“Oh you gotta love it
Oh you got, oh you gotta love it”
— Drake, “6PM in New York”, If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late (2015)
New York, New York, it’s a helluva town… but I was too busy enjoying its people to enjoy much of the sights.
Earlier this month, Citizen Canada reached out to see whether I’d be interested in flying out to NYC to interview Black-ish star Anthony Anderson on his experiences Behind the Clean — the numbers and narratives behind what being a Dad really means today, specifically in handling household chores. I hadn’t hit The Big Apple since 2010 when I’d proposed to a certain woman I’m still coincidentally married to, so I figured why not? It’d be a good change of pace!
How little I knew of what would lie ahead…
How Do You Prepare for 36 Hours in NYC???
I definitely overpacked for my trip.
Not knowing what I’d need to capture everything in my adventure, I put everything I could muster into my luggage. My Zoom H6 audio recorder. My Canon 60D SLR complete with 480EX flash, Gary Fong collapsible diffuser and interchangeable domes. A whole pile of tech, most of which I only touched once.
Really, for most of the stuff I brought down to The Five Boroughs, I could’ve done just as well on my phones. But with roaming charges the way they are, it’s really hard being an international blogger — usually when I cross the border, roaming’s either shut off well ahead of crossing over, or I’ve got a prepaid data package I watch very carefully. With a pre-production Samsung Galaxy S6 in hand, TELUS was as stand-up as always and let me roam in Gotham should the SIM card allow it — but with no guarantees, I needed a backup plan… how else was I supposed to do all the check-ins and keep the Internets on top of my shenanigans?!
Good thing I still had Roam Mobility up my sleeve!
Keeping Connected with Roam Mobility
Roam’s been around for a minute, specializing in providing cellular services for Canadians who want to get digital while in the States. We’d actually tried to connect last October when my family hit Chicago, but our schedules were slightly misaligned, leaving a package on my doorstep mere hours after my flight hit the skies.
Though my S6 did end up working, Roam’s Talk+Text+Data plan worked like a dream on my unlocked backup phone and the 4G data on my Liberty hotspot kept me going when the S6’s roaming wasn’t doing the trick. If I’m in a jam for data the next time I’m south of the border, I’ll hit Roam up — keeping connected was a breeze.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It was a different kind of farewell compared to the last time I’d taken a blogger trip, my son considerably older than the two-month-old baby I’d left behind in 2014. Though he’d be really confused with our Google Hangout video chats around dinnertime, I knew it wouldn’t be as hard on Sarah this time with him at daycare for most of the day.
With an unexpectedly speedy trip through security that took all of 35 minutes, a short nap/flight would soon have me Stateside, ready to start my 36 hours in NYC!
36 Hours in NYC — or — A Reminder of What Travelling Solo is REALLY Like.
I arrived at LaGuardia to my man Jabar holding a sign with my name on it, waiting to drive me into town in a Lincoln Navigator. It didn’t take us long to get moving, and in what seemed like moments, we were at the ACE Hotel where I’d lay my head for the night.
The ACE Hotel is quite literally the deepest I’ve immersed into the hipster element in some time. I felt oddly out-of-place, having decided to shave before leaving Toronto, feeling like my sleeves needed some rolling up and my Johnston & Murphy dress shoes swapped out for some Birkenstocks.
After overcoming my initial shock and after a ridiculously easy check-in, I took some time to get my bearings and pack my gear before taking on the City that Never Sleeps.
But much as I wanted to, I wasn’t there to sit and watch Daredevil on Netflix — I had a city to see!
5 Napkin Burger — Greasy American Goodness with a Touch of Class
In my crowdsourcing for ways to see the city, Justin Connors recommended hitting a 5 Napkin Burger to sate my hunger for something delicious. I would’ve hit the Shake Shack at Madison Square Park because somehow I’d never been in my visits so far, but our fate as star-crossed lovers prevailed as it was under renovations — so on I marched to the 5 Napkin Burger by Union Square!
