Archives for category: restaurant

IMG_0880“I just want to tell you,” the man in the dress shirt and necktie said, “I love what you’re doing. You’re bringing back the 1980s. Back then, everyone here was completely naked.” The smile on his face was warm and genuine, though it was hard to imagine the fond memory he was describing was accurate. People went completely naked on the piers at the Hudson River? Well, they hadn’t been developed yet; they were just rotting spurs of wood sticking out into the water; so, maybe. And yet…really?

“Yes,” he said. “You’d come here and everyone would be naked. It was free and wonderful.”

Free and wonderful: two words we could relate to, even if we still had our bottoms on. The wonderful part, especially, since it’s a wonder that in the middle of October it was still warm enough to go bare outdoors. Later, when the sun had set, we went online to search, and sure enough found this:

slide_218857_843458_freeThe Hudson Piers were once home to a flourishing gay and lesbian scene, which included nude sunbathing, until gentrification arrived and chased the sunbathers away.  Needless to say, we’re proud to be doing our part to bring it back, even if we’re only taking baby steps by comparison.

IMG_0827IMG_0814IMG_0824These days, the piers have been developed, with artful, asymmetrical grass swards and metal sculptures dotting the grounds, and the sun worshipers lounging about look like this–

IMG_0568IMG_0714But the day we came, they also looked like this:

IMG_0618IMG_0677IMG_0664And we saw the gentleman’s handstand and raised it three cartwheels.

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We certainly felt free there — no one bothered us or complained, or even gave us a dirty stare. In fact, when we saw a bare-chested man enjoying a beer at the outdoor bar at the end of the pier, we figured we’d be welcome that way too — and we were.

IMG_1023IMG_1065IMG_1077New York may not be everything it was 30 or 40  years ago, but in at least one respect it’s been freer and more wonderful since 1992, the year a state court established that it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere men can. Back in the day, maybe people went naked, but they were all breaking the law by doing so. Today, we can do what we do in total comfort and confidence.

IMG_0951IMG_0857IMG_0763Of course, the balmy temperatures won’t be around for much longer — already it’s turned colder.

But the flame of freedom? That burns all winter long.

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IMG_4327The third part of our day in the sun — exploring lower Manhattan with Chelsea Covington, blogger supreme  and hero of the Maryland equal-rights case — didn’t actually involve much sun. Or it did at the start, but less and less as time wore on. Because having begun the afternoon in a downtown park…

IMG_3987IMG_3822fAnd continued it with a walk through the esplanades and alleyways of the city’s southern tip…

IMG_4181IMG_4135IMG_4112…we eventually washed up on the pilings of the Brooklyn Bridge and found ourselves welcomed indoors for dinner by the wonderful staff of the Cowgirl Seahorse restaurant.

IMG_4195Had the restaurant ever hosted a dozen topless diners before? Not likely. But they didn’t bat an eyelash when we contacted them in advance and asked if it would be okay for us to end our day there. In fact, they enthusiastically invited us. And god bless them, they didn’t bat an eyelash when they saw us either, neither the female nor the male waitstaff, and impressively, not the other customers either! No one asked what we were doing or why we were doing it, no one gawked or took photos, no one looked disgusted or appalled (or, what might have been worse, turned on). Everyone just went on smiling and chatting and eating like it was the most normal thing in the world to dine shirtless on a hot summer day.

IMG_4200IMG_4264We dived into the restaurant’s neo-Southern menu…

IMG_4203…trying their shrimp and grits, their catch of the day, their bacon-wrapped scallops, their Paul Bunyan-sized salads.

IMG_4527IMG_4461IMG_3014Each dish tastier than the last, although the hot sauce was merciless and Robert Shaw kept staring down at us from the wall.

IMG_4198The rest of the decor was charming in the extreme, right down to the cutely labeled conveniences.

IMG_4381We sadly didn’t get a photo of the little plastic mermaids perched on the edges of the beer glasses. Those were cute too. (Though they weren’t topless! #FreeTheMermaidNipple) But we did get photos that we hope convey just how casual, natural, and wonderful the night was.

IMG_4222IMG_4199IMG_4277Finally, when weariness caught up with us…

IMG_4543…we bid the place adieu and hit the sidewalk to wait for Lyfts or find the nearest train station. The no-longer-sun-baked air was bracing. If anything could’ve told us our adventure had come to an end, that was it.

IMG_4544IMG_4547But what an adventure it had been! Hours of relaxation, a meal with friends, and no problems at all due to our chests being uncovered. It’s a model for how things should be: live and let live.

Which calls to mind a Cole Porter lyric, and maybe that’s as good a last word to end on as any:

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Sing and let sing, dance and let dance
You like Offenbach, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Read and let read, write and let write
Love and let love, bite and let bite
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Drink and let drink, eat and let eat
You like bouillabaisse, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Talk and let talk, quip and let quip
Dress and let dress, strip and let strip
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

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IMG_6092What are the French known for? Yes, existentialist philosophy and admiration of Jerry Lewis, but those aren’t the things we’re thinking of. Fine food, that’s one; fine wine; and a liberal attitude toward nudity.

We’re happy to report we got to enjoy all three this week at the venerable Les Halles restaurant down on John Street.

IMG_6105IMG_6067IMG_6023Just a stone’s throw from the World Trade Center but tucked away discreetly, they’ll serve you the classics — escargot, soupe a l’oignon, vin rouge, creme brulee — and if you ask to be seated in the tiny private room in the back, they might even let you enjoy it in the altogether.

IMG_6118Now, it’s still fitfully winter outside (it snowed again this morning), so in deference to the temperatures (and the furniture), we kept our bottoms on, along with the occasional sweater or scarf.

