nyc


This is how nerdy I look as a New York Tourist.

Notice the camera hooked to the belt buckle and the borrowed Jansport backpack.

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The metal spikes they use to keep away the pigeons are FREAKY and give me shivers whenever I see them. I know that the birds are not getting speared, but still, they bring forth images of medieval torture.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I prefer bird poop.

Today was a happy, hot, sweaty New York day (but not without the requisite irritation with the teenagers).

After a tiny bit of lazing around this morning, the girls became excited by the prospect of delicious bagels for breakfast so they ran out to the corner deli for fresh toasted bagels and cream cheese for us all. (Brave girls!) The bagels were perfect (except I didn’t make them order Boarshead liverwurst for me, just helped them finish theirs).

There had been tremendous thunder showers all night, and more forecasted throughout the day – so, I thought that we might spend an hour or so chilling in a cafe reading and perhaps do a bit of light shopping at Century 21. Of the two museums I plan to catch on this trip, P.S. 1 (Jim Shaw) is closed on Wednesdays, and the Serra retrospective at MoMA likely has sculptures outside, so I put them off for tomorrow.

We started with an easy jaunt over to Grant’s tomb. Yes, his tomb! How lucky is that? Despite our failed attempt at getting a photo of Dawkins in front of the Grant Memorial in D.C. per Chad’s brother’s photo scavenger hunt, we were given second chance. We got to my friend John’s place, where we are staying, and discovered that we were within three blocks of the Ulysses Grant jackpot; the largest mausoleum in the United States, this historic monument had plenty-o information on the famous Union General and our 16th president, and not only the body of Grant, but his wife as well. Funny, these scavenger hunts – I’ve been to John’s house dozens of times and never knew that there was such a famous memorial within spitting distance.

(It was specified that Dawkins could have a sad face.)

Next, we headed down to Times Square. Chad does not share my not-so-secret love of musicals and Broadway productions, so I figured this trip was the perfect opportunity to indulge in some singing and dancing entertainment. The Theater Development Fund (TDF) offers half-price tickets on same-day tickets to a dozen or so Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows everyday and they have two locations: South Street Seaport and Times Square. (The Seaport office actually sells tickets one day in advance, but we didn’t want to go that far.)

This was the beginning of a string of strange flubs on my part that added dramatically to my heat-induced irritation this afternoon. Matinees are the best way to see shows: the crowds are more manageable, and tickets are cheaper and easier to get. Matinees generally start at 2pm and show only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but I didn’t know this critical information until after we arrived at the TKTS Discount Booth at 2pm. Darn! The line was at least a half hour long and there didn’t seem to be much point in waiting for tickets when we were going to miss the start of a show.

Ah well, I thought, we could come back at three and try for an evening ticket. So, we walked ten blocks south to meet our friend for lunch.

Lunch was delicious “Spanish Food.” I put it in quotation marks, not to question the authenticity of the food, but because that is exactly how the food was advertised. In classic NYC fashion, a Blimpie’s sub restaurant (on West 35th between 7th and 8th) had sublet the rear half of its space to a family who cooks fresh “Spanish Food” at 4 am, and serves it up to crowds of folks at lunch, who all apparently know about this place via word-of-mouth. One of the women told me that the food sells out every day by 3-4pm.

Cheap, fast, and tasty.

We finished lunch. I glanced at my phone and saw that it was 2pm.

TWO PM!? It had been 2pm two hours earlier – so what the? Turns out I had misread 12:00 pm or 2 pm earlier, and had completely flubbed an opportunity to see a matinee Broadway show. Really, it is not like me to miss a discount opportunity, and I was very disappointed in myself.

After lunch, we grouchily trekked back up to the TKTS Discount Booth only to discover that the line for evening show tickets was

GI-NORMOUS.

The evening tickets go on sale at 3pm, and it seemed that every tourist in the city had started lining up at two. I decided to suck it up, sent the girls into the Marriott in search of a restroom, and hunkered down in a crowded line that took about 45 minutes. Not so bad considering the number of people there, but get this – I finally reached the ticket window, I asked for three tickets to Chicago, and found out that they accepted only CASH. I coulda screamed. I did scream, internally. So, I LEFT THE LINE went and got CASH and got back in line. Again. Luckily, the crowd had shrunk, and I reached the ticket window in short order.

