2013 New York City Letter 6

We greatly in need of foot baths or should we just catch cabs?

Thursday, 31 October 2013 3:09 am

They say age shall not weary them, but they forgot to give advice on how to deal with aching feet, are our ageing feet condemned?

….. a few glasses of wine later and the pain is easing, just image how good they will feel with the second bottle!

But I digress, ‘today of sore feet’ is Tuesday, and I left you on Saturday, so to start at the beginning, after the pre Halloween night at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, we awoke on Saturday very, very late and returned to the upper west side (sorry I gave out misinformation in the last epistle, just like I get my left and right confused I occasionally get my east and west back to front) and to the museum of: Nicholas Roerich. An interesting chap, Russian by birth and breeding, he was an artistic and curious young man who loved archaeology. He traveled widely, lived in the USA for many years and then spent the remainder of his life in the shadows of the Himalayas in India. He painted thousands of paintings and wrote many books, but he was mainly known for the Roerich Pact, a treaty signed by all the Americas and many other countries in the 1930’s to try and save the cultural treasures during times of both war and peace, a sort of Red Cross of the Arts. The treaty still stands. The Museum is in a beautiful early 1900’s town house in the high 100’s, just one house in from Riverside Drive, its bright, light and tranquil. His paintings are bright, light and tranquil. Mainly of the Himalayas, they are almost naïve, but his use of light is astounding. It has probably been the most memorable museum we have seen, but it also probably the most unsophisticated, so it may not appeal to everyone. We then walked along River Side Drive, which in fact is way above the Hudson River, but was both tranquil and verdant: we were having a tranquil morning!!

We then hit Columbus University. Bloody hell, 28,000+ students and a campus to die for, It’s a city within a city with libraries also to die for. We popped back ‘down’ to St John the Devine and checked out the gardens and exterior of the building which was a tad hard to see the night before (all Gauls had moved on), had a quick and vey late lunch at a student type café which has left me thinking we all got a raw deal back in 60’s & 70’s. A very impressive slab of pizza with spicy sausage, tomato and Bocconcini was nothing like the pie and soggy chips and lumpy gravy of my youth! We then walked, and walked a bit more, circumnavigated quite a bit of Central Park before we gave up and caught the subway home to freshen up for the evenings entertainment. (oh yes we did a bit of retail on the way home and I scored a very pink Italian shirt at a greatly reduced price). The San Francisco Ballet Company’s Cinderella was the show, Christopher Wheeldon’s production had made a few changes to the fairy tale, the prince had a best mate (Matt) who had me worried, they seemed very close, wore very tight tights, and seemed to do a lot of dancing together, was something going on? Would Cinders get her man? Would he be any good if she did get him? Then we had a ‘good’ stepsister, and a really bitchy bitch of a stepsister and of course the stepmother from hell. The bloody slipper got burnt, we had gnomes at the bottom of the garden, thousands of chandeliers, the best ever tree that grew from Cinder’s tears, but at the end of the day she got her man and thankfully Matt (the ‘too close best mate’) ran off with the not so bitchy step sister and everyone lived happily ever-after except the step mother had the hangover of all hangovers, I’ve never seen a ballerina throw up on stage before, hey, it’s New York!

