New York City Redux

Friday, 14 July 2006, 14:25 | Category : NewYork2006
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For those of you who came here to read about my New York vacation, this will make it a bit easier to navigate the various posts:

Part I is here.

Part II is here.

Part III is here.

Part IV is here.

Part IV-a is here.

Part V is here.

New York City, Part V

Monday, 10 July 2006, 21:32 | Category : NewYork2006
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Our last day in the Big Apple. Wife wanted to go see what the Good Morning America Friday concert series in Bryant Park was like, so we hiked over there, about a dozen blocks, in time to catch a bit of the concert:

The group performing that day was the Pussycat Dolls. Count me underwhelmed – they reminded me of a bad middle school dance team, with apparently one girl who could sing. But I won’t leave you without a picture.

Somehow I doubt my Sandisk Sansa will be seeing any of their songs. From there, we walked south towards our final Citypass objective, the Empire State Building. On the way, we passed this building, which sadly I didn’t have time to enter:

Then we arrived at the Empire State Building:

Since it was still early morning, the line was short, and once again Citypass let us skip the ticket lines. So we were up at the 86th floor observation deck pretty quickly – the evening before when we stopped by, the wait was over an hour. First picture is looking down over the side:

Then, in order, south, southwest, west, north, northeast, and east:

After the Empire State Building, we went to the Museum Of Modern Art. More Jackson Pollock, more of me not getting Jackson Pollock. I talked to an artist friend about this, she told me about layers and perspectives and breaking the mold. I still don’t get Jackson Pollock. But I’m not hopeless. I liked Robert Rauschenberg. I liked Giorgio de Chirico. Carlo Carra’s Funeral Of The Anarchist Galli appealed to me – the bold colors and chaotic strokes. But the painting that struck me most was Alberto Giacometti’s The Artists Mother. The harsh, straight edges of everything in the room contrasted so severely with the image of the woman seated in the chair, and the colors, almost bleak, reds and black. Other than the Van Goghs, my favorite painting of either museum.

And that’s how my New York trip ended. Back on the train to New Jersey, back to our car, then driving to DC for a short visit with our older daughter. 12 days, 3,000 miles, a great road trip. What did I learn? New York is a pretty cool place. The people there were friendly, helpful (for the most part), meals could be had for less than I expected. You can walk yourself to death in Manhattan. But I can’t imagine a better place to walk.

New York City, Part IV-a

Monday, 10 July 2006, 13:11 | Category : NewYork2006
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After visiting the Ground Zero site, we walked east and north a bit to the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t walk all the way across, only as far as the first tower. At that point, it began to rain briefly, although the sun was shining and the sky overhead was blue (The first picture was taken during our Monday evening harbor cruise, not the day of our visit to the bridge). Strange. The geometry of the cables fascinated me:

Do you see the bicyclist in the picture below? She yelled at me for being in her lane on the bridge. Only time I got yelled at in New York. Granted, I was on that side, but just barely, and I was moving to the other side already. I thought it was a bit snippy.

New York City, Part IV

Thursday, 6 July 2006, 21:43 | Category : NewYork2006
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Day 5 – Thursday. Kris wanted to sleep in, so Janet and I got up early – not so early as the other days – and made our way to the Today Show outdoor studio. The Today Show does more outside than GMA, at least for this summer. While NBC is changing the main indoor studio to prepare for HD broadcasts, they’re using a temporary outdoor set in addition to their normal plaza set. We got there about halfway through the show, but didn’t stay long. We walked north and east a little from Rockefeller Center, and found ourselves at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

We decided to go inside, b ut unfortunately my camera settings had gotten changed and I didn’t notice before I took pictures. These don’t do it justice, but they’re what I have…

