Thursday, March 3, 2011

Elbow Sweat Survival

It's legitimately 23 degrees outside right now and I'm writing a piece on summer elbow sweat survival. It was tough going, but I've finally finished. Thank you to those of you that helped me edit...I really appreciate it. Writing in this fashion was harder than I'd imagined. I had to be careful not to vaguely reference places/things, assuming people would understand, and I had to make my tone more informative than the free-flow way I typically write. I'm very curious to get the feedback of my classmates (depending on how favorable, I may let you know next week how it goes!).

Elbow Sweat Survival                          

It has happened to the best of us – you’re walking down the streets of Manhattan, heat from the blazing sun radiating from the sidewalk, humidity hanging in the air, temperatures soaring into the 90’s. You’re trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy, chatting on your cell while enduring yet another Manhattan summer. Despite your best efforts, it happens: elbow sweat. The slow trickle starts running off your hooked arm as you continue your conversation wondering how you’ll survive. No Hamptons summer share? No air conditioned vehicle to whisk you off to the shore? No fear – the elbow sweat (ES) survival guide is here.

As a San Diego native, I consider the summer synonymous with the beach, being out on the water, enjoying al fresco dining and not melting to death. Having moved to Manhattan in mid-2009, I arrived just in time for a sizzling summer and earnestly plotted how best to enjoy myself while limiting the ES. An intrinsic goal of my plan was to cater my experiences to the path less traveled (i.e. no double-decker bus tour or Central Park bike tour). Over the past two years, I have collected a few favorite survival standbys for the summer weekend in the city, and I’m generously sharing them with you in two agendas: one for an evening out on the town (think Friday night) and another for an all day affair.

Evening out on the town
The idea of paying to bathe in a beach is outrageous. Then you add the hour train ride to get there from the city, packed into the Long Island Rail Road with fellow Manhattanites and their cumulative elbow sweat. All for a few hours of fresh air and water. It seems ridiculous. For my birthday last summer, I was determined to do something that would not involve sweat dribbling down my back and frizzy hair plastered to my head. My fix for escaping the city to enjoy the smell of sea salt? A boat! More specifically, a two hour sunset sailboat cruise on the Schooner Adirondack along the Hudson. A magnificent front row seat to enjoy the sunset with good friends and more importantly delectable picnic snacks and adult beverages! 

Classic Harbor Lines offers a variety of unique boating adventures that go beyond the typical ferry ride around Manhattan. The Adirondack took off from Chelsea Piers sailing past the Statue of Liberty, Governor's Island and around Lower Manhattan. We relaxed on the deck enjoying a picnic we’d brought while the crew served us wine and beer. Unlike other ships where a one free drink system is prevalent, the Adirondack doesn’t limit your adult beverages (however, responsible drinking is implied). The Adirondack experience is further enhanced by limited ticket sales, an extra half an hour of sailing (compared to other lines), a pristine sailing vessel, and an amiable crew.  Book ahead of time so you don’t miss out!

Arriving back to the dock post sunset cruise, the night is still young and you may enjoy an outdoor night cap. The breeze is briskest the higher you go so rooftop bar comes to mind. Roof top bars usually mean doormen, lines, overpriced cocktails, scantily clad “ladies”, and a barely tolerable level of douchbagery. New in 2011, the already adored Eataly will be opening their 8,000 square foot rooftop brewery and beer garden, Birreria, rivaling the Bohemian Beer Hall in size. Thanks to the collaboration of Italian brewers Birrificio Le Baladan and Birra del Borgo with American brewers Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Russian River Brewing, homebrewed craft beers will be served 365 days per year, elbow sweat or frostbite beware.

All Day Affair

Your apartment’s air conditioner is straining under the oppressive heat but failing miserably; even worse – you have no air conditioner.  You desperately want to enjoy your weekend outside but need cool temperature security.  Visit Governor’s Island!  A seemingly generic choice, the Island offers a plethora of events and activities to entertain even the most easily distracted. Previously known as “Nut Island” by the original occupants of the Native American Manahata tribe, Governor’s Island has a rich history as a strategic military base (from 1664 to 1995) and offers visitors a unique perspective on what life on the island might have been like. It was even the birthplace of the famous Smothers Brothers!

On a recent summer visit, we arrived late morning, rented bikes, and cruised around the Island. Cooled by the river breeze, we took in the picturesque surroundings and historical buildings. Each summer in June, (precisely why I picked this day), the Island hosts the New York Brew Fest.  Now in its 5th year, the festival showcases brewers and food purveyors from New York and around the country. Having worked up an appetite biking, we eagerly picked up our tasting glasses and started our imbibing adventure. The variety of brewers and culinary treats offer something for everyone and critiquing the gamut of flavors was the highlight of our day. The festival ends at 8 PM and for those not quite ready for bed, this all “inclusive” Island runs a weekend summer concert series at “The Beach”, an outdoor venue located adjacent to the ferry dock. If you can sustain the pace, dynamic bands like Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros or Corinne Bailey Rae will entertain while you relax, taking in the view of lower Manhattan and luxuriating in the breeze off the water. The concert rounded out our day at Governor’s Island: another hot day survived and thoroughly enjoyed.

While the summer survival itineraries I have created may not be revolutionary, they certainly aren’t main stream. Beyond Frisbee in Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow and cocktails at the notorious rooftop bar, 230 Fifth, there are unique ways to “escape the heat” leaving the confines of the city and it’s at times burdensome social scene. The key is honing your Elbow Sweat Survival skills. While it may take me years to prevent the onset of ES, my tactics for combating it will keep evolving. 

Elbow Sweat Survival Specifics

The Schooners Adirondack & Adirondack II: Chelsea Piers. The ships offer a variety of trips with distinct themes that the entire family can enjoy.

:  200 Fifth Avenue (and 23rd Street) – across from Madison Square Park.
Further reading on the Birreria (now scheduled to open Spring 2011):

Governor’s Island: Take the free ferry from South Ferry Station to the Island. Schedules and other information are on the website:  For more information on bike rentals visit or call 1-866-RENT-A-BIKE.

New York Brew Fest: Saturday, June 19th 2011 from 3:30-8PM. This year will be the festival’s 5th year on Governor’s Island. Check the website more information:

Concerts at the Beach at Governor’s Island: Check here for the 2011 schedule.

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