Celebrate your 50th birthday in New York

Celebrate the 50th anniversary. It was a bit of a journey to figure out how to spend it.

It is said that it is through children that we see how we age. So for someone who has no children of their own, ageing can go quite unnoticed.

Ask me. I know that.

I walk around thinking about what to do when I grow up.

The calendar screams: 50 years.

Suddenly the calendar screams: Birthday 50 years.

It has been screaming louder and louder every day for the past year. My goodness, the anxiety it can cause. Camilla, this golden girl I met only a year ago, is the poor girl who has had to bear the brunt of the burden. My worrying and wondering about how to spend my 50th birthday has been quite extensive at times.

The 30th birthday party was a wet affair with friends and a few relatives and almost all colleagues at SVT Sport as guests. It was a really fun party. (Björn Fagerlind: I still keep quiet…)

The 40th birthday party was quieter. Still a party. At Tomas Brolin’s former restaurant Undici. Many friends and funny speeches. A very nice evening, too. But quieter.

50th birthday party?

For a while I would go all in. Rent Frösö Park. Invite people from near and far. But when I looked at myself, I realized that maybe that’s not really me today. 20 years ago, I could shake off a good party with a shower and then go to work. Today it’s fetal position all the next day after three glasses of wine. It’s probably not only through children that you notice that you are getting old, I realize.

I felt that I have changed and a big party about me was maybe not what I wanted. (Or so it is, just that jante has taken hold of a little part of me…).

In any case.

It was New York. Together with Camilla.

It was a fantastic few days in a late summer hot, pulsating cauldron. New York was at its very best. Here is a brief account of the days in New York.

31 August: departure

We left on August 31. Landed at Newark and took the train into Penn Station. From there taxi to Time Square and hotel W. When I decided that we would escape the field, me and Camilla, and go to New York, there were a few things my nostalgic side wanted to experience.

Mattias Brannholm in New York, outside Hotel W.
Mattias Brännholm in New York, outside the W Hotel in Times Square.

Hotel W was one of them. In a future blog post, I might tell you the story of when I was a US correspondent for SVT Sport and Peter Forsberg and I checked into separate rooms here. On 47th Street, just off Times Square. We’ll see, that post might come at some point.

Those of you who know me know that I like hamburgers. New York’s best burger is not Five Guys but Shake Shack (Yes, Tony Johansson – you win! I confess!). We were tired after the trip, which we took to our room and fell asleep quite early.

Saturday 1 September

If you fall asleep early, you wake up early. Type 00.30. There was a bit of a battle against the clock and sleep the first night. Once it was morning and day, it was a classic tourist day.

Mattias Brannholm in New York.
Mattias Brännholm in New York. Camilla was very happy that she captured me, the taxi car and the I Love NY sign in the same picture. Of course that picture should be included!

Mattias Brannholm in New York
I counter with this image. We were up early and the sun was quite high when we started walking around. The camera’s built-in fill flash (and some lightroom) brought the light to Camilla’s face. I think it was a good picture…

Trump tower in New York.
Trump tower in New York.

Top of the Rock. Facing north to Central Park.
Top of the Rock. At the top of the Rockerfeller Center. This is where the NBC television channel has its New York office. As a former TV nerd, I like such details.

Sunday 2 September

There was some traditional shopping on Sunday. The dollar exchange rate is not our best friend these days (just over SEK 9). After another meal at Shake Shack – we happened to walk past one! – then there was a musical in the afternoon. Since we live in the middle of the theater district – we’re just a block away from where The Boss has his Broadway show – we went with a spontaneous one. We would take a last-minute ticket to a performance.

School of rock

I had already checked out the School of Rock before we left. I remember the storyline of the movie of the same name and was curious to see how the kids would manage to do the show. I was really happy when we got the tickets.

School of rock on Broadway with Mattias Brannholm and Camilla Naslund.
Celebrate your 50th birthday in New York with the musical School of Rock.

