I´ll be in New York next March
Hello, I´ll be in New York next March, I would like to ask someone who has recently visited NY about which is the best church to visit in Harlem and at what time is the gospel service.?
Another question, Here in Argentina electric machines, like cameras work with 220v, should I buy a electric converter to 110v if I go to a Hotel? Thanks Alejandra
New York in nice weather
There is an incredible thing that happens when the weather reaches above 65 degrees in New York City. Everyone comes outside, and it actually feels nice. After months of being in the city and freezing and before summer when it's baking hot and there is heat radiating off of the pavement, spring pops up and everyone falls in love with the city. You can peruse the multitude of art, photographs and jewelry sold on what seems like every street corner. And you can enjoy coffee or a meal outside on the sidewalk (though you may have to wait for your table!). There is a joyful and community spirit, for the most part, in many parts of the city, particularly in SoHo.
Wandering the streets and having lunch at a little cafe in SoHo, I knew that I definitely wasn't the most fashionable. The tight jeans, funky glasses and vintage patterns of hipsters make it obvious, but it's still a happy feeling place on a Sunday when the sun is shining and there's a light breeze blowing. New York can often feel oppressive or too crowded (is that just me?) but on a spring day, it feels very nearly perfect!
So, if you can, definitely try and visit New York City in the spring. There's no real time to beat the crowds, but you might as well go when the weather is nice. I would definitely recommend it! If you can have a weekend like mine, you’ll be beyond in love with New York (so long as you bring earplugs!).
TopShop USA. Not great.
I was beyond excited to step foot in a TopShop again; I hadn't been there since I left England in 2007. The flagship shop in the US is in SoHo. It's over three floors, and yet, I was completely disappointed. From what I remember from the shops in London and throughout England, the shops have a variety of clothing from teen/young adult to more work-type clothes (jackets, nice trousers, etc.). This shop featured neon colors, fringe, lace leggings, sequined mini-skirts and other overwhelmingly trendy items. While TopShop has always been a trendy place, this was too much. It was too trendy. There were some sections of classic basics or actually wearable fashion, but not many. I didn't know if it was because I was a bit older than I was when I was living in England, or what, but it just felt like too much. It almost seemed like the store was trying too hard.
The Kate Moss section on the second level is the nicest part, but most of the clothing is priced over $100.
The store was crowded and it felt a bit like a more expensive Forever21. I was sadly disappointed, and I don't think that I'll be back anytime soon. I wonder if anyone else has had that experience with the shop, or if I really am just getting too old for stores like TopShop! Or perhaps I'm just not trendy enough!
The store does fit the style and feel of SoHo in a way. SoHo is a trendy and arty neighborhood, and considering the crowds of shoppers there and the outfits worn by people in the area, the clothes are right on track for working on fitting the look of the SoHo scene.
Broadway and West Broadway are not the same thing
As someone who lived in England for awhile, I am enamored with all things British. So the arrival of TopShop in New York City was a big deal for me. It had a delayed opening for awhile, and then finally, within that past month or so, it opened. But I still hadn't gone. So today was the day that I was going to go. I looked it up and discovered it was on Broadway and Broome in SoHo. I planned out my route; if you take the 1 all the way down to Canal Street, it's only about 6 blocks away.
I made it to Canal Street and came out of the subway to an oddly unpopulated street. As noted in my last post, there is constantly noise and bustle, so to see a street with barely any other pedestrians was a bit strange. I had no clue where to go, but I had my handy little guidebook. I oriented myself and was striding confidently towards TopShop, or so I thought.
I arrived at the corner of Broome and Broadway, and I was sure that TopShop would be easy to spot. I saw a Tommy Hilfiger, a couple of restaurants, and that was it. I walked up and down the block on all sides, and my frustration grew quickly. It was compounded when I called the Sprint operator to get the exact address of the shop. They said there was no TopShop in Manhattan. Since I knew that was blatantly untrue, all I could do was voice my frustration to the poor operator (sorry, ma'am, but there is a TopShop in Manhattan. If you're going to charge me $2.00 per information call, please know your information!)
