band that was playing in the park that day, led by a topless (male) tuba player, came over to serenade us with a tuba rendition of “My Heart Will Go On,” leading us to take a stab at imitating the famous Leo/Kate prow-of-the-boat pose…


…and then someone handed us a pair of maracas, so we could play along.


Later, we got the most delicious gelato I have ever tasted, from Mario Battali’s “GelOtto” cart, and listed to visiting Australian balladeer Lachlan Cross, who was in New York on his way to Burning Man.


All in all, one of the finest summer afternoons any girl has ever had. It’s on days like this that you wish summer could go on forever…


If you don’t see any images on our blog, you can thank Reddit.

Yesterday, following a post about us on Reddit, more than 100,000 people visited our site, by far the most we’ve ever had in one 24-hour period, and this flood of traffic somehow broke something. Don’t know what. We’ve contacted WordPress to see what we need to do to fix it, but in the meantime, people viewing the site using Chrome as their browser don’t seem to see any of the pictures.  (People using Firefox do.  God only knows why.)

We don’t object to a big spike in traffic, of course; we’re delighted if more people know about us. So in the long run this is a good thing. But in the short run…our apologies.

Hopefully everything will be back to normal soon.

ETA: Everything seems to be back to normal! If you spot any problems, please let us know. Meanwhile, to celebrate the blog’s return, here’s a photo from an adventure we had this week, in Washington Square Park.


IMG_1742So the weather this weekend wasn’t what you’d call great sunbathing weather. It was 70 degrees rather than 80 or 90 and a little breezy and overcast, and once or twice it threatened to rain. But we didn’t let that dampen our enthusiasm for meeting on our favorite hotel rooftop and doing the full-on brunch thing, with mimosas and mini-muffins and a decadent chocolate brioche concoction and, best of all, a selection of fresh tarts from the Sullivan Street Bakery.  Raspberry… peach/almond… plum with ginger… I’m beginning to salivate all over again just typing those words. We do love us some tarts.

And books, of course. And return visits from some of our favorite people, newly back from global travels with exciting stories of their adventures. And first-time visits from some new members who’d been eager to join us for months but had been waiting for a weekend event to do so. We even had two boys in the mix, for gender diversity. It all felt so civilized and cosmopolitan and fun! Why can’t every brunch be a naked afternoon with the smartest, coolest, best-read people you know?


AS_2192Earlier this summer, we ran a post called “Dutch Treat,” about how the great crime novelist Elmore Leonard, author of GET SHORTY and FREAKY DEAKY and GOLD COAST and RUM PUNCH and so many others, found out about us and shipped us a set of his books so we’d have some great pulp fiction to appreciate all summer long.  Little did we know, we wouldn’t have Elmore Leonard with us all summer long.

The man was 87, a good age for anyone to reach. But that doesn’t make his death earlier today less shocking.  His books are so full of life.  And so was he, right up to the end.

We described him in our earlier post as a living legend.

He’s still a legend.





IMG_1589What is it about Brazil? We’ve had visitors to New York ask to join us from time to time while they’re in town, it’s not that unusual. But this summer we’ve been flooded with requests from Brazilians, working or vacationing in New York and eager to try sunbathing topless. Why so many? Part of it may be that in Brazil female toplessness is forbidden—and no, I wouldn’t have guessed that either.  You can’t go topless on the beaches of Rio, where bikini bottoms famously cover only millimeters of skin? Yes.  Turns out, you can wear dental floss below the waist, but reveal a nipple and you’ll get fined, harassed by police, and worse. So Brazilian women need to come to New York to bare their breasts. It’s a strange world.

But we’re proud to have them. This past week, when our destination was Bryant Park, we had two join us. And though they started the afternoon sitting a little apart from the rest of the group and nervously keeping their tops on, at some point they took the plunge. And after that… Let’s just say we’ve never seen smiles so joyful and blissful. (There were some other indications they might have been having a good time as well, as perhaps you can tell.)

So: welcome, women of Brazil. Make New York your second home—your freer one.


octpfas_081513-9475We reported the other day on our trip to the New York Public Library; the same day, we also stopped by Bryant Park, which lies right in the library’s shadow. Once a crime-ridden pit, where the only grass you’d see was the sort you could take home in a little bag, Bryant Park is now a marvelous urban oasis, full of nice places to sit and good things to eat and fun things to do. The day we came, there was a Broadway concert going on, meaning we got to listen to ABBA’s greatest hits while watching people dance onstage and in the audience. There was some hula-hooping as well. In this environment, we barely stood out at all.


Of course, we didn’t go entirely unnoticed: Bryant Park is basically one big open lawn, and when people did notice us, they sometimes did more than just take notice: they took pictures too.  Fair enough, we’re out in public.  But that means it’s fair game for us to take pictures of them, too.  So, for your viewing pleasure: a gallery of the men of Bryant Park, or at least the subset whose motto is “Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”


octpfas_081513-9601The New York Public Library is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Not just architecturally, though it certainly is that, but conceptually. A free space where any woman or man can come to partake of the accumulated record of human thought.  For readers, for thinkers, it is a holy space, more so than any church.

Where better to celebrate our passion for reading, for freedom, and for equality?

Now you might ask, was the crowd that gathered interested in reading and freedom and equality? Was that the spark we saw in their eyes as they marveled at the view behind us?

We’re going to say yes. Fuck it. Call us Pangloss, but we choose to believe we live in the best of all possible worlds, where a crowd can be galvanized at a moment’s notice by a hunger for knowledge and an appreciation for a well-turned serif.

IMG_1606IMG_1607octpfas_081513-9618IMG_1598IMG_1618We also had a lovely time in Bryant Park right behind the library, but that’s the stuff of another post entirely. We’ll just leave you with a taste…