Now, I’m from Toronto — NYC be damned, we have some amazing food in the Frozen North, so I know a mind-blowing burger when I eat one! While 5 Napkin’s Bacon-Cheddar fell short of a meal I’d etch in my memory forevermore, it was by no means a bad burger — it just didn’t have any standout features to make it next level.
Figuring I only live once (since, you know, not being Buddhist and all), I paired it with a bottle of Brooklyn Pilsner — a beer that’d soon become thematic for this trip despite never stepping foot in Brooklyn proper. (Sorry, Brooklyn.)
Belly full of Americana, I meandered back to the hotel too sleepy and bag too full to do anything too intense. After a jaunt through Union Square and Madison Square Park, it was time to soak in what my room had to offer (and kill my VEDA ambitions by screwing up my Day 12 video like, four times), eventually getting myself ready for dinner and the night ahead!
Narcissa — That Place You Go To When You Want to Get Your Classiness On, but Soon Realize You Don’t Recognize Half of the Stuff on the Menu and Just Go for Steak.
A few hours of rest and several episodes of Daredevil later, I was on my way to The East Village to join fellow blogger Michael Cusden and a couple of members of the gracious Citizen Canada team for dinner at the upscale American-fare serving Narcissa.
I think we all agreed that the food was alright — as we all know, I’m no foodie, but when the only things you’re ga-ga about all night are the Riesling and the 24 oz bone-in prime ribeye steak, I’m gonna say that it didn’t quite live up to the hype.
The night ahead was full of fun, adventure and brand-new friends, keeping some of us on our toes ’til 4 AM — not my best decision ever, needing to wake up early the next morning for breakfast at Sarabeth’s!
Sarabeth’s — or — While I’m Not Sure I Belong Here, the Food is Delicious, So Let’s Go With This!
I knew I was in an entirely different part of town upon entering Sarabeth’s, with its questioning gaze as soon as I arrived.
(Never seen a brother in a T-shirt and blazer before?)
Anyway. There I met my good friend Mikael who I hadn’t seen since the final Bloggers in Sin City, as she’d been living there a while, reconfiguring her life as she soaked in all sorts of new experiences!
Breakfast was solid (as one would hope with the price tag and the silver-haired suit-clad clientele it caters to), where I polished off a delicious Salmon Eggs Benedict with some fresh juice, also trying some of their pumpkin muffin (not knowing beforehand that muffins are their thing.) I enjoyed myself all around, but time moved on far too quickly, and I was due back at The ACE to check-out and meet my cousin at Eataly for lunch!
Which is where I learned something about New York’s Metro system — it gets just as many delays as Toronto’s TTC does!!!
Stuck on the 57th St. platform with nary a southbound F train in sight, I quickly changed course, bounding down 30 blocks to get back to the hotel, pack, and get outta there to continue my journey.
Whatta way to start the day!
Eataly — or — My Friends Told Me You Had Delicious Fresh Mozzarella, but I Was Too Full to Try Any. I’m Going to Need a Mulligan.
It’s a good thing my cuz is family because I was a hot mess after all that rushing, and we’d crossed our wires with him waiting for me at The ACE and me having rushed down to Eataly to find him!
After catching many a breath and finally bumping into each other, we hit up Madison Square Park with panini and gelato in hand (I’ll let you guess which one I had after the massive breakfast I ate), just relaxing and vibing after everything that passed. It was a good way to spend a couple of hours before my final destination — it ‘d probably been almost a decade since we’d last sat down and chatted, and at entirely different stages in our lives, it was still good to reminisce.
I had but time to ponder fitting Duplo in my suitcase for the kiddo and buy a sun hat for Sarah before returning to The Ace for a crosstown drive to meet the men who were the reason or this entire trip — the Swiffer Dads.
Behind the Clean
While we might have free healthcare in the Frozen North, our friends south of the border definitely know how to put on an event!