My friend called me; she'd given me 30 minutes of extra time in the shop before she was to come and meet me for lunch. She was there, and yet I was still wandering up and down Broome Street! Since she was literally in the shop, I knew that it had to be a real place and I swallowed my pride and asked at a restaurant. It turned out that I was on West Broadway instead of Broadway. I was about 4 blocks away from where I wanted to be. It was a lesson in attention to detail and patience for sure.
Harlem at Night
My friend lives on 137th Street in Harlem. We came back to her apartment at around 10:00pm, and all of the restaurants, stores, bodegas, and markets seemed up and running. There is a woman by the subway station who seems to continually be selling tamales, no matter what time of the day or night.
She lives off the beaten track as far as tourists go, but there is still a definitely noticeable level of street noise. It doesn't seem to matter where you go in New York, it seems like there is always someone else there and there is always noise, whether it's cars, trains, planes, people, dogs, etc. There is always something bustling and something happening. It doesn't necessarily make for a restful night. I assume that when you live in a city like New York, you become immune to the sounds of sirens and cars around the clock, but it doesn't make for a restful night for those of us who are light sleepers. I guess there's a reason that it's called the city that never sleeps. But be prepared with some earplugs, so that you can get some sleep when you need it!
Dinner, at last!
After 5 calls with no answer, I started wandering in and out of the little shops around 112th and Broadway. There are some cute ones! There's a little card/jewelry boutique store and a cozy bookstore. I also popped my head into a couple of restaurants to see if she was there, making a couple of maitre'd's a bit nervous.
Finally, and somewhat serendiptiously, I ran into my friend on the street. She wanted us to go to the Havana Central West End, a restaurant neither of us had tried before, but one she'd heard had a good reputation. We ordered drinks at the bar while we waited for a table. The wait was about 20 minutes, but it was worth it; we had a table outside on the sidewalk under the awning. It was a little bit crowded though; rule of thumb, if someone is trying to get behind you to their table, do the nice thing and scoot your chair in. The woman I tried to get past just looked at me impassively as I struggled to get through the 3 inch gap she'd left between her chair and the table behind her. It was only after I'd reached my seat that she did a cursory 1/2 inch scoot closer to her table.
After finally getting settled, we perused the menu. The dinners were decently priced, particularly for NYC. Many of the entrees and sandwiches were only $9.00 or $10.00. The food was Cuban-inspired, but there was a decent variety.
In a fit of indulgence, I ordered lobster-stuffed avocado - a mound of lobster meat in a half of an avocado with fried plaintains on the side. It was delicious! I was extraordinarily pleased. My friend, however, was not at all happy with her arroz con pollo. She complained that it tasted like it had come from a bag; it wasn't flavorful or impressive.
I had some guilt for enjoying my dish so well. She was clearly unhappy and barely ate her dinner. And then our waiter, German (yes that's his name), was a bit of a dud. We asked him several times if he could split the bill by what we ate; I had a more expensive dish and a more expensive drink, and we've both agreed before that it's only fair to split checks based on what you actually consumed as compared to simply splitting the check in half. He assured us that he could do so, and then when the bill arrived, he hadn't done anything close to what we'd asked of him. Also, when she complained about her food, he suggested adding more salt. That didn't really seem like the professional response, or at least it wasn't the response she wanted. So...it's hard to know if the restaurant is a good one to recommend. I really enjoyed my meal, but our waiter was definitely subpar (he spilled water on my foot at one point). Though it may have been his first day...I'm always torn...and so I left him my normal tip of 20%.
So we left with her feeling annoyed and still hungry, while I was feeling nice and full and somewhat guilty because of it.
The Plaza - Classic New York Hotels
If you think about a classic hotel with all of the distinction that should lie in a big city - think no further then The Plaza. The Plaza's history dates back to 1907 when the doors first open to the general public. From what I've read, at that time a room only cost $2.50. Man- I would love to stay here for $2.50!!! Today, unfortunately -that same 1 night would cost you $3750.00!! The Plaza Hotel is not listed as 1 of 2 (The other being The Waldorf Astoria) hotels in New York listed under National Registrar of Historic Places.
Over the past 100 years the hotel has changed ownership several times, being owned by Conrad Hotels, Trump, and several other leaders bringing it to where it is today with El Ad.
Once El Ad took over they, unfortunately, shut down the historic Plaza to convert several of the guest rooms into condominiums. The hotel has since reopened and is being managed by Fairmont. When the hotel converted from a hotel to hotel/condo - there was alot of uproar about the change to it's icon status.
