2013 New York City Letter 2

conquering New York

Saturday, 19 October 2013 3:47 pm

I think New York might be conquering us, for we aged boys have little hope if conquering it!

I now have a morning routine of getting up early and pounding the pavements around Chelsea and West Village, it seems I can’t wean myself from the high line, so it somehow always features in my morning walks, even if only part of it and some of the Hudson River waterfront and now I am systematically walking each street as against each Avenue, himself insists he is doing his ‘hundreds’ from Pilates and 50 sit ups whist still in bed, so I am studiously studying his love handles to check that he is not telling pork pies. I hang out for my double shot macchiato en route to help increase the walking pace (it’s probably really just an elevated heat rate, but it feels like I am working harder).

We spent all Tuesday at the MOMA, and New York City Museum. Mainly MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art is a bit like gorging on ten blocks of 70% chocolate, you know you must stop but you can’t, so you end up over stimulated and bloated! At the end of each room we both would say time to go, but then there is just one more painting to see. So two hours extended to three extended to four and then we decamped to Central Park for a quickie (lunch – bad food, bad service, bad amount of fat) before moving on the City of New York Museum. Small but a beautiful building, the best thing was a 20-minute film on the history of the city and an interesting exhibition of paintings on Central park. We then rushed home, somewhat slower than I had planed. We, (well read moi), are doing well with the transport system, we like the bus system but it can be infuriatingly slow over longer distances, so we mainly use the subway and we are very well place on the number one line, but from the east side we use the ‘green’ line and I’ve even sorted the express trains for when we are seriously in a hurry, sadly our return on Tuesday back fired, the express trains where no go trains so we were stuck for nearly 45 minutes between stations until what ever caused the problem was sorted.

So after a very quick A,P&C we raced off to the Book of Mormon, what a hoot, this is coming from a very cynical person when it comes to religion, so those who are otherwise inclined may not find it not such a joy, but god did say we should be able to laugh at ourselves on occasion. It about the ever smiling group of graduate lads from the school of Mormon, who get A+ in’ Avon Calling’ door knocking and then  going off for their year of mission (as against the missionary position). Its very democratic, top student gets worse posting (deepest darkest Africa) with worse student who has a bit of a body image issue, he’s serious out there size wise and also has a bit of issue with the truth. Any way the mission is not going anywhere fast, no converts, no fun, nasty men with guns threatening to do nasty things to the tribal women until our boy Arnold bends the rules and does the improbable and starts to get converts, it nearly all ends in tears when the big bosses from Salt lake City drop by and try and try and close the mission down. Don’t even try and sort it all out, there’s lots and lots of dancing, singing, high jumping, more dancing and singing and something quite odd with wide mouthed frogs to keep the native boys happy….. It’s a hoot, very politically incorrect and a buzz and to top it off you can buy your own wide mouth front on the way out (one size fits all).

The next day was Met day. We toddled off to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, it’s in Central Park, I’m surprised there’s and park left, its huge, its hugely well funded and a tad daunting. We had our normal discussion, should we just do a part, take a part of it in and not kill ourselves. The trouble is it has a huge entrance hall which dives the museum (gallery) into three entrance points, we could not even get our little heads around that issue, so ended up hiring audio guides and following the Directors tour of the entire gallery which he said would take about two and half and give you an overview of his favourite pieces. He has obviously never travelled with my travelling companion. Anyway we ‘got into it’ and I must say it was a good way to see the museum without being to overwhelmed. We stopped half way for lunch in a nice little café in the American Art section and then waddled on, him always 50 paces behind.  Three hours later we had ‘seen’ the ground floor and headed up stairs, listened to the intro for the second floor and found out we needed at least another 2+ hours and that did not allow time for the temporary exhibitions. To head of a ‘moment’ we split up, he did the Balthus “Cats & Girls” Exhibit whilst I went off in search of Renoir & Monet (one can never have enough water lilies) and the Turkish section, surprisingly we both met up at the correct meeting point at 4.15pm, sometimes we both surpass ourselves.