Making our way to the Hudson Hotel’s Library Bar, it greeted us with towering wooden walls topped with old tomes, a sumptuous buffet smack in the middle, and a mass of media who looked like they meant business!
Introducing the Swiffer Dads
Headlining the event were the Swiffer Dads — Doyin Richards; Patrick Carrie; Beau Coffron; Mike Johnson — and of course who could forget the guest of honour, Anthony Anderson, who’s genuinely a funny dude whether on-script or off! I was excited to meet Doyin, actually — Simone had put him on my radar some time ago, and he partly represents what I want the future of Dad Blogging to look like here in the Frozen North, where there’re only a handful of us so far putting out the effort to share our stories!
If you don’t know who Anthony Anderson is, I assure you you’re missing out. Truly a funny dude, he’s currently starring in Black-ish alongside Laurence Fishburne and Tracee Ellis Ross as Dre Johnson — a man coming to terms with a Black father’s role in middle America. While the cute and mischievous twins often steal the show, it’s a good family watch if you’re looking for something everyone can enjoy!
The event reinforced the fact that Dads really aren’t that bad. We get a horrible rep as clueless parents who don’t know a thing about helping around the house, but here’s a thing or two Swiffer looked to teach through the Behind the Clean campaign:
- Modern men are active partners, involved in family life and cleaning twice as much as their fathers did
- Half of dads say they do most of the household cleaning with 98% of them agreeing a clean home makes them happy
- Having active Dads in equitable households helps with positive long-term effects like raising aspirational daughters and heavily influencing children’s views on gender equality!
In short, being an involved parent is serious business.
Anthony definitely knows how to command a crowd, hitting us with jokes galore and even going as far as daring one of the media audience to answer their ringing phone — it could be an emergency and maybe only the Swiffer WetJet could help!
But of course, even that wouldn’t deter smart-mouthed Casey Palmer from cracking wise when someone leaves the door wide open, giving birth to a nickname I surely didn’t see coming…
Anthony Anderson: “According to The Swiffer Cleaning Index, 98% of men like a clean home — I don’t know why that’s not 100%, though.”
Casey Palmer: “The other 2% nasty.”
AA: “What was that, Purple Shirt???”
CP: “The other 2% nasty!”
AA: “Well I don’t see you with a mic on, so why don’t we leave the joke telling to the people up here?”
CP: “You got it, Anthony Anderson!”
But on the real though, due to time constraints, I needed to drop my interview down to a single question (I guess I’ll never find out what he thinks of fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar…), I made sure to make it count, hitting Anthony with something he never saw coming…
And like that, it was over. Knowing we’d tons of time to kill, our knowledgeable Lincoln Navigator driver Greg took us through a scenic drive through NYC to LaGuardia, pointing out interesting sights along the way. (Michael had the better view — I advise hitting his blog for the photos!)
A flight, a bus, and a subway ride later brought me back from the whirlwind, unpacking both suitcases and thoughts while preparing my return to reality. Though the trip didn’t go at all like I’d planned, it was good — it was good to know that others value my messaging enough to fly me out of my element to tell new stories. Good to know that there’s a bigger world out there in the blogosphere if I keep working hard and believing in my cause. Good to know that over four short years I’d learned much from the bloggers I’d so admired back in 2011, there’s hope I’ll become as solid a Dad as the ones I met on this trip — both in word and in deed.
So until my next exodus, I’m back. Back with my family, in my neighbourhood, in a place where I knew exactly where I fit in the framework. The road ahead is a long one for Casey the Father, but you know what?
I’ll take it on — one step at a time.
Disclaimer: Though I wasn’t obligated to write a word on the Swiffer Wet Jet or the Behind the Clean campaign, that was the entire point of the trip. I’m entirely grateful to Citizen Canada x Swiffer for the opportunity and hope this is yet another step in a beautiful friendship.