The main reason I wanted to review The Plaza is that it is a true New York land mark and site to see. I love walking up and down 5th avenue's oppulent shops - and right after I pass the great stores you only hear about in magazines - Louis Voittons, Tiffany's, Dolce and Gabbana, and the list goes on - I'm greeted with the site of The Plaza standing tall right across from Central Park.
A real treat about the plaza is their well known afternoon tea services. For visitors from Europe - and particularly london - maybe they're missing out on this afternoon feast during their trip to New York. I'm sure that a visit to The Plaza's afternoon tea would be more then enough to blow anyones mind. Held at the famous palm court - the tea room is actually currently under some construction and will be re-opened in 2009. Located on the lobby level - it's something to see.
I always recommend to tourists or even locals - to forget the big touristy attractions - and see the things that really matter .The Plaza is a free attraction that really matters.
Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.
Well - if you're in New York you'll find Serendipity3 and feel fortunate...even if you are in the area looking for something else completly.
Have you ever seen that extremly cheesy movie featuring John Cusak and Kate Beckinsale? Well the movie does take place partially in Serendipity3 but I promise you that Serendipty3 doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth like the movie does.
Some people think Serendipity is a litte overhyped or nothing too special. I beg to differ and here's why. The store is known famously for Frozzzzen Hot Chocolates - which in itself is an amazingly delicious treat. I crave these and wish more stores made them. It is basically a decident chocolate smoothy with lots of whip cream. The price is write on each of these - as I think they fall under the $10 mark each. The Hot Chocolate can definitly be shared with a friend of significant other. You each do NOT need to order one.
So you're not a big chocolate fan or you want to order something else with the Hot Chocolate.... they have several othet different dessert options. Last time I visited we got a Strawberry Shortcake mixture which incorporate chuncks of shortcake, fresh strawberries, and lots of ice cream plus whip cream. Again, the price was right and I felt like I was really treating myself without breaking the bank.
Beware... Serendipy3 is known the get extremly crowded. Try to go at some awkward time like at 12:30 at night to avoid waiting. The store is open until 1AM on the weekends making it a great way to cap off a late night.
Serendipity3 isn't just loved by New Yorkers and toursits - it is also LOVED be celebrities. I visited last on February 13th, the night before Valentine's Day and apparently just missed Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo. The day after, the website says Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian were visiting. There is a long list of celebrities who feature this haunt because, as I mentioned earlier - the Frozzzen Hot Chocolate is addicting.
The restaurant also serves regular lunch and dinner items that I haven't tried as of yet - but I recognize this isn't the main attraction here. I'm sure if you wanted to make a meal out of it, you could! I'd just rather same the room for dessert.
Don't miss this place - it's a great way to end your night and have a little serendipitous moment!
Times Square – All that is New York tourism = crowds!
I understand if you have never been to New York before there is a real draw to checking out the famous Times Square. I had the pleasure of working in the Marriott by Times Square for one summer and frankly, I’d be ok with never stepping foot in this area again. There are crowds of people all confused about exactly where they are going. On top of this there are several stores with bright lights – but in all honesty, you can see any of these stores (CD stores, Toys R Us, Hershey’s, etc..) anywhere else in the country. These stores aren’t really a draw, so I always wonder – what exactly IS the draw?
Off of Time Square there are several of the main Broadway theatres. This may be the one thing that brings me back to the area. Do not be tricked into thinking – “Hey, I’m going to see a Broadway play tonight – so let’s get some dinner in Times Square!”. The only restaurants in this area are an Olive Garden, Bubba Gumps, Sbarro’s, T.G.I Friday’s, several other chains, and a few other glitzy places that boast a high price and no real quality in what they’re serving. Do yourself a favor and wonder AWAY from this area and I assure you – the more off beaten you travel, the better the price and quality you will most likely receive. No real local New Yorker would recommend you eat at Sbarro (as joked about in “The Office”) If you notice that the Times Square location is busy – it is most likely from tourists who are confused about where to find a local slice.