Sunday was 365 days since “Sandy”, you remember Sandy? The storm of all storms, but it’s not global warming, ask Tony, he’ll tell you its all crap! Anyway Sunday was sunny, still and the sea was like glass so we took the ferry to Staten Island (all you Kangaroo Islander will hate this, its a 25 minute ferry ride and it’s 100% FREE!!). We then bussed it to Alice Austin’s shack, probably one of the oldest houses in New York. Started in 1690, set on the waters edge looking back over Brooklyn and Manhattan, it’s now a museum setup as a tribute to Alice Austin who was a fairly indulged young ‘gel’ by her doting family, one uncle presented her with a camera when she was eleven. She took to it like a duck to water and has left legacy of thousands and thousands of images. Born in 1866, she lived an extraordinary life for someone born in that era. She was independent, traveled widely, always photographing everything. She had a close and meaningful ‘friendship’ with her mate Gertrude for 50 years, sadly lost the lot with the stock market crash of 1929 and ended up destitute in a pauper’s house in 1950 until just before her death in 1952. In the year before her death, her photographs where ‘discovered’ and many where published, allowing her some comfort and financial security in her last months of life. Well, after all that drama we made off to Snug Cove (well not before ‘he’ made best friends for ever with Carol, our guide, that boy can bond with anyone!). Snug Cove was another fascinating visit, we could not quite work out what it was all about, these totally amazing buildings all in a row, (well several rows to be correct) like a series seriously upmarket court houses. All built mid 1800’s and now surrounded with botanic gardens and once over looking the water and New Jersey but sadly now the storage facility of New York petrol supply. But we kept asking why? What’s it all about? Finally we found someone who could tell us, it was some guy’s dream to build a retirement home for merchant seamen. The buildings in the ’second’ row were huge dormitories but the front row ones where theatres, meeting houses, libraries and whatever. It all sort of fell apart the same time when Alice lost her money; the great depression has a lot to answer for. The last seamen shuffled off to Carolina and the place fell apart. Now the complex of 28 historical buildings form Staten Island’s cultural centre, there’s kids’ museums, music colleges, art galleries, reception houses and gardens, but it still felt a bit spooky, in fact I felt the entire island felt a bit spooky. The final event of the day was meeting “Harry” at the bus stop; he’d been to Snug Harbour as well. We got chatting (as you do at bus stops) and before we knew it he is buying us ‘Dairy Queens” at the ferry terminal, it’ a soft serve ice cream with a bit of a camp name! We are finding the New Yorker very friendly and chatty, but then again my travelling companion is a bit chatty! We had a quiet dinner at the Chelsea Market’s pasta restaurant; he was terribly adventurous and had Linguine with Bolognese sauce (it has to be one up from Spag Bog), whilst I had pumpkin Ravioli. We shared some Crostini’s to start, chatted up the table next door (guess who did the chatting?) drank a bottle of Nero d’Avolo and that was the end of the weekend.

Monday was one of those days, should have just stayed in bed! We did ‘retail’ but my heart never got into it. Started at Bergdorf Goodman’s, girls’ shop first, because I wanted to see their china, so up, up via some seriously up there frocks and things that girls wear and finally got to the home wares section. Yep it’s up there! Next the ‘boys’ shop across the road, where I started to get very sweaty pits, nice shoes, big price, nice shirt, bigger price, hmm like that scarf, holy shit the voice is squeaking now, thankfully himself got himself deeply involved with ‘fragrances’ and decided he needed to make a run for it and found a side door so we could escape before we needed to extend the mortgages. I have to say the staff was a tad too quick to ‘pounce’ on you. Next was Bloomingdales where the voice was not quite as squeaky, and we did spend money, on lunch! Macy’s followed but my heart was just not in it and thankfully neither was his. All we had to show for the day was very sore feet. Well a few drinks later and we were feeling better, just as well, as we were off to “Kinky Boots”! How anyone could even think about writing a musical about boots is beyond me, but it was so much fun. The theatre was the Al Hirschfield on 45th street and is probably the best looking interior we have seen, Morocco meets Ancient Rome meets French Bordello sort of look. You know what I mean! But the show, what a hoot. Fifth generation son inherits failing shoe factory, meets drag queen who has a boot issue, the heels keep failing, they bond, more or less, they un-bond, more or less, they make up, more or less. Lots of song and dance and then they settle down to design and make seriously long boots (mainly in red, because red is seeeeeeeeexy) and all run off to Milan to try and hock them off. All that takes two and a half hours plus interval and no one wants to go home, we all want more boots and more songs and more dancing, and it’s that type of show.