IMG_6054IMG_6097But our indefatigable waitress made it clear she wouldn’t have been offended if we’d stripped off the rest. And you know what? French food works better when you eat it with a roomful of naked friends. (What food doesn’t? Okay, fondue. But that’s about it.)

IMG_6041Several bottles of wine made a fine foundation for some intense conversations–

IMG_6093–and much kvelling over flavors.

IMG_6058Want to join us for a decadent, delicious, liberating naked dinner sometime? Or maybe, when it warms up properly, a topless dejeuner sur l’herbe in the park? Drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Women of every description welcome — just bring an adventurous appetite.

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IMG_4647We rarely stump for individual books, but there’s a speculative fiction anthology in the works called PROBLEM DAUGHTERS that we’re very excited about, not only because it promises to collect fiction and poetry from female authors writing on the theme of intersectional feminism, and not just because the title is so great, but because one of the book’s editors, Nicolette Barischoff, is a member of our group!

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IMG_9168You’ve seen Nicci at any number of our events; even though she lives in California, she makes her way to NYC as often as she can. And this latest project of hers promises to bring her east several more times this year. So: yay. Plus we’ll all have good reading material to dive into as soon as advance copies get printed.

IMG_9626But before any of that can happen, the project (which is up on IndieGoGo) could use a bit more funding — not a ton, but some, and if you’re inclined to help out, we know Nicci would be thrilled. You can find more info at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/problem-daughters-fantasy-feminism#/. Check it out soon — the campaign ends Valentine’s Day.nicci-4nicci-5

IMG_6991How do you follow an hour of play in the grown-up version of a kids’ ball pit? Dinner, of course, at an open-air French bistro, whose owners, being French, don’t see anything wrong with a dozen women dining topless in their establishment. Is it unusual? Bien sur! But is it shocking? Mais non. Should it be prohibited? Pourquoi? Let the wine flow, the foie gras and tartare get plated, and the shirts come off. Liberté, egalité, sororité!

IMG_6824IMG_6849IMG_6874We were joined by two surprise guests, the extraordinary art photographer Gunter Knop, whose female nudes are legendary…

IMG_6896…and this fellow, all 6’4″ of him, who must’ve come only to drink since he arrived with a box of 7-Eleven pizza in hand, and who joined us in toplessness and earnest philosophical discussion.

IMG_7055IMG_7075IMG_7023There were some onlookers from outside, peering in with curiosity (and iPhones — damn you, Steve Jobs!). There was a school group, and we’re told that we inspired a few dozen teenage double-takes.

IMG_6928IMG_6910But mostly the night passed without event. The food was delicious. The company even more so.

IMG_6977We rarely go out after the sun goes down, but when we do, we do it right. And with nights getting longer, you can expect to see us doing more of it in the coming months.

We’re delighted to have discovered Parigot, and will return there with pleasure.

We recommend the scallops.

IMG_6972IMG_6885IMG_6911And the creme brulee. 🙂

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IMG_9691It hit 82 degrees in New York City this Monday, and while we’ll get blasé about such things eventually, memories of the long, cold winter still haunt us, and we welcomed the sun like starved things grateful for a crumb.

So out we went, to one of Central Park’s most scenic and private nooks, to enjoy our afternoon.

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Did the lawn around us really need the amount of care the two city employees tasked with mowing it seemed determined to give it? We don’t know. But my goodness, that grass got a thorough mowing, lasting from 1pm to somewhere near 4. At one point, they were reduced to mowing the rocks.

The lawnmower men aside, we spent a joyful afternoon unmolested by any human (an adorable troupe of tiny dogs descended upon us at one point, but we welcomed their company — and took the opportunity to educate their walker, a woman who seemed surprised to learn that it’s legal in New York for her to go topless anywhere a man can).

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For reading material we had new offerings from our friends at Hard Case Crime (including a new Lawrence Block book — he was the author we read at our very first event back in 2011!), Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and (for those with less sophisticated tastes, clearly) Tender Is the Night.

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And when the afternoon waned, did we pack up and go home? No! We walked a dozen blocks downtown and moved the festivities indoors, at a neighborhood cafe that kindly let us take over their wood-paneled, fireplace-featuring downstairs cocktail lounge.

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Not the best lighting conditions for photography, but perfect for other pleasures, and pleasures were there many. Including beverages courtesy of a good-humored mixologist who took our presence in stride.

God bless New York bartenders. Nothing fazes ’em.

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IMG_9306Thanksgiving is about family, not just genetic but spiritual. Kurt Vonnegut called the people who don’t happen to be related to you but who belong together with you in some more meaningful and fundamental sense your “karass.”

Well, we spent the day before Thanksgiving celebrating the holiday with our karass, the group of smart, confident, body-positive women (and two or three supportive men) who populate New York’s most unusual book club. There were books on hand, ranging from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin to Stop This Man! by Peter Rabe, but we didn’t get much reading done, not when there was wine to drink and truffle-laced pizza to nibble and chocolate fondue to finish things off; not when there were old friends and new to catch up with, some having come from as far away as Texas and California to be with us; not when there was the joy of lounging about in the warm environment provided by Ayza down on Carmine Street, while outside the giant plate-glass windows freezing sleet was coming down hard. (Ah, the looks we got from some of the startled passers-by! What must they have thought? An oasis in the desert couldn’t look more mirage-like than we must have on this cold, cold, wet day.)

It is a wonderful feeling to share the holiday with people you care about. Getting to share it naked in the heart of Manhattan makes it even better. We wish all of you could have the same opportunity, wherever you might be — if not this time around, then sometime in the not-too-distant future.

And to all the members of our karass, in diaspora around the world, we wish a very happy holiday season. Remember, if you ever find yourself in NYC, you’ve got friends who’d love to meet you.

(How? Simple. Just drop a note to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.)

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