When I was working in this neighborhood a day wouldn’t go by where someone wouldn’t jump into my face on my way to work attempting to sell me something – typically comedy theatre tickets. Unless it is the $5 “I Love New York” shirt that you are after, I wouldn’t recommend making purchases from these vendors. Most of these vendors also understand you are a tourist if you are in this area – as locals try to stay away from this crowded mess. The vendors are looking to make a commission on whatever it is they are selling – tickets, shirts, caps, and all the other stuff that you normally wouldn’t buy.
Teenagers love the appeal of checking out MTV as their studio is located right in this area. The most they will see when visiting is the glass window, once iconic on Total Request Live and the MTV store located on the street level. Prepare for a letdown – as there is nothing neither impressive nor amazing about checking out this site.
If you are short on time during your visit to New York – I’d say skip Times Square. You’ll be avoiding a few hours of crowds, pushing, and shoving. There may be several things around the area that are impressive such as the theatres, Madam Toussaud’s, and the famous 5th Avenue – but you’ll be saving yourself time and money by avoiding this tourist trap.
Comedy Cellar is where the true fun is at!
I have to say out of all of my experiences going to different comedy clubs one place sticks out in my mind. New York has several different comedy clubs for people looking for all sorts of things. Several people stick to Caroline’s in Time Square and many younger people flee to Dangerfield’s. There’s enough comedy clubs in New York to fill a page.
Yet, I remember the first time I was brought into comedy cellar clear as day. It was a few years ago and some of my friends had been drunkenly out and we ended up somewhere in this area with not much to do. Someone must have known this place was in the area, because if you don’t know about – it doesn’t have bright flashing lights telling you where it is. It is literally like a cellar. It does have a great deal being in the heart of the artsy village, but if you aren’t from this area – don’t expect it to come jumping out at you. You walk down a flight of stairs and you’re in a place that could probably only fit about 100 people. Wherever you sit you feel like the comedian can look at you and you could look right back at them.
You never know who you’re going to see at comedy cellar. Sometimes you might just get some drunken comedian who locks eyes with you and suddenly you become the pit of all the jokes. But that’s one of my favorite things about this place – you are part of the show. This comedy house is intimate and after you stumble in, you should plan on spending the rest of your night here because you won’t want to leave. Sure, my friend got called Harry Potter a couple of times – but if you don’t know how to laugh at yourself …. Well then you have a lot to learn!
My favorite experience at Comedy Cellar was a night in which Dave Attell (a regular here) had dropped by unannounced. He came in – looked directly at everyone and told us all some hilarious tales that we could all relate to. I’ll be honest and say I was never really a huge Dave Attell fan until this moment. He completely connected with the audience during his performance. The cellar enhances the experience by helping you out with serving drinks which only make you laugh even harder. The Comedy Cellar is so intimate that at the end of the night, after seeing Attell along with many others, when we left Dave Attell was just standing outside, smoking a cigarette and talking to anyone who came by. One of my friends spent a few minutes chatting it up with Dave Attell and I know that made my pals night.
If you’re on their website and not very impressed who is going to be performing that evening, ignore your instinct and realize you don’t know what will happen when you step into the cellar. Maybe it will be Seinfeld. Or…perhaps Dave Chappelle is going to stop in. There is a chance of none of the above, but wouldn’t it be great to leave New York telling your friends you paid $5.00 to see Seinfeld?
It Lives up to its Name – Grand!
Hear the rumbling sound beneath you? It's not an earthquake but the Grand Central Station. Built in 1913, Grand Central Terminal is the largest train station in the country. Like Times Square, thousands of people pass through its brass doors. Thankfully the building was saved from destruction and looks great with much restoration,
But this New York City landmark is filled with restaurants, shops and alleyways. It has a rich history and plenty of secrets besides just being a terminal of transportation.
One such mystery is the "Whispering Gallery" which a whisper will sound as a shout when two people speak to each other from opposite arches across the concourse. Speak if you must in the "Whispering Gallery" but make sure you do not want all of Grand Central Station to hear you.
Enter the Main Concourse descending the marble staircases with the gorgeous four faced brass clock on top of the information booth. Now notice the ceiling. It is covered in a mural of stars; however, those knowledgeable in astronomy will notice that the zodiac is depicted backwards. The artist, Paul Helleu did not make an error. The truth is he was inspired by a medieval manuscript that showed the heavens as they would have been seen from outside the celestial sphere.