Well that brings us to today, but it’s already tomorrow, so this might not get finished, as it’s nearly one am. But to day was worth getting up for. We did The Guggenheim, which is one of those museums that it’s hard to think what better, the art or the building. On of my heroes designed it in his late 70’s & 80’s, which just goes to show retirement’s not good for you. Frank Lloyd-Wright was much better known in Chicago than New York, but he won the gong to design the building. It’s remarkably intimate for a gallery dealing with modern art. It’s sort of ‘art in the round’ with its spiral ramp rising up seven levels (or is it eight or six, you get a tad dizzy going up). It’s hard to think that it was conceived in the mid 1940’s built in the mid to late 50’s but is more modern than 99.9% of most buildings being built now. Then there’s the collection…  need one say more, after three and a bit hours we were sated! We needed lunch!  So, in tune with ‘this week in New York’ we are doing lunch! A lot! Today was Jean Gorges ‘Nougatine’ at the Trump Tower (well there seems to be a few Trump Towers around, but it’s him, Donald with the bad hair) and this one’s on Columbus Circle over looking Central Park.

Well it’s now tomorrow. Lunch was good, and cheap if you ignored the wines list; we did not seem able to do.  They offer a fix price three course lunch at only $32.00, him, Shrimp Salad with champagne vinaigrette and a champagne Buerre blanc, followed by Pan roasted Blackfish, Tamarind glaze, Maitake Mushroom and ginger rice and finally Pumpkin Tiramisu, chocolate shortbread crumbs and coffee syrup in deference to Halloween and moi had tuna Tartar with avocado, spice radish and ginger marinade, then caramelised Hake with broccolini mash and ginger/chili vinaigrette and warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice-cream (another variation on molten chic pud) we had a couple of glasses of bubbles, Val de mer but forgot to write the rest, just a crisp little blanc de blanc and then a 2011 Alsatian Pinot gris by domain Paul Blanck, great fruit but a tad too much residual sugar but it worked a treat with the bits of spice in our meal, but I wished I knew how to pick dry versus semi dry European whites!! Great coffee to finish; we also got the best table, corner window over looking central park and Columbus Circle. As it was a 2.30 start and we did not finished until nearly 5pm we walked central park, to settle the meal and funnily ended up on 5th avenue again and the retail gene had come home! He has a new knitted black and cream jacket and red/black and white shirt to match. We also went into Abercrombie and Fitch, what an experience! Its almost pitch black with millions of pin spots, hundreds of customers, pounding music and I was desperate to pee, all the water at lunch hit home, the vibrating music did not help either. Walls are black, floor ad ceilings are black, most of the staff are in black but thankfully the stairs are glass and are backlit! One of the dark corners was starting to look very inviting! Finally sorted out second floor, meant one floor above ground level not two!! Anyway that settled, I was much more relaxed we have a new bottle of men’s fragrance to celebrate with! Wont’ bore you with the rest but needless to say I have a hot pink, a bright green and a pink and blue striped light weight jumpers, two pairs of deep grey pants, cords for him and chinos for moi, so now we need to go ‘case’ hunting. We finally made it back to the apartment at 9pm and had a very light meal and several bottles to cure the aching feet.

I did my morning walk, even surpassed my self, did the zig zag thing from 19th to 31st streets between 7th & 6th Avenues, even found a empty block which turned out to be a Spanish grave yard in use from 1829 to 1851 complete with headstones, sort of threw me for awhile. Then later I hit the most amazing street, it was wholesale flower street (if anyone’s been to the old city in Hanoi in Vietnam they will understand the ‘themed streets’. It was totally over the top flowers of every imaginable type, trees, branches, leaves, twigs with berries of every colour and size, mini lawns of wheat, walls of ivy, pots of every type of vegetable and flower to make an instant display. Kept thinking Lala Rymill would have killed to have access to some of the stock. Well after that if found myself at Maddison Gardens and the amazing US postal building, for those from Adelaide it a tad like Parliament house, only 10 times bigger and eventually made it to the Highline and then to Chelsea market for a much needed double macchiato and eventually made it home, it ended up being a 9 kilometre walk at an average speed of one K every nine minutes, much slower than when I’m home but considering all the people and traffic lights one needs to dodge I was happy. His lordship was still sound asleep on my return, but not for long!! Well need to get ready, we are doing the matinee of Betrayal with Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz and then meeting an old teaching friend of the lads for drinks, but there’s a shop called Buffalo exchange that specialises in pre loved and consignment clothing……….

From him cleaning the bathroom and me hitting the key board

Cheers for now

Us x2

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