The evening was Opera, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, a sort of dramatic love story gone wrong, normal opera stuff, young girl falls deeply in love with brother-in-laws best mate, writes passionate love letter giving unconditional love, he spurns her, he goes away after he gives her a peck on the lips – that’s act one, Act two he comes back, and because he is a spoilt brat decided to enrage his best mate and flirt with his wife (sister of spurned girl), best mate gets jealous, then we have a duel, no more brother-in-law (that was sad because he had a really great voice, but dead men don’t sing). End act two. Act three (some year latter) bored spoilt brat returns for three years trailing looking to ‘fine himself’ goes to yet another ball and get’s bored (again). Ball hosted by his cousin, discovers cousin is now married (he’s a really important prince) and bingo new wife is none other the previously spurned young girl who’s now all stunning and grown up so off course he now decides he’s been in love with her all along………… you have to love the last bit, she’s tells him, yep she love him to but he has buckley’s of getting her, she’s standing by her man, but she gives him a ‘peck on the lips’ to  beat all pecks on the lips and walks away, he’s devastated, end of opera! It was brilliant! Co-production with The Met and English State Opera, stunning sets and seriously wonderful voices. We frocked up and looked the part for our first time at ‘The Met.

After all that drama we started Thursday doing retail for himself (a new tailored woolen knitted jacket, should replace a few of his ‘acrylics’), some quick food shopping at the amazing Union Square farmers market and then moved onto gardens and houses, but in our inimitable style never quite got to everything we planed. We needed an art gallery free day. Took the subway to the end of the line, which meant we actually got off Manhattan and into the Bronx and Van Cortlandt House museum and neighboring parklands. It’s a great building and a divine setting and took very little brainpower to enjoy. I had a meaningful time chatting to, and photographing, squirrels. It’s the sort of thing you do on holidays and they are kind of cute and my local one has never stayed still enough for me to get a picture. The local one is a very devout Christian, he lives at the local Anglican church on 9th Avenue and pops out to say ‘hi’ every time a walk by, but refuses to hang around long enough for me to get the camera sorted. The Bronx ones where grazing on acorns in the park lands and seemed more than happy to end up in my travel diary, I even got a black one. From there we took a train, another train and a bus to ‘Wave Hill’ another super garden and house set high up on the hill over looking the Hudson River and across to the Palisades on the other side. We had an eminently forgettable lunch and strolled amongst the beautiful gardens where autumn was just beginning to work it way with the trees starting to turn. The property was owned by a Mr Perkins who was a partner of PJ Morgon, so it is kinda huge and the sort of place one would expect a banker to own as a holiday shack, but his family did give it to the city. We had planed to visit The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum but we where running out of puff and we needed energy for the evenings show, Motown the Musical….  This was a real ‘show’!! Basically it was the story of how Motown started but when I saw that there was to be nearly sixty songs in the show I thought I was going to be an epic. It’s about Berry Gordy getting black pop music into the mainstream. Lots and lots of bumpy songs and enough feathers and sequins to make a drag queen cry. He got just about everyone started, the Supremes, Temptations, Stevie  Wonder, the Jackson five and off course Diana Ross. It was good! Very good! The tiny kid who played Michael Jackson was amazing, Diana’s frocks were super and the entire show very slick. There were a few poignant moments when they sang Stop in the name of love and Baby Love some of you reading this will know why.

Cauliflowers in every hue at Union Square Market

Cauliflowers in every hue at Union Square Market

heirloom tomatoes at Union Square Market

heirloom tomatoes at Union Square Market

Today found us hiring bikes, yes bikes, and riding around Central Park. You need to understand that I have only ridden a bike about 8 times in my life, so it was not the best look but I did stay up right most of the time and we did ride every ride-able road in the park. It took a few hours and we were not the slowest riders. Himself did a very spectacular dis-mount and bruised both his pride and elbow but recovered with the help of double chocolate Haagen Dazs ice-cream and a little ‘rest’. We both liked the down hill bits best and we never quite got the gears sorted. Lunch followed at La Paine Quotidian, its a chain of quite respectable eating houses that we seem to keep finding, this one was next to the bike hire shop and as our legs were a tad jelly like we sat down before we fell down. Carnegie Hall was next, we did a tour and the guide was probably there when Andrew Carnegie built it back 1891. She was a delight and obviously loved the place and showing people through it but had a few memory issues along the way.

Well, it’s now Saturday and he’s snoring softly so tonight’s opera extravaganza will have to wait till another day, I need beauty sleep.  And I have not forgotten the luncheon review from last week, I just need more time.

Bye from him & me x

PS thanks for all your up dates

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