If you are lucky to be in New York during holiday season, the ceiling becomes a holiday laser show playing non-stop every 15 minutes.
If you have a small group of friends or are looking for a place to kindle a romance, Bianca restaurant on Bleeker Street in Manhattan is dark, cozy, and full of life. It's exhilirating to sit in this tiny hole-in-the-wall packed with intellectuals, sophistoes, and creative types and get a taste of what maybe Elaine's was like in the 70's. And even though Bianca's is often crowded, the intimacy always remains. There are subtle decorations that look like they were taken from a quaint New England bed and breakfast. The waitresses have charming Italian accents and the food is simple but authentic. There's nothing too flashy about this place, so you feel comfortable and relaxed. The fish is always great, the wine is inexpensive but delicious, and the owner is usually there to greet you with a smile and take care of your every need. It's the kind of personal, face-to-face restaurant atmosphere that only a good Downtown restaurant can supply.
New York, New York
New York brands itself as the city so good they named it twice and I’d have to agree. I think New York is one of the best, most exciting and vibrant cities in the world! You need to like city living to enjoy it, but as long as you do you will have a ball.
There’s everything you could possibly want on your doorstep: the best plays on Broadway, the most amazing art galleries like the Gugenheim and the Met, fantastic shopping, interesting districts like SoHo, an amazing nightlife, international cuisine and great public transport to get you around. If you like cities, you must visit New York at least once in your life!
Glimmerglass Opera is a great summer camp for culture vultures in the
Middle of Nowhere, New York. All right, technically, it's in
Cooperstown (home to the Baseball Hall of Fame and a whole lot of
quaint) which isn't complete middle of nowhere. But if you're a city
native or otherwise urbanite in attitude, the Main Street (complete
with town hall), Farm Museum, and loads of trees and lake will make
you feel like you've stepped back into River City, Iowa, circa 1900
(see: "The Music Man").
If you're looking to get into opera, feel daunted by the Met or other
heavy hitters, or are uninitiated to a world full of bohemians,
geishas, men who sing like women and women who sing dressed as men,
Glimmerglass is a great bet. The ticket prices are mostly lower than
other companies; the house is smaller which means it has both a more
intimate setting and no bad seats; and the audience is generally a
fun-loving group who all come into town for a midsummer night's fling.
The house is beautiful to sit in; before the performances the side
walls are opened (protected by a screen) to let the breeze flow in and
out. The performances are (for the most part) designed by some of the
world's best creative teams, who often get to make some more daring
and fun choices with sets and costumes. The singers are all young
artists, mainly unknowns who have amazing voices and are wonderful
Four operas are performed each season between late June/early July and
mid-to-late August. Recently, they have been working with season
themes; the 2008 season will be Shakespeare (Kiss Me Kate, Das
Liebesverboten, I Capuletti e I Montecchi, and Giulio Cesare in
Egitto). This past season (2007) was centered around the Orpheus myth
(Orphee, Orfeo, Orpheus in the Underworld, and Orphee et Eurydice).
All of the singers this year were amazing and performed in beautiful
productions; a season that highlighted the usual Glimmerglass
tradition of one modern work, one baroque, one musical comedy, and one
grand opera. It's easy to find accommodations in or around Cooperstown
if you book ahead, and it's a great—relatively unknown—spot where you
can spend a long summer weekend.
The tradition of the tiny opera houses that seat more than the
population of the small Italian hilltowns they're built in is alive
and well and living in the Bowery. While the New York City Opera
season has wound down until the Fall and the Met is beginning to do
the same, the Amato still has one show left on its 2006-2007 schedule.
Falstaff, Verdi's comedy based on the Merry Wives of Windsor, runs
from May 26th to June 24th.
Formed by the Italian-American husband and wife team of Tony and Sally
Amato 59 years ago, the Amato is stuff of legend in New York with
stories of singers waiting in costume on the street to make their
stage entrances and of the cast and crew dining on Sally Amato's ziti
and meatballs post-performance. Props and sets are creaky, rickety,
and have been lovingly used and re-used. The singers, mostly young
up-and-comers, sing with a passion and a sense of fun that isn't out
of place in a school play. There's a real love for the music here that
is felt on all fronts. The performances have a similarly amateur vibe
to them, but you watch the performance with an excitement, a
connection to the company. The audience is just as cozy as the singers
onstage, reinforcing the feeling that you're with family as opposed to
professional opera singers. While Sally has since passed on, Tony is
still the executive director of a company that not only overcomes the
challenges of space, technology (no supertitles here), and funding, it
thrives off them. And once you walk into the theatre, the energy and
charm is as catchy as the tunes.