After lunch, we took the subway down to the World Trade Center site. From a bricks-and-mortar standpoint, there’s nothing there, just an enormous hole in the ground. But to say there’s nothing there is so incorrect. The thing that first struck me was the hushed stillness all around. You’re walking down a street, among people engaged in the normal hustle and bustle of New York, the ever-present background rumble, then you turn a corner and the people are still walking, but the sound has fallen away. All around the site, it was that way. Voices are low. There are spirits there. Across the street is St. Paul’s Chapel, which is surrounded by the wall where so many pictures and notes were posted immediately following 9/11. St. Paul’s was where the relief workers came for meals, sleep, comfort, in the months following that horrible day. There is a memorial all inside the church. Behind the church is a bell presented to St. Paul’s by the mayor of London on September 11, 2002. It was cast by the same foundry that case the Liberty Bell. You stand at that bell, and you look just a few yards across the street to where the towers collapsed, and you wonder how this little church could have weathered that without even a single broken pane of glass. It’s hard for me to not see the hand of God in that, as if he knew that chapel would be needed immediately afterwards, and for years to come. But being inside St. Paul’s Chapel was difficult – more than difficult. It sucks your soul out. It’s hard to explain – it’s at once a place of comfort, that you can feel, and at the same time a place of such crushing pain. I had to get back outside after a few minutes. I went back to the bell, and stared across the street to the vast emptiness that was once the Twin Towers. And I felt anger rising in me, at those who perpetrated that abomination. I thought about all the motives and emotions exhibited by those who were memorialized by the chapel – love, sacrifice, compassion, sympathy, empathy, humanity. And I thought about what the hijackers were driven by – hate, just hate, nothing else. Anybody can hate, it’s the easiest emotion to feel. It requires nothing more than the lowest of human responses. Anyway, I didn’t intend to get preachy. But that’s what I felt right then, right there.

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New York City, Part III

Thursday, 6 July 2006, 19:11 | Category : NewYork2006
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Day 4 – Wednesday. J&K wanted to go see Live With Regis And Kelly. I had no interest in immersing myself in more estrogen-burdened air, but I did agree to get up early and go stand with them until they found out whether they’d gotten in. My plan was to then wander around Central Park for a couple of hours and meet them at the Guggenheim Museum. As it turned out, they didn’t make the cut, so we all wandered through the park to the Guggenheim.

Now, the Guggenheim Museum is all about modern art. I’m no student of art, I freely admit. The main exhibit was a series of architectural paintings by Zaha Hadid. As you can see here and here, they’re not the typical architectural diagrams. But after a while, after you see enough of these, they begin to make a certain sense. They are, I believe, intended to be more useful to Hadid than to anyone else, but as art they range from confusing to fascinating. There was also a large exhibit of Jackson Pollock works. And here’s where I admit that I don’t “get” Jackson Pollock at all. Try as hard as I may, the paintings just look like paint dribbled on canvas. I enjoyed the Vasily Kandinsky exhibit much more.

After the Guggenheim Museum, we wandered back across Central Park towards the American Museum Of Natural History. I knew Central Park was big, but until you walk through it, you don’t grasp the true size of the place. Or places, I should say, because as the pictures below show, it’s several different parks in one.

We left the park at West 85th, I think. As I said, we were headed towards the Museum of Natural History, but we wanted to wander a bit through the neighborhood, so we continued west towards Columbus Avenue. As I walked along, I thought about how Jackson is trying to attract people back to living downtown, and I wondered why they don’t build neighborhoods like these.

After a quick lunch, we went to the American Museum Of Natural History. 4 hours later, we had seen maybe 2/3 of what was there, and of the 2/3 we saw, we saw maybe 2/3 of the exhibits, if that makes sense. The place is enormous. I could have spent days there; maybe on a return trip I’ll get my chance. I even left off some of the dinosaurs – by 5:00 my knees were shot. And we were going to our first Broadway show that night. We went to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I’m not much on theatre, but this show was hysterical, really excellent. If you get the chance to see it in New York, go. And if you check, there’s a chance you can get half-price tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square. Did I mention this show was great? After the show, J, K, and I walked up Broadway to Maxie’s Deli for cheesecake. It just seemed like a great way to top off the evening.

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