15 June 2016

I Keep Waking Up in a City That Doesn't Sleep -- My New York Vacation

During intermission at the theater the other night I bought a bottle of water and "sharing size" of M&Ms. The price was $10. You can't make this stuff up.

The missus, older daughter and I arrived in New York Saturday. We came by airplane as the overland coach takes months and traverses hostile Indian territory. We're here to visit younger daughter who moved to these parts last Fall and is gainfully employed as a social worker. Whilst here we are also taking in the sights.

Among the sights here are people. In great numbers. All variety of human life wading through Times Square, packing on to Subway trains, gawking at statues, queuing for food, lounging in parks. The ceaseless parade of people is a spectacle in and of itself of the highest order. And the variety of bipeds is truly striking. You have, of course the ordinary, but you have a lot of the beautiful a lot of the grotesque and a lot of the weird and a lot of all ages, nationalities, sizes and shapes. People, people everywhere, many of them going hither, others going yon. Some standing quite still. Yet I have not for a second felt crowded. Being here with no business other than enjoyment is freeing and I feel as footloose and fancy free as I have strolling alone in the woods.

Also, I love the place. 

Paris remains my favorite city but New York is too much to be classified as merely a city. It is a nation, an empire and a planet all its own. Here you see everyone and anyone and can get everything and anything and do anything and everything. At anytime. It is past modern, it is up to the second. Yet it is rich with tradition and history. At one time or another it has all happened here, most of it many times. 

New York is sexy and vibrant and teeming with life and you feel enveloped in humanity and the spirit of living. You don't walk in New York, you glide. It is a liberating place this New York because you are one of so damn many. No one knows or cares if your zipper is down or your hair mussed or if you're toupee is slipping or your belly sticks out or your leg is deformed, it's nobody's business. Come as you are. No judgments, just don't mess with anyone. Watch the eye contact too.

I'm sure there are dangers here but it feels so safe to be among so many and so much. It is safe indeed to be among so many people. You a tourist? Well, who isn't? You need help finding something? Not a problem, someone can help.

We're staying in an Airnbnb in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is hip AND smart. It is self assured and comfortable in its own concrete. The people are nice without being cloying; they must be proud to live here and happy you like it. The first night we had pizza at a small restaurant that we picked without picking and it was the closest to the pizza you get in Italy I've had outside of Italy. Sumptuous. The next night it was a carefully picked restaurant for seafood and it was even better. New York is a gourmand's paradise. By making the slightest effort you can get a good meal and you can get all manner of food.

I have been to Strand's, one of the three or four best bookstores I've ever set foot in. I wandered and wandered in this store that boasts of how many books it has and well it should. It is a book lover's paradise and should be proud. It was no small feat to find a couple of purchases.

Kerouac and Dylan Thomas Drank here.
I have seen where Jack Kerouac lived, where Thomas Wolfe lived, where Allen Ginsberg lived and a bar that Kerouac frequented and Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. I have seen the neighborhoods these literary giants roamed. Consecrated ground. What a great place for a writer to practice his or her craft. The isolation is easy to find in your rooms and the inspiration so easy to access outside of them.

I saw The Crucible starring Saorise Ronan, Sophie Okonedo, Ciaran Hinds and Ben Whishaw all of whom I've previously seen on the big screen. The play was magnificent. Our seats were near perfect without even being among the costlier ones. I was feeling a bit down before the play the darkness had crept in and cast its evil spell, but once I walked into the theater -- a theater on broadway, mind you -- my spirits magically lifted and soared the rest of the evening. So a cure for depression, bottle the theater.

I have seen the Ed Sullivan Theater where The Beatles performed, where David Letterman hosted the Late Show for two decades and where Stephen Colbert currently hosts. A mecca for me. Much smaller than I'd imagined it. Just another building among many. It is the people who have appeared inside it that make it titanic. 

I have gone through Times Square and been disgusted it being the least interesting and most inauthentic part of New York. It played like a bad version of Blade Runner and uninteresting one with no plot or meaning. 

I've been in Washington Square and watched drug dealing in Union Square Park.

I've been to the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Natural History and been dazzled by both in wholly different ways. Modern art and ancient realities, what a perfect metaphor for New York. What perfect places to visit.

I've seen where John Lennon was shot and it made me sad and I've seen the beauty of Central Park and it has made me happy. Nothing quite captures the beauty of Central Park except for being in it. It is, of course, all the lovelier for the skyscrapers looming in the distance. 

I've been to the Columbia University which boasts a gorgeous campus. My mother earned her MA there and the earlier mentioned Kerouac and Ginsberg met there.

I've seen why youngest daughter loves this city and why my father did too. My dad's first stop and first homes in the US were in New York and it was here that he met my mother. Good thing for my future that they found one another.

I've more days here to come and will have more to see and more to feel and smell and taste and hear and think, I just hope never to spend ten bucks on M&Ms and a bottle of water again. 

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