Another great Italian place in the Heights (that's Morningside, not
Washington) is Pisticci on 125 La Salle Street (corner of La Salle and
Claremont Avenue, a few blocks south of the 125th Street 1 station). I
know what you're thinking—there are probably enough Italian
restaurants in New York for every Connie Francis-listening,
Sopranos-quoting kid who grew up watching Moonstruck and dodging their
madre's wooden spoon. And a good percentage of them are all good. But
there's something very special about Pisticci that keeps me going back
there with friends for intimate weekend dinners (even though I've long
since moved out of Morningside Heights).
Pisticci's claim to fame is that it starts from scratch every day.
Their pastas are freshly hand-made each morning, once a week they get
olives and mozzarella di buffala flown in from Napoli, and their
desserts are done from scratch. The fun doesn't stop there, with
delicious salads (including one with stuffed figs that's out of this
world), drool-worthy mussels, amazing daily specials, and a wine list
to make even Bacchus beam. Naturally, with such a menu (and enough
word of mouth buzz to fill Madison Square Garden), seating here is
usually packed. Unlike other restaurants, however, the tight quarters
make you feel more of a regular, as one of the family, than as someone
who needs to eat up and get out for table turnover.
This is thanks to two parts: the restaurant's atmosphere and its
staff. The staff is mostly young, exuberant, and friendly. While there
may be a few shortcomings (especially during the really crowded
hours), they can't be faulted and will do everything in their power to
make you feel like you're at home. The décor helps exponentially in
this, with local artists getting exhibitions every three months and a
rustic ambiance that makes you feel like you're in a tiny grotto in an
Italian hilltown. During the warmer months, try to snag a table
outside. You'll still be able to enjoy the atmosphere (especially on
Sunday nights, which feature live jazz), and you'll also get to enjoy
one of the neglected areas of NYC.
You're likely to find some amazing Italian food in the right spots on
the Lower East Side--but where can those spots be? Start off at
Frankies Sputino, their 17 Clinton Street extension from what was
originally solely a Brooklyn affair. It's nestled on a block with not
a few Italian places worth checking out, but the dolce vita can be
guaranteed in this small and intimate joint with tin ceilings and
exposed brick. Grab a Peroni and mangia on a sweet sopresseta and
provolone panino, or their prosciutto and pecorino variety (although I
am a huge proponent of anything involving real pecorino). They have
some fun Italian American accents that wouldn't be out of place on the
set for Moonstruck, as well. Everyone swears by the cavatelli and the
pork briacole--and for $30 you can try both. Clinton near Stanton.
Indian Food in New York
Everyone says the best Indian places are the little holes-in-the-wall
that are on some backwards corner of Brooklyn or Jackson Heights.
While that's all well and good (and I can give you a list of those
places as well), my favorite Indian place--nay, Indian experience--is
at Haveli on East 9th Street. Deriving from the Indian term for
palace, Haveli is indeed a palatial spot in the East Village; a
two-tier restaurant filled with luxe golds, warm woods, and a
deliberately-cracked front window. Sit on the top tier if it's open
and get the royal treatment with keema naan, murga tikka muslam, daal,
and the free dessert ice cream the waiters will usually slide your way
with the check. Enjoy the papadoms as a starter with some Taj Mahal
lager, and let your cares drift away for an evening that rivals the
Darjeeling Limited (or any Merchant Ivory film for that matter) in
atmosphere. Tres fun on a Saturday night.
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
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NYC’s newest museum is a living memorial to the events that changed the city forever on September 11th, 2001. Paying full price at the entrance made me cringe (the entry fee is $25), but this is one of those places that you just have to see when visiting the city. The price includes a full 2-hour tour with a great guide who will explain the meaning of every little thing in the museum. I usually don’t like guided tours, but if you’re not familiar with happened on that day, the tour is a must. Full of photographs, items rescued from Ground Zero and 3D exhibits, it’s an emotional look into the near past.