It takes quite a lot for me to be really impressed. Let’s put it this way: my jaw dropped!

I have never seen so many talented and gifted young musicians before. For someone who plinked Blinka Lilla stjärna with the strict German piano teacher at Norra Skolan in Östersund when they were the same age, this was simply magical to see.

The musical, also by Andrew Loyd Webber, ends its run in January. You must – and I mean MUST – see it if you go to New York before then.

Birthday 3 September

In the US, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the United States’ answer to May Day, but due to derailed demonstrations at the end of the 19th century, they did not want to celebrate Labor Day with the rest of the world (Read more here: https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day ). So it became the first Monday in September.

So it was a public holiday.

There was one thing more than anything else I wanted to experience on this particular birthday and that was the 9/11 Museum. Looking back on my first 50 years, there are some extraordinary events that stand out. There is probably no difference for you. The 2004 tsunami and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

The terrorist attacks touched me deeply. I was at that time with an American woman who lived in Stockholm with me. I had also been to the restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. So when the planes blew into the towers, it felt uncomfortably close, even though I was at home in Stockholm.

It was poignant to walk around the museum. If you haven’t already visited it, I highly recommend it the next time you are in New York.

9/11 memorial.
9/11 memorial. Here stood the southern tower. The whole area is now a memorial park. The hole in the middle is so deep that you can’t see the bottom when you stand on the edge and look out.

Every casualty whose birthday it is receives a white rose by their name. Jeremy and I share a birthday...
All victims whose birthday it is receive a white rose by their name. Jeremy and I share a birthday…

The museum is very large. I highly recommend doing the guided tour and then walking around on your own afterwards. There are a lot of impressions...
The museum is very large. I highly recommend doing the guided tour and then walking around on your own afterwards. There are a lot of impressions…

This is the last piece removed from ground zero. Initially, it was thought that it would take 2-3 years to clean up Ground Zero. It took 9 months. This pole was still in the ground and when the last piece was removed it was in the form of a burial. It was covered in black on the truck before being transported away. A highly symbolic act. Now the cleanup was over...
This is the last piece that was removed from ground zero. It was initially thought that it would take 2-3 years to clean up Ground Zero. It took 9 months. This pole was still in the ground and when it was finally removed, it was in the form of a burial. It was covered in black on the truck before being transported away. A highly symbolic act. Now the cleanup was over…

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center in New York. The building is 417 meters high.

I took a lot of other pictures in the museum. But I’m not publishing any more now. As I said, visit it yourself!

Lucky Strike

After the visit to the World Trade Center – which took almost three hours – we had lunch at an old favorite spot in New York. Lucky Strike on Grand Street. Here I have a lot of fun memories from the early 90s (remember what I wrote above about just taking a shower and then you could work… It was proven here…), including with fellow photographer Per Anders Pettersson and childhood friend Daniel Lindström.

It felt special to be back here.

Lucky Strike on Grand Street.
Lucky Strike on Grand Street. An old favorite haunt from the early 90s.

Hmm… I should probably start exercising anyway…

In any case.

The dinner was originally intended to be on Akvavit. But they were closed for Labor Day so we took advantage of the hotel and ordered a table at The Grill instead. A decent meat restaurant that had a wine cellar of over 10,000 different bottles which, if you look at the price list, had a value equivalent to the GDP of many smaller countries.

It was mustard-marinated duck and a bottle of Pinot Noir. It was delicious!

Me and my closest friends at the birthday dinner...
Me and my closest friends at the birthday dinner…

Camilla and I at The Grill in New York for my 50th birthday. A wonderfully cozy evening.
Camilla and I at The Grill in New York for my 50th birthday. A wonderfully cozy evening.

I also spent some time on something I have been thinking about for a long time. To start blogging. Or rather, writing articles about my job in particular. So I published my first post. One small step…

Now a few cozy days in New York are over.

Now jobs await.

Inbound marketing fair in Boston. Starting tonight.

Back to everyday life.