New York In the Spring Time!
Every trip away is an adventure, yet going to one’s home town has a special warm and fuzziness to it unlike any other trot around the park… especially, when the park in question is Central Park. The timing was perfect. The Park was in majestic bloom.
Ah! The early mornings, before the tourists hit the streets in smartphone click click clicking mass, on those sacred terse weekdays, when you can glide across the park and take in all the little birds, big robins and very blue twittering songsters, before the surreal street performers have claimed the park benches and the under passes… New York has its pristine beauty.
I spent a comfortable night at the Renaissance Hotel. The bed was firm, tub deep, and wall panelling elegant. If you must POP into the city for a moment this a a place you might flop, thereby not falling too far away from the comfort you are accustomed to. The brick wall view from my hotel window was a heartwarming reminder that not everyone gets to see, everything all the time. We must enjoy each brick’s presence, stately endurance.
The familiar walls of black trash bags, ever so smelly, have an unmistakeable punch. They strike you with an unavoidable whiff of truth. A reminder that posh and poor alike we all have refuse, release, and unthinkable exchanges with toilets and plumbing, dentists and beauticians. We are all potential concubines and conquistadors, no matter what or present costume or apparent rank.
In New York, as a necessity, every type of human rubs shoulders with every other, yet gulfs between the Haves and the Have Nots are so vitally expressed, a pulsing truth, transitory and undeniable illusion. Everyone has equal footing, the same chance of making onto the subway and off, again. There is a thrill of danger, even when it is not there. Not a single person tried to mug me. I walked, not late at night, but by myself… I look like a person a mugger might target, I image. But, no… no attempts were made.
A quick jaunt up to Harlem for dinner with a Yellow Belt, artist friend was easy and delicious. Harlem is now an international hot spot, packed with trendy restaurants, and well healed humans looking for fine French or other International cuisine. I love it! Must explore, more, on my next visit.
The allure of lunch with artist Dee Shapiro got me down to Gramercy Park, to The National Arts Club, a venerated establishment which hosts regular exhibitions of artists work, and boasts a very elegant private member’s dining room. I ordered a visually stunning yellow and red beat salad, capped by baked goat cheese. Delicious! Over lunch we discussed art and family life.
Astoundingly, I managed to sneak in lunch at Fred’s with the one and only James Katson. You know, the artist, antique’s dealer, man-about-town… Yes, Mr. Katson! He positively oozes talent. He transported me with stories of his wayward youth to far away corners in a London best forgotten, scary and tender. He performed the voices of men that lived as ghosts in their own lives. Haunted. Katson’s edge is very sharp and one feels a thrill being in his electric company.
We had the most fun drenched sober lunch two song birds could ever tweet of! What a hoot!
Another stunning meal: lunch, at Cherche Midi with artist friends was an unmitigated pleasure. My people! All so smart and politically engaged. They enjoyed the fare and tasteful decor. I love how New York has so much French color and flavor to offer. We are Francophiles. Just as we appreciate our English pubs and Anglo heritage, immensely. Yet, everything is passed through an American filter and that works for me!
A quick visit to The Whitney Museum of American was not enough but well worth the effort. My plan is to return as soon as possible to gather more art experience. I saw the two top floors. The jazzy elevator alone is worth the visit. The floors, soundless, marvels… no tap tap tap of crowds gawking at the splendors of American art on display. The curators have done an excellent job of picking work we know and love but not neglecting the work of traditionally underrepresented artists.
As I do with every visit into Manhattan, I traveled outside the city, for a night. Guest bedrooms are fascinating. I have made an informal study of them. They come in various sizes and the worst ones have entirely too much of the owner’s possessions in them so that you can not for an instant sustain the illusion that you actually own the place. On the other hand, rooms with ancient wicker chairs, and bodhi savat lamps, and handmade patchwork quilts are a rare pleasure. I slept so well. I shall not forget that the hospitality of a Best, a Dear One, an Old Love is a treasure.
Capping all these pleasures was a solitary evening of theater for one. Broadway! I treated myself to seeing a play. (I’ve never before attended a Broadway play alone. I’ve been a date, many times. Yet, buying my own ticket and seeing a play I wanted to see because I have read the book upon which it is based was a unique pleasure. I recommend it.) I saw Wolf Hall at the Winter Garden Theater. The book, the play, the mini-series: Hilary Mantel’s work translates to all these mediums with faultless grace. The story of Thomas Cromwell, common man that rises to the the pinnacle of power, is undeniably compelling. The production is just right, highbrow and educational enough, but with a little vulgar streak of something else… a little undertow, which is what makes New York City, Broadway, The Whitney… America’s glory.