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Opinion / Andrew Tuck

No sleep till Brooklyn

Ten things I learned in New York this week.That cities, like food, have a perfect serving temperature. I came to New York four weeks ago and it was steamy hot, a kind of gloopy heat that slowed your movements. We are back in town on a Monocle mission this week and it’s been 28C and cloudless. New York has beamed its beauty, enticed you to walk. And a soft light has bounced off the skyscrapers making people in the street look radiant. New York is definitely best served in autumn.That it may be a hipster cliché but I like going to Blue Bottle Coffee. The company may now be mostly owned by Nestlé but its commitment to clean-look design still makes it stand out as a treat.That user experience and technology are not good partners. Example one: Duolingo, which definitely has it in for me. The language-learning app is part of my daily routine – I have done it for 326 days without a break. But it has a glitch. When you cross a time zone (welcome to New York) it has a strop and sends you a message claiming you have missed a day and it’s going to wipe away your credits. Can’t someone fix that? Por favor.That learning Spanish (see above) is going to be a painstaking affair, a bit like putting together a smashed vase with gloves on in the dark. So I have to work up elaborate ways of recalling words. I discovered while here that “owl” is el búho. That’s simple: I can imagine an owl in a tree calling out búho-búho (give me a break, it works for me). “Smile” is la sonrisa; fine, I can think of a cheerful sunrise. But the body parts have been a struggle. I will be fine telling the doctor about a pain in my head, back or knee but attempting to direct them elsewhere may result in embarrassment for all: “Take the thermometer out of there now!”That in New York you get alerts suddenly sent to your phone – amber for, say, the abduction of a child, silver for, perhaps, a person with dementia going missing. The alerts are loud; my first one struck about three minutes into the taxi ride from JFK to the city. Was I supposed to start scanning the traffic for the suspect’s car (a black Honda sedan)? There seemed to be a lot of cars matching that description. Perhaps the alerts work but, to me, they seem as likely to create general unease as to enlist a city of would-be detectives.That the people will decide. New York’s Hudson Yards project has been lambasted for its dull towers and failure to deliver an enticing public realm. At its heart is The Vessel, a structure devised by UK designer Thomas Heatherwick. It’s made from a series of open-to-the-elements staircases that take you up 16 storeys. Architectural and design critics have been brutal – it’s silly, it’s tacky, it’s too much of a show-off. Perhaps. But the public seem to love it. It may be design for the Instagram age but it’s a tourist lure. Does it matter that clever people hate it?That my friend Colin Nagy is also an entrant to this newsletter game and co-authors one called Why is this Interesting? that’s a bit addictive. I am happy to share the stage (this once).That co-working spaces can be beautiful but chilly. I visited a colleague in his amazing set-up: mid-century modern furniture and a properly good restaurant. However, the main co-working space was packed but utterly silent. Good for concentration but not a place to crack a sonrisa.That the Iconic Magazines shop downtown on Mulberry Street makes me happy; walls covered in titles from around the world and on every topic. Oh, and piles on the floor too. This is what magazine shops used to do: entice you to buy something new and learn something (you can get lots of Spanish titles if you want to practise your new language skills). I want one in London.I’m glad that I will be here all weekend.

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