We finally got our tickets. For the musical, Chicago. (!!!This is me jumping up and down and clapping my hands!!!!)

At this point, I decided I was too spaced (or non-caffeinated) to attempt going any further south in the city. We found a nice non-Starbuck’s cafe off Times Square (Europan Cafe), ordered chocolate-covered strawberries and eclairs for the girls and a BIG cuppa tea for me and settled in with our books. Yes, we sat and read for nearly an hour, and boy did we need it. We had entered the cafe growling and snapping at each other, but at the end of a good long reading sess, we all looked up with glazed, peaceful eyes. A life-saver, reading is. I kept thinking about my new sister-in-law, Corrina, and how she would have known it was coffee break time long before I did.

Also, about how much she would have loved the production, which was kick-bottom! (Okay, now I’m going to skip the part of the afternoon where we visited the abercrombie and fitch flagship store on 5th Avenue and move directly to…) The dancers were so incredibly muscular and beautiful – and the dancing was great: well-choreographed and very, very sexy. Strong, gorgeous singing voices too. I enjoyed the show tremendously, though there were a few weaker scenes. If I have the energy tomorrow morning, I’ll post a more proper review of the show.

Teenage moment: Halfway through, Dawkins leaned over and said, “The movie was better.”

I mean, I spend hours in line to buy her a $60 ticket, only to learn I could’ve left her at home with the DVD?!

Sheeeeesh.

We made it to New York.

I am still a little irritated by the two teenage girls I am traveling with, but it’s getting better. I think, because being in the City just cheers me up, period. Although, it is hot and muggy and you can smell the garbage.

The bus ride was surprisingly easy, fast, and economical. I did a search for “cheap chinatown bus nyc washington dc” and I landed at an interesting site called gotobus.com, which sorts the dozens of different bus lines  spawned from the original cheap buses that ran from Chinatown, NY to Chinatown, DC. In the end, I was only interested in two bus lines: Vamoose (heard of them) and Washington Deluxe (my mom says they’re good) and both had regular daily buses to NYC and cost between $20-$25 one-way. I spend more than that in one trip to Starbuck’s these days (not that I ever go to Starbuck’s).

I reserved and paid online last night. I choose Vamoose because they had Arlington and Bethesda pick-up spots. We showed up 30 minutes in advance and the bus arrived promptly five minutes before departure. There was  a head count and we were off. With one fifteen minute rest stop we arrived at Penn Station (conveniently only four blocks from my friend’s office) only four hours.

We actually could’ve ridden for free, because the only people who checked our “tickets” were two harried men, Hasidic Jews, who jumped on just as we arrived at Penn Station. They began collecting money quickly and efficiently; when I explained I had paid online, and offered to show ID, the one man just brusquely waved me off and told me to bring a print-out the next time.

The only downside of riding the cheap bus was that the bus driver occasionally was talking on his cell phone while driving on the New Jersy Turnpike – but would that be any different on a more expensive bus?

I think the bus is the way to go from now on.

Turns out that Amtrak train tickets from Washington D.C. Union Station (WAS) to NY Penn Station (NYP) are more expensive than I remember: $200 one-way – although that may be more a consequence of my lack of prior planning. Luckily, we can still hop on cheap chinatown buses to NYC for $25 each.

This a show I would like to see: “Gego, Between Transparency and the Invisible” at the Drawing Center at 35 Wooster Street in Soho.

Read Holland Cotter’s article about it in the NYTimes here.

You can read the NYTimes article called, “Illusory Characters With Startling Stage Presence,” here. It’s about new technologies being used in a new stage production in lower Manhattan – I think it’s a little like what was going on with Hugh Jackman’s stage tricks in  The Prestige. Reminds me of Cardiff’s stuff too…

I’m done with the thesis, but my reserach brain  hasn’t